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Is Joni Ernst ACTUALLY That Stupid? Or Does She Just Think Most Women Are?

What Joni Ernst said Tom Harkin said about her:

Iowan GOP Senate candidate Joni Ernst responded on Monday that she was “very offended” by Sen. Tom Harkin’s comments comparing her looks to Taylor Swift.

“I was very offended that Sen. Harkin would say that, I think it’s unfortunate that he and many in their party believe that you can’t be a real woman if you’re conservative and female,” Ernst said to “Fox & Friends.”

She added, ”I believe if my name had been Jon Ernst attached to my résumé, Sen. Harkin would not have said those things.”

Ernst said Harkin’s remarks reveal that the alleged Republican “war on women” is “phony” and that Democrats should drop the term.

“First, I am a woman and second, I have been to war, I am a combat veteran,” Ernst said. “This is not a war on women and any time Democrats are using the word war they need to do it to honor our service men and women.”

–       Joni Ernst: ‘Very offended’ by Tom Harkin, Kendall Breitman, Politico, this morning

What Tom Harkin actually said about her:

Ernst’s comments come after a video was released on Sunday night where Harkin is shown saying that even if Ernst is “as good looking as Taylor Swift” she is not fit to represent the state of Iowa.

“In this Senate race, I’ve been watching some of these ads,” Harkin said last week. “And there’s sort of this sense that, ‘Well, I hear so much about Joni Ernst. She is really attractive, and she sounds nice.’

“… Well, I got to thinking about that,” he said. “I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like [Minnesota Rep.] Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa.”

–       Joni Ernst: ‘Very offended’ by Tom Harkin, Kendall Breitman, Politico, this morning

Ernst shouldn’t flatter herself. Harkin didn’t say she is as good looking as Taylor Swift.

Nor should she demean the intelligence of other women by telling them that that’s what Harkin said.  And Harkin or Bruce Braley—or maybe, say, Hillary Clinton, if she’s up for it—should point that out, and ask whether she really thinks that’s what Harkin said, or instead she just thinks other women will think so.

Ernst, of course, may well be so inept at understanding basic English-language statements that she can’t distinguish between, on the one hand, a statement that other people keep saying that a female Senate candidate is so attractive and so nice, and, on the other hand, a statement that it doesn’t matter how attractive or nice she is, and that all that matters—or all that should matter—are her policy positions.

She also may actually think a statement that “I don’t care if she’s as good looking as Taylor Swift or as nice as Mr. Rogers, but if she votes like [Minnesota Rep.] Michele Bachmann, she’s wrong for the state of Iowa,” is a statement that she IS as good looking as Taylor Swift.

If so, that’s something that voters might want to consider.

Me?  I take her at her word: Which is that she’s so dumb that she thinks that’s what Harkin said. But Harkin and Braley should play it the other way, and ask voters how very, very tired they are of politicians’ faux indignation.

Voters are extremely tired of politicians’ faux indignation; Harkin and Braley can bet on it. I wish this had happened earlier, because, really, playing these kinds of manipulative games isn’t all that “Iowa nice”.

Sorry, Ms. Ernst, but the war-on-women thing cuts both ways. You’re no longer in the military, but with that statement this morning on Fox News, you made clear you’re still a soldier.  Just in a different war.

In the ‘Be careful what you wish for’ category …

Is it just me, or did Joni Ernst just effectively announce that she wants to kill farm subsidies?  Of course, how effectively she announced it will depend on whether her opponent, Bruce Braley, picks up this ball and runs with it.

Although maybe she’s talking about something else she thinks is pork.

Be careful what you wish for, Iowa voters.

This is the perfect opening for Braley to inform the public about the really dramatic reduction in federal spending in the last few years–and what, exactly, the effects are.  (Tuition at public universities; medical research; etc.  Y’know; all the stuff that Obama should point out, but doesn’t trouble himself to.)

And, speaking of out-of-the-mouths-of-babes admissions, this one is downright-comically jaw-dropping—and presumably will be mentioned in the soon-to-be-filed “cert” petitions to the Supreme Court in the slew of voter-ID/voter-access cases that have made headlines in the last month.

I mean … seriously … how dumb is Chris Christi?  I do suspect that by now most people know they shouldn’t buy the deed to that bridge he’s selling.  But just in case they didn’t know before ….

Try THIS, Michelle Nunn ….

Dem Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is up with a new ad that contains footage of GOPer David Perdue telling a local TV station that he is “proud” of his outsourcing past. This footage could prove especially potent in a state with such high unemployment, but Nunn trails Perdue by nearly four points in the polling average, which is a lot of ground to make up.

— Greg Sargent, The Washington Post, this morning


Millions of Americans have lousy credit. Some lost their jobs in the 2008 financial crisis and survived on credit cards. Some left college buried in loans. Others live in minority neighborhoods that are preyed upon by unscrupulous lenders. Still others had the bad luck to be sick and uninsured. Does membership in the undiscriminating club of beleaguered borrowers inevitably make someone a risky hire or an unreliable employee? Hardly. Does it justify the increasingly common practice of employers using credit checks to reject prospective hires? No.

