Alan Grayson's Emails

If You Haven’t Read Anything Else, Read This


Conquering Fear: Veni, Vidi, Vici.

Here is a sad fact: Truth appears to have little if any utility in politics today. Despite my best efforts.

In both 2006 and in 2008, I ran as a pro-peace House candidate, the only one that Central Florida has ever seen. Reporters asked me, “When should we leave Iraq?” I replied, unequivocally, We never should have occupied Iraq in the first place, and we should have left a long, long time ago.” No pussyfooting.

I said this in a Congressional district that the GOP had held for 34 years straight. That didn’t matter to me. The truth is what mattered to me. I spent four years prosecuting war profiteers in Iraq, and I knew that the only ones who benefited from that war were bin Laden, Exxon and Halliburton.

I was hoping for an elevated discussion of the pros and cons of the war in Iraq. I was disappointed. One day during the 2008 campaign, one of my three-year-olds ran screaming from the living room. He had seen a GOP ad on TV that featured my head being sliced in half, diagonally. He thought that I was dead.

That’s the price that you pay for telling the truth.

I’m willing to keep telling the truth, no matter what. But I need your help to do it.

I lost in 2006. I won in 2008. When I was sworn in, I represented a district where one out of every four people had no health coverage. They couldn’t see a doctor when they were sick. Studies have shown that the uninsured have a 40% higher risk of death each year than the uninsured do. One out of every 1000 uninsured dies each year because he or she has no health coverage. In my district, that was almost 200 constituents each year.

So I did something else that Central Florida had never seen before: I became a strong advocate for universal healthcare. In one public event after another, I patiently explained the need for it. I was hoping for an elevated discussion of the pros and cons of universal healthcare. I was disappointed.

I remember when the President came to Congress to explain his healthcare plan. The GOP obtained an advance copy of the speech. When he invited them not simply to criticize his plan, but to offer a plan of their own, they started waiving some papers in the air. I had no idea what the GOP plan was, so when his speech was over, I went to their side of the Floor of the House to see. All I found were blank pieces of paper. The following day, on national TV, I explained what I had observed, and I announced the GOP’s healthcare plan for them: “Don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.”

Hate radio and Fox News whipped up a frenzy over that. Shortly thereafter, at a town hall meeting, a large group of Tea Party protesters from outside my district circled the building, and started to chant rhythmically, “F**k Alan Grayson.” Two of my children were there that night. They heard the chants. Right-wing media reported, falsely, that I had used them as “human shields.”

Not long after that, a woman called my house. One of my twins, then five years old, hit the speaker button. Thinking that he was me, she told him, “If you vote for healthcare, I’ll kill you.” This time, he ran screaming from the kitchen, not the living room.

That’s the price that you pay for telling the truth.

Let me say this again: I’m willing to keep telling the truth, no matter what. But I need your help to do it.

Like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), I took on the Koch Brothers. But I did it in 2010, before it was fashionable. In one column after another, I exposed how the “Kochtopus” was destroying public discourse in this country, and instilling fear in Democrats. I pointed out that the Koch Brothers would be the single largest beneficiary of the Keystone XL Pipeline, because they owned much of the refining capacity at the end of the pipeline in Texas. They stood to make billions if the pipeline were approved.

In response, the Koch Brothers unleashed what may be the most vicious personal attack against a sitting Member of Congress that this country has ever seen. All told, there was $5.5 million in disgusting attack ads spent against me, more “sewer money” than any House Member had ever faced, anywhere in America, ever. They called me a liar. They called me a loudmouth. They called me a national disgrace. In one ad, they depicted me as a clown. In another, a dog.

The average person in Orlando, my neighbors, saw those ads 70 times. Seventy times.

My five children saw those ads.

That’s the price that you pay for telling the truth.

What do you want in a leader? Someone who is not afraid. Someone who has the strength to stand up to the bullies. Someone who won’t kowtow to the rich and powerful. Someone who can tell right from wrong. Someone who wants to do something, not just be something. Someone who will fight for the greatest good for the greatest number. I can be all that; I have been all of that. But I need your help, to pay for my campaign. Every dollar counts, because every person counts.

I lost again in 2010. But I won in 2012. And when I returned to the U.S. House of Representatives, I looked around the Floor of the House, and I realized that most of the winners actually were losers. They had lost the will to legislate. They had lost the will to help their own constituents. They had lost the will to fight. They’re not reaching for the stars; they can barely reach their own rear ends. All that they care about is the next election, and maybe that longshot chance to scale the next rung on the political ladder. They hope that one day they can be a Senator or a Governor, and even more useless than they are right now.

I’m not like that. I know that there are millions of people who are counting on me to do something good for them. And I’m not going to let them down.

Let me be clear about this. I’m not asking for your sympathy. I’m not a martyr; I’m a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, one of only 12,000 in our history. I’m proud of what I do, and I’m especially proud of the way that I do it.

I passed more amendments both last year and this year than any other Member of the House. I wrote more bills than any other Member of Congress. We are kicking you-know-what. And that’s exactly why I’m asking not for your sympathy, but instead for your help. I want to keep doing it.

Our bumper stickers say: “GRAYSON. TRUTH.” That means something to me. And I pay a price for it. We all do.

One price that I pay is that I can’t turn to the Koch Brothers to finance my re-election campaign. Nor the other billionaires, nor the millionaires, nor the multinational corporations, nor the lobbyists. They’re all backing my opponent; they always do. I have no one to turn to but you. And I can’t offer you a tax break, or a bailout, or a no-bid contract, or a subsidized loan, or “regulatory relief.” All I can offer you is the will to fight for the common good.

