Kent Pitman

Kent Pitman
New England, USA
Philosopher, Technologist, Writer
I've been using the net in various roles—technical, social, and political—for the last 30 years. I'm disappointed that most forums don't pay for good writing and I'm ever in search of forums that do. (I've not seen any Tippem money, that's for sure.) And I worry some that our posting here for free could one day put paid writers in Closed Salon out of work. See my personal home page for more about me.


OCTOBER 10, 2009 1:28PM

Grayson to Republicans: “Get Out of the Way”

Rate: 37 Flag

Alan Grayson (D-FL) yesterday spoke out again for Americans everywhere who want health care reform.

Grayson speaks for just 3 minutes in this speech, from 0:15 to 3:25. Watch it if you can. But if you can't, here are some highlights:

... We as a party have spent the last six months ... dwelling on the ... unbelievably consuming question of how to get Olympia Snowe to vote for health care reform. ... America doesn't care about that ... What America wants is health care reform. ... What America cares about is this: there are over one million Americans who go broke every single year trying to pay their health care bills. America cares a lot about that. ... I pointed out that in America there's 44,789 Americans who die every year ... because they have no health insurance. ... Their response was to ask me for an apology ... I will not apologize for a simple reason: America doesn't care about your feelings ... You can lead, you can follow, or you can get out of the way. And I'm telling you now to get out of the way. America understands that there's one party in this country that's in favor of health care reform, and one party that's against it. And they know why. They understand that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world, the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation. They understand that if Barack Obama could somehow bring about world peace, they'd blame him for destroying the defense industry. ...

I'm not even in his state, but I sent him a contribution. He was certainly speaking for me in this speech, and I think individuals who want reform need to send a clear message they'll stand by people who champion serious reform.

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Alan Grayson, will you MARRY ME!??

I think I love this guy. And yes, he speaks for me, too. I wish we had three hundred Democrats as willing to lay it on the line as he is.
That's an awesome speech! Thank you Kent for bringing it to my attention - keep spreading the word. I'm glad Grayson is unafraid to stand up and spell it out. Finally a Democrat with a bit of spine. Awesome. Rated.
Shiral, if he says yes, will you all come live in a commune in California with me?
Shiral he is already married with about six kids ;0) My daughter and I met him on the airport shuttle after we had all taken the last flight to Orlando out of Washington this summer on a Friday evening. Very nice man. My daughter liked his purple shirt and tie.
Shiral, I think the key is to stand with Democrats that speak plainly like this. They'll probably have trouble getting campaign funds from the big insurance industry as a result of this. But we can show that success can come in other ways.

Mary-Anndroid, I was a little worried everyone would have seen this by now, but I guess some things take their time making the rounds. Just wanted to do my part to speed it up, and glad I could help.

Heh, Sandra—thanks for checking in. :)
Great Post Kent! Grayson laid it out there didn't he mon? Let's see if anyone else grew a set! Rated!
I did a post about Grayson last week; at the time I said he was my new hero of plain speaking, and watching this just confirms it. We need more people like him on the Hill.
Dorinda, well, maybe Utah?

patrick, yes, let's hope it's contagious.

nanatehay, I added a pointer to your post.
“…We as a party have spent the the last six months ... dwelling on the ... unbelievably consuming question of how to get Olympia Snow to vote for health care reform.”

Bi-partisanship, Bull-shit.

Anger is a seriously underrated emotion. Like anything, anger can be detrimental in the wrong dosage. But it is a necessary component of the human psyche in terms of our survival. Anger serves to motivate us towards actions that must be taken even though they may be distasteful to us in the context of some of our other traits.

Right now, Americans are angry, and Obama could use that anger within his own base to move us in a better direction, but instead he has acquiesced to the anger from the other side, the radical conservative side, and they have gained ground. FDR capitalized on the anger that Americans were feeling during his time. Obama has squandered his opportunity to direct the anger Americans are feeling today.

Grayson is tapping into that, and it’s working. How much further along could we be now if this had been tapped much earlier?
Rick, Obama I think Obama sees his base as already on his side and able to be taken for granted, so allocates his energy to enlarging that which he sees as solid. I don't think he sees the anger on his own side.
Right on, Alan Grayson! Thanks for the post.
Good post. Finally, it looks like someone is ready to take a leadership position and to speak like a leader. More power to him!
I think his performance was over the top, but yeah, he speaks for me, too.
Julie—over the top in what way?
Good for Grayson. I love your idea, Kent, of donating to a politician who isn't even in your district.

It's hard to fathom what the Democratic leadership party is thinking. My impression is that they want bipartisan support, so that if the whole thing sucks, it's harder to paint as a Republican vs. Democrat thing in future elections. But really ... is a single vote from Snowe going to make that big a difference?

