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"Pray the Gay Away"? No.
10 September 2014 - 5:30pm
Ferguson: I did my best to prevent it
5 September 2014 - 5:33pm
#FERGUSON: How Alan Grayson tried to demilitarize the police
2 September 2014 - 2:10pm
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
"Pray the Gay Away"? No.
10 September 2014 - 5:30pm

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.


Rep. Alan Grayson

Ferguson: I did my best to prevent it
5 September 2014 - 5:33pm

It has been widely reported that I recognized, several months before the martial law scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, how problematic it is to put military weapons and equipment in the hands of police officers, and that I introduced and forced a vote on an amendment in the House to prevent that. It also has been widely reported that I lost that vote. We then saw the consequence of that sad outcome on our TV screens and computer screens. I want to share with you some of the points that I made when that amendment was under consideration. I will tell you what was said in opposition to my amendment. And then, in light of what we saw in Ferguson, I want you to tell me how you would have voted.

To have military weapons in the hands of the police is a blatant violation of Sir Robert Peel’s “Nine Principles of Policing,” which has been the gold standard of police conduct for two centuries. Here are those principles:

· To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

· To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

· To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

· To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

· To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

· To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

· To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

· To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

· To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

With that in mind, I introduced an amendment to prevent any further distribution of armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, chemical agents, biological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, and nuclear weapons by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to police departments in the United States. The amendment did not restrict the distribution of guns or ammunition.

The purpose of my amendment was to address a growing problem throughout our country, which is the militarization of local law enforcement agencies, and the resulting friction between the police and the policed.

The New York Times had recently reported that police departments around the country had received thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment and hundreds of silencers, armored cars, and aircraft directly from the Department of Defense. These are military weapons and materiel.

I thought, and I still think, that this is appalling. That is why my amendment tried to prohibit the Department of Defense from gifting military-grade equipment, such as aircraft—including drones—armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, and bombs to local police departments. I believe that those weapons have no place in our streets, regardless of who may be deploying them.

As The New York Times article ‘‘War Gear Flows to Police Departments’’ explained:

“Police SWAT teams are now deployed tens of thousands of times each year, increasingly for routine jobs. Masked, heavily armed police officers in Louisiana raided a nightclub in 2006 as part of a liquor inspection. In Florida in 2010, officers in SWAT gear and with guns drawn carried out raids on barbershops that mostly led only to charges of ‘barbering without a license.’ [That was in my hometown of Orlando, by the way - AMG.] One South Carolina sheriff’s department now takes a new tank that it received from the Department of Defense with a mounted .50-caliber gun to schools and community events. The department’s spokesman calls that tank a ‘conversation

Forgive me, but I just don’t think this is the way I want my America to be. I think that our police should act like public servants, not like warriors at war. My view of America is one where our streets are safe, and they don’t resemble a war zone, no matter who is deploying that equipment. We don’t want America to look like an occupied territory.

After I made these simple and brief points to my colleagues in the House, a certain distinguished gentleman from New Jersey then beat his chest about 9/11. I’d like to try to explain to you his argument that the 9/11 tragedy somehow justifies giving landmines, torpedoes and missiles to local police departments. But in order to explain it, I would have to understand it, and I just don’t.

Then an esteemed colleague from the Great State of Florida made this comforting point: He said that you can always find misuses of any equipment that is given to the police, but it is the responsibility of local communities to keep the police in check. In other words, tanks don’t kill civilians; it’s the tank occupants who kill the civilians. Which really begs the question: How is the community going to keep the police “in check” if it’s the police who have the tanks, the helicopters and the chemical weapons?

In response to these points, I invited any opponent of my amendment to cite a case – any case, at any time, in any place – where the police in any American community actually had ever used military weapons for a necessary and proper purpose. I asked them to identify any act of terrorism that was thwarted by handing to police officers helicopters that are militarized, handing them bombs, and handing them the military gear that you would expect to see only on the battlefield.

For that invitation, there were no takers.

I therefore pointed out that those weapons simply are not being used to defeat terrorism in our streets. Instead, they are being used to arrest barbers in Orlando, and to terrorize the general population.

