Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 8:34 pm

FactCheck.org on Rep. Alan Grayson: One hit, one miss

To: editor@factcheck.org

Re: Rep. Grayson Lowers the Bar

Take it from a longtime Republican and a former religion journalist: Y’all whiffed on this one.

Here is Webster’s remark in context, as presented on your page:

Webster: So, write a journal. Second, find a verse. I have a verse for my wife, I have verses for my wife. Don’t pick the ones that say, ‘She should submit to me.’ That’s in the Bible, but pick the ones that you’re supposed to do. So instead, ‘love your wife, even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it’ as opposed to ‘wives submit to your own husbands.’ She can pray that, if she wants to, but don’t you pray it.

Y’all claim Webster is telling his audience “just the opposite.” No, he’s not.

What he’s doing is drawing a distinction between what husbands should pray for and what wives should pray for. That’s all. In general, he’s saying that each person should pray for him/herself to do the things he/she is supposed to do and not pray for the things that the OTHER person is supposed to do. He’s not saying wives shouldn’t submit. He’s saying husbands shouldn’t pray for it. The fact that he acknowledges, “That’s in the Bible,” indicates that he believes the sentiment is valid, just not something it’s the husband’s place to pray for. Indeed, although I am inferring here, he seems to feel that if the wife is following the same instructions as he’s giving the husband, then in fact she WILL pray for the will, or ability, or whatever, to submit to her husband.

It’s a subtle distinction to pick out of the language, I admit. But when you’ve sat through dozens, if not hundreds, of these things in your life, these subtleties get less and less subtle. I don’t want to call it a dog-whistle, because of the association of that term with covert appeals to racism. But rhetorically speaking, it’s LIKE that.

And there’s a larger picture, too: Webster envisions a very intrusive role for government in the personal decisions of women. “American Taliban” may be a metaphor, but it’s quite apt. It’s certainly not inaccurate or wrong. So, I’d say that overall, Grayson has nothing to apologize for with this spot. In fact, I’d say you owe him an apology.

(Calling a guy a draft dodger when he in fact was 4F, on the other hand — while using an announcer’s voice to create the false impression that Grayson served — I think you’ve got him dead to rights on. That’s pretty sleazy.)

Cheers,

Lex

UPDATE: If you honestly think Webster has been mislabeled, look at whom he considers a mentor. More.

UPDATE: Digby adds: “The Village [her term for mainstream DC media] is having a full blown hissy fit about the ad, although I notice that it seems to be quite a bit less offensive to women than men. I wonder why?”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:33 pm

Odds and ends for 12/9

The seat’s hot and he ain’t even in it yet: Bank of America’s chief risk officer, Greg Curl, considered a leading candidate to succeed Ken Lewis as CEO, is under investigation by the New York attorney general for his role in what BofA shareholders were and weren’t told about the bank’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

Your incompetence. Let me show you it: Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker calls for the return of Glass-Steagall and tells the Wall Street Journal’s Future of Finance Initiative, a group of financiers and policy makers, “Your response [to the economic crisis], I can only say, is inadequate. You have not come anywhere close.”

Quote of the day, also from Volcker at this session: “I wish somebody would give me some shred of evidence linking financial innovation with a benefit to the economy.” For good measure, he said the best financial innovation of the past 25 years was the ATM. (Which actually was introduced earlier … but, hey, forget it, he’s rolling.)

Bonus quote of the day, from Gavin M. at Sadly, No!, characterizing hinky academic Stanley Fish: ” …oleoresinous of eye, exuding cheap 1970s tenure …”

Congressman Alan Grayson to Fed Chair Ben Bernanke: Dude, you’re screwing the taxpayers directly AND committing tax fraud!

Oh, snap!: Dick Cheney (laughably) claims trying terrorism suspects in New York will generate more terrorism and calls it treason, so Alan Grayson tells him to “STFU.” This will give Official Washington another case of the vapors, but when Cheney himself once told a senator on the Senate floor to “go [have sex with] yourself,” he really has no room to whine and neither does anyone else.

