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Why Are We Still Waiting for Answers on Drones?
31 October 2014 - 3:57pm
OMG! Look! It’s a Positive Ad!
29 October 2014 - 6:25pm
My Opponent is Smearing Me, So I Need Your Help
24 October 2014 - 4:44pm
Last Chance: Nancy Pelosi, Me, and You
11 October 2014 - 2:09pm
Let’s Get Rid of the Obstructionist-in-Chief, Mitch McConnell
7 October 2014 - 2:44pm
Why Are We Still Waiting for Answers on Drones?
31 October 2014 - 3:57pm

Team Grayson here. Congressman Grayson has been speaking out for quite some time now about the effect of drone warfare on innocent victims, and the resulting plunge in American support in areas where drones are deployed. Last year, he brought victims of a drone strike in Pakistan to the United States to appear for the first time before Congress. Since then, he’s been working to put a human face to the casualties of America’s drone policy. Here’s an op-ed he just published at Huffington Post. The piece was co-written by Alan’s good friend Robert Greenwald, the founder and president of Brave New Films. Robert’s most recent film, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes, at home and abroad. Read the full piece below:

Mamana Bibi was a 67-year-old Pakistani grandmother and midwife, killed by a U.S. drone strike on October 24, 2012. One year ago, the family of Mamana Bibi came to Washington, D.C., to share their sad story with Members of Congress.

Mamana's son, Rafiq ur Rehman, is a 39-year-old primary-school teacher. He and his two children, Zubair, 13, and Nabila, 9, were the first family members of a U.S. drone strike victim ever to speak to Members of Congress. Rafiq explained that he and his family were educators, not terrorists. He wanted to know why his family was targeted by the U.S. military. Zubair, a teenager, recalled how he "watched a U.S. drone kill my grandmother." He described why he now fears blue skies: "Because drones do not fly when the skies are gray." Nabila was picking okra with her grandmother for a religious holiday meal, when day became night. "I saw from the sky a drone and I hear a dum-dum noise. Everything was dark and I couldn't see anything, but I heard a scream."

Only five Members of Congress came to hear this family's testimony. Only five listened to the real impact of one of America's most ruthless, extrajudicial, error-laden and enemy-producing war policies. The briefing was organized by both of us, Rep. Alan Grayson, and Director Robert Greenwald. It was part of our effort to change discourse about drone warfare. It also led the release of a new drone documentary, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars. The film told these and other drone victims' stories, focused on the government's shadowy "signature strike" policy allowed spy agencies to target and kill hundreds based on suspicion alone, and posed difficult questions that far too many lawmakers and national security officials still want to duck.

Those questions include: Should America be killing people in other countries with which we are not at war? What constitutional framework allows the President and spy agencies to be judge, jury and executioner? Where only four percent of victims are even "linked" to Al Qaeda, what role are the killings, playing in inciting warfare and making anti-American enemies? Why do national leaders -- in the White House, the Pentagon and Congress -- believe that so-called military "solutions" are the only way to address global hot spots? And why is it that every time they see something they don't like, they feel the urge to bomb it?

For a brief period, it appeared that some progress was being made on drone policy. The President announced that he would transfer the program from the CIA to the Pentagon, where it would, theoretically, be subject to more significant Congressional oversight. Legislation codifying that transition was introduced. Significantly, the frequency of drone strikes dropped as well.

But a recent event -- the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq -- has resuscitated America's dependence on drones. Our desire to avoid placing American troops on the ground again in the Middle East has had the perverse effect of promoting error-prone drones as the nation's weapon of choice. No substantive change has been made to this secretive foreign assassination program. Reform efforts in Congress have stalled. The Administration has cloaked its addiction to drone warfare with the label "national security," seeking to end any possibility of rational public discourse on the matter.

That's a problem for many reasons, but especially because drone strikes cause considerable "collateral damage" (an Orwellian phrase created by the military-industrial complex to sanitize the slaughter of the innocents). For every Al Qaeda "target" that a drone attack eliminates, it spawns dozens of new radicals intent on exacting retribution against the U.S. - vindication for the corpses and memories of hundreds of innocent civilians who have been killed, in regions where the U.S. needs allies, not enemies.

We cannot afford to delay reform any longer. We should start by acknowledging a simple truth: Many drone strike victims are not terrorists. These are real people - mothers, children, parents, cousins, human beings - not some nameless, faceless enemy. And any reform efforts should bring the drone program under the rule of law, with checks and balances on the actions of the Executive Branch, subjecting drone strikes to Congressional oversight, and compensation for the families of innocent victims.

