Alan Grayson's Journal
Member since: Sat May 22, 2010, 01:02 PM
Number of posts: 444
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You may be wondering why you have been receiving all of these solicitations on December 31, 2013, when the next election date is November 4, 2014. Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you why I'm asking for your help today. I'm asking because our campaign starts next week.
I admit that we do things a little differently from most candidates. One very successful elected official once gave me this advice: "Do nothing but fundraising until the last month before the election, and then spend everything on 30-second ads."
That's not the way that we do it. We call voters. We knock on doors. We collect petition signatures. We hand out campaign literature. We sign up absentee voters. We help people get to the polls.
And it all starts next week. The first week of January.
In Florida, you can buy your way onto a Congressional ballot, for around $10,000. Or you can collect several thousand voter petitions. In each of my last three House races, my opponent wrote a check to get on the ballot. We, in contrast, collected the necessary voter signatures. And then doubled that amount. Because every signature to put you on the ballot is a sure vote in November.
Last time, we started sending out our door-to-door campaign canvassers in March. This time, we're not waiting until March. It takes a long, long time to reach out to 700,000 people individually. We're sending out our folks starting next week, when the weather in Orlando is cooler, and there are more voters at home.
If we reach out to our voters in January, February and March, it doesn't matter what kind of stupid nonsense the Koch Brothers try to stick in their ears in October. They're ours.
So I could tell you that our Federal Election Commission fundraising period ends tonight, and we have to show good numbers to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents, and . . . whatever. But that's not what I'm saying to you. I'm saying that we need your help now, because:
It's Showtime. Our campaign is about to begin.
And now you may understand why we have been emphasizing monthly contributions as much as we have. We love our volunteers, but we can't get many volunteers to slog through 90-degree heat in Orlando in mid-August. We pay our full-time canvassers. And we're not going to have to pay them only in January. We're going to have to pay them each month between now and the 2014 election. The campaign needs you to pay us, so that we can pay them. Starting next week.
Let's put this in perspective. Think of all of the times that you've seen a filthy negative ad on TV, and said to yourself, "God, I hate that type of campaigning." Well, here is one campaign that reaches out to the voters, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand, just like candidates used to.
We need your help – and we deserve it. Please contribute today, and make it monthly if you can.
Let's show all those other suckers how it's done.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Dec 31, 2013, 06:24 PM (2 replies)
This is so weird that I can barely believe it myself, but it's true. Right-wingers are contacting lobbyists – yes, lobbyists! – and directing them not to support my reelection campaign. Which is why I need your support before our year-end deadline today.
Lobbyists and I are not, shall we say, the best of friends, but I am on speaking terms with a few of them. In the past few weeks, three of them have contacted me, and told me that they have received lots of calls and e-mails from right-wing groups, urging the lobbyists to withhold their contributions from our campaign. From what we've been able to discern, these lobbyists are just three out of many who have been contacted. Evidently, this is an organized, nationwide campaign.
This bizarre ploy appears to be orchestrated by Ben Shapiro, the Editor-In-Chief of a psycho right-wing website grandiosely named "TruthRevolt" (presumably, because its readers find the truth to be revolting). The irony of that website name is palpable, because Shapiro seems to lack even a nodding acquaintance with the truth. On the contrary, Shapiro seems to be allergic to the truth. Shapiro has called President Obama a Muslim, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a lesbian, Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel a "kapo" (that was the name for Jews who collaborated with Nazis in the concentration camps), and Adolf Hitler a "left-winger." Just for fun, Shapiro added that Arabs like to "live in open sewage." Also, that Defense Secretary Hagel accepted campaign contributions from a group called "Friends of Hamas," which – like so many things in Shapiro's head -- actually doesn't exist.
Shapiro's website says that its "mission" is to "devastate the funding bases" of "leftists." Which is exactly what he is trying to do to us.
After launching vicious, lying attacks against President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Hagel and Chief of Staff Emanuel, now, Shapiro and his Tea Party wing-nut pals are coming after me.
But in the strangest way that I can think of – by lining up lobbyists not to support our campaign. Come to think of it, though, if I were a Republican, that would put a real hurt on me. If I were a corporate Democrat, that would put a real hurt on me. In fact, if I were one of the 434 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives - out of a total of 435 - who had received most of his contributions in the last election from lobbyists, corporate PACs, millionaires, billionaires and other big donors, then that would put a real hurt on me.
But I'm not. Instead, I'm the only Member of the U.S. House of Representatives – THE ONLY ONE – who raised most of the money for his last House campaign from contributors who gave $200 or less.
