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A few weeks ago, Rep. Alan Grayson joined Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC, to discuss Tea Party calls to impeach President Obama. Here’s what they said:
Rev. Al Sharpton: These are elected officials smearing the President by accusing him of being a dictator, of ignoring the constitution, and talking about impeachment. Only a few hundred far right extremists showed up at that rally today, but their ugly rhetoric about the president—that’s already spread to the halls of Congress. Joining me now are Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, and Angela Rye. Thank you both for being here. . . . Congressman, you’ve been fighting these guys for a while, but even by their standards this was embarrassing.
Rep. Alan Grayson: Oh, I agree. Listen, they hate the president, it’s that simple. They hate the first African American President, and they’re never going to change. What also will never change is their utter detachment from the mood of the public. The public wants us to concentrate on jobs, on benefits, on pensions, on education, on health care, on housing, and they want to concentrate on Fast and Furious, and they want to concentrate on Benghazi, and any other non-scandal they can try to rev up. They are completely, totally out of touch, and ultimately the public and the voters will punish them for it. . . .
Rev. Al: You know, Congressman, you and Angela brought up Benghazi, and Benghazi was certainly something that was brought up today at this rally. Listen:
--begin clip of protesters--
Protester One (video): Do you think it was just incompetence, or do you think we had criminal activity going on?
Protester Two (video): Well, it could be that, too. But it’s pure incompetence.
Protester One (video): Criminal negligence at the very least. And they’ve got to pay, but until we wake these people up in this building over here, they’re not going to do it. And that’s what we’re all here for today. We’ve gotta get these people woke up.
Protester Three (video): This is gonna get shoved down their throat, whether they like it or not.
--end clip of protesters--
Rev. Al: Your reaction to this, Congressman?
Alan: They live fact-free lives. These are people who have lost whatever narrow tether they’ve had to reality a long time ago. What really upsets me is not so much that they ignore the truth, and they trample over what’s right. What really upsets me is they think they can dictate to the American people what the political process is all about. These people think that if they woke up one morning and they wanted to talk about nothing but left-handed leftwing Liberian lesbians, then we’d all have to talk about left-handed leftwing Liberian lesbians, and we’d have no choice about that. The American people have problems that need to be solved: Unemployment, low wages . . . .
Rev. Al: Now, Congressman, I want to show you some other Republicans that made the news this week and that is some longshot candidates in the Idaho primary debate for governor. Now, let’s listen to some of their greatest hits. These are Republicans candidates for governor in Idaho.
--begin clip of debate--
Candidate One: I don’t like political correctness. Can I say this? It sucks. It’s bondage. And I’m about as political correct as your proverbial turd in a punch bowl.
Candidate Two: Well, what would you do if they came out to take your kids? Well, I’d shoot them, what else would you do?
Candidate Two: Well, Governor Otter wants to kill a wolf, I did kill a wolf. While it was still on endangered species.
Candidate Three: And Fat Jack’s old lady, Fat Jack’s wife, said “Get this lunatic out of my cellar!”
Candidate One: As it says in my motorcycle club, “Hey diddle fiddle, right up the middle.” That’s my style.
--end clip of debate--
Rev. Al: So, Congressman, I mean, not to be extreme here, but does the Republican Party, with their image, need these kinds of guys running for the Republican nomination in Idaho? I mean the party, really, really, really has a little image problem, I think.
Alan: Listen, the only way to win a Republican primary these days is to out-crazy all the other candidates. And I think a lot of Americans wished they’d all get off their TV screens, just get the hell out of their lives. Americans want somebody who’s actually going to take a stab at solving their problems. The Republicans are always getting in their way, and saying something crazy in the process.
Rev. Al: Thank both of you, Congressman Grayson and Angela Rye. Thank you both for your time tonight.
Alan: Thank you.
There’s your Congressman With Guts, telling it like it is, like always. To support Alan Grayson’s reelection campaign, please tap that blue button below. And thanks.
At the end of George Washington’s second term as President, in his 1796 farewell address to a grateful nation, Washington urged America to avoid foreign entanglements. This is what he said:
“Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.
“Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel .
“Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?
“It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.”
In Washington’s time, our “foreign entanglements’ were with Europe; today, they are worldwide. We still are suffering from our “foreign entanglement” in Afghanistan. Now in its twelfth year, that entanglement is the longest since Washington warned us against them.
Following the 9/11 attacks, we defeated an entrenched hostile military force in Afghanistan, playing defense, with fewer than 1000 U.S. Special Forces troops. We did so in barely a month. The battle was over, and the war was won Then our hubris-ridden military-industrial complex, led by a bellicose President who had gone AWOL himself from May 1972 to October 1973 and spent his entire presidency trying to make up for it, occupied that 12th-century nation with between 10,000 and 35,000 troops. Under President Obama, our occupying army then multiplied, to 100,000 soldiers.
Recently, President Obama announced a policy to “end the war” in Afghanistan by maintaining something like 9999 American troops there, for a long time to come. That’s the same number of American soldiers who occupied Afghanistan in the first place.
If you think that stationing just under 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan means that the war is over, then Big Brother has a few words for you: “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.”
President Obama is my President, he is the leader of my party, and I voted for him twice. But on this issue, President Obama is wrong. Dead wrong. As I said recently on Thom Hartmann’s national TV show, it’s time to put an end to the war in Afghanistan, and bring our troops home:
Thom Hartmann: The House unanimously passed your Afghanistan election resolution. Can you tell us about that?
Rep. Alan Grayson: Sure. We are approaching the point now where Afghanistan is starting to function like a normal country. A lot of blood has been shed, and a lot of taxpayer dollars spent, in the interim. In my opinion, the war in Afghanistan should have been over a long time ago. I’m sure many Americans agree with that. If you combine the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, we have a quarter of a million servicemen who now have permanent brain abnormalities as a result of these two efforts on our part. Plus, a Nobel Prize-winning economist puts a price tag of four trillion dollars on these wars, which is roughly five percent of our national net worth. . . . These wars have been very unfortunate. The fact that there was a free election in Afghanistan, which is leading to what appears to be a voluntary transfer of power from one leader to another, is encouraging. But frankly, in my opinion, enough is enough. We should leave Afghanistan and make sure that the Afghan people take control of their own fate, rather than occupy that country for another decade.
Thom: Do you have any thoughts on what’s happening in Iraq today? We were talking with David Ignatius earlier from the Washington Post on this program about Mosul falling and Fallujah already gone, the possibility of Iran getting involved -- what are your thoughts on that?
Alan: It demonstrates the complete failure of the Bush administration, and the waste of four trillion dollars. That expense was supposed to guarantee that what is happening today would never happen. Obviously it was a failure. We need to understand our limitations, and avoid another wasteful intervention like the one that we saw in Iraq and the one that we’re still seeing in Afghanistan.
America is the most powerful nation on Earth, and the most powerful nation that the world has ever known. We are so powerful that many of our greatest problems are the ones that we create ourselves. There was no reason to occupy Afghanistan after the Taliban were defeated. There is no reason to remain there. Let’s bring all the troops home.