I agree with you (and Grayson) that the Democrats don't seem to have the stomach to apply the power they've been given.
I think this guy will be a part of the American story for a long time - this isn't a blustery speech full of talking points, it's the kind that students analyze in classes for years to come.

He's right. When my sister was ill, we wanted our doctors to take her seriously, to speak to one another, for our premiums to have counted toward her care rather than ads, lobbyists, and CEO bonuses, and for the insurance company to allow her to seek the more sophisticated treatment that was being recommended. She died after none of that happening, and I could really give a shit about Republican whining for an apology.

When Grayson said that the Republican plan is for people to die quickly, he was referring to their plan for my sister, because they truly waited her out, and she died far more quickly than the time it would have taken them to save her, and more inexpensively than it would have cost to save her.

Grayson must NEVER apologize. He encapsulated my sister's story in a single flipchart, and so eloquently in the speech above. THIS man is on the side of the people. I'm still eager for the success of Obama, but he just got trumped with this speech - wish Obama would pummel America with speeches like this.
Don, I wasn't sure if the mention of Snowe wasn't just a bit of symbolism for the whole Republican party. I assumed he didn't mean that literally. It's just that she's been recently making noise and so he spoke to that noise, or so I thought. Who knows?
Travelleni, thanks for sharing that personal side of things. I totally agree with you Obama should be doing this, and has been missing the mark, but I'm glad someone is.
By the way, holly and zuma, I didn't have much to add to your remarks but thanks for visiting and being supportive!
I think he mean Snowe quite specifically - every pundit tries either to climb into her brain or to tell people how to influence her.
Do you want me to go back and analyze every movement and word, cause I will ya know :D
Mainly I meant that his word choice and repetition of phrases was unnecessary and inflammatory- for instance "Get out of the way" come on, that is not helpful. Or well, I guess it was helpful to rally the troops and you can see how well everyone reacted to it by reading the comments here. I just didn't like the overposturing, I personally found it too bullying and not persuasive enough.
Doesn't mean I didn't agree with the message- check your email.
My thought, Julie, is that the Democrats have led with a ton of almost over the top niceness to Republican leaders who have been jerks in return. It's hard to imagine that this responses was really over the top given the overt obstructionism that has saturated everything for weeks. I agree with you it would be inappropriate at the opening of a debate, but at some point the Dems cross the line from polite to wimps, and I think this merely takes it back to polite but with limits. Being polite is not about having no limits, and when a limit is reached, it's hard to be more polite about it than he was.

Sometimes "over the top" is what is needed. Look at Limbaugh, Beck, O'Reilly, etc.

If someone can use "over the top" to bring attention back into focus, to bring attention back to the issues, which Grayson seems to be doing, then that is an excellent tactic. Of course, some people consider telling the truth to be "over the top".
Grayson is giving the Repubs a dose of their own medicine and getting attention for it, more power to him
Kent and Rick, I think it's a style preference. I personally don't like this style on either side of the fence. I just rubs me wrong, and makes me listen to the message less.
I you both like it, then it works for you :) and that is good. Each to their own.
Julie, I get not liking the style Grayson is using, whichever side of the fence it comes from. But if it even serves only (as you say above) to rally the troops, isn't rallying the troops a good thing? The health care reform debate is possibly one of the most important political discussions of our lifetime. That being said, why should Democrats, who are facing a constant barrage of bullying, slander, and outright lies from the Right, not field their own version of rhetorical hardball, especially if what Grayson is saying is true? Which it certainly is. They've tried politeness and rational appeals to Republicans' better instincts for months now and it's gotten us nowhere, so for my money a little aggressiveness is just what the doctor ordered.
And I meant to add; thanks for linking to my post Kent!
OK, so basically, one elected official believes it's time to tell other elected officials to get out of the way as if the constituents who voted differently are somehow not to be seen or heard.

Sorry, this is a democracy and all the people and their elected representatives get to speak and vote. Alan Grayson doesn't speak for all Americans. This American (meaning me) would like to see changes in how healthcare is delivered but the Democratic plans are bad policy and will make things worse. So, the opponents are doing good work to prevent bad bills from passing now and then finding a way to get alternatives debated at a later date.
Sigh, my message looked right before I sent it :/ somedays I am so not in love with this medium.
That was "It just" and "If you" I'm alright with GIGO, if that is what is actually happening, but I proofread that message. :p phooey on lost ones and zeros

"isn't rallying the troops a good thing" yes, it is, absolutely
Thanks for this post, I had not seen this. I agree with you that our side was over the top nice and it has gotten us farther and farther away from real reform. We kept trying to appease them and compromise and the R's kept saying no to everything that was brought to the table.

