Sunday, October 04, 2009

Alan Grayson, the "Die Quickly" Guy

I don't know about you, but I was somewhat intrigued when I saw that freshman Democratic Congressman, Alan Grayson of Florida, describing the Republican health plan as 1. Don't get sick, and if you do, 2. Die quickly. And then he went on Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room and came on like a runaway freight train, entirely unapologetic, the mainstream talking heads tried to shame him and he just kept coming. He interrupted people, corrected them, laughed at them, talked over them, intimidated them, he was perfect. What he says is, "Democrats have to have guts."

The guy seems to be absolutely unembarrassed to speak clearly and accurately without resorting to or even referencing the standard Washington cliches. It is exhilarating to watch him.

The St. Petersburg Times had a nice bio on him today, it's interesting to get a little background on this guy who seems able to stay cool even with all the criticism and pressure in the world focused on him.

The piece starts with some fluff, picking up speed before it gets to the meat of the topic:
Pugnacious, partisan, smart and rich, the Orlando Democrat has been stirring the pot since taking office in January, most vividly when he took to the House floor this week and said the Republican health care plan amounted to "die quickly."

The rant would have been unusual for a lawmaker from even the most liberal congressional district. But Grayson, 51, represents a part of Florida that is divided politically — probably not the constituency that wants to hear the GOP is "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals" as he fumed on CNN Wednesday.

"The biggest argument against Alan Grayson is Alan Grayson," said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican who has been helping vet potential challengers.

Already Grayson is one of the most targeted incumbents in the country, having defeated four-term Republican Ric Keller, and his re-election bid embodies the challenge Democrats face in holding control of Congress as the president's approval rating falls.

But a leading opponent has not yet emerged, and Grayson, the 12th-wealthiest member of Congress, has resources to defend himself. He spent $2 million of his own money on the 2008 campaign. (The "die quickly" speech has triggered $150,000 in contributions, his office says.) And his district has shifted from slightly Republican to slightly Democratic.

"It's no coincidence the National Republican Congressional Committee has named me as the No. 1 target next year," Grayson said. "We're working hard, getting things done."

Swagger courses through Grayson's every word, delivered in the accent of his Bronx upbringing and with the exacting nature of a lawyer who first made his name taking on — and taking down — contractors and war profiteers in Iraq.

"I don't need the job for income or satisfaction," said Grayson, sitting on a bench outside the House chamber in between votes. "The truth is, it's really a hardship. I took an enormous pay cut to take the job. Every week, I leave five young children and my wife to come up here.

"I don't owe anything to anyone here. I don't owe anything to lobbyists. I don't owe anything to leadership. The only thing I owe to anybody is the well-being of 800,000 people who depend on me." 'Die quickly' just a sample of Alan Grayson's sound bite attack

Oh, man, this video is entirely politically incorrect, but it's too hilarious not to show you. At YouTube: Hitler finds out Alan Grayson has exposed them. You will be rolling on the floor laughing, totally ashamed of yourself. (It's especially cool how they translated "Stalin" as "stalling.")

One other thing, Grayson's use of the word "holocaust" to describe the deaths that have occurred because of poor health coverage in the US. Rachel Maddow, who is Jewish (actually, Grayson is, too), seemed very uncomfortable with Grayson's choice of words. As TPM LiveWire reported:
... Maddow asked Grayson several times whether he regretted using the word "holocaust." She called it a "hyperbolic, over-the-top charge" and said it's "always a bad choice of words unless you're talking about the actual Holocaust."

Grayson sidestepped Maddow's question a couple times, but finally said, "Rachel, it may not have been the best choice of words. But I will say this -- my words don't matter. That's not what's important here. What's important is we do what we need to do."

I think the word holocaust, uncapitalized, retains its place in the English language as "Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire." This is like our use of lower-case "god" to refer to any deity, it does not detract in any way from reference to the capitalized God. I understand that people are uncomfortable using the word casually, and it may be that concern about trivializing the Nazi Holocaust leads to the uncapitalized word being dropped from our vocabulary, but so far that has not happened.

So we are getting the impression of this bulldog Congressman who refuses to be distracted by attacks on the cosmetics of his statements, instead he constantly comes back to the point. This is a strange and risky way to behave in Congress, and lots of people are really glad to see it.

