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Alan Grayson

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Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 417

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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)

Money, Money, Everywhere

This op-ed written by Congressman Alan Grayson was featured by In These Times[/strong>] last month. Read it and share it with your friends and family.

I read a number of finance-industry newsletters. I want to share with you a recent excerpt from
one of them. Here it is:


$1,265,836,000,000.

This is the amount of cash that S&P 500 companies (excluding banks and other financial institutions) are currently sitting on. As of the beginning of the third quarter, the largest U.S. companies collectively held $1.27 trillion. That’s about 13.5 percent more than this time last year.

Where is this cash coming from? Well, borrowing accounts for some of it. But mostly, it’s that companies are simply generating cash faster than they are spending it.


Companies sitting on cash — the financial newsletter thinks that this is great news! Spectacular news! How nice — for them.

Here is more great news for Big Business: Corporations have been largely excused from paying taxes. The Government Accountability Office found earlier this year that the average effective tax rate on U.S. corporations is only In fact, the corporate income tax has been performing a magical disappearing act for decades. In 1952, corporate income tax revenues totaled 6 percent of GDP]. The average during our enormous post-war economic expansion, between 1945 and 1970, was more than 4 percent of GDP]. Since then, in every year, it has been less than 3 percent]. In 1983, Reagan’s tax breaks knocked corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP all the way down to 1 percent[/strong>]. It returned to that pitifully low level in the first year of the Obama administration, and it has remained below 2 percent. No wonder the corporate cash pile keeps growing and growing and growing.

But what about the non-corporate entities in America? How are those bags of flesh and bones known as “human beings” faring?

Well, 11 million of us are unemployed and more than 7 million of us have part-time jobs, but can’t find full-time work. And in the past 10 years, the U.S. labor force participation rate has shrunk by 3 percent. Among those who are fortunate enough to find work, the average pay is a whopping $24 an hour. According to a University of Michigan report, around 1 in 5 households in America has a negative net worth — they owe more than they own. In addition, 48 million Americans have no health coverage, [u>and] 48 million rely on food stamps to stave off hunger.

Don’t expect the next generation of red, white and blue meat-bags to do much better. One fifth of all American children live in households trying to survive on less than $2,000 a month. Many of these children go to bed hungry; is it any wonder that our schools are producing students whose math scores, by one measure, are among the worst in the world?

A Tale of Two Cities, the novel by Charles Dickens, begins with the famous words, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In America today, it is the best of times for multinational corporations and their CEOs. But for ordinary people, it’s pretty bad, and getting worse.

For non-corporeal entities, times are good. For flesh and bone, bad.

Legal fictions, good. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters — all bad.

I submit to you that there is a connection between those two things, a connection generally known as “cause and effect.” There are several such connections, in fact.

First, inequality causes poverty through simple arithmetic. If , but also[u> the highest in any industrialized country.

According to the CIA World Factbook[/strong>], our Gini coefficient — a statistical measure of income inequality — places us between Venezuela and Uruguay, with far more inequality than every major European or East Asian nation. Our inequality is surpassed largely by a bunch of African countries.

Second, inequality causes poverty through economic mismanagement. As that finance newsletter proudly states, huge corporations don’t spend their money; they just sock it away.] And the same thing is true of rich people, and banks, and multi-national corporations. The 400 individuals on
the Forbes 400 list alone have accumulated more than $2 trillion in wealth, the great majority of which remains in their pockets year after year. We are ending up with enormous pools of cash that have been drained from the real economy, and are not reinvested in it.

We have a national economy with a] maximum possible economic output of $16 trillion each year], but much of it ends up in deep pockets with no holes, just sitting there. This creates a massive and chronic shortage in “aggregate demand,” a problem that John Maynard Keynes accurately described 75 years ago.] If we allow demand to fall short, then unemployment explodes. Hence we paper over the evaporation of all that money from aggregate demand with federal deficits, “quantitative easing” and enormous personal debt.

But it doesn’t matter, because the existence of all those people without jobs — what Marx called a “reserve army of the unemployed” — still fuels poverty by decimating wages. Desperate people bid down the price of labor simply to survive. Average wages, adjusted for inflation, haven’t increased since the 1970s.[/strong>] America is becoming a nation of cheap labor. And the notion that in such circumstances, burgeoning business profits somehow will magically increase wages and create jobs is delusional. They haven’t, and they won’t.

