# Grassley

Branstad & Grassley: Bad for Iowa's Economy

The farm policies of Branstad and Grassley have hurt our states' economy. They've been bad for wealth creation and jobs creation.  They've been antibusiness and antifarmer. They have not been up to responding to major crises, like the 1980s farm crisis.
 Branstad, for example, argued that there was no farm crisis.  The headline in The Gazette Cedar Rapids, July 10, 1984 “Branstad says Reagan right:  Farmers well off.” 
 Grassley was a major supporter of the Republican Welfare State, corporate welfare, that is. The Reagan farm bill he supported increased farm subsidies, but lowered market prices even more. We exported more, but at a greater loss per bushel (and less total export value).
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Petition: As a member of "The Family", ask Grassley to denounce bill that would kill gay Ugandans..

http://www.oneiowa.org/  Read & Sign the petition here

Full story and insight into “The Family” at the Iowa Independent:


Grassley asked to denounce anti-homosexuality bill

Republican senator's ties to a powerful Christian group could give him leverage to impact the bill's passage

Iowa’s largest gay-rights group is asking U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley to speak out against a bill being considered in the in Ugandan parliament that would criminalize homosexuality.

Des Moines-based One Iowa is conducting a petition drive demanding Grassley denounce the bill and use his influence to stop it. The reason they believe Grassley could have an impact is his association with a group known as “The Family.”

“The Family, a fundamentalist group of powerful politicians in America and abroad has ties to Uganda legislators pushing this horrific affront to human rights,” the group said in a press release. “Our very own Sen. Grassley is a member of this so-called ‘family.’”

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New Report: Iowa's Power Sources Outdated, Under-regulated

For Immediate Release: November 24, 2009
Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa | 515-243-5835; cell: 319-621-0075 | enost@environmentiowa.org

New Report: Iowa’s Power Sources Outdated, Under-regulated

Des Moines — Iowa is home to some of the nation's oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants, according to a new analysis of government data released today by Environment Iowa.  Half a year after a proposal for a new coal plant in Marshalltown was canceled and over one year after a similar proposal for Waterloo was denied, a group of environmental groups are calling for tougher regulation on existing power plants. (Report available at http://www.environmentiowa.org)

“Building new coal plants in Marshalltown and Waterloo would have been disastrous. Now we need to make sure that we clean up those plants that we've already built,” said Environment Iowa state associate Eric Nost. “They are outdated and under-regulated. Old coal-fired clunkers ought to have to meet modern emissions standards.”

Nationally, the report shows that America's supply of electricity is dominated by old plants, and that the oldest and dirtiest facilities often go hand-in-hand. Power plants first built three decades ago or more produced 73 percent of the total global warming pollution from power plants in 2007. Older power plants on average emit more carbon dioxide per unit of energy than newer ones.

Though it supplies the majority of Iowa’s electricity, coal is the most polluting of all fuel sources.

The state's largest and most polluting coal plant – the Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center in Council Bluffs – released nearly ten million tons of carbon dioxide into atmosphere in 2007. Parts of the facility date back to 1954.

Coal-fired plants like the Walter Scott Jr. Energy Center currently do not have to meet any carbon dioxide pollution standard, meaning that they can function as an unchecked contributor to global warming. Such plants comprise the nation’s single largest source of global warming pollution.  

The growing impacts of global warming will pose serious threats to Iowa, particularly on the agricultural sector as rainfall declines and warmer temperatures evaporate moisture in the soil more quickly, leading to lower yields.  To avoid the worst effects of global warming, science shows that the U.S. must cut its global warming pollution by 35 percent by 2020.

“Although numerous studies have shown that Iowa’s important agricultural sector has a great deal to lose if nothing is done to stop climate change, groups opposed to taking steps to curb global warming emissions have used a strategy of focusing on energy cost increases for farmers, businesses, and residential consumers, and emphasizing potential job losses in energy-intensive industries,” said Neila Seaman, director of the Iowa Chapter of Sierra Club. “It is imperative that Iowa’s U.S. Senators use their power to ensure a strong Clean Air Act and pave the way for the regulation of carbon dioxide.”

