A nasty man

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Iowa Republicans, voted last weekend in a rush to confirm an unqualified judge in the person of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. Grassley led the charge while Ernst rode along in a farce of a nomination process. Their vote followed accusations from a credible witness that Kavanaugh assaulted her. Other women made the same claim.

That brought Kavanaugh back to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Grassley chairs for an ugly hearing tragically moderated. It started with the federal judge stating that he was the victim of a Democratic Party conspiracy, and of course had to throw in the Clintons as part of it. That statement alone should have disqualified him as a fair referee without political prejudice. It does not matter that Kavanaugh was ill-tempered by the accusations. His opening statement was carefully crafted and rehearsed, and one would think that temper had nothing to do with it. Kavanaugh is an open partisan, and that is not good for the highest court in the land, this red-shirt/blue-shirt thing.

He completely went over the top when he asked Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., if she had ever blacked out from drinking. Klobuchar had just explained to him that she was the daughter of an alcoholic (the much-beloved former Minneapolis Star columnist Jim Klobuchar). At that moment, Grassley should have stopped the hearing and questioned whether he should move forward with this boor of a nominee — sexual assault allegations aside. That behavior is unbecoming of any judge — to address a senator that way in that setting. If an Iowa district court judge behaved as Kavanaugh did he or she would be having a stern talk with the Iowa Supreme Court, at least, and perhaps face time on the pines and not at the bench.

Grassley displayed his lack of character at that moment.

And plowed ahead.

The FBI conducted an investigation over a few days and overlooked most of the key witnesses, such as Kavanaughs former drunken Georgetown Prep pal who was lying on the beach as the hearings went down. Seriously.

Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, showed how consistently feckless she is and voted for him. She did what she was told by the two old men Grassley and McConnell.

Grassley said that George Soros probably paid the women who protested at the court. Kavanaugh suggested that the witness against him was a pawn of the Clintons. And senators representing states with 18% of the nation’s population cast just enough votes to get Kavanaugh approved, having nuked the 60-vote rule on judicial nominations.

We now have a nasty, vindictive man sworn in with a black robe who might be on a dry drunk during oral arguments. Thanks primarily to Chuck Grassley, who left his honesty back at the farm along about 2009 during his lust for power and the gavel of Judiciary. The nation, possibly, can thank Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who put his thumb on the scale in a 2016 Democratic primary that had two good candidates, and drafted another: Patty Judge, a tool of the Farm Bureau. Grassley clobbered her. We will never know how Rob Hogg, a smart if plodding state senator and attorney from Cedar Rapids, might have done. He’s whom we endorsed. He might have won with Schumer’s support. Democrats should take care while treading the high ground. They helped to set up this literally sordid state of affairs. Iowans should be embarrassed that their two senators are so craven, so inured to the cynical politics of Washington that they could care this little for the demeanor and temperament of a supreme court justice. We can’t do anything about it in Iowa this November, but we should remember how vapid they are when it does count.

TeamCAN can

Residents of Alta and Columbus Junction are safe in their homes because a labor union stood up for them when no one else would. People (mainly immigrants) living at Westview in Alta and a mobile home court in Columbus Junction that was under siege from city hall now are working with their cities to improve living conditions because of TeamCAN, the community organizing arm of the Iowa Teamsters. Westview dwellers feared homelessness when red tags were getting posted on their homes until Storm Lake native and TeamCAN founder Jesse Case stepped up and stepped in.

Case organized poor people to take control of their own fight in each community. The Teamsters offered the support that they need to hire a lawyer to protect their rights. They worked with churches in helping families. And, Case mediated with officials in each city to get them to back off the residents and aim at the right target: absentee landlords exploiting vulnerable people. Labor unions are nothing what they were. Case wants to organize communities, not necessarily just factories, so residents can be partners in communities and not victims. Nobody else is standing up for the poor and powerless effectively in this state. Not the Democratic Party. Not the churches. Not any Latino organization. They can do nothing by themselves. TeamCAN actually is bringing poor people together with churches and Latino groups to actually get something done. It could be the start of a new political movement across Iowa. No dues, just results.