Crying poor: AIG’s general counsel is leaving because she can’t make it on $500,000 a year. Given her track record of driving companies into ditches, I’m sure she’ll be snapped up in no time. And, yes, I’m being snarky — twelve digits’ worth of my tax money going into AIG in one year entitles me — but, no, I’m not being snarky about her getting snapped up in no time.

“Extreme victimisation,” but not in the way he thinks: Britain slaps a 50% tax on bankers’ bonuses. Will the U.S. follow suit?

Memo to Howard Kurtz: There’s a reason we call you Howie the Putz. And you’re soaking in it.

Well, yeah, if, by “socialism,” he means “a scary word that conservative wankers scream to try to scare people”: Charles Krauthammer calls environmentalism “the new socialism.”

Well, the federal government can just rock *me* to sleep tonight: The TSA posts some of its most sensitive security information on the Internet. But let’s talk about White House party crashers. Or Tiger Woods.

Sauce for the goose other gander: Paul Wolfowitz lost his job for trying to line up a job for his girlfriend. Will Max Baucus?

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance: Confronted with indisputable evidence of an on-screen error, Fox News decides to abandon its zero-tolerance policy for on-screen errors.

Sarah Palin, Woman of the Year?: Pollak says it could happen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:11 pm

Dictionerrory

I’ve so strongly supported Rep. Alan Grayson lately that I feel I have an obligation to call him out when he’s wrong. And when he called lobbyist Linda Robertson “a K Street whore,” he was wrong.

Ms. Robertson is a john, not a whore. The congresscritters who take her money and do her bidding are the whores.

Grayson called Robertson the name in the context of her criticism of his effort to see that the Fed gets audited. Robertson used to lobby for Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed, which apparently trumps the obvious public good served by letting the public see how the Fed is handling trillions of dollars of public money.

She also used to be the chief lobbyist for Enron, which, in the eyes of most professional political observers, apparently makes her pure as the driven snow, whilst Grayson is in the wrong not for having falsely accused her of a crime but of having accused her of the wrong crime.

Grayson spokesman Todd Jurkowski delivered an appropriate smackdown:

She attacked the Congressman and his efforts to promote a Republican bill to audit the Federal Reserve. She actually questioned his understanding of the difference between fiscal and monetary policy. This is [a] person who used to be the chief lobbyist for Enron attacking the intelligence and motives of a Congressman who used to be an economist.

I’m sure all the California ratepayers that Enron screwed before it imploded will be really, really concerned that Alan Grayson called Linda Robertson a bad name. I know I am.

Friday, October 2, 2009 12:05 am

All apologies

Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., continues to carve new orifices in the festering bodies of the deserving. Having previously gone after investment bankers, he’s now going after Republicans who are 1) continuing to reject Democratic health-care reform proposals even though Democrats have made concession after concession that the Republicans demanded, and 2) refusing to offer any substantive alternative to the status quo. And while the two minutes of Grayson you’re about to see aren’t going to make anyone forget the Gettysburg Address, he does a remarkably good job of framing the issue in simple but accurate terms:

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.

If you follow the link to the YouTube page, you will see that this particular clip was posted by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, who believed that most right-thinking Americans would be horrified by Grayson’s incivility. Perhaps he had good reason to think that. After all, pollster Charlie Cook, whose Cook Political Report is apparently very well respected in Washington, said that Grayson’s comments “reinforce our view that he will be highly vulnerable when the spotlight is on him, regardless of whom Republicans nominate.” Cook went on to move his assessment of the 2010 race in Grayson’s district, the Florida 8th, from “leans Democrat” to “toss up.” And Cook did this, remember, even though, at least as of a couple of weeks ago, Grayson was not only unopposed, there wasn’t even anyone out there raising money for a possible challenge. On top of that, ABC News chief Washington correspondent and “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, who, remember, once worked for a Democratic president, called for an apology as well.

It’s also worth remembering that Congress did vote to chastise Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for calling President Obama a liar during his health-care speech to Congress, so one might conclude that there is little appetite for this kind of rhetoric in Congress. (And never mind that the primary Republican calling for Grayson to apologize, Tom Price of Georgia, voted against the Wilson measure, along with 166 of his party mates.)