In George Washington’s words, let’s choose peace.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Recently, on Thom Hartmann’s national TV show, Rep. Alan Grayson gave the inside story on how he was able to pass a shield law protecting reporter sources in the Tea Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives at 12:40 am one night, with 175 Democrat votes and 53 Republican votes. Here is how it went:
Thom Hartmann: In the Best of the Rest of the News, if the Senate doesn’t screw things up, we might finally get the kind of media shield law that our democracy requires. Late last month, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the so-called Commerce, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2015 (H.R. 4660) by a margin of 321 to 87. There’s nothing all that interesting about H.R. 4660 – it’s your basic cut-and-dry appropriations bill that lays out how a handful of federal agencies, including the DOJ, can spend their money. H.R. 4660 is the kind of bill that Congress passes all the time, without a lot of media attention. But, believe it or not, there actually is something really interesting about H.R. 4660, something that could have a huge impact on how our government interacts with the only industry mentioned by name in the Constitution: the Press. That something is H.R. 4660 Section 561, an amendment sponsored by Florida Congressman Alan Grayson. Section 561 says, “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 he regards as confidential.” Basically, what this means is that the government can’t force journalists to testify in court against their sources, even if their sources are on trial for leaking really top secret information that, in the government’s opinion, could threaten national security. Right now, the Obama administration is trying to make New York Times reporter James Risen testify in the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a CIA agent whom Risen used as a source for his book on the CIA. Risen tried getting out of testifying against Sterling by appealing his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that court refused to hear his appeal, confirming a lower court’s decision that said that Risen couldn’t ignore a subpoena just because he’s a journalist. Risen’s case cuts right to the heart of freedom of the press, and he could actually end up going to jail over this. , at least in any meaningful way, and it scares other potential sources from even thinking about talking to a reporter.We need the media to be the Fourth Estate, a functional fourth branch of government that keeps the other three in check, and holds them responsible. And when reporters can’t work with sources, especially government sources, because those sources are scared that they’ll testify against them, that makes it impossible for the press to do what it needs to do the most – cover government corruption, secret CIA programs, and other malfeasance by insiders. That’s why Section 561 of the Commerce, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act is so crucial. It protects the most important act that any journalist can ever do – work with sources to write a story. The House of Representatives has spoken. It believes in protecting the freedom of press. Soon we’ll find out if the Senate does, too. Joining me now for more on this is the man behind Section 561 of the Commerce, Science, and Related Appropriations Act, Alan Grayson, the Congressman from Florida’s Ninth Congressional District. Congressman, welcome back to the program.
Congressman Alan Grayson: Thank you.
Thom: Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks so much for putting forward this amendment. I’m really, really. This is a good thing. Initially, it was declared on a voice vote not to have passed, and you called for a roll call, and it turned out 53 Republicans and 172 Democrats voted for it. Your thoughts on that, on the bipartisan nature of that?
Alan: Well, it was appealing to Democrats because it’s a standard civil liberties issue. It’s in the Constitution – freedom of the press is in the First Amendment. We’ve had this problem now going back 42 years, since an unwise Supreme Court decision that said that there was no such thing as a journalism shield law, except in extreme circumstances. And for 42 years, people of good conscience have been trying to change that, and make sure that the free flow of information can continue. Unfortunately, the courts have looked to Congress to act, and Congress has failed to act. In this case, They often claim to be supporters and respecters of the Constitution and we said, “Read it, see what it says.”
And when I made that argument to the Republicans, 53 of them accepted it, and we did reverse the result of that voice vote.
Thom: Now, your amendment passed just days before the Supreme Court refused to hear James Risen’s appeal. Were you putting that amendment together with his case in mind, or was it just a coincidence? What are your thoughts on the Risen case?
Alan: Well, I think it’s an example of a problem that’s been with us for many, many years. There have been reporters that have actually been incarcerated for failure to reveal their sources, when their sources were confidential sources. We are well on our way to establishing first-class and second-class citizenship just by virtually the fact that five million people now have access to classified information and 300 million don’t. That alone means we’re heading for difficult days. In this case, the media, going back to the Pentagon Papers and earlier, has tried desperately to point out to us unconstitutional acts by the government. But the national security system then goes and tries to incarcerate both the whistleblowers and the reporters for simply doing their jobs.
Thom: Under the Obama administration, we’ve seen a pretty massive clamp-down on leakers -- to be honest, an almost Nixonian assault on journalists who report leaks. Risen himself has called the Obama administration a threat to the freedom of the press, which makes me uncomfortable. What’s your take on this administration’s record on press issues, or is this just what the Executive Branch does, cover up what the Executive Branch is doing?
Alan: I think it’s unfortunate. There’s one particular law involved here that the administration, the Obama administration, has applied to whistleblowers more than all other administrations combined. I don’t understand exactly why the administration is acting this way. I wish they would rethink that. But I’m encouraged by the fact that Republicans, more and more, see this issue the same way that Democrats do, and we were able to get a vote on an important issue like this despite the normal iron grip of the Republican leadership, that has us voting on establishing committees and renaming post offices as much as anything else.