I also agree with Rick that anger has its place and is important and we need to use it more wisely and in larger quantities.
What a brilliant speech, "if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world, the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation. " Oh, we need politicians like this in my country, urgently.
You know the GOP party line is beginning to show cracks in it when people say, "I'm not standing up for the insurance companies, but..."
McGarrett, you're right—he doesn't speak for all Americans. Just the majority that wants to see health care reform. It was a major plank in the platform that got Obama elected. Also, you say “as if the constituents who voted differently are somehow not to be seen or heard,” but that's not the right way of seeing it, and is really much more like spin. In fact, a Democracy is not a formal consensus body in which everyone is made happy before something gets in. It works on majority rule, and ours has safeguards in place for specific protections of individuals from the “tyranny of the majority.” But no one's rights from the bill of rights is being violated by the majority simply doing what the majority is entitled to do. It is done all the time by the Republicans when they're in power, and the reason they're not in power right now is that people didn't like where that was leading.
By the way, McGarrett, you may have assumed by “Americans everywhere who want health care reform” you thought I had said “it is the case that all Americans want health care reform.” I didn't mean to imply that. I know well that not all Americans want it. What I meant by using “everywhere” was not a typo for “everyone” but rather to say “although this guy is from Florida, there are people in New England where I am who are also being represented in that moment by him. And surely all over the country, even if not ‘to a person.’ ”
Julie, thanks for the clarification. I guess it's a personal style thing.

Rick, yes, I think that's it. Sometimes it's just needed... at least as far as my sensibilities go. But given that it upsets Julie a little, I certainly appreciate her being a good sport about it.

Travellini, regarding Snowe, perhaps so. I was just guessing.

Roy, yup, as the golden rule says, “do unto others...” The Democrats didn't lead with this play, it's only a mild form of what they've already been treated to in return. Hard to see that as inappropriate in just about any book of rules.

nanatehay, you're certainly right to point out the stakes warrant it. Heck, this is the kind of thing people could war over. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. The Republicans seem to be pushing much harder in that direction than the Democrats, frankly; see recent writings by Brin and Friedman.

Ariana, thanks for stopping in and showing your support.

Marcela, I wish we could figure out a way to mass produce such politicians sometimes. We could use more here, too. Funny how speaking from the heart is so appealing and yet so rare... You'd think it would be what everyone would do.

lefty, I hadn't noticed that particular phrase, but I'll watch for it.
Another brave, self-made man emerges. the need for an apology is one of the newest bits of propaganda, ripe for gobbling up..
Where's this guy been all these months? Thanks Kent. Didn't JOan Walsh wonder a while ago who appointed Olympia Snow president? Grayson's right on the money about his: no one cares about the feelings he hurt. It's so good to see a Democrat standing up and saying no to the bullshit. Here's hoping this clip goes viral and that his fellow Democrats take a page from his briefing book and take the offensive. Enough already.

I understand your feelings about "over the top", believe me. I'm just sayin'...
Sorry, this is a democracy and all the people and their elected representatives get to speak and vote. Alan Grayson doesn't speak for all Americans.

McGarrett, you seem to assuming that repub reps are speaking for their constituents - that is not the case, healthcare reform is an across the board issue and all the repubs are doing is blocking it. And this is Graysons point - lead or follow. Either one would be representing their electorate. But they are not.
Gary, yes, I guess a silver lining of places like these is that it may sometimes seem to spontaneously generate (or at least reveal) good people.

Jeremiah, yep—I'm just doing my part to get people to help this go viral. :)

Blackpaw, hi. Thanks for joining in.
I LOVE this guy! He's my new Democratic hero! Pow! Take that! Grayson has come along at just the right time in the Health care debate. Now if we can just get the Dems to listen. If I had the money, I'd send him a HUGE contribution. American politics need all the straight talkers we can get. And that means both sides of the aisle.
BBE, my thought was that we should still reward what we want to see since I think a lot of politicians are actually somewhat agnostic and more into the question of either popularity or heroism, both of which are feedback-driven. So if they feel they're becoming popular or heroic, they'll lean in that direction. (See last week's episode of Big Bang Theory and the use of chocolates for operant conditioning on humans.) It's an imperfect theory of control, but one works with the tools one has.
Michael, I think even a small contribution is important. The amount probably doesn't matter for this kind of thing. With respect to what BBE was saying and my reply, the important thing is that when these guys speak out for something we like, we have to say so... because certainly the insurance companies are giving positive reinforcement when politicians speak in favor of them.
I love that someone is not afraid to speak the simple truth, but what I really want to know is how do we fix the Democratic Party as a whole? There are a few Democrats in Congress who are not afraid to take up the causes of the average person, but the rest are pretty close to worthless. Are they all so deep in the pocket of the big donors and lobbyists that they will never consider the needs of ordinary people?

