Alan Grayson's Journal
Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 12:02 PM
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I’m pretty sure that I’ll be the only one mentioning this to you, but on Tuesday, we have a chance to take out the reigning king of the polluters, Rep. Fred Upton, the Republican Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The Los Angeles Times has called Fred Upton “one of the biggest threats to Planet Earth on Planet Earth.”
Upton has tried to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. He says that Congress’s failure to act against climate disruption – a failure that he is largely responsible for – means that the EPA must sit on its hands, as well. Upton says that doing anything to fight carbon pollution would “hamstring our economic recovery.”
But Upton’s not all bad. He cosponsored a bill to make light bulbs more energy efficient. Then he led the fight to prevent President Obama from enforcing it.
Let me put it this way: When Upton was an infant, his first words were “drill, baby, drill.”
Pollution defender Fred Upton has got to go. Click here to make a last-minute contribution to his opponent, progressive Democrat Paul Clements.
Prof. Lawrence Lessig runs MAYDAY PAC, the “PAC to end all PACs,” which is dedicated to countering special-interest sewer money in politics. Lessig has this to say about Upton:
“When it comes to Fred Upton, the link between the people who fund his campaigns and the way he votes in Congress is crystal-clear. . . . Upton has taken $10 million in special interest PAC money over his career. He took $2.1 million from Big Oil and energy interests, and he voted to give away billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies. MAYDAY decided to work to defeat Fred Upton because he is the epitome of the modern corrupt politician.”
MAYDAY PAC is spending over $2 million in grassroots small-dollar donations to defeat Fred Upton.
What about you? Do you want to join the grassroots donors who support MAYDAY PAC, and help Paul Clements defeat Fred Upton next Tuesday?
A right-wing special-interest PAC called the “American Future Fund” (don’t fake names like that make you want to barf?) is spending heavily to defend Upton. Here is what they have to say in Upton’s defense: “Upton has led the fight to . . . approve the Keystone Pipeline.” The Keystone Pipeline! NASA climate scientist James Hansen says that if the Keystone Pipeline is built, “it’s game-over for the planet.”
And Upton’s district is not the kind of district where you can sell out to the oil and gas industry, and expect cheers for that. In 2008, President Obama won Upton’s current district by eight points. And in 2012 in Upton’s district, Michigan’s “favorite son,” Mitt Romney, eked out a one-point victory over President Obama.
If we can’t win in a district like this, then we can’t win anywhere. Donate today, and let’s show Fred Upton that he can’t sell out his district, his country, the whole freakin’ planet! – and expect to get away with it.
Upton’s opponent is Paul Clements, a political science professor at Western Michigan University. Clements isn’t pulling any punches: he says that environmental protection is THE issue. He is running against Upton because defeating Upton means defeating climate change. Clements wants to bring more clean-energy jobs to Michigan.
It looks like Clements has Upton on the run. A poll last week showed Clements down by only four points, within the margin of error, with ten percent of the voters still undecided. Clements has momentum. He can win.
With our help, Paul Clements can beat Fred Upton. Your contribution today will help Clements get out his vote on Tuesday. Do something nice for Planet Earth today – help us defeat Fred Upton.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Nov 1, 2014, 05:33 PM (2 replies)
Team Grayson here. Congressman Grayson has been speaking out for quite some time now about the effect of drone warfare on innocent victims, and the resulting plunge in American support in areas where drones are deployed. Last year, he brought victims of a drone strike in Pakistan to the United States to appear for the first time before Congress. Since then, he’s been working to put a human face to the casualties of America’s drone policy. Here’s an op-ed he just published at Huffington Post. The piece was co-written by Alan’s good friend Robert Greenwald, the founder and president of Brave New Films. Robert’s most recent film, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes, at home and abroad. Read the full piece below:
Mamana Bibi was a 67-year-old Pakistani grandmother and midwife, killed by a U.S. drone strike on October 24, 2012. One year ago, the family of Mamana Bibi came to Washington, D.C., to share their sad story with Members of Congress.
