Category: Iowa Politics

The Resistance comes to GOP town halls in Iowa

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The topic of this blog post was chosen in a Twitter poll, although only one person voted in the poll.


Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst (both Republicans), held town hall events in their home states yesterday. Needless to say, the people of Iowa were not impressed with Grassley and Ernst siding with the Donald Trump agenda to destroy America, and they had serious concerns about a wide range of issues, including immigration and foreign influence in U.S. elections.

During Grassley’s town hall in Iowa Falls, Grassley was asked by Zalmay Niazy, an Afgan man who assisted U.S. forces as a translator and is now in the U.S., about Trump’s Muslim ban:

At a town hall in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Tuesday, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley received a question from an Afghan man who asked him for help to stay in the US in the face of the Trump administration’s immigration executive order.

Multiple federal courts across the country have granted requests to temporarily halt enforcement of the order, which bars foreign nationals from Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and all refugees from Syria indefinitely.

[…]

“Who is going to save me?” he asked Grassley. “I am a person from a Muslim country and I am a Muslim. Who is going to save me here? Who is going to stand behind me?”

In Maquoketa, Ernst was asked a question by a U.S. Army Reserves veteran about Donald Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government:

Trinity Ray, a 41-year-old veteran from Iowa City who spent eight years in the Army Reserves, pressed Ernst to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 American election.

“I appreciate that a lot, because I have said repeatedly that Russia is not our friend,” Ernst said, as Ray yelled that she should “say it louder.” She added that Trump “needs to stand up against Vladimir Putin.”

Ray wasn’t satisfied.

“If you were serious about this situation, you wouldn’t rest until you had an answer,” he said afterward. “We swore to defend against enemies domestic and foreign.”

Ernst refused to support a special congressional committee to investigate Russian influence in the November 2016 U.S. elections.

Rural America is beginning to realize that Trump and his Republican cohorts are not acting in the best interests of Greater America. People who are attending town halls in an attempt to let their voices be heard are not paid protesters. They’re ordinary people.

Joni Ernst sends virtually blank response to constituent’s request not to block SCOTUS appointment

Sometime in the immediate future, President Barack Obama will appoint someone to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) created by the death of Antonin Scalia.

One of the many Republican U.S. Senators who support obstructing anyone that the president appoints to the Supreme Court is Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). Many of Ernst’s constituents in Iowa are not happy at all that Ernst wants the U.S. Senate to neglect its duty to either confirm or reject whoever the president appoints to SCOTUS, and one of them is Maggie White, who is a civil rights attorney from Iowa’s largest city, Des Moines. When White emailed Ernst’s office about Ernst and her fellow Senate Republicans wanting to do absolutely nothing in regards to the president’s SCOTUS pick, White did a very important civic duty by contacting Ernst’s office about the matter. Here’s how Ernst responded to White:

Joni Ernst sent one of her constituents a virtually blank response to a message that one of her constituents sent to her! By “virtually blank response”, I mean that Ernst’s response to Maggie White’s message contained a letterhead, a salutation, and a closing, not a body. The body of the email, which there is none in this particular email, is where Ernst’s response to White’s message would have been.

The U.S. Constitution is clear. The president must appoint a new SCOTUS justice, the Senate must either confirm or reject that appointment. For the Senate to not even conduct a confirmation process amounts to the Senate neglecting its Constitutional duty of advice and consent. It doesn’t take a lawyer to figure that out.

As a progressive in a conservative region of Illinois, I can relate to people like these

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post includes a blockquote from a book titled Blue in a Red State: The Survival Guide to Life in the Real America, written by Justin Krebs. The blockquote comes from an excerpt of the book published on the Salon magazine website, as I do not have the actual book in question.


As someone who lives in a conservative region of Illinois (specifically, Vermilion County, Illinois, located in the east-central part of the state), I can relate to this:

Lisa in Waukesha, Wisconsin, has two Facebook accounts. One reflects her liberal politics; the other is for acquaintances and family members to whom Lisa shows only her cat photos. Christina, in Milford, Massachusetts, has a sign in the back window of her car proclaiming support for a Democratic candidate. But as soon as she parks in the company lot, she puts it facedown on the backseat. Byron has lived in the same small town of Pomeroy, Iowa—population 662—his entire life. He brings his partner to family dinners but has never actually said to his conservative sister that he’s gay.