The Senate is slated to consider legislation in the next few months to establish the first-ever federal limits on global warming pollution and bolster incentives for clean energy sources like wind power.In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to require coal plants and other large industries to use available technology to cut their global warming pollution when new facilities are constructed or existing facilities are significantly modified. 

“We urge Senators Harkin and Grassley to ensure that the Senate passes an energy bill that requires coal plants to meet modern standards for global warming pollution, making room for more clean energy projects, like wind and solar power. We need more jobs building wind farms, installing solar panels and weatherizing homes, not more pollution,” concluded Nost.
Environment Iowa is a citizen-funded advocacy organization working to protect the state's clean air, clean water, and open spaces.

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A pattern to Grassley's obstructionist ways

In February 2009, Grassley said he wouldn't vote for the stimulus package unless it contained mortgage relief for struggling homeowners even though he held a fundraiser with mortgage industry brass.  He also voted against cramdown months after calling for mortgage relief in Sen. Dick Durbin's amendment that would have allowed single residence homeowners to reshuffle their mortgage if they were falling behind on payments.  The law currently allows multiple residence homeowners to do this for their vacation homes and yachts. 

Now,  Grassley says the deal breaker for him in health reform is the individual mandate.  If folks are penalized for not carrying insurance, he won't support health reform.  But last summer he supported the individual mandate in at least 2 interviews. 


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Record-breaking transit ridership saved Iowans nearly 9,000,000 gallons of gas last year

For Immediate Release – September 23, 2009

Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa, Office: 515-243-5835 Cell: 319-621-0075, enost@environmentiowa.org

Record-breaking transit ridership saved Iowans nearly 9,000,000 gallons of gas last year

Des Moines, IA In 2008, people in Iowa saved nearly nine million gallons of gasoline by riding transit in record numbers – the amount consumed by 15,300 cars. In addition to fuel savings, public transportation reduced global warming pollution here by 80,000 tons. Transportation accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's dependence on oil, and about one-third of our carbon dioxide pollution Environment Iowa outlined in their new report Getting On Track: Record Transit Ridership Increases Energy Independence.

“People are voting with their feet by driving less and taking more public transportation,” said Eric Nost , state associate with the statewide citizen advocacy organization. “Congress should listen to these voters and invest more in public transportation, which will increase our energy independence and reduce global warming pollution,” Nost added.

Micki Sandquist, executive director of the American Lung Association in Iowa noted, “we support public policies that encourage appropriate mass transit and alternative transportation options. Conservation is always the first and most obtainable goal in any effort to reduce petroleum consumption and the air pollution it causes, and using mass transit is an easy and effective way for anyone to reduce their consumption of petroleum fuels.”

Iowans drove less, with 2.07 million fewer miles driven in 2008 than in the year before – an eight percent drop that was the largest percent decrease in the country. People drove less due in part to volatile fuel prices and decreased economic activity, and many of these car trips were replaced by transit. In fact, ridership increased by five percent above 2007 levels.

“But in spite of the huge potential for transit to reduce oil consumption and pollution, the vast majority of transportation funding is spent on roads,” said Nost. “Instead of spending money to build new highways that only increase our dependence on oil, our leaders here in Iowa and in Congress should drive more money to transit and high-speed rail,” Nost argued.

Andrew Snow, campaign director at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, agreed. “This report demonstrates very clearly that demand for better public transit continues to grow very quickly. While our highways and interstate system are congested with traffic, rail and other transit systems will allow Iowans an efficient option to increase mobility and increase productivity for our people and businesses. I have no doubt that the unprecedented demand for travel within and without the state can and should be met with improved rail and multi-modal transportation options for our citizens. Our economy can't continue to compete without better transportation, and Iowans must be connected to the Midwest transportation network.”