And, finally, it’s worth recalling that when Republicans started accusing the president of including “death panels” in his health-care reform package who would determine whether the very old and/or very sick would receive needed treatment, the party overwhelmingly condemned this behavior. Well, many Republicans did. OK, some did. All right, a few did. Well, someone must have. Right?

Anyway, under such circumstances, a prudent congresscritter might well consider the possibility that issuing an apology was in order. So Grayson, being nothing if not prudent, did just that:

This probably was not the apology that Eric Cantor and Charlie Cook and George Stephanopoulos had hoped for. Indeed, Stephanopoulos called it “doubling down,” implying that Grayson was only compounding his error.

Grayson, who clearly valued the insight and wisdom for which Stephanopoulos is so justly known, took his case to Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” on CNN and promptly violated the First Rule of Holes:

Now, granted, he was kind of provoked: GOP operative Alex Castellanos insisted that, by calling for tort reform, the GOP really was going to fix this country’s fundamental health-care problems, which is sort of like my saying my own personal flatulence is going to save Mothra the trouble of leveling Tokyo. But Grayson, fighting not only Castellanos but the CNN “journalists” who were trying to make Grayson’s tone the issue rather than making policy the issue, persisted, unapologetically.

So, according to all the conventional wisdom, he’s a dead congresscritter walking.

Except a funny thing happened on the way to the end of Grayson’s one-term congressional career. Between his remarks on Tuesday and a few minutes ago (i.e., around midnight Thursday), more than 3,400 people nationwide donated about $110,000 to his campaign. Not that he needs it; he’s independently wealthy. But what Grayson said appears to have resonated so strongly with people that even in these horrific economic times, people dug down and gave. A lot. Quickly.

And people on both sides of the aisle noticed.

The aforementioned Cantor whined to the Washington Times — and if anyone else cared, I couldn’t find a record of it — that the president hadn’t met with Congressional Republicans on health care since May. This apparently passes for “strategy” in the GOP, and it’s inane inasmuch as since May all the action has been in congressional committees, not at the White House.

And former Sen. Tom Harkin, one of the Democratic elders helping to shepherd health-care reform through Congress, has apparently come to grips with reality and and said that Republicans “will not be at the table” when the Senate merges the Finance Committee’s version of reform with the Health/Education/Labor/Pensions Committee’s version. And why should they be, if all they can contribute to the conversation is the inane notion that “tort reform” will solve most of our problems?

Well, I must say, Grayson has been such an inspiring example to me that I, myself, feel the need to apologize.

Unlike Grayson, however, I’m not going to apologize to the 44,000 Americans who die every year for lack of adequate health insurance, and their families. Apologizing to the dead is a tasteless stunt, after all; it cheapens our society and degrades our discourse. So I think I’ll apologize to the living. Two specific members of the living, to be precise: my brothers, both of whom have Type 1 diabetes. I can say this to their faces tonight when we get together and hoist a (probably nonalcoholic) glass, but I can also say it here and now.

Guys, I am sorry that the party to which I have belonged for 31 years couldn’t get its act together long enough to do anything besides oppose something that would make a little easier your lives, the lives of those who love and depend on you and the lives of lots of other people like you and the people who love and depend on them. I’m sorry it didn’t make more of an effort to bring some ideas to the table that might actually mitigate the very real problems you and tens of millions of other Americans face in this arena, instead of denying there was a problem and claiming that even if there were a problem Americans, unlike the people of so many other countries, have no right to a solution.

I’m also sorry the craft of which I was a part for 25 years has done such a piss-poor job of explaining to the American people what’s going on that significant numbers of people can still criticize “socialism” while warning President Obama not to mess with their Medicare. I’m sorry it gives whores like Alex Castellanos and Betsy McCaughey a forum instead of consigning them to the obscurity they so richly deserve. I’m sorry it continues to allow Americans to live in ignorance of the fact that the only industry besides health insurance with a federal antitrust exemption is major-league baseball. And I’m sorry it covers the politics at the expense of the substance, on this subject and every other.