And now I need your help – today, before our year-end Federal Election Commission deadline. Because if you don't help, then who will? Surely not the lobbyists.
Isn't it nice to have at least one Member of Congress who is unbossed, and unbought?
Well, if that's the way you like it, then you're going to have to show your support – today. Because if the other side is literally lining up the lobbyists against me, a year before the election, then you can be sure that as soon as it's 2014, all hell will break lose.
I would like to give these right-wing creeps the one-finger salute. I'd like to shoot them the bird. I'd like to throw the unicorn at them. I'd like to flip them all off. I want them to understand that they can whine to their lobbyist pals all day long, but the real power behind this campaign is not lobbyists, it's you.
So please contribute to our campaign before the year-end deadline, and contribute generously. Or just accept that our government is now of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists.
The decision is yours.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Dec 31, 2013, 12:30 PM (4 replies)
I am a second-term Member of Congress. I am not Minority Leader, Minority Whip, or Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. I am not a ranking Democratic Member of any House Committee or Subcommittee. I do not hold any position with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Despite my seeming insignificance, however, a lot of extreme right-wingers seem desperate – utterly desperate - to remove me from office.
Take Col. Allen West, for instance. West said recently, on Fox News, that he "prays" for my defeat in 2014. And take Fox News's host Bill O'Reilly. In the same interview, Bill O'Reilly predicted that I will lose in 2014.
Who is Allen West? While serving in Iraq, West had his soldiers arrest an Iraqi police officer, and beat the living daylights out of him. Then, for good measure, West took out his own gun, and shot it right next to the Iraqi police officer's ear. West was convicted of violating the Military Code of Conduct, fined $5000, and ushered out of the U.S. Army.
West somehow parlayed that experience into a seat in Congress, proving that there is fine, fine line between fame and infamy. During West's one term in Congress, he:
-- denounced Democrats as "chicken men,"
-- said that "about 78 to 81" Democratic Congressman are "members of the Communist Party,"
-- characterized Obama supporters as "a threat to the gene pool,"
-- called Rep. Keith Ellison the "antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established" simply because Ellison is Muslim, and
-- called Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee, "the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives."
Allen West then lost the 2012 election, and I won, which represents the most massive upgrade in "Allens" in U.S. history.
After the election, Fox News hired West as a paid bloviator. To justify paying West, Fox puts him in front of a camera from time to time. A few weeks ago, West appeared on Bill O'Lie-ly's show – sorry, Bill O'Reilly's show. I don't have to tell you much about Bill O'Reilly – Sen. Al Franken wrote a whole book about him, entitled "Lies, and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them."
So anyway, by way of introduction, O'Reilly went off on a bizarre tirade about me, calling me "crazy," "unbalanced," and "the most extreme Democrat in Congress." It's hard to tease any sort of coherent message out of what O'Reilly was saying, but he seemed to be very, very upset that "the unions love" me, and that I'm a "liberal man."
O'Reilly asked West about my prospects in the 2014 election. West said that I have "a pretty good challenger coming up against in this next 2014 cycle." Referring to me, O'Reilly said: "He is going to lose next November. He is going to lose. I predict it now." West responded that West "prays" for my defeat.
One hopes that West's prayers will be no more effective in 2014 than they were in 2012, when West lost his own reelection campaign. My guess is that God, like a lot of people, stopped listening to Allen West a long time ago.
And yet . . . . Here we are, still almost a year before the 2014 election, and the Right Wing's "big guns" already are assailing me, and assailing me viciously. Yesterday, I told you about Mike Huckabee's attack on me. Today, it's Bill O'Reilly and Allen West. They want so bad to beat us.
Tomorrow is our FEC report cut-off date. We are under attack. It's time for us to circle the wagons, and return fire. I need your help, and I need it now. We need to hire canvassers, collect petitions, set up phone banks and hand out campaign literature – right away. Every dollar counts. Our deadline is midnight tomorrow. Please contribute today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:56 PM (15 replies)
Mike Huckabee is attacking me. And also attacking you.
Based on his bizarre beliefs and his appalling record, former Gov. Mike Huckabee ought to be some light-weight fringe figure, relegated to fifth place in any four-person race. But he’s not. Public Policy Polling places Mike Huckabee in a statistical tie with Sen. Ted Cruz for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, just a few points behind Gov. Chris Christie. So it means something when Mike Huckabee attacks someone like me, and he attacks someone like you.