In order to maximize the potential of public transportation to save energy and reduce pollution, Environment Iowa is asking local, state, and federal leaders to:

  •       Issue overarching goals for reducing oil dependence and pollution through transportation, which will guide better policy.
  •       Increase investment in cleaner public transportation, to include transit, high speed rail, and better walking and biking options.
  •       Level the playing field in terms of funding and approving transit projects, relative to road projects. Approval of transit and highway investments should be governed by an equivalent set of rules and matching ratios.
  •       Increase funding for transit maintenance and day-to-day operations, in addition to improving and expanding capacity. Federal, state and local funds should allow for greater flexibility in funding operations – new buses and trains are useless without drivers to drive them and mechanics to maintain them.

In the near term, Environment Iowa is calling on Congress to incorporate the full provisions of CLEAN TEA (the Clean, Low Emissions, Affordable New Transportation Equity Act, S. 575 ), into the climate bill being debated now in the Senate. CLEAN TEA would direct 10 percent of climate bill allowances to clean transportation efforts that will save oil and reduce emissions.

“We hope Senators Grassley and Harkin will support this forward-thinking legislation to lessen dependence on oil and cut pollution,” Nost concluded.


Environment Iowa is a state-based, citizen-funded organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization.

Strong Energy Efficiency Policies Would Save Iowa Families $282 per Year, Create 6,200 Jobs

(I would also like to see energy efficiency programs target low-income households, which spend a higher proportion of their income on utility bills. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2009

Contact: Eric Nost, Environment Iowa, 515-243-5835, enost@environmentiowa.org

New Report: Strong Energy Efficiency Policies in Energy/Climate Legislation Would Save Iowa Families $282 per Year, Create 6,200 Jobs

Des Moines, IA – A new national report finds that Iowa households would save an average of $282 per year and 6,200 sustainable jobs would be created in the state over the next ten years if Congress acts now to include strong energy efficiency improvements in energy and climate legislation. The report, entitled Energy Efficiency in the American Clean Energy Security Act of 2009: Impacts of Current Provisions and Opportunities to Enhance the Legislation, was released by Environment Iowa and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The efficiency provisions would prevent 5 million metric tons of global warming emissions from being released here in 2020 alone, the equivalent of taking over 900,000 cars off the road for a year. (The report is publicly available at http://www.environmentiowa.org)

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Grassley fundraiser w/ mortgage industry, after voting against Cramdown

“Grassley Hosting Fundraiser With Mortgage Industry Lobbyist, Months After Opposing Cramdown”



In late April, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment to the housing bill that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to provide relief for troubled homeowners by modifying mortgage payments. Among those who opposed the measure, which was known as “cramdown,” was Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

“It will cause interest rates to go up and will make it more difficult for people to get a mortgage,” the Iowa Republican said at the time.

Two months later, the people who benefited from Grassley's vote are poised to shower him with campaign donations. The senator is hosting a fundraiser on Monday evening with lobbyists and a political action committee representing, among others, key players in the mortgage and private equity industries.

The event will take place at the swank Capitol Hill restaurant, The Monocle, steps away from the U.S. Senate, and is soliciting donations of $2,500 to “host” or $1,000 for PAC or personal contributions.

The organizers of the event include Smith “Smitty” Davis, a lobbyist for the mega-firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, Pace Bradshaw of the Mortgage Bankers Association, Suzanne Hutchinson of the Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, and the political action committee for Aflac Insurance.

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Bob Krause in 2010

I recently took a break from politics after the election in November, but politics is a very addicting thing, as many of you know.

At a recent event in Des Moines I had a chance to listen to Howard Dean and meet with Senate Candidate Bob Krause, about a single payer option.

I had been in contact with Mr. Krause since 2007, online mostly, as he headed the Iowa Democratic Veterans Caucus, and was a tireless worker for veterans in Iowa. Mr. Krause really wowed me, not only by his record (which you can find here http://www.krauseforiowa.com/positions.asp) but also because he is really motivated to win this race even though it will definitely be an uphill climb.