My election is barely five weeks away. I need your help, and I need it now. Please make a substantial contribution to our campaign. You know that you can count on me. And now, I need to count on you. Click here to show your support for Justice, Equality, Peace and … Truth.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

New GOP Smear Campaign Against Me: I’m “Unethical”


The GOP Game Plan.

Nobody’s perfect, I know. But I must be pretty darn close to perfect. Because in order to attack me, the Republican Party has to lie.

Recently, the National Republican Congressional Committee, apparently at a loss as to how to launch any legitimate attack against me, charged that I “abused” my “frank mail privileges and used taxpayer money to distribute a self-promotional DVD to [my] constituents.”

First, the term is “franked,” not “frank.” This refers to items mailed to constituents and paid by our Congressional office budget. If you’re going to attack me, GOP, please learn how to spell.

Second, the fundamental purpose of “franking” is to inform your constituents about what you are doing on the job. This isn’t an “abuse”; it’s something that’s specifically authorized in the U.S. House of Representatives by House Rule XXIV.

Third, the DVD that the Republican Party is complaining about was approved unanimously, in advance by the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, which consists of three Democrats and three Republicans. All three of those Republicans voted in favor of our informational DVD, and yet now the Republican Party is assailing me over it.

Don’t you just hate cheap, dishonest political muggings like that? Well, it’s time to do something about it. Today is the last day of our quarterly FEC reporting period; please contribute $20 or more to our campaign, so that we can FIGHT BACK!

There’s more. Unfortunately, I happen to be one of the few Members of Congress who seems to know how to ask a question in a Congressional hearing. We each get five minutes with the witnesses. For most of the other Members, its 4:59 of senseless ranting, and then 0:01 of “Do you agree with me!?” If you ever watch C-SPAN, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I won’t do it that way. I assume that if we’re going to have a hearing, there may be interesting information that the witnesses may impart. So I ask real questions, and I expect real answers – no pussyfooting, no pretense, no prevarication.

Both the media and the public seem to find the novelty of real questions and real answers at a Congressional hearing quite engaging. That’s why the most-watched Congressional video of all time – my five-minute examination of the Fed’s Inspector General – has drawn over five million views on YouTube.

As a result, we have a treasure-trove of hearing examinations and Floor speeches that has found its own audience, on YouTube and elsewhere. I decided to share those with our constituents. I asked the staff how much it would cost to create and mail a postcard. Answer: 70 cents each. I asked how much it would cost to create and mail a DVD. Answer: 80 cents each. So we went with the DVD.

And our constituents loved it. We received countless compliments from them. They could finally see, with their own eyes, someone doing something useful in Washington, DC.

Which is why, I suppose, the do-nothing Republican Party considers it unethical.

Don’t let the GOP get away with this cheap shot. Contribute to our reelection campaign today, before the end of the quarter, and make sure that lies don’t beat truth.

By the way, this recent attack by the Republican National Congressional Committee neglects to point out that we mailed the DVDs back in 2010, more than four years ago. If they have to reach that far back to attack me during our 2014 campaign, I must have led an exemplary life for the past four years.

In fact, though, the disingenuous attacks began back then. One of my 2010 opponents filed an ethics complaint against me regarding the DVDs. Dismissed. But the Republican Party won’t tell you that.

Another opponent actually had the nerve to file a lawsuit against me regarding the DVDs. Dismissed. But the Republican Party won’t tell you that.

Instead, we have some hack flack for the Republican Party calling me an “unethical candidate,” and two trolling right-wing “news services” propagating that lie throughout my district.

C.H. Spurgeon once said that “a lie will go round the world while truth is putting its boots on.” To defeat the lie, we have to spread the truth. And we need your help to do it. Make your contribution of $20 or more today. Every dollar counts.

Rep. Michael Grimm is under indictment for underpaying his employees millions of dollars at a restaurant that he owned, and cheating on his taxes. You don’t see the Republican Party calling him unethical.

Rep. Vern Buchanan forced employees of his car dealerships to contribute to his campaign. You don’t see the Republican Party calling him unethical.

Rep. Scott Desjarlais, a doctor, broke Tennessee law by having sexual relations with two of his patients, and that fierce opponent of abortion advised one of them to get an abortion. You don’t see the Republican Party calling him unethical.

Speaking of abortion, Rep. David Valadao offered and passed an amendment to abort California’s high-speed rail project, because it would reduce the value of a dairy farm that he owns. You don’t see the Republican Party calling him unethical.

Why not? Because they’re all Republicans. It’s one rule for us, and no rules for them.

We need to defeat these mendacious onslaughts, and we need your help to do it. Our FEC fundraising deadline is today, and the November election is only five weeks away. It’s now or never. Make it now.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

5 YEARS AGO — The GOP Healthcare Plan: Don’t Get Sick!

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Speaking Truth to Power

Here at Team Grayson, September 29th is a special day.

Today, September 29th, marks the fifth anniversary of when our Congressman with Guts, Alan Grayson, gave a landmark speech.

The Democrats had been on the defensive on healthcare reform for months, because of Sarah Palin’s “death panels” lie and relentless nonsensical attacks regarding “socialized medicine.” But the Republicans never offered any plan of their own to provide healthcare to the 40 million Americans without health insurance, and save the lives of the 45,000 Americans who die each year because they have no health coverage. When President Obama came to Congress and said to the Republicans, “Let’s hear your plan,” they waived their “plan” in the air at him. After the President’s speech, Grayson crossed the aisle on the House Floor, and discovered that the GOP “plan” was a blank piece of paper.

So five years ago today, armed with nothing but a few poster boards and a whole lot of courage, a freshman Democrat named Alan Grayson – the first Democrat to represent red downtown Orlando in 34 years — walked onto the Floor of the House of Representatives, and spoke truth to power.

