Iowa Republicans–Bigots, not constitutionalists

Iowa Republicans have laid bare their bigotry by openly calling for the ouster of State Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins who is up for a retention vote this fall.  Now I’m no lawyer, but I’m pretty sure the legal reasoning behind the same-sex marriage ruling that has Iowa Republicans all hot and bothered is pretty cut and dry.  Correct me if I’m wrong, please!

Iowa GOP chairman urges “no” vote on Iowa Supreme Court justice by O. Kay Henderson for Radio Iowa, Aug. 1, 2012

The chairman of the Iowa Republican Party has issued a “call to action,” urging Iowa voters to toss an Iowa Supreme Court justice off the bench.

To my mind, Iowa Republicans and anyone who votes to oust Justice Wiggins based on the marriage equality ruling give up the right to call themselves constitutionalists, constructionists, originalists, or non-bigots.

In other news, my heterosexual marriage has remained strong despite the ability of same sex couples to marry here in Iowa.

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In preperation for Branstad’s attack on state workers during this year’s negotiation process

As we already know, Branstad is doing what he can to get an early jump on making state workers look bad prior to this year’s contract negotiaions.  His primary target is health insurance–remember how he magnaminously offered to allow state workers to voluntarily contribute 20% to their policies.  The point that this would be nothing but a backhanded paycut is well explained by Mike Owen of the Iowa Policy Project in a recent blog post:

Once and for all, let’s get one thing straight: Health benefits are part of compensation for work performed. Benefits are not “free,” any more than a paycheck is “free,” and it is absurd for anyone to suggest otherwise. Public employees receive those benefits because they put in the hours and provide the services as agreed upon by both employee and employer. They are not a gift.

I am a public school teacher and a union member.  Twice in the last four years our union has agreed to moving to a slightly less expensive insurance package in exchange for seeing more money put towards salaries in our district.  This has, no surprise, been controversial–but the move was made each time with the understanding that any savings from the change to our insurance would be transferred to salaries. As do all unions, we negotiate the total package–not just salary with insurance tossed in as a gift!

For the record, my wife is a state employee, so I do have something of a personal stake in this. Regardless, it is a fallacy to argue that health insurance is somehow separate from salary.


Iowa Republican candidate resigns from State Senate race, reality: Another retroactive resignation

Randi Shannon is a self described entrepreneur and homeschooling mother of four, and until recently was the Republican candidate for the newly drawn State Senate District 34.  Why did she drop out?  Why, because she was appointed Senator for the Republic of Iowa for the Republic of the united States of America, of course!

State senate candidate drops out, says she’ll be part of alternate government by Erin Jordan for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jul. 13, 2012

Shannon, who describes herself as an entrepreneur and homeschooling mom, released a four-page message Friday saying she is now the senator of the Republic of the United States of America and the Republic for Iowa.

The group believes that America’s original form of government, a collection of republics, was usurped in 1871 by a corporation called the United States Corporation, according to the group’s website.

“Now, knowing this, and with the best interests of the people of Iowa District 34 uppermost in my heart and out of respect for my own conscience, I am here to announce that I am ending my campaign as of July 4,” Shannon wrote in her statement. “My level of service to the good people of Iowa who has been so supportive of me and my campaign will be greatly increased.”

Ummm….really?  It looks like the Republicans were having trouble finding a candidate to run against Liz Mathis–commentors on the story page on the Gazette point out that she was not selected by the party apparatus, but was instead the only candidate to file paperwork to run for that party.

As an aside: Mathis, you may recall, won a special election to replace Democratic Senator Swati Dandekar who was appointed to the Iowa Utilities Board by Governor Terry Branstad.  Many at the time, myself included, believed that this appointment was made in hope of tipping the balance of power in the Iowa Senate which was (and after Mathis’ election is) led by Democrats with a slim 26-24 margin.

Also, note that the Gazette reports that Shannon posted her letter this past Friday, July 13th.  In the letter she states that she was resigning as of July 4th.  You know what that means?  Retroactive Resignation!  It’s the new rage!

A couple of links about the group that Shannon has joined from the article and the comments:

From the Southern Poverty Law Center

The website of the Republic of the united States of American

Randi Shannon’s letter on Scribd

 

 


Gov. Branstad gets a jump on demonizing state workers

With union negotiations coming up later this year, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad wants to make sure that Iowans know what greedy, selfish, terrible people Iowa state employees are.

Branstad volunteers to pay 20 percent of his health care costs by Jason Clayworth, the Des Moines Register, Jul. 2, 2012

Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Monday that they will begin paying 20 percent of their health care premium costs starting August 1, an effort to push state employees to follow.

The effort was almost immediately followed by both praise and criticism.

Democrats and Iowa union leader Danny Homan accused Branstad of being out-of-touch. They noted that his $130,000 annual salary and roughly $50,000 in payment from a state retirement account puts him in a better position than lower-paid employees who would pay a far greater percent of their income to health care premiums.

