Tag Archives: Chuck Grassley

Friday Linkage 10/5/2018

A little light on the links this first week of October.  I think almost everyone has been glued to the circus that is the Trump administration.

On to the links…

Chuck Grassley Plans to Take Trump’s Federal Farm Bailout Cash, Calls it ‘Equal Treatment’—Nothing says fiscal responsibility like making sure you get your bailout cash from an unnecessary trade spat.  Where was Chuck Grassley when homeowners were taken advantage of by mortgage lenders in the mid-2000s?  Where was Chuck Grassley when people lost their homes to illegal foreclosures?  People in Iowa would elect the corpse of Chuck Grassley.

Trump’s Plan to Scrap Mercury Regulations Won’t Save Coal But It Will Cost Lives—This is America under Trump.  It is a hellscape of increased deadly emissions from ageing power plants propped up by government largesse to line the pockets of a few coal barons.

Trump Administration, EPA say Radiation is Good for You—It is getting downright Orwellian.

U.S. Power Producers’ Coal Consumption Falls to 35-year Low—Every new solar photovoltaic array and wind turbine that I see is another shovel of dirt on the grave of coal.  If we can weather the interminable Trump storm of the next couple of years we can truly put the United States on a clean power path.

Germany’s Coal Habit Proves Hard to Kick—Germany wanted to transition away from coal and to renewables.  The problem with this plan was that Germany also wanted to eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy as well.

Banks turn their Back on Coal amid Emissions Concerns—Modern commerce runs on credit.  If banks are unwilling to lend most schemes are incapable of operating at any scale.  This is bad for coal and good for the planet.

China to Add 259 GW of Coal Capacity, Satellite Imagery Shows—This is bad.

Our Fertilizer Is Killing Us. Here’s A Fix.—Synthetic fertilizer has allowed for billions of people to escape famine.  It is also one of the drivers of bad global impacts like dead zones.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast Food on a Typical Day, and We Eat it All Day Long—Is our fast food consumption a cause of our modern problems or is it a symptom?  Do we eat fast food because our modern lives do not allow enough time or flexibility to eat actual food?  Or, do we eat fast food because it taps into some primordial desire for salt, sugar, and fat?  Either way, it is bad for us all.

14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat—I believe that in order to get our planet right, we need to first get our households right.  The first step to get our households right is to fix our kitchens.  Victory is in the kitchen.

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Is it Time for “No Show” Town Halls?

Given that members of Congress, usually Republicans who do not want to answer questions about a far right agenda that does not mesh well with actual human beings back home, are reticent to schedule town halls for fear that they will look like schmucks maybe it is time for constituents to schedule their own town halls.

A group of progressives in Fort Collins has scheduled a town hall to talk about Senator Cory Gardner.  The organizers invited Gardner and members of his staff to attend, but they do not expect any official attendance.

We should do the same thing in Iowa.  Here in Iowa’s first district Representative Rod Blum has only scheduled some office hours in small towns and avoiding the larger, albeit more liberal, large cities of Cedar Rapids or Waterloo.

Senator Chuck Grassley is little better.  After spending a career making a big deal of visiting all 99 Iowa counties in the so-called “full Grassley” he seems to be going out of his way to avoid constituents in his most recent town halls.  Look at the list of towns: Hampton, Iowa Falls, Garner, Charles City, and Parkersburg.  Really going out of your way to meet the people, eh Chuck?

Are members of Congress so embarrassed by their own legislative agenda and the behavior of the Trump administration that they are unwilling to meet with constituents?  Looks like that is the case.

Shame on You Governor Branstad

In the state of Iowa we are “blessed” with some real quality politicians.  There is ol’ Chuck Grassley of the U.S. Senate trotting out tired rhetoric and, in general, trying to be as incoherent as possible.  Representative Steve King deserves his own diorama in the Wingnut Hall of Fame.  His latest diatribe about illegal immigrants primarily being marijuana mules is a loving tribute to his insanity.

However, my “favorite” politician in the state has to be Governor Terry Branstad.  After leaving office in 1999 after 16 years of service he returned like a villain in a bad movie to resume being the governor of the state in 2011 following the “Tea Party revolution” in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Essentially, the man is a shill for big industry and big agriculture.  If you are a large business interest than Governor Branstad has some tax incentives for you.  If you are large agribusiness and do not want people to expose the conditions in your facilities than Governor Branstad would be happy to shepherd am ag-gag bill through to his signature.

Lately, it’s gotten even more transparent about how in bed with big agriculture’s interests that the governor has become.  At issue is the enforcement of the Clean Water Act by state officials or, rather, the lack of enforcement of the Clean Water Act by state officials.  Branstad, along with Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, have bypassed the regional EPA office in Kansas City that had been negotiating with state officials in order to make an appeal directly to the top officials in Washington according to documents obtained by the Associated Press.

In essence, the governor and his supporters would like the EPA to continue to ignore the impaired nature of Iowa’s waterways so that industrial scale agriculture operations can continue to pollute with impunity.  There is some Orwellian marketing copy about the governor “ensuring the quality of Iowa’s waterways” and “ensuring that the EPA does not overreach the scope of its authority” but this is purely a rhetorical smokescreen.  It translates to “let the fox guard the hen house” for a few more years.

How bad is the situation in Iowa? In 2012 the EPA said that Iowa had almost 500 impaired waterways.  According to some estimates, there are over 20 million hogs, primarily housed in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), throughout the state producing a mind boggling amount of waste that has to be dealt with.  But dealing with that waste is expensive and big ag wants the status quo to continue.  So, in rides Governor Branstad to the rescue on the side of industry over the people of the state.

Don’t believe that this guy is in the pocket of agri-business?  Remember “pink slime?”  Well, it was produced by a company, Beef Products Inc, owned by Eldon and Regina Roth of Sioux City, Iowa.  The Roths personally contributed $152,000 to Governor Branstad’s election coffers making them the third largest donor overall and the second largest individual.  What was the Governor’s response to the entire debacle surrounding pink slime?  He went to the mattresses for pink slime.  He went so far as to don a t-shirt proclaiming “Dude, it’s beef.”  If you say so Gov.

Wonder why he is so vociferous in his defense of agri-business to continue polluting our waterways?  Look at some of his biggest contributors.  Debra Hansen of Iowa Select Farms gave $52,000.  Iowa Select Farms is a CAFO operator.  You can peruse the entire list of agricultural industry contributors at Follow the Money.

To paraphrase a memorable line from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, there is shit in the water.

I urge EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and her department to cease allowing the Branstad administration to delay implementing enforcement of the Clean Water Act in the state of Iowa.  Our waterways have become too degraded by the practices of industrial agriculture to allow for current practices to continue.