“The Republican health care plan: Don’t get sick,” he explained.

But don’t worry, he added, because “The Republicans have a backup plan in case you do get sick… . If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly!”


For most of us, this was America’s introduction to Alan Grayson. The fiery Progressive Democrat from Orlando quickly became a national icon, because he dared to speak for those who don’t have a voice.

The sick who are too poor to see a doctor. Workers on minimum wage, who never get a day off. The victims of discrimination and bigotry. Good people facing foreclosure or bankruptcy. Workers struggling to organize. Consumers who are cheated. A+ students who can’t afford university tuition. Basically, everyone who deserves a break.

On Sept. 29, 2009, Congressman Alan Grayson said what we were all thinking.

And he was right.

That sublime send-up, that monumental mockery, that powerful pretense, that lively lampoon, put the GOP in its place. Alan Grayson gave Congress the push that it needed to pass the Affordable Care Act, and put America on the road to universal healthcare.

Five years have passed, and Republicans only have proven the truth of Alan’s words. They still don’t have a health plan.

Five years have passed, while Republicans remain steadfast in their opposition to helping poor people, sick people, and needy people. Five years have passed, and Republicans are still looking for opportunities to “defund Obamacare” and deny Americans the universal health care coverage that they deserve – the universal care that every other advanced nation in the world enjoys.

Five years have passed, and the Republican health care plan remains the same: Don’t Get Sick. And If You Do Get Sick, Die Quickly.

The Republican plan for the unemployed: Live Off Your Trust Fund.
The Republican plan for sick leave: Find Another Job.
The Republican plan for poverty: Decide to Be Rich.
The Republican plan for marriage equality: Pray the Gay Away.
The Republican plan for poor students: Get Your Rich Uncle to Pay Tuition.
The Republican plan for traffic jams: Fly Your Personal Helicopter.
The Republican plan for life-threatening illness: You Are in Our Prayers.
The Republican plan for immigration reform: Voluntary Deportation.

(That last one is for real; just ask Mitt Romney.)

If you want Alan Grayson to remain in Congress – to continue calling out the Republicans and their callous disregard for the human condition – then chip in $20.14 or more today.

Show your support for a Congressman with guts, courage, a head and a heart. Because somebody – somebody — needs to tell the truth.

Sincerely,

Team Grayson

The dots were all connected.
The lines were barely drawn.
The secrets that night kept hidden,
Were left out in the dawn … .

I sat down on the curbstone.
I rubbed my eyes and coughed.
I rubbed my wrists and ankles,
And I thanked the Lord above.

Somebody,
Somebody told,
They told the truth to somebody.
Somebody told the truth.


- Peter Case, “Somebody Told The Truth” (2010).


Alan Grayson is a Unique Voice for Peace. Help Him.

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Help Alan’s Reelection, Because “We Need Peace.”

The final quarterly deadline for the 2014 Grayson for Congress reelection campaign is approaching rapidly. We asked famed actress Frances Fisher to explain why she supports Alan Grayson, and why you should, too. Frances played one of the central characters in “Titanic,” the second-highest grossing film of all time, and she stars today in the ABC TV drama hit “Resurrection,” the 11th most-watched show on TV. (The second season of “Resurrection” premieres tonight, at 9 pm.) You can see Frances’s moving video here. This is what she said:

Hi, I’m Frances Fisher, and I’m here to talk to you about Alan Grayson. He needs to be reelected for Congress, because we need him in Congress.

He’s got one of the most unique voices for peace that I’ve ever heard. And it would be a tragedy if he weren’t reelected. That’s why I’m doing everything that I can [to reelect Alan Grayson]. That’s why I’m speaking to you, right now.

Open your wallets.

Open your heart.

Open your mind.

Tell your friends. Tell people you don’t even know.

Donate something to Alan Grayson. Get him reelected to Congress. Our lives depend on it.

We don’t need any more war. We need peace.

Sincerely,

Frances Fisher

Our FEC deadline is barely 48 hours away. Please help Alan Grayson’s reelection campaign, right here and right now.


“The Pentagon Won’t Be Holding a Bake Sale Any Time Soon”


“Alfonse and Gaston,” Hearst’s New York Journal (1906).



Last night, Rep. Alan Grayson was invited onto “All In With Chris Hayes” on MSNBC to give his perspective on Congressional approval of military action against ISIS, and the military’s request for more war funding. The host explained that Republicans were attacking the President for not calling Congress back in session to debate a declaration of war against ISIS, when only GOP Speaker Boehner can call the House back in session, to “do its job.” In short, the Democrats are rightly claiming that the Republicans need to call the House back in session, while the Republicans are wrongly claiming that it’s the President’s job to do so. Here’s what went down:

Guest Host Ari Melber: At this point, much of the GOP leadership says if they were President, they’d make themselves actually do their jobs. Joining me now is Congressman Alan Grayson. Let’s start right there, Congressman. What do you make of what I think is bizarre, even in our gridlock-bizarre politics, the claim [that] if the Republicans [were] in the White House, they would get this Congress not to act the way it has under Republican leadership?

Congressman Alan Grayson: Well, if Republicans were in the White House, we’d probably be engaged in eight or twelve wars right now. But we’re talking about war and peace, not “After you, Alfonse. No, after you, Gaston.” I don’t think that’s the way these decisions should be made.

Ari: And so what should happen?

Alan: What should happen is that Congress should be making the difficult decision that actually confronts America. The President is the Commander-in-Chief, but it’s up to Congress to declare war. Secretary Kerry says that we’re already at war and, therefore, this is something that the Congress should undertake.