Ever since the end of the 2008 election I had wondered about this seat. I thought I would take on a “wait and see” approach because of the rumors of Vilsack running for senate and the very daunting task of knocking off someone like Grassley, who finished something like 70% t 20% in 2004. But, Bob Krause is the real deal, he is campaigning now as if if it was October 2010, and I believe he is what we need to put up the best possible fight against Chuck Grassley.

Here is Bob's Website: http://www.krauseforiowa.com/home.asp

And his facebook Link if you wish to catch up with him through there



Thank you for your time and attention


CQ report: Patrick Grassley to follow in grandpa Chuck's footsteps in 2016?

Can we unseat Sen. Grassley in 2010? 


A Younger Grassley Already Sharing the Iowa GOP Spotlight

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Iowa Republican Charles E. Grassley is heavily favored to win a sixth Senate term when he runs in 2010. And he will not be the only member of his family seeking re-election in Iowa: Pat Grassley is going for a third term in the state House.


But unlike many political “dynasties,” the Grassley duo is not father and son. Rather it is grandfather and grandson. None of the elder Grassley's five children ever delved into politics.

“Maybe it skips a generation,” said Pat Grassley, who recently turned 26 years old.

… Article continues in the link above.


UPDATED: Grassley is talking from both sides of his mouth on health reform...

UPDATE 5/14: The Iowa Independent is reporting that Grassley will not support the public option.
Grassley closes door on supporting public health plan: By Mike Lillis, 5/14/09, 2:12 pm
Yesterday we mentioned that Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee and a fierce opponent of public health plans, had left the door open to including a public option in the sweeping health care reforms he’s currently drafting with panel Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.).

Today, Grassley all but eliminated the possibility that he would support such a plan, warning that it would be the first step toward a health care system controlled entirely by the government.

From a speech today on the Senate floor:

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Thomas Beaumont published an article in the Des Moines Register on Wed., 5/13.  The Social Security and Medicare trustees just released a report saying both programs would be bankrupt sooner than previously thought.

The title gives it away:

“Grassley: Shaky entitlement finances show risk of public health plan”

Letter-to-the-editor: letters@dmreg.com

Well, former Labor Secretary (and former Social Security/Medicare trustee) Robert Reich also has something to say on the issue, below. Reich is right, Grassley is wrong:

« Obama on Health Reform: The Dog That Didn't Bark | Robert Reich's Blog
The Truth Behind the Social Security and Medicare Alarm Bells
May 13, 2009, 8:01AM


What are we to make of yesterday's report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds that Social Security will run out of assets in 2037, four years sooner than previously forecast, and Medicare's hospital fund will be exhausted by 2017, two years earlier than predicted a year ago?

Reports of these two funds' demise are not new. Fifteen years ago, when I was a trustee of the Social Security and the Medicare trust funds (which meant, essentially, that I and a few others met periodically with the official actuary of the funds, received his report, asked a few questions, and signed some papers) both funds were supposedly in trouble. But as I learned, the timing and magnitude of the trouble depended a great deal on what assumptions the actuary used in his models. As I recall, he then assumed that the economy would grow by about 2.6 percent a year over the next seventy-five years. But go back into American history all the way to the Civil War — including the Great Depression and the severe depressions of the late 19th century — and the economy's average annual growth is closer to 3 percent. Use a 3 percent assumption and Social Security is flush for the next seventy-five years.

Yes, I know, the post-war Baby Boom is moving through the population like a pig through a python. The number of retirees eligible for benefits will almost double to 79.5 million in 2045 from 40.5 million this year. But we knew that the Boomers were coming then, too. What we didn't know then was the surge in immigration. Yet immigrants are mostly young. Rather than being a drain on Social Security when the Boomers need it, most immigrants will be contributing to the system during these years, which should take more of the pressure off.

Even if you assume Social Security is a problem, it's not a big problem. Raise the ceiling slightly on yearly wages subject to Social Security payroll taxes (now a bit over $100,000), and the problem vanishes under harsher assumptions than I'd use about the future. President Obama suggested this in the campaign and stirred up a hornet's nest because this solution apparently dips too deeply into the middle class, which made him backtrack and begin talking about raising additional Social Security payroll taxes on people earning over $250,000. Social Security would also be in safe shape if it were slightly more means tested, or if the retirement age were raised just a bit. The main point is that Social Security is a tiny problem, as these things go.

