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Alan Grayson Tells It Like It Is

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Posted on Jul 21, 2011
Photo illustration from an image by Colin Grey

Truthdig Radio airs every Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Los Angeles on 90.7 KPFK. If you can’t listen live, starting on Wednesday nights look for the podcast and transcript of each week’s show right here on Truthdig.

This week on Truthdig Radio in collaboration with KPFK: Alan Grayson tells us why he’s running again for Congress; wild-man cartoonist Mr. Fish discusses his new book; a couple of holy men talk about biblical ignorance; and Truthdig editor-in-chief Robert Scheer talks about President Obama’s rejection of Elizabeth Warren.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast, or scroll down to listen to individual interviews and read the full transcript below.

Segments:

Alan Grayson discusses why he’s running again for Congress

An interview with wild-man cartoonist Mr. Fish

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Madison Shockley and Greg Carey on biblical ignorance

Robert Scheer on his latest column (Obama turning away from Elizabeth Warren)

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Transcript:

Peter Scheer: Welcome to Truthdig Radio, a collaboration of Truthdig.com and KPFK Los Angeles. I’m Truthdig Managing Editor Peter Scheer. This week we have wild-man cartoonist Mr. Fish; a couple of holy men talk about biblical ignorance; and we’re waiting on a call from Alan Grayson. But until then, we are joined by Truthdig Editor—my boss—Robert Scheer, who’s here to talk about his latest column and the development that we’ve just had of Obama turning away from Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she was helping to set up for the administration. That bureau is under assault by various forces including Wall Street, which would like to see it watered down, diminished and go away. And once again Obama has sided with the pressure from the banks, or yielded to the pressure from the banks, to go away from our favorite choice to run that organization, because she has been too critical of the very people who have brought us to our economic knees. Robert Scheer, welcome to Truthdig Radio.

Robert Scheer: Hi. And you’re talking about Elizabeth Warren, of course. …

Peter Scheer: Yes, Elizabeth Warren. … Actually, we’re going to come back to this in a minute. We are joined by Rep. Alan Grayson, or former Rep. Alan Grayson, of the United States Congress, who would like once again to enter the Congress to represent the good people of Orlando. Welcome to Truthdig Radio.

Alan Grayson: Thanks. It’s great to be on radio free L.A.

Peter Scheer: Yes. So I’m a big fan, I should just, in full disclosure, just say. And mainly because, like a lot of other people, because you are known for speaking your mind and for bringing that to politics, for saying things that need to be said. Things like, about the Democrats’ approach to the Republicans: “I think appeasement doesn’t work, and we need to be tough,” which you said in a recent TPM interview. You’d like to bring that style of politics back to Congress. Is that right?

Alan Grayson: Yeah. I mean, listen: If I’m not going to speak my mind, whose mind would I speak, right?

Peter Scheer: Yeah. [Laughter] Well, why aren’t there more representatives in Congress—and especially in the House where you should, one would think, have a little bit more liberty—why aren’t there people saying the truth?

Alan Grayson: Last year I said that the two-party system was devolving into the “lazies and the crazies.” And I think if anything, it’s gotten worse; on “The Ed Show” last week, I said it was the “meanies and the weenies.” [Laughter] That’s where we are right now, you know. We’ve got people who want to strip away Social Security, strip away Medicare, strip away Medicaid; and then we’ve got other people who want to compromise with them.

Peter Scheer: You said recently—well, you were quoting yourself—you said, “It’s exactly like I said: the Republican health care plan: Don’t get sick. The Republican unemployment plan: Go find a job. The Republican homelessness plan: Move in with your relatives. They have no answers to anything.” Do the Democrats have better answers?

Alan Grayson: Yeah. You know, honestly, if you try to solve a problem there is some decent chance that you might actually do it. And that’s what the Republicans seem to forget. We have 23 million people in this country who can’t find a full-time job right now. The Republicans aren’t even interested in solving that problem. All they’re interested in doing is increasing corporate welfare, and basically bribing companies in the vain hope they might actually create some jobs. That hasn’t worked for three years now. We’ve got 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick; they don’t have health coverage. What do the Republicans plan to do for them—tort reform? I mean, they’re not even taking a stab at this stuff.