“It’s outrageous that Terry Branstad thinks it’s okay to bully hard working state employees. It’s not fair to compare himself to a mail clerk or a custodial worker with the state of Iowa,” said Homan of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

What, these employees won’t give up their benefits that their union negotiated for?  God, what jerks.  And you know what, that nearly billion dollar state surplus won’t grow itself without these greedy selfish workers taking a cut to their already meager salaries!

I’d like to buy the governor some carrots!  (No real harm wished, FYI)


Iowa Secretary of State: Nepotism, huh, what’s that?

Iowa Secretary of State Matt “Not the Sharpest Tool in the Shed” Schultz recently refunded the money his office paid to his brother after hiring his bro to work as an intern.  He didn’t realize that would constitute nepotism.  Or he didn’t realize what nepotism is.  Or he is just really dumb.  This guy is our State Secretary of State?

Iowa secretary of state refunds wages paid to brother The Gazette, Jul. 5, 2012.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said Thursday that he inadvertently broke the state’s nepotism law by giving a temporary job to his college-aged brother and that he has paid back all of the salary his brother received.

Schultz told the Associated Press he was unfamiliar with the details of a law that says state officials generally cannot hire their relatives when he gave the $10-per-hour job to his brother, Andrew Schultz, in January.

This guy is our State Secretary of State?  Really?


In case you weren’t completely convinced that Branstad is a heartless ass

Recently Governor Branstad used the line-item veto to cut out $500,000 dollars that had been allocated for the Food Bank of Iowa by the state legislature.  You can read the text of the item veto here–note that the Governor’s office can’t even be bothered to scan documents straight.  Branstad argues that private funds should be used to fund the food bank.  While I agree that private people and business should make sure to support charities, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the State of Iowa supporting the good works of non-profits such as the Food Bank of Iowa.

Dean Lerner, the former Director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals had a great op-ed about this issue recently in the Gazette:

Food Bank veto says a lot about Branstad by Dean Lerner in the Cedar Rapids Gazette Jun. 8, 2012

Branstad’s recent veto speaks legions about him, and us. The money will now revert to the state’s general fund, adding to nearly a billion-dollar surplus. In his veto message, the governor stated that he “strongly support[s] the Food Bank of Iowa and their important work to help needy Iowans.” However, he “believe[s] that private donations are the best way to support the Food Bank.” The Des Moines Register Editorial Board agreed, adding that there are already federal programs to feed the hungry, and that state assistance might discourage charitable donations. Really?

Maybe the editorial board missed reading the June 1 front page of the Register’s Business section: “Study: Income doesn’t cover needs for 1 in 4 working families in Iowa.” And contrast the governor’s “strong support” for the Food Bank to never-ending headlines such as the Register stories “Most [Iowa] tax incentives awarded to wealthy companies” (Jan. 15), “1st-quarter profits up 34 percent for Iowa Banks” (May 25), and “CEOs hauled in record pay during 2011, study finds” (May 27). Please don’t tell us that tax dollars haven’t been used, directly, or indirectly, to make this all possible!

Perhaps the governor’s plan is that the tremendous swell of riches to already wealthy companies, banks and CEOs — aided and abetted by his and the Republican colleagues’ policies — will help stimulate the private donations the Food Bank should, instead, rely upon. Of course, let’s not forget that their “generous” donations are accompanied by charitable tax deductions, and plenty of public praise for corporate citizenship. Some might view this as another version of “trickle down” economics.

I made a donation to the Food Bank of Iowa today and encourage you to do the same.  You can do so at this link.  I recommend filling in the bottom portion of the page as I did as shown below:


Pioneer Hi-Bred International Chair in Agribusiness at Iowa State issues report praising ethanol

Now, I’m going to try to be careful here.  As the son of academics, I am hesitant to question the motives of a university professor.  But, um, could we expect the “Pioneer Hi-Bred International Chair in Agribusiness” at Iowa State to say anything other than what a boon ethanol is to our energy independence?

ISU researcher says ethanol makes gas cheaper at the pump by Dar Danielson for Radio Iowa, May 16, 2012

An Iowa State University Economist has released research showing that mixing ethanol in with gas has had a significant impact on gas prices. I.S.U. economist Dermot Hayes studied ethanol’s impact on gasoline prices over a 11-years beginning in 2000. During that time, Hays says adding ethanol to gas inventories led to a 29-cent-a-gallon drop in gasoline pump prices.

[…]

Hayes says adding ethanol to the nation’s fuel supply is enabling the U.S. to switch from being a net importer of gasoline to a gasoline exporter. He conducted the ethanol/gas study with a University of Wisconsin economist.

In other ethanol boom (bubble?) news, Deere & Company posted record earnings this quarter.