And then I made a very important point, one which unfortunately was borne out very quickly in Ferguson, Missouri. I said that such weapons often are used by a majority to terrorize a minority.

Someone had to say it.

And I added that we all know of many cases— both recent and in the deep, dark past—where the police used their weapons improperly, and brutally. It used to be that they could only use billy clubs or guns that way. But now, they can use helicopters and bombs. And before long, I suppose, given the “anything goes” logic of the Defense Department’s Section 1033 program, the police will be able to deploy nuclear weapons.

That is not an America that I want to live in. And I’m not going anywhere else, any time soon.

In my finale, I pointed out that without my amendment, DoD is free to provide the police with weapons of mass destruction, deployed within our borders, with no strings attached. Unfortunately, no one in the House seemed concerned by that.

That was the sum and substance of the debate. I haven’t left anything out.

I’m a Democrat, and the Democrats are a minority in the House of Representatives. So for me to win, I have to attract Republican support. I did that. The strength of my arguments, or perhaps my wit and charm, enticed 19 Republican House Members to vote in favor of the Grayson Amendment. If you check, you will find that there are exceedingly few House Democratic amendments that win that kind of GOP support.

There are 199 Democrats in the House. 19 + 199 = 218, the magic number in the House of Representatives. 218 makes a majority.

Unfortunately, the House Democrats abandoned the Grayson Amendment in droves, and it went down to defeat. Hence Ferguson.

But that was then, and this is now. I want to know something else today – how you would have voted. What if you were in Congress? Would you have voted for the Grayson Amendment, or against it?


At some point, I’ll share the results.

With that amendment, I was ahead of the new cycle, ahead of the crowd. But isn’t that what leaders are supposed to do? Lead?


Rep. Alan Grayson

#FERGUSON: How Alan Grayson tried to demilitarize the police
2 September 2014 - 2:10pm

Democracy for America (DFA), the largest membership group for Democrats, sent this note to its members on Sunday. DFA has

named Rep. Alan Grayson it’s “#1 Hero in the House.”

A true progressive leader is someone who anticipates a problem before it becomes a national crisis.

Thanks to Ferguson, Missouri, the entire country now knows that the militarization of our local police is a huge problem that

threatens our safety and our freedoms.

Police militarization isn't news to Rep. Alan Grayson. He was already leading the fight against it in Congress, before

it became national news.

In June, two months before Ferguson, he proposed an amendment that would have blocked the Pentagon from transferring military

surplus to local police agencies. Had that amendment been in place a few years ago, St. Louis County police might not have had

the armored vehicles and sniper rifles that they used to threaten peaceful protesters.

Alan Grayson's bold, progressive leadership on demilitarizing the police is just the latest example of why it is so important

that we have him in Congress. Alan Grayson fights for our values when few others will. That makes him a hero -- and it

makes him a right-wing target.

DFA is endorsing Alan Grayson because we cannot afford to lose an ally like him in Congress. Will you chip in

$20 today to support this progressive leader?

Alan Grayson's leadership has repeatedly changed the conversation in Congress and won important progressive victories.

When he and Congressman Mark Takano joined forces to write a letter vowing they would never vote to cut Social

Security, it sparked a revolt among House Democrats who successfully saved Social Security -- for now.

That kind of leadership is why Republicans desperately want to defeat him. In 2010, they beat Grayson during the Tea Party

wave. But Grayson fought back in 2012 and won, thanks to his unashamed embrace of progressive values.

We can't let Tea Party extremists take down Grayson in 2014. He's asked DFA members for their help, and I hope you'll

respond. From protecting and expanding Social Security, to fighting corporate power, to demilitarizing our police,

and so much more, Alan Grayson is a leader we cannot afford to lose.

Alan Grayson has stood with us when we needed him the most. Now it's time for us to stand with him. Chip in

$20 now to re-elect Alan Grayson to Congress.

Thank you for standing up for a progressive hero.

- Charles

Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director

Democracy for America

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.


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.


Rep. Alan Grayson

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