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Pulling Up The Ladder

paul ryans budget

Note: this is an outtake from a column by Charles P. Pierce who writes the Politics blog for Esquire magazine. Mr. Pierce is one of the funniest, yet most insightful commentators around. This week he discusses the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. This one really hits the mark squarely

Tout le Beltway is a’twitter about this commercial that Wendy Davis ran in her race for governor of Texas. The commercial makes the point that Greg Abbott, her Republican opponent and the state’s attorney general, who is confined to a wheelchair after being paralyzed in a freak accident for which he sued and won a massive, $10 million settlement, has spent his whole career in office advocating against the kinds of lawsuits that made Abbott rich. (Here’s Abbott suing to overturn the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed by that RINO bastard from Texas, George H.W. Bush.) It has been a tough campaign down there, but, for some reason, the Davis ad has allowed Abbott to gin up a firestorm in the mainstream media about what a terrible injustice has been done to him, Greg Abbott. Outside of the wingnut blogosphere, Aaron Blake of The Washington Post got the ball rolling, and Ben Dreyfuss in Mother Jones turned in the mother of all misinterpretations, missing the point of the ad by a mere half-a-continent or so. There’s barely any room on the fainting couch, what with all this bipartisanship.

We will set aside all discussion of whether the commercial was worth the candle politically; Davis has been less of a candidate than people thought she would be, and remains likely to lose the election. And we will set aside the simple argument about whether Abbott’s actions in office make him a hypocrite. The Davis ad is an important one because it strikes at the heart of what movement conservatism has made of the Republican party, which once was the party of the Pure Food and Drug Act, trust-busting, the Interstate Highway System, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA. Over the past three decades, however, beginning with that epochal moment when Ronald Reagan said, in his first inaugural, that government was the problem — not if you were a defense contractor, one thinks, or a mullah who wanted missiles — the Republican party has profited uniquely from a massive internal contradiction that would have given a less well-funded institution the blind staggers. And the party has doubled down on that contradiction year after year, decade after decade. Simply put, the Republican party deliberately has transformed itself from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of I’ve Got Mine, Jack. And it rarely, if ever, gets called to account for that. As a result, and without substantial notice or paying a substantial price, and on many issues, individual Republicans have been able to justify the benefits they’ve received from government activity that they now oppose in theory and in practice. This is not “hypocrisy.” That is too mild a word. This is the regulatory capture of the government for personal benefit. That it makes a lie, again and again, of the basic principles of modern conservatism — indeed, that it shows those principles to be a sham — is certainly worthy of notice and debate. It is certainly worthy of notice and debate that the conservative idea of the benefits of a political commonwealth means those benefits run only one way. Modern conservatism is not about making the government smaller. It’s about making the government exclusive. It’s not about streamlining the benefits of the political commonwealth. It’s about making sure those benefits flow only to those people who have proven through their ability to work all the other levers of power that they deserve those benefits.


The contradiction never should have been allowed to grow this way. Clarence Thomas should have been defined by his hysterical opposition to the affirmative action programs that helped him get out of Georgia and into Holy Cross, and not by what he may or may not have said to Anita Hill, as egregious as those comments may have been. Paul Ryan should have had the Social Security survivors benefits that got him through high school and college hung around his entire political career and draped like an iron shroud over every dystopian “budget” he ever proposed. (And, no, his sudden tenderness towards the generosity of his fellow citizens doesn’t count. You’re welcome, dickhead.) Every Republican congressman who begged for money from the stimulus package he otherwise condemned — like Paul Ryan, now that I think about it — should have had that request become a liability, and not an asset. And, since the elite political press pretty much has chickened out on its job of highlighting how the entire modern conservative ideology is built on this kind of slippery manure, it’s up to the Democratic party to do it, and the Democratic party has been terrible at the job, too. This is why Wendy Davis’s commercial is not only fair, it’s an important moment that needs to be replicated where applicable all over the country until the message sinks in. Either government is the problem or it is not. If it’s a problem for the country as a whole, then it’s also a problem in Greg Abbott’s personal life, and he should have been more concerned than he was about those personal injury lawsuits that are clogging up the courts. After all, they’re the real job-killers.