The misconception that the so-called job creators will deploy corporate profits to take risks, to reinvest, to expand and, ultimately, to employ more people is a right-wing pipe dream.[/strong>] They might be doing that in China; they sure aren’t doing that in America. Businesses see labor simply as a cost. Business tries to reduce that cost as much as possible, in order to boost profits as much as possible. Business is not in the business of creating jobs. Business is in the business of maximizing profit. Business hires labor only when it can make a profit from that labor. If any business could eliminate its labor force entirely, it would. And many actually do just that, through subcontracting, outsourcing, offshoring and other measures that reduce compensation or eradicate the labor force.

So please forgive me if, when I read in a financial newsletter that giant corporations are “sitting on” $1,265,836,000,000 “in cash,” I don’t feel like breaking out the champagne. I see it as a funeral pyre for the American Middle Class.

A system that taxes Warren Buffett’s secretary at a higher rate than Warren Buffett] stokes the flames of that funeral pyre. A system that provides for corporate tax loopholes that are as large as corporate tax revenue stokes the flames of that funeral pyre. We create that system, and it’s breaking us, from within.

Those are the facts. The Sturm und Drang that you see on the evening news is a desperate effort to avoid those facts. And the deep, deep question in our political system today is this: Are we going to do anything about it?

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Apr 5, 2014, 09:47 PM (2 replies)

Koch Bros. Attack: Grayson = Obama = Liar

The Koch Brothers are continuing to run dirty attack ads against me in my district. No surprise there; they’ve been doing it since November. If there is a surprise, it’s how brazen and mendacious those Koch Brothers ads have become. Let me boil down their current ad campaign for you:

Grayson = Obama = Liar

Support our campaign today, and help us beat back these disgusting attack ads.

President Obama isn’t on the ballot this year. And when he was on the ballot, he won more votes than any American in history – twice. But the Koch Brothers think that they can defeat me by dragging President Obama through the mud, and me with him.

The anti-Grayson ads begin by claiming that President Obama told “the lie of the year,” and that I “backed him up.” They’re referring – in their usual abusive fashion – to the fact that President Obama said that if you like your current insurance, then you can keep it under Obamacare. Which actually is true – unless your insurance company refuses to renew it. It’s not Obamacare that’s ending the coverage, it’s the insurance companies. Personally, I’d love to see a law that requires health insurance companies to renew policies. Unfortunately, Obamacare is not that law. The GOP prevented such a law, claiming that that would be “socialism.” So what has happened is:

(1) Republicans blocked and attacked a law that would require insurance companies to renew policies;

(2) Obamacare undertook to make health insurance universal, comprehensive and affordable, without the provision the GOP blocked;

(3) Because President Obama undertook this effort, the Koch Brothers now label him the Liar of the Year; and

(4) I get taken along for the same ride.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Koch Brothers ads. Please help our campaign, and give us what we need to fight back.

But wait – it gets worse. The Koch Brothers attack ad also complains that “healthcare costs up.” Yes, last year, healthcare costs rose, by the lowest amount on record. Furthermore, the Koch Brothers complain that “help the uninsured” is “not working.” Yes – because Republicans in the Florida State Legislature prohibited the expansion of Medicaid to over one million Floridians, even though it would have cost the state nothing.

Don’t you just hate sick, lying ads like these Koch Brothers ads? Well, let’s do something about it.

Campaigns are all about communications. What the voters see and hear. And the biggest propaganda megaphone in America is spewing out lie after lie against me. That’s why I need your help.

I need to counter their lies with our truth. I need to counter their subterfuge with our facts. I need to counter their evil with our righteousness.

You can watch silently as the world drowns in Koch Brothers fibs, fables, fictions, fabrications, forgeries and falsehoods. Or you can help our campaign beat them back.

Beat the lies. Contribute to our campaign today.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Cokie Roberts Attacks Us: This Is How DC Works

Recently, ABC infohack Cokie Roberts, doyenne of the D.C. Establishment, attacked me in her nationally syndicated column. Why? Because I dared to speak the truth about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a so-called "free trade agreement" that has lobbyists and Washington insiders alike clamoring to stuff their pockets with corrupt corporate cash. And because I dared to speak the truth about “Fast Track,” legislation whose sole purpose is to cram TPP and other corporate rip-offs down our throats.

By attacking me, Cokie Roberts unintentionally has provided a fascinating case study in how Washington, D.C. really works. Her attack on me was really an attack on the American middle class. Her attack on me was an attack on you.

Let’s look at the facts. Our corporatized “free trade” policy has been an abject failure. It began with NAFTA, which impoverished workers in both the United States and abroad, solely for the benefit of wealthy corporate special interests. So has every “free trade” deal since. For the past dozen years, every year, the United States has run the largest trade deficits of any country, anywhere in the world, at any time in history. Since NAFTA went into effect, our trade deficits total $10,000,000,000,000.00, or one-sixth of our national net worth. We are buying foreign goods and assets, putting foreigners to work. Instead of buying our goods and services, they are buying our assets, driving us deeper and deeper into debt. We lose – twice.