Ari: And when you look at what we showed from across the pond, what did you think of the debate that they had [in the British Parliament]? Because one thing that was clear even in the short excerpt we showed was a real reckoning with the downsides here. And it seems that is in contrast, that vote that you guys did hold on the Syrian rebel piece was sort of a distraction, because we all know that this is much bigger than 5,000 rebel trainees.

Alan: Well, that debate ended up drawing interesting lines. First of all, the British Parliament voted in favor of air attacks, but not ground troops, and it drew a clear distinction in that regard. Secondly, Parliament voted in favor of attacks only in Iraq, not in Syria — another interesting distinction that has so far eluded our government. And I think that when you debate this way, then you actually end up flushing out the real issues. But I don’t expect that to happen in Congress. Look how many [Members of Parliament] attended that debate in British Parliament. Look at how many were actually there. Compare that with the six hours of debate we had a week ago in the House of Representatives, on the President’s request for half a billion dollars to train the so-called “moderate Syrian rebels.” Nobody was in the room. Nobody was in the room. At this point, we’re paying as much attention to each other in this Congress as Roman Senators did to Nero’s horse. [Actually, it was Caligula, Nero’s uncle, who appointed his horse to the Roman Senate. – Ed.]

[Aren’t you glad that someone is telling the truth about this do-nothing, don’t-even-show-up Congress? As we approach the end of the quarter, the cutoff date for our fundraising report, please click here to show your support for our Congressman With Guts, Alan Grayson.]

Ari: On that [appropriations request], you mention the half-billion, and you have, just out today, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey saying they need more money. Take a listen to that.

—Begin video clip of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey—

Secretary Hagel: Well, as you know, we are generally spending roughly, since this effort started, $7 million to $10 million a day. That is being funded out of OCO, overseas contingency operations, and we are going to require additional funding from Congress as we go forward.

General Dempsey: So if you’re asking me do I assess right now, as we go into the fall review for ‘16, that we’re going to have budget problems? Yes.

—End video clip of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey—

Ari: What I think [is going on there] is that everyone remembers a little something called “the sequester,” which was largely a product of the Tea Party’s hostage-taking. And part of what it does, as you know, is automatically slow defense spending. How do you square that with the Pentagon now saying that they need all of this extra money?

Alan: Oh, I think they can drop a few bombs for only $500 billion a year [that the Pentagon already gets]. I don’t think they’re going to have to run a bake sale any time soon. But what about the indirect costs? Why aren’t we talking about that? The price of oil went up $3 a barrel this week. That means that drivers all across the United States and, in fact, all over the world, are paying 10 cents-a-gallon more this week than they did last week. That’s costing us around $20 million a day. Why is there no discussion of that?

Ari: I hear you. And the last thing I wanted to ask you, Congressman, was, in the lame duck session, do you see an explicit vote on any authorization here?

Alan: No, I don’t, but just to finish what I was saying a moment ago. Those attacks on those refineries in Syria, in the ISIS-held territory, led directly to that increase in oil prices. Why isn’t anybody thinking that through? [And] no, we’re probably not going to address [war authorization] in the lame duck session. We’re probably not going to address this year. I think what’s going to happen is the futility of this idea that we can defeat ISIS [with] air attacks alone is going to become more and more apparent to people over time. And this war, like the war in Iraq for so many years, will just fade from the news, and be largely forgotten.

Ari: You might be right. We can [only] hope that you’re wrong. Congressman Grayson, thanks for spending time with us tonight.

[The deadline for our FEC fundraising report is September 30th, just 72 hours away. Does it matter to you that someone in public life is telling the blunt, hard truth? Does it matter to you that at least one elected official is asking the right questions, and providing solid answers? If so, then click here, click now, and show your support today.]

ISIS: You Can’t Defeat Somebody With Nobody

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Typical Iraqi Soldier

Flashback, 2000: At a military checkpoint on the side of a road in Lesotho, an officer pointed an automatic weapon at me, and asked for $20. I took out my business card, I handed it to him, and I told him that I worked with the US government and I didn’t need to give him $20. He pretended to read the card (he was obviously illiterate), he smiled, and with his machine gun, he then waived me back to my car. Perhaps he said “Have a nice day”; I don’t recall specifically.

Flashback, 2001: On a street in Myanmar, I negotiated with a shopkeeper over a curio. There were some soldiers leaning against a wall down the block. When we had a deal, he told me that I had to pay him in the alley, not in the street. I did so, and then asked him why. He explained that if the soldiers had seen me handing him money, they would have come and taken it away from him. They wouldn’t take it away from me, but they would take it away from him.

Because that’s what soldiers do, in most countries. Like fish gotta swim.

For the past decade, we have purported to “train” the Iraqi military and police, at the cost of at least $24 billion. That’s almost $100 for every man, woman and child in America. We have undertaken this training even though in the Middle East, many millennia ago, the Iraqis’ ancestors invented the concepts of both the military and the police, at a time when our ancestors were drawing pretty pictures on cave walls employing colored dirt.

Such training consisted primarily of a one-month paid vacation to the neighboring country of Jordan. American instructors who did not speak a word of Arabic were paid roughly $170,000 per year to teach “ethics” – ethics! – to these trainees. For sure, a good time was had by all.

We used to be good at training bloodthirsty killers. Google “School of Americas,” and see what I mean. In the old days, we trained the caudillos of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and, in Africa, Gambia. When did we lose our touch?

Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time observing soldiers and police officers in Third World countries like Iraq and Syria will tell you that it’s ridiculous to think that any amount of “training” will make them want to put their head into the meat-grinder called “war.” That simply is not the gig.

