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Acknowledging the Reality of Police Brutality
29 August 2014 - 1:21pm
Today’s USA Today: “When It’s Our Money and Blood, It’s Our Decision.”
11 August 2014 - 4:57pm
Moneybomb: This Is the End
28 July 2014 - 7:46pm
Alan Grayson: "The Strongest American Voice for Peace"
28 July 2014 - 3:34pm
Moneybomb Match: Your $1 Equals $3
27 July 2014 - 8:44pm
Acknowledging the Reality of Police Brutality
29 August 2014 - 1:21pm

Hey, there. Sorry that you haven't heard from me for a while. I was a bit preoccupied by our Tuesday Florida Democratic primary - which we won by 49 points. Of course, I would have preferred to pontificate by e-mail, but I actually did lose a Democratic primary once, and I'm going to make sure that that never happens again.

The show must go on.

Since our last episode, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri killed an unarmed African-American teenager. The police officer shot him somewhere between six and eleven times. According to some eyewitnesses, the victim, Michael Brown, was shot in the back. Then Brown turned around, with his hands up, and shouted "I don't have a gun - stop shooting!" At which point the officer shot him shot several more times, and killed him.

Since I grew up in the Bronx, I have some general familiarity with that scenario. In 1978, a Bronx police officer was convicted of beating a Puerto Rican to death - while he was in custody.

In 1994, a young man in the Bronx was arrested for accidentally hitting a police car with his football. His brother expressed dismay to the officer about that arrest, crossing his arms across his chest. The officer then arrested the brother, for "disorderly conduct," and literally choked the life out of him; the coroner listed the cause of death as "compression of his neck and chest."

In 1996, a Bronx police officer frisked an African-American male, Nathaniel Gaines, on the "D" Train, and found that he was unarmed. One stop later, at 167th Street, overlooking the Grand Concourse on the southbound platform, one stop before Yankee Stadium, the officer ordered Gaines to disembark. The officer then shot at Gaines five times, including four times in the back, and killed him. Gaines was a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, he had no criminal record, and he had never been arrested.

In 1999, four Bronx police officers approached an unarmed Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo and ordered him to "show his hands." Misunderstanding them, presumably because his native language was Fulfulde and not English, Diallo reached into his pocket and took out his wallet. The officers shot him 41 times, and killed him.

And in the meantime, in 1997, New York City police arrested Abner Louima, a Haitian-American, and then sodomized him with a broomstick. But that was in Brooklyn. My parents used to warn me about Brooklyn.

I could go on. Sadly, I could go on and on and on. But what is the point? Police brutality is a reality. And you can't miss it, unless you literally close your eyes to it - which all-too-many people seem willing to do.

Let's start with Fox News. When I listen to Fox News, I feel torn. I just can't decide: Are they idiots, or are they fools? Are they nitwits, or are they imbeciles? Are they morons, or are they jerks? Are they blockheads, or are they boneheads? They report, and we decide.

Remember how you used to hear the phrase "clever like a fox"? Since Fox News, you don't hear that anymore.

The primary Fox "talking point" regarding the killing of Michael Brown is that Brown may or may not have been in a convenience store earlier in the day, and that he may or may not have stolen some cigars from that store. Fox has been playing the convenience store video footage in an infinite loop. But there is little or no evidence that the officer knew of the store incident, or that he connected it to Brown.

And if he did, then so what? Even under sharia law, if you steal a few cigars, the worst that can happen is that you get your hand cut off. Not eleven shots from a high-caliber weapon.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that our Constitution permits the death penalty only in cases of first-degree murder, and treason. Not cigar theft. If 11 bullet holes for stealing some cigars is not "cruel and unusual punishment," then I don't know what is. It's definitely cruel, and I certainly hope that it remains unusual.

The other major Fox talking point is "why aren't we talking about all of the black-on-black violence, and the black-on-white violence?" OK, let's talk about that. I can give you dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of white police officers killing unarmed black men. I just gave you several from my younger days in the Bronx, alone. The Bronx represents well under one percent of the population of the United States, and my "younger days" were, sadly, quite a while ago.

Now, Fox News, give me an equal number of examples of black police officers killing unarmed black men. Also, give me a list of black police officers killing unarmed white men.

I'm waiting . . . .

Anyone who thought that electing our first American-American President would end racism in America must be sorely disappointed this week.

If you ask a sociologist for a definition of "the government," he or she will not mention Social Security, or the fire department, or the public school system, or our national parks. The sociological definition of the "government" is the entity that has a monopoly on the legal use of force. In every nation on Planet Earth, only the military and the police have the legal right to exercise force, up to and including deadly force. And that makes it tragic when that force is used indiscriminately or - even worse - discriminately.