For five years now, our so-called “Trade Representative” has conspired in secret with multinational corporations to give away our sovereignty, refusing even our elected representatives access to negotiations. “Fast Track” legislation simply is a ploy to jam the resulting surrender to multinational corporations through Congress, without hearings, without mark-ups, without amendments and even without significant debate. The real problem today is our towering trade deficit, and both “Fast Track” and TPP would make that worse.

But that’s not how Cokie Roberts, the daughter of two Members of Congress and a consummate Washington insider, sees it. She quoted some of what I’ve said, and then she said: “Liberal ideologues like Grayson are flat-out wrong.”

Let’s take a look at the evidence that Cokie Roberts offers to try to prove that she’s right and I’m wrong. She touts the fact that the United States exports $2 trillion in goods and services each year. While she ignores the fact that the United States has been importing nearly $3 trillion in goods and services each year. (Note to Cokie: three is more than two.) She touts the “fact” that trade supposedly “supports” almost 10 million jobs in the United States. While she ignores the fact that imports cost us even more jobs; in fact, we’ve lost five million manufacturing jobs to “free trade” during the past two decades.

Are you disgusted by this crooked and underhanded attack by Cokie Roberts? Do you oppose “free trade” giveaways? If so, please pledge $10 per month to our campaign now, to “honor” of the “almost 10 million jobs” that Cokie Roberts claims "free trade agreements" support in the imaginary world that she lives in.

To top it all off, Cokie Roberts then quoted this vapid and inane remark by the U.S. Trade Representative: "Trade is critical to America's prosperity." It would be far more accurate to say that trade is critical to the prosperity of America’s lobbyists. Lobbyists like Cokie Roberts’s brother, for instance.

And now we get to the heart of the matter, today’s lesson in how Washington, D.C. works – for people like Cokie Roberts. And her brother.

Why is Cokie Roberts ignoring the trade deficit, that 800-billion-pound gorilla in the room? Could it possibly be because her brother’s law firm represents a slew of multinational corporations and foreign governments who stand to benefit from the TPP? In just the Middle East, that firm’s client list includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. That was good enough for Cokie’s brother’s firm to take in a whopping $40 million in lobbying fees in 2013 alone.

Cokie’s brother’s firm has represented scads of multinational corporations who just can't get enough of "free trade agreements." Last year alone, Goldman Sachs poured $480,000 into the coffers of that firm. Citigroup tossed in another $300,000. And Halliburton and Exxon Mobil shelled out tens of thousands of dollars, too.

(If you question whether Cokie Roberts would bend over backwards to help her brother’s lobbying firm, then consider this: Dianna Ortiz is an American nun who was tortured and raped by the Guatemalan junta. Cokie Roberts’s brother’s law firm represented the Guatemalan junta. Cokie Roberts claimed on the air, with no basis whatsoever, that Ortiz had fabricated her story. Ortiz then proved it in court, and won a $5 million judgment.)

Cokie Roberts's attack against me is designed to discredit not only me, but also to discredit the concerns of ordinary Americans -- like you -- in order to protect the Washington elite: corporate lobbyists, corrupt insiders, millionaires and billionaires, multinational corporations, big banks, the Halliburtons and Exxon Mobils of the world, and other economic aristocrats who would benefit from these "free trade" giveaways. In short, the people who think that they own us.

The D.C. Establishment doesn’t know what to do about me, because I am unbossed and unbought. Lobbyists don't like me, because I stand against their "free trade" giveaways, their bailouts, their no-bid contracts and their tax breaks. Billionaires fund my opponents' campaigns. Not mine.

If you don't like the TPP and other "free trade" giveaways, then invest in our campaign right now. If you don't like multinational corporations who try to buy laws that benefit them, then invest in our campaign now.

Washington's corporate elite relies on people like Cokie Robert to attack people like me, because I'm speaking for people like you. If you think that Cokie Roberts is wrong, that the way that the Washington, D.C. elite do business is wrong, then invest in our campaign now. With only $10 or $25 or $50 from you, every month, I can afford to keep standing up for us.

Monday marks our Federal Election Commission report cut-off date. We are under attack. And when I say “we,” I don’t just mean “me.” I mean that the American middle class is under attack. I mean that you’re under attack. When I say “we,” I mean you and me.

We are fighting for justice, equality, and peace. We are paying attention, we are working hard, and we are getting things done. And because of that, I am under attack. I need your help, and I need it today. Every dollar counts. Our deadline is midnight on Monday. Please contribute today.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson
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