Here is the gig: In countries like Iraq with vast amounts of unemployment, being in the military or police (not a big difference between the two, in their minds) means a steady income – in Iraq, around $500 a month. In addition to that, if you are posted somewhere other than in your hometown, you can steal whatever you get your hands on. That’s it. That’s the job. It has nothing to do with shooting at people, much less killing people. And for sure, absolutely for sure, it has nothing to do with being shot at. That sounds dangerous.

And no amount of training is going to change that. You can’t train people to commit suicide.

But what about our military, you ask? Well, our military has gotten very good at killing without dying. Take drone warfare, for instance – thousands of kills, no US military deaths. In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the death rate for US soldiers was just above 1% — which is just above the death rate each year for the US population as a whole. Moreover, our military doesn’t have anything else to do except “the mission”; it doesn’t enjoy the same opportunities for … “enrichment” … that attracts young men in countries like Iraq.

Let’s compare that to the death rate for Iraqis who counterattack against ISIS. It’s roughly the same as the death rate from Ebola disease.

Everyone recognizes that ISIS cannot be defeated by bombing and missile strikes alone. It just doesn’t work that way. ISIS now controls a population of nine million people, including the second-largest city in Iraq. When it comes to ground forces occupying urban territory, you can’t defeat somebody with nobody.

So then what is the “plan” from our leadership? To try to reanimate the dead corpse of the Iraqi Army. Also, to assemble a ferocious regiment of orthodontists and bookkeepers to take back eastern Syria from ISIS. And how will we assemble such a force? By giving them a one-month paid vacation – not in Jordan this time, but in Saudi Arabia.

Not going to happen. I regret to say this, but even with US air support, there is no way that the Iraqi Army or the “moderate Syrian rebels” are going to defeat ISIS. And by the way, there are no “moderate Syrian rebels.” We might as well arm leprechauns riding bareback into battle on unicorns. If you don’t believe me, just ask the CIA.

So realistically, the current strategy is nothing but air strikes. And how effective are these air strikes against ISIS? Well, the first ones destroyed some oil refineries in ISIS-controlled territories. Those attacks increased the price of oil by approximately three dollars a barrel this week. And the United States imports almost eight million barrels a day. So these attacks have cost us $24 million a day in higher gasoline costs alone – almost 10 cents a gallon. That’s showing them!

Oil powers Saudi Arabia and the UAE bravely joined in these air attacks that increased the price of oil. Surprise, surprise. Are they laughing at us?

But not all is lost. Assuming for the sake of the argument that ISIS is something more than a band of theatric psychopaths, and actually does represent a threat to some fundamental US strategic interest, here is how you could defeat ISIS militarily. Right now, Iraq says that it wants no foreign soldiers fighting ISIS in Iraq. So you give Iraq a firm deadline to defeat ISIS and take back western Iraq under international air cover. Let’s say six months, which is how long it took for ISIS to occupy the territory.

If that fails – and it very, very likely would – then you acknowledge that the government of Iraq is unable to control its own territory, which is most basic function of any national government. Under the auspices of the UN and the Arab League – both of which have already authorized military action against ISIS – you then assemble an international Sunni fighting force and deploy it against ISIS.

Now, let’s suppose that the neighboring Arab League countries refused to provide such a force. What does that tell us? Why should we defend them, when they won’t defend themselves?

But that’s unlikely, because three Sunni Arab countries already have said that they would populate such a force, and with prodding from the United States, more would join. That force largely would consist of soldiers who speak Arabic, who look like the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, who understand the religion and the customs, and who would not be regarded by the locals as invaders. Unlike the Iraqi Army, they have responsibilities other than cashing paychecks and looting from the locals, and they would be able to keep their own casualties down to what modern military forces view as acceptable levels.

That is how you defeat ISIS.

Is this realistic plan to defeat ISIS with Arab League forces ever going to happen? Probably not. Our present leaders have no interest whatsoever in action orchestrated by the United Nations or the Arab League. They don’t have the chutzpah to tell Iraq, “look – you’ve failed to defend your territory from a terrorist group, why don’t you give the other Arabs a shot at it?” And it would take too much effort to assemble a real fighting coalition, not a Potemkin-village “Coalition of the Willing” or a “Core Coalition” or whatever the polling says that they should call it these days.

I hope that I’m wrong, but I predict that our air attacks, without international Arab League “boots on the ground,” will not defeat ISIS in western Iraq or in eastern Syria. I also predict that this war will fade from the news, just as the earlier war in Iraq did. I also predict that we will continue to throw half a trillion dollars each year at the military-industrial complex, which has now successfully transitioned from Osama bin Laden’s corpse to a new bogeyman.

And it doesn’t have to be that way. Peace, anyone?

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“Naturally the common people don’t want war, neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of their masters. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

- Hermann Goering, at the Nuremberg Trials

Grayson on ISIS: “If Iraq Won’t Defend its Own Territory, Why Should We?”


“Never before in the field of human conflict have so many fled before so few.” – Not Winston Churchill

Recently, before the U.S. announced and launched air attacks in Syria to destroy oil refineries in ISIS-controlled territory, Rep. Alan Grayson was invited onto Thom Hartmann’s national TV show, to discuss alternatives. Thom Hartmann’s view is that the United States is being baited into war. To support that view, Thom began the segment with testimony from an unusual witness: Osama Bin Laden, in a recording from ten years ago.

Osama Bin Laden: “[It’s] easy to bait this administration…. All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written “Al Qaeda,” in order to make generals race there, [and] to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations…. We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy, Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah…. Every dollar of Al Qaeda defeated a million dollars, by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs…. It is true that this shows that Al Qaeda has gained, but on the other hand it shows that the Bush Administration has also gained, something that anyone who looks at the size of the contracts acquired by the shady Bush Administration-linked mega-corporations like Halliburton and its kind, will be convinced [of]. And it all shows that the real loser is you, it is the American economy.”


