Next Tuesday Barack Obama, President of These United States, will deliver the annual State of the Union address. Traditionally, following the SOTU speech, the opposition party is given the opportunity to respond. This year the Republican response will be given by Senator Joni Ernst.
Who, you are asking, the hell is Joni Ernst? Let me answer that. She’s the newly elected Senator from Iowa. Seriously, she was just sworn into office a few days ago. But who IS she? She’s Sarah Palin Lite. She’s Palin without Palin’s intellect and gravitas. She’s Palin, corn-fed and less coherent. She’s Palin on mood stabilizers. She’s Palin castrating swine instead of shooting at elk. And yeah, that castrating swine bit? I’m not even joking. That’s actually how she got elected..
This was probably the most effective advert run by a Republican in the last election cycle. It put Joni Ernst on the map, and got the attention of the Old White Guys with Deep Pockets. They bought her a bunch of political advisers and media consultants, who managed to tone down her Crazy Quotient enough to get her elected. (And dude, Ernst scores HIGH on the Crazy Quotient — which I’ll get back to in just a bit.) Once the OWGwDP began to groom her, Joni stopped talking about policy and focused her campaign on the fact that she was an Iowa country mom who wore a uniform, rode a motorcycle, loved guns, and spent her childhood lopping the balls off pigs.
After she was elected, Senator Lindsey Graham gave her a plaque with a pig castration tool mounted on it, inscribed Make ‘Em Squeal, Joni.
Ernst’s other major claim to legitimacy is her military service. She’s a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard, the commander of the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. That’s the one thing I really truly actually respect about Ernst. She put on the uniform and she served. And don’t knock the logistics folks; a military unit is only as good as its equipment and supplies.
But Joni doesn’t get a free pass just because of her military service — for a couple of reasons. First, her media handlers often refer to her as a ‘combat veteran’ because her unit served in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-2004. Which sounds cool. Except that her support unit was stationed in Kuwait, and while her unit did run convoys into southern Iraq, I feel safe in suggesting that as the company commander, Joni never got behind the wheel of one of those convoy vehicles. She isn’t a combat veteran.
Second, despite her long military career, Joni seems unaware of Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
That’s right, it’s a court martial offense insult the president. But just a year ago, Joni said “He (Obama) has become a dictator.” She’s also flirted with violations of UCMJ Article 94, which states that anybody subject to the UCMJ who advocates “revolt, violence, or other disturbance against that authority” is guilty of sedition. In a speech to the NRA, she said:
“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 a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
When she joined the Iowa National Guard, Joni swore an oath that she would “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of the State.” Which, you know, actually IS the government she’s toting a handgun to defend herself from. So she can either be a good soldier or she can be somebody who is arming herself against her own government — but she can’t be both.
But wait…that’s the low end of Joni Ernst’s score on the Crazy Quotient. At the high end? Agenda 21. She believes this is some United Nations conspiracy to usurp democracy in order to deprive US citizens of their property rights in order to…well, that bit isn’t clear. But dammit, foreigners want to kill family farms and take away our golf courses. At a candidate forum, Joni claimed United Nations agents have begun
“moving people off of their agricultural land and consolidating them into city centers and then telling them that you don’t have property rights anymore.”
Joni is also an advocate of nullification — the completely discredited notion that state rights can trump federal law. In a candidate questionnaire she said as a Senator she’d support:
“…legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement (it).”
That’s right — Joni not only believes in a crackpot legal theory, she also thinks it’s okay to arrest and prosecute Federal personnel who are following Federal law. I suppose we should be grateful she doesn’t advocate castrating them.
And let me remind you once again — this woman is a Senator in the United States Congress. Elected right here in Iowa, the heartland and all that (and really, I apologize for all of Iowa). And even though she’s only been in office for less than two weeks, she’s the person chosen to give the Republican Party’s official response to the president’s State of the Union address.
My country, I love it dearly…but we are so fucked.