Number of posts: 455
- 2015 (25)
- 2014 (95)
- 2013 (66)
- 2012 (106)
- Older Archives
So the GOP had us vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today on yet another malevolent bill, whose primary purpose evidently is to reduce Planet Earth to a burnt cinder. If the GOP were right that humans weren’t causing climate disruption, that might prove to be something of a relief, because then we wouldn’t feel so stupid about the extinction of humanity. The title of the GOP’s bill was “Lowering Gasoline Prices to Fuel an America That Works Act,” also known as the LGPTFAATW Act. Paging Dr. Orwell, paging Dr. Orwell . . . .
Five House Democrats stepped forward with amendments, seeking to make this putrid saddlebag of puss slightly less detestable. There are 233 Republicans in the House, and 199 Democrats. Here is how the Democrats voted:
(1) 178 to 8.
(2) 179 to 5.
(3) 183 to 3.
(4) 174 to 12.
(5) 185 to 2.
So the Democratic amendments drew the support of between 94% and 99% of all the Democrats. Sounds promising, right? No, not right. Here is how the Republicans voted on the same amendments:
(1) 1 to 224.
(2) 4 to 222.
(3) 5 to 220.
(4) 5 to 217.
(5) 4 to 221.
Not a single Democratic amendment drew more than 2% of the Republican votes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to the 113th Congress!
For a Democrat to win on any vote, that Democrat needs the support of all the Democrats, and at least 8% of the Republicans. Or somewhat fewer Democrats (I’m looking at you, Jim Matheson!), and even more of the Republicans.
That didn’t happen today. Not even close.
But hey, I’m a Democrat, and somehow or other, I won on 13 House amendment votes last year -- more than any other Member, Democratic or Republican. Plus 15 times this year – so far. And I won on good progressive stuff, too – protecting us from NSA sabotage of security standards, moving money from weapons to biomedical research, cutting off funding for contractors whose work is late or over budget, etc., etc.
Q. Who deserves your support? A. A proud progressive Democrat who knows how to win! Please contribute to our re-election campaign before the June 30 FEC deadline.
So why have my amendments succeeded, when so many other Democratic amendments have failed? Here are a few reasons:
(1) I give some thought as to what might make a progressive amendment appealing to 18 or more House Republicans. Sometimes I can make a regional pitch, as I did to coastal Republicans on an offshore drilling amendment. Sometimes I can make a Constitutional pitch, as I did on a shield law for reporters and their sources. Sometimes I can make a nationalist pitch, as I did for protecting the Buy American Act from being gutted in trade negotiations. And sometimes I can make a political pitch, as I did for increased funding for Spanish-language housing counseling. (“Do you really want Hispanics to hate the GOP forever and ever?”) With some thought, I can see each proposal the way that the other side sees it, and I can come up with a way to win enough of their votes without compromising our principles.
(2) I come up with things that are worth voting on. I’m not going to waste everyone’s time with an amendment to establish a commission, or order a report. That’s not my style. I swing for the fences. And in an institution scared by pervasive, perpetual boredom, that counts for something. I keep it real, and I keep it interesting.
(3) I’m not afraid to talk to GOP leadership directly. I walk right up to them, I tell them what I want, and I explain why I want it. I don’t mince words. I don’t try to fool them. I don’t kiss up to them. Usually, they say no, but every once in a while, they say yes. And they love being asked.
(4) I work it. I work it like no one else in the House. (Sorry, but it ain’t bragging if it’s true.) For every amendment that I care about, I personally write a letter to every other Member of the House, explaining why I deserve their support. I hand the letter to most of them myself. I talk to dozens and dozens of GOP members about what my amendment is all about. My staff talks to their staff. And I enlist the help of other Members to spread the word.
Isn’t this EXACTLY what you want from a Member of Congress? Someone who pays attention, works hard, cares about our principles, and figures out HOW TO WIN? As MSNBC’s Ed Schultz once said about Rep. Alan Grayson, “This guy is what it’s all about!” So show your support for our Congressman With Guts right now, before the looming June 30 deadline.