Medicare is entirely different. It's a monster. But fixing it has everything to do with slowing the rate of growth of medical costs — including, let's not forget, having a public option when it comes to choosing insurance plans under the emerging universal health insurance bill. With a public option, the government can use its bargaining power with drug companies and suppliers of medical services to reduce prices. And, as I've noted, keep pressure on private insurers to trim costs yet provide effective medical outcomes.

Don't be confused by these alarms from the Social Security and Medicare trustees. Social Security is a tiny problem. Medicare is a terrible one, but the problem is not really Medicare; it's quickly rising health-care costs. Look more closely and the real problem isn't even health-care costs; it's a system that pushes up costs by rewarding inefficiency, causing unbelievable waste, pushing over-medication, providing inadequate prevention, over-using emergency rooms because many uninsured people can't afford regular doctor checkups, and spending billions on advertising and marketing seeking to enroll healthy people and avoid sick ones.

From the Political Wire...

Exchange of the Day

At yesterday's Senate Budget Committee markup of the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution:

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND): “Oh, you are good.”

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA): “Well, your wife said the same thing.”

According to the Huffington Post, the exchange came after Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee, pressed Chairman Conrad to include an amendment of his.

Centrists cut 600,000 Jobs from Stimulus Bill and Bankrupt States While They're at It

Yesterday, I wrote about the compromise made on the Stimulus bill by Centrists in the US Senate that helped win the vote from 3 Republicans needed for the bill to pass.

John Nichols summed up the cuts that were made…

The bottom line is that, under the Senate plan:

* States will get less aid.

* Schools will get less help.

* Job creation programs will be less well funded.

* Preparations to combat potential public health disasters — which could put the final nail in the economy’s coffin — will not be made.

In every sense, the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

At a time when smart economists are saying that a bigger, bolder stimulus plan is needed, Senate Democrats and a few moderate Republicans have agreed to a smaller, weaker initiative.

Paul Krugman wrote this morning that the cuts made as part of the compromise will be cutting approximately 600,000 jobs.

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending – much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan. In particular, aid to state governments, which are in desperate straits, is both fast – because it prevents spending cuts rather than having to start up new projects – and effective, because it would in fact be spent; plus state and local governments are cutting back on essentials, so the social value of this spending would be high. But in the name of mighty centrism, $40 billion of that aid has been cut out.

My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

The cuts made by the Senate include $40 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization, $16 billion for School Construction, $7.5 billion of State Incentive Grants, and $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity.

The most troubling cut is the $40 billion in state fiscal stabilization.  Iowa is looking at a very tight budget and we are hardly in the worst shape out there compared to other states.

This report by the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities was written BEFORE the cuts were made by the Senate and says the money is the Stimulus will help, but is not enough.  Now that a chunk of that money has been cut.

The state fiscal situation is dire.  Revenues are declining, and demand and need for services such as Medicaid is rising, as people lose income and jobs.  State deficits are projected to equal $350 billion over the next 30 months.  Because nearly all states are required to balance their budgets, states have begun to cut expenditures and raise taxes – both of which create a drag on the economy and threaten to counteract part of the intended federal economic stimulus.

The Senate economic recovery package recognizes this fact and includes substantial assistance for states.  The amount of funding that would go to states to help them maintain current activities is approximately $160 billion to $165 billion – or roughly 45 percent of projected state deficits.  Most of this money is in the form of increased Medicaid funding plus most of a “Fiscal Stabilization Fund.”  This funding would likely be sufficient to deter many states from making the most severe spending cuts and to moderate state tax and fee increases.  But states would still have very large gaps to close on their own.

On Meet the Press this morning, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said that these cuts will essentially lay off police officers and firefighters because States will have to cut their State budgets.