In 1969, the American psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published a book about how people facing death deal with death. She said that there are five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

When it comes to the reality of brutality by our peace officers, too many of us are still in that first stage: denial.

And if the killing of Michael Brown weren't bad enough, then we had to watch military weapons deployed by those same "peace" officers on our city streets. But this note is long enough already, so I'll save that subject for next time.

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Today’s USA Today: “When It’s Our Money and Blood, It’s Our Decision.”
11 August 2014 - 4:57pm

This op-ed appears on page 6A of today’s edition of USA Today:
 

 

Rep. Alan Grayson: American people say, 'No'

Alan Grayson, 8:03 p.m. EDT August 10, 2014

“Mr. President, when it's our money, and it's our blood, then it's our decision.”

Who is right on military intervention in Iraq: President Obama, or the American people? I say that it's the people.

A recent Pew Research Center poll asked Americans, "Do you think the U.S. has a responsibility to do something about the violence in Iraq?" "No!" said 55%. Fewer than 40% said yes. Most Democrats, Republicans and independents are opposed.

We all know the history: U.S. soldiers invaded and occupied Iraq, looking for "WMDs" that weren't there. That 10-year war cost us the lives of 4,425 American soldiers, left roughly 250,000 with permanent brain abnormalities from IEDs, etc., and cost us $2 trillion — approximately 2.5% of our national net worth, accumulated over 200 years.

Isn't that enough?

We left when the government of Iraq refused to extend the Status of Forces Agreement. Now Iraqi leaders want our help again. But the U.S. military is not a yo-yo.

The stated "mission" of the Iraq War was to build up a million-man armed force to defend Iraq. We did that. That force is fed by $100 billion in oil money each year. Yet it has been defeated, again and again, by what one Arab official called "a few hundred psychopaths." Iraqi soldiers outnumber the Islamic State by more than 100 to 1, but they won't fight.

In one town, a band of ISIS fighters announced their approach with a devastatingly effective weapon: a bullhorn. Iraqi soldiers fled.

If the Iraqis won't defend themselves, then why should we? And when will we start solving our own problems?

This effort makes a mockery of the Powell Doctrine. No national security interest is threatened, we don't have a clear strategy, we're not using overwhelming force, and we have no way out.

We have to get past this bizarre notion that every time there's something in the world we don't like, we bomb it.

Mr. President, when it's our money, and it's our blood, then it's our decision. And now, the American people are saying "No!"

"Ain't gonna study war no more.
Gonna lay down my sword and shield.
Down by the riverside."

— Down By the Riverside (1918).

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Peace,

Rep. Alan Grayson

Moneybomb: This Is the End
28 July 2014 - 7:46pm

The end of the Grayson moneybomb is approaching rapidly. We hate to disagree with Shakespeare. But in this case, we have to.

In Macbeth, the protagonist says:

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time."

(Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, lines 19-21.)

Well, that's not how it seems to us. Our days don't creep by. Our days bolt by, like an Olympic bobsled event. Like 293 consecutive somersaults. Like we're strapped to an ICBM.

And this day - Moneybomb Day - is almost gone. (Unless you happen to live in Japan, in which case it's already gone.)

Our "100 Days to Victory" moneybomb has featured moving and memorable testimonials from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, liberal legend Dennis Kucinich, and actor-activists Martin Sheen and Mike Farrell. What they've all been trying to tell you is this:

It's important to have Alan Grayson in Congress. He not only needs your help. He deserves your help.

If you are the cynical sort, then you may discount all this as "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, lines 26-28.) But that would be wrong. Because Alan Grayson is different, and Alan Grayson makes a difference.

Alan Grayson likes to tell a story about a Member of Congress whom he met before he was elected. He asked her, privately, what she thought was the best thing about the job. He anticipated that she might mention Congressional Delegation trips to foreign lands, or maybe meeting the rich and famous. Nope. She told Alan that the best thing about being in Congress is "all the good you can do for people."

And that, my friend, that is what this moneybomb is all about. We're not talking about whether or not one human being gets elected to Congress. We're talking about fighting for progressive principles, and . . . winning. We're not talking about the final score on Nov. 4. We're talking about justice, equality and peace. Yes, we're talking about "all the good you can do for people."

Now let us ask you a question: Do you know anyone else in public life who lets it all hang out this way? Elizabeth Warren, maybe? Well, she's not on the ballot this year. Nor Bernie Sanders. Nor Dennis Kucinich. Nor Barney Frank. Nor Russ Feingold. Nor Paul Wellstone, bless the memory of him.

Alan Grayson is on the ballot this year. And he deserves your support. Before midnight tonight.

This is the end. But with Alan Grayson carrying our banner forward, it also is the beginning -- of something beautiful.