Mamana's son, Rafiq ur Rehman, is a 39-year-old primary-school teacher. He and his two children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, were the first family members of a U.S. drone strike victim ever to speak to Members of Congress. Rafiq explained that he and his family were educators, not terrorists. He wanted to know why his family was targeted by the U.S. military. Zubair, a teenager, recalled how he "watched a U.S. drone kill my grandmother." He described why he now fears blue skies: "Because drones do not fly when the skies are gray." Nabila was picking okra with her grandmother for a religious holiday meal, when day became night. "I saw from the sky a drone and I hear a dum-dum noise. Everything was dark and I couldn't see anything, but I heard a scream."
Only five Members of Congress came to hear this family's testimony. Only five listened to the real impact of one of America's most ruthless, extrajudicial, error-laden and enemy-producing war policies. The briefing was organized by both of us, Rep. Alan Grayson, and Director Robert Greenwald. It was part of our effort to change discourse about drone warfare. It also led the release of a new drone documentary, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars. The film told these and other drone victims' stories, focused on the government's shadowy "signature strike" policy allowed spy agencies to target and kill hundreds based on suspicion alone, and posed difficult questions that far too many lawmakers and national security officials still want to duck.
Those questions include: Should America be killing people in other countries with which we are not at war? What constitutional framework allows the President and spy agencies to be judge, jury and executioner? Where only four percent of victims are even "linked" to Al Qaeda, what role are the killings, playing in inciting warfare and making anti-American enemies? Why do national leaders -- in the White House, the Pentagon and Congress -- believe that so-called military "solutions" are the only way to address global hot spots? And why is it that every time they see something they don't like, they feel the urge to bomb it?
For a brief period, it appeared that some progress was being made on drone policy. The President announced that he would transfer the program from the CIA to the Pentagon, where it would, theoretically, be subject to more significant Congressional oversight. Legislation codifying that transition was introduced. Significantly, the frequency of drone strikes dropped as well.
But a recent event -- the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq -- has resuscitated America's dependence on drones. Our desire to avoid placing American troops on the ground again in the Middle East has had the perverse effect of promoting error-prone drones as the nation's weapon of choice. No substantive change has been made to this secretive foreign assassination program. Reform efforts in Congress have stalled. The Administration has cloaked its addiction to drone warfare with the label "national security," seeking to end any possibility of rational public discourse on the matter.
That's a problem for many reasons, but especially because drone strikes cause considerable "collateral damage" (an Orwellian phrase created by the military-industrial complex to sanitize the slaughter of the innocents). For every Al Qaeda "target" that a drone attack eliminates, it spawns dozens of new radicals intent on exacting retribution against the U.S. - vindication for the corpses and memories of hundreds of innocent civilians who have been killed, in regions where the U.S. needs allies, not enemies.
We cannot afford to delay reform any longer. We should start by acknowledging a simple truth: Many drone strike victims are not terrorists. These are real people - mothers, children, parents, cousins, human beings - not some nameless, faceless enemy. And any reform efforts should bring the drone program under the rule of law, with checks and balances on the actions of the Executive Branch, subjecting drone strikes to Congressional oversight, and compensation for the families of innocent victims.
Our politicians can no longer pretend that America's policy of drone strike vigilantism is going unnoticed by the international community. The United Nations and international human rights groups have issued multiple reports detailing the deaths of innocent civilians resulting from these strikes. The documentary Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, has been seen by millions of people abroad, including in Pakistan; it was featured at a UN Human Rights Council meeting; and it is being screened on college campuses and universities across the globe. And last October, Congressional testimony by the Rehman family finally put a face to "collateral damage."
Not one of us would stand by idly while a foreign government killed American grandmothers, children, and other innocent civilians via remote-controlled weapons that rain down death from the skies. Yet that's precisely what the U.S. military-industrial complex has done for years, and we American citizens have let this happen in our good name. It's time we all paid attention. It's time we all acknowledged the immorality, the illegality, and the repercussions of U.S. drone strikes abroad.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Oct 31, 2014, 03:00 PM (1 replies)
If an ad falls in the forest, and no voter sees it, does it win any votes?