I don't want to be immodest, but I often hear from people like you that I'm saying what you’re thinking, but no one else is saying. I'm not trying to glorify myself; that’s just something that I hear a lot.
Well, Mike Huckabee heard about it, too, and this is what he said, on national radio:
“If Alan Grayson is saying the things that you are thinking, then you need some serious psychiatric assistance, and you need it right now. It is something that cannot wait until next week. You need to go to a hospital immediately and check in, because if you’re thinking what he's saying, then you are one sick puppy. You need some real help. I would call it an acute emergency, not something that is a mild disorder.”
Don't think that I'm making this up. We have a recording.
Perhaps this rings a bell. In the Soviet Union, political opponents of the regime were accused of mental illness. If you read prohibited books, you were deemed crazy. If you participated in demonstrations, you were deemed crazy. If you attempted to leave the Soviet Union, you were deemed crazy. The "mentally ill" were placed in long-term psychiatric incarceration, often in Siberia, without a trial. In fact, documents from the time demonstrate that the Soviet Union consciously exploited and misused psychiatry to crush dissent.
Here's something ironic: If you expressed religious beliefs in the Soviet Union, you were deemed crazy, and you were incarcerated. Mike Huckabee wears his religion on his sleeve. For that, in the Soviet Union, he would have been locked up in a mental institution for life. But Huckabee sees nothing wrong in suggesting that maybe you should be locked up – for agreeing with me.
So what does this mean? It means this: If the #2 candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination is attacking me, and you, in such gross personal terms, almost a year before my election, then it's going to be a long, tough year – and I need your help.
Perhaps you are offended that Mike Huckabee would call you crazy because you agree with me. If so, then do something about it – contribute to our reelection campaign today, before the end of our reporting period on Tuesday.
Perhaps you are offended that Mike Huckabee would call me crazy, simply because I go to battle each day for justice, equality and peace. If so, then do something about it – contribute to our reelection campaign today, before the end of our reporting period on Tuesday.
Since the end of the quarter is approaching, you may see a lot of requests for contributions in the next few days. I suspect, though, that this is the only one that you will see asking for your response to a direct personal attack on the candidate – and on you.
And you know why this is happening. Slate magazine identified me as the "most effective Member of Congress." I don’t just talk about progressive values; I implement them. I get stuff done. Which means that as far as Mike Huckabee and the Tea Party are concerned, I must be destroyed.
We are under attack. It’s time for us to circle the wagons, and return fire. I need your help, and I need it now. Every dollar counts; contribute today.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. As I've said before, the best way to help our campaign is to make monthly contributions. So please click here to contribute $20.14 each month. Help us fight back.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Dec 28, 2013, 02:41 PM (12 replies)
I know, I know. The 2014 election is still almost a year away. But the national Republican Party already is attacking me, and I need your help.
The Washington Post recently reported that the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is "targeting" me, and 18 other House Democrats. Why? Because we voted for healthcare reform in 2010. The headline of the article was "'Keep Your Health Plan Act' Spells Trouble For Dozens of Democrats."
The NRCC did, in fact, carry out this threat under the snide heading, "If You Don't Like Your Democratic Representative, You Don't Have To Keep Them (sic)." (The NRCC seems to have been infected by the same bad-grammar/bad-spelling bug that runs rampant among teabaggers.) The NRCC then pretentiously informed Florida voters that "In 2014, They Get to Press the Restart Button." (Oh, God, it's a reset button, not a restart button. Can't these GOP tools get anything right?)
The Republicans then excoriated me for voting for ObamaCare and then . . . wait for it . . . against repealing it! So, scandalously, the charge against me is that I was for ObamaCare before I was for it. As U2 used to say, "I stand accused of the things I've said." ("When Love Comes to Town" (1989) – ed.)
And here is the clincher – the Republicans say that these actions make me an "ObamaCare co-conspirator." Woooooooooo.
Listen, you don't have to put me in a hypnotic trance to get me to admit that I support universal, comprehensive and affordable healthcare for every American. Call me crazy if you want, but I believe that all Americans should be able to see doctors when they are sick, and get the care that they need to stay healthy and alive. I prefer that position to the Republican healthcare plan: "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."
But here's the thing: We're nowhere near the 2014 election, and yet already, the Republican Party is on the warpath, whacking at me. Shades of 2010, when they called me their #1 target, and spent more than $1 million to defeat me.
So I have to ask you – would you please help? Would you please give us the resources that we need to defeat their lies with our truth? Would you please contribute to our campaign? $25 or $35 or $50 can make a big difference, and every dollar counts.