Peace,

Team Grayson

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

- Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching a simple lesson: Don't be silent.

Alan Grayson: "The Strongest American Voice for Peace"
28 July 2014 - 3:34pm

Today, for our “100 Days to Victory” moneybomb finale, we bring you an extraordinarily moving and evocative message from actor-activist Martin Sheen. Sheen is America’s favorite fictitious President, residing in the “West Wing” for seven wonderful years. He also is an amazingly active activist, an outspoken leader against nuclear weapons and capital punishment, and in favor of peace, the right to organize, gun control, immigration reform, the environment and care for the homeless. As Martin Sheen puts it, “acting is what I do for a living; activism is what I do to stay alive.” Let’s hear what he has to say about our Congressman with Guts, Rep. Alan Grayson…

“Hello. I’m Martin Sheen, and for seven years, I played the role of President of the United States on the ‘West Wing.’

You know, the President’s most important responsibility is his own role as Commander-in-Chief, and his most important decisions are the decisions between war and peace.

In today’s Washington, D.C., Congressman Alan Grayson is perhaps the strongest American voice for peace.

Before he was elected to Congress, he prosecuted Iraq war profiteers.

He ran for Congress on a platform of peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and constructive relationships between America and the rest of the world.

And last year, when the prospect of war between the United States and Syria reared its ugly head, Alan Grayson worked tirelessly to convince both his colleagues and the American people to give peace a chance.

Alan Grayson not only won that fight, but he also established a critical principle: that when it’s our blood to be spilled, and when it’s our money to be spent, then it’s our decision to make.

Tireless, tough, creative, articulate, honest, poised, and persuasive, Alan Grayson has become one of the bold leaders of the renewed peace movement here in America.

I support him, and I’m urging you to support him as well. Because Alan Grayson is what America needs right now.

Alan Grayson has won the long-promised blessing reserved for the peacemakers. Thank you.”

[Click on any link to see the Martin Sheen video.]

Why does Alan Grayson deserve your support in this “100 Days to Victory”moneybomb? Because Alan Grayson is a “bold leader of the renewed peace movement here in America.

If you contribute today, every dollar that you give will be matched by two more, from two generous supporters. And if you give $20.14 or more, you will have a chance to join Alan in Orlando on Election Day.

Today is Moneybomb day. If you have been thinking about giving, the day is today, and the time is now.

Contribute now to help reelect the “strongest American voice for peace.”

Thanks,

Team Grayson

Moneybomb Match: Your $1 Equals $3
27 July 2014 - 8:44pm

Here is the deal: For every dollar that you give in our moneybomb, we have two donors who have promised to match it.

$1 + $1 + $1 = $3.

Maybe you'd like to be able to give this campaign $75, but frankly, that's a lot of money. Fine; you just give us $25, and the other two will give us another $50. Everyone's happy.

But if you give $0, then they give $0. Everyone's sad.

This offer is good through 11:59 pm on Monday, July 28, 2014. Void where prohibited. Blah-blah-blah.

You want to know how we did this? It was brilliant, if we do say so ourselves. (And if we don't, then who will?) We went to two very generous progressive donors who had not yet given to our campaign this year. We told them that we have 100,000 supporters, and we're confident that if they each pledged to give up to $X, then our supporters would match them dollar-for-dollar. And they said, "Fantastic! A win-win situation!"

And now we're telling you the same thing. But it's only win-win if you give-give. And it's lose-lose if you don't-don't. Hey, don't leave us twisting slowly, slowly in the wind. [John Ehrlichman (1973).]

Would you like to know who these two anonymous benefactors are? Well, we're not going to tell you, because if we did, then they wouldn't be anonymous. (At least until our FEC report comes out.) It's like that old TV show from the 1950's called "The Millionaire." You just see an arm reaching for the cashier's check, and handing it to the executive secretary for delivery. "You sent for me, sir?" "Yes, Michael, here is the check."

So please give us your check. Because life provides very few opportunities to triple your money, unless you're at the racetrack. Citibank is now paying 0.01% interest on savings accounts. (For real.) At that rate, it would take you 1100 years to triple your money. We need your help in the year 2014, not in the year 3114, when Hillary Clinton the XXXIII will be running against George Bush the XXXV for President. Now, not then.

Oh, and just a reminder: we will be choosing one moneybomb contributor (donating $20.14 or more) to join Rep. Alan Grayson in Orlando on Election Day, or some other date that's good for you. Come on, Mickey Mouse is dying to see you!

Anyway, the time has come. Please hit that CONTRIBUTE button below, with the warm feeling that whatever you give will be multiplied thrice. Not exactly like the fishes and the loaves, but still a very good deal.

Hoping for Continued Employment,

Team Grayson

Candidate for Congress (D-FL)

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