Ed. note: My bolding and the pictures did not come with the column. I could have easily bolded it all.The big takeaway is that Republicans get away with this because the media aids them. Plus the Democrats do not stand up to them, mostly because of fear of media ridicule I would guess.


Sunday Funday – Still Colorful Edition

fall trees 1

What can we say? It is sure pretty out. Beautiful weather too. Wish we could bottle it. Be sure to enjoy it during its brief time.

Take some time this week to get that absentee ballot or to take a trip to your local auditor’s office to vote. Then enjoy the fact that on election day you have already done your duty. Or maybe you could help get the vote out for our great Democratic candidates.

Were you paying attention?

1) The fear of ebola spreading in the US were heightened when a nurse who tested positive for ebola said she had done what?

2) In the Florida gubernatorial debate Republican Rick Scott at first refused to debate because his opponent had what?

3) According to one tweet, Republicans that fear the ebola virus may mutate into a virus that could be caught via the air admitted to what?

4) In Fort Dodge Thursday morning an Iowa couple was stopped for speeding and held at gunpoint by police. Why were they speeding?

5) In a real surprise in baseball the Kansas City Royals swept to the world series by winning how many straight games?

6) Republicans called for an “ebola czar” while at the same time blocking the nomination for what post?

7) Joni Ernst had a major hitter come in to campaign for her last weekend. Can you name the former presidential candidate who campaigned for Ernst?

8) September 2014 ranked as what in the recorded history of world temperatures for September?

9) In Orange City, a baby sitter was given what sentence in the death of a toddler she was watching?

10) Is the harvest in Iowa ahead of or behind schedule this year?

11) Which state in West Africa has been declared free from ebola, according to the WHO?

12) A candidate for US senate from Iowa died in a small airplane crash this week. Can you name him?

13) In Bakersfield, California there have been 20 incidents of people being terrorized by what in recent weeks?

14) With the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize last week, 5 of the last 12 winners have what in common?

15) Tired of online shopping? What cyber giant will open a brick and mortar store in downtown Manhattan before Christmas?

The early evenings and the cool temps really set the stage for a warming fire and a good movie. Oh and another Hawkeye win!


1) Taken a flight to Cleveland or taken a cruise

2) a fan placed under his podium

3) evolution – that the virus would have evolved from it contact form of spreading

4) They were on the way to the hospital for a birth. However, the police were not notified

5) 8

6) Surgeon General – Republicans have blocked the nomination of Vivek Murthy because of guns. The NRA(via Republicans) are blocking it.

7) Mitt Romney (who? many may ask)

8) #1 – following a string of hottest months this summer.

9) 100 years in prison

10) behind

11) Senegal – no new cases for 42 days as of Friday.

12) Doug Bustier, Libertarian

13) clowns

14) Muslim

15) Amazon. Yes Amazon

RELEASE: Joni Ernst’s Role in Sexual Harassment Suit Raises Questions About Her Leadership, Priorities

joni ernst the perfect Koch investment
RELEASE: Joni Ernst’s Role in Sexual Harassment Suit Raises Questions About Her Leadership, Priorities

For Immediate Release: October 16th, 2014
Contact: Matt Sinovic, (515) 423-0530

Des Moines, Iowa — A lawsuit filed today by a former Iowa Republican Senate caucus employee alleges she was fired last year after she repeatedly complained of sexual harassment by her male colleagues against female Senate staff members.

The suit includes an allegation that Republican state Sens. Joni Ernst of Red Oak and Sandra Greiner of Keota witnessed sexual innuendo and inappropriate behavior exhibited by their male colleagues, but said nothing while female staffers stood by unable object.

Bonnie Campbell, former Iowa Attorney General, issued the following statement questioning Ernst’s judgment and criticizing her failure to act:

“Joni Ernst and her campaign should stop trying to impugn the motives of the victim and come forward with the details of what she saw, and why she didn’t stop it if she saw something. The facts are clear — either Joni Ernst is accusing the victim of lying, or Joni Ernst is refusing to tell us the truth about the facts of this case. If true, this is an outrageous and troubling fact we have just learned about Ernst.”

