Republicans lost no time in blaming Muslims for the massacre in Orlando last weekend. As the investigation unfolds it becomes more and more clear that the perpetrator was a lone wolf who was really screwed up. Apparently he was really screwed up about his sexuality. His targeting of gays seems to be quite premeditated.
This aspect of the crime is all but ignored by Republicans. The last thing they want to do is to say anything that would promote sympathy for one of their perpetual punching bags.
What they do want to do is to once again is to ignore any evidence and catapult the propaganda that once more we must be in fear and we must turn to the Daddy party for safety. The bogey man du jour is Muslims. In the past it has been Communists, blacks, Latinos or any one of a number of “other” humans. Those folks are still pulled out of the trunk now and then and shaken to remind us to be scared of them, but today we must fear Muslims.
So while the real target was the LGTB community, Republicans once again tilt at the windmill marked “Muslim.”
Not only do they tilt at that windmill, but they insist that we all must talk about their windmill in only a certain way. They insist that their windmill be called “radical Islam” and nothing less. Republicans lecture others on political correctness, that speaking of people and things in a respectful way is somehow evil. Yet within their ranks they practice their own version politically correct speech. In their version anyone or anything marked as an enemy must only be spoken of in a denigrating way. To not do so illustrates your unfitness for office.
So if say a president does not refer to Muslims as “radical Islamists” then that is proof that he is in sympathy with the enemy and must resign. In a similar strain, blacks are referred to as “thugs”; latinos as “drug smugglers or criminals”; anyone who wants strong government as a “communist” or “socialist”; union members are likened to thieves and government workers are portrayed as lazy and worthless. But guns are never bad or a tool of death. Nope guns are good and the more the better.
Republicans want the media and their opponents to only discuss issues using their terms. In other words they want issues spoken of in their politically correct language. Their words are loaded with images they conjure up – my favorite is that Reaganesque term “welfare queen.” The only way we can have substantive discussions is to use words of respect that are not loaded with hate. We can’t make good decisions if our thought process is clouded.
And of course Iowa’s politicians are always ready to join the parade. Here’s Terry Branstad: “My heart goes out to the people that were killed and their families, and I think it underscores why we need to be vigilant, and we need new leadership that’s going to take this threat from Islamic terrorism seriously,”
Steve King once again shows his shallow understanding of any problem that all our ills are caused by terrorists that we don’t talk about in the Republican way:
“King also said that “political correctness” was keeping the United States from responding to and preventing terrorist attacks, a view shared by Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).”
A simple google search gives us Mother Jones’ continuing investigation of mass shootings in the US 1993 to 2016. This table shows that most of the mass murders in the US were perpetrated by whites (see pivot table 1 on MJ link). “Islamic Terrorist” doesn’t as yet rate a category.
What we do see in this table is guns, guns, guns. At a glance that is at the core of every mass murder listed. Potential mental illness rates second place. The guns – even weapons of war – are easily obtained in this country thanks in great degree to a lobbying group named the NRA and spineless congress critters like Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.
Republicans once again take a serious situation and twist the data to fit their narrative rather than investigate to find the real sources of the problems. If this sounds familiar, let me remind you that 15 years ago airplanes were hijacked and flown into buildings in New York City. Then the Republican administration began the task of fitting an attack by religious extremists from Saudi Arabia to their desire to invade Iraq and steal Iraq’s oil.
Based on statements by various Republican officeholders and candidates we know there is a strong desire to once more have the US get deeply militarily involved in the Middle East. Once again they will need to create a reason for military action. Getting the public to go along with such an adventure again after the last disaster will take a lot of PC – propaganda channeling.
Over this past week we have seen Chuck Grassley turn into a sniveling fool trying to figure out how to play the game with loose canon Donald Trump heading things up. With Don the Con making flat out racist remarks about a Latino jurist and then doubling down on them lesser Republicans went jumping for hiding places. With none to be found they tried to walk the tightrope of not condoning Trump’s remarks, because that would piss off most sensible Americans while not condemning them and having that condemnation result in their being kicked off Team Republican.