In the case of the Democrats, you know, the Democratic plan is pretty clear: We need to rebuild America; we need to spend money on rebuilding our schools, our bridges, our highways; all this public infrastructure that we have that’s falling into decay, literally into decay—so the highway in Minneapolis literally falling into decay. In the case of people losing their homes, we instituted a plan here in Orlando that required the banks to go into mandatory mediation with the homeowners before they could take the homes away. And we had housing counselors; I used my earmark money to have housing counselors here locally that actually would sit down with people, go through their situation, and find some way to save their homes. We brought in a group called NACA, which organized to coordinate with all the banks and have refinancing fairs all over the country. We dropped foreclosures here in Orlando from 3,000 a month to 1,500 a month in a very short time.

There are solutions to problems if you actually try to solve these problems. Even the so-called deficit problem—the so-called deficit problem could be solved overnight if we simply brought the troops home, and that’s costing us about $200 billion a year. Right now, you could not only reduce the deficit, but you could make everyone’s first $35,000 of income tax-free, if you simply brought the troops home. Sure, there’s answers to problems; but you have to actually try.

Peter Scheer: You were really good on the financial industry when you were in Congress. We had the news this week that, as expected, Elizabeth Warren will not be posted to the job that she wanted, to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that she’s been setting up. We have a guy, who seems to be a good guy, nominated instead to lead it. But is this just another cave to the banks from—hasn’t Obama just been bad on the banks? I mean, I don’t want to get you into trouble, but you know, where’s the good news here? The mortgage renegotiation hasn’t really panned out; his administration is filled with people from Wall Street; and here we have the one sort of hero of the left cast aside in this latest decision.

Alan Grayson: It’s sad. It’s very sad. I think Dick Durbin said it best last year—he’s a senator from Illinois—he said “Wall Street owns the Senate.” And that’s not the only part of the government that it seems to own. We have our economic policies determined by Wall Street; we have our foreign policy determined by the military-industrial complex; we have our energy policy determined by big oil. Is it any surprise that we’re in the crapper?

Peter Scheer: Yeah. Well, so why do you want to get back into politics? I mean, like you said, you can do a lot of good, but you have to deal with a lot of—a lot of crap.

Alan Grayson: Well, you know, the fact is, I don’t see a lot of other people who are trying to do what I’m trying to do. I’ve got a good life; I’ve got five children who are in school, they’re school age; I was the only member of Congress to have five children in school. I didn’t really enjoy going back and forth to Washington, D.C.; I’m actually kind of allergic to it. But we accomplished a great deal that helped people in the district and people nationwide. I mean, right now, this second, if you have a pre-existing condition of any kind, even cancer, and you haven’t had health insurance for six months, you can sign up for a federal program and get coverage in Florida for $374 a month. That was impossible—impossible—six months ago. And that’s because of what we did in Congress, because I fought for a health care program that would actually try to cover the 50 million people in this country who have no coverage.

And I know what that’s like; I mean, you know, my wife had a stroke a few years ago; the insurance companies won’t go anywhere near her. There’s a lot of people who are like that, not just her; there’s a lot of people who are in exactly that situation, and now they can get coverage. We have over 40,000 people in this country who die every year because they don’t have health care coverage. That’s a lot of people. There were over 100 in my district alone. Now all those people have, at least, a fighting chance; and I think that’s a tremendous accomplishment … people say is it worth it, I don’t know … I don’t really think about is it worth it to me personally; I had a good life before, I’ll always have a good life, for as long as I’m alive. You know, life presents all sorts of opportunities to you. And I do seize the day.

But I didn’t see any way to do the kind of good that I was able to accomplish when I was in Congress—I didn’t see, and I don’t see any way to do that outside of Congress. Some people can, you know; Howard Dean ran for president, lost, dusted himself off, and became chairman of the Democratic Party. And he did a lot of good; he basically laid the foundation for our taking back the House and the Senate and the presidency. So it’s not to say that it can’t be done, but I think there was plenty of unfinished business when I left Congress, and I’d like to do it again. And a lot of people seem to feel the same way; I mean, within 48 hours over 2,000 people had come to our website, CongressmanWithGuts.com, and made a contribution. Those are people who are putting their money where my mouth is, and I appreciate that. I get calls all the time from people; I described some of them in the email that I sent out explaining why I was running again. A woman called me a couple weeks before I announced, and she told me that her husband was in the hospital; he was a veteran, but the Veterans Administration wouldn’t cover his problems; he had multiple organ failure; and he had a pre-existing condition; he’d had problems going back to when he was 30, and now he was in his mid-50s, 56. And I said I’m concerned by what you’re saying, but I don’t know exactly what I can do to help you; I’m no longer in Congress. And she said, what we want you to do, my husband and I, is we want you to run again.