As I explained a few weeks ago, the best way that you can do that is to become a "sustainer," making monthly contributions to our campaign. But even if it's just this once, please give what you can give. Please.
Don't let them threaten me. Don't even let them bust my chops, and try to silence us. Our work is too important for that. You know it, and I'm counting on you.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Dec 6, 2013, 10:39 PM (36 replies)
It hurts me to say this, but I recognize that I'm not the only one who says things that are worth listening to. So, from time to time, I'm going to turn over this "bully pulpit" to someone else. Today, I turn it over to someone who knows a thing or two about pulpits, Pope Francis. A week ago, he released his first apostolic exhortation, called "The Joy of the Gospel." I respectfully request that you take a few moments to read an excerpt from it, below. I found it fascinating, and I think that you will, too.
No to an economy of exclusion
Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "throw-away" culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility, and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
No to the new idolatry of money
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Exodus 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise, in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies, and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: "Not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs". (Saint John Chrysostom, De Lazaro Concio, II, 6: PG 48, 992D.)
A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings.
No to the inequality which spawns violence . . . .
Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamoring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an "education" that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.
To which I simply wish to add:
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. For more on this, please visit us at CongressmanWithGuts.com.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Dec 5, 2013, 05:05 PM (9 replies)
According to the D.C. playbook, when I was elected to minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, I was supposed to divide my time equally between:
1. Twiddling my thumbs, and
2. Bringing my hands together in prayer – praying that the House Democrats would win the 2014 election.
Well, I tossed out that playbook. And you and I are writing a different playbook – based on action. We are paying attention, working hard, and getting good things done.
A few weeks ago, I discovered a novel way for you and me, together, to help prevent any more Wall Street bailouts.
Federal bank regulators have proposed new rules that would require huge Wall Street banks (those deemed "too big to fail") to keep an extra $89 billion on hand, to cover unforeseen losses. The regulators asked for public comments. And boy, did we ever comment.
All I had to do was let you know about it, and the responses came pouring into our website, NoBankWelfare.com. Here are some examples:
"One bailout was one too many." – Kathleen in Nevada
"Lost all my hard-earned money in 2008. Don't want a replay." – Turia in Oregon
"STOP THE GLUTTONY!!" – Steven in Florida
All told, more than 100,000 of us submitted comments, which I then delivered to the federal regulators. Amazing! As far as we know, that's the largest number of comments these bank regulators have ever received. For that, we should all feel very proud.
But I am also a little shocked. Why? Because I was the first Member of Congress to undertake any sort of meaningful action on this. And I don't even sit on the House Financial Services Committee, which conducts oversight on the banks. (Although under the Tea Party Republicans, "oversee" generally means "overlook.")
In any case, you and I, working together, put a big hurt on the big banks. They squealed like stuck pigs. In their comments to the regulators, the suits on Wall Street used twenty-dollar words like "excessive" and "highly arbitrary" to condemn the proposed commonsense requirements. They complained that the rules would put them at a disadvantage against other banks. Oh, poor, poor Wall Street banks! We feel so sorry for you! Show us your booboo, and we will kiss it and make you feel better.
And after that, I respectfully would ask the big banks on Wall Street please to explain to us what they've done to prevent a replay of 2008, when they wiped out one-fifth of the entire wealth of this nation, accumulated over two centuries, in only 18 months. Lots of just plain folks lost their jobs, their savings and their homes, while Wall Street bankers laughed all the way to the bank – their bank.
Politics is a team sport, and that's the way it was here. I want to thank the progressive groups who joined in this effort: the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), CREDO Action and Progressives United. We are all in this together, fighting to prevent any more big bank bailouts, and make Wall Street clean up its own messes. Thank you.
If you think that ending taxpayer bailouts is time well spent, please consider chipping in $25 to my campaign, or whatever you can afford. I'll use it not only to beat the Republicans in 2014, but also for campaigns like this, where we can fight and beat Big Greed.
And if you really like these kinds of collective efforts, then please become a Grayson sustainer, where you contribute monthly and automatically.
Regardless, you can count on this: The People, united, will never be defeated.
