Archive for Alan Grayson

Unrest & Disorder

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Last night, the peace in Ferguson, MO was once again shattered by a standoff between police and protesters. According to the police, provocateurs in the crowd fired guns and threw Molotov cocktails at the line of police. According to protesters (as well as media representatives on my show today), the aggression came from the uniformed force of power attempting to disperse the crowd.

I'd call the actions of the Ferguson PD and Mayor, of the Missouri Governor and the rest of the "powers-that-be" a "comedy of errors" except there's nothing remotely funny about what's going on in Ferguson - from the moment Michael Brown was stopped for walking down the middle of the street to this morning when Governor Jay Nixon called in the National Guard. Nothing.

After one night of peaceful protest during which police in shirt sleeves walked and talked with protesters, the police seem to have done everything wrong.

From bringing out the heavy artillery to arresting journalists to firing tear gas to imposing a curfew to holding the name of the killer cop to releasing the convenience store surveillance video to bringing out the military gear again... and let's not forget, for one of their own shooting an unarmed teenager walking down the street in the first place, I blame the people charged with keeping the peace and protecting the community for the mess they created and keep compounding with each dim witted move.

As for all the military firepower, we no longer have to wonder who's to blame. Congressman Alan Grayson actually foresaw this problem and tried to prevent it from happening.

On June 19, 2014, Congressman Grayson introduced an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2015 that reads as follows:

None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents (including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment), launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons (as identified for demilitarization purposes outlined in Department of Defense Manual 4160.28) through the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to section 1033 of Public Law 104-201, the "National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 1997".
Purpose
An amendment to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons through the DOD Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.

As Howie Klein explained to us this morning during our weekly segment, The Steve Israel Hour sponsored by Little Debbie, Congressman Grayson had lined up more than enough Republican votes to join with Democrats to pass the amendment. Unfortunately, all but 43 Democrats inexplicably voted against his bill that would have prevented the military equipment going to local police departments!

Howie followed the money, and found that the only member of Congress seeking re-election in November with over a million dollars in contributions from the military industrial complex (two others aren't returning) - Pete Visclosky (D-IN) - was responsible for killing the bill! 

Although Howie broke that news on the show this morning and will soon follow it up with at post at Down With Tyranny, he has written about the sickening reality that is the militarization of our police departments here and here.

We turned away from Ferguson for a few minutes to talk about Thomas Frank's latest column for Salon, and how Democrats could still win in 2014 - by doing the opposite of what Steve Israel is doing!

After the news from Talk Radio News Service's Justin Duckham who spent the weekend in Ferguson and filed this report, I spoke with the two members of We Act Radio's media team - Seth Jackson and Peter Callahan - who are still there covering the events in Ferguson. Find their live stream at Credo Mobile's Youtube page, or via WeActRadio.com.

And finally, we bid buh-bye to David Gregory!  I had to invite my old "Fools on the Hill" cohort and fellow Nicole -- Nicole Belle, that is -- back on the show to tell him him not to let the door hit him on the ass on his way out of Meet the Press. David Gregory won't be missed. Sadly, his replacement is Chuck Todd, who's not very different from his predecessor.

Maybe NBC might want to find someone who doesn't have two first names, or is an actual journalist. What a concept!

I'll be back tomorrow with author Rick Perlstein and @GottaLaff too... Radio or Not!

 

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Great American Heroes

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Alan Grayson at Sexy Liberal 12-10-11 copy

Nicole Sandler with Congressman Alan Grayson at the Sexy Liberal Comedy Tour in Ft. Lauderdale, December 2011

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:

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.

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Stephanie Kelton on The Nicole Sandler Show at Netroots Nation Detroit, July 2014

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:

Amy Simon of She's History told us about Lily Ledbetter and her fight for paycheck fairness.

And Stephen Goldstein, author of The Dictionary of American Political Bullshit returned with another "No More Bullshit Minute." Today, we exposed the bullshit phrase, "According to a Recent Poll."

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!

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So Congressman Lamborn, How Do You and Uncle Remus Really Feel

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Tea party burning cross

Yesterday Florida Congressman Alan Grayson came under an amazing amount of heat for a picture he included on a fundraising letter sent out to his constituents and contributors. He was lambasted on the right, the very far right, for using an image of a burning cross and associating it with the Tea Party.

I personally enjoy the unbridled behavior and unfiltered comments that the representative has become known for. Unfortunately, he may have stepped over the line with this one. I said, "May."

"[T]here is overwhelming evidence that the Tea Party is the home of bigotry and discrimination in America today, just as the KKK was for an earlier generation," he said in a statement provided to HuffPost. "If the hood fits, wear it."

Without a doubt, the right wing extremists have made some amazingly over the top, out of bounds statements about the President as well. As the commander in chief, he's fair game -- when the criticisms are based on his actions, not his race or his religion. We've heard the Tea Party mouth that roared, Larry Klayman as he made religiously malicious statements about the President being on his knees, bowing to Allah and needing to put his Quran down and come out with his hands out (up).

