Iowa

Steve King Compares Immigration Enforcement To Recreational Fishing

Speaking at today’s “Homeland Threats” national security summit, an alternative to CPAC hosted by Brietbart News and moderated by Frank Gaffney, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) compared immigration enforcement on the southern border to recreational fishing.

He told a story about going out with border patrol agents who would “catch and release” immigrants like a recreational fisher because they “like their jobs” and want to keep them.

Later in the speech, King said that when Reagan signed an immigration reform bill in 1986, he was so angry that he “kicked my filing cabinet.” If immigration reform passes again, King warned, “we won’t be able to restore the rule of law within the lifetime of this republic.”

Steve King: Being Gay Is 'Self-Professed Behavior' That Can't Be 'Independently Verified'

Rep. Steve King of Iowa joined Des Moines’ WHO TV yesterday to discuss Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto of a bill that would have strengthened the ability of businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“When you’re in the private sector and you’re an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration, you should be able to make our own decisions on what you do in that private business,” King said.

He quickly clarified that he saw civil rights laws as an exception to that rule, but one that shouldn’t be expanded to protect LGBT people. “There’s nothing mentioned in [civil rights laws] about self-professed behavior,” he said, “and that’s what they’re trying to protect is special rights for self-professed behavior.”

Asked whether he thought that being gay is a choice, King responded that he didn’t “know whether it’s a choice or not,” that he imagined some type of “continuum or curve.” 

“I don’t know what that curve looks like,” he added. “I think some’s nature and some’s nurture, and some might be purely each. But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture.”

The congressman went on to imply that LGBT people are making their identities known in order to entrap business owners into discriminating against them.

“The one thing that I reference when I say ‘self-professed,’” he said, “is how do you know who to discriminate against? They have to tell you. And are they then setting up a case? Is this about bringing a grievance or is it actually about a service that they’d like to have?”

He then implied that homosexuality cannot be “independently verified” and can be “willfully changed.”

“If it’s not specifically protected in the Constitution,” he said of civil rights protections, “then it’s got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and cannot be willfully changed.” He added that this is part of why he opposes hate crimes laws.
 

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality 'Runs Contrary to Liberty,' Defies Declaration of Independence

Iowa Republican gadfly Bob Vander Plaats attacked Rand Paul on yesterday’s Steve Deace program over the Kentucky senator’s silence on a federal court ruling striking down his state’s same-sex marriage ban.

Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, mused (probably correctly) that if Newt Gingrich were in Paul’s place, he would have called for defunding the federal district court that ruled in favor of marriage equality.

If Paul were truly “about liberty,” Vander Plaats said, he would be taking the lead to punish the Kentucky judge who struck down the marriage ban, a decision that Vander Plaats insisted “runs contrary to liberty” and defies the Declaration of Independence.

Vander Plaats:  If another good friend of ours, Newt Gingrich, was in his position from the state of Kentucky, I can almost guarantee what Newt’s response would have been. It would have been, ‘We need to defund that court, we need to defund that judge. The Congress still holds the power of the purse. If we have courts, if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority, let’s pull their meal ticket away.’



It’s too bad that a senator like Ted Cruz and a senator like Mike Lee have to actually step up for the state of Kentucky when their own senator, Rand Paul, should be doing that.

Deace: What should Rand be doing instead of what he is doing right now, which is basically nothing? What shouldhe be doing instead?

Vander Plaats: Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what he says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on.
 

Steve King Claims 'Cantaloupes' Comment Won The DREAM Act Debate

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King set off a political firestorm last year when he claimed that for every valedictorian who would benefit from the DREAM Act, “there’s another hundred out there who they weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

King’s remarks drew heated criticism from progressives, but also from members of his own party, including House Speaker John Boehner, who reportedly called King an “asshole.” This criticism in turn caused King to become hilariously self-righteous, accusing Boehner of making “hateful or ignorant comments” and using “indelicate language.”

In an interview with the Spencer, Iowa, Daily Reporter posted on YouTube today, King continued to lash out at his critics, saying, “they cannot make a point about anything I said that was anything other than true.” He added that his detractors just “call names and criticize the utilization of the language.”

In fact, King claimed that his infamous “cantaloupes” comment was actually an intentional and successful policy move. “Sometimes, I’ve made the point for years and they weren’t listening, so I’ve found another way to get them to pay attention,” he said. “For example, Dick Durbin, as far as I know, no longer describes the DREAMers as ‘valedictorians.’ We’ve corrected that major flaw and sometimes we have to, otherwise it distorts the public’s understand.”

“When they start calling names, they’ve lost the debate,” he said.

King also illustrated his point with a long story about how he doesn’t want the U.S. to be like the Netherlands.

Iowa Republicans Pick Anti-Gay Crusader And Roy Moore Backer To Co-Chair Party

Last month, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called for Michigan GOP committeeman Dave Agema to resign over anti-gay, anti-Muslim comments. Apparently, the Iowa Republican Party didn’t get the message. Barely a week after the Agema controversy broke, the Iowa GOP picked an anti-gay crusader to be the state party co-chair.

Danny Carroll, a former state representative who took over as the Iowa GOP’s co-chair on February 3, is a lobbyist for The Family Leader, the right-wing social issues group run by Bob Vander Plaats, who is considering running for Senate. While Vander Plaats’ over-the-top rhetoric is better known, Carroll is equally adamant in his opposition to gay rights and his Christian-nation view of government.