“The more we know about Joni Ernst, the more it raises serious questions about who she is, and who she will stand up for in the U.S. Senate. This puts into question her judgment, her background, and who she would actually fight for in the Senate — because if it is anything like we have learned today, it won’t be the everyday Iowans who sometimes need a voice to speak up for them.”



Des Moines Register: Iowa Senate GOP Accused of Sexual Harassment

“The suit includes an allegation that Republican state Sens. Joni Ernst of Red Oak and Sandra Greiner of Keota witnessed sexual innuendo and inappropriate behavior exhibited by their male colleagues but said nothing while female staffers stood by unable object.”

Iowa Needs Hatch And Vernon

Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon

Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon

It is easy to write a screed against Terry Branstad. He has been around a long time. As governor he has hardly been stellar and his current term has seen him move from right wing to tea party extremist. During this term he has done many things that most Iowans would be shocked by. Branstad has gone against true Iowa values by doing things like using his line item veto to cut off food for the poor. His administration tried its hardest to deny health care for the poor under the ACA. Thus he was in the forefront of the Republican obstruction of the expansion of health care. And what can we say about the scandals that rock this administration with revelations every week? Remember one thing – it is your money that is being wasted with his shenanigans.

But why should we elect Jack Hatch? How will he be better? Well to start with we will be treated to a more open and transparent government under Jack Hatch. Government secrecy can’t get much worse than it currently is. Hatch believes and practices open government. The founders of this country expected the affairs of state to be conducted in the open. That alone would be a refreshing change for Iowa.

This is a great start, but on what specific issues would we be better off with Jack Hatch? Let’s start with Iowa’s once heralded education system. Under Branstad our standards have fallen and the best teachers are being moved out of the classroom. Hatch has plans to reinvigorate our education system. This at a time when we are facing some of the biggest challenges ever. Hatch and Vernon are also looking for solutions to the massive debt that is now incurred by Iowa’s college students. In their own words:

“My goal is to make Iowa’s colleges affordable again. Let’s cut college debt significantly with flexible, affordable options including an accelerated BA degree. Let’s keep the doors open so students who want to work for a college degree can still afford it.”

Jack Hatch has been a leader in the area of health care in Iowa. Rather than trying to screw Iowans out of health care, Hatch and Vernon will be looking for ways to include all Iowans in the health care system. Don’t forget that when some of us can’t access the health care system, that puts us all at risk:

“Perhaps the most important step we can take is the creation of a new, integrated, patient-centered health care delivery system that combines Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance into an integrated provider payment system within the current private market. This will include integrating mental health into our current primary health system; ensuring rural Iowa participates fully in access to health care (which is currently not happening), and that consumers have full access to their medical records while maintaining full and complete choice in how their health care is received and managed.”

Possibly the biggest failure of the Branstad is jobs. Branstad brags about jobs he has created, but a quick look at any independent chart shows that Iowa has fallen short of not only the lofty goals Branstad promised, but the country as a whole and what Iowa needs to keep up with growth. Once more Hatch and Vernon will address jobs not with the ideological bent of Branstad, but with some practical real world ideas.

“My goal is reversing our state’s slide towards an economy with more low wage jobs and fewer middle class jobs. We can start by increasing the minimum wage. Let’s develop our economy from the community level up in our city neighborhoods and our small towns instead of the top-down, whether its for business, culture, tourism or infrastructure.

My goal is growing more thriving small businesses in Iowa and many fewer, much smaller tax handouts to corporate giants outside of Iowa. My goal is to invest in our Iowa entrepreneurs and grow the next generation of high-tech businesses right here.”

These are just a few of the areas where we will see dramatic positive change from the Branstad administration. Please go to to the Hatch – Vernon website to learn much more.

There is one other very major difference between the two candidates. That is in their choice of running mates. Monica Vernon could step in and do a bang up job as governor today. She has experience at a lower level and in business leading. Vernon is competent and savvy. Choosing Monica Vernon as a running mate immediately showed that Jack Hatch has concern about making sure that leadership doesn’t fail in his absence.