Peter Scheer: So, you were savaged in the last campaign for some negative advertising. Do you have any regrets over that?

Alan Grayson: Well, let’s look at the advertising that was run against me, OK?

Peter Scheer: OK.

Alan Grayson: The sewer money advertising that was run against me by special interests and lobbyists, who didn’t even have to give their names. They said Alan Grayson is a liar, Alan Grayson’s a loudmouth, Alan Grayson’s a national embarrassment, Alan Grayson is a dog, and Alan Grayson is an evil clown. They actually had somebody who sort of looked a little bit like me dressed up like a clown, walking around on the screen for 28 seconds before the disclosure. You know, honestly, I don’t think … [Laughter, inaudible] should be complaining about my ads, OK? According to Politico, 20 percent of all the negative ads from the lobbyists in the entire country ran against me.

Peter Scheer: Wow.

Alan Grayson: I represented one-third of 1 percent of the population of America, and they dumped 20 percent of all of their ugly sewer money … to make me look bad.

Peter Scheer: Why do you think … why did they target you?

Alan Grayson: Because they couldn’t buy me.

Peter Scheer: Hmm.

Alan Grayson: And so if they can’t buy you, they try to destroy you.

Peter Scheer: So, who tried to buy you? I mean, did you get pressure from Wall Street, from other places?

Alan Grayson: Well, of course. But …

Peter Scheer: Is that just routine in Congress?

Alan Grayson: … business expenditures provided health insurance companies and big polluters. The health insurance companies were very disturbed that I introduced legislation [HR 4789] to let anybody buy into Medicare at cost: If you can afford it, if you want it, then you’ve got it. It was a four-page bill, and I got 80 co-sponsors in a week for that bill. And they saw that it was moving, so they had to get rid of me. They spent over a million dollars just by themselves.


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ThomasG's avatar

By ThomasG, July 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm Link to this comment

“Alan Grayson: Well, you know, by the end of President
Obama’s first administration, we’ll have twice as many troops in
Afghanistan as when it started. That’s not what people expected
or wanted, at least among his supporters; I’m not speaking about
the other folks. It’s farcical to say that the war in Iraq is somehow
over when we still have 50,000 troops there. The one ray of hope
is that the Iraqis are starting to put their foot down; they don’t
want to be an occupied country any longer, and they’ve told the
U.S. troops that they have to get out, and somehow or other we
feel like arguing with them about it. So the Iraqis have said all
troops have to be gone by the end of the year, and the Defense
Department and the State Department are both sort of trying to
weasel out of it. We’ll see what happens. We’re still paying the
bills; we spent $157 billion last year on the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, at a time when unemployment was close to 10
percent. In Florida it’s, oh, it’s about 13 percent. We spend $500
for every single man, woman and child in America on the war in
Iraq. And that’s just the appropriated funds; the non-appropriated
funds are even more than that. They’re more than the
appropriated funds. Joe Stiglitz, who’s a Nobel Prize winner,
calculated the cost of the war in Iraq already at $4 trillion. That’s
$13,000 for every man, woman and child in America; and you
know, for my family of seven, that’s almost $100,000. I want my
money back.”

I do not reside in Florida, but in spite of that fact, I contribute to
Alan Grayson on a monthly basis.

I am a member of the Democratic Party that is a part of the
American Populace, NOT the American Middle Class, and I have
not, to date, seen any indication that the Democratic Party is at all
interested in supporting and representing the American Populace.

Alan Grayson is the closest I can come to supporting a
representative of the American Populace; I, therefore, contribute
to Alan Grayson on a monthly basis in the hope that doing so will
lead in the direction of political representation for the American
Populace as a class and culture.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 25, 2011 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

In the interview Alan Grayson said, “If I have a district that is
largely Democratic, I think even the sewer money is going to
realize the futility of wasting their money trying to knock me
out of a Democratic district.  If there’s one thing that’s clear
at this point, it’s that Democrats like me, because they know
I support them. And if Democrats vote, then Democrats can win.” 

I have a different opinion.  He will run as a Democrat, thank God, and
he will win. It remains to be seen if he supports Barack Obama.  In the
interview he also speaks about the Obama administration involvement
in the Middle East.  Telling it like it is does not depend on whether or
not he supports Barack Obama.