A bill banning employment discrimination based on someone’s credit history has been offered in the New York City Council by Brad Lander, who says the misuse of credit reports in hiring is based on a damaging perception, disproved by research, that bad credit risks make bad employees. He points to studies that show no correlation between damaged credit and job performance or the likelihood of committing fraud. Mr. Lander is not the first lawmaker to reach this conclusion; similar legislation has passed in at least 10 states and was introduced in Congress by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The City Council bill has wide support, but Mr. Lander fears it may be weakened by the addition of exceptions and loopholes for certain industries or occupations, as has been done in some states. That would undermine its ability to combat this form of discrimination.

… The worst of the recession is behind us, but the damage lives on for millions of Americans who are hobbled by bad credit. The injury is made worse when companies rely on stereotypes and misinformation to exclude deserving workers from the job market.

Bad Credit? Big Problem, Editorial Board, New York Times, Oct. 5

I wonder whether Michelle Nunn might consider mentioning Warren’s bill, in her ads or campaign appearances.  Or in both!

This might even encourage, say, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mark Pryor, Mark Udall, Mark Begich, Bruce Braley, and even Mary Landrieu, to mention it, too. I mean, y’never know.

Speaking of Braley, though, he knocked it* out of the park, finally, at last weekend’s debate.  And he did it with discussion of policy—in several-sentence explanations!  And with really meaningful mantra: Sound-bites have consequences.

Which brings me to … this.*  Will any Dem have the courage to use that in an ad?**

Sound-bites have consequences, indeed.  Life-and-death ones, even. Freedom! Liberty! Y’know.

*H/T Paul Waldman


**UPDATE: Turns out that the Dems actually are doing this.  I’m stunned. The Dem campaign-consultant-industrial-complex usually is stuck in a Reagan era crouch-and-cower stance.



Turns out that farm subsidies aren’t the only federal program Joni Ernst won’t vote to kill if she wins that Senate race. There’s one more federal program she wants to keep.

Ernst likes FEMA and wants to keep it!  So does her father.  This even though some blue states benefit from it sometimes, too!

Go figure.

She won’t even squawk about appropriations for it.  Then again, she’s a turkey, not a chicken.  So she might cluck.



APPENDED: From the Comments thread here:

EMichael / October 8, 2014 10:55 am

[T]his this cretin is in a close race despite believing that state officials should have the ability to arrest Federal workers for doing their jobs.

You can’t make this stuff up.


Me / October 8, 2014 11:40 am

I sooo would like to see a Braley ad featuring someone whose family now has healthcare insurance, thanks to Obamacare’s federal subsidies–who makes the point in the ad that Ernst wants Iowa officials to go to Washington and arrest the bureaucrats at the IRS or HHS who are processing those subsidies.

Or, better yet, someone who owns a construction company in Montgomery County, IA–and who lost out to Culver Construction in the FEMA-money bidding for those post-flooding construction projects–insist that state officials arrest the FEMA folks who approved the contract with Culver Construction.

See?  You can make this stuff up! 10/8 at 11:52 a.m.

Repeal LyndonJohnsonCare?

While I was reading an article on the web this morning from my phone, up popped one of those incessant anti-Obama/anti-Obamacare “take-a-survey” ads—one of those little square red-and-white-bordered things with a goofy-looking picture of Obama on it.  My laptop software blocks these things, so I was lucky enough to have not seen one of those in a while.

This one (I guess) is new.  In any event, it’s all ready to go for 2016.  The picture is of the inside of a hospital operating room.  Obama, of course, is in the picture, but he’s not alone.  He and Hillary Clinton are standing in the forefront, next to each other and looking at each other.  Both are wearing surgical scrubs and surgical gloves.  The title above the picture asks: “Repeal Obamacare?” Below the picture is an invitation to click to take the survey.

I assume that by now, most people know that Obamacare works entirely through private-sector medical providers, mostly—unlike Medicare—via private-sector insurers.  I also assume that most people know by now that there are millions of Americans, including millions who have fulltime jobs, who, because of a preexisting medical condition or because of insurance premium costs, actually had no access at all to operating rooms until January 1, 2014 but do have that access now.  So this particular ad seems unlikely to be effectual.

But still, I’d like to see Dem ads whose title asks: Repeal LyndonJohnsonCare?

And also ones that ask: Repeal FDRPensionPlan?  I especially recommend that one to Bruce Braley. With a tag line about chickens coming home to roost.

Gail Collins’ don’t-miss column on Social Security—and on Joni Ernst—today


There was this at the Senate debate in Iowa on Sunday:

“I will fight hard to protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors like my mom and dad because our Greatest Generation has worked so hard for the American dream for our families,” said Republican Joni Ernst.

Like many conservatives, Ernst supports some sort of privatization in the Social Security program. She’s a little hazy on the details. But we do know that the Greatest Generation is the name Tom Brokaw gave to the Americans who came through the Depression and spent their young adulthood fighting World War II. They would actually be Joni Ernst’s grandparents.