Lisa, Christina, and Byron are “blues in red states”—liberals who live in conservative communities that exist in every state, Republican or Democratic-leaning, across America. They and people like them are constantly reminded they aren’t quite like everyone else: from the churches they do or don’t attend, to their purchases and media preferences, to their loyalties at the ballot box. On a daily basis, liberals who have made homes, formed friendships, and participated in the civic life of conservative towns and cities are confronted with unsettling reminders that they’re different, and they’ve found myriad ways to take that truth in stride.

Although Massachusetts, Iowa, and Wisconsin aren’t exactly “red states” (MA is a blue state with a Republican governor, and IA and WI are presidential swing states with Republican governors), all three of the people featured in the above paragraphs live in areas of their states that are more conservative than the state as a whole.

For someone who is very vocal about politics online, I almost never talk about politics when I’m away from my house. In fact, I blend in surprisingly well with other people in my community, as virtually nobody outside of my immediate relatives (mostly Democrats who are not as progressive as I am) know about my political views. In fact, virtually nobody in my community knows that I’m an atheist, and that’s because I never talk about that outside of online to a receptive audience.

In fact, regarding Lisa from Waukesha, Wisconsin, I’m actually an online friend of hers, believe it or not. There’s not too many people I’m comfortable communicating with (either in person or online), but I’m more than comfortable talking with Lisa online. I don’t agree with Lisa 100% of the time (although I’ve never agreed with anyone 100% of the time and I agree with Lisa more often than not), but Lisa is far more understanding of opposing viewpoints than me or most other people.

Senate Republicans evade their constitutional duty

Earlier today, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Even though I strongly disagreed with the vast majority of Scalia’s opinions, I offer my condolences to Justice Scalia’s family.

However, Republicans who hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and presidential candidates Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), couldn’t wait for Scalia to be cremated before showing that they are more than willing to evade their constitutional duty, with McConnell flatly saying that the Senate should wait until a new president is in the White House before confirming a new Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

This stands in sharp contrast with President Barack Obama, who intends to fulfill his constitutional duty by appointing a new associate justice to this country’s highest bench, even if Republicans obstruct his nomination.

By fulfilling one’s constitutional duty, I’m referring to, in this specific instance, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine; in Article II of the Constitution, “he” refers to the president, regardless of the president’s gender)

The President has the power and constitutional duty to nominate an individual to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, however, the Senate has the power and constitutional duty to either affirm or reject the president’s appointment. It’s clear to me that one party to the process to appoint Supreme Court justices intends to do his constitutional duty (the President), whereas the other party does not (the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate).

The Senate is not required to approve of the president’s pick for the Supreme Court vacancy. The Senate can, if they wish to, establish a process to determine whether or not to approve or reject the president’s pick, and can opt to vote the president’s pick down, either in committee or in the full Senate. However, for the Senate to not establish any kind of process for accepting or rejecting the president’s pick amounts to completely evading the constitutional duty of the Senate.

From an electoral standpoint, it would be absolutely foolish for Republicans to obstruct the president’s pick to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. If the Republicans go through with their threat to obstruct the president’s pick until, at the earliest, a new president is sworn into office, that would, in effect, put control of both the White House and the Supreme Court on the line in the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. That is the poker equivalent of going all in with a likely losing hand. This strategy could very easily backfire on Republicans, and they would not like the nominees that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders (I’m a Bernie supporter) would pick. Hillary would likely nominate Obama to the Supreme Court, and Bernie would probably appoint someone who is ideologically similar to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most progressive of the current Supreme Court justices, if not even more progressive than Ginsburg. If Democrats were to retain control of the White House and regain control of the Senate, stalling on filling the Scalia vacancy on the Supreme Court could end up resulting in a more progressive justice than someone that Obama will pick being seated on our nation’s highest bench (I’m guessing that Obama will pick someone to his ideological right for Supreme Court). Furthermore, U.S. Senate races where Republicans are thought to be safe or favored, such as Indiana, Iowa, and Missouri, would become more competitive for Democrats, and U.S. Senate races that are either competitive or where Democrats are favored, such as Illinois and Wisconsin, would become even more favorable for Democrats.