Thom Hartmann: Flash forward ten years, and it looks like ISIS is following the exact same script as Bin Laden did a decade ago. With the video beheading of another American journalist, the group is practically begging the Obama Administration to get involved in a two-front war in Iraq and Syria. After all, there is nothing better for a terrorist group to cut its chops in global jihad than duking it out with America, in the heart of the Middle East. So does this mean it is time to rethink America’s role in fighting ISIS? And why aren’t other Arab countries in the region taking on a bigger role, in the fight against a group that is more extreme even for Al Qaeda? Joining now for more on this is Congressman Alan Grayson, Representative of Florida’s 9th District, a Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Grayson. Welcome back, it’s always great to see you. You’ve sent letters to the U.S. Ambassadors of number of Arab nations asking them to commit 5,000 troops as part of a multilateral force to fight ISIS. Do you want to walk us through this plan?

CongressmanAlan Grayson: Sure, I think that this is a regional problem that needs a regional solution. I don’t [agree with those who] think that every time we see something bad in the world, we should bomb it. This is a problem that is rooted in the Sunni/Shiite warfare in the Middle East. I’ve called upon the Sunni leaders in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, and Morocco, all of them that have forces at their command, to attack ISIS and end the threat of Sunni fundamentalism, with their own forces.

Thom: Have you received any responses from governments to say yes or no?

Alan: Actually I haven’t yet… . [Since this interview, three Arab countries have said yes – Ed.] I think that these countries need to be prodded into defending themselves. I think Iraq had done an appallingly poor job of it. Their forces outnumber ISIS forces [by] 100 to 1, and [yet] they constantly abandon the battlefield. We’ll see if the same thing is true [of Arab soldiers from] elsewhere. I’m hoping that these countries will go ahead, band together, and eliminate these Sunni fundamentalist threats, but if Iraq won’t defend its own territory, if these countries won’t eliminate these radicals in their midst, then you have to wonder, Tom, why should we?

Thom: One of the countries, in fact, that you have asked to be a part of that multilateral coalition is Saudi Arabia, which according to many sources has been a major source of funding for ISIS. How can it be a reliable partner in a coalition?

Alan: Well, it’s time [for them] to put up or shut up. We need to determine if these countries have any fight in them, and that still remains to be seen. We’re giving them an opportunity to step up, and do the job that they’re supposed to do. I’m concerned that what we’re seeing in the Middle East is what the Right Wing here in America calls a “culture of dependence.” They’ve developed a dependence upon the [American] military-industrial complex to defend them, when in fact they should be defending themselves. Iraq alone has $100 billion in oil money at its disposal every year. They have some of the best-equipped troops in the entire world. They should be defending themselves, and not relying on our money and our blood to defend them.

Thom: Last year, all the hawks were calling for us to bomb President Assad in Syria, now they’re calling us to bomb ISIS in Syria, which is fighting Assad in Syria. How does that make any sense?

Alan: It just doesn’t. This is a situation where we have few friends (if any) in the region. [We can’t just] jump ahead to go to war, and essentially become the Shiite Air Force — which would be what we would be doing if we attacked ISIS on a consistent basis. This makes no sense. When I was on national TV last year arguing that we should not militarily intervene in Syria, one of the announcers asked me, “Shouldn’t we be helping the opposition in Syria?” I said: “Which ones? The anti-Semites or the Al Qaeda graduates?” Well now we see, a year later, that we have the Al Qaeda graduates taking the lead. That was ISIS.

Thom: I mentioned in my intro that ISIS is following the Bin Laden playbook with beheadings, and trying to drag America — or draw us — into a war. Do you think it is a fair analysis?

Alan: Yes, and a simple question is, what is best for America? It doesn’t make sense for us at all to be involved in another land war in the Middle East — our third one in a short period of time — when we haven’t even disengaged ourselves from the remaining two. Does that make any sense? Do we spend another $4 trillion? Do we have another quarter of a million US troops return [from the Middle East] with permanent brain abnormalities? Should we spill the blood, and kill, another 4,000 of our troops — again? Does that make any sense?

Thom: Not to me. The U.S. has a longstanding policy of not negotiating with terrorists (even though we did negotiate with terrorists to free Bowe Bergdahl). Do you think given these killings with Sotloff and Foley, and the other countries getting their hostages out by actually negotiating and paying ransoms, that we should rethink that negotiating policy?

Alan: No, I don’t think we need to rethink it. I understand the urge that people have right now, including the President and including most Americans, for revenge against ISIS. But revenge is one thing, and war is quite another. I don’t think we should be putting our money and our blood on the line in a situation where we have no friends and no strategic advantage. The fact is that this intervention, if it does take place, would violate every single rule in the rulebook of warfare (or at least [how] Colin Powell has expressed it). We have no strategic interest, we have no strategic advantage, we would not be using a force that would essentially obliterate the enemy, [because such obliteration would require] everything short of nuclear weapons, I imagine. And additionally, we have no exit strategy. My goodness, we’re in our thirteen year of war in Afghanistan. Don’t we know the simple rule [by now] that if we’re going to go in, we should know how we’re going to get out?

Thom: What should that tell us about America’s ability to nation-build, in that the countries that we have intervened in [during] the last 13 years — Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan — they’re all spiraling into chaos?