We can’t say that about Terry Branstad’s choice of Kim Reynolds. She was a political choice from the get-go. Her purpose was to assuage the tea party element that has grown so strong in Iowa’s Republican Party. Her experience is meager and her on-the-job training has been scant. With Branstad’s apparently failing health and rumors that he plans to resign and turn the state over to Reynolds in his next term should scare most Iowans. Iowans do not need to be part of a right wing experiment on ideological government. One need only look at Kansas to see how well that works.

This Should Be The Biggest Story of The Year

Last weekend in an interview with Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institute of Health, said that a vaccine for ebola would have probably already have been found had it not been for budget cuts.

“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

This is a national disgrace. It is more than a disgrace, cutting funds to the NIH when we are facing challenges unlike ever before is tantamount to a crime. Anybody want to guess who was behind those cuts?

While Republicans slash budgets for any social program, they always have money for war. Their budget cutting starve children of the poor, condemns college students to a life of debt for merely getting an education, turns proud men and women into beggars, puts all into jeopardy with failing infrastructure and sets the stage for the United States future failure as our education system deteriorates. All this while trying to keep this country in perpetual war that wastes our resources for no return.

As Laura Twing noted in her post here on Wednesday budgets are moral statements. Cutting the budget of the agency that looks forward to stop major diseases is a moral statement. That statement is that we do not care about our citizens.

Cutting the budget of the NIH and its companion CDC is but one of many cuts that threaten our populace. But this is the one that is making headlines because the threat is immediate and could be scary. The cuts to education, the cuts to the poor, the cuts to the infrastructure, the cuts to the elderly, the cuts to veterans, the cuts to environmental programs, the cuts to renewable energy and others are not immediate threats. They will slowly turn this country backward but not so fast that it is immediately noticeable. With their allies in the main stream media future problems can be ignored. The threat of ebola can’t be ignored.

But those who run the Republican party – the Kochs, the DeVoses and all those others whose mission in life is to pile up money while making life miserable for the rest of us – have convinced at least nearly half the country that voting to screw other citizens because of their skin color or religion or sex or economic status or sexual orientation is a good thing. Screwing over the “others” in this country is the mission of the Republican Party.

Please think before you vote. This is a most important election, maybe one of the most important ever. Is your moral compass set for making the country cater to a few wealthy? Then vote Republican. But you had better understand that there is no trickle down. If you believe that you will be rewarded, you won’t. You will merely get screwed along with the rest of us.

But if you believe that the clause in the Constitution that states one of the purposes of the government is to “promote the general Welfare” then it is imperative that you vote for Democrats who will work to attain a general welfare for all, not just the rich.

When Joni Ernst campaigns on how she will “cut the pork” – in that cute little video about castrating pigs – there are consequences. When any Republican says they will cut the budget – be it Miller-Meeks, David Young, Rod Blum or the King himself, remember there are consequences. Also remember that each of these will always be willing to send us into war without raising taxes.

Joni Ernst Meeting with SCJ Editorial Board

Quoting Wonkette“You can watch the entire, excruciating hour-long conversation here, although castration would probably be less painful.”

Joni Ernst Cites Her Religion As Reason She Would Vote For A “Personhood” Amendment to U.S. Constitution

joni ernst the perfect Koch investmentJoni Ernst thinks her religion should be everyone else’s public policy.

Ernst told the Sioux City Journal editorial board on Wednesday that she would support a federal “personhood” measure if she were elected to the U.S. Senate. “I will continue to stand by that. I am a pro-life candidate, and this has been shaped by my religious beliefs through the years,” she said. “So I support that.”

A “personhood” amendment to the U.S. constitution would give not just a late term fetus “personhood” rights, but also would bestow “personhood” upon a moment-after-conception fertilized egg.

Ernst awkwardly attempted to downplay it to the SCJ editorial board saying, “we don’t have consensus” (like don’t worry, it’s not gonna happen!). But if she were to be elected, there is little doubt that she would be voting yes on a “personhood” amendment as soon as Republicans bring it up in congress which you can bet will be immediately.   She did already cast a vote for a fetal “personhood” amendment in the Iowa legislature in 2013.  In any event, how much sense does it make for a candidate to defend her position on an issue by arguing that it’s never going to happen anyway?