Time to seriously look at reforming the Iowa Democratic Caucuses

With the fiasco that was the Iowa Democratic Caucuses behind us, it’s now time to take a serious look at ideas to reform the caucus process in Iowa. Here’s some of my own ideas:

  • Require the state party to report county delegates, state delegate equivalents, and popular vote on election night.
  • Require the state party to apportion county delegates to precincts based on a “30-30-20-20” formula, in which there are a set number of county delegates apportioned to each county based on a county’s Democratic ticket vote total in the previous presidential election (30%), a county’s Democratic ticket vote total in the previous gubernatorial election (30%), the number of registered Democrats in the county at the time that candidate filing for the caucuses closed (20%), and the population of the county at the time of the Census in which Iowa’s state legislative districts in use at the time of the caucuses were drawn in accordance to (20%). The figure calculated by using the “30-30-20-20” method is called the “population equivalent”.
  • Require that state delegates be apportioned to counties based on the “30-30-20-20” method.
  • Require that there be one county delegate per 40 population equivalents, and that there be one state delegate per 500 population equivalents.
  • Require votes to be reported as soon as possible after caucusing is finished in the precinct in question, preferably by an internet-connected electronic device, although, if that is not possible, reporting can be done via phone or, as a last resort, delivering a tally sheet to the state party headquarters as soon as possible. In all cases, paper documentation of the vote count should be conducted and delivered to the state party headquarters as soon as possible.
  • Require that a presidential candidate automatically be declared non-viable in a particular precinct if said presidential candidate lacks a precinct captain, and require that the precinct chair request that a caucusgoer step forward and become a precinct captain for said presidential candidate if said presidential candidate does not have a precinct captain in a particular precinct after the start of the caucus, but before voting begins.
  • Require that public ballots be used for each round of voting in the caucuses, unless DNC rules are amended to allow for secret ballots in the caucuses.
  • In the event that there are fewer caucusgoers than the number of county delegates apportioned to a precinct, require that all caucusgoers be sent to the county convention as uncommitted county delegates.
  • In the event that a significant tie for a delegate occurs in a precinct, require that one final round of voting be conducted, and, if there is still a tie, require that two county delegates with half-votes are elected (or three county delegates with one-third votes for a three-way significant tie, and so on).
  • In the event that, counting “uncommitted” as a candidate, there are more presidential candidates than either seven or the number of county delegates apportioned to the precinct in question (whichever is fewer), require that, if necessary, multiple rounds of voting, with only the last place candidate being declared non-viable after each ballot, be held until there are either seven or a number of candidates equal to the number of county delegates apportioned to the precinct remaining, and/or the top seven candidates or a number of candidates equal to the number of county delegates apportioned to the precinct have either 85% (for precincts with seven or more county delegates) or [[(n-1)/n]+1]% (n is the number of presidential candidates) of the precinct vote combined. At that point, all candidates below the viability threshold shall be declared non-viable, and, barring a significant tie, one additional round of voting shall take place.

I congratulate Donald Trump on winning the 2016 presidential election

Since it’s clear to me that Bernie Sanders is likely not winning the Iowa caucuses barring higher turnout than what the final Ann Seltzer poll has predicted, I’ll predict a few things, all of which are shocking to most people on here:

  1. Bernie probably will drop out of the presidential race late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, and he’ll stay completely out of the presidential race from that point forward.
  2. Bernie will not endorse a presidential candidate once he’s no longer running, and he won’t seek anyone’s vice-presidential nomination.
  3. Bernie will not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2018, although he’ll continue to serve the people of Vermont until his current term in the Senate is over.
  4. Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic presidential nominee, and she will lose the general election to Republican nominee Donald Trump.

Will I vote for Hillary in the general election if she’s the Democratic presidential nominee? Barring an indictment of Hillary before the general election (extremely unlikely, and it’s not been confirmed as to whether or not Hillary is actually under criminal investigation), yes. However, indictment or no indictment, Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States. That’s because Bernie doesn’t appear to have a realistic path to the Democratic nomination if he loses the Iowa caucuses, and, since Hillary lacks any kind of appeal to working-class voters, Trump, who does have appeal to working-class voters willing to vote for a ultra-wealthy racist, can take advantage of that by running a downright nasty campaign that would make Richard Nixon’s political campaigns of the 1960’s and the 1970’s look tame by comparison. Although I would not join them, I would predict that about 15% of Bernie supporters would go to Trump if it’s a Hillary vs. Trump race.