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By Michael Cavlan RN, July 25, 2011 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Cynthia McKinney is running for Congress again. In her old district in Georgia.

She will NOT run s a Democrat. Thank God.

So, will Mr Grayson support his party’s president? Or support a movement to Impeach George W Obama?

If he did this as a public statement THEN I will believe that he is “telling it like it is.”

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, July 25, 2011 at 2:50 am Link to this comment

On the discussion of religion…

I feel at times, well pretty much always, as though “we” have to break the chains of slavery to the bible and other revered books. Why go through this farce of cherry picking, or if you do so be more honest about it, you might even argue a bit with it.

Imagine if thousands of years from now (as if we have thousands of years) people looked at only a select number of Chomsky’s speeches for guidance. Some might say Chomsky supported slavery because he at times discusses how the criminalization of blacks resulting in the frivilous arrest and subsequent sentence of forced labor often led to much worse treatment then what they had to endure under slaveowners because slaveowners had an interest in protecting their investment and would thus would be less inclined to work them to death in a very short period of time (in saying this Chomsky always cites Blackmon’s “Slavery By Another Name”).

Anyway, religion is A-OK with me. I have great admiration for the many deeply religious people who have devoted themselves to improving society like Aristide and Malcolm X and many many others (women included), it also can help to organize communities in this endeavor, but sometimes I want to just do away with all this citing of scripture and focus much MUCH MUCH more on what one may have gotten out of contemplating it and contemplating what is a good way to live and what is right. The Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the words of all the prophets of long ago will never mention GMO’s, monopolies, the military industrial complex, the IMF, multi-national corporations, the horrors of the meat industry, organic sustainable farming vs. the so-called “green revolution”, off-shore tax shelters, lobbyists, the privitization of public schools and correctional institutions etc., and on and on. At some point, I think it is the responsible thing to acknowledge this. You can still keep the traditions and such, but… well I don’t know, be more honest about how and why you are citing scripture if you feel the need to constantly do so (for everyone, not just trusted initiates).

I am not trying to accuse anyone in particular of being dishonest, I liked the interview.

I am not sure there is much time to quibble about it in any case.

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By dedacherry, July 24, 2011 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I really appreciated having Grayson’s influence in Congress.
He’s the only one there who would actually pull the republicans pants down and expose them for what they were about- fraudulent, teeny little minds.

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drbhelthi's avatar

By drbhelthi, July 24, 2011 at 7:58 am Link to this comment

Speaking of shoving something up a rectum, Barack Hussein Obama (Barry
Soetoro of Indonesia, born in Kenya) has been shoved up the U.S. Presidency.

While there are a few honorable members in the total U.S. Congress, similar
to Grayson, the leadership of both the Democrat and Republican parties are
responsible for this gross violation of the U.S. Constitution.  The two
dozen or so WWII Nazis in cooperation with the Zionist-types who manage the
money of the world, the U.S. Federal Reserve in particular, prepared this
fraudulent puppet, and slid him into Chicago politics. They also set up the
fraudulent “swearing-in ceremony” which adds to the invalidity of his
occupancy of the U.S. Presidency. 

The information at this link gives a brief background. For it to work, you
may need to copy the-entire-link into your browser.  You will be pleased by the
information, if you exert the additional effort. 
http://web.archive.org/web/20040627142700/eastandard.net
/headlines/news26060403.htm

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 23, 2011 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

People for people is something I can vote for. It would be useful to know other candidates like Alan Grayson real blue democrats and also to know who are the red Democrats.

The bull shit they pulled in Wisconsin, by sending Republicans to run as Democrats, needs to be shoved up the Republicans ass which will make their ass a very tight place to be indeed!

Well, Alan Grayson explains why the Tea Bags are as they are, I suppose they are being bought and paid for, like cheap blow up dolls. I have respect for hookers, for one thing you know what you are getting, hopefully not herpes like with the Republicans blow up dolls and their pimp sponsors.

We need a list of real Democrats and I would include liberal independents. Also a list of Blue dogs who need to go!

Some people find the polarization of the two parties hard to stomach, I find death in the same light, unless you know something I may not like it,.... but it polarization like death is going to happen anyway!

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By behopi, July 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Grayson is my hero, I have also contributed to his campaign, and written back to him, he is a honest fighter with Thatchers. There are not many like him, but hopefully he is just the beginning.