Alan: Well, what it should tell us is that these countries would be better off if they turned to their neighbors [for help], and that is exactly what I’m suggesting. If you have an American soldier that goes to fight ISIS in the Middle East, what he’s doing is becoming a target for an IED, a target for a sniper, whatever. If you have a Saudi soldier doing that, a Saudi soldier understands the local terrain, understands the local culture, understands the language and the religious practices, and he looks like the people he is trying to protect. That’s the obvious solution to the problem, and we have to pull together and make it happen. The Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the UAE, and even the Iraqis don’t want to shed their own blood, as long as they’re confident that we will shed ours. That has to change.

Thom: I’m wondering if you’ve talked to anyone in the Administration, State, Defense? Any feedback on this?

Alan: No, they concede that they have no strategy [that would defeat ISIS]. What I am trying to do is create one.

Thom: That’s brilliant. Congressman Grayson, it’s great to have you in Congress. Thanks for joining us tonight.

The November election now is less than six weeks away. With both Republicans and Democrats enthralled by the military-industrial complex, and forever war now the “conventional wisdom,” it’s more important than ever that a strong voice for peace remain in Congress. If peace matters to you, then it’s time that you support your real representative in Congress, Rep.Alan Grayson. Alan Grayson is saying what you’re thinking, and no one else has the courage to say. That’s why we need him in Congress, and why you need to contribute to his campaign, our campaign, your campaign – today.

Abortion and Incest

This is the only note that you will receive from a Democrat during this election season regarding abortion. The only one. Because I may well be the only Democratic candidate who is willing to undertake a mature conversation on this subject, and not just fling trite clichés in your general direction. So you might as well enjoy it, right?

A few months ago, I was reading the appropriations bill for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. (Yes, I actually read the bills. As Yogi Berra once said, “You can see a lot by just looking.”) I noticed something odd. Since 1976, federal appropriations bills often have forbidden the use of federal funds to pay for an abortion, except in cases of incest or rape. This is known as the Hyde Amendment, after its author Henry Hyde (R-IL). It was an anti-choice response to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

So what was odd? That this appropriations bill forbade the use of federal funds to pay for an abortion, except in the case of rape only. Only rape. Not incest. (There also was a provision regarding the life of the mother.)

There isn’t a lot of time to goof around over appropriations bills. We generally see them with barely 24 hours’ notice. So I wrote a quick corrective amendment, to allow federal funds for abortions in cases of both incest and rape. Obviously, since I’m pro-choice, I regard that as far too narrow. However, in the Tea Party’s House, I didn’t think that I was going to win that battle that day. I just tried to correct an obvious error.

Why bother? I’ll tell you why. Because if you are the victim of incest, and while you are pregnant you end up in federal prison, you can’t just flag a taxi and drive over to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic. Prison wardens frown on that.

So I walked across the street (something else that federal prisoners can’t do), and waited patiently until it was my turn to offer my amendment. I didn’t think that it was going to be a big deal.

It was.

Quite to my surprise, the GOP’s “floor manager” expressed bitter opposition to the very notion that incarcerated victims of incest might want to terminate their pregnancies. It was intolerable! It was despicable! Had I no respect for life itself???

Well, I lost that vote. That wasn’t one of the fifty or so floor amendments that I have pushed over the finish line during the past two years.

I felt bad about it, because I couldn’t stop thinking about those female prisoners. It was hard enough that they were being denied control over where their bodies were, but even worse that they were being denied control over what was in them. And control over your own body is the most fundamental human right of all.

Later that day the GOP floor manager, to his credit, came over to me and told me that I had made a good point, and that he would “fix it” next year. So why couldn’t he concede that point, and give me my amendment? Because politics, that’s why.

I was reminded of this recently because I looked at some video clips of my GOP opponent. My opponent says that she is opposed to all abortions, under any circumstances, period. And then exclamation point.

Here is her “reasoning”: When she was born, in North Carolina 57 years ago, abortion was a felony. (As it was in every state except New Jersey, where it was a misdemeanor.) North Carolina did not legalize abortion until 1970. She is concerned that if abortion had been legal in North Carolina when she was conceived, then she might have been aborted. “Therefore,” all abortion should be illegal, she says.

Whoa.

Philosophy majors will recognize this as a bizarro, twilight version of Immanuel Kant’s “Categorical Imperative.” Immanuel Kant might have made that argument, had he not been a great philosopher but rather, an idiot.

Anyway, in just six weeks, the voters in FL-9 will have a choice. They can vote for a candidate who feels some degree of concern about women who are the victims of incest, who are incarcerated, and who then are forced to bear, and then bear, the consequence of that incest. Or they can vote for a candidate who fears that she might be retroactively aborted, and then incorporates that fear into her political platform.

I seriously hope that they vote for me.

You can help to make that happen. If you think that this choice between the two of us is an important one – in other words, if you are pro-choice — then you should hit that “CONTRIBUTE” button below.

The election is only six weeks away. So hit that button hard.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

"Pray the Gay Away"? No.

Conversion Therapy, Russian Style



Right-wing cranks and fools haven’t come up with a “cure” yet for stupidity, greed, paranoia, bigotry, hypocrisy or even laziness. But they do think that they’ve come up with a “cure” for something that requires no cure: homosexuality. It’s called “conversion therapy,” and here’s how it “works”:

In one form of conversion therapy, they attach live electrodes to your genitalia, they start showing you gay porn, and then they turn on the juice.

In another form of conversion therapy, they feed you an emetic, they turn on that gay porn (is it OK to use the phrase “turn on” here?), and then they wait until the emetic takes hold, and you puke all over the floor.

Here’s another method: prayer. Or as they call it, “spiritual intervention.” They try to pray the gay away. The Religious Right has set up “counseling clinics” for gays, or rather against gays, that purport to “cure” homosexuality.