Like most other Republicans, Grassley walked the tightrope and failed miserably. In trying to avoid a trap, Grassley ended up insulting Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomoyor.
Even The Des Moines Register said “invertebrates have more spine than Grassley.”
With that as background, we can imagine what may come to pass this fall when Democrats have a female at the head of their ticket nationally and a female in the top race in Iowa. You can bet your boots that at some point Don the Con will explode and make some incredibly misogynist statement concerning Hillary or women. Trump won’t understand why what he said was offensive and double down. He did so several times in the primary. Why should anything change?
This will leave Republicans in the same dumbstruck pose they found themselves in this past week trying to avoid the slime on one hand and avoiding the wrath of the base on the other. Democrats have three great women candidatesin national races this fall with Patty Judge for senate, Kim weaver in the 4th CD and Monica Vernon in the 1st CD.
Grassley hasn’t been real sharp in unrehearsed moments recently, so his staff may want to prep him for that inevitable Trump misogynist gaffe that will be coming.
In another note just to add to Grassley’s continuing legacy of obstruction he voted with all other Republicans to roll back the new fiduciary rules that were proposed by the department of Labor. You may remember this rule was needed to force financial advisors to act in the best interest of their clients. Very bad vote, Mr. Grassley.
Too hot to work too hard today:
– Congratulations to Patty Judge on her nomination to defeat Chuck Grassley this fall. Judge has always outperformed expectations. Let’s hope she can do it one more time. Grassley, you have obstructed your last Judge!
– Note to Robb Hogg. Congratulations on running a great race. Now that you have time to think a little, think about a job opening coming up in Des Moines in 2018. The current occupant of Terrace Hill has been there way too long. If it is not Branstad, then Reynolds is way too right wing for Iowa.
– Paul Ryan called Donald Trump on his (Trump’s) racist remark concerning the judge in the Trump University case. Ryan then said he would vote for Trump. Does Paul Ryan have a clue what that last statement meant? After a while one begins to wonder if the Republican Party has a full deck among the lot of them.
– Trump’s remarks have Republican office holders at all levels seemingly playing a game of dodge ball trying not to get hit with the slime of Trump statements while trying to look like a party loyalist. For the most part the Republican office holders just can’t seem to say “I quit you, Donald.” Thus they have become oddly pathetic creatures that can’t seem to stand up and are afraid to say anything. Certainly not worth a vote.
– Tuesday night we watched Clinton’s speech. She hit all the right notes. For me, suddenly I got it. I thought about my daughters and how great it must be for them to see a woman, just like them, to be preparing to run for the presidency. And a tear crept out of my eyes. This is huge.
– America deserves a presidential campaign that lives up to the historic occasion. Unfortunately on one side we will have a candidate with the mentality of a 5th grade boy who wants lots of attention.
– Now that Trump woke the press up by nastily insulting them directly to their faces at his so-called press conference, one has to wonder if if he (Trump) still feels that “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” It’s, like, incredible.”
– Last week Physicist Stephen Hawking got oodles of press when he answered a question on how to explain Donald Trump , he said ” “I can’t. He is a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” What was little reported was the remainder of the comment where Hawking said, “A more immediate danger is runaway climate change,”
– BTW – do you remember in 2008 when Republicans reported that Britain’s National Health System would abandon people with illnesses like Dr. Hawking?
– As we sit here sweltering in yet another record or near record heat, don’t forget that one transcendent issue must be climate change. The earth won’t go way if we don’t address it, just most of the inhabitants.
– What is the word that Republicans will be using when they are jumping the sinking ship named Trump? De-endorse? Unendorse? Disendorse? Never heard of the guy?
