Tag Archives: Joni Ernst

Trump rattling his fellow Republicans with DHS purge

Donald Trump is on a tear through the agency formed to protect Americans against enemies of our nation.

He has fired (essentially) the secretary of homeland security, gotten rid of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, canned the Secret Service director. There are threats of more dismissals/resignations to come.

Republican senators are shaking their heads, according to Politico. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said she thought DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was doing a “fantastic” job.

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said “It’s a mess,” referring to the border situation and the confusion and chaos at DHS.

Yep, it’s a mess, all right.

I believe that is exactly how Donald Trump prefers it.

Cohesion and smooth operation? Forget about it! Yet he calls his administration a “fine-tuned machine.” The president is not hearing the clanks and misfires from the political “engine” he has built.

I guess I’m allowed to wonder how all this tumult at Homeland Security is going to affect the agency’s ability to, um, secure the homeland.

Good call, Sen. Ernst; ask your ‘bosses’

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, is doing something quite useful.

Sen. Ernst says she is undecided on the Senate Republican health care overhaul plan designed to replace the Affordable Care Act. Her response? She wants to poll her constituents back home. She wants their opinion on what the Senate GOP wants to do to — or with — their health care insurance.

How about that, dear reader? She wants her bosses to weigh in, to give her advice on what she should do when this matter comes to a vote, possibly as early as this week.

Here’s the deal, though. It’s fair to wonder a couple of things about the freshman senator.

Is she truly undecided, or has she secretly made up her mind and is using the poll as a ruse? And if she polls her constituents, will the questions be fair, without a hint of bias? You know how these surveys can work. If you ask questions a certain way, you can elicit certain answers.

Sen. Ernst might not have much time to collect responses from her Iowa constituents. I’ll hope for the best for her and hope that she’ll do the right thing by asking the questions straight up and will act on what her constituents tell her … one way or the other.

If her bosses back home share the views of so many other Americans — that they detest the GOP alternative — I think I know what they’ll tell her if they’re given the chance to speak freely.

Take care in defining 'combat veteran'

It didn’t take Joni Ernst long to make a name for herself in the U.S. Senate.

The Iowa Republican is now defending her military record in which she defines herself as a “combat veteran.”

I would caution her to speak very carefully when using such terminology.

At issue is her service in an Iowa National Guard transportation company in Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 and 2004. She calls herself a “combat veteran” even though she didn’t face enemy fire during her deployment in the Middle East.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/02/joni-ernst-says-she-earned-the-right-to-call-herself-a-combat-veteran-despite-never-seeing-combat/

Sen. Ernst defends her record, saying that because she drew hazardous duty pay while deployed, she has earned the right to call herself a combat vet.

“I am very proud of my service and by law I am defined as a combat veteran,” Ernst said. “I have never once claimed that I have a Combat Action Badge. I have never claimed that I have a Purple Heart. What I have claimed is that I have served in a combat zone.”

Technically, she is correct. But it is a technicality that can be misconstrued. She needs to be careful how she uses such language in the future.

I understand where she’s coming from. I, too, served in a war zone for a time. The Vietnam War was raging when I arrived in-country in the spring of 1969. I received hazardous duty pay while serving as a U.S. Army aircraft mechanic and later as a flight operations specialist at the I Corps Tactical Operations Center in Da Nang.

Do I refer to myself as a “combat veteran”? No. I didn’t see direct combat — except for having to run for cover while the Viet Cong lobbed mortars into our position on occasion.

Sen. Ernst is rightfully proud of her service in Iraq and Kuwait, as I am of my service many years ago during another armed conflict.

But be careful, senator, when using terms such as “combat vet,” especially around those who’ve actually seen the real thing.

 

GOP offers a flood of SOTU responses

Jon Stewart is a comedian, an entertainer, a satirist of sorts.

He also has a way of bringing some harsh truths to light, such as when he poked fun at the multiple Republican Party responses to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/01/jon-stewart-destroys-gops-dueling-sotu-responses-how-many-fcking-people-are-at-this-tea-party/

The “official” response came from freshman U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa. That’s fine. Ernst is a rising Republican star, having taken over a seat held by longtime Democratic liberal Tom Harken, who retired from public life in 2014.

Then came — count ’em — three TEA party responses.

Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida weighed in for the TEA party wing of the GOP. But wait. There were more.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had his version of the TEA party response. I guess Sen. Paul represented the isolationist/dove wing of the TEA party.

And then, of course, we had Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas with his TEA party response. Cruz represents, I reckon, the loudmouth wing of the TEA party. The young man hasn’t shut his mouth a single time since taking office in January 2013. He’s become the Republican version of, say, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Stewart asked a foul-mouthed question about “how many TEA party members are out there?”

The query speaks to a potential problem facing Republicans as they prepare for the 2016 campaign for the White House. Cruz and Paul and potential presidential candidates, along with former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (man, I love writing the word “former” in front of Perry’s title), Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and maybe a dozen more individuals I can’t think of at the moment.

They all represent varying wings of the GOP. They all are going sling barbs and arrows at each other. They’re going to bloody each other up, seeking to court the “base” of the party — whatever it has become.