While I still think that there’s a slight chance that Bernie wins the Iowa caucuses (he’d need significant support among late Democratic registrants, however), If this is how the decades-long political career of Bernie Sandes comes to an end, it would be just an awful way for it to end.

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Hillary’s “47%” moment

Remember when Republican Mitt Romney sunk his 2012 presidential campaign by attacking “47%” of Americans by trying to smear them as freeloaders?

Well, Hillary Clinton just pulled a Romney, ladies and gentlemen. That’s because Hillary, while at a political fundraiser in White Plains, New York, bragged about how she was taking “a little breather” from campaigning in Iowa:

Please note that I did NOT record the video.

It’s pretty clear to me that Hillary doesn’t like Iowa or the people who call Iowa home, and she’s willing to bash Iowa while in a friendly environment to her, such as a political fundraiser in the New York City suburbs.

For those of you who are Iowa Democrats, if there’s one thing that you’ll ever do that’s worthwhile in your entire life, caucus for Bernie Sanders!

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

47 House Dems side with ISIS and Nazi-like bigotry from the GOP

A total of 47 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted for anti-Syrian refugee legislation straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset. Here are the House Democrats who voted for the legislation:

Pete Aguilar California 31st
Brad Ashford Nebraska 2nd
Ami Bera California 7th
Sanford Bishop, Jr. Georgia 2nd
Julia Brownley California 26th
Cheri Bustos Illinois 17th
John Carney Delaware At-large
Gerry Connolly Virginia 11th
Jim Cooper Tennessee 5th
Jim Costa California 16th
Joe Courtney Connecticut 2nd
Henry Cuellar Texas 28th
John Delaney Maryland 6th
Lloyd Doggett Texas 35th
Tulsi Gabbard Hawaii 2nd
John Garamendi California 3rd
Gwen Graham Florida 2nd
Gene Green Texas 29th
Janice Hahn California 44th
Jim Himes Connecticut 4th
Steve Israel New York 3rd
Marcy Kaptur Ohio 9th
Bill Keating Massachusetts 9th
Ron Kind Wisconsin 3rd
Ann McLane Kuster New Hampshire 2nd
Jim Langevin Rhode Island 2nd
Dan Lipinski Illinois 3rd
Dave Loebsack Iowa 2nd
Stephen Lynch Massachusetts 8th
Sean Patrick Maloney New York 18th
Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
Rick Nolan Minnesota 8th
Donald Norcross New Jersey 1st
Scott Peters California 52nd
Collin Peterson Minnesota 7th
Jared Polis Colorado 2nd
Kathleen Rice New York 4th
Raul Ruiz California 36th
Tim Ryan Ohio 13th
Kurt Schrader Oregon 5th
David Scott Georgia 13th
Terri Sewell Alabama 7th
Kyrsten Sinema Arizona 9th
Louise Slaughter New York 25th
Marc Veasey Texas 33rd
Filemon Vela Texas 34th
Tim Walz Minnesota 1st

When I say that these 47 Democratic traitors sided with ISIS, I mean that they are effectively fueling ISIS propaganda by refusing to take in the very people who have been oppressed by ISIS and the Syrian dictatorship of Bashir al-Assad. When I say that this legislation is straight out of a Nazi Germany mindset, I’m referring to public opposition here in the U.S. to accepting Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Holocaust and the Nazi Germany regime of Adolf Hitler in the late 1930’s.

It’s not just moderate and conservative “Democrats” who are effectively siding with ISIS and repeating the history of the Nazis by opposing Syrian refugees. Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson have used racist, Nazi-like language to stir up fear of Syrian refugees among white racist Americans.

Here’s what Trump recently said, courtesy of Yahoo! News:

“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule,” Trump said. “And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”

Yahoo News asked Trump whether this level of tracking might require registering Muslims in a database or giving them a form of special identification that noted their religion. He wouldn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely,” Trump said when presented with the idea. “We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

Here’s what Carson recently said, courtesy of NBC News:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Thursday suggested that concerns about Syrian refugees in the United States are akin to a parent’s concerns about “mad dogs.”

