Grassley Town Hall – Vinton IA

This afternoon, about sixteen of us were able to participate in a town hall meeting with our own Senator Grassley in Vinton Iowa, at the City Hall. Senator Grassley was actually fifteen minutes early and eager to hear input from his constituents, in spite of the fact that the day was blustery and we have had the first significant snow fall of the season. He had evidently kept his schedule all day, in spite of the weather. At times visibility was poor, because of the blowing snow. We thank the Senator for his dedication and his commitment to visit us in all ninety-nine Iowa counties every year.

I will try to relate the various speakers intent (as best I remember).

The first man to engage Senator Grassley had his attention before the official start time for the meeting. He asked about  some legislation for the use of natural gas as motor vehicle fuel and also about the potential for the Keystone pipeline project, that hopefully should allow Canadian Oil to flow to refineries in Houston. The pipeline query reflected, I think, the question that most thinking people are pondering; why not run a short pipeline to North Dakota and build a new refinery? The Senator related a pragmatic answer. It is easier to build a 3000 mile long pipeline than it is to face environmentalist obstructionism in court over the construction of a new refinery. He quoted a statistic that I can’t recall exactly, but the gist is that we have a lot fewer refineries than we used to, doing the same job, because it is easier to ad capacity to an existing refinery than to fight the environmental obstructionists in court.

The second speaker was a man who represented himself as a small businessman with thirty years worth of entrepreneurship behind him. I think he intimated that he had four or five employees at various times. He wanted to tell the Senator that he had come to the conclusion that Congress kept demonstrating an addiction to spending all our money and asking us to “pony up” more. He wanted to communicate that he had concluded the only way to get the government under control was to starve it. Therefore, he said, though he would like to come out with a lot of new endeavors/products that instead he will do his best to see that he has zero tax liability related to his efforts.

As I listened to him, I thought of the statistics that say that corporate America is flush with cash, but is sitting on it, because of uncertainty in the actions of the government. I thought also about the fact that I filed an unemployment claim on Tuesday, for the third time in the last two years. This in spite of the fact that I am a highly qualified electrical engineer with extensive experience managing teams in high-risk startup companies. The “occupy” movement folks look at this statistic and conclude that we need to get the government to straighten it out by legislating a redistribution of wealth. I look at it and conclude that the government needs to get the hell out of the way. If it did, the entrepreneur who was speaking to Senator Grassley, would see profit for his efforts. He would be motivated to do what comes naturally to him. He would happily pay taxes on his increase. We would all be a lot better off.

A fellow from the local rural electrical coop thanked the senator for going to bat for them on a financing initiative, but was careful to point out that the transaction did not add to the national debt, because it paid back more than was borrowed.

I can appreciate the validity of such an arrangement for a profitable rural electrical coop, if not for the likes of a company like Solandra who had no real prospects for profitability.

My daughter brought a question to the Senator, expressing dismay at the illegal use of “recess appointments” by the Obama administration to instantiate various bureaucrats to serve his purposes, bypassing the Constitutionally-mandated approval by Congress. Senator Grassley told us that he had hand delivered letter to the Attorney General for a judgment on the matter. The short story is that the legal department of the Attorney General’s office sided with the White House. (1)  Are we surprised? Senator Grassley is the ranking Republican on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Yet, since the Republican party is not in power in the Senate, He is effectively unable to call the White House to account. We either need to fix this in November, or We the People need to find a way to demand an account before then.

Finally, another man and myself each raised questions about counter-terrorism section of the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.  I have noted a lot of Internet traffic, asserting that the act has gutted our Constitutional rights to due process. The other fellow seemed to be settled that this assertion was correct. My own question was that I had read the bill, and it seemed to me the section in question went out of it’s way to reassure that American citizens were not normally subject to it’s provisions: look in particular at Subtitle D, Section 1021 (e).

I wanted to get the senator’s opinion about this legislation. I believe our elected representatives thought their assertions that their intent was not to change the law as it applied to citizens was good enough. However, Senator Grassley did point out a case of an American citizen participating with some German operatives to perform sabotage on American soil during World War II. Their discovery resulted in the the American being handled, and eventually executed, as an enemy combatant, along with his German counterparts. Therefore, I suppose, there is some precedent for denying due process to American citizens. That horse, apparently, is already out of the barn.

Somewhere in the mix, the Senator talked about his investigation into the “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation by the Attorney General’s organization and the resultant murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry by one of those same weapons. It seems clear that lies have been uncovered. Still, no real accounting has occurred. Along the same vein and interspersed in the entire interchange was an attitude that was exemplified by the T-shirt one patriot was wearing: “Anyone but Obama in 2012”. My wife (and several others) expressed to Senator Grassley her dismay that it seemed no one could successfully hold the Obama administration to account on any subject, not to the will of the people, not to the Constitution, and not to criminal law.

So to my wife’s question: “What can we do?”. Senator Grassley advocated as much involvement as one can muster; contacting representatives, letters to the editor, getting friends involved, participation at the local level, etc.

We would add prayer. We need to be consistently enlisting the aid of the Sovereign of the Universe. He hears, and He cares.  This week, I read something that made me think.  If I don’t pray like it matters to me, why should it matter to God?

 

 

1)  http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/story/2012-01-08/Grassley-recess-appointment-Obama/52457596/1

2)  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1540enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr1540enr.pdf

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