Against all the odds, against all the health-insurance industry’s money and influence, there’s still time and a chance for Congress to do the right thing. If it does, Alan Grayson’s leadership on this issue will be a big part of the reason. And about that, I’m not a damn bit sorry.

Friday, September 25, 2009 5:45 pm

“This town Fed needs an enema!”

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 5:45 pm
Tags: , ,

And Sen. Alan Grayson is ’bout ready to give ’em one:

My favorite part:

Alan Grayson: Do you mind if we have a GAO [Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigating arm of Congress] audit to see if there has been front-running or insider trading by [dealers through which the Fed executes its trades]? Do you mind? Is that OK with you?

Scott Alvarez: I am not sure if I have that authority…

Yo, Scott: It ain’t your call, bro.

UPDATE: Matt Taibbi recalls his own close encounter with Alan Grayson:

In his capacity as an attorney he once basically threatened to have me dismembered and have my body parts dumped in a tin canister and fired into the center of a burning supernova. And that’s actually underselling the real language he used. We were having a disagreement about the use of information given to me by a certain source in a story about military contracting, and in the middle of what had been a normal contentious argument between two sane adults, dude suddenly assumed this crazy monster-voice and just went medieval on me. He was roaring into the telephone about how he was going to crush me, how I was going to wish I had never messed with him, how I didn’t know who the hell I was dealing with, and so on.  It came totally out of the blue and it was like being on the telephone with a metamorphosing werewolf — the whole performance genuinely freaked me out. I may even have peed a little, I can’t remember.

When I heard Alan Grayson was running for Congress, I remember thinking to myself, That Alan Grayson? The lunatic? It can’t be, I thought. I kept imagining trails of half-eaten sheep leading to his campaign appearances. But it turned out to be true. …

And now every time I see Alan Grayson, he’s tearing some freaked-out bureaucrat a new [orifice] in the middle of some empty conference room in the Capitol somewhere. I see the looks on the faces of these poor souls and I know exactly what they’re going through. Which is just hilarious, frankly.

Werewolves, half-eaten sheep and mutilated bureaucrats — Taibbi hits the My Favorite Things trifecta.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009 10:45 pm

Reinforcements

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 10:45 pm
Tags: , ,

Hot dang. Rep. Alan Grayson apparently has a counterpart in the Senate after all, and from the unlikeliest of places. It’s Sen. Ted Kaufman, Democrat of Delaware, where all the cool financial companies are legally headquartered because in terms of having any actual expectations of corporations headquartered there, Delaware won the race to the bottom.

That’s a long post I link to, but just skip down to the actual text of Kaufman’s speech, near the bottom. The man’s bringing serious heat.

UPDATE: An interview with Grayson:

Damien: Congressman, while we are waiting for a Fed audit, does anyone know what the Fed has been doing given that they have not fulfilled their government delegated duties as listed on the Federal Reserve website?

Congressman Grayson: They are performing a truly remarkable, surreptitious transfer of wealth from public to private hands. They are taking their ability to print money and shore up failed banks. They are simply stuffing money into the pockets of private interests.

The interviewer asks whether this isn’t all just a big conspiracy theory. Grayson reminds us that in light of the recent appeals-court ruling in the Bloomberg case, the Freedom of Information Act is going to apply to the Fed soon, so we’ll find out. He doesn’t sound like a man concerned that his version of the story is lacking.

Saturday, September 12, 2009 11:59 pm

Depends on the definition of “troubling”

Filed under: You're doing WHAT with my money?? — Lex @ 11:59 pm
Tags: , ,

Regular readers may have surmised in recent months that we here at Blog on the Run World HQ love us some Alan Grayson. So you can imagine that we were tickled pink to learn that at least right now, his re-election prospects are looking pretty darned good:

House Republicans have an opening now, and they’ve lost so many seats the last two cycles that there are many places where they need to land a recruit. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) has spent much of his first eight months in office giving the GOP ammunition to use in 2010, but there is still no major opponent to run against him. Republicans will almost surely get someone formidable, but it’s mildly troubling that nobody major is raising money yet against one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

I’ve always thought no office holder should be able to seek re-election unopposed, but for Grayson I might be willing to make an exception.