To see our moving positive TV ad, click here. And then realize that it’s not just you who should see our ad, it’s our voters, too.
We have an inspiring ad, showing how my passing so many amendments in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party House has created and saved good jobs. The voters need to see it, and the voters deserve to see it.
There’s only one problem: our gubernatorial candidates, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott (everyone’s favorite oligarch), have bought up the airwaves. Their ads are so pervasive in Central Florida that it seems as though you can hear them even when your TV is off. They’ve made TV advertising more expensive than Charles Koch’s favorite yacht.
Desperate robber-baron Rick Scott, in particular, has been firebombing Orlando TV screens with his political napalm. This has pushed the cost of TV ads eight miles high.
Help us show our voters what it means to have a Congressman With Guts. Make a contribution today, so that someone other than you can see our TV ad.
Primetime TV advertising in Orlando now costs roughly $1000 per “point.” (In Anchorage and Little Rock, the cost is even higher.) Let me translate that from the native language of advertising, known by its acronym, “BS.” It now costs almost a dollar to show one primetime 30-second ad to one voter, once.
We can’t and won’t pay that kind of money for TV ads, so we try to work around the problem. We buy spots at odd hours. We buy spots from non-network stations. We buy spots that someone else just canceled. Using every trick in the book, we just placed a buy for Sunday and Monday that costs around 30 cents per view.
Now we just have to pay for it.
We need your help to keep our positive ad on the air. If you give us $30, then 100 voters will see this ad. If you give us $45, then 150 voters will see this ad. If 2,000 of us each gave $45, then every voter in the district would see this ad once, between now and Election Day.
Whether or not you’ve seen it before, please click here to see our ad. If you like it, then please help us pay for it. And give our voters the information that they need to feel good, just this once, when they’re marking their ballots.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Oct 30, 2014, 05:52 PM (6 replies)
Here is a startling statistic: Eighty percent of the ads run by sewer-money Super PACs in 2014 have been negative ads. NPR and the National Journal called this year’s negative ads “the worst ever.” According to the Washington Post, a week ago, there was one negative ad running in the North Carolina Senate race every single minute.
This is how Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet’s brother aptly described the situation back in 2012, before things got even worse: “This advertising seem less like the currency of democracy than like a grotesquely stupid exercise to enrich political consultants and local televisions stations, and to drive voters away from the polls.” It makes every election seem like a choice between the lesser of two evils, or the less evil of two lessers.
Well, you know how we are. When everyone’s doing one thing, we’ve got to do something else. It’s in our blood.
We’re running a positive ad.
We’re giving our voters a look at me, facing the camera, speaking to them directly. Now, admittedly, I am no George Clooney. I am no Brad Pitt. (More like Danny Trejo, or Vincent Schiavelli.) However, our voters do deserve to hear a few words out of my mouth (other than “I’m Alan Grayson, and I approve this ad”) before they make up their minds.
And our ad answers a very important question for the voters: What the heck have I done for them in the past two years? We took one out of the 33 amendments that I passed in the House – more than any other Member, Democratic or Republican – and explained how we’ve help to create and sustain jobs in America. In other words, I’m doing what most elected officials would never do, what they’re afraid to do, what they can’t do: I’m running on my record.
To see our positive ad, click here.
For sure, this positive ad will help to dispel the cartoon version of me that the other side has tried to draw. And maybe also help to dispel the stink of all those visual muggings that we’ve been forced to watch on TV, simply because we have leaders to choose.
Here is another reason: This week, I wrongly attributed a profound statement by Thumper’s father to Bambi’s mother. I apologize to Bambi, Thumper, and all other offended Disney cartoon characters. But that profound statement bears reiterating: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” (And when you say nothing at all, you avoid those awful double-negatives.)
That’s our other reason: We have something nice to say.
