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“Just Differing Species Of The Same Family”: ISIS And American Conservatives; If It Looks Like A Duck And Quacks Like A Duck…

Look who just banned teaching evolution in schools:

The extremist-held Iraqi city of Mosul is set to usher in a new school year. But unlike years past, there will be no art or music. Classes about history, literature and Christianity have been “permanently annulled.”The Islamic State group has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and ordered that certain pictures be torn out of textbooks.

But instead of compliance, Iraq’s second largest city has — at least so far — responded to the Sunni militants’ demands with silence. Although the extremists stipulated that the school year would begin Sept. 9, pupils have uniformly not shown up for class, according to residents who spoke anonymously because of safety concerns. They said families were keeping their children home out of mixed feelings of fear, resistance and uncertainty.

I know we’re not supposed to say this out loud because it’s so outrageous to suggest that ISIS and American conservatives might have anything in common. And obviously the level of outrageous and murderous violence perpetrated by ISIS has no parallel in the American political system–but that’s also because of the secular counterweight of civil society and constitutional democracy. Culturally, there are a lot of striking similarities between the conservative reactionary ethos in both the western and the Islamic worlds.

Hate evolution? check.

Hate sexually liberated and empowered women? Check.

Love guns and hate gays? Check.

Hate big liberal government? Check.

Believe that society should be organized according to religious principles and that secular people should have no right to curtail religious “freedom”? Check.

Want to empower down-home rural principles against those corrupt city bubble dwellers? Check.

Believe in eye-for-an-eye retributive justice? Check.

Love to sport big Duck Dynasty-style beards? Check.

Just how much quacking do we need to see here before we acknowledge they’re just differing species of the same family of ducks?

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 22, 2015

February 23, 2015 Posted by | American History, Conservatives, ISIS | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Bullets Outweigh Ballots”: Joni Ernst And The Right To Revolutionary Violence

The picture of IA GOP SEN nominee Joni Ernst that’s emerging from exposure of her pre-2014-general-election utterances is of a standard-brand Constitutional Conservative embracing all the strange and controversial tenets of that creed. There’s Agenda 21 madness. There’s Personhood advocacy. There are attacks on the entire New Deal/Great Society legacy–and perhaps even agricultural programs–as creating “dependency.” And now, inevitably, there’s the crown jewel of Con Con extremism: the belief that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to enable “patriots” to violently overthrow the government if in their opinion it’s overstepped its constitutional boundaries. Sam Levine of HuffPost has that story:

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

Now this is a guaranteed applause line among Con Con audiences, for reasons that have relatively little to do with gun regulation. The idea here is to intimidate liberals, and “looters” and secular socialists, and those people, that there are limits to what the good virtuous folk of the country will put up with in the way of interference with their property rights and their religious convictions and their sense of how the world ought to work. If push comes to shove, they’re heavily armed, and bullets outweigh ballots. It’s a reminder that if politics fails in protecting their very broad notion of their “rights,” then revolutionary violence–which after all, made this great country possible in the first place–is always an option. And if that sounds “anti-democratic,” well, as the John Birch Society has always maintained, this is a Republic, not a democracy.

This stuff is entirely consistent with everything we’ve been learning about how Joni Ernst talked before she won a Senate nomination and decided upon an aggressively non-substantive message based on her identity and biography and one stupid but apparently irresistible joke comparing the kind of treatment she’ll give to the pork purveyors of Washington (presumably those who support obvious waste like food stamps and Medicaid) to hog castratin.’ Issues are absolute kryptonite to her campaign, so it’s no surprise she’s decided abruptly to cancel all meetings with editorial boards between now and November 4, according to Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu:

Is Joni Ernst afraid of newspaper editorial boards? After much negotiating, she was scheduled to meet his morning with writers and editors at The Des Moines Register, but last night her people called to unilaterally cancel. She has also begged off meetings with The Cedar Rapids Gazette and The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald.

Is Ernst that sensitive to the kinds of criticisms that invariably will come in such a high profile U.S. Senate race? Is she afraid of the scrutiny? Sure, it’s stressful, but all the other candidates for Congress are doing it to get their messages out, including Steven King, the target of frequent editorial criticism.

Maybe Ernst’s cynicism will be justified by the results, but I dunno: Iowans are pretty old-school about this kind of thing, and the Register actually influences votes, probably more than any newspaper I can think of. If she does win, nobody in Iowa has any excuse to be surprised if she turns out to be Todd Akin or Sharron Angle with better message discipline. As I said in another post recently, that’s pretty much who she is. Knowing she’s played the “I have the right to overthrow the government with my gun” meme makes that even clearer.

