For 46 years, Orlando, Florida has enjoyed public television and radio. And if the Religious Right has its way, that’s over.
Why should we care? Well, Big Bird helped teach my five children how to read. Maybe yours, too. My children have enjoyed Arthur, Dinosaur Train, Bob the Builder, the Magic School Bus, and Teletubbies. And I’ve enjoyed the PBS News Hour, Frontline, the American Experience, and Nova.
If the Religious Right gets what it wants, that will be replaced in Orlando with the hateful spewing of John Hagee. Five days a week.
This is the John Hagee who called Catholicism a “Godless theology of hate.” Who attributed Hitler’s anti-Semitism to Hitler’s Catholic upbringing. Who has referred to the Catholic Church as “the Great Whore.”
This is the John Hagee who claims that all Moslems have a “scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.”
This is the John Hagee who has called Jews “poisoned,” and “spiritually blind.” Who claims that the Holocaust was punishment for Jewish “disobedience” and “rebellion.”
I would rather have my children listening to Big Bird.
Unfortunately, however, the “Daystar Television Network,” a Christian broadcasting outfit, has waived $4 million under the noses of the directors of WMFE. (Due to inflation, what cost 30 pieces of silver in biblical times now goes for $4 million.) And the WMFE directors want to sell – to sell out.
But you can help to stop them, and keep Big Bird on the air in Orlando.
The sale requires FCC approval. The FCC has solicited public comments. Please submit your comment to the FCC, and save public broadcasting in Orlando.
Here’s how: You write your views in a Word document. You fill out the form at this website:
If the Proceeding isn’t already identified, then in the ‘Proceeding Number’ field, type 11-75.
And then you attach the Word document to that form, following the instructions on the screen.
Tell the FCC whom you prefer to see on TV: Big Bird or hate-spewing John Hagee. The deadline for comments is tomorrow (Friday) night. It will take you five or ten minutes. And it will make a big difference.
Everyone always complains about the media. Well, here’s something you can do about it. Let’s keep good TV on TV. Please help.
President Obama is delivering his State of the Union message tomorrow. This is the speech that I would like to hear:
“My fellow Americans. Two years ago, 69 million of us voted for me to be our President. It was the largest vote for President that any person has ever received. But I understand that you did not support me merely because I have an unusual name. Especially the middle one. No, you supported me because I promised the change we need.
“We have been through two hard years, with many people losing their jobs, and many people losing their homes. You know that I did nothing to cause these problems, and I tried hard to solve them. Although our accomplishments have been substantial, an intransigent Republican minority in the Senate has blocked much of my legislative program.
“But a President is more than a legislative program. Although my title is ‘President,’ you did not elect me to preside. You elected me to lead.
“We are at a fork in the road. The Republican House Leadership demonstrated last week that its highest legislative priority is to prevent 30 million Americans from seeing a doctor when they are sick. We can let Republican control of the House of Representatives doom us to no progress, no change, for the next two years. Or I can exercise my powers under the Constitution and our laws to deliver the change we need.
“I choose the latter. As for the Republican leaders, they can lead, follow, or just get out of the way.
“These are the things that I will do now, to give us the good government that we Americans deserve, and the change we need:
“First, to give the economy an immediate boost, I will direct the executive agencies to accelerate the obligation of federal contracts and grants, rather than waiting until the end of the fiscal year.
“Second, I will recognize the obvious, declare China a ‘currency manipulator,’ and end the forced currency union with China that we never asked for and we don’t want, which has cost us 5 million manufacturing jobs in the last decade. I will institute ‘anti-dumping’ actions to protect American jobs.
“Third, I will direct Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA and the VA to include in every home loan that they issue or finance a provision that requires mandatory mediation, at the bank’s expense, before foreclosure. Families who are in danger of losing their homes deserve at least that much.
“Fourth, I will direct both the Financial Stability Oversight Council and the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department to break up any financial institution that is considered ‘too big to fail.’ Too big to fail should mean too big to exist. There will be no more bailouts, no more Wall Street welfare.