Thom: Procedurally, does this now go to the Senate for consideration, or is the Senate creating its own version which then will end up going into conference committee?
Alan: Yes, one of the beauties of this approach is that both the House and the Senate have to vote on appropriations bills each year or otherwise the government shuts down. We’ve been very active in my office in taking advantage of that fact. Typically, the House leadership, the Republican House leadership, has denied us votes on immigration reform, on minimum wage increase, and so on. So we take advantage of these must-pass votes, in order to put in progressive ideals in the form of legal proposals. This will go to the Senate, like every other appropriations bill goes to the Senate. , even though we lose every single time on a party-line vote.
Thom: ‘We’ being Alan Grayson?
Alan: ‘We’ being Alan Grayson, whom Slate Magazine said was the most effective member of the House because of this.
Thom: So, what do you think the odds are that the Senate is just going to pass this bill as it stands and it goes right to the President, versus they’re going to go back into, for example, your amendment, and pull it out or fiddle with it?
Alan: I think that the Senate will definitely not pass the bill as written, because it includes very harsh budget cuts in other areas of the bill that the Senate and the American people simply don’t agree with. This is largely a Tea Party bill. What I’m hoping is that people will appeal to senators, individual senators, to support the shield law, and that there are certain champions of freedom of speech, like Senator Bernie Sanders in the Senate, who will pick this up as a cause of his own. . . .
Thom: We have just a minute left. If I could just go back to the press for a second. When Dianne Feinstein started talking about “let’s only have a shield law that protects people who get a paycheck as a reporter,” I suggested that we should be protecting acts of journalism as opposed to journalists. I’m curious, your thoughts on that distinction?
Alan: I agree with you, and in fact, in order to make that point clear, I submitted legislative history. That Grayson amendment now is backed up by four pages in the Congressional Record explaining that point and other points about how this amendment is to be applied.
Thom: That’s great.
Alan: Thank you.
Thom: Thanks so much for being with us. Thank you.
Here on Team Grayson, we’re proud to be part of the team. You can see why.
From time to time, I turn these notes over to someone else who has something to say that you need to hear. Today, on Independence Day, it’s Prof. Lawrence Lessig. Lessig has lauched MayDay PAC, the Super PAC to end all Super PACs. MayDay is a fund to help ordinary people join together, and demand clean elections and good government. Let’s declare our independence from sewer money in politics. I’ll let Lessig explain further:
Rep. Alan Grayson
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I need to get something off my chest. This past week, to absolutely no fanfare whatever, the last declared chemical weapons left Syria. (Isn’t it interesting how the drums of war earn endless media coverage, but the dove of peace flies unnoticed?) I say the “last declared weapons” because those are the only ones that we know about, but any evidence of undeclared chemical weapons in Syria is even harder to find than any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So as far as anybody can tell, all of the Syrian chemical weapons are gone.
And this was accomplished without U.S. military intervention in Syria.
I was very outspoken about my opposition to military intervention in Syria – outspoken in seven national TV interviews in a single day, and over 40 media interviews in four days. I said that Congress would not authorize war against Syria, because the Administration’s military plans were costly and dangerous, they would not achieve any strategic purpose, and they would not and could not eliminate those chemical weapons. And I was right. If the Administration’s war plans had come to a vote in the House, they would have been defeated by a margin of roughly 10 to 1. Because the American public spoke up – people like you spoke up.
I understand that there are some who think that the threat of Congress authorizing military action is what drove Assad to relinquish chemical weapons. I’ve always been skeptical of that argument, since there were five different public counts (including one at the Washington Post) all showing that House opponents of military intervention outnumbered supporters by 10 to 1. Anyone with internet access could find that out, and I assume that Assad has internet access. Did Assad relinquish those weapons because his command-and-control structure had broken down, and he could no longer control when and where those weapons were used? Or because he was afraid that they might fall into rebel hands, because so much of his weaponry already had?