The multiple TEA party responses illustrates what’s both right and wrong about Republicans at the moment.

They’re right to welcome a lot of voices; diversity is a good thing. They’re wrong in trying to outshout each other.

 

Worst of the worst

The Hill newspaper has listed its Top 10 worst candidates for the U.S. Senate in 2014.

It’s an impressive gathering covering both political parties.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/223390-top-10-worst-candidates-of-2014

I have two clear favorites. They’re both Democrats.

* The worst of the bunch has to be Bruce Braley, the Iowa congressman who ran to succeed fellow Democrat Tom Harkin. His foe was Republican Joni Ernst, the hog-castrating tea party golden gal. Braley should have won the seat in a walk. Then he stepped in it big time, by calling Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley “just a farmer from Iowa.”

Whoops! You don’t say “just a farmer” in a state full of farmers. I’ve been to Iowa a couple of times and I’ll tell you I’ve never seen so much corn in my entire life.

Really bad form, congressman.

* Alison Lundergan Grimes finished a close second. She should have won in Kentucky against incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, who isn’t your garden-variety retail politician. He’s stiff, unfriendly and quite wedded to the Washington, D.C., power structure — the one that has broken down and created so much of the anger and angst among voters. So what did Grimes do to win a spot on this list? She refused on several occasions to say whether she voted for President Obama.

The refusal was as clumsy as it gets. She tripped over her own tongue in trying to explain it all away, giving out an air of phoniness. She seemed to be terribly lacking in authenticity.

That’s my short list. The rest of them noted by The Hill all had their moments of “glory.”

Bring on the next set of winners and losers in 2016. First, let us catch our breath.

Wondering about endorsements' value

Joni Ernst is stiff-arming Iowa newspaper editorial boards in her bid to become that state’s next U.S. senator.

She is following the trail blazed four years ago right here in Texas by Gov. Rick Perry, who did the very same thing, watched most of the papers around the state endorse his opponent, and then won re-election by a healthy margin.

I’ve taken note of this already in a blog post.

http://highplainsblogger.com/2014/10/23/ernst-follows-perry-model-who-needs-editorial-boards/

Now comes the corollary question: Do these endorsements matter any longer?

I wrestled with the question for many years before my daily journalism career came to a screeching halt in August 2012.

It’s no secret to anyone that newspapers are changing before our eyes. Their role as community leaders is changing as well. Sadly, many companies that run newspapers are giving in to this trend and are devaluing their opinion pages and retreating from their traditional role as community leaders.

So, Republicans Ernst and Perry have decided to forgo the ritual that politicians used to say they enjoyed, which was to seek newspaper endorsements in their election and/or re-election campaigns. They seem to understand that newspapers no longer carry the clout they once did. Politicians used to call on editorial boards, proclaiming that they relished the give-and-take these meetings produced.

Newspaper editors — and you can count me as one of them — also used to get much from these encounters. I worked at the Amarillo Globe-News for 17 years, and 8 months and participated in many more of these meetings that I can remember. And I always, without question, learned something new about my community or my state during every election cycle.

We would reach consensus on who to recommend for public office, craft our statement, publish it and then let the chips fall.

That process now seems to be slipping away as politicians decide they don’t need these endorsements.

Rick Perry didn’t need them in 2010. I’m betting Joni Ernst — win or lose — won’t need them now.

People are forming their opinions using other media. They scour the Internet in search of their version of the truth, which isn’t hard to find, no matter your political orientation.

It’s interesting to me that politicians most likely to blow off these endorsement interviews lean heavily to the right, such as Perry and Ernst.

We’ll know for certain that editorial board endorsements really no longer matter when progressives stop seeking them.

Ernst follows Perry model: Who needs editorial boards?

Joni Ernst is staking out an interesting — but not unprecedented — tactic in her campaign for the U.S. Senate in Iowa.

The Republican is forgoing interviews with major Iowa newspaper editorial boards. Media observers in the Hawkeye State are wondering whether she’s afraid of being questioned by the editorial boards. She’s canceling interview appointments left and right.

Her opponent, Democrat Bruce Braley, is meeting with them, hoping — I can assume — to gather up newspaper endorsements.

http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/10/23/iowa-newspapers-speak-out-over-joni-ernst-snubb/201292

Do you remember when Gov.Rick Perry kissed off newspaper endorsements in 2010 when he was running for re-election in Texas? He stiffed newspaper editorial boards all over the state. He was quite clear: I don’t need no stinkin’ editorial endorsements; I’m going to “talk directly” to Texans.

Texas newspaper editors and publishers took the snub personally, with most of them endorsing his Democratic opponent, former Houston Mayor Bill White. The paper where I worked at the time, the Amarillo Globe-News, followed suit. We backed White and when we did, you’d have thought Planet Earth had just spun off its axis. The reaction from our deeply Republican readers in the heart of the Texas Panhandle was ferocious.

Not to fear, Perry’s handlers reckoned — correctly, I should add.

The governor was re-elected handily four years ago with a 13 percent victory over White.

I figure, though, that Perry knows Texas voters as well as any politician who’s ever held public office.

Does Joni Ernst know Iowans as well? We’ll find out in about 12 days.