Our politicians can no longer pretend that America's policy of drone strike vigilantism is going unnoticed by the international community. The United Nations and international human rights groups have issued multiple reports detailing the deaths of innocent civilians resulting from these strikes. The documentary Unmanned: America's Drone Wars, has been seen by millions of people abroad, including in Pakistan; it was featured at a UN Human Rights Council meeting; and it is being screened on college campuses and universities across the globe. And last October, Congressional testimony by the Rehman family finally put a face to "collateral damage."

Not one of us would stand by idly while a foreign government killed American grandmothers, children, and other innocent civilians via remote-controlled weapons that rain down death from the skies. Yet that's precisely what the U.S. military-industrial complex has done for years, and we American citizens have let this happen in our good name. It's time we all paid attention. It's time we all acknowledged the immorality, the illegality, and the repercussions of U.S. drone strikes abroad.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

OMG! Look! It’s a Positive Ad!
29 October 2014 - 6:25pm

Here is a startling statistic: Eighty percent of the ads run by sewer-money Super PACs in 2014 have been negative ads. NPR and the National Journal called this year’s negative ads “the worst ever.” According to the Washington Post, a week ago, there was one negative ad running in the North Carolina Senate race every single minute.

This is how Colorado’s Sen. Michael Bennet’s brother aptly described the situation back in 2012, before things got even worse: “This advertising seem[s] less like the currency of democracy than like a grotesquely stupid exercise to enrich political consultants and local televisions stations, and to drive voters away from the polls.” It makes every election seem like a choice between the lesser of two evils, or the less evil of two lessers.

Well, you know how we are. When everyone’s doing one thing, we’ve got to do something else. It’s in our blood.

We’re running a positive ad.

We’re giving our voters a look at me, facing the camera, speaking to them directly. Now, admittedly, I am no George Clooney. I am no Brad Pitt. (More like Danny Trejo, or Vincent Schiavelli). However, our voters do deserve to hear a few words out of my mouth (other than “I’m Alan Grayson, and I approve this ad”) before they make up their minds.

And our ad answers a very important question for the voters: What the heck have I done for them in the past two years? We took one out of the 33 amendments that I passed in the House – more than any other Member, Democratic or Republican – and explained how we’ve help to create and sustain jobs in America. In other words, I’m doing what most elected officials would never do, what they’re afraid to do, what they can’t do: I’m running on my record.

To see our positive ad, click here.

For sure, this positive ad will help to dispel the cartoon version of me that the other side has tried to draw. And maybe also help to dispel the stink of all those visual muggings that we’ve been forced to watch on TV, simply because we have leaders to choose.

Here is another reason: This week, I wrongly attributed a profound statement by Thumper’s father to Bambi’s mother. I apologize to Bambi, Thumper, and all other offended Disney cartoon characters. But that profound statement bears reiterating: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” (And when you say nothing at all, you avoid those awful double-negatives.)

That’s our other reason: We have something nice to say.

Click here to see our ad. If you like it, then you can help pay for it. And you can support our going-against-the-grain effort to say something good. Grayson for Congress: We’re lighting a candle, not cursing the darkness.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

My Opponent is Smearing Me, So I Need Your Help
24 October 2014 - 4:44pm

My opponent has just rolled out a disgusting attack website, proclaiming that I’m “without honor.” Her dirty gutter-site spews out utterly specious attacks on my personal life and my professional experience, in lieu of anything resembling an actual discussion of issues.

What does my opponent’s smear-site say about jobs? Nothing.

Healthcare? Nothing.

Education? Nothing.

Foreign policy? Nothing.

The budget? Nothing.

The gap between rich and poor? Nothing.

Taxes? Nothing.

Just trash, slime, muck, crud and scuz. What President Clinton called “the politics of personal destruction.”

My opponent is wrong on the issues. She’s done nothing to help the voters. So all she can do is denigrate me and vilify me, dragging my name through the mud.

So help us fight back. Please – help us fight back.

The great majority of my opponent's dreck-site is just slanderous swill about my personal life. But once in a while, something resembling an actual issue insinuates itself into the stream of calumny -- in a very revealing way.

Here are a few more things that my opponent’s sewer-site chastises me for:

My call for stricter campaign finance laws (which she argues makes me “hypocritical,” apparently because we have so many small donors).

My successful battle to prevent crooked contractors who cheat the taxpayers and the troops from getting new federal contracts (because this supposedly constitutes an attack on “small business”).