Rep. Alan Grayson
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Dec 1, 2013, 01:11 PM (13 replies)
A few weeks ago, Congressman Alan Grayson conducted Washington, D.C.'s first-ever briefing on the innocent victims of U.S. military drone attacks. The central subject was an innocent 67-year-old grandmother who had been blown to bits, in front of her grandchildren, while she was gardening. The briefing began with this poignant and moving statement by our Congressman With Guts -- without notes, and from the heart:
Rep. Alan Grayson: Apart from the 100-plus people who are here in this room today, watching me, watching us, watching the testimony that you're about to hear, everyone else who hears this testimony -- it could be in the next room, it could be in another country – will be experiencing it remotely, through remote listening. That technology, in one form or another, has been with us for 150 years, to promote hearing, to promote listening, and promote seeing things, from far away. My children engage in it virtually all the time, and it's become basic in our lives.
Now, today, there's a new technology in our lives. That technology is remote killing -- the ability to kill people from a great distance, through drone warfare.
I want to thank everyone for coming here today, and addressing this important issue. I want to thank, in particular, Robert Greenwald, who for years has been a hero to the pro-peace movement here in the United States. His movies through Brave New Films have enlightened people about the circumstances in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and now in Pakistan, and also in Yemen.
I'm proud to be part of this event, and I'm grateful for the opportunity for the first time here to listen to the stories of people who have suffered from America's reliance on drones abroad, with great expense to them and to others. And let me be clear about this: the manner in which we choose, unilaterally, to kill from the skies, within the borders of other states with who we are not at war, is wrong. It's just too dangerous.
If you agree with me that, due to the extrajudicial nature of these killings, they should stop, then I welcome you. If you agree with me that, due to the belief that collateral damage in the form of the death of innocent people, an adult or a child, should never be acceptable, particularly at the will of one man, then I welcome you. If you agree with me that the unintended consequence of civilian deaths attributable to drone strikes, and the public opinion that has mobilized against this in every nation that has been victimized by drone strikes, ultimately engenders more hatred toward America than it could possibly extinguish through death, then I welcome you. And if you have yet to make up your mind about the pros and cons of these drone strikes, these miniature acts of war, then I am particularly glad that you're here this morning, or that you're listening from near or far.
I can think of no better person to shepherd us through the intricacies of drone use abroad than this person who I am proud to call my friend, Robert Greenwald. And as you see, he has a new documentary called “Unmanned: America's Drone Wars” coming out, that will be essential viewing for every American with a conscience. I urge everyone to see the full documentary and ask the pressing questions that will come to mind. That's why we're here today.
We also have some very special guests today: Rafiq ur Rehman and his children. I thank each of you for your willingness to be here, your bravery, and your ability to share your stories so that they could be heard. I wish that we didn't have to be here through the loss of someone you love. I know the trip here to America has been hard for you. Thank you for being with us.
I want to reiterate that the reason why you are here today is an important one. American drone policy is wrong; it's dead wrong. If American soldiers invaded a country with which we were not at war, killed civilians along the way, and then remained there for years afterwards running patrols against perceived enemies, killing them at will, we would find ourselves in an international crisis. If China deployed drones over the skies of Cleveland to kill those with anti-Chinese sentiments, I think you could imagine the results of that. Invading from the skies is no different from invading from the ground, and there is no constitutional legal framework in which these life-and-death decisions are being made.
There needs to be increased oversight of the decisions to fly lethal weapons over another nation and kill people, and we should never accept that their children or their loved ones in a far-away land are acceptable collateral damage. The world has learned from past wars. We've passed rules that every nation must adhere to when engaging in combat. The United States of America's decision to disavow these rules unilaterally, to engage in anonymous killing from the skies, does not make us safer. It simply engages the world in perpetual war.
I cannot think of any other type of human activity where we would accept the fact that 10 to 30 percent of the dead would be innocent. If we had 10 to 30 percent of the dead who were the victims of capital punishment in the United States, then clearly it would end overnight. If there were some kind of drug that ended up killing 10 to 30 percent of the patients who took that drug, we would never conclude that that drug were safe, no matter how effective it was. If there were a surgery that ended up killing 10 to 30 percent of its patients, that surgery would be forbidden, and doctors who performed that surgery would be put in prison. And yet we accept the idea that 10 to 30 percent of the victims of drone strikes are innocents -- and we should not, because that is fundamentally unacceptable.
In some of our ancient writings, shared by the people on this platform, there is some debate over which is the greatest of blessings. Is it hope? Is it faith? Is it charity? I have traveled around the world and talked to an awful lot of people about the subject, and I can tell you that the greatest blessing of all is peace. There needs to be more of it. Blessed be the peacemakers.
To show your support for our Congressman With Guts, click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Nov 14, 2013, 06:49 PM (3 replies)
Two months ago, we were told that if the United States did not attack Syria, we would see a new era of chemical weapons warfare.