Still, somebody should ask Joni Ernst: “Since you brought it up, exactly what circumstances would justify you shooting a police officer or a soldier in the head?” Oh yeah: that would require her taking questions, which I doubt we’ll see in the last days of this campaign.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, October 22, 2014

October 24, 2014 Posted by | Iowa, Joni Ernst, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tea Party’s Ebola Paranoia”: Why GOP’s Fear-Mongering Is Just A Cynical Turnout Strategy

There’s good news in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday night: Most Americans believe the government is ready to handle a possible Ebola outbreak, even as a second Dallas health worker has contracted the disease.  But if you want to understand why the GOP is fear-mongering on the issue, you’ve got to analyze the poll results more closely.

Some 56 percent of Americans say the government is prepared to handle Ebola, including 61 percent of Democrats. But that number is flipped on its head when you ask Tea Party voters: 57 percent of them say the government is not prepared, as do 54 percent of rural voters. So two core components of the GOP red-state base coalition don’t trust the federal government, in the person of President Obama, to keep them safe – and there’s some political opportunity for Republicans in those numbers. When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz continues to insist “I remain concerned that we don’t see sufficient seriousness on the part of the federal government about protecting the American public,” those are the voters he’s talking to.

The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent makes the excellent point that one big political benefit of Ebola to the GOP is that it gives them a theme with which to nationalize the election and make it about the perceived failures of President Obola – I mean Obama – especially in states like Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina, where vulnerable Democrats have kept it close by focusing on local issues and their GOP opponents’ foibles.  That’s why Thom Tillis is insisitng that Sen. Kay Hagan has “failed the people of North Carolina and the nation by not securing our border.”

The poll had more good news than bad for the forces of calm and reason: 49 percent of Americans thought the CDC is doing a good job, compared to 22 percent who said it wasn’t. Other polls have given us a little more to worry about: Last week’s Rutgers-Eagleton survey of New Jersey voters found that 69 percent were at least somewhat concerned about the disease spreading here – and that people who were paying the most attention to TV actually knew the least about the disease, and were the most frightened.

That’s an unusual finding: People who pay the most attention to coverage of a political issue usually know the most about it when polled. But not when it comes to Ebola. “The tone of the coverage seems to be increasing fear while not improving understanding,” the pollster told reporters. No data on whether they were mostly watching Fox, where Bill O’Reilly is calling for the resignation of the respected CDC head Tom Frieden (the sensible Greta Van Susteren called her colleague out here.)

That same NBC/WSJ poll showed Republicans with a generic two point lead over Democrats in the coming midterm elections, 46-44. Again, the best thing I can say about continued polling is: It could be worse for Dems. That same poll had Republicans up by 7 at the same point, and they went on to deliver a “shellacking.” The poll was tied 45-45 in 2012, when President Obama won re-election and Democrats gained seats in Congress.

Even better, Democrats are leading Republicans among registered voters in the top-11 Senate races, 47 percent to 42 percent. So Democrats should expect losses, but it’s still not looking like a wave year. Unless Republicans can use Ebola and ISIS to drive out their voters, and Democratic voters stay home.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, October 15, 2014

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Ebola, GOP, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Upside-Down Tea Party Dogma In Arkansas”: Contrary To Tea Party Fantasies, It Wasn’t Private Entrepreneurs Who Paved The Roads

When we moved to our Arkansas cattle farm, a friend lent us a book titled A Straw in the Sun. Published in 1945, Charlie Mae Simon’s beautifully written memoir of homesteading here in Perry County, Arkansas during the 1930s was long out of print—maybe because the hardscrabble life it depicts is too recent for nostalgia.

Like much of the rural South before World War II, Perry County was essentially the Third World. So was Yell County, immediately to the west, home of U.S. Senate candidate Tom Cotton. Except for a lot of wasteful government spending he affects to deplore, it would still be.

Cotton’s campaign against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor reflects everything upside-down about Tea Party dogma and the tycoons who fund it—a local story with national implications.

Originally featured as New Yorker essays, Simon’s book wasn’t intended as social protest. Even so, many forget that millions of Americans lived as subsistence-level peasant farmers within living memory.

Simon and her neighbors grew their own food and slaughtered their own hogs; they cut firewood, dug wells, built outhouses, made candles and fermented corn liquor. Electricity and telephones weren’t available; cash commerce all but non-existent. To file her essays, Simon walked hours to the general store or hitched rides on mule-drawn wagons along dirt roads that became impassible in wet weather. The simple life proved terribly complicated.

During the same period, writes historian S. Charles Bolton in the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, roughly 1/3 of black and 1/5 of rural white Arkansans emigrated to places like Chicago or Los Angeles. Others found work in town. Today, large parts of Perry and Yell counties are in the Ouachita National Forest. They had more residents then than now.

But here’s the thing: Contrary to Tea Party fantasies, it wasn’t plucky private entrepreneurs that paved the roads, strung the wire, saved grandpa from penury and made organized commerce across the rural South possible. It was federal and state investment.

