My wife and I attended a town hall meeting today with Senator Grassley. We counted 48 chairs setup for the town hall, and I would estimate we ended up with about 60-65 people there, when Grassley started the meeting he remarked that he was suprised at the number of people attending.
The Senator began by asking people who wanted to speak to raise their hands. He would then have you tell him the topic you wished to speak on so that he could bunch similar topics together for debate. There were about three people questioning Iraq, one on Iran, and a host of other issues. I used the time to bring up using industrial hemp, because that is an issue I personally care about, and was quickly dismissed since Grassley felt it was ‘a law enforcement issue’. Farmers in North Dakota are pushing for licenses because the state legislature voted to permit industrial hemp farming. They are now waiting for the DEA to approve the licenses, which by the way required $2000 non-refundable application fees.
Grassley started out with smaller issues, taxes, farming pollution & superfund, my hemp question, estate tax, drug-free funding and others.
He then moved on and asked for someone to speak about Iraq, and as the crowd started knocking down his excuses/reasoning, he suddenly switched to another topic (I can’t remember what exactly it was)…this was a total of 5-10 minutes debate on Iraq, and then a total switch.
This led up to the final 15 minutes reserved for press (who had already asked their questions), and the Senator indicated he would stay in open discussion for the rest of the time. Someone from the crowd brought up the military build up towards Iran, and Grassley said that Bush would only be able to order troops in for a limited time without congressional approval for a larger escalation. The crowd was starting to get rowdy because the Senator was following the same old excuses for continuing the Iraq war.
Part of the debate focused on the Baker commission report, and Grassley said he fully supports it. Crowd brings up the fact that Bush does not accept one of the main diplomatic points, that we have to have public diplomatic dialog with Iran and Syria.
The crowd began discussing nuclear issue with Iran 1) Would we stop processing all nuclear fuel if Iran did? 2) Why would Iran want nukes? Because they see us and think we’re freaking crazy with how we are treating everyone in the world; self defense.
Grassley begins lecture on how in 80s we were nominated (or self selected) as ‘world nuklear police chief’ and that we lowered our inventory sooo much and that we were leading for world peace to disarm everyone. That ‘we would be the last to destroy our last nuclear weapon, but that we would be the one to push for disarmanent’ a lot of conversation in response to that lecture, including the fact that we are developing even more small scale nuclear weapons right now.
Grassley was getting under quite a bit of pressure, I’m sure he was glad to be done with that town hall meeting!
— quick notes regarding Iraq/Iran —
Grassley very quickly fell back on three arguments regarding Iraq/Iran: 1. He suppports the troops (which was quickly dismissed by the crowd, since even people who are anti-surge support the troops. 2. That we have to fight terrorism ‘over there’ instead of here, which got quite a lot of commentary from the crowd about how Iraq is about three cultures that are in civil war, not *terrorists* out to get us. 3. And to finish it off, he said (rough quote) ‘Bill Clinton pushed the Iraqi Freedom Act and it was approved 88-0 in the Senate, and Bush was not the one to come up with the idea Saddam needed to be removed’ I didn’t even get the last half of Grassley’s comment because ~10 people in the front row were laughing so hard and asking what else Clinton was responsible for ! LOLOL
Oh and don’t forget, former ambassador Joe Wilson is giving a speech tonight at the memorial union sun room in Ames @8:00 about “Dissent in Democracy”!