I didn't see anyone on the right or in the tea party saying THAT crossed the line.

Then there was Congressman Doug Lamborn who said this:

So Obama's called out as a "Tar baby" and I didn't see anyone from the right or the Tea Party saying that crossed the line.

But Alan Grayson equates the intolerance of the Klan with the Tea Party and he's now to be shunned, reprimanded and made a pariah?

Perhaps. It's a thin line he's traversed. There is certainly vociferous public outcries against Obama and all Blacks for that matter from geographic regions where the Klan publicly and openly still reside. And government voting records show those areas did NOT vote for Obama. But does that allow us to paint those specific regions with a broad brush of racial intolerance?

Reality says, yes. Propriety and respect for differences of opinion say no.

I wish Rep. Grayson hadn't used such an inflammatory image, whether or not I agree with his "copy" that accompanied the picture. But if I condemn or chastise his questionable taste, shouldn't the Tea Party also be up in arms (maybe they prefer lighting a cross) over the racially charged, intentional slurs their party's spokespeople have heaped upon the duly elected President of the United States?

Oh, that's right, the Tea Party still denies his election was legal. Something about where he was born. They can have that argument, but then they must apply it equally to Canadian-born Rafael Cruz, their poster boy. Wouldn't that be the only fair thing to do? That's the American way. That's the Constitution.

Fairness isn't something the Right exercises very often. Aside from the right to bear arms, they have a squishy record on the other pieces of the Bill of Rights and the entire Constitution with its amendments.

So I'll go on record that the line of taste and propriety was dinged, if not outright crossed by Grayson, but not until someone on the Right or the Tea Party (generally the same people) comes out and condemns Klayman and Congressman Lamborn for their egregious, shameful remarks.

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Video- Hannity Panelists Battle Over 'Race-Baiting Racism' on the Left

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Always someone available to spew the b.s. Via.

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Video- House GOP Silences Alan Grayson After He Cites Poll Comparing Congress to 'Dog Poop'

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Hell, I like dog poop better than the GOP Congress. Via.

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Video- The Benghazi Testimony The Conservative Media Will Not Dare Show You

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Wow, wonder how Fox got it so wrong? Via.

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VIDEO: Alan Grayson spars with Alex Witt on #Syria. Grayson wins.

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Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I've had my problems with Alex Witt in the past, but in today's interview with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), she was more unprepared, flustered, and inaccurate than I've seen her in some time.

Witt came at Grayson with challenge after challenge of his positions on Syria, and he batted them away the way Mr. Ed swatted flies with his tail. When she got her facts wrong, he wasted no time in correcting her, and without even trying, he embarrassed her as badly as she embarrassed herself.

As a Twitter pal put it:

"He sorta ate Alex's lunch on the media hype of war with Syria. She was speechless and there was a moment of silence as if everything had gone off script."

Agree with Grayson or not, he speaks his mind, he's blunt, and gets right to the point. In this instance, he wasted no time and had ready answers to unWitting (bygones), uninformed questioning. Here are some excerpts:

Witt: You have been very vocal in your opposition to any kind of intervention. What's your argument against this?

Grayson: First it's not our responsibility. Secondly, whatever we do won't actually accomplish anything useful. Third, it's expensive. And fourth it's dangerous.

Witt: Okay. Uh. You're pretty definitive in that. How much pushback are you getting...?

Grayson: No, my position is actually the popular position here. We set up a website called DontAttackSyria.com and within a few hours we had 10,000 signatures petitioning the president against this action. The polls now show and will continue to show that Americans understand that it's simply not our responsibility. We are only one country out of 196. We have our own problems to deal with, and we're not the world's policeman, nor the world's judge, jury, and executioner.

Witt: You have said that you don't even think it's clear a chemical attack occurred. Now Doctors Without Borders, which is a completely impartial group, says its partners have treated 3,600 people for chemical weapons symptoms. Do you not believe them?

Grayson: No, no. You're misquoting me out of context. I said that several days ago before that evidence came in...

[But] I've yet to hear anybody explain to me why our attacking Syria will take away their ability to commit such an attack in the future.

Witt: Do you question, sir, the president saying that this is a threat to our national security, the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

Grayson: Absolutely. We haven't been attacked at all. Not a single American has been attacked during the course of this entire civil war. And I think Americans understand that. Let's tend to our own garden. ...

Witt: What's your response to [the clip of President Obama's remarks]?

Grayson: Not a single other country feels that way. Just a few days ago we had British parliament debate --

Witt: (She interrupted quickly and loudly here) France does, I believe!

Grayson: Well, no. France is saying we'll wait and see. So that's not the case at all. How is it that this is always our responsibility? And by the way, the treaty that the president's citing says that in case of violations of that treaty, you take the perpetrators to the International Court of the Hague, you don't bomb them.

Witt: (Sigh) Okay. Uhh.. Are you going to be on that conference call, sir, at 2:00... ?

Grayson: No, there is no conference call at 2:00 with general membership... I've arranged for a separate briefing... next week.

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