Alan Grayson's runnning for Congress again next year. Somehow, I seem to be on his mailing list, and this weekend seems to be his money bomb weekend. Yesterday, I received an e-mail, courtesy of ActBlue, featuring this endorsement of Grayson, along with a plea for a contribution to his money bomb:-
First of all, this is the man whose third party candidacy in 2000 gave us eight years of George Bush. Please remember that in Grayson's own state of Florida, Gore lost this state by the final recount of 495 votes. Ralph Nader garnered 15,000. It's reasonable to think that all of those disgruntled voters who believed the political savoir faire of such noted political operatives as Michael Moore, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Bill Maher (none of whom had ever had any discernible political experience), would normally have voted for a Democratic candidate. Ergo, no Nader on the ballot, no Florida hanging chad controversy and no Bush.
Things could have been so different.
But what is controversial and niggling is Grayson obviously sought support of Nader in filming this endorsement, and although Nader speaks of Grayson as a man of the people, as someone who is interested in working people and their rights and as someone who favours unions, Nader's dialogue is more than just a bit of the pot meeting the kettle.
First of all, Nader is, himself, nothing less than a union buster. Eric Alterman discovered and reported this as early as 2004:-
Then take a look at this letter that I received a long time ago, but saved... It’s by a fellow named Tim Shorrock.
Subject: Nader is a union buster.
I read the reports about the UAW and Teamsters considering a vote for Ralph Nader and interviews like Kuttner's and think - I must be living in never-never land.
Ralph Nader fired me and two other editors from Multinational Monitor in 1984 for trying to organize a union in our shop. You can look it up in the Washington Post, Columbia Journalism Review and Labor Notes.
I was fired the day after we filed our union recognition papers with the NLRB; in the hours that followed, Nader 'transferred' ownership of MM to Essential Information run by John Richard (who would become his H.R. Haldeman if by some stretch Nader was ever elected prez) and let them do the dirty work, which included trying to get the cops to arrest me for allegedly 'stealing' my own files. Myself, my two fired colleagues and John Cavanagh of the Institute for Policy Studies, our closest supporter, were then sued by Essential Information for trying to 'destroy their business,' a pure harassment tactic designed to make us shut up about what happened.
And now the guy says his key campaign theme will be reforming U.S. labor laws so it's easier for workers to form unions? Simply amazing for a man who has used those laws to prevent his own workers from organizing - and MM is not the only place he's done it.
To Doug Henwood's credit, he is the only journalist on the left to raise this issue; The Nation, Mother Jones and other 'leftie' pubs have refused to run a word about Nader's anti-union tactics - not even a letter to the editor.
The Nation... and who edits and publishes The Nation. Katrina vanden Heuvel, who trolled the country in 2000, campaigning for Ralph Nader, union-buster.
And Paul Hogarth unearthed this little titbit about Ralphie in 2007:-
Rather than “unreasonable,” Nader is a selfish egotist. Accountable to nobody. He burns through his disciples. He believes that any disagreement with him amounts to a betrayal.
For my generation, Nader will always be remembered as the reckless ideologue who gave us the worst President in American history.
Ralph Nader pioneered the practice of non-profit organizations hiring idealistic young workers for slave wages. Because the Nader’s Raiders had jobs “where you can bring your conscience to work,” he found no reason why he shouldn’t demand them to pull insane hours for little pay. It’s honorable to have a legion of disciples who are in love with their jobs, but the manner that Nader worked them at Public Citizen bordered on the sadomasochistic.
Today, he’s even worse. Beyond “trying to adapt the world to himself,” he has refused to adapt to any reality at all. The world has changed, and everything he has argued about electoral politics has been completely disproven in the last six years. But still, Ralph Nader insists on proving a point – and he doesn’t seem to care how many more people suffer under Republican Administrations. After all, he’s not poor and won’t be hurt by the Bush budget cuts.
And then, who can forget this jewel?
Right, got that?
Alan Grayson, Mr Progressive, himself, is using a union-buster, an advocate of slave wages and someone who's not afraid of using racial epithets, to tout his candidacy. No secret either that Nader's personal favourite politico is Ron Paul, a man who co-sponsored a bill with Grayson to audit the Federal Reserve.
But that's not all.
Just minutes ago, I received another ActBlue e-mail, with another celebrity endorsing Alan Grayson in yet another way - with emphasis on the Progressive part:-
I think a great deal of Alan Grayson, although my opinion of him has faltered a bit, recently. I think he had honourable aims when he was elected to Congress and that he was a good voice for his constituents; but then I think his head was turned by all of the publicity he was receiving through the media. At one point, you could bank on seeing him on MSNBC at least once a week, expostulating. I also thought little of the fact that he turned particularly nasty towards the President during his lame duck period in office.
One of the main reasons, Grayson's ratings amongst his constituents dropped like a lead balloon overnight, was that he was caught doing unto his Republican counterpart that which the
Republicans regularly do unto us. He not-so-cleverly edited a film of his opponent, Dan Webster,in order to reincarnate him as "Taliban Dan," a point upon which Anderson Cooper heavily criticizes him. Grayson took a comment made by Webster blatantly out of context and spun that comment in a nefarious way for votes.
Out of context ... as in what Breitbart did to Shirley Sherrod.