Back to the Florida newspaper...
So he unabashedly pursues money for his district, which stretches from Marion to Orange counties, bragging that he has increased "earmarks" by 500 percent in the past year. He brushes off heat he took for attempting to get $350,000 for a housing counseling service in Orlando run by a man with a dubious background. He scoffs at his ties to the controversial community organizing group ACORN.

This spring Grayson played tough with President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by holding up his vote for a global-warming bill until he was promised a $50 million hurricane research center that some in Central Florida say is wasteful, a brazen move for any lawmaker, let alone a rookie.

That self-assurance is best captured on the Financial Services Committee, where he has aggressively interrogated Federal Reserve officials and financial executives on federal bailouts and the economic morass.

In a memorable exchange, Grayson laughs at Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke as he tries to explain why the government would loan $500 billion to foreign banks.

(BTW, Grayson's interrogation of Bernanke is HERE, and it is really fascinating to watch.)

This is a long story. Wow, the guy has pink cowboy boots, that is cool.

We're going to be hearing Alan Grayson's name a lot in the next couple of years, you might want to take a look at this informative article about him, how he grew up, how he became the outspoken straight-talker he is today.

In the horrible video I linked above, which I of course am not responsible for and do not endorse in any way, Hitler barks at his advisers, dejectedly, "How long before other Democrats find his courage?"

Good question.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't really sure we could top last week's list of disclosures about celebrities and politicians.

To recap: David Letterman is a philanderer.

John Edwards is an (alleged) serial philanderer.

And if there were any remaining doubts, Roman Polanksi really is a child rapist.

But here's one secret I'm quite certain none of us saw coming: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is . . . wait for it . . . Jewish.


This guy has had one helluva summer: Electoral fraud. Torture allegations. Oh, yes, and that pesky little nuclear facility he's been building. Now it turns out he's Jewish to boot? Say it ain't so, Mahmoud.

But apparently it is. According to a story that broke over the weekend in London's Daily Telegraph, a photograph of the president holding up his national identity card during the recent Iranian elections provides evidence that he is Jewish.

That document reveals that his original last name -- Sabourjian -- is a well-known Jewish surname in Iran, one that even connotes that his family was once observant. A note scribbled on the card also shows that his parents changed their last name to "Ahmadinejad" after they converted to Islam when he was born. Although Ahmadinejad has never denied that his name was changed, he has never offered an explanation.

To be fair, he's not the first famous person to be "discovered" to be Jewish. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is probably the most prominent American in recent times. (If you haven't read Michael Kinsley's send-up of this phenomenon in Slate, it's a must.)

But Ahmadinejad is in a category all by himself. While Albright -- improbably, perhaps -- claims that she really didn't know she was Jewish, Ahmadinejad did. As The Daily Telegraph speculates, this fact goes a long way towards explaining why he's been at such pains over the years to . . . well, basically hate Jews. And not just hate them in some sort of mild way, hate them in the most vile and despicable fashion: by denying the Holocaust ever occurred. He needed desperately to do so in order to shore up his cred in radical Shia circles.

Hey, I'm a big believer in unlocking family secrets as a way to cleanse yourself and move forward. And I do now feel that I have some insight into this guy that had heretofore been lacking.

I'm also a big believer in tolerance and making room for as many people as possible under any given umbrella. As someone married to a Jewish man for 11 years with two kids we'd like to raise as Jewish, I'm all for inclusiveness when it comes to broadening the definition of "who counts" as a Jew.

But on this one I have to say, sorry, pal. You're on your own. This is a club where we don't want you.

October 05, 2009 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Big Fat Liberal from Teachers' Union said...

I don't why everyone on the conservative side is so worked up about Obama.

He hasn't done anything!

We liberals are the ones who should be mad.

Let's try to think of something he's done:

On his first day, he said he was closing Guantanamo. Is it closed?


He said he'd get us out of Iraq. Are we out?


He said he'd step up the effort in Afghanistan. Done?


Said he'd hold unemployment to 8%.


Reduce global warming by passing cap and trade.


End Don't Ask Don't Tell.


Enact Health Care reform.


Bring Chicago the Olympics.


Where's this all going?

It's starting to look like his Senate career. Did he do anything there?


October 05, 2009 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Thank you Alan Grayson!