You may ask, why don’t other House Democrats do this, instead of sitting around and whining about how awful the GOP is? It’s like the old joke:
Q. Why is there so much ignorance and apathy? A. I don’t know and I don’t care.
I tell other Members that if they’re unhappy with their job, then they should let someone else have it. No matter which side has the numbers, there are 50 different ways to win.
And it’s so important to win. There are 700,000 people in Central Florida, and 320 million people nationwide, who are counting on me to do something good for them. And that’s good enough for me.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. As we said yesterday, with the June 30 deadline approaching, you’ll be seeing a lot of messages this week from Members of Congress, asking for your support. But ours notes are the only ones that you’ll see citing actual accomplishments. Think about that, and then show your support for America’s Congressman.
When I was a boy, back in prehistoric times (as my children would say), our first assignment upon returning to school after each summer was to write an essay entitled “What I Did This Summer.” Well I feel that you, Dear Reader, you are entitled to a similar report. What have we been up to, here at Fort Grayson, for the past several months? Allow me to explain . . . .
Last year, we passed more amendments on the Floor of the House than any other Member of Congress, Democratic or Republican. Which is not easy thing to do, when you lose every single vote that goes along party lines. We passed thirteen amendments, enacting good, solid, progressive legislation.
This year, so far: FIFTEEN. We have shattered our own record, even before we reach the midpoint of The Year Two Thousand Fourteen.
<em>IS THIS THE KIND OF PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP THAT YOU WANT TO SEE? If yes, then click here to support our reelection campaign. If no, then go waste your time watching Fox News .
And once again, we have passed all of these amendments without renaming a single post office, establishing any commission, or mandating some report. Nope, we’ve done some real heavy lifting in the past few months. Here are some examples:
(1) In a stunning surprise vote at 12:40 am that pieced together 175 Democrats and 53 Republicans, we enacted a shield law to protect journalists and their sources.
(2) We expanded our “corporate death penalty” for government contractors who commit serious crimes.
(3) We moved $20 million more from the military budget to the medical research budget.
(4) We once again boosted funding for bilingual housing counseling by 50%.
(5) We prohibited the Trade Representative from weakening Buy American Act laws, showing that Congress will protect our interests against “trade” giveaways to multinational corporations.
(6) We prevented the National Security Agency from weakening cryptographic standards.
AND WE DEMONSTRATED THAT A PROGRESSIVE CAN GET THINGS DONE. Which is why our campaign deserves your support, as our June 30 deadline approaches.
I could have spent the last three months schmoozing with corporate lobbyists. I could have spent the last three months begging rich people for campaign funds. I could have spent the last three months on “Congressional delegation” junkets. I could have spent the last three months selling off little chunks of the law to the highest bidder, just like the Republicans do.
But you deserve better than that. You deserve a Representative who can fight for progressive values, and win.
So as the clock winds down on Q2, as the Spring Semester comes to an end, ask yourself this: Who has EARNED your support? Who DESERVES your support? Who really REPRESENTS YOU in Congress?
You know the answer. So click here, and show your support. The show must go on, and with your help, it will.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. You’re going to be seeing a lot of messages from Members of Congress this week, asking for your support. I’m fairly confident, though, that this is the only one that you’ll see based on actual accomplishments. Think about that, and then click on that button below.
My colleague, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, will offer two amendments on the defense spending bill today or tomorrow. Both of these amendments will prevent funding for war in Iraq. I need you to sign this emergency petition supporting Congresswoman Lee's amendments.
Although Rep. Lee was the only member to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001, she won't be alone this time. I will also stand up to say “No!” The more names we add to the petition, the more members of Congress will come out in opposition, too.
We need to say NO. American combat forces didn't help last time and they won't help this time. What is happening in Iraq is tragic and awful, but we should use the Hippocratic oath for foreign policy -- first do no harm. Please join us.
Here are the gory details of the amendments. The first eliminates funding for the Authorization of the Use of Military Force in Iraq, which is basically our declaration of war made in 2002. The second eliminates funding for 'combat troops' in Iraq.
Maybe Congress will get it right this time, after getting it so, so wrong last time. At the very least, since I'm in Congress this time, you can count on me to support peace. We also have a President not named Bush, and he actually listens to reason.
But tens of thousands of you pushing is essential!
This is an emergency. Send this to your friends. Send this to your family. Post this on Facebook, on Twitter, on whatever newfangled services are out there.
If you know any reporters or bloggers, send this to them. Yes, this is real breaking news.
We may win the vote, or we may not. But if we don't advocate peace, we won't get peace. So let's do this. Together.
P.S. Please share this on Facebook and Twitter.
A lot of people think the internet is a free and open environment, where you can say what you want and visit, build, and use the sites and services you want. And it is. But that's only because the government protects us from the large cable and phone companies. These companies want to block, slow, or degrade services and sites that don't pay them money. This means that, absent government protection, any site or service might be slowed down and made unusable, if the owner won't or can't pay off the corporate bullies.
Winning. It's not a word you hear often among progressives. But our campaign against giant corporate-friendly trade agreements is working.
Right now, the United States Trade Representative is negotiating two giant trade corporate agreements that would create free trade areas with East Asia and much of Europe.
Two weeks ago, I passed an amendment in the U.S. House of Representatives mandating saying that no matter what happens with these agreements, local, state, and the Federal government are allowed to buy American-made products. This is common sense. The American government should be able to buy American products. Even the corporate GOP were afraid to vote against this amendment.
Now it's up to the Senate to pass this amendment as well. Senator Ron Wyden recently became Chairman of the Finance Committee in the Senate, which is the committee that handles questions of trade, including these giant trade agreements.
Please sign my petition asking Senator Wyden to turn my Buy America provision into law.
I'll deliver your names to his office, so he can see how much support there is for a smarter way to do trade.
If a Tea Party dominated House of Representatives can take on corporate interests and pass this, then surely Democrats in the Senate can.
Let's make it happen. Forward this email to your friends. Let them know that we the people can win. Let them know that we the people are winning. Together.
P.S. Here's a story about my amendment.
"We have shrinking civil liberties, we have undue monied influence, and we have domestic surveillance. So, at what point do the American people say, “No More!”? We need a people's movement.
Marianne Williamson, CA-33 candidate for Congress, is in a close race tomorrow, and I’m hoping that you will provide her some last-minute support. Here’s why.
It’s exceedingly difficult to get any real feel of how a candidate thinks, much less what he or she will do in office. Most serious candidates know their lines, and they always have their game face on. So sometimes – often, really – we get fooled. We mistake the resume for the heart. We mistake the record for the soul. We mistake the words for the meaning.
In the case of Marianne Williamson, that is not possible. What you see is what you get.
Several people in public life have written books. A smaller number have actually read books. And an even smaller number have actually written the books that list them as authors.
These books tend to be extended exercises in rationalization. “I did this, I did that, and the world should be absolutely delighted with me.” As if.
Marianne Williamson has written many books – four of them #1 best-sellers on the New York Times list – and her books aren’t like that. In fact, her books aren’t about her at all. They are an extended discussion about the human condition, about us, and how we can be all that we can be. Here are some very brief excerpts:
“Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called ‘All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’”
“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”
“Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learned here.”
“No one will listen to us until we listen to ourselves.”
“You playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
“It’s your time to sparkle. We need less posturing and more genuine charisma. It’s about a sparkle in people that money can’t buy.”
“There is no peace without forgiveness.”
“Never give up hope. When darkness falls, the stars come out.”
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.”
Why am I telling you this? Marianne Williamson can explain that, too:
“People hear you on the level that you speak to them from. Speak from your heart, and they will hear with theirs.”
If you heart hears what Marianne Williams is speaking, please support her before her primary tomorrow. Because we need more true leaders in Congress.
Rep. Alan Grayson
“Each of us has a unique part to play in the healing of the world.”
