Our first Great American Hero today is Congressman Alan Grayson. Although he represents Florida's 9th District, he really represents us all! Even in the time of the greatest gridlock in DC, Congressman Grayson - a member of the minority party in the House - has written more legislation and had more amendments passed than any other member, for two years running!
He joined me on the show this morning to talk about some of the work he's done since we last spoke. A sampling of his accomplishments follows:
On the NSA/surveillance/privacy front:
- He’s passed legislation to protect encryption standards from the NSA
- He passed an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 4870) to prohibit NSA from interfering or weakening encryption standards promulgated by NIST. Grayson called NSA’s subversion of NIST’s standards “extremely dangerous” and noted that NSA’s efforts rendered everyone’s security vulnerable to exploitation. “It’s naïve to imagine that if you introduce a weakness into a system you will be the only one to use it. My amendment would address this issue by prohibiting the intelligence community [which includes NSA] from subverting or interfering with the integrity of any cryptographic standard,” he explained. The amendment passed unanimously and earned support from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the Sunlight Foundation, and others.
- In a Science, Space, and Technology Committee markup he passed an amendment removing the statutory requirement for NIST to consult with NSA in developing encryption standards. The amendment allows NIST to continue to consult NSA when necessary. The Huffington Post called Grayson’s effort a “landmark amendment,” while ProPublica wrote that it“puts NSA on notice over encryption standards.” Access said the amendment would “help support data integrity by ensuring that the standards used to protect all internet users are not artificially weakened.” The Center for Democracy & Technology hailed it as a “positive step that will help to restore the credibility and scientific objectivity of NIST.”
- He’s pushing the FCC to protect the privacy of Americans’ phone calls, following a Newsweek report claiming that IMSI catchers, a relatively cheap device that impersonates cell phone towers, can intercept phone calls and text messages.
- He’s been going after former NSA Director Keith Alexander, who stands to make millions off of his work in the cybersecurity sector. Read one of Grayson’s letters here. There’s been a good deal of coverage on this – for example here, here and here.
And in other areas:
- Passing an amendment to create the first federal shield law, protecting journalists from revealing confidential sources.
- Paid Vacation Act – Rep. Grayson introduced legislation requiring employers to provide workers with one week of paid leave earlier this Congress and is continuing to push for the measure.
- The Ebola Epidemic in West Africa –the epidemic is the worst in recorded history and it’s showing no sign of stopping. Rep. Grayson is requesting travel restricts to try to prevent the spread of the epidemic (you can view the letter to the Departments of State and Homeland Security here. Some coverage of the letter is here, here , and here.
Yes, I'd say "hero" is a perfect description. Find out more about Congressman Grayson and donate to help keep him working for us at CongressmanWithGuts.com.
Our second hero today followed Congressman Grayson immediately on the show. Stephanie Kelton, Ph.D. is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the top-ranked blog New Economic Perspectives .
Today we spoke about the new buzz-term and heinous practice known as Corporate Inversion Taxes, as well as a bit about Modern Monetary Theory, why the US should carry debt and how to fix the economic mess we're in.
After hearing what she had to say, I asked her to run for office. Stephanie Kelton is, indeed, a hero who would serve us well in public office!
In the second hour of the show, I spoke with our regular Thursday morning heroes:
Tomorrow, we'll wrap the week with Florida's Judge David Young, discussing the recent rulings in favor of marriage equality and how to figure out who to vote for in judicial races. And for Flashback Friday, my 1996 interview with -and performance by- Sting! Talk to you then, Radio or Not!