Give Sen. Grassley a call at 202-224-3744 and tell him to support more money for States and for schools in the Stimulus bill.

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: This graph shows that many more jobs are being lost in this recession compared to other recent recessions.

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Global climate change and Iowa's severe storms/flooding

It is probably still an inconvenient or touchy time to be talking about this with all of the truly disastrous flooding coming to an end in Iowa and the cleanup just beginning.  But it has to be said: we weren’t truly prepared for this kind of disaster and we have to take steps to prevent it from happening in the future.

Brad Johnson, a research associate at the Center for American Progress and a blogger at their Wonk Room policy blog, brought my attention to a couple of his posts on the terrible flooding and storms in the Midwest this summer, particularly in Iowa.  And in those posts he makes a couple of fascinating points.

First, he notes Sen. Chuck Grassley’s hypocrisy in calling attention to the complacency over severe weather (speaking on the Senate floor about the deadly Parkersburg tornado) yet voted to filibuster the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

Second, he notes an unfortunate quote from Gov. Chet Culver about our inability to “anticipate or prepare for” these types of events.  The facts are that reports since at least 2000 have been forecasting the types of weather patterns Iowa has been experiencing over the last couple of years.  See the link above for more information at Johnson’s post.

It seems clear that leadership on both sides of the political spectrum in Iowa have failed us.  They are not considering the big picture when it comes to environmental concerns in the state of Iowa.  And statewide environmental groups aren’t putting the pressure on local and state officials to keep them accountable either.

We need better and bolder leadership on the broad issues of global climate change and environmental issues in Iowa.  Whether or not you want to attribute the cause of these terrible weather patterns to global climate change, call them a natural aberration, or simply just call them normal, our leaders should be considering some important things when moving forward with reconstruction.  Bill Becker at Climate Progress offers more details, but here is his list which he deems lessons from an angry planet:

  1. We need to put unprecedented pressure on our national leaders to get serious about mitigation and adaptation.
  2. It’s past time to rethink national flood control and water management strategy.
  3. When we repair and rebuild disaster-damaged buildings and infrastructure, we should do so with cutting-edge mitigation and adaptation in mind.

Groups like the Iowa Global Warming Campaign, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Iowa Environmental Council, and any other group committed to protecting and defending Iowa’s environment should be tackling issues like this.  Granted, there are concerns about hog lots, Iowa’s waterways, and coal power plants to be concerned about as well.  Heck, even 1000 Friends of Iowa should be concerned about future development that not only is environmentally-friendly but that protects families and businesses on or near flood plains.

The state needs leadership on these pressing issues.  We call events like these “100 year floods” and “500 year floods” for a reason.  The frequency with which they occur is not what is implied, but the the likelihood that they will.  In just a 15 year period of time, we’ve experienced drastic periods of extreme drought and extreme precipitation.  You can even go back to periods in the 1980s (particularly around 1984) and see the same type of patterns, but with less severity.  We are certainly experiencing more severity with more frequency.  This is a result of global climate change.  We aren’t taking the threats seriously and we aren’t preparing ourselves for the future–either by accommodating the tragic effects that are likely or by acting to stop these events from happening in the first place.

The big debate in Iowa that is now emerging as the flood waters head downstream and leave the state is how to pay for all of the destruction and prepare for the reconstruction.  Some want to use the state’s rainy-day fund and others are looking at incurring state debt as an option.  In the end, the debate will be politically charged about fiscal issues and not the bigger picture.  Democrats and Progressives in Iowa have to think big picture or our meager political gains (and the state itself) will be washed away, no pun intended.

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Grassley Votes Against Habeas Corpus, Against Freedom

Habeas Corpus, written in 1670, is called the Great Writ. Supreme Court Cases have…

“recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.'

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary passed the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act out of committee by a vote of 11-8. All Democrats voted for it, plus Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). The rest of the Republicans voted against it, including Iowa's Charles Grassley. Maybe Grassley is against individual freedom or maybe he is in favor of lawless state action.

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Summary of a Grassley Town Hall Meeting

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”!