“Fifth, I will ask the FBI to investigate and DOJ to prosecute anyone who committed criminal misconduct in connection with the collapse of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Bear Stearns, Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, and all the rest. I will ask the SEC to bar such people from publicly traded companies and the capital markets. In the 18 months before I took office, twenty percent of our national wealth was wiped out, and no one has been punished for that. If we leave the same people doing the same things, then those same disasters may well happen again. We can’t take that chance.
“Sixth, because corporate income tax revenues have dropped by half in the past decade, while Big Business is enjoying record profits, I will ask the IRS to audit every one of the Fortune 500. This will ensure that they are paying the taxes that are due, rather than evading taxes through transfer pricing and offshore tax havens. And I will ask FASB and the SEC to mandate that public companies keep one set of books, rather than one set for investors and a different one for the IRS.
“Seventh, I will direct the EPA to exercise its authority to treat carbon dioxide as a pollutant. I expect to be able to reduce our emissions and pollution as much as other countries do. If they can do it, then so can we.
“Eighth, I will ask the SEC to direct that shareholders in public companies must authorize all campaign expenditures in advance, and that public companies disclose all such expenditures within 48 hours. We cannot allow trillion-dollar multinational companies to dictate the outcome of our elections secretly. We have to keep sewer money out of politics.
“Ninth, I ask the NLRB to take all available steps to ensure that the right of employees to organize, which is rooted in the Constitution’s ‘freedom of association,’ be defended – including the promulgation of ‘card check’ by regulation under the National Labor Relations Act.
“Finally, as Commander in Chief, I will bring all of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of this year, if not sooner. After a decade of war, it’s time for peace.
“Many of you heard me for the first time six years ago, when I said that I believe not in a Blue America or a Red America, but rather, I believe in America. I still do. Americans deserve a good government, which delivers public services effectively and economically. America also deserves leadership that recognizes our problems, attacks them, and solves them. That’s the change we need, and the change we deserve. I won’t settle for less.”
A reporter called me a little while ago, and told me that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had been shot at a public event. She is in critical condition.
I'm going to let others comment on what this means for America. I just want to say what it means to me.
Gabrielle Giffords and I served together on the House Committee on Science and Technology. She was the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and I was a member of that subcommittee. Her D.C. office was one floor above mine.
I saw Gabby dozens, if not hundreds of times, during our two years together. And nearly every time that I can remember, she was smiling.
Gabby is one of the most cheerful, charming and engaging people I have ever known. She's always looking on the bright side. She has something good to say about pretty much everyone. Bad news never lays a glove on her. She loves life, and all the people in it.
No matter what is going on in your life, after fifteen minutes with Gabby, you'll feel that you can touch the stars.
Everyone knew that Gabby would have a tough race in 2010. (She actually won with 49% of the vote.) But I always thought that if each of her constituents could spend that fifteen minutes with her, and see what she is really like, then she would win with 99.9% of the vote. (Same thing about Harry Teague of New Mexico, who lost, and a few others that I could name.) You would want her as your Congressman, because you would want her as your friend.
I know nothing about the man who shot Gabby, and what was going through his mind when he did this. But I will tell you this - if he shot Gabby out of hatred, then it wasn't Gabby he was shooting, but rather some cartoon version of her, drawn by her political opposition. Because there is no way - NO WAY - that anyone who really knows Gabby could hate her or hurt her. She is a kind, gentle soul.
My heart goes out to Mark Kelly, Gabby's husband, and the many, many people who love her. Gabby, we don't want to lose you. Please stay here with us.
Last night, at 10:38 pm, a woman called my home. She said that she had just read the article below, and she had never heard of me before, but I had said just what she had been thinking.
What about you?
He Entered Congress Swinging, and Exits That Way
By MICHAEL BARBARO
Published: January 2, 2011
He derides the Tea Party’s successes as “bought and paid for by the enormously rich and the selfish.”
And he can barely contain distaste for his Republican successor, whose views he sums up as “bizarre fundamentalist.”
Representative Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida’s Eighth Congressional District, is leaving office on Wednesday much as he entered it two years ago — as the pugnaciously partisan, verbal-bomb-tossing, liberal folk hero of the 111th Congress.