– Don’t forget that all that billionaire money – especially the Koch brothers money – will probably not be going to Trump. Therefore it will most likely be showing up in state and congressional races. Expect some to show up in all of Iowa’s congressional races, the senate race and certain state races. Mike Gronstal is one of the major targets so I think we could expect Koch money over there.
Donald Trump and Chuck Grassley have at least one thing in common – they hate judges. Grassley hates judges that are nominated to fill vacancies by persons who are not Republican.
Trump hates judges for many reasons, many not good reasons. Trump’s tirade the other day claiming a judge hated him because of what he (Trump) has said during the campaign. Based on that criteria there is a very narrow set of people who could be nominated by Trump. Take away women, hispanics, people of color, liberals, college graduates and the poor.
Chuck Grassley for his part says Obama just doesn’t nominate the right kind of people. Grassley is not just blocking Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court, but pretty much every nominee Obama has put forth since Republicans took over the senate in 2015.
Both men have considerable experience in judging judges. Grassley once upon a time (this is not a fairy tale folks) would vote IN FAVOR of judicial nominees. So there is something he does like in justices sometimes.
Trump for his part has been involved 3500 lawsuits or about as many as Iowa has in a decade. A person sees a lot of judging with action like that. One can form opinions on what makes the best judges when your suing at the rate of a hundred or so a year. So we must think Trump’s remarks are based on a life of study of the judiciary as a client not the intemperate rant of someone caught in an uncomfortable situation where his attempt to sell a bad product is revealed.
Maybe they should get together for a “Don and Chuck: Courts ‘r’ Us Campaign.” Truth be told, Grassley and Trump probably have much they agree on. But if they don’t we may only have this last dance to remember them by:
If both lose this fall, maybe Chuck can pick up a “Trump Steaks” franchise and maybe Don the Con can learn some grass cutting tips from Grassley and start a lawn care business.
One of the bad things about email is that it has become a huge money solicitation vehicle. However, every now and then in those solicitations are little nuggets of information that can pique an interest that can lead a person to explore an issue that was perhaps the furthest thing from your mind a few seconds before.
In this instance it was a solicitation from NARAL. If you are unfamiliar with NARAL (National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws) they are one of the oldest pro-choice groups in the country. The email was to point out Chuck Grassley shifting his excuses for refusing a hearing for Merrick Garland from their previous “we don’t have to so we won’t” to a new excuse of “he could be a liberal and might not overturn Roe v. Wade so we won’t even give him a hearing.”
Pique of interest – Grassley dragging out abortion to cover his ass on the SCOTUS refusal. Apparently holding his breath and throwing a tantrum like a 2 year old ain’t selling anymore. But anti-abortion is always a bogeyman that sells for Republicans. So it looks like Chuck has reached into the old Republican bag-o-fear and pulled out the abortion fear to shake around.
The email cited a story from a WHO-TV that included this piece:
“I believe it is vitally important that we don’t have another liberal Supreme Court Justice whose world view is that the Constitution is a living, breathing document,” Grassley said. “I can’t overstate what is at stake here. We know if another liberal is nominated to the Court that even the reasonable restrictions on abortion, that have been enacted into law through the Democratic process … these would be swept away. You heard that in the quotation from candidate [Hillary] Clinton. You all remember that a few years ago, the Court upheld the ban on partial-birth abortion by a 5 to 4 vote. Amazingly, four justices would’ve made partial birth abortion a constitutional right. So, you can multiply or add or subtract, we’re just one justice away from that being the case.”
“Partial birth abortion” even. One of the big hitters in the fear bag. Grassley must be in real trouble.
Oddly that very night, we watched our recording of “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.” Sam was doing a story on how abortion became the rights issue of perpetual importance. Something that has always eluded me. My recollection is that when Roe v. Wade was announced it was not a huge issue. Wasn’t a huge issue for quite a while except among Catholics. Catholics had always been anti-abortion and anti-birth control as well. But it seems that abortion as an issue for other religions and for the political right came quite a bit later.
