Tag Archives: Congress

Rod Blum Speaks, Sort Of

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been unrelenting in my correspondence with Rod Blum, who happens to be my representative for the 1st District of Iowa in the U.S. House of Representative.  Over the same period of time I have been critical of Rod Blum, in general, due to his relative lack of transparency with voters and his imperial attitude when it came to his own ethical standards.  Granted, when you are living in the world of Trump nothing is beyond the pale.

Well, Rod Blum finally got back to me in writing and it was not a formulaic email thanking me for my interest in whatever topic.  It is as underwhelming as you would imagine:

Thank you for contacting me directly and sharing your concerns regarding the impeachment of President Trump.  It is an honor to serve you in Congress and I appreciate your input on topics such as this.  [NOTE: I did not call for the impeachment of President Trump.  I called for investigations into President Trump’s potentially illegal activity.]

I take any allegations of unethical or illegal activity by public officials very seriously.  Similarly, as a staunch defender of your Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, I believe strongly in the unalienable right to due process.  Our President deserves the same Constitutional rights as every other Americans, and it is unacceptable to deny such rights.  [NOTE: No one is asking to deny the President of the United States his right to due process.  We are asking that Congress do its job and investigate.]

If credible evidence is presented that the President was involved in criminal behavior related to his time in office, I will join my colleagues in denouncing that action and calling for the appropriate proceedings.  My commitment to ethical behavior does not exempt the oval office [sic]

At this point, President Trump has not been even accused of charges by our completely independent judicial branch and I decline to participate in speculation.  I have full faith and confidence in the legal process of this country and I am grateful for the department’s work.  [NOTE: The Judicial Branch is not the same as the Department of Justice, which would be tasked with investigating a crime.  The Department of Justice is headed by someone appointed by the President, thus it is of questionable independence.]

The White House and witnesses have cooperated with the Special Counsel and have turned over more than one million pages of documents.  I am confident that they will continue to cooperate.  [NOTE: There is much more to the potential illegal activity that occurs under the aegis of President Trump than the allegations of collusion with Russia.  My concern runs to a whole host of issues besides potential collusion.]

Thank you again for taking your time to share your opinion on this matter.

Complete and utter garbage.  Rod Blum, or some staffer, regurgitated Fox News approved word salad that in some cases does not even make sense.  This is what you get when your member of Congress is more concerned with pandering to Trump supporters than actually doing his job.

I would ask Rod Blum, who is supposed to do the investigative work to determine if President Trump or anyone in his administration has acted illegally?  During President Obama’s time in office Congress took glee in bringing officials before its committees to “investigate” even the slightest whiff of malfeasance.  Never mind that most charges were little more than Alex Jones approved conspiracy theories fanned by the bloviating of Sean Hannity.

Rod Blum and the rest of the Republican party in control of Congress has abdicated their duty to act as a check and balance on the power of the executive.  It is their marching orders to ignore any damage done to the fabric of this country as long as the judiciary is packed with judges that hew to their partisan line and tax cuts keep going to the wealthy.

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Two Approaches to the Environment on the Ballot this Midterm Election

In November we will be given a choice to change the direction of the United States politically.  As is the case every two years the entirety of the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election.  Many of the House districts in the United States are drawn in such a way that partisan incumbents face little challenge to their reelection bids.

In Iowa, however, relatively fairly drawn House districts mean that we have an actually competitive race between incumbent Rod Blum, no friend of this blog, and Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer.

As an environmentalist I think comparing the candidates’ views on climate change to be instructive as it serves as a point of departure from the Trump wing of America and the rest of the country.

Rod Blum is a climate change denier.  As a member of the arch-conservative and downright wacky House Freedom Caucus Blum has not met an environmental rule or agreement that he did not want to gut like a catfish.  In 2014 he went on the record as a skeptic of climate change.  He supported Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  While in office he has continued to financially benefit from oil and gas stocks while moving to open up public lands to more oil and gas drilling.

The League of Conservation voters nailed it by giving Rod Blum a 2% lifetime score when it comes to national environmental issues.  Honestly, I am quite surprised he managed to drum up 2% given his voting record.  He’s basically Scott Pruitt, but from Dubuque, Iowa.