(Sigh) Best to leave unto Breitbart that which Breitbart, regrettably, does best, and leave unto the Democratic party to cleave to a higher ideal. Really, ratfucking is not something which comes either easily or naturally to Democrats.
But I digress, because with this second ActBlue plea, I'm even more astonished at whom Alan Grayson's enlisted to promote his cause: Bill Maher.
In the video, Maher, yet again, refers to himself as a Progressive. He simply isn't, and I don't know what spell he holds over his fanbase that simply by hearing him say this, they believe it to be so.
Maher supports the death penalty. This is not a Progressive position. The week after Troy Davis's execution, which saw many high-profiled Progressives speak out against this cruel and unusual punishment, Bill didn't even raise the issue on his show.
Maher is anti-union. Who remembers this famous attempt at having it both ways in early 2008, after having crossed the picket line, himself, to "teach his writers a lesson?"
Maher throws out racist epithets, especially at the current President. He doesn't think he's stereotypically black enough, and has been called out on his racism by no less than Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic and Adam Serwer in Mother Jones.
Of course, no one on the Left or the Right wants to admit to white privilege, much less racism, but how many Progressives do you know who are anti-union? How many Progressives do you know who are against the National Endowment for the Arts? Ann Coulter is, but she's certainly not a Progressive; but she is a close friend of Bill Maher's, and Bill has stridently opposed this, actually saying:-
If I ran the NEA? I'd abolish it. I'd be the Gorbachev of federal arts endowing and destroy my own job as the head of it. Artists are so self-important -- art is basic to human nature, it will always be produced and does not need the government's help. The NEA is a perfect example of Mission Creep: The government's job is to protect you, from external enemies and internal criminals, and to maintain roads, schools, and a social safety net. Art is far afield, and in no danger of going away without government money or guidance.
Sound like a conservative speaking?
As far as racism goes, Bill doesn't limit his prejudices to hurling racist remarks the President's way, albeit cleverly disguising them as "comedy." Bill has a distinct problem with Islam, as exemplified by his interview with Rep Keith Ellison, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, and a practicing Muslim.
He's neither playing the devil's advocate here, nor is he trying to be an incisive interviewer. Maher has always had a bee in his bonnet about Islam, and it's nothing to do with his stance on religion in general, and everything to do with Maher's views on Israel. If the above video isn't proof enough of his stance on Islam, just check out his remarks on that subject with Anderson Cooper here.
And, finally, Bill's misogyny notwithstanding, I'd have a problem with anyone who calls himself a Progressive, referring to a woman, any woman, publically as a cunt, even if that woman does happen to be Sarah Palin. But then, maybe Alan Grayson doesn't have such a problem with that, considering that he found it difficult to apologise for having referred to Linda Robertson on a radio broadcast as a K Street whore.
Alan Grayson made a big impression during his two years on the Hill as a mighty voice for Progressive values. He seems sincere in his beliefs, but as he's a politician, I wouldn't be surprised or condemnatory if he used both Nader and Maher as celebrity bait to reel in contributions from the sort of people who hang onto these men's every word as political sense; but, by extension, Nader pals around with Cornel West, who describes the President as a corporatists, whilst tooling around with Tavis Smiley in a state-of-the-art poverty bus, funded by goodness-knows-whom. Maher, on the other hand, is too cosy for any Progressive in his close friendships with the likes of Ann Coulter, P J O'Rourke, Arianna Huffington and Darrell Issa.
Alan Grayson is also a very intelligent man, and he wouldn't have been unaware that Bill's politics blow with the wind of fashion. He sat on his panel on October 7th, along with Nicolle Wallace and P J O'Rourke, and he listened in silence as Bill and P J shared a host of laughs about the Occupy Wall Street movement, with shits and giggles about hippies and porn and portaloos, all derisory ... until Grayson owns the moment and annoints himself as speaker for the ordinary person in America.
Here's the video. The fun begins at the ten-minute mark:-
You'll note that from the minute the audience gave Alan Grayson that standing ovation, Bill Maher has suddenly been a follower of Occupy Wall Street. So if Alan Grayson is playing politics for contributions, by using the usual suspect big mouths, including a union-busting hypocrite and an anti-union, pro-death penalty tax cheat, both of whom with a penchant for making racist remarks, I have no problem with that. After all, Grayson's fellow Floridian politico, Marco Rubio, appears to have done much the same thing with the Tea Party, and he has a Senate seat to show for it.
But I do have a problem, if Alan Grayson is seriously involved with these people. The line which begins with Nader snakes its way around Cornel West through Sarah Palin until it arrives at Ron Paul. The parallel line which begins with Bill Maher leads to Arianna Huffington, onwards to Darrell Issa and ends with Paul as well. And since Maher was one of the major triumvirate of celebrity talking heads to endorse Nader in 2000, there's a connection there too.
I really hope it's a Congressional seat for which Alan Grayson is trying to raise funds and not a third party challenge to Obama. Either way, he'd be wise to remember a Spanish proverb:-
Dime con quien andas y te dire' quien eres. Basically, that means that you're judged by the company you keep, and the company of Nader and Maher is neither astute, intelligent nor Progressive. It's ego-driven and idealogical, a bit like the man Alan Grayson promotes as his political hero, Huey Long. Spot the uncanny resemblance:-
The Kingfish Junior
At the end of the day, or rather, at the end of Alan Grayson's moneybomb weekend, it's all about one thing - the same thing Wall Street encompasses:-