And Sam Bee answered my curiosity with this little piece. Karmic, I would say. (about 7 minutes)
A politico.com article by Randall Palmer two years ago traces the beginnings of abortion as a major issue for the right. Not too surprising to find that abortion as an issue is an offshoot of racial issues in this country. In particular, IRS action against private segregated schools.
This is a fascinating read of how the masses can be manipulated. One of the most damaging but least known of right wing operatives, Paul Weyrich, is at the core of this one. Weyrich is also known for his push to suppress voters:
“Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement, which is why, several years into President Jimmy Carter’s term, he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon, and Bob Jones University had lost its tax exemption a year and a day before Carter was inaugurated as president. Falwell, Weyrich and others were undeterred by the niceties of facts. In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.
But Falwell and Weyrich, having tapped into the ire of evangelical leaders, were also savvy enough to recognize that organizing grassroots evangelicals to defend racial discrimination would be a challenge. It had worked to rally the leaders, but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale.
By the late 1970s, many Americans—not just Roman Catholics—were beginning to feel uneasy about the spike in legal abortions following the 1973 Roe decision. The 1978 Senate races demonstrated to Weyrich and others that abortion might motivate conservatives where it hadn’t in the past. That year in Minnesota, pro-life Republicans captured both Senate seats (one for the unexpired term of Hubert Humphrey) as well as the governor’s mansion. In Iowa, Sen. Dick Clark, the Democratic incumbent, was thought to be a shoo-in: Every poll heading into the election showed him ahead by at least 10 percentage points. On the final weekend of the campaign, however, pro-life activists, primarily Roman Catholics, leafleted church parking lots (as they did in Minnesota), and on Election Day Clark lost to his Republican pro-life challenger.”
Weyrich hooked up with young film maker Frank Shaeffer to produce the film featured in the video above. Slowly the movement took off. By 1980 it had big effects:
“By 1980, even though Carter had sought, both as governor of Georgia and as president, to reduce the incidence of abortion, his refusal to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing it was viewed by politically conservative evangelicals as an unpardonable sin. Never mind the fact that his Republican opponent that year, Ronald Reagan, had signed into law, as governor of California in 1967, the most liberal abortion bill in the country. When Reagan addressed a rally of 10,000 evangelicals at Reunion Arena in Dallas in August 1980, he excoriated the “unconstitutional regulatory agenda” directed by the IRS “against independent schools,” but he made no mention of abortion. Nevertheless, leaders of the religious right hammered away at the issue, persuading many evangelicals to make support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion a litmus test for their votes.”
Now, in 2016 it looks like Chuck Grassley and his obstruction is sinking his reelection chances. To save his butt he is turning to the Republican life preserver known as anti-abortion and hooking it to his niche of refusing to do his job on the judiciary. Very interesting to know that that life-preserver was created in the service of keeping segregation.
Well, while we are on the subject, may as well arm yourselves with some facts on abortion and be prepared to debunk the myths that the right wing has created. Here is an excellent article that lays out the myth and the truth in a very straight forward way.
One more reminder that the Iowa primary is next Tuesday, June 7th from 7AM to 9PM.
The big draw for democratic primary voters across the state this year is the opportunity to choose an opponent for Chuck Grassley for this falls election.
Even before Grassley’s strange behavior concerning filling the SCOTUS vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia four or five months ago, Grassley’s behavior during this term has been that of the ultimate party insider whose first concern is how any move will affect the party. With the death of Scalia Grassley who has been obstructor-in-chief behind the scenes for senate Republicans has deservedly become the national face of Republican obstruction and the face of a do nothing Congress.
As I write this the Republicans are once again on recess while a critical health situation with the zika virus looms. Returning Republicans to power in the senate and Grassley to his role as obstructor-in-chief would seem to be the height of irresponsibility.
But who will Iowans choose to take Grassley’s place? The race seems to be between current state senator from Cedar Rapids, Rob Hogg and former state senator, agricultural secretary and Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge. Judge stirred up some excitement when she entered the race in February as Grassley stumbled and bumbled in his attempts to make his obstruction look acceptable. Grassley’s obstruction is still not acceptable.
Hogg has been in the race for the long haul having entered last fall. While Judge’s entry has stirred much press around the country and some contributions from everywhere, buzz on the ground feels light. I have seen no polls for Tuesday’s vote but my guess is that it will be close. If you want to see Grassley back on the farm as much as most of us do, be sure to vote. Former state senators and good solid democrats Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen are also vying for the nomination.
Besides the senate primary across the state, 3 of our 4 congressional districts will see primaries to choose opponents to face Iowa’s three really bad Republican congress persons.
In the 4th district the Democrats candidate Kim Weaver doesn’t have a challenger. Republican Steve King does, however. In a intra-party fight at the upper levels that seems to have spilled down to this level state senator Rick Bertrand is running against the long time incumbent King. Whatever the results of that race, look for Kim Weaver to give her opponent a tough race. This year I wouldn’t count any district as a “safe Republican” even Iowa’s 4th. King is a known whacko in a party that will be lead by a reality TV personality this year. Maybe his luck has run out.
In the southwest corner of Iowa, three democrats are looking to take on one term incumbent David Young. Young is very vulnerable, especially after his embarrassingly being forced to change his vote to oppose an LGBT amendment last week. Vying to oppose Young are:
In Iowa’s northeast corner incumbent Rod Blum seems very, very vulnerable. Blum is a tea partier and doesn’t seem to quite fit in this more progressive district. The Democrats have a couple of good candidates, either of which should give Mr. Blum a good tussle. The Democrats:
Finally those who live in Iowa southeast corner have the pleasure of putting forth Congressmember Dave Loebsack for another couple of years. But just because Loebsack is an incumbent by no means means that this election is to be taken lightly. We need to keep Loebsack’s vote in Washington. This has been a really crazy year, so those in the southeast need to nominate Loebsack for another term and then work like hell to make sure he is re-elected.
We shouldn’t need to remind you that races at the state and county levels will probably have more effect on your day to day life than votes for national representatives, so pay attention and be sure to choose good candidates for state House, state senate and of course for county officials such as auditors, sheriffs and supervisors.
This primary is very important. democrats need to put their best candidates forward. Be sure to set your smart phones to remind you to vote Tuesday.
Hard to believe that congress is off again this week. But with the Republican leadership they have, they are doing nothing anyway.
With some time off Chuck Grassley will be making a very few public appearances Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. If you want to ask him about his obstruction of perhaps about signing that letter to the leaders of Ioran telling them that he and other senators will try to negate any peace treaty after the election, here is his schedule:
Wayne County Town Meeting
Wayne County Courthouse
100 North Lafayette Street
Davis County Town Meeting
Mutchler Community Center
900 East North Street
Keokuk County Town Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 2016
11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Keokuk County Courthouse
101 South Main Street
Humboldt County Town Meeting
Friday, June 3, 2016
Humboldt County Town Meeting
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Humboldt County Courthouse
203 Main Street
Recent actions within the Iowa Republican Party serve to illustrate that their focus is totally on party with little thought of the consequences for the state and the country. Actions by Republican office holders and candidates taken individually are often head slappers, but viewed collectively the pattern emerges that allegiance to party is much more important than the good of the state or country.
The most glaring example of their party first mentality is Iowa’s oldest politician, Chuck Grassley. Taking his orders from Mitch McConnell, Grassley has willingly taken up a potential career suicide mission blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Actually Grassley has made it his mission to block any Obama nominations to any federal bench, thus creating a federal judicial emergency. However, nominations to the Supreme Court are more in the open than the other federal court nominations and any monkeying with the standard procedure becomes big news.
I would daresay that Grassley is fully cognizant that he has bent the rules way past a tipping point. He appears to feel he can get away with it based on his personal popularity at home and a bet that the voting populace will not revolt. Grassley’s very cynical move to put party first may well be a bad bet on his part. Thanks to Iowa’s status as the first in the nation presidential test, most Iowans like to pride themselves on their political savvy. One way that savvy shows up is when Iowans call out BS on the part of politicians. Iowans across the spectrum have called BS on Grassley on this.
Heck, when Grassley tries to defend his position in public it doesn’t even sound like he believes what he is doing is right, but he is taking orders.
Another excellent example is 3rd district congress member David Young switching his vote from yea to nay on concerning LGBTQ protections in a defense spending bill. Republicans suspended the clock on the vote and six Republican members were “persuaded” to change their votes. As explained in a dailykos article concerning this switch:
“Oh, and if you’re wondering why the GOP was so insistent on making sure the Maloney amendment failed, Rep. Charlie Dent, one of the provision’s Republican supporters, explained that the more conservative members of his party didn’t want to get stuck voting for a defense bill with a pro-LGBT amendment attached to it. So House GOP leaders figured they’d sacrifice a few congressman in bluer seats to protect the ultra-wingnuts from possible primary challenges. The Republican war rages on—and only Democrats stand to benefit.”
Finally there is the question of the GOP’s presidential choice with Donald Trump. Trying to cover Trump’s huge inadequacies as a presidential candidate Republicans in this state have come up with a clever little slogan – “Anybody But Hillary.” Really?
Donald Trump himself has created enough division not only in his own party but throughout the country with his speeches that endorse hate for groups based on their religion or origin and denigrate women. Trump has also offered an economic plan that could trigger the worst depression ever. This from the same party that gave us the Great Depression and the Great Recession.
Anybody? How about word salad Palin? She almost became vice-president within a heartbeat of being president. Yet to hear her speak it is quite clear she has little idea what she is talking about.
Anybody? David Duke maybe? Would Republicans back a man who is openly racist?
Anybody? Bobby Jindal was among the choices for president this year. This is a person who led Louisiana for 8 years and left it in tatters.
Really Republicans, it is way beyond time to put away trite phrases and show concern for the country. Time to stand up for the people of the United States. Lincoln showed the way. Believe me, Donald Trump is no Lincoln. Sadly Trump even pales in comparison to George W. Bush a president who gets plenty of votes when people talk about the worst president ever.
Went to an event Thursday for one of Grassley’s opponents, Rob Hogg.
During the question and answer period one of the audience brought up that Grassley as chair of the Judiciary Committee has been sitting on a bill called the CARERs Bill. Apparently one of the provisions of the CARERs bill would move marijuana from a schedule 1 (illegal) drug to a schedule II drug. Schedule II would be drugs that could be dispensed under a doctor’s care but are highly controlled.
Something like half of the country now allows some form of medical marijuana. The only reason states are able to allow medical marijuana at this time is because the Obama Administration has publicly declared it will not enforce marijuana laws. What happens when Obama is no longer president in 8 months is open to speculation, but most likely a Donald Trump would rescind that order immediately. The CARERs Bill could make that question moot by changing marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II.
How many Americans depend on medical marijuana to control pain or the effects of epilepsy or the many other problems that marijuana has been found to relieve. If Mr. Obstruction doesn’t do something these untold sufferers will be at the whims of the new president come next January.
I have no idea why Grassley would obstruct this, but I can and will speculate. There are three lobbying groups that are really scared that a more widely prescribed medical marijuana will greatly hurt their profits. Those are 1) big Pharma; 2) the alcohol industry and 3) the for profit prison industry. Marijuana helps fill their rooms and keeps their profits high.
The only other reason is that Grassley refuses to give Obama anything so he is obstructing on this just the way he is obstructing on federal judges at all levels to the point where he has created a judicial emergency in this country. Grassley is also refusing to move on appointments to the State Department due to a snit over something Hillary Clinton did.
So stated simply, Grassley is about as useful as a broken clock. The clock doesn’t work and neither does Grassley. We aren’t paying the clock $174,000 a year, though. Nor is the clock making life worse for anyone as Grassley’s inaction is. But they do have one similarity – we can throw both of them out because they are useless.
Have to credit US Senate Candidate Bob Krause for reminding us of one of the great follies of the Chuck Grassley career. Krause mentioned the Iowa Rainforest as one of the few attempts that Grassley has made during his career.
Grassley’s career seems to be a record of some pretty major gaffes with long periods of quiet in between. Who can forget the great “Pull the plug on Grandma” speech as Iowa’s oldest senator worked like hell to keep health insurance and access to health care from his constituents?
Of course today he is in the battle of his career against the people, the constitution and the president to secure a seat on the Supreme Court for a crazy reactionary. Grassley has tried to talk his way around this, but has recently opted for the “silence is golden” school of communication in respect to questions about the Supreme Court. He’s taking one for team Republican here, folks. Certainly not for team “America.”
Now let us turn our minds back a decade or so and try to remember as Chuck Grassley tries to sell us on one of the boondoggliest of boondoggles. Who can ever forget The Iowa Rainforest? Maybe you, like I and my family, dreamed of cold winter days when we could hop in the car and head to Coralville for a lunch in the Rainforest? Especially on those days when the temperature dipped below zero and the snow was up past our butts. Rainforest here we come!
The Iowa Rainforest had all the earmarks of the kind of project that make common sense citizens point at the federal government and say “pork barrel project.” Putting an equatorial park in northern latitude Iowa seemed pretty far fetched even to the dreamers among us. Practical considerations such as how to heat such a beast in an Iowa winter made the project of skepticism from day one.
But the prospect of a spectacular project with the magic word “jobs” attached to it is hard for a politician to walk away from. So after some preliminary steps, Senator Grassley worked congress to get a major earmark for the project. Iverse has a excellent history of the project that spells out the highs and lows of the project. This project os an interesting study in how a project like this takes shape:
“By this time, Townsend had spent a reported $4 million of his own money developing the plan. But that was barely a down payment for a total cost now estimated at $280 million. Coralville agreed to kick in $25,000 per acre to buy an 85-acre site; the state legislature promised $75 million in state funds from the Vision Iowa Program; and Townsend committed $10 million. Federal grants and private donors were expected to cover the remaining, uh, nine-figure balance. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who’s still in office, said he’d look for support. The initial five-year plan was for lots of fundraising, followed by 18 months of construction and a year for plants and animals to get acclimated before the park opened.
Townsend was right about eyebrows raising, but not for the reasons he hoped. Three years out from announcing the Coralville site, Grassley boasted that he’d issued an ultimatum to House members who’ve balked at spending $70 million of federal money on the project as part of a green bond project package. The rainforest is one of five projects up for the bonds — along with mixes of shopping and hotel developments in New York, Atlanta, Louisiana, and Colorado. The other four members of his committee working on the packages will back everything except the rainforest earmark, but Grassley vowed to kill all the projects if they wouldn’t back Iowa. “We take all the projects, or we dump all of them,” he announced. The project won $50 million in federal funds so long as it could match that through private donors. D.C.’sCitizens Against Government Waste labeled the rainforest a laughable example of frivolous spending, especially shameful given that Grassley sanguinely approved billions in spending for the still-young Iraq war. Townsend’s idea balloons from passion project to national punchline. An April 2004 editorial in The New York Timeswrote of it: “Some bad ideas simply refuse to die.””
Many of you remember what went on as the Rainforest then moved locations and finally met a quiet death. This does, however, give lie to Grassley’s reputation as fiscally conservative. He’s just conservative when it comes to things like healthcare and real projects that would create jobs.