Contrast that with Abby Finkenauer, who has an entire section of her campaign website dedicated to the environment and clean energy.  Entitled “Growing our Clean Energy Economy and Protecting our Environment” it states that:

I’ll play a similar watchdog role in Congress, and will just as firmly stand up to attempts to weaken key programs and measures that fight climate change, grow our clean energy economy, and protect our environment. Ultimately it’s time we had a representative who fights for Iowa families – ensuring they can live in healthy environments supported by good jobs – rather than standing with corporate polluters and those opposed to science.

A-freaking-men!

I believe that the choice of what is right for Iowa’s 1st district and, thus, the United States is to vote for Abby Finkenauer this November.  It’s just the planet that is counting on you.

What Does Rob Blum Have to Say for Himself?

Iowa’s incumbent 1st District Congressman Rod Blum does not want to answer for his record or, rather, his lack of a record on any issues of substance during his two terms in Congress.

As a member of the arch conservative House Freedom Caucus, Blum has been a rubber stamp for some of the worst impulses of the modern right wing in America.

Tax cuts that bankrupt the Treasury, but enrich the wealthiest Americans?  Check.

Attempting to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act without offering anything in the way of a replacement that would protect average Americans?  Check.

Allowing corruption to run rampant through his own caucus with nary a word of protest?  Check.

Providing no oversight or investigations into the corrupt and unethical Trump administration because a notionally Republican president is a good thing for their own agenda?  Check.

Well, what do you expect from a member of Congress embroiled in his own ethical scandal who trots out the well-worn Trump line that any investigation into a Republican is a “witch hunt?”

Furthermore, Rod Blum will not answer to his own constituents about these and many more issues.  In the past two weeks I have contacted his office on ten separate occasions regarding questions of revocation of U.S. citizens passports, general corruption in the Trump administration, breaches of security protocols at all levels of government, and unethical behavior on the part of the president without a single response beyond a form email acknowledging my contact.

It is time for Rod Blum to do something for the people of Iowa and walk away.  I am sure that the money he secured for himself by cutting his own tax bill will provide enough succor on those cold winter nights in Dubuque.

Why No Hearings or Investigations Congressman Blum?

In 2016 Rod Blum was very concerned about the state of security around Hilary Clinton’s emails.  During a hearing, in which the technical expertise of Clinton was roundly mocked, Blum noted, “This would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.”

I am very happy to see that Rod Blum is concerned about the serious nature of security lapses in a presidential administration.  Surely, he has called for hearings or investigations into similar lapses by the Trump administration?

The sound you hear is crickets coming from the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives.  For all of the fire and fury around emails when Barack Obama there has been no outcry over the many security lapses of the Trump administration.

Starting this week I have sent an email per day on the subject of the lack of investigations and/or hearings into the many issues surrounding the current presidential administration.  At the end of this post you can see the sample text that I have been sending.

Here is what Rod Blum’s office sent in reply to pointed questions about hearings or investigations of security lapses under the Trump administration:

“…”

That is right.  I have heard nothing in response to many inquiries.  Why?  Republicans in Congress do not give a shit about what Trump does as long as he keeps delivering on their corrupt agenda.

The general thrust is that Republicans could give a shit what Trump does as long as he cuts taxes, installs compliant activist judges, and generally does the bidding of the kleptocrat class without making them look too bad.  He has succeeded on the first two, but Trump is a miserable freaking failure when it comes to not being an embarrassment.

Republicans in Congress have the power to convene hearings and conduct investigations into the corrupt practices of the Trump administration.  You can rest assured that as long as Republicans control Congress that this power will be kept under lock and key.

What say you Rod Blum?

115th Congress is Complicit in Trump’s Rampant Corruption

There is a spreadsheet circulating among Republicans and, thanks to some investigative reporting and the internet, it is circulating freely among us.  The gist is that this spreadsheet details the list, which is growing daily, of matters that will be investigated under a House of Representatives led by Democrats.

The list includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • President Trump’s tax returns
  • Trump family businesses — and whether they comply with the Constitution’s emoluments clause, including the Chinese trademark grant to the Trump Organization
  • Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the president’s preparation for his meeting with Vladimir Putin
  • The payment to Stephanie Clifford — a.k.a. Stormy Daniels
  • James Comey’s firing
  • Trump’s firing of U.S. attorneys
  • Trump’s proposed transgender ban for the military
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s business dealings
  • White House staff’s personal email use
  • Cabinet secretary travel, office expenses, and other misused perks
  • Discussion of classified information at Mar-a-Lago
  • Jared Kushner’s ethics law compliance
  • Dismissal of members of the EPA board of scientific counselors
  • The travel ban
  • Family separation policy
  • Hurricane response in Puerto Rico
  • Election security and hacking attempts
  • White House security clearances

Wow.