In the words of two great (albeit fictitious) military strategists, Francis Urquhart and Frank Underwood, “You might very well think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.”
Now think about this: What if we had gone to war against Syria last year? We would have:
(a) hit the Syrian regime hard, and
(b) delivered the Syrian chemical weapons into the hands of ISIS.
Yes, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The ones whom the Administration is helping the Iraqi Government to fight. Those are ones who crucify and behead their enemies. Picture what they could do with poison gas.
So my enemy’s enemy is my friend. Unless it’s my enemy. And what about my enemy’s enemy who also is my friend’s enemy, even though my friend is allied with my enemy?
As far as I can recall, I’m the only one who pointed out last year that just because you’re hurting the bad guy (Assad) doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re helping the good guys, or whoever passes for that in Syria these days. I remember one national TV interview in which the interviewer asked me whether we should be helping the Syrian rebels. I answered, “Which ones: the Al Qaida graduates, or the anti-Semites?”
The German military strategist Carl von Clausewitz understood this problem well. He referred to it as “the fog of war.” Here is a translation of what he said:
“War is an area of uncertainty; three-quarters of the things on which all action in war is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty, to a greater or lesser extent. The first thing needed here is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth, with the measure of its judgment.”
Or to put it as Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did, ironically in the context of explaining why we never found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:
“There are known knowns; there are things that we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
President George W. Bush wasn’t exactly a “fine, piercing mind,” and so in the search of those nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, we flushed roughly 4,000 American lives, 400,000+ Iraqi lives and $4,000,000,000,000.00 down the you-know-what. After that lesson, I was hoping last year to see some “fine, piercing mind” emerge from within the Administration during the debate of U.S. military intervention in Syria. But I was disappointed. It was more along the lines of “let’s just toss in some missiles, and see what happens.”
One of the greatest unknowns in war is in knowing – or really, not knowing – what effect your own actions will have. On that subject, we must turn to yet another great military strategist, Yankees Manager Yogi Berra:
“It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a lesson that our leaders need to take to heart. To which I offer this sequela:
When in doubt, PEACE.
Rep. Alan Grayson
The Urban Dictionary defines the term “Obama Derangement Syndrome” as follows:
“The acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the statements -- nay -- the very existence of Barack Obama.”
Whenever the term “Obama Derangement Syndrome” enters the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , I suggest a subheading for an equally debilitating disease: “Grayson Derangement Syndrome.” There seems to be a massive and uncontrollable outbreak of that ailment on the starboard side of the American political spectrum every time that my name enters political discourse.
Take last month, for instance. It fell to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to choose five House Democrats, from among 199, to serve on the House Kangaroo Court – sorry, the House Select Committee – on Benghazi. Five out of 199: not very good odds. Nevertheless, 70,000 grassroots, rank-and-file Democrats signed a petition to have me appointed to the House Star Chamber – sorry, the House Select Committee – on Benghazi. Here are some of the reasons that were mentioned:
- I do this sort of thing quite well. The most watched Congressional video in history (over five million views) is my committee examination of Elizabeth Coleman, the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve. I ask the witnesses actual questions, I require actual answers, and the public actually learns stuff.
- I serve, with distinction, on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the committee that has jurisdiction of diplomats and foreign embassy safety.
- Unlike every other Member of the House, at least as far as I can tell, I took the time and trouble to read all of the classified Benghazi e-mails and cables and memos and reports, spending many hours at a lonely classified location that I cannot disclose.
- I was a practicing lawyer for a quarter of a century, so I know a thing or two about what to do with a witness.
- I already questioned Secretary Clinton and a U.S. Ambassador on what happened in Benghazi. By everyone’s reckoning, I spent the time well. Thus I already have helped to dispel the flagrant nonsense surrounding what I called “the scandal that never was.”
So it should come as no surprise that I would be part of the conversation about who should serve on the House Benghazi Inquisition – sorry, House Benghazi Committee.
Unless, of course, you are part of what Hillary Clinton aptly called the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.” Their reaction was not one of surprise. It was fear. Because they know that I can stand up to them.
