• Posted on Feb 24, 2017


    Friday, Feb. 24, 2017

                Arrived at the Parkersburg Civic Center around 7:15 Friday morning; highway patrol, local police, and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office were there in full force—probably six total, some wearing bulletproof vests, many carrying sidearms.  Ready for anything, I guess.

                Since it was so early, only ten or fifteen early risers occupied the room, which would hold maybe 100 at the most.  But by 7:45 it was jammed, and many more waiting outside to get in. 

    By 8:00 the room was completely full, and they moved tables out of the way to make room for more chairs. I would estimate 150 people showed up, and they were ready to ask questions.

                I had prepared eight questions and made copies, but none were needed; there were plenty of eloquent questioners, and a wide variety of topics, which Grassley dutifully wrote down in a show of concern at the beginning.

    My questions: 

    1      President Trump recently asserted that the media is the “enemy of the people.” Do you agree with his assertion? 

    2      Where do you stand on climate change?  What is America’s current role in the world climate change movement to stop greenhouse gas emissions?

    3       Many Iowans have asserted that you were derelict in your duty as Senator when, as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, you didn’t hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, who was nominated in March of 2016. How do you refute that assertion?

    4      Major inconsistencies exist between President Trump’s assertions and those of his cabinet members and vice-president.  (on climate change, the wall, Muslim ban, etc.) Whom do you most believe?

    5      Do you support a bipartisan investigation of the Flynn/Russia/Trump involvement in in our election?

    6      Where do you disagree most with President Trump? 

    7      What can you say to help calm citizens who feel serious anxiety about President Trump’s insistence on repeating lies—as in the size of his inauguration crowds and the “three million illegals” who elected Hillary? 

    8      Yes or No:  Should President Trump be required to release his tax forms for the last three or more years? 

                Grassley did answer #1:  NO, he said emphatically, the media/press is NOT the enemy of the people, and he made a strong statement about that, for which he deserved, and received, applause. 

                No answers on the other questions, though most were asked, some several times.

    A few takeaways:

    • The VAST majority of the crowd was actively and vocally hostile toward Grassley and Trump, especially Betsy DeVos.   Very few of those in the room supported him and his positions. One or two who did were roundly denounced. 
    • To be fair, Grassley is showing up.  Rod Blum is not holding ANY town halls, and I'm not sure about Joni Ernst other than she cancelled one for sure.  Neither Blum nor Ernst have published their appearances on their web sites, Shame on them for avoiding constituents. 
    • The first questioner mentioned that he was on the County Board of Supervisors from Waterloo and strongly urged Grassley to hold a town meeting in Waterloo, since so many issues concern Waterloo directly, and more citizens would get heard from Blackhawk County.  For this he was cheered and applauded. 
    • I did not ask any of my questions directly, since most of them were being asked by others.  I do now wish I had asked #6 and #7 above. 
    • High Point #1:  A white-haired, bearded gentleman pointedly and passionately asked Grassley about his “moral and ethical standards.”  In a nutshell, he asked “If you cannot yet condemn President Trump for his moral lapses (and he told of many), where is your line in the sand?  What WOULD you condemn?”  For this he received a standing ovation,
    • High Point #2:  Miriam Tyson, an “old black woman” (self-described) from Waterloo, first praised Grassley for all he had done as a Senator in his 36 years, and ended by ROUNDLY condemning him for not giving Merrick Garland a hearing.  “I am deeply disappointed in you.  I can no longer support you.”  Grassley looked upset, but offered no defense or reply.  He did thank Ms. Tyson for her offering her views.
    • Low point #1:  The Butler County Sheriff began the meeting by reminding the audience of “Iowa nice,” and how we needed to be courteous and respectful.  “And if any of you are paid to be here. . .” he went on.  The crowd erupted in boos and shouts of “That’s an INSULT!”  Later another questioner reminded Grassley that “You’re the only one paid to be here!”  Good point.
    • Low point #2:  many questions were statements disguised as questions—of the “When did you stop beating your wife?” variety.  Grassley, no fool, actually brought that up, offering a reminder that no one can answer such rhetorical questions.  Some questioners needed to be coached on how to ask real questions. 
    • Overall, I can’t condemn Grassley for not listening—he did listen and interact, politely and graciously, and insisted on not talking while people were shouting or clapping.  However, the anger and dismay at the Trump administration in the room was palpable, and I’m sure he will have to deal with that—one hopes constructively.  I do believe that all of his town hall meetings will be similar, and surely he cannot ignore that.   


    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Politics
  • Silver Lining in the Trump Cloud?

    • Posted on Feb 05, 2017

    Today's Courier column--there really will be some good to come of Trumpdom--and it will come from the artists, writers, filmmakers, creators of all stripes.  


    Even the blackest clouds contain streaks of light, those silver linings we need during terrible storms.  Are there silver linings over Trumpland? 

    When times are crazy, when everything seems upside down, when fools get power and destroy most certainties, creative arts flourish.  The American sixties, a decade of protest and turmoil, produced a flood of music and art that lives on.

    It’s happening again.


    • All expectations are off.  Civility, rationality, trustworthy leaders, even simple factual truths have been disappearing like frost on a sunny morning.   We’re seeing rank amateur “politicians”—billionaires—put in charge of huge, complex government operations that will certainly suffer from their ignorance and arrogance. Even Republicans are protesting, and some will certainly defect.  

    As of this writing, after ten days of Trump: chaos and protests worldwide, with no end in sight.  Protests mean marches, music, slogans, drama, all of which are grist for artists and art, and more power to them.

    • Apathy, that bane of good times, has disappeared.  Everyone has taken a stand,some with utter certainty that “alternate facts” support their leader, others who insist that proven facts stay proven.  A comeuppance is on the way, and artists are watching. 
    • Activists are getting busy.   Shortly after the election, “Cedar Valley Activates,”  a group of local citizens concerned with taking local action, was born out of a desire to tackle real problems—instead of complaining.  

    At their first meeting in Cedar Falls on December 4, well over a hundred citizens showed up and formed groups focused on health care, children’s health, poverty, environmental degradation, alternate energy, mental illness treatments—all issues that need attention in the Cedar Valley. 

    They met in Waterloo in January, and they will gather again at the end of February to connect with local agencies to help find solutions. And they’re determined to stay non-partisan.   

    According to organizer Eric Giddens, “We want to stay as apolitical as possible,” he told me, “Since we’re all in this together, cooperation is the only way to get things done.”

    Hard to argue with that.

    • People are having to decide where they stand.  Wishy-washy won’t cut it any more.   I vividly remember having to rethink my own ideas in the late sixties when the Vietnam War was gearing up.  I read, listened, discussed, argued, formed opinions, and helped support worthwhile causes.  I felt alive and challenged, as I do now.  

                I’m excited to ponder more, read alternative sources, engage more, create more blogs and other writings.    

    So turmoil isn’t all bad.  

                As Harry Lime, the Orson Welles character in the 1949 film noir classic, “The Third Man”  put it,

     "You know what the fellow said--– in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!”

    Let our Renaissance begin. 

    Go comment!
    Posted in
    • Politics
    • Predictions
Cedar Valley Chronicles Photo

“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
Read Shapiro's entire introduction.


Contact Scott

Contact Scott Photo