But what about Hilary’s emails?  Do you see the ninth item on the list above?  Trump’s administration is doing the same damn thing, but I do not see Trey Gowdy getting his Skeletor undies in a bunch over the issue.

Remember, the midterm election is 69 days away from today.  If your Representative or Senator is a Republican who has not called for an investigation or, at the very least, hearings on all of these issues there needs to be a reckoning.  Call and email them frequently to get them on the record as to where they stand in opposing the rampant corruption of the Trump administration.

If they demure, remind them of the time spent on Clinton’s email “scandal” and the events that occurred in Benghazi.  Remind them that Clinton spent hours, under oath, in hearings.  Ask for the same treatment of Trump’s administration.  It’s only fair.

If not, remind them and everyone you meet that the midterm election is a referendum not just on Donald Trump but it is a referendum of the complicit nature of the 115th United States Congress.

I cannot wait to see what Rod Blum’s office says in response.

Friday Linkage 8/3/2018

Election Day is 95 days away.  On November 6, 2018 the people of the United States have the best chance to show the world that Donald Trump and his coterie of right wing, e.g. Republican, enablers do not represent America.

Here in the 1st district of Iowa we have a chance to eliminate the stain of representation that is Rod Blum, a parody of late stage capitalist politician if ever there was one.  He has the benefit of being from the same state as Steve King so no one ever calls him the worst politician from the state of Iowa.

On to the links…

Friendly Policies Keep US Oil and Coal Afloat Far More than We Thought—This is where the fight needs to be in the near future.  Eliminate all subsidies for energy sources that contribute to climate change.  Seriously, do we need to spend public money to subsidize energy companies that have made more money than any other type of company in the history of mankind?

Congress Tries, Fails, to Destroy ANOTHER National Monument—Remember, this is a Congress led by Republicans in both chambers and they still cannot get anything done.  Government is not inherently incompetent, it is just incompetent when run by right wingers.

Dozens Of Lion Trophy Permits Issued To Hunters As Trump Rolls Back Import Hurdles—Donny Two Scoops is really looking out for the interests of the American people with this one.  How soon before Don Jr. or the goblin shark Eric come back from Africa with a mounted lion?

The EPA Just Undid Scott Pruitt’s Final Act in Office—This is why the election in November is so important.  Without a compliant Congress, any changes made by the corrupt Trump administration will be swept away with a change in the Oval Office.

Andrew Wheeler is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.—The Trump administration is itching to fight over anything that even hints at the previous administration.  They should be careful about what they wish for when it comes to legal cases.

Coal Mining Has Destroyed 1.5 Million Acres of Appalachian Forest—Imagine if someone came up with a plan to restore these 1.5 million acres to something resembling a forest?  Imagine hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into a region for the largest environmental restoration project in the history of mankind?  I can imagine it being possible, can you?

From Coal Mines To Solar Farms: It’s Complicated, But Doable—The landscapes of coal country have been scarred by an extractive industry, see above, that has no interest in the long term viability of the communities or the health of the people left behind.

US Wind Installations To Surge Before PTC Phase-Out In 2021—We can all hope that by 2020 or so there is a more visionary government installed in the U.S. that extends these tax credits to continue one of the few positive developments in our energy infrastructure.

The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery—The era of “big” public works seems to be over, but what if we could use all of that infrastructure to help the transition to a 100% renewable economy?

‘Peak Coal’ is Getting Closer, Latest Figures Show—This is why the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and demand destruction are so important.  Coal is teetering on the edge of economic relevance and we can topple the beast with a concerted effort.

Energy Dept. Coal and Nuclear Subsidy could Cost Average US Household $160 to $500 Per Year—As coal and nuclear are no longer competitive in the electricity generation marketplace it is now the responsibility of the American people to ensure that these companies make money.  Why?  Because they donate a lot of money to people like Donald Trump.  This is not about national security, it is about keeping coal companies humming along.

