May 22, 2010

Agit/Prop in the House of Reps

Mr. Grayson is in the House. Indeed, if it hadn't-a been for Grayson...

I'm not saying I would-a been in Tennessee, but even if Alan Grayson is only providing comic relief with his standup routines in the well of the House, here's a tip of the hat to him nonetheless. His latest 5-minute bit:

That's a great routine, as good as his "Red Roof Inn" sthick, where he detailed the Fed's purchase of a bankrupt motel chain as part of its "quantitative easing." Grayson provides embarrassing details about obvious facts that most of the obsequious, toadying members of Congress will not talk about. Everything that Grayson says about defense spending in the clip is true, of course, but that doesn't mean that the usual guardians of the Military-Industrial Complex will ever talk about this elephant lolling about the living room. Republicans consider the budget entry for Defense an immutable Law of the Universe, and Democrats will simply not criticize it in any systematic way.

Except for Alan Grayson, Orlando, Florida's star diva in the opera buffa art form. What is enormously clever about this made-for-YouTube moment is that Grayson strikes a glancing blow at the problem of defense overspending, placing it in a real-life context of taxation of the American commoner. Of course, Americans making less than $35,000 per year (1/3rd of all earners) tend not to pay income tax anyway, and if we stop appropriating $169 billion per year for "emergency spending" in Afghanistan and Iraq (emergencies which have lasted 9 and 7 years, respectively), it will not actually reduce anything other than the money the United States is borrowing at a feverish pace from all corners of the world.

But those are details which do not diminish the importance of the main point. Grayson uses a circle graph on world defense spending freely available on the Internet from many sources. It's ridiculous that the United States considers itself so imperiled by international enemies that it needs to spend, at the base Pentagon budget of $549 billion, as much as the rest of the world combined, yet also feels the need to wage completely counterproductive and unnecessary wars which run the costs up about 31% more.

Grayson gives these speeches to empty chambers during off-hours. They are of a length and style specifically tailored to YouTube upload. The idea, I suppose, is these clips might go viral, so I'm doing my part here.

A frequent criticism of Grayson is that his legislative proposals are "frivolous" diversions from "real legislation." Such as, I suppose, meaningless health care "reform" and meaningless, toothless financial "reform." You know, like give us a frigging break. There is no real legislative work being done. It is all window-dressing designed to give the appearance of getting things done for the "average American," while avoiding any change that could actually ameliorate the commoner's lot. For a specific example, if Congress was actually serious about financial reform, wouldn't they outlaw any credit card interest charge above 10% as usurious? Wouldn't they at least allow a vote on the Brown-Kaufman Amendment declaring monopolistic financial super-giants a restraint of trade and breaking them up? Wouldn't they prohibit, as Angela Merkel has done in Germany, any credit default swap speculation by a party without an insurable interest in the security "insured?"

They won't do any of these things, and Nancy Pelosi & Company will rubber-stamp Obama's defense appropriation request, after making a bunch of worried noises about "deficits," because that's how the system works. So keep throwing monkey wrenches, Alan, and be as frivolous as hell. You're our Man on the Inside.

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