There are two possible interpretations to her statement:

A) She wants to portray Social Security and Medicare recipients in the noblest light possible.

B) She is promising to protect benefits for everybody over the age of 85.

The Senate race in Iowa is one of the tightest in the country, and the debate drew so much attention that it got a segment on “The Daily Show.” Jon Stewart highlighted the part where Ernst got personal with her Democratic opponent, Representative Bruce Braley. (“You threatened to sue a neighbor over chickens that came onto your property.”)

We are not going to have time to delve deep into the controversy that is known to political junkies as Chickengate. We are focusing on Social Security! We haven’t talked about this issue for a long time, and it ought to be part of our election-year repertoire.

Conservative Republicans still tend to hew to the theory that the system is “going bankrupt” and needs to be turned into some kind of private retirement investment account. They also generally promise to protect people 55 or over from any change.

“I’m not going to take away your Social Security. Don’t worry about it. Anybody over 55 doesn’t have to worry about any reform measure,” said Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas in a recent debate. He added: “You don’t have to worry about doing anything with Social Security in the next part of this session. Harry Reid will block that real quick.”

Mentioning the mendacity of Majority Leader Harry Reid in every other sentence is a verbal tic Roberts has acquired. However, if you break that statement down, what he seems to be saying is that if you’re, say, 52 and want to make sure Social Security stays the way it is, you will have no problem as long as Democrats control the U.S. Senate.

By the way, Social Security is not going bankrupt. In 2033, incoming payroll taxes will no longer be enough to pay for all the benefits. But they’ll still cover about 75 percent of the payments and we could take care of the rest of the problem with a few tweaks — like getting rid of the cap on Social Security taxes. (Currently, all income over $117,000 is exempt from the payroll tax.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also helpfully points out that “by coincidence,” the amount Social Security would need to stay completely in balance over the next 75 years is almost exactly the same as the amount the government lost when Congress extended the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year.

If you happen upon a congressional debate in the next few weeks, feel free to ask the candidates what they’re going to do to protect Social Security. Bring along a 54-year-old friend who might helpfully burst into tears when anyone starts promising to protect the 55-year-olds.

Indeed, but just be sure that the 54-year-old doesn’t confuse a Homeowners Association president with a court clerk.  At least not a Homeowners Association president who’s also a Republican operative.

Chickens vs. A Turkey

Okay, so most of you who don’t live in Iowa (and most of you don’t live in Iowa, since it’s not a populous state) probably are unaware that the outcome of the election to replace retiring progressive Iowa senator Tom Harkin—which in turn may determine party control of the Senate—may turn on a dispute between neighbors in a subdivision of homes near a lake in Brooklyn, Iowa.

I don’t live in Iowa either, but I’ve known about this for nearly a month.

The dispute is between Democratic nominee Bruce Braley and his wife and their neighbor, a woman named Pauline Hampton, who raises chickens on her property, which abuts the Braleys’ backyard.  Hampton’s chickens regularly escape from their coop and dirty the Braleys’ and other neighbors’ yards.  Braley’s wife had repeatedly asked Hampton to keep her chickens cooped rather than simply allowing them to roam freely and then come home to roost, but to no avail.

After a verbal spat between Hampton and Braley’s wife, Braley contacted the president of the homeowners’ association and asked that he intervene with Hampton.  He said he did not want to litigate the matter in court and hoped instead that the homeowners’ associate president could prevail upon Hampton to keep her chickens cooped.

Instead, though, the homeowners’ association president, a Republican activist, acted neighborly and reported the private conversation to Republican senate nominee Joni Ernst, a noted constitutional scholar and historian.  Mistaking himself for a court clerk, or believing that Braley had mistaken him for one, the homeowners’ association president apparently told Ernst, and in turn the news media, that Braley had contacted him in order to file a lawsuit.  Something like that, anyway; as I said, I’m not an Iowan, so I’m not familiar with the Iowa way and Iowa neighborliness and such, so I may have missed something here.

Anyway, the political news media of course reported Braley’s contact with the homeowners’ association president as NOT THE IOWA WAY, since Iowans do not resolve conflicts by asking homeowners’ association presidents to mediate conflicts.  Not homeowners’ association presidents who also are Republican activists, anyway.

Well, today, Greg Sargent posted a blog post at the Washington Post titled “Will Iowa Senate race be about issues, or about chickens?”  He reports on minimum-wage numbers-crunching included in a new report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and says the report’s conclusions about the impact a wage hike would have in Iowa “contrast starkly with Ernst’s pronouncements about it.” Those pronouncements include statements that the minimum wage should be abolished or at least remain forever at its current federal hourly rate of $7.25, and that most minimum wage earners are in their teens or early 20s and in any event are not their family’s main breadwinner.

As the election nears, Ernst likely will continue to lay eggs.  But the ones already hatched expose her for the turkey that she is.