UPS Partners with L.A.-Based Startup Thor on Electric Delivery Truck—Electrification of the heavy and medium duty truck market would be a more cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trying to goose adoption through personal automobile electrification.  These commercial vehicles are driven a lot more, bought in large quantities by a single user, and can make an economic case better than personal automobiles.

Have We Reached Peak Storage?—I truly hope we have reached a point where we no longer need to build storage units external to our home to store stuff that we use so infrequently that it can be stored at a remote location.

Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes—What the shit?  Is this when you know a trend has really “jumped the shark?”  I thought the idea behind this was to buy less stuff?  We’re all just pimps for something.

Why Your Kid Needs Time Just to Be—As parents we are a seriously neurotic bunch worrying about our kids future.  Maybe, just maybe, the key to raising a happy child is to let them be a kid once in a while.  Or, letting them just be a kid a whole lot.

Is Rod Blum America’s Most Useless Congressman?

Some people would write the headline “Is Rod Blum America’s Worst Congressman?”  However, that is not possible because he cannot even be the worst Congressman from Iowa.  Steve King takes that title every day running away.

Rod Blum is fairly useless.  Take this mailer that I get for some inexplicable reason:

IMG_1486

As a registered Democrat who participates in most primary elections I would have thought my name was crossed off of any mailing list promoting Rod Blum’s “accomplishments.”  Alas, that is not the case.

Rod Blum is “draining the swamp?”  Did Rob Blum call for the resignation of a single member of Trump’s cabinet who has been shown to have misspent the public’s money and abused our public trust?  Nope.  Did Rod Blum ever once call for Scott Pruitt, the single most corrupt member of a cabinet in a hundred years, to resign?  Nope.  Everything on the list above is a load of crap.

My favorite is “End the use of taxpayer funded ‘slush-fund’ that was being used to settle accusations of misconduct by Members of Congress.”  You mean like former Representative Blake Farenthold?  The same Blake Farenthold who eventually resigned from Congress and promised to return the $84,000 payment made to settle a sexual harassment complaint?  The same Blake Farenthold who, after leaving Congress, finally admitted he has no intention actually repaying that money?  If Rod Blum cannot keep a member of his own political party in line how is he ever going to “drain the swamp?”

Here’s the thing: Rod Blum is a swamp creature himself.  He “failed to disclose” his position or financial interest with an internet company, Tin Moon Corp, that promised, among other things, to ensure negative search results for things like FDA warning letters were buried below more positive search results.  Disregarding the weak excuse of “failing to disclose” his interest, Tin Moon Corp is literally offering to manipulate search results to bury health and safety information.  I know that companies are engaged in this practice all the time, but not with a sitting member of Congress as a board member.  Drain the swamp, huh?

Remember, Rod Blum is the same man who could not handle being asked questions about holding an actual town hall meeting, threw a hissy fit, and stormed out of an interview.  Thankfully, the internet remembers everything for posterity’s sake.

Apparently the House of Representatives has passed 973 bills this session.  Now, the caveat is that a lot of those will not become law because it requires passage by the Senate, a conference committee if there are differences in the bills, and eventual signature by the head cheese puff.  So, Rod Blum is taking credit for passing bills that will probably not become law.  Does he also take credit for repealing the Affordable Care Act multiple times?  The House of Representatives loved to pass repeal bills all the time to burnish their right wing bona fides.

Hey, what about that “historic tax cut” that Congress passed:

IMG_1487

Yeah, how is that playing out back home in the district?  Never mind that certified rich person and corrupt member of Congress Rod Blum probably made out like a bandit.  You might get an extra $1.50 in your paycheck. 

Rod Blum is the perfect illustration of what is wrong with the government as run by Republicans.  There are little if any accomplishments, save for tax cuts, because there is no ideology beyond making sure that rich donors pay less in taxes.  Everything else is a battle royale between special interests and the Republicans love them some special interests.

This mailer is a piece of propaganda meant to gin up a declining base in a competitive district this fall.  He needs every Trump supporter to pull the lever for Rod Blum because that is his only hope of winning.

Rod Blum is useless as a representative for the 1st district of Iowa.  He knows it and I am guessing that a majority of the electorate in the district knows it.  In November Rod Blum needs to go.