My support for a new Planned Parenthood clinic in my district (because she says that it supposedly would “target Hispanics for destruction”; in the GOP lexicon, a pap smear is “destruction”).

My sympathy for the 80,000 people in my district who are undocumented (because, according to my very confused opponent, all Hispanics are “legal US citizens”).

My statement that the Army’s failure to take responsibility for huge increases in cancer and other serious health problems near a base where it tested unconventional weapons was “illogical and cruel” (because the Army denies any responsibility).

Yes, I wish that sewer money would get the hell out of politics. Yes, I think that war profiteers should be punished, not rewarded. Yes, I think that women should have full health coverage. Yes, I feel for the undocumented who live in the shadows. Yes, I believe that the military should accept responsibility when it ruins the lives of innocent Americans.

And for that, my opponent is condemning me.

Look, it’s showtime. The election is just 10 days away. We cannot let my opponent’s lies defeat our truth. Please contribute to our campaign today, so that we can set the record straight.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Last Chance: Nancy Pelosi, Me, and You
11 October 2014 - 2:09pm
We’re extending this offer through tomorrow: one of our contributors this week will be invited to join Nancy Pelosi and me in Orlando for lunch next Friday, and the campaign will pick up the tab. Will it be you? Click here, make a contribution, and we’ll let you know.

Let me tell you a story about Nancy Pelosi that illustrates her awesomeness. You won’t hear this from anyone else.

Last year, a Democratic Member of the House got into some hot water for saying something harsh about the Republicans. Undoubtedly well-deserved, but nevertheless harsh.

I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t me. Not that time, anyway.

The Right-Wing Umbrage Machine seized on this, and this Democrat took quite a beating in HateLand. Bill O’Reilly was riled. Mark Levin was livid. Michael Savage was savage. It was the Full Monty of faux indignation.

The national media gets its cues from Fox News, so Nancy Pelosi knew that she was going to be asked about it at her next news conference. Probably within the framework of some fake moral equivalence, like this: “Ted Cruz said something utterly moronic last week, but then your guy said this other thing, so what’s the difference, nanna nanna boo boo?”

Now, if Nancy Pelosi were, let’s say, John Boehner, she would have just cut the guy lose. And then driven a truck over him. Because that’s what Boehner does.

That’s not what Nancy Pelosi does.

She called up this other Member, and she asked him what he thought she should say. I italicize because, believe me, this is quite unheard of in Washington, DC. The people in charge don’t ask, they tell. They direct. They order.

Nancy Pelosi asks.

He said that it would do no good for her to criticize him.

She agreed.

She then asked him what he thought he should do. Again, she asked him, she didn’t tell him. He told her that he had made a poor choice of words, and he would apologize for that and that alone. Which is what happened.

Now if this Member of Congress had been a Republican, you would have found his naked corpse in a dumpster, in a very dark alley, with an icepick sticking out of his back. And carved into the hilt of the icepick would be the initials “J.B.”

(And not to get off the subject, but J.B. consumes an awful lot of J&B. Probably to dull his conscience.)

In other words, Nancy Pelosi is not only the highest elected woman in American history, she is not only a great progressive leader, but she also is a decent human being. A very decent human being.

And you have one chance, and only one chance to meet her – in warm, sunny Orlando next Friday. Please contribute to our campaign, today or tomorrow, and that chance is yours.

The illustration for this note depicts Nancy Pelosi as Rosie the Riveter. Rosie the Riveter was an American cultural icon, representing women who made heroic efforts to fill rough manufacturing jobs during World War II, when so many men left those jobs to fight in the armed forces. In real life, Rosie the Riveter was Rosie Bonavitas in the Convair military aircraft plant in San Diego. Evans and Loeb wrote a song about her in 1942, which became a huge nationwide hit.

Rosie Bonavitas passed away in 1966. It’s too late to meet her. But you still have a chance to meet an even greater real-life hero, Nancy Pelosi, if you donate to our campaign today or tomorrow.

And there’s a big bonus: Whoever joins Nancy and me next Friday also will receive the B-52’s quadruple-platinum album award for their album “Cosmic Thing.” Thanks to Howie Klein, of Blue America.