If the Democrats don't return to being the party of FDR then we will lose on the important issues again and again and again, even if we are able to hold a majority in Congress and/or occupy the White House. And that's a big "if." When the Dems wimp out, they lose the support of voters. It's been demonstrated often enough that they should have learned their lesson by now. Yet they haven't.

I had such hope when Obama was elected and the Dems regained control of the House. I am still hopeful on some grounds (Supreme Court Justice appointments, for example) but less hopeful on issues like health care.
I was able to watch Congressman Grayson’s entire speech, as well as him being interviewed by Lawrence O’Donnell on Countdown last week.

I particularly admired the manner in which he answered all of Lawrence O’Donnell’s questions so straightforwardly - without the usually political speak and hemming and hawing.

It’s refreshing beyond words to hear such clarity. Especially when it’s needed s desperately.

Thanks for your service to the OS community by posting this Kent.

Rated and appreciated/
Every week this man seems to be doing something that no one, including Obama is not doing. He is making the case, to all Americans, why we are not getting a health care bill passed. This guy has a future. But he best remember, the republicans will be gunning for him.|
Great Post~~Rated~~
This would have slipped my attention had you not posted this - so first and foremost, thank you. Imagine: the 12th richest person in the entire Congress - and he readily speaks truth to power. I hope it's contagious.
Even the ape-like Grayson should be able to understand that those that are, in politically realistic terms, "in the way" are not Republicans, but the sanity wing of the Democrat Party.

Most donations to this idiot were caught up in the bait and switch gambit, the switch being Grayson's expression of regret in his choice of his words, and his assurance, like that of a chastised child, that he would never do it again. Grayson is toast.
Actually make that Kaptur, Grayson. People are still pissed about Hillary who wouldnt run against Obama. But Marcy and Alan? Maybe.
Shiral he is already married with about six kids ;0)

Enh.... so I guess his answer will have to be "no."

It's okay.... I've experienced unrequited love before. =o)

But that commune still sounds pretty good, Sandra. =o)

So he can't get funds from the insurance agencies... we'll just have to make sure he gets funds from us, for speaking out frankly on our behalf.
McGarrett, 'the opponents' are actually quite outnumbered. It is the exceeding politeness and wrongheaded insistence on bipartisanship that has us all sick to our stomachs.

Grayson is actually right, it's time for ya'll to get out of the way. We heard what y'all said. We took it into consideration. We lived with all the indecision and lack of commitment to the well-being of American citizens that is typical of Republicans. All those "We the People" signs really don't mean to include any one who doesn't agree with Republican institutionalized selfishness. The health care bill will pass with or without all of y'all, which is instant retribution for how elected Republicans rubber-stamped ever little bit of George Bush's overspending, no matter the cost. Now that we are looking for some actual change and for government to do what it does best, it doesn't look so good for the greedy bastids. So what.
As important a speech as "Give me liberty or give me death" in my humble opinion. Thanks for posting this here.
Susan, you're right. It's hard to see why so many Democrats are finding it hard to support the public option, especially when the President has set the direction. It's hard not to think there's influence of big money somehow. It's understandable that some voters are easily swayed by the horror propaganda out there, but you'd think the people connected to process would be immune to that.

Dennis, thanks for the supportive words. You also have a nice way of putting things in plain terms.

scanner, not that I hope anything will happen to him, but as an individual there's only so much he can do with mere rhetoric. But my hope is that his “style” will catch on. If other representatives see that speaking out is welcomed by the public, maybe they'll join in.

Stacey, I think there are some people who use their wealth for what it ought be used for—to give them the luxury not to be beholden to others in their pursuit of the common good. The Kennedy clan seems to encourage this, too. Whatever people may have thought of Teddy Kennedy and how he indulged his wealth, the one thing you couldn't really avoid noticing is that he didn't have to be a Senator at all. He could have just done the indulging part. Some of these guys really want to serve.
Gordon, you're right that the Democrats are their own worst obstacle. Often the Republicans are the problem, or seem like it, but certainly the numbers are there for them to prevail if they don't do themselves in.

Ben, I'm not up on Kaptur. I guess I have reading to do. Thanks.

Susanne, that first paragraph summarizes things nicely.

Coyote, interesting. I was thinking of various historical documents like Common Sense. The Republicans are very scientific about their appeal to (a) folksy style and (b) matters of the heart. I think that's the key to what was said here. The Democrats need to study this and get better at not having lost the game merely on presentation style, without ever getting to the substance. In many ways, they get repeatedly beaten up on being too “nerdy.”
Amen, Brother Kent, amen.