Even today, such prosperity as Yell County enjoys—it’s the 64th wealthiest of Arkansas’s 75 counties—derives from timber cutting and the proximity of three scenic lakes built and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Not to mention, of course, agricultural price supports from the 2014 Farm Bill that Rep. Cotton voted against.

But enough history. There’s plenty of strictly contemporary reality that self-styled “conservatives” also ignore. In TV commercials, Cotton depicts himself as the dutiful son of a “cattle rancher” who taught him farmers can’t spend money they don’t have.

Cotton’s father does run a small cattle farm near Dardanelle. However, it’s also a fact that Len Cotton retired as District Supervisor of the Arkansas Health Department after a 37-year career. The senior Cotton has also served on the Arkansas Veterans Commission, the Tri-County Regional Water Board, etc.

The candidate’s mother Avis taught in public schools for 40 years. She retired in 2012 as principal of the Dardanelle middle school. Career government bureaucrats, both, bless their public-spirited hearts.

So I’m guessing Len Cotton raises cattle for the same reasons I do: because it’s an absorbing hobby with considerable tax advantages.

Meanwhile, the thing about the Farm Bill that urban liberals often don’t get, and that a poser like Tom Cotton’s being disingenuous about, is this that it’s damn near impossible to farm without risking money you don’t have.

The largest recipient of agricultural subsidies in Arkansas is Riceland Rice—a member-owned co-op representing 5,800 farmers.

Farmers who have to pay for seeds, fertilizer, and diesel fuel to pump water; also to finance tractors and combines more costly than the land. Farmers who borrow every spring in the hope of turning a profit in the fall. And who risk losing the entire crop to pests, floods, drought, tornadoes, to cheap soybeans from Brazil, etc. If there’s fraud and waste, cut it out. However, it’s in the national interest to keep agriculture strong.

But let’s head back to town, shall we? One of the fastest growing GOP strongholds in Arkansas is the college town of Conway, just across the Arkansas River. Tom Cotton’s sure to do well there.

And why does Conway prosper? Basically, government largesse. Located along Interstate 40, it’s the home of the University of Central Arkansas, a growing state school. It’s got a brand-new, federally-funded airport, two private colleges supported by state scholarships funded by the Arkansas Lottery, and an excellent non-profit hospital (Medicare, Medicaid), etc.

The city’s biggest private employers are Internet-oriented Acxiom and Hewlett Packard. (Pentagon researchers created the Internet.) Furthermore, everybody in Conway receives electricity, water, sewage, cable TV, Internet and telephone service from the Conway Corporation—a city-owned co-op begun in the 1920s, as efficient an example of municipal socialism as you’ll find this side of Stockholm, Sweden.

Dogma notwithstanding, all successful modern economies are mixed economies.

No politician who tells you differently is your friend.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, October 1, 2014

October 6, 2014 Posted by | Arkansas, Tea Party, Tom Cotton | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Joni Ernst Loves The Constitution, But..”: Republican Senate Candidate Advocates Revolt Against U.S. Government

The Iowa Senate race is one of the closest in the nation, and what it seems to have come down to is the following two questions: Number 1, did Bruce Braley act like a jerk when he and his neighbor had a dispute over the fact that the neighbor’s chickens were crapping on Braley’s lawn? And number 2, is Joni Ernst a radical extremist?

You can argue that only one of these questions has anything to do with what Iowa’s next senator will be doing in office, and you’d be right. But the latest bit of information on Ernst is, if you actually understand the issue, quite a doozy:

State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow “local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement” Obamacare.

Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would “nullify” Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul’s libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. It can be viewed here.

The question was: “Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?” Ernst answered that question as “yes.”

The “My opponent agreed to something crazy in a questionnaire” is its own genre of outrage, and seldom an enlightening one. It’s possible that a staffer filled this out, and it didn’t reflect Ernst’s actual views. If that’s the case, she should have the opportunity to clarify what she really thinks, and if this questionnaire doesn’t reflect her beliefs, then she needn’t necessarily be blamed for it.

But if this does reflect her views, then she’s not just a radical on the substance of issues (which she certainly is), but she’s a procedural radical as well. You can put words like “liberty” in the name of your organization all you want, but what Ernst was agreeing to here isn’t liberty, it’s insurrection against the Constitution of the United States.

States do not have the right to nullify federal laws they don’t like. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes that absolutely clear. And the idea that local cops should be arresting federal officials who implement duly passed federal laws isn’t just some colorful conservatism, it’s positively insane. If you believe that, you forfeit your right to say you love the Constitution, and you worship the Framers, and all the other things people like Ernst so often claim.

Like I said, maybe these aren’t Ernst’s actual views, and if they aren’t, then that’s fine. But she damn sure ought to say whether they are.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, October 3, 2014

October 4, 2014 Posted by | Federal Government, Joni Ernst, Senate | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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