“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog, and you’re probably going to put your children out of the way,” he said during remarks in Mobile, Alabama. “[It] doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs, by any stretch of the imagination, but you’re putting your intellect into motion and you’re thinking ‘How do I protect my children? At the same time, I love dogs and I’m gonna call the humane society and hopefully they can come take this dog away and create a safe environment once again.'”

Any Democrat who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee legislation has effectively sided with right-wing racists like Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who are using Nazi Germany-like language in opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States. Supporting requiring that Muslims have special identification is eerily reminiscent of the Nazis forcibly tattooing identification numbers onto Jewish people in concentration camps, and comparing Syrian refugees fleeing war and terrorism to mad dogs is eerily reminiscent of Nazi propaganda comparing Jewish people to rats (in fact, at least one British newspaper, the Daily Mail, actually compared Syrian refugees to rats). Normally, I’m not a fan of Nazi comparisons, but, if there’s actual historical context behind a Nazi comparison, then I’m all for it.

One last thing, I find it ironic that the number of House Democrats who voted for the anti-Syrian refugee bill (47) equals the number of Senate Republicans who signed a letter to Iranian leaders in an attempt to undermine diplomacy in efforts to stop a nuclear deal designed to keep Iran from producing nuclear weapons (47), as well as the percentage of Americans that 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney claimed were dependent on the government (47).

Scott Walker: Intimidated by Barbecue Sauce

Here is a picture of Wisconsin Governor and likely Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker eating ribs covered in barbecue sauce with latex gloves on his hands at a Republican motorcycle rally held in Iowa by far-right U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA):

Scott Walker: Intimidated by Barbecue Sauce

The picture has been posted to the Wisconsin progressive blog Democurmudgeon, although I’m not sure who took the picture. If anyone can provide me the name of the photographer who took the picture above, I’ll add a caption giving credit to him or her.

I don’t eat barbecue ribs, but I do eat chicken strips from time to time, and I prefer to dip chicken strips in barbecue sauce. I never wear gloves or a bib while eating chicken strips, and I don’t have a problem at all if some of the barbecue sauce gets on my hands or clothing. After all, I can always wash my hands, and every article of clothing I have can be machine-washed.

Remember, this is the same Scott Walker who bizarrely claimed that his experience taking on teachers’ unions (in reality, he hid from teachers, public employees, and other hard-working Wisconsinites while he took away rights from Wisconsin’s public employees nearly four and a half years ago) means that he can take on ISIS and other terrorist groups, which was an absolutely absurd and offensive comparison. If Walker thinks that barbecue sauce is a mortal enemy to his hands, then how the hell is he supposed to take on ISIS and Vladimir Putin?

Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States

Earlier today, a framework was announced in the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations (the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) in an effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies. There is a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 nations.

Already, Republican politicians have used the announcement of a framework in the Iran nuclear talks to threaten to blow up any Iran nuclear deal. Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has, once again, promised to blow up any Iran nuclear deal if he’s elected president. Not to be outdone by Walker, Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of 47 U.S. Senators to sign the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, compared the P5+1 framework with the Iranian government to the 1938 Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement allowed German dictator Adolf Hitler to annex the Sudetenland, or areas of what is now the Czech Republic that had a large percentage of German-speaking people prior to World War II. Not to be outdone by his own false equivalence, Kirk went as far as to call for a nuclear attack on Iran, saying that anything that would result in sanctions on Iran being lifted would “end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran”.

It’s not just hawkish American politicians who are trying to sabotage diplomacy with Iran. Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud party and the Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister, reiterated Israel’s commitment to sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal, saying that Israeli officials will continue their efforts to “explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement”.

Make no mistake about it, Israel and our own country’s warmongering politicians are the biggest threats to the United States. People like those U.S. Senators who signed the traitorous Tom Cotton letter, people like those in Israel who support their own country’s self-destruction, and people like those Republican presidential candidates who call for the U.S. to “stand with Israel” by opposing diplomacy with Iran are putting America at risk of a nuclear attack by Iran. That’s because sabotaging any Iran nuclear deal would allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons that could be used against the United States and its allies.

If you’re standing with Israel and opposing diplomacy with Iran, you’re effectively opposing the national security of the United States of America.