But in a wide-ranging interview as his term drew to a close, he repeatedly aimed his artillery in an unexpected direction: toward his own party.
Not for overreaching, in this age of hand-wringing over big government and creeping “socialism,” or for ideological purism. Instead, while surveying the wreckage of the November elections that cost him his seat and looking to the Congressional term ahead, Mr. Grayson posits that many Democrats have not been acting Democratic enough.
Judging by the results of the midterm elections, it does not exactly seem to be a widespread sentiment.
But at a moment when centrism seems to be the party’s antidote to a redrawn political landscape, Mr. Grayson is setting forth a radically different playbook of sharp elbows and unapologetic liberalism.
During the long conversation, Mr. Grayson, a 52-year-old father of five, faulted Democrats for failing to deliver for some of their most potent constituencies, among them labor unions and antiwar voters.
“What did the environmentalists see over the last two years?” he asked. “A proposed monumental increase in subsidies for nuclear power industry and offshore drilling.” As for gay voters, he said: “What they got to see was a judge order that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ no longer be enforced and a Democratic president appeal that decision. That is what that constituency saw before Nov. 2.” (The law was repealed in the final hours of the 111th Congress.) By Election Day, Democratic voters in many districts felt that they had no real choice, Mr. Grayson said.
“If you want people to support you, then you have to support them,” he said. “You have to think long about what you did for people who voted for you, made phone calls for you, who went door to door for you.”
Mr. Grayson, of course, finds much to like within the Democratic Party. He offered a glowing assessment of the departing speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi of California, giving her an A “without reservation.”
And he considers the political right to be intolerable. He called the Republicans “a hopeless sellout party that will never do anything constructive for ordinary people in this country.” “I don’t have to speculate about it anymore,” he said. “I worked with them for two years.”
But hanging over the interview was a lingering frustration with the Democratic Party.
He is annoyed with Democratic senators for waiting until now to challenge the procedural rules that, he said, allowed a determined group of Republicans to use filibusters to stymie much of the president’s agenda.
And he bemoaned what he said was President Obama’s reversal on a campaign pledge to let the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy expire.
“I try to keep my promises,” he said, adding that Mr. Obama’s evolving views on the matter “will not help his credibility.”
The remarks carry special weight because Mr. Grayson has become a darling of many on the left. A Bronx native with a fondness for steel-toed cowboy boots (the better to kick Republicans with, he jokes), Mr. Grayson rose to prominence as a lawyer by successfully suing wayward military contractors who profited from the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
After losing his first bid for the House, he jolted Florida’s political establishment in 2008 by capturing a seat that had been held by Republicans for three decades.
In office, he quickly earned renown for colorful floor speeches and elaborate props. During the health care debate, he declared that the Republican plan was for Americans to “die quickly.” To fight the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, he produced cardboard posters detailing how the richest 1 percent of Americans could spend their tax savings. “Buy 20,000 jars of their favorite mustard, Grey Poupon,” was one suggestion.
He even gave his legislation provocative names, like the “The War Is Making You Poor Act,” which sought to reduce taxes by requiring the Defense Department to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan within its relatively small annual budget. (It did not pass.) Outside of politics, much about the congressman is also unorthodox. He bought a used white limousine to shuttle his young children around. “You can’t change a diaper in a van,” he explained at his home.
Republicans called him incendiary and over the top, or worse. When Mr. Grayson set up a Web site for himself called Congressman With Guts, a local Republican operative countered with a site called My Congressman Is Nuts.
Mr. Grayson said he had simply tried to put complex issues into accessible — and, yes, memorable — terms. “People say the same thing to me over and over again: ‘You say what I am thinking but nobody else will say,’ ” he said. He likes to boast that his YouTube channel is the most popular of any House member’s.
He would not rule out running for Congress again “if that’s what people want.”
For now, though, Mr. Grayson is committed to making up for lost family time — and maybe catching up on a bit of television. It was switched off during his bruising re-election campaign to avoid having his children glimpse advertisements that portrayed him as a bumbling clown.