Yet here is last week's Reuters headline: "Syria Meets Deadline To Destroy Chemical Production Facilities."
Let's celebrate the war that never happened.
Let's celebrate NOT having to hold sad and somber funerals for young Americans who would have lost their lives fighting in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to nurse and care for the wounded veterans who would have returned from the U.S.-Syrian war.
Let's celebrate Congress NOT having to appropriate billions of tax dollars in emergency spending to support U.S. military operations in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to attend bitter marches protesting the U.S. war in Syria.
Let's celebrate NOT having to rebuild Syria's roads and bridges and schools, so that we can have a shot at rebuilding our own.
Let's celebrate peace.
We won the battle, and the military-industrial complex lost the war.
We should be proud of our victories, because our victories matter. I know that politics sometimes can seem discouraging right now. Progressive often seem to lose, and lose frequently. But, you know what? Sometimes we win. And when we win, we save lives. We promote equality. We serve the cause of justice. We improve people's lives.
I'm going to crow a bit, right now. Because, together, we stopped a U.S. attack on Syria. The military-industrial complex said attack, and attack now. We said what John Lennon once said: "All we are saying is give peace a chance." We said that there is no such thing as humanitarian bombing. We said that we can't go around the world launching missiles and dropping bombs every time we see something that we don't like.
Well, we were right, and the military-industrial complex was wrong. We forced diplomacy rather than more carnage, and now the chemical weapons stockpiles are being destroyed.
This is victory. Our victory. Two months ago, 100,000 of us signed a petition at DontAttackSyria.com. Eighty thousand of us shared it on Facebook, and tens of thousands more shared it on Twitter.
And you know what? We stopped an attack. We saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
And you know what else? We got those chemical weapons production sites destroyed.
Peace won. Lives were saved. Thanks to you. Good job!
We progressives, each one of us, we have a head, a heart and a spine. We can win. We will win.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. If you like what we've done so far, we can accomplish even more together. If you haven't signed up already, then please become a $25/month sustainer of our campaign. Help make sure that our voices won't be silenced. Help make sure that we can continue to fight for justice, equality and . . . peace.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Tue Nov 12, 2013, 07:30 PM (116 replies)
This is the halfway point between Congressional elections. In our last two notes, we looked forward, and we asked for your support for the November 2014 election, 52 Tuesdays from now. Now I want to look back, and thank you and everyone else for your support in the November 2012 election, 52 Tuesdays ago.
According to information from the House Historian, our election last year was the biggest comeback in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. We won by 25 points, just two years after losing in the general election by 18 points. That's a swing of 43 points.
(Attention trivia lovers: the old record was held by Rep. John Rousselot (R-CA). He was defeated for reelection in 1962, by seven points. Eight years later, the Congressman in the neighboring district passed away. That was a heavily Republican district. Rousselot ran against another former Congressman in the primary to fill that vacancy, he squeaked by in that race, and then he won the general election by 33 points – a 40-point swing after eight years, in an entirely different district.)
Moreover, last year you helped us to overcome the utter sliming that the Right Wing had launched against us in 2010. We will never forget that the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee said that I was the Republican's #1 target for 2010. That Glenn Beck said that he didn't care what happened in any other 2010 race, as long as I lost. That Sarah Palin came to Central Florida more than once to campaign against me, and called me a "jackwagon" (reading that from her palm, apparently). That our district became a laboratory for what dirty tricks the special interests could get away with after the Citizens United ruling, running $5½ million of attack ads against me -- more "independent expenditures" than in any other House race, anywhere in the country, at any time ever, until then. That the average person in Orlando saw 70 vicious and disgusting negative ads against me, paid for with sewer money from the Koch Brothers, the health insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce.
Two years later, in 2012 – poof! – all gone. Instead, we won a historic victory – thanks to you.
And a recent analysis showed that of the 435 Members of the House of Representatives, I am the only one – the only one! – who raised most of his 2012 campaign contributions from small donors. That makes me feel special. And that makes you special – very special.
So let me do what I probably should do more often – just say thanks. Thank you for the opportunity to serve. Thank you for helping me to promote justice, equality and peace. Thank you for your support.
Rep. Alan Grayson
P.S. As I write this, the pledges from supporters like you have put us at a remarkable $99,255 in sustaining revenue. (I've printed out a copy of the ActBlue page, in case anyone wants to see it.) We were hoping to reach $100,000. It would be wonderful if someone pledged $20.14 per month toward the 2014 race, and put us over the top. Maybe you?
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Nov 11, 2013, 08:35 PM (13 replies)