Click here to see our ad. If you like it, then you can help pay for it. And you can support our going-against-the-grain effort to say something good. Grayson for Congress: We’re lighting a candle, not cursing the darkness.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Oct 29, 2014, 05:29 PM (2 replies)
Here’s the latest: the Republican Party is paying for my opponent’s vicious attack ads.
Let me tell you why. By most objective standards, my opponent’s campaign is a failure.
Her name recognition in Central Florida hovers in the same range as William Jackson Brack’s. (Who is William Jackson Brack? Exactly my point.)
She has run up an $80,000 tab with her campaign suppliers, and she has no way to pay them back.
Her positions on the issues are wildly unpopular in Central Florida. Orlando has the lowest wages in the nation: 50th out of the top 50 metropolitan areas. So I want to raise the minimum wage. And she wants to repeal it.
Let me repeat that: My opponent wants to eliminate the minimum wage.
But none of that matters, because the Republican Party has targeted me, so they are spending their gutter money to pay for her gutter ads.
If you are a close political observer, you might have thought that they are not allowed to do that. You might have thought that a political party can spend its money only on so-called “independent expenditures,” not simply ponying up for whatever ad that a candidate wants to run.
They don’t care. They’ve tossed that fig leaf into the wood chipper. They mumble “441(a)(d),” or some other magical incantation like that, and then they just do whatever they want. They’ve known that they’ve got five votes on the U.S. Supreme Court, so they can get away with anything. “Rules, shmules, buddy; Clarence Thomas is in our pocket.”
We have to stop them; we have to stop this. Contribute to our campaign today, and help us fight back.
Is the Republican Party running a positive ad, extolling my opponent’s virtues? No; maybe because they couldn’t identify any, I don’t know. The ad that the Republican Party is paying for is the kind of repugnant, malevolent bushwah that they run on every day of the week ending with the letter “y.” Just another example of what Bill Clinton rightly called “the politics of personal destruction.”
Bambi’s mother said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.” The Republican Party says, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, we’ll pay for your ad.”
In 2010, when I lost my first campaign for reelection, the Republican Party spent $1,000,000.00+ to defeat me, and the Democratic Party spent $0.00 to defend me. Zilch. Nadda. Zip. Diddly-squat. A big fat goose egg.
And this time? Not even a hill of beans.
So it’s up to you. Please don’t let the Republican Party dictate the outcome of this election. Don’t let the GOP pick off “the most effective Member of Congress,” while laying off the Democrats who act like personal servants to them.
The election is just eight days away. Now it’s me against the whole GOP. So I need your help — today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Oct 27, 2014, 04:58 PM (1 replies)
I was on the phone with an avid supporter from Philadelphia a few minutes ago. He told me that he really liked me. Flattered, I asked him why. Because, he said, I’m “not boring.”
“Not boring.” These days, that is high praise for any elected official.
Turn on any “news” channel in America today, and you will find yourself drenched in trite nonsense. Nothing but tautological talking points, and vapid buzzwords. It’s ubiquitous. It’s as though everyone were reading a bad script written by Ed Wood, the winner of the Golden Turkey Award for “Worst Director of All Time.”
I take a different approach. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I’m wrong, but I always try to be interesting. I figure that if you’re going to take the time to listen to what I have to say, I owe you that much. Think of me as the love child that Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker never had, possibly because she was just seven years old when he died.
But, frankly, that way, I seem to be a minority of one. And I’ll tell you why. The others are afraid.
They know that if they say anything even remotely entertaining or thought-provoking, they will be gutted like a fish. They’ll get the Full Monty: hourly attacks on Fox News, round-the-clock vilification on Hate Radio, evisceration at hundreds of right-wing websites, and blistering thirty-second smear ads.
In fact, I’m being attacked that way right now, just ten days before our election.
My opponent has set up a slur-site that not only viciously assails my personal life and my professional accomplishments, but also catalogs what she calls “hate speech.” That, basically, is every interesting thing I’ve ever said. Needless to say, she is particularly ticked off about the things that I’ve said about Republicans:
● When her mentor Dick Cheney called for US troops on the ground against ISIS, I said that Cheney “never met a war he didn’t like.”