Who would be so stupid and cruel as to think that conversion therapy is a good idea? Or, more specifically, which spouse of which Member of Congress would be? That would be Rep. Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus.

Marcus Bachmann who runs a Christian counseling clinic in Minnesota that indulges in conversion therapy.

And the U.S. of A. is not the only land in which you find such things. If you’re curious, you can look up the case of Pitcherskaia v. Immigration and Naturualization Service, 118 F.3d 641 (9th Cir. 1997), and see how it’s done in Mother Russia. There, gay students are beaten up – not only by other students, but also by the school principals. Gay students are incarcerated in mental institutions, and they are “treated” with shock therapy. When released, they are required to continue such “treatment” at outpatient clinics. Other attempted “cures” include hypnosis and sedatives. All of this came to light when Ms. Pitcherskaia, a lesbian, sought political refuge in the United States. Fortunately for her, she was not required to undergo “conversion therapy” with Marcus Bachmann as a condition of entry.

The American Psychiatric Association has unequivocally condemned any psychiatric “treatment” based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder. The Attorney General has written that “a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable.” The World Health Organization has said that “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.” And yet in the United States, gay teenagers have been held in isolation for months, and forced to attend this “conversion therapy.”

Except in California. Thanks to Ted Lieu.

In 2012, State Senator Ted Lieu wrote a bill to prohibit conversation therapy for minors in California. That bill passed in the California Legislature, and was signed into law. Ted Lieu made California the first state to ban conversion therapy for minors, but hopefully not the last. That was a very important accomplishment.

Now Ted Lieu is running for Congress, and he needs your help. He is seeking the seat of Rep. Henry Waxman. Henry has served for 40 years in Congress, and yet he kept his seat last time with only 54% of the vote. It’s a difficult district, it’s a close race, and we need Ted Lieu in Congress.

And to give you an extra little nudge, Blue America PAC has extended its drawing for Ted Lieu contributors through noon tomorrow. One lucky contributor to Ted Lieu’s campaign will receive the RIAA-certified Quadruple Platinum Award for Fleetwood Mac’s album “The Dance.”

So I’m asking you to click below, and show your support for Ted Lieu. He had the guts to take on the Religious Right when it was the Religious Wrong, and he rescued countless children from the bigoted lie that their sexual identity was a “disease” that demanded a quack “cure.” Ted Lieu deserves our support.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

"Pray the Gay Away"? No.

Conversion Therapy, Russian Style



Right-wing cranks and fools haven’t come up with a “cure” yet for stupidity, greed, paranoia, bigotry, hypocrisy or even laziness. But they do think that they’ve come up with a “cure” for something that requires no cure: homosexuality. It’s called “conversion therapy,” and here’s how it “works”:

In one form of conversion therapy, they attach live electrodes to your genitalia, they start showing you gay porn, and then they turn on the juice.

In another form of conversion therapy, they feed you an emetic, they turn on that gay porn (is it OK to use the phrase “turn on” here?), and then they wait until the emetic takes hold, and you puke all over the floor.

Here’s another method: prayer. Or as they call it, “spiritual intervention.” They try to pray the gay away. The Religious Right has set up “counseling clinics” for gays, or rather against gays, that purport to “cure” homosexuality.

Who would be so stupid and cruel as to think that conversion therapy is a good idea? Or, more specifically, which spouse of which Member of Congress would be? That would be Rep. Michele Bachmann’s husband Marcus.

Marcus Bachmann who runs a Christian counseling clinic in Minnesota that indulges in conversion therapy.

And the U.S. of A. is not the only land in which you find such things. If you’re curious, you can look up the case of Pitcherskaia v. Immigration and Naturualization Service, 118 F.3d 641 (9th Cir. 1997), and see how it’s done in Mother Russia. There, gay students are beaten up – not only by other students, but also by the school principals. Gay students are incarcerated in mental institutions, and they are “treated” with shock therapy. When released, they are required to continue such “treatment” at outpatient clinics. Other attempted “cures” include hypnosis and sedatives. All of this came to light when Ms. Pitcherskaia, a lesbian, sought political refuge in the United States. Fortunately for her, she was not required to undergo “conversion therapy” with Marcus Bachmann as a condition of entry.

The American Psychiatric Association has unequivocally condemned any psychiatric “treatment” based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder. The Attorney General has written that “a growing scientific consensus accepts that sexual orientation is a characteristic that is immutable.” The World Health Organization has said that “sexual orientation by itself is not to be regarded as a disorder.” And yet in the United States, gay teenagers have been held in isolation for months, and forced to attend this “conversion therapy.”

Except in California. Thanks to Ted Lieu.

In 2012, State Senator Ted Lieu wrote a bill to prohibit conversation therapy for minors in California. That bill passed in the California Legislature, and was signed into law. Ted Lieu made California the first state to ban conversion therapy for minors, but hopefully not the last. That was a very important accomplishment.

Now Ted Lieu is running for Congress, and he needs your help. He is seeking the seat of Rep. Henry Waxman. Henry has served for 40 years in Congress, and yet he kept his seat last time with only 54% of the vote. It’s a difficult district, it’s a close race, and we need Ted Lieu in Congress.

And to give you an extra little nudge, Blue America PAC has extended its drawing for Ted Lieu contributors through noon tomorrow. One lucky contributor to Ted Lieu’s campaign will receive the RIAA-certified Quadruple Platinum Award for Fleetwood Mac’s album “The Dance.”

So I’m asking you to click below, and show your support for Ted Lieu. He had the guts to take on the Religious Right when it was the Religious Wrong, and he rescued countless children from the bigoted lie that their sexual identity was a “disease” that demanded a quack “cure.” Ted Lieu deserves our support.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson