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Charles Grassley

Grassley Causes Judicial Emergency

not working for most Iowans

not working for most Iowans

Action Alert from Progress Iowa:

For the past six months, Senator Grassley has refused to schedule a nomination hearing for Judge Felipe Restrepo in the Judiciary Committee. He is obstructing the Restrepo nomination despite the Judge’s extensive qualifications, past support in the U.S. Senate, and despite the support he has received from his home-state Senators – one Republican, one Democrat.

Judge Restrepo’s vacancy has now been declared a state of ‘judicial emergency’ — with people needlessly awaiting their day in court because of Senator Grassley’s obstruction.

Senator Grassley promised not to play politics with our courts when taking over chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee; it’s time for him to live up to that promise.

Will you call today and ask Senator Grassley to stop obstructing the Restrepo nomination?

Thanks for all you do,
Matt Sinovic
Progress Iowa

P.S. Sen. Grassley doesn’t get it, that justice delayed is justice denied. Tell him to stop obstructing the Restrepo nomination today.

A Few Words On Dennis Hastert

Bribery by ALEC in Georgia uncovered by the press last week. (starts at 0:18)

The story is just beginning to emerge from the Justice Department of the corruption that J. Dennis Hastert undertook as Speaker of the House from 1999 to his ouster in 2007 and beyond. Our readers are plenty able to follow the story on their own. I just want to comment on a couple of aspects.

First, corruption by public officials to me is among the worst crimes that can be committed. Using an office of power and steering public funds to cronies for a bribe is bad enough, but it also means that some other public good will not receive budget considerations they deserve. In many cases this could be money that may make life and death differences to poor people.

Second, is there any better example of why money should be as well separated from politics as possible. There should also be a separation of lobbyists from the corridors of power. Any meeting between a lobbyist and any decision maker or someone who has access to a decision maker should be scheduled, made public, and be open to anyone to attend, especially the press. Sunshine is the best disinfectant for corruption.

Third, have you given much thought to how thoroughly corrupt the Bush II administration was? From Cheney steering the country to war and making HUGE amounts of money on his Halliburton stock to Abramoff, and now to Hastert. We will be finding out soon that Sibel Edmonds tried to turn Hastert in, but John Ashcroft put her under a gag order.

Fourth, the case of Sibel Edmonds who tried to tell the Hastert story 10 years or more back shows how valuable whistle blowers are. Along with Edward Snowden and Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, like what they did or not, they exposed some deep and very harmful corruption in our government. No wonder the powers that be are so afraid of them. We are a democracy folks. We need the truth to keep this democracy functioning.

Finally, are we starting to understand why Republicans were so afraid of Loretta Lynch. In the month or so of her tenure, high profile cases are getting the attention they deserve. Baltimore, FIFA and now Hastert. I hope she is just warming up. Wall Street and the banksters need her attention.

So now we know it wasn’t because of her skin color or her gender that Republicans feared her. It was because she might actually be competent and honest. Bad traits to Republicans. No doubt that is why Grassley and Ernst voted against her.

Last words on Hastert. I hope he is convicted and they lock the cell door behind him and lose the key.

Is Grassley Playing Politics With The Courts?

not working for most Iowans

not working for most Iowans

Iowa Leaders Call on Senator Grassley to Hold a Confirmation Hearing for Judge Restrepo

DES MOINES & WATERLOO, IOWA – Iowa leaders today met with Senator Chuck Grassley’s staff in Des Moines and Waterloo to stress the need to hold a confirmation hearing for Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo, and inquired why he is not among those being considered during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee meeting.

After meeting with Senator Grassley’s staff, a number of local leaders issued statements in advance of tomorrow’s committee hearing:

Sue Dinsdale, Executive Director, Iowa Citizen Action Network:

“When he took over the judiciary committee, Senator Grassley led us all to believe he would not play politics with our courts. Unfortunately, the Senator has let down Iowans and Americans by blocking a number of judicial appointments, including even holding a hearing for Judge Restrepo. We can’t afford to wait any longer while Senator Grassley delays, delays, and delays.”

Matt Sinovic, Executive Director, Progress Iowa:

“If justice delayed is justice denied, then Senator Grassley is responsible for denying justice to far too many across the country. Our courts should be free from political influence, and the kind of petty gamesmanship being shown by Grassley with his refusal to even hold a hearing for Judge Restrepo.”

Chris Schwartz, Director, Americans for Democratic Action Iowa:

“Senator Grassley is building a legacy of obstruction, if he doesn’t hold hearings soon his legacy as an obstructionist will be written in stone.”

Joe Henry, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa:

“It’s time for Senator Chuck Grassley to stop holding up the appointment of Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo. This vacancy on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is considered a judicial emergency. Yet Senator Grassley who heads the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has refused to hold a hearing on Judge Restrepo’s appointment even though the judge has the support of the senators from his home state and was unanimously appointed to his current position as a U.S. District judge by the U.S. Senate. Judge Restrepo has provided Senator Grassley with detailed responses to a long list of his questions, and has made many efforts to address any alleged concerns our senator may have. Our court system needs to be adequately staffed, and our government has an opportunity to do that with Judge Restrepo’s appointment. Senator Grassley has only let two of the seven people President Obama nominated to fill judgeships have hearings. Our senator needs to stop playing politics with our judicial branch and let these qualified individuals have their chance before the committee.”

Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa:

“Senator Grassley would do well to remember that Judge Restrepo is a respected veteran attorney and judge. Before his appointment to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he served as a state and federal public defender, a civil rights attorney, and a federal magistrate judge, among other accomplishments. Only two years ago, Judge Restrepo was unanimously confirmed for his seat on the District Court by both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate. We respectfully ask that Senator Grassley immediately schedule a hearing for Judge Restrepo, and all the other judicial nominees languishing on his watch.”

It has been more than six months since President Obama nominated U.S. District Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo to join the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Restrepo was born in Columbia, became a citizen in 1993, and earned his degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to his current post as a judge in the Eastern District just two years ago.

Despite past public statements of support from home state Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, Senator Grassley has refused to hold a confirmation hearing for Restrepo.


Why the holdup on Third Circuit judge nominee?

Long past time to let 3rd circuit nominee Restrepo have his hearing

Write Grassley And Ernst Regarding The TPP

Charles Grassley, like it or not, will be up for re-election in 2016. There is no time like the present to let him know what he should be doing for the people of Iowa. Joni Ernst is in her first months and has already taken many steps that should be making her unpopular among voters. Like it or not, they are our senators and they need to hear from us.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may be up for a vote in the senate next week. My expectation, as I am sure yours is, is that Grassley and Ernst will vote for fast-tracking the TPP in lockstep with other Republicans. Remember this vote is not to approve the TPP, but to give the administration the ability to negotiate and approve the TPP basically behind closed doors. This is not what representative democracy is about.

Approving a trade pact the size of TPP in the dark just tears at all the basic tenets of democracy. From what we know TPP will affect every segment of our society. We have also learned that there are many troubling aspects to problem resolution within TPP that may overrule our laws from outside. Not a situation that America should allow itself to get into.

There appear to be many other troubling aspects of the TPP but we do not know for sure what is in this pact since all negotiations have been under super secrecy. The latest rumor is that the TPP is based on the model of the recent (2011) trade pact with South Korea (KORUS) that has been disastrous for the United States. That agreement has sent yet more American jobs offshore while greatly expanding our trade deficit. TPP will do the same on steroids. America can not afford the TPP.

Here is what I will send to our senators:
Senator __________,
I am writing to ask that you vote against fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership. This trade agreement will affect all aspects of the American economy and possibly aspects of out day tot day lives. In a democracy such as ours, any act that will have this much affect on the daily lives of our citizens should have open debate so that all sides may be brought out. There should also be plenty of time and opportunity for common citizens to offer input.

Please vote against fast tracking authority for the TPP when it comes to the senate floor.

Thank you,

Here are the email links for Grassley and Ernst:

Vilsack – Grassley Tussle For Senate?

US Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

US Secretary Of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Speculation may have been spurred last night on Iowa Press when former governor and current US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said he would not rule out putting his name on a ballot again.

From the radioiowa news story:

Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack says he wants to come back to Iowa and he isn’t ruling out another run for political office. Vilsack has served in President Obama’s cabinet since January of 2009, as the nation’s ag secretary.

“I have been really blessed and privileged by this state and the one thing I definitely want to do, regardless of the future, is I want to come back here and I want to contribute in some way,” Vilsack says. “I don’t want to go some place else. I want to come back home because this is where the people of Iowa gave me all these extraordinary opportunities and I will be forever indebted to them.”

Vilsack, who grew up in Pennsylvania, met Christie Bell of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in college and adopted her hometown as his own after the couple married. Vilsack was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant and won a seat in the state senate before being elected governor in 1998. Vilsack won reelection in 2002, but did not seek a third term, saying eight years was enough. He’s not ruling out the idea of putting his name on an Iowa ballot again, though.

The first thought would be that Vilsack would most likely be interested in a state wide office. The major state wide office that would be up in the next election would be US senator. That seat is of course occupied by Chuck Grassley. In 2016 at the time of the next election, Grassley will be completing his 36th year as a senator and his 58th year in a legislative position. Over the years Grassley has embarrassed Iowans over and over, but somehow he keeps getting re-elected. Defeating Grassley will be a monumental task even at the then age of 83.

Here is an ad from his last run to remind us what an embarrassment Grassley can be:

Vilsack will have the name recognition that many of Grassley’s opponents have not had. He also will be running in a presidential year which historically has helped the Democratic turnout. As things are shaping up now, a national ticket with Hillary clinton at the top may add a spur to that turnout.

Just speculation folks. Removing Grassley from the senate should be a top priority for Iowans.

2016 Race Opens – Iowans It’s Time To Cut Your Grassley

Grassley signature on letter to Iran

Grassley signature on letter to Iran

Ted Cruz became the first “official” candidate of the 2016 campaign last week with his very uninspiring speech in front of a coerced audience in the very reddest part of red America. Even with all that, Cruz’s speech had the effectiveness of pouring water on a grease fire. Many in the forced audience spent time mocking old Ted on their smart phones.

But what Calgary Ted did do was help wake folks up to the fact that there is an election with huge stakes for each and every American and Iowan coming up really soon. Since Cruz’s announcement came at almost the same time as the 5th anniversary of the signing of the ACA, naturally Chuck Grassley crossed my mind.

Who can forget how Grassley did all he could to sink any chance of any kind of health care reform? How President Obama leaned over backwards to satisfy Grassley only to have Grassley act like a spoiled child? Who can forget the Grassley bald face lie broadcast around the country claiming that the ACA would “kill Grandma?”

Most Iowans now agree with most of the provisions of the ACA. Yet only a couple of months ago, Chuck came out four square in favor of repealing Obamacare yet again. Grassley is simply way out of step with Iowans. BTW – don’t think he wouldn’t be first in line to voucher-ize Medicare and cut Social Security. He would.

Of course it is not only healthcare where Chuck is many steps out of sync with Iowans. Grassley opposed the Lilly Ledbetter law back in 2009, in many ways reinforcing his well known view that women do not have the worth of a man. He is still one the few sitting congress members that opposed the Martin Luther King holiday.

But the coupe-de-grace in the Grassley portfolio is his signature on the treasonous letter to Iran. Grassley showed his true arrogant colors with this signature. Shred the Constitution, Chuck Grassley says.

A quick viewing of Grassley’s donor page shows Grassley is in the pocket of insurance companies and finance. Hard to fit any concern for the common Iowan in between all the special interests that own Grassley. Sure he drives around in an old Olds, but unlike many of his constituents he doesn’t have to.

Let’s track kitchen table economics and see where Grassley fits in. Are your wages keeping up with inflation or has Republican obstruction stopped any hope for raises? Are your children’s schools getting better or having to cut back? When it comes time for college, can your children go without having to incur a debilitating lifetime of debt? What about medical insurance? If Grassley gets his way and Obamacare is repealed, what are you going to do? Can you afford insurance the way it was before Obamacare? Should the advances in the economy all go to the top 1%? Grassley will work hard to see that they do.

And what if you hit some hard times and lose your job? Grassley will be working hard to cut unemployment insurance and any kind of food programs. Bet you never thought your own government would let you down, but that is what you vote for when you vote for a Grassley.

Economic issues, especially the huge and widening gap between the uber-rich and working Americans, should be the top issue in the next election. Who has done more to make the rich richer and the poor poorer than our own Chuck? Who is working harder to dismantle any gains that consumers have made? Grassley is the horse that the rich will be backing big time.

My best wishes to the two declared candidates opposing Grassley, Tom Fiegen and Bob Krause. Iowa Democrats need to start working NOW to let their fellow Iowans know what they are voting for when they vote for Grassley wherever and whenever they can.

Write Your Letters To The Editor

let them know you are mad!

let them know you are mad!

Below is a letter to the editor from Muscatine County Democratic chair, Don Paulsen

Forty-seven Republican U.S. Senators, including Iowa’s Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst, have shamefully and illegally tried to sabotage negotiations between the United States and Iran. The New York Daily News goes so far as to call them traitors. It’s pretty clear they have violated the Logan Act, which reads as follows-

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or any officer thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.” (from Lestatdelc, Daily Kos, 3/10/15)

Indépendant U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders made this statement, “It appears that for most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, a war if Afghanistan and a war in Iraq were not enough. They now apparently want a war in Iran as well. President Obama is working with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China to negotiate a peaceful means to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. These negotiations must be allowed to continue and, hopefully, will succeed. It is an outrage that my Republican colleagues are trying to sabotage that effort.”

No one wants Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Perhaps if the Israelis would allow international inspectors into their facility at Dimona the world would know how many nuclear bombs the Israelis have. That would certainly give any nation in the Middle East pause. Mutually Assured Destruction is still a valid point.

As for Grassley and Ernst, please resign immediately.

Ed. note – if you have never been outraged, you should be now. Will you do something?

Joni, Chuck And Their Anti-Iowa Trifecta

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment

Slightly over 60 days in office for one of our senators, a bit under half a century for our other senator. But there doesn’t seem to be a lick of sense between them at the moment.

Joni was never elected on her platform. As a matter of fact, you could easily say that most Iowans that voted for her probably had no idea where she stood on anything. She claimed she favored Social Security, but you had to dig down to find that what she favored was giving Social Security to the Wall Street gamblers. Outside of that she mouthed a few platitudes and avoided questioners like they had bubonic plague. She then sat back and let the Billionaire’s PACs negatively portray a very good man named Bruce Braley, and smiled all the way to the senate knowing full well that she had a huge debt to repay.

And Chuck? He is decades past being a reasonable senator. Chuck stuck his thumb up in the air around 1995 (probably earlier) and realized that doing whatever those with the money wanted would keep him well supplied with campaign cash. More importantly Chuck realized that taking orders kept away any challengers from his right. Thus in 2009 and 2010 when Americans of all stripe were begging, begging, begging their government to please let them have access to health care without having to go bankrupt, as if on orders, Chuck inserted himself smack in the middle doing all he could to deny medical care to Iowans and Americans. We elected him again anyway.

The supposed blank slate named Joni made sure to get her creeds up to snuff for her billionaire owners by coming out early to kill the ACA and replace it with some fanciful named Republican proposals that would send medical care in this country back to the 1800s. Her owners must be proud.

Then John Boehner sticks his nose into foreign policy by inviting the head of a foreign state, Bibi Netanyahu, to literally use the government of the United States as a token in his own re-election campaign. To say this was unprecedented and a total disrespect to the office of the president is being mild. Probably the worst single foreign policy insult in American history. But Joni and Chuck joined in because they know that their comfortable senate job depends on pleasing the billionaires. So, like every Republican in congress they fell right in line to be used like a harlot by Netanyahu.

Then Monday morning brings us the incredible letter signed by 47 Republicans that just supplanted the Netanyahu appearance as the greatest insult to a sitting president ever. Among the 47 signatures were those of our own potential teasers, Joni and Chuck.

How can we tell them just how proud we are? In 227 years as a republic we have never seen half of the senate sign a letter that borders on, or maybe crosses the line of treason. We have a new low in American politics and certainly in Iowa politics. Surely none here can remember any of our senators previously signing a treasonous letter.

There is just one reward for such actions. It is long past time for Iowans to stand up to Grassley and his disdain for Iowans and say with their vote in 2016 “Chuck, consorting with the enemy really crossed the line.” And we need to repeat it in 2020 with Joni.

Let’s add another major problem for Joni. As an active member of the military, she appears to have stepped way over the line that is allowed in the military. I know little of military law and will not pretend to. But the internet does have some very smart cookies out there. 8ackgr0und N015e at dailykos writes a rather intriguing diary about the hot water Joni may have gotten herself into. Please check the diary out yourselves, but here is the nut of the matter:

Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.

Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

Iowans deserve some very serious explanations. Now!

Former Grassley Staffer: SCOTUS Killing ACA ‘Would Impact Everyone’

Yep - Gutting the ACA will affect everyone

Yep – Gutting the ACA will affect everyone

My eye caught the name “Grassley” in the title of this diary on by Joan McCarter. So I peeked in and was astonished to see a former Grassley staffer actually telling the truth about the effects of the SCOTUS case of King v Burwell. The case is expected to be heard next month with a decision announced in late June. There are some 70,000 fellow Iowans who could immediately lose health care if SCOTUS decides against the ACA. Many, many more will lose insurance or be priced out of the market in the after shocks.

Here is the diary. I recommend you go to the link to read the full article by Julie Appleby . We also recommend reading the 30 or so comments on the diary on dailykos.

“Sen. Chuck Grassley was at the heart of the development of Obamacare, and one of his key staff members from that time has a dire warning about what the Supreme Court might do to gut the law.

“The doomsday scenario could materialize, and it does impact everyone,” said lawyer Christopher Condeluci, who worked for Iowa Republican Charles Grassley on the Senate Finance Committee staff during the law’s drafting. Those affected would include individuals receiving subsidies and those paying the full cost of their plans in states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey that use the federal exchange.

What’s that doomsday scenario, exactly:

Millions of consumers would likely be unable to afford their policies without subsidies.

Most insurers could not drop plans without giving one to three months’ notice. But the companies remaining in the market would likely seek sharp premium increases for the next year, anticipating that more of the sickest consumers would hold onto their plans. […]

“It’s not the subsidy market that will fall apart, it’s the whole market” for everyone who doesn’t get job-based insurance coverage, said Robert Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant who is no fan of the health law. “There will be millions of Republicans who are not subsidy-eligible who are also going to get screwed.”

Again, that’s another Republican who doesn’t like the law and sees impending doom for millions. Millions of Republicans. Who will be pissed at their elected Republican leaders for allowing this to happen.”

Remember that about a month ago when asked about King v Burwell, Senator Grassley said that the lawsuit was ridiculous.

Grassley On Social Security – Not Good

not working for most Iowans

not working for most Iowans

Right after the House changed the rule on money flowing back and forth between the Social Security main fund and the SS Disability Insurance Fund, I wrote my senators and representatives immediately. As I have said here before, I have never seen such a just plain nasty trick. No doubt Republicans did this to be able to use the cuts to SSDI recipients as a bargaining chip. In this case it may hasten the deaths of some of these recipients.

I received the strangest response from Chuck Grassley. It is replete with tea party talking points and quite short on solutions. Here it is verbatim:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me. As your Senator, it is important for me to hear from you. Please accept my apology for the delayed response.

I appreciate your thoughts regarding a reduction in Social Security Disability benefits. As you may know, the House of Representatives recently passed new rules for the 114th Congress. Within these rules, language was included that seeks to protect the Social Security Trust Fund. According to the Social Security Trustees report, without reforms the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund will not have enough money to pay current benefits by 2016. However, the Old Age and Survivors Fund, which pays retirement benefits, projected to be able to pay full benefits through 2034. Transferring funds intended to pay retirement benefits to the SSDI fund would move up the insolvency date of the Old Age Fund an entire year, to 2033, while doing nothing to address the long-term financing shortfall facing both funds. Therefore, the new rules encourage Congress to include reforms to put the SSDI on sound fiscal footing and not simply raid funds from the Old and Age and Survivors fund.

It is crucial that we take the necessary steps to put the Social Security programs on sound footing. Combating fraud can play a role in protecting the future of the programs. I am committed to continuing my work to cut waste, fraud and abuse from the Social Security programs. I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect Social Security for our children and grandchildren, and I urge you to keep me apprised of your thoughts as we proceed.

Again, thank you for contacting me. I urge you to keep in touch.

Note that his first order of business is to set one group against another: those folks on DB are taking money from other retirees.

Then he states that that the Old Age fund will become insolvent (not true at all) earlier if the DB fund continues to get help from the trust fund. This is the old Republican trick of putting recipients and potential recipients into competing silos that will work against each other.

Then Grassley claims this action will ‘encourage’ congress to get SSDI on sound footing.

The next statement suggests that waste and fraud are the only problems with both funds. This is Grassley’s go to statement on nearly everything. Every government safety net program is rife with waste and fraud according to Grassley. To me it is his way of ducking every issue. There is no suggestion of raising the cap beyond the current $110,000 or any other truly practical solution.

In short, Chuck Grassley continues the Republican war on Social Security that has been the focus of Republican destruction from the day it was signed through the days of The John Birch Society down to today’s Tea Party. Grassley is only a puppet being used by the corporatists controlling his party.

For a good, short analysis of the current Republican strategy read this article. Here is a brief excerpt:

In a scathing indictment published Wednesday, LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzick blasted the logic behind the GOP’s efforts.

“Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) not only displayed a shocking level of ignorance of Social Security and the disability program, but offered no solutions whatsoever to the looming crisis—which he repeatedly mischaracterized,” Hiltzick wrote. “Enzi also trotted out one of the hoariest lies about Social Security in the conservatives’ playbook: the claim that there’s no money in either the old-age or disability trust fund.”

He continued:

[T]his assertion is nothing but an attempt to cheat working Americans of the benefits they’ve paid for. The trust funds hold trillions of dollars of U.S. Treasury bonds bought and paid for by payroll taxes collected from American workers since 1983; these transfers have been certified, in writing, every year by U.S. treasury secretaries and other cabinet members, Republican and Democrat, and accepted by Congress. If the money’s gone, they should all go to jail—but you won’t hear that said by Enzi or his cronies.

The only way the money can be judged “spent” is if Enzi and the rest of Congress vote to cut the benefits workers already have paid for. That’s what he seems to be plotting.

Iowans have a chance in 2016 to remove one of the worst and most out of touch senators in politics today. Our nation looks to us to do so.