A couple of additional thoughts:

  • The irony of “one of the wealthiest members of Congress” making life difficult for the banksters is delicious. It’s not getting any of them one step closer to the 6-by-8 cells they belong in, but it’s delicious nonetheless.
  • The magazine The Hill is such a fixture of inside-the-Beltway establishmentarianism that it finds “mildly troubling” the fact that no Republican has surfaced to run against one of the few congresscritters who is actually standing up for ordinary people by trying desperately to impose some small measure of sanity (let alone honesty) on our financial system. I’m a Republican, but the only way I would find that troubling would be if I knew there were a Republican out there in Grayson’s district who could and would do an even better job in this critical arena than Grayson is doing. Such a creature might exist, just as a 12-toed sloth might exist at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. But neither I nor anyone else has seen either one.
  • No fewer than four of North Carolina’s 13 House members sit on the Financial Services committee — Democrats Mel Watt and Brad Miller, and Republicans Walter Jones and Patrick McHenry. And Grayson, who, unlike them, is only in his first term, is eating their lunch.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 8:17 pm

About bloody time

Once again, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is stepping up, and now he has help:

Citigroup Inc.’s $301 billion of federal asset guarantees, extended by the U.S. last year to help save the bank from collapse, will be audited to calculate losses and determine whether taxpayers got a fair deal.

Neil Barofsky, inspector general of the U.S. Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, agreed in an Aug. 3 letter to audit the program after a request by U.S. Representative Alan Grayson. Barofsky will examine why the guarantees were given, how they were structured and whether the bank’s risk controls are adequate to prevent government losses.

The Treasury, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve provided the guarantees last November, when a plunge in Citigroup’s stock below $5 sparked concern that a run on the bank might rock global markets and impede an economic recovery. New York-based Citigroup paid the government $7.3 billion in preferred stock in return for the guarantees.

“What kind of toxic assets did the Federal Reserve guarantee, and what off-balance-sheet liabilities have been pinned on us?” Grayson, a Florida Democrat who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, wrote yesterday in an e- mailed response to questions on the audit. “How much money have the taxpayers already lost? We need to know.”

Citigroup’s guarantees are among $23.7 trillion of total potential government support stemming from programs set up since 2007 to ease the financial crisis, according to a report last month by Barofsky’s office. The “total downside risk” from Citigroup’s asset guarantees is about $230 billion to the Federal Reserve alone, Grayson said in a June 24 letter to Barofsky requesting the audit.

A few thoughts, in no special order:

  • Every single transaction undertaken under TARP should be audited. No exceptions, no mercy.
  • The loans on Citi’s books need to be priced at their true market value, right now. And if the result is that Citi is insolvent, which would not in the least surprise me, then nationalize it, shut it down and sell it off.
  • We can afford to put ourselves on the hook for $23.7 trillion to bail out a lot of banks that should have been allowed to fail, but apparently we can’t afford $100 billion a year for health-care reform. That’s some whacked-out math. There may be good reasons to oppose any/all of the currently pending bills, but “We can’t afford it” definitely isn’t one of them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 8:26 pm

535 members of Congress …

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:26 pm
Tags: , ,

… and approximately one of them appears to be working in the best interests of the taxpayer at the moment: my current political hero, Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida:

Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge calls the play-by-play:

  • At minute 1:30, Bernanke can’t say which financial institutions got the money.
  • At minute 3:19, Bernanke says that the 30% rise in the dollar which took place at the same time as the Federal Reserve lent out $500B to foreign central banks was just a coincidence.
  • At minute 3:45, Bernanke and Grayson discuss the Constitutional basis for the Federal Reserve lending a half a trillion dollars to foreigners

Thursday, May 28, 2009 8:54 pm

Let the sun shine in

Filed under: I want my money back. — Lex @ 8:54 pm
Tags: , ,

The Federal Reserve has been refusing to tell us how the taxpayers’ money being used to bail out banks is being spent. In fact, that agency’s inspector general has told Congress she doesn’t even know. Now, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., is calling for the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, to audit the Fed (H.R. 1207). You can go here to sign on in support of that measure.

It’s our money. We ought to know where it went.

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