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By Rixar13, July 23, 2011 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

Thumbs up ^ Alan Grayson… I support you… smile grin

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By Rixar13, July 23, 2011 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

Thumbs up ^ Alan Grayson…. I support you… smile grin

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By eridonis, July 22, 2011 at 12:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hoped immediately after the last election that Alan Grayson would run again. And I thought that I didn’t know of anyone else who did, so that it was probably futile to wish this. I should have known that one of the most couragous advocates of the people during the heathcare reform fight would not be like others. Thank you for doing this, Congressman Grayson! I will support you too.

Let’s get our congress back from the crazies!

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Mark A. Adams JD/MBA's avatar

By Mark A. Adams JD/MBA, July 22, 2011 at 11:38 am Link to this comment

Alan Grayson did a great job in Congress working for the best interests of the people.  That is why the bad guys went after him with a negative ad campaign. 

However, it looks like they also managed to get the voters who gave the Democratic candidate for Governor the win in his district to vote again Grayson and the other party line (do nothing) Democratic Congresswoman who shared Orange County, Florida as part of her district.

Here are the election results by county for Grayson’s district.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58713670/Results-by-County-for-Congressional-District-8-SS

Here are the election results for the Governor’s race by county for Grayson’s district.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58713611/Results-by-County-for-Governor-in-District-8-SS

Note that a large percentage of those who voted for the Democratic candidate for Governor then turned around and voted for a Republicon instead of Grayson.  Of course, some apologists may attempt to explain this unusual flip flopping by claiming that it may be due to the fact that the governor’s race included all of the precincts in each county while Grayson’s race only included some due to gerrymandering.  However, that could only be explained by claiming that Grayson held a Congressional district which was heavily skewed Republican, and if so, how did he win it in 2008?

Fortunately, I also have the results by precinct from Orange County which is the county which has the greatest impact on Grayson’s Congressional district 8.  Check them out and note that in every precinct, large numbers of voters who voted for the Democratic candidate for Governor then turned around and voted for the Republicon instead of Grayson. 

Here are the Orange County election results by precinct for Grayson’s race. 
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58713493/Grayson-Race-Orange-County-by-Precinct-11-3

Here are the Orange County election results by precinct for the Governor’s race. 
http://www.scribd.com/doc/58713408/Gov-Race-Orange-County-by-Precinct-11-3

Download them, print them out and see if you can come up with any explanation other than election theft.

By the way, I can also explain why he won in 2008 if anyone cares.

If you want to see more evidence of election theft and learn how the people in power get away with these crimes, see Why Does the Government Ignore Our Wishes? at http://ning.it/arAjdo and don’t miss my short speech at http://markadams.blip.tv/file/2636803/

If you take a look, you’ll learn why those in power and those who can improperly influence them get away with violating our rights, abusing their power, and committing horrible crimes. My article on torture includes a link to the U.S. Supreme Court case which explains how one of our stolen rights makes the difference between justice and injustice, between freedom and slavery.

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, July 22, 2011 at 11:16 am Link to this comment

I’ve sent money to Alan Grayson’s campaign this year and two years ago.  I probably will again.  But I find it hard to believe that the VA wouldn’t cover the vet he’s talking about with the multiple organ failure (one organ was the vet’s liver).  There were more details in Grayson’s emailings on this case.  Anyway, I use the VA.  If you need a liver transplant because of cirrhosis, the one thing they require is you stay sober 6 months.  The VA is very liberal; I know guys who’ve been through this.

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, July 22, 2011 at 6:29 am Link to this comment

Did Grayson say Democrats?  Maybe the real liberal Deep Blue
Democrats have a chance after all?

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Wounded and Dangerous's avatar

By Wounded and Dangerous, July 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment

Haven’t listened to the interview yet, but going to now. This Grayson is a class act and he will definitely be welcomed back into the political world. An honest man with good ideas, and a good Fed fighter to boot. He is rather like the twin sister of Dennis Kucinich, same personality, but a touch better looking if you know what I mean.

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By gerard, July 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm Link to this comment

Sounds like a really good person, especially for a Congressman.  More power to him.  Interesting statement:  “I am stating what other Democrats are thinking but for one reason or another don’t feel they can say.”  (Note:  He is apparently not financially dependent on graft and therefore not for sale.  Ergo: “Follow the money!”

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By the worm, July 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

I will support Grayson.

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