The election is almost upon us. This would be a good time for you to help. Last chance, last dance. It’s time for you to enhance our chance, with some finance. Don’t look askance, and for sure, don’t fall into a trance. Left-click right here, help us out, and I’ll hope that it’s you who joins us in Orlando next Friday.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson


Let’s Get Rid of the Obstructionist-in-Chief, Mitch McConnell
7 October 2014 - 2:44pm

Big news out of Kentucky last Thursday: For the first time since June, an independent poll shows Obstructionist-in-Chief Sen. Mitch McConnell running behind his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

If there is anyone who deserves to lose this year, it’s Mitch McConnell. Click here to help make it happen.

On Jan. 21, 2010, Mitch McConnell was sitting two seats to my left. We were seated in the U.S. Supreme Court courtroom, to hear the Court’s decision in the Citizens United case. That courtroom is known as the Second Highest Court in the Land, second only to the Supreme Court’s private basketball court, on the floor above.

I came prepared for the worst. I already had introduced four bills to try to blunt the Supreme Court’s ruling. I feared that the Supreme Court would open the floodgates to a huge wave of sewer money in politics, and my fears were well-founded.

Mitch and I were the only two elected officials in the room. Between us sat Floyd Abrams, a once-revered First Amendment lawyer who had since given his soul over to the Dark Side of the Force.

McConnell was there for a good reason -- because he had planned the whole thing. He had been pushing this anti-democracy litigation for years, all the way to the Supreme Court. He desperately wanted to establish the constitutional right of every billionaire to buy and sell elected officials, as he sees fit. (To be fair, every homeless person has the same right – just not the same money.)

I listened in horror as Judge Kennedy read his chosen excerpts from the decision. On MSNBC that night, I labeled it “the worst Supreme Court decision since the Dred Scott case” [which ruled that the federal government could not prohibit or limit slavery in the federal territories, and that slaves had no rights in court, among other things]. I added that “if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye.”

Mitch McConnell, two seats to my left as the Supreme Court handed down its decision, was not horrified. On the contrary, he was giggling. Or gurgling. Or some other sound was coming out of some other orifice; in Mitch’s case, it’s hard to tell.

According to legend, Nero fiddled while Rome burned. McConnell giggled. Or gurgled, as the case may be.

And now we have a chance to get rid of Mitch McConnell. If that sounds like something that you’d like to do, then left-click right here, my friend.

With one brief exception, Mitch McConnell has held America hostage since he became the Republican Senate Leader in 2007, almost eight years ago. The filibuster, the Senate rule that requires 60 out of 100 votes on most matters, has made Mitch McConnell a de facto dictator. Between 1920 and 1970, filibusters averaged one per year. As soon as McConnell took over for the Republicans, they doubled. Now they have reached 100 each year. Which means one thing: if Mitch McConnell doesn’t like it, it’s not going to happen.

Time after time, legislation that is overwhelmingly popular with the American public is murdered by Mitch McConnell. Why don’t we increase the minimum wage? Because Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to. Why don’t we have universal background checks for gun purchasers? Because Mitch McConnell doesn’t want that. Why don’t we have immigration reform? Because Mitch McConnell says no. Why doesn’t the federal government recognize medical marijuana use? Because Mitch McConnell doesn’t like the idea.

There was only one significant period in the past eight years when America wasn’t trapped in Mitch McConnell’s thrall. That was the period between July 2009, when Sen. Al Franken was sworn in (after McConnell’s nearly endless maneuvering to prevent that ended) and April 2010, when Senator Kennedy cast his last vote. (And Kennedy, being very ill, had missed votes for several months before that.) During that short time, the Democrats had 60 votes in the Senate, and when they stuck together, they could pole-vault over McConnell’s roadblocks. But other than that, it’s been gridlock, baby, 24/7/52, for eight years straight.

And now we have this fleeting, once-in-a-sexennial (sounds dirty, doesn’t it?) opportunity to expunge Mitch McConnell from public life. Please, show your support for Alison Grimes, if only to send McConnell packing off to Grinchland, KY, or whatever hell-hole he came from.

And remember, the U.S. Senate hangs in the balance. If McConnell loses, then it gets very, very hard for the Republicans to take over the Senate. If McConnell wins, there is a good chance that he will be Senate Majority Leader on Jan. 5, 2015. If he loses, he’s nothing.

After 30 years of Mitch, it’s time to switch.

Isn’t it worth a few of your hard-earned rubles to banish Mitch McConnell, forever?
Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

P.S. As we announced on Sunday, anyone who contributes to our campaign between now and Friday has a chance to win the quadruple-platinum album award that the B-52s (the band, not the bomber) received for their album “Cosmic Thing.” If you win the award, then I’ll meet you by the third pyramid (“Mesopotamia”).

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