So as soon as my name was floated as a committee member, not by some talking head on TV but rather by 70,000 good Democrats, the attacks began, starting with – who else? – Fox News.
On the May 20th chapter of “Fox and Friends” (“Friends” of Fox News? Yuck.), Fox conceded that Democrats were “impressed” with me because I’m a “great prosecutor” and “so direct in my questioning.”
And then Fox took out the knives. The omniscient “crawl” at the bottom of the screen screamed out that I’m “known” for my “inflammatory comments.” (Unlike Fox News itself, I suppose.) The highly objective and profoundly unbiased Fox chyron then added that my possible nomination to the committee was an “OUTRAGE” and a “DISSERVICE” (all capital letters, for the hard-of-seeing).
In case the already-bludgeoned Fox viewer had somehow missed the point, Disinformation Officer Elisabeth Hasselbeck said that I’d be “a spoke in the wheel” for the committee. She wondered whether, if my “target were Republicans, would that be a good idea?” (When you know as little as Hasselbeck knows, you do a lot of wondering.)
Steve Doofy – sorry, Doocy – claimed that the petition that 70,000 of us signed “started out as a joke, on Twitter and the blogs.” (Believe me, when it comes to Steve Doocy and jokes, it takes one to know one.) Steve Goofy – sorry, Doocy – then charged that my being on the Benghazi Committee would “gum up the works” and “turn the Committee into a kangaroo court” -- “They think it’s a farce.” At which point, the irony meter exploded. Yet the Fox chyron heartily agreed with Boozy – sorry, Doocy – charging sternly that my nomination would represent the “Democrats Pulling A Political Stunt.”
And here was the most damning condemnation against me from the all-wise and all-knowing Steve Woozy – sorry, Doocy – that Einstein of the airwaves: “Republicans do not think that he is a great statesman.”
(True fact about Steve Doocy: this year, he was named “Kansan of the Year.” How very, very sorry for Kansas.)
Alan Grayson said that if he were named to the Benghazi Committee, he would be the GOP’s “worst and last nightmare.” Judging from the response of Fox News, that’s exactly how they saw it, too. Alan Grayson has the strength and courage to stand up to the Right-Wing Noise Machine. That’s why he deserves your support today, before the FEC deadline on June 30 at midnight.
As Media Matters aptly noted, the Fox “News” attack on me what Fox’s attempt “to dictate the terms of Democratic cooperation” with the House Benghazi Burlesque – sorry, House Benghazi Committee. Media Matters said that Fox News wanted to keep a tight grip on the committee, and it sure couldn’t do that if I were appointed.
Moreover, Fox News wasn’t the only right-wing propaganda organ recognizing that threat to the narrative. When MSNBC reported on the petition to place me on the committee, an online Fox News wannabe called The American Journal responded by calling me an “unhinged lunatic.” (I think that all lunatics should have hinges, don’t you?) For good measure, this dispassionate chronicle added that I was “slightly to the left of Marx and on the same mental plane as Stalin.” And during the previous month, this detached and sober diary of the American experience named me “the Most Outrageously Insane Politician Ever Elected.” (By the way, The American Journal was absolutely delighted with the actual Democratic appointees to the committee, and praised them to the skies.)
Let me put this simply: I stand up to these right-wing bullies. I skewer their calls to hatred and fear with facts and logic. I am unfazed and undazed. I am unbowed and uncowed. Which is why they know that they must ATTACK-ATTACK-ATTACK. They are on a search and destroy mission against the truth, and I am their #1 target.
The Koch Brothers have been running attack ads against Rep. Alan Grayson in his district since last November. We can’t afford to lose him. Our deadline is midnight tomorrow. Show your support right now – every dollar counts.
Perhaps in some parallel universe, parallel Alan Grayson sees these parallel vicious, personal and relentless attacks, and says, “what the hell – I don’t need this grief. I give up.” But in this universe, I recognize their desperate lies as . . . desperate lies.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” We are now at Stage Three. And, with your help , we will move on, to Stage Four. Then we win.
Rep. Alan Grayson
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.