● When Cheney attacked President Obama unjustly at the beginning of his first term, I said that many Americans wished that Cheney would “STFU.”
● Calling out Congressional Republicans for their obstructionism, I said that on CNN that they are “foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.”
● When MSNBC publicized a photo of President Bush and a Saudi prince kissing each other, I suggested that if Bush had let him get to second base, gasoline might be only a dollar a gallon.
● I referred to the sewer money that the GOP poured in against me in 2010 as “30 pieces of silver.”
● After Ted Cruz shut down the U.S. Government, I said that Cruz represents the party of the GOP that is trying to “hasten the Apocalypse.”
● And, of course, I mocked the Republican Party for their healthcare plan: “Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.”
To me, these critiques are all richly deserved – which is why I said them. But to my opponent, they’re “hate speech.”
I’ll admit, I have been guilty of the occasional metaphor. Also alliteration, allusion, analogy, anticlimax, antithesis, consonance, ellipsis, epanodos, euphemism, homography, hyperbole, mimesis, rhythm, rhyme, puns, sibilance, syncope, synecdoche, and my personal favorite, irony. Yes, I’m guilty, guilty, guilty. (Oh, God, there’s epanodos again.) When it comes to figures of speech, I’m a serial swiller.
And this revs up the right-wing indignation machine to 1,000,000 CPM (counterrevolutions per minute). All the conservative pearl-clutchers clutch their pearls. (What’s the phrase? “Pearls before swine”?) They fret about the corrosive effect of truth on civilization. And my opponent depicts stylistic devices as weapons of mass destruction.
The good people of Orlando, my fair city, have seen millions of dollars of Koch Brothers TV ads condemning me as a “national embarrassment” solely because I simply say what’s on my mind and – more often than not – what’s on your mind too. And to fight back, I need your help – today. Not tomorrow. Today.
We are approaching a point where every progressive candidate in America will face a choice: be neutered, or spayed. I am trying to demonstrate that there is a different way to do this job: say what you mean, mean what you say, fight like hell for what’s right, and win.
And we can win. But only with your help. Give us that help, right now.
I often portray what we do as a campaign for justice, equality and peace. But it’s also a campaign for intelligent, evocative, mental liberation. And against boring, clichéd tripe. Help us keep it going.
Rep. Alan Grayson
“I stand accused of the things I’ve said.”
● U2 and B.B. King, “When Love Comes to Town” (1988).
“You tell me it’s the institution.
Well, you know, you’d better free your mind instead.”
● The Beatles, “Revolution” (1968).
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Oct 25, 2014, 08:45 PM (22 replies)
My opponent has just rolled out a disgusting attack website, proclaiming that I’m “without honor.” Her dirty gutter-site spews out utterly specious attacks on my personal life and my professional experience, in lieu of anything resembling an actual discussion of issues.
What does my opponent’s smear-site say about jobs? Nothing.
Foreign policy? Nothing.
The budget? Nothing.
The gap between rich and poor? Nothing.
Just trash, slime, muck, crud and scuz. What President Clinton called “the politics of personal destruction.”
My opponent is wrong on the issues. She’s done nothing to help the voters. So all she can do is denigrate me and vilify me, dragging my name through the mud.
So help us fight back. Please – help us fight back.
The great majority of my opponent's dreck-site is just slanderous swill about my personal life. But once in a while, something resembling an actual issue insinuates itself into the stream of calumny -- in a very revealing way.
Here are a few more things that my opponent’s sewer-site chastises me for:
My call for stricter campaign finance laws (which she argues makes me “hypocritical,” apparently because we have so many small donors).
My successful battle to prevent crooked contractors who cheat the taxpayers and the troops from getting new federal contracts (because this supposedly constitutes an attack on “small business”).
My support for a new Planned Parenthood clinic in my district (because she says that it supposedly would “target Hispanics for destruction”; in the GOP lexicon, a pap smear is “destruction”).