There is a wide range of implications to  “personhood” that frequently go unmentioned.  A “personhood” amendment would not just make safe, legal abortions unavailable in the U.S.  – with no exception for rape and incest – it could also affect the legality of birth control, such as emergency contraception and the IUD. And the implications of this potentially go beyond making some common convenient forms of birth control illegal, to a woman potentially being charged with manslaughter for having a miscarriage.  Yes, I agree, that sounds crazy, but has that stopped Republicans, the Kochs, ALEC,  yet?   The “stand your ground” laws seem crazy too, but a kid carrying Skittles was deemed enough of a threat that a gun-toting man got away with murder.  The voter ID laws seem crazy too but they are happening.

Ernst herself has admitted that she owes everything to the Kochs so let’s not pretend she would represent anyone other than herself if, God forbid, she ever made it to Congress. This is a short but very interesting video.

Inequality In The 21st Century

Blog Action Day“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These first words to the Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, and proclaimed on July 4, 1776, are what most U.S. residents think of when considering equality—we all are created equal.

A month earlier, George Mason had written the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which included, “all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights of which… they cannot deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.”

As Jefferson and Mason both understood, liberty meant the right to own property, including slaves, something each of them did.

Whatever liberty and the enjoyment of life we have gets parceled out unevenly at birth. We are more alike genetically than different, but the circumstances into which we enter life and live make us more different with each passing day. The cards are already dealt in terms of family, religion, and social and economic status when we are born.

For those who come into a life of wealth and property—an increasingly small portion of the population—life can be good. For the rest of us, it can also be good, but we have to find our own happiness and hope our liberties are not eroded by the government our forbears helped create to protect them. That is hard to do in today’s political environment.

The influence of money in politics favors the wealthiest among us and has been eroding the commons and our well-being since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. We held back the Robber Barons once. It seems unlikely the political will exists to do it again… yet.

On this Blog Action Day, what matters more is not the life we possess at birth, influenced by others. What matters is the way we seek common ground and lend each other a hand in times of adversity.

For if there is inequality in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, and there is, it’s whether and how we come together to fight oppression and get back to the best part of what the founders intended that will help resolve the greatest inequalities among us.

Today is a small step toward that end.

Appel Leading Tea Party Opponent

Staci Appel has been out fund-raising and out-polling her tea party opponent David Young. “The support we’ve received has been humbling and ensures we’ll have the resources to continue talking to voters about keeping the promise of retirement security, investing in education, raising the minimum wage and putting Iowa families first.”

Vote for Staci Appel if you live in the 3rd.  Volunteer to help her campaign.

The Normalization Of GOP Crazy

GOP Crazy

“…When Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst flirted with the “Agenda 21″ conspiracy theory — a favorite of Glenn Beck, in which the U.S. government and the United Nations are supposedly conspiring to force rural people in Iowa and elsewhere to leave their homes and be relocated to urban centers — national pundits didn’t see it as disqualifying. Nor did they when it was revealed that Ernst believes not only that states can “nullify” federal laws they don’t like (they can’t); and, even crazier, that local sheriffs ought to arrest federal officials implementing the Affordable Care Act, which is quite literally a call for insurrection against the federal government. I guess those are just colorful ideas.

And in the last few years, there’s a baseline of crazy from the right that the press has simply come to expect and accept, so the latest conspiracy theorizing or far-out idea from a candidate no longer strikes them as exceptional. Sure, there are exceptions: For instance, Republicans Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell both saw their candidacies derailed by their crazy or outsized statements.

But during this cycle, Republican crazy just hasn’t broken through at all. It’s almost as if the national press has just come to accept as normal the degree to which the GOP has moved dramatically to the right. At this point so many prominent Republicans have said insane things that after a while they go by with barely a notice.

This is an era when a prominent Republican governor who wants to be president can muse about the possibility that his state might secede from the union, when the most popular radio host in the country suggests that liberals like Barack Obama want Ebola to come to America to punish us for slavery, and when the President of the United States had to show his birth certificate to prove that he isn’t a foreigner.

So ideological extremism and insane conspiracy theories from the right have been normalized. Which means that when another Republican candidate says something deranged, as long as it doesn’t offend a key swing constituency, reporters don’t think it’s disqualifying. And so it isn’t.

(click here to read the entire article at WaPo)