- Marianne Williamson
I’m pleased to announce the winner of Blue America’s Jimi Hendrix Platinum Album Award: Roberta "Bobbie" Kirkhart, of Los Angeles, California. Thank you to the 1000+ supporters who contributed to our campaign, and a special thank you to Blue America, for two things: making it possible, and making it happen.
Now, on to business.
On Tuesday, there will be a primary in Southern California to choose the successor to Rep. Henry Waxman, a master legislator who has served in the House for 40 years. In that race, I’m hoping that you will show your support for Marianne Williamson, the most inspirational candidate of 2014. Rather than telling you about her myself, I’m going to let her explain her candidacy in her own very articulate words. Here is her message to the voters and to America, featured in her current TV ad:
“Hi. I'm running for Congress because I think we're living through the corporate takeover of the United States government. We have shrinking civil liberties, we have undue monied influence, and we have domestic surveillance. So, at what point do the American people say, “No More!”? We need a people's movement. Independent voices, passing a constitutional amendment to outlaw the undue influence of money on our politics, in order to return our government to the American people. I’m Marianne Williamson, and I approve this message."
Q. Who else is addressing the voters with this kind of ennobling call to action on the central issue in our political system?
A. No one else.
Please click here to support Marianne Williamson’s congressional campaign. I need her, with me in Congress. You need her. America needs her.
Rep. Alan Grayson
This morning, at 12:40 am, the U.S. House of Representatives did something that has eluded it for 42 years: it passed a law to prevent journalists from being imprisoned for protecting their sources. I took this concept, known as a “shield law,” boiled it down to 52 words, and put it up for a surprise vote. And won.
What brought together a bipartisan coalition of 173 Diocrats and 52 Republicans behind this bold progressive measure was the following “Dear Colleague” letter, which I handed out to Mibers personally on the Floor of the House, as the clock struck twelve:
GRAYSON AMENDMENT – Vote to Have the Federal Government Join 49 States in Protecting Reporter Sources
In the last set of votes on the CJS Appropriations Bill, there will be a vote on having the Federal Government join 49 states in protecting reporter sources. The amendment reads as follows:
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to compel a journalist or reporter to testify about information or sources that the journalist or reporter states in a motion to quash the subpoena that he has obtained as a journalist or reporter and that he regards as confidential.”
This amendment would bring federal law in conformity with the law of the States; of the 50 States, only Wyoming lacks protection for reporter information and sources. This gap between federal law and State law has persisted for over 40 years, since the closely contested 5-to-4 U.S. Suprie Court decision of Branzburg v. Hayes. Ironically, even though the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees “freedom . . . of the press,” absent statutory authority, federal courts have been reluctant to follow the consensus established by the States that protects reporters and their sources. For over four decades, Congress has failed to fill this gap.
Support for such a law is bipartisan and bicameral. In the House, last July, Reps. John Conyers and Ted Poe joined together in a op-ed article entitled “A Shield Law Is Essential to a Robust Press.” In the Senate, Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham have introduced a federal shield law that has drawn the approval of the White House, called the “Free Flow of Information Act.”
The need for a shield law is hardly abstract. In 2005, New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for 85 days for doing exactly what any reporter would do, i.e., refusing to reveal her source.
I encourage my colleagues to seize this opportunity, pass this amendment, and show our continuing respect for the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and freedom itself.
Despite opposition from the House Republican leadership, and “no recommendation” from the House Diocratic leadership, the persuasive power of these words gave us a 225-183 win.
During the next few days, I’ll tell you more about this victory, and the other three progressive measures that we found a way to incorporate into this morning’s appropriations bill in the Tea Party-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. But in the meantime, know this: It’s still possible to be a progressive, and to get things done.
Victory, sweet victory.
Rep. Alan Grayson
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:
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.
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.
Shhhh . . . .
- Jimi Hendrix, "Third Stone From the Sun" (1967).
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
But I wanted everyone to understand what a truly awesome opportunity this
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
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 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?:
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
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.
Rep. Alan Grayson