My sympathy for the 80,000 people in my district who are undocumented (because, according to my very confused opponent, all Hispanics are “legal US citizens”).
My statement that the Army’s failure to take responsibility for huge increases in cancer and other serious health problems near a base where it tested unconventional weapons was “illogical and cruel” (because the Army denies any responsibility).
Yes, I wish that sewer money would get the hell out of politics. Yes, I think that war profiteers should be punished, not rewarded. Yes, I think that women should have full health coverage. Yes, I feel for the undocumented who live in the shadows. Yes, I believe that the military should accept responsibility when it ruins the lives of innocent Americans.
And for that, my opponent is condemning me.
Look, it’s showtime. The election is just 10 days away.
We cannot let my opponent’s lies defeat our truth. Please contribute to our campaign today, so that we can set the record straight.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Oct 24, 2014, 03:51 PM (4 replies)
My opponent has released a new poll showing that we’re up by only five points against her – less than the margin of error (5.7%).
Why so close? Because she says that we can’t get our Democrats to vote. Specifically, she says that “the 2014 race will have a very different voter makeup, mirroring much closer to that of 2010.” 2010 was the worst year for House Democrats in the past century, because Democratic turnout plunged. In fact, our opponent is projecting that in our district, GOP turnout will be 50% higher than Democratic turnout.
Is that what will happen? Not if we have anything to say about it.
Right now, our campaign has more than 40 paid staffers getting out our vote. We’ve distributed over 100,000 voter guides. And just last night, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), a national progressive group, organized thousands of volunteer “Call Out the Vote” telephone calls to Democrats in our district.
But we have a challenge on our hands. Statewide in Florida, Republican turnout in mail balloting is 14% higher than Democratic turnout, even though roughly equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats received ballots by mail.
We have to get out our vote. And that’s why I need your help – today.
Our paid staff alone costs $4000 each day. And there are 12 days between now and Election Day. So we have to come up with almost $50,000, just to keep that part of GOTV effort going.
Which means that we need 1000 people each to give $50. That’s what I’m asking from you.
I know you’re not a Koch Brother; I know that that $50 means something to you. But I can’t turn to the Koch Brothers for help. I have to turn to you.
In 2012, I was the only Member of the U.S. House of Representatives who raised more money from small donors (under $200) than large donors – and we will repeat that this year.
We are so, so close to finishing this. So many people have worked so hard to take this campaign to victory. Please make sure that we don’t all end up with nothing.
We need your help. Help us now, this once, and on Election Night, we’ll all have something to celebrate.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Oct 23, 2014, 07:09 PM (16 replies)
When the Ebola outbreak began to spread across West Africa this past summer, Congressman Grayson was the first elected official to call on the federal government to implement a temporary travel ban on tourists and other visitors from the stricken countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, by suspending visas issued to not-yet-admitted citizens of those countries until the virus has been brought under control. The purpose was to prevent travelers from those countries who had been infected with the virus, but were not yet showing symptoms, from entering the United States. Since then, a Liberian named Thomas Duncan traveled to the United States on a tourist visa, and brought Ebola with him. Because Duncan showed no symptoms at the time of entry, none of the current screening methods would have prevented Duncan from introducing Ebola to the United States -- but a suspension of his visa and denial of entry would have kept us safe, and also saved millions of dollars. In today’s USA Today, on page 6A, Rep. Grayson explains why a temporary travel ban was – and still is – very much needed. Check it out here, and below.
Implement Ban on Travel Now
by Rep. Alan Grayson
The U.S. should implement an immediate temporary travel ban preventing entry by citizens of the West African countries afflicted by the Ebola virus, as I said in July. Had we done that, we wouldn't have Ebola in the U.S. right now.
No blood test can detect Ebola in victims who are newly infected. Human carriers are asymptomatic for as long as three weeks.
When Ebola does start to show a symptom — high temperature — that symptom can be masked with ibuprofen. Thus there is no reliable way to detect Ebola risk through physical examination.
But there is another reliable manner to detect Ebola risk: looking at a visitor's passport. Ebola is ravaging three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Because the virus is spread internationally only by human beings, blocking citizens of those countries effectively blocks the virus. And we already do a 100% check of passports, at every airport and border crossing into the U.S.
Every visitor from these countries who harbors the virus, knowingly or unknowingly, is a potential weapon of mass destruction. Each one has the potential to infect innumerable Americans.
Each one could cost us millions of dollars in medical care for the carrier, care for other victims, quarantine costs, decontamination costs and the cost of tracing and tracking all contacts. Each one raises the risk that Ebola will find an animal reservoir in the U.S., or mutate into something more infectious.
And why should we run such risks?
Let's put this in perspective. We already ban visitors from other countries unless they prove that they have been vaccinated against whooping cough — a far less deadly disease than Ebola. We don't just ban visitors with whooping cough; we ban visitors unless they prove that they cannot get whooping cough.
Suspending tourism from these three countries wouldn't prevent relief efforts. On the contrary, the more we spend here, the less we can spend there.
More than 25 other countries have instituted such travel restrictions. They are protected, while we are not. For now, we are like lab rats — except that all lab rats enjoy health coverage.
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is a member of the House committees on Foreign Affairs and on Science, Space and Technology.
This is the kind of clear, logical thinking that our policymaking so desperately needs. Show your support for our Congressman with Guts today.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Oct 23, 2014, 01:53 PM (8 replies)
Congratulations to Lois Raben of Boca Raton, FL. She won our contest last week; she joined Nancy Pelosi and me in Orlando on Friday; and she received Blue America’s quadruple-platinum RIAA award for the B-52’s album “Cosmic Thing.”
Now on to what I want to tell you, about Sen. Al Franken. (Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it: “Senator Al Franken”?)
Last year, when President Obama was contemplating an attack on the Assad regime in Syria, the Administration arranged for a number of classified briefings for Members of Congress. I supposed that I could tell you what was discussed, but: (a) then I’d have to kill you, and (b) that’s not the point of this story.
There were around ten briefings. At the one that I went to, there were three Senators, and around 15 Members of the House. If you do the math, you’ll see that it’s highly unlikely that all 535 Members of Congress attended even one of these classified briefings.
I’m not sure of this, but I think that Sen. Al Franken attended all of them. If not every single one, he certainly attended most of them. So basically, the briefings score was something like this:
Sen. Al Franken: ~10.
Me and Every Other Member Who Gave a Damn: 1
The Other Useless Clods Who Fool the Voters Every Two Years: 0
For the most part, the briefings were the same generals saying the same things about the same things. The only difference was the Q&A. Each Member of Congress got to ask one (and only one) question at each briefing.
Well, Sen. Al Franken had more than one question. He had lots of questions. And he wanted to hear the answers to everyone else’s questions. So he attended lots of briefings.
And Senator Franken’s questions were intelligent questions. As opposed to some other people. At one point, some GOP Senate doofus asked, “I think that China is behind this. Do you agree? Is China behind this?”
Answer: No. China is not the cause of the Syrian Civil War. In fact, only an idiot could say that China is “behind” the war in Syria. And on that occasion, one did.
But Sen. Al Franken’s question was cool, discerning, sophisticated and revealing. He had done his homework. He knew what he was talking about, and what he needed to learn.
One of the great things about being a Member of Congress is that I get to see my colleagues as they really are. Some disappoint me. Others impress me. Al Franken impresses me.
I will venture to say that no one outside of Senator Franken and his staff knows that Senator Franken took it upon himself to attend one Syria briefing after another, just so that he could learn as much as possible from the Q&A, and make the right decision on war and peace. He hasn’t told anyone. So I will. I’m telling you.
Senator Franken is on the ballot on Nov. 4th. There is a good chance that he will win, but nothing is for sure in politics. Regardless, his campaign gives us an opportunity – only once every six years! – to show him our support, our thanks, for a former comedian who takes his job very seriously now.
Senator Franken deserves your support. So click here, and give it to him.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Oct 20, 2014, 08:07 AM (25 replies)