“At least,” he recalled dryly, “we had Netflix.”
Right now, Democrats in Congress are organizing for the new term that begins in January -- the 112th Congress. The heart, the brain and the spine of the Democratic Party in Congress is the Progressive Caucus. In the current term, the Progressive Caucus fought for the middle class, for a public option, for holding Wall Street and BP accountable, for peace, and against the corporate domination of American politics.
Last week, the Progressive Caucus picked new leaders. We elected, as Joint Chairmen, Reps. Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota. I like and I respect both of them. They are steadfast in their belief that the Government must work to meet human needs. And both of them are willing to fight for what we believe.
With right-wing Republicans soon to have a majority in the House of Representatives, the Progressive Caucus will become more important. They will be the voice of people with a conscience. They will fight to uncover and to stop the worst excesses of the Republican majority, to improve bills, and to hold the powerful accountable through hearings and public appeals.
I'd like you to get to know Reps. Ellison and Grijalva, and for them to get to know you. So I've set up a webpage – RIGHT HERE -- where you can offer a comment, an idea, a suggestion, a hope, or a prayer to these two leaders. I will hand a copy of whatever you have to say to both of them.
A few months ago, I made the same offer regarding President Obama. The ideas and advice that you sent to me, and I passed on to the President, were extraordinarily insightful.
In January, I will no longer be in Congress. But the truth is that whatever power I have had always came from you. From people with a conscience. Reps. Ellison and Grijalva recognize that, too. Let them hear from you.
Why bother? Because you and I and they all have a part to play in a story that has been unfolding for thousands of years: the slow march of humanity toward justice, equality and peace. Toward feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and healing the sick. Toward making sure that every human being can be all he or she can be, not be defeated by the impediments of prejudice, poverty, disease, ignorance or exploitation. Don’t give too much thought or weight to the results of one election. Even in my short 52 years, we have made so much progress together. And the best is yet to come.
Rep. Alan Grayson
One thing that I’ve heard a lot from people during the last two years is that I’ve been saying what you’ve been thinking. Well, since the election last night (which I lost), you’ve been saying what I’ve been thinking. So I’m going to turn over the rest of this e-mail to some of my Facebook friends, who wrote to me today:
“This is what happens when someone goes up against big corporations like insurance companies. They make sure that you don’t get reelected. Wake up, America!” - Cathy
“Don’t give up! Continue to fight! People see your passion, and believe in what you stand for.” – Rita
“You must come back! We need people with honesty, integrity and dignity! Thank you so much for all of your work, and especially your compassion!” – Susan
“Thanks for speaking for me so many times in the past, but I know we’ll need your voice more than ever now!” – Ellen
“I will miss someone like you in the House. You speak for everyday people!” – Aljorie
“You speak the truth and you are our hero. You are such an awesome leader. We are here to support you, harder and stronger next time.” – Pamela
“Yours is a rare voice of courage, decency and humor in a dismal swamp of corruption. I trust that you will be back in a role where you can do even more good. You have our great respect.” – Jon
“The future is awaiting you. One door closes, one opens up!” – Carla
“Please take some time for yourself and your family right now. Then regroup, re-energize and re-run!” – Christine
“Please keep the faith that we have faith in you. I have been delighted by your no-nonsense speaking of the truth.” – Angela
“All of us in America welcome your voice. You speak for folks like me, just an old granny with my grandkids trying to make a living and doing the best we can. Don’t stray far . . . America will be calling you back.” – Judi
“You are not done. You will continue to change and inspire the world.” – Tina.
“What do you want to do next? We are behind you 100% of the way!! Thanks for what you have done for us, and please know we progressives support your future endeavors. We need you.” – Renee
“You have a bright future as one of the most articulate and passionate voices on the side of what’s right. Keep up the good work. You have my admiration and gratitude.” – Eddie
“How can we help you come back in 2012?” – Keith.
To every one of you who helped, who spoke, who listened, and who cared, THANK YOU.
As Ted Kennedy said in 1980, after he lost the Presidential Primary, "the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
We’re all in this together.