There were even more politicians besides Rep. Grayson in the news last week, politicians like him who stood up for decency and honesty in debate.

Finally somebody from the GOP stood up and said that Glenn Beck does not speak for them, just for cynicism.

Thank you GOP Senator Lindsey Graham!

Senator Tom Coburn's sudden change of heart about keeping his discussions with Senator John Ensign in strict confidence as a minister and a doctor was also an interesting development. Months ago, Coburn swore he'd tell no one what he knew about Ensign's affair, ever, not even in a court of law. But last week as word about Ensign helping Hampton get a job with a lobbyist got out, a job which may have violated an ethics law that bars senior aides from lobbying the Senate for a year after leaving their posts, suddenly Senator Coburn was willing to talk to reporters about what he knew and did.

Thank you Senator Coburn, better late than never!

Also, Paul Krugman wrote a beauty today.

The Politics of Spite

There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago’s bid to be host of the 2016 Summer Games.

“Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.

Now, it’s understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage — just as most Democrats opposed President Bush’s attempt to convert Social Security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.

But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.

The Republican campaign against health care reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main G.O.P. line of attack is the claim — based mainly on lies about death panels and so on — that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party’s traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.

October 05, 2009 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Think about just how bizarre it is for Republicans to position themselves as the defenders of unrestricted Medicare spending. First of all, the modern G.O.P. considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan — and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare’s creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.) In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich tried to force drastic cuts in Medicare financing. And in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly decried the growth in entitlement spending — growth that is largely driven by rising health care costs.

But the Obama administration’s plan to expand coverage relies in part on savings from Medicare. And since the G.O.P. opposes anything that might be good for Mr. Obama, it has become the passionate defender of ineffective medical procedures and overpayments to insurance companies.

How did one of our great political parties become so ruthless, so willing to embrace scorched-earth tactics even if so doing undermines the ability of any future administration to govern?

The key point is that ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.

Anyone surprised by the venomous, over-the-top opposition to Mr. Obama must have forgotten the Clinton years. Remember when Rush Limbaugh suggested that Hillary Clinton was a party to murder? When Newt Gingrich shut down the federal government in an attempt to bully Bill Clinton into accepting those Medicare cuts? And let’s not even talk about the impeachment saga.

The only difference now is that the G.O.P. is in a weaker position, having lost control not just of Congress but, to a large extent, of the terms of debate. The public no longer buys conservative ideology the way it used to; the old attacks on Big Government and paeans to the magic of the marketplace have lost their resonance. Yet conservatives retain their belief that they, and only they, should govern.

The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration.

It’s an ugly picture. But it’s the truth. And it’s a truth anyone trying to find solutions to America’s real problems has to understand.

Thank you Paul Krugman! Hopefully some more of Rep. Grayson's colleagues will catch on and America will be one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all once again.

October 05, 2009 3:03 PM  
Anonymous real liberal said...

you're a big fat idiot

it's change we can believe in

not change that's real

October 05, 2009 3:05 PM  
Anonymous captain america said...

In the last fifty years, the Olympics have been held in the U.S. five times (Lake Tahoe, Lake Placid, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Salt Lake City) and in our closeby colony, Montreal, once.

This winter, it will be held in another colony of ours, Vancouver.

Rio was the obvious choice and Obama should never have gone to push a bad case. Presidents should have better judgment.

It's not unpatriotic to note that.

October 05, 2009 3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Obama administration is really getting embarassing

can't they keep this stuff behind closed doors?:

"(Oct. 5) -- A not-so-secret war is raging within the Obama administration over what to do in Afghanistan.

Presidential advisers are angry at Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, for recent comments he made in London, according to the Telegraph in London.

McChrystal, who has requested 40,000 more troops, rejected the idea being pushed by Vice President Joe Biden and others to switch to a strategy of using fewer troops and focus on eliminating terrorist leaders.

James Jones, the president's national security adviser, is among those resisting McChrystal's call to escalate the battle against insurgents.

Jones, a retired general, denies Afghanistan is in imminent danger of being taken over by the Taliban.

Jones also rejects Sen. John McCain's charge that his stance is politically motivated to appease liberals."

October 05, 2009 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, guys

Barack Obama says hi!

"President Obama on Monday sidestepped calls for his participation in a national march on Washington for gay rights, Human Rights Campaign.

Organizers of the march, which is set for Sunday, had hoped the public event would present an ideal opportunity for Mr. Obama to lay out his plans for concrete steps to end workplace discrimination and undo the military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"This is the civil rights fight of my generation," said Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter who won the Academy Award for the film "Milk."

"I think that the president not choosing to speak [at the march] and let us know his thoughts, express his support for our struggle, if he chooses not to do that, I think that says something very loud and clear about the amount of urgency he feels to addressing this concern," Mr. Black told The Washington Times.

The advocates are watching for some movement by Mr. Obama on the issues of civil rights protections in the workplace and action on the promise he made during that campaign to end the military's policy created in 1993.

Last week, gay rights activist Cleve Jones wrote to Mr. Obama to urge that he attend, comparing the National Equality March to the landmark civil rights event on the national Mall in 1963, when Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

But by that point, there were strong signs the president was not planning to speak at the march. Last month, gay rights activist Michael Petrelis noted that former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown wrote an item on his blog indicating that Mr. Obama would be in San Francisco to present trophies to the participants in the Presidents Cup golf tournament on the same day as the march.

There are also indications that the president has no immediate plans to take action on the military's controversial policy surrounding the service of gay soldiers.

On Sunday, the president's national security adviser, James L. Jones, said a change in the policy is not the top priority of the White House right now."

October 06, 2009 9:29 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Transcript of Representative Alan Grayson's most recent speech before the House of Represenatives:

"Madame Speaker, I have words for both Democrats and Republicans tonight.

Let's start with the Democrats.

We as a party have spent the last six months, the greatest minds of our party, dwelling on the question, the unbelievably consuming question of how to get Olympia Snow to vote for health care reform. I want to remind us all Olympia Snow was not elected President last year. Olympia Snow has no veto power in the Senate. Olympia Snow represents a state with one half of one percent of America's population.

What America wants is health care reform. America doesn't care if it gets 51 votes in the Senate, or 60 votes in the Senate, or 83 votes in the Senate. In fact America doesn't even care about that, it doesn't care about that at all.

What America cares about is this:

There are over 1 million Americans who go broke every single year trying to pay their health care bills. America cares a lot about that.

America cares about the fact that there are 44,780 Americans who die every single year on account of not having health care. That's 122 every day. America sure cares a lot about that.

America cares about that fact that if you have a pre-existing condition, even if you have health insurance, it's not covered. America cares about that a lot.

America cares about the fact that you can get all the health care you need as long as you don't need any. America cares about that a lot.

But America does not care about procedures, processes, personalities. America doesn't care about that at all.

So we have to remember that as Democrats. We have to remember that what's at stake here is life and death, enormous amounts of money, and people are counting upon us to move ahead.

America understands what's good for America. America cares about health care, America cares about jobs, America cares about education, about energy independence. America does not care about process or politicians or personalities or anything like that.

And I have a few words for my Republican friends tonight as well. I guess I do have some Republican friends.

Let me say this. Last week I held up this report here and I pointed out that in America, there's 44,789 Americans who die every year, according to this Harvard Report published in a peer-reviewed journal, because they have no health insurance. That's an extra 44,789 Americans who die, whose lives could be saved. And their response was to ask me for an apology. To ask me for an apology. That's right, to ask me for an apology.

Well, I'm telling you this: I will not apologize. I will not apologize. I will not apologize for a simple reason. America doesn't care about your feelings!

I violated no rules by calling this report to America's attention. I think a lot of people didn't know about it beforehand.

But America does care about health care in America. And if you're against it, then get out of the way! Just get out of the way. You can lead, you can follow, or you can get out of the way, and I'm telling you now to get out of the way.

America understands that there's one party in this country that's in favor of health care reform and one party that's against it, and they know why.

They understand that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world, the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation.

They understand that if Barack Obama could somehow bring about world peace, they'd blame him for destroying the defense industry.

In fact, they understand that if Barack Obama has a BLT sandwich tomorrow for lunch, they will try to ban bacon.

But that's not what America wants. America wants solutions to its problems and that begins with health care. And that's what I'm speaking for tonight. I yield the rest of my time.

October 10, 2009 2:25 PM  

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