Back in 2010, Danny Carroll, then the head of Iowa Family Policy Center, refused to endorse the candidacy of Republican Terry Brandstad even after he won the gubernatorial primary because of what he saw as Brandstad’s insufficient opposition to gay rights. Brandstad merely wanted to pass a state constitutional amendment overturning the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2009 marriage equality ruling; Carroll’s preferred candidate, Vander Plaats, led a campaign to target and oust the judges behind the ruling. Carroll assured Vander Plaats’ supporters that they were “answering to God Almighty.” After the election, Vander Plaats was hired to head The Family Leader, a new umbrella group that encompassed the Iowa Family Policy Center.

At a Family Leader conference last year, Carroll insisted that more important than the breakdown of families was the “crisis is in the definition of family” – that is, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage. He said the group was pushing for a state constitutional amendment on marriage equality because “just about every problem facing society today could be fixed, eliminated or significantly reduced if we held up marriage between one man and one woman for life.”

Over the past several years, Carroll has used his influence in Iowa to back candidates who share his far-right views. In 2008, he co-chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa. In 2012, he went for Michele Bachmann, who he declared was “biblically qualified” for the presidency.

But Carroll’s first choice in 2012 was maybe even further to the right than Bachmann: He backed the short-lived presidential campaign of Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who became famous for defying a court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a government building, and who now wants to hold a Constitutional Convention to pass an amendment banning same-sex marriage. When Moore dropped out of the race, Carroll lamented, “He’s a great guy. I love him and respect him. He’s a hero, that’s for sure. And he’s an honorable person. I can’t say anything negative against Judge Moore. Just the reality of politics, I guess.”

Carroll seems to share Moore’s leanings. In a speech in 2010, Carroll blamed the Supreme Court ruling banning school-organized prayer for recent teen suicides in Iowa and railed against legal abortion and gambling. He said these trends could only be reversed by electing people “who will stand up and unashamedly and without apology assure us that they will be guided by absolute and timeless Christian morals that comes from a regular reading of God’s Word.”

“I am through apologizing for what this country was founded on: a firm conviction that a free people cannot be self-governed unless they have a strong conviction to religion and morality,” he added.

In an interview with radio host Jan Mickelson earlier this month, Carroll agreed with Mickelson’s assessment that his appointment to serve alongside the Ron Paul-supporting state party chair A.J. Spiker represented “a marriage between the Paulistas and the evangelicals, or the Teavangelicals” in Iowa. In a possible signal that the party was patching things up, Carroll last week endorsed Brandstad’s reelection bid.

Carroll is hardly alone as a hard-right social conservative in the state-level leadership of a party that just last year proposed softening its image to expand its base. As Brian noted last month, it was odd that Priebus singled out Agema, since anti-gay sentiment is a common feature among RNC committee members. In fact, in Iowa, Carroll will be serving alongside RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, who once warned that gay marriage will lead to man-Eiffel Tower marriage and who blamed the recession in part on legalized same-sex marriage.

6 Things To Know About Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Bob Vander Plaats

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the right-wing group The Family Leader, told The Hill yesterday that he is still weighing a run for U.S. Senate in his home state of Iowa to replace retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.

We’re not entirely convinced that the Religious Right activist isn’t just putting his name out there to get attention – one Iowa GOP strategist said in 2010 that he had “never witnessed an ego the size and proportion of Bob Vander Plaats” – but he certainly has the connections to raise money and early polls show that he would at least be a contender for the Republican nomination.

Vander Plaats, who lost three consecutive gubernatorial elections in the last decade, is a small-time kingmaker for socially conservative national Republicans. Vander Plaats helped to spearhead Mike Huckabee’s and Rick Santorum’s presidential caucus victories in 2008 and 2012 and hosted a 2012 Republican candidates’ forum that attracted every major presidential candidate except for Mitt Romney.

His biggest political victory to date was in 2010 ,when he ran a successful recall campaign against three state supreme court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality the previous year. An attempt to oust another justice two years later was a bust.

Vander Plaats insists that he isn’t too extreme to win a general election in the swing state. “I don’t think I’m an extreme in America in regards to valuing human life, the foundation of family with one-man, one-woman marriage, and religious liberty,” he told The Hill.

We’ll believe that when we see it. Here are just six of the most extreme right-wing items on Vander Plaats’ resume:

1. Suggested African American Families Were Better Off Under Slavery

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Vander Plaats took advantage of Iowa’s outsized influence to convince Republican candidates to participate in a debate hosted by his group and to sign the group’s “Marriage Vow.”

The pledge — signed by Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry — suggested that African-American families were better off under slavery than in present day: “Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”

The language was eventually removed, but now Vander Plaats has moved on to comparing marriage equality to slavery and the Dred Scott ruling.

2. Favors Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown

After launching a campaign to encourage stronger conservative leadership, Vander Plaats hailed Russian president Vladimir Putin as a great leader for his criminalization of “homosexual propaganda.”

While Vander Plaats commends Putin’s anti-gay crackdown, the conservative crusader hasn’t mentioned if he thinks Putin’s bold leadership includes his suppression of dissent, human rights activism and religious freedom .

3. Uses Toxic Anti-Gay Rhetoric

Vander Plaats has likened homosexuality to second hand smoke, a point emphasized by a Family Leader seminar demonstrating that homosexuality, like smoking, represents a “public health crisis.” He defended the comparison, saying, “If we’re teaching the kids, ‘don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,’ the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle.”

Vander Plaats has even linked homosexuality to the national debt and said that an anti-bullying youth conference dishonors God because it tackles the issue of the bullying of LGBT youth.

According to Vander Plaats, same-sex marriage is akin to polygamy and incest and any marriage equality law is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature.”

4. Loves A Good ‘Faggot’ Joke

Exhibiting great leadership, Vander Plaats burst into laughter in response to a joke about “fags” marrying. When asked why a homophobic joke made him crack up, Vander Plaats explained he was merely trying to “love people” and “speak the truth in love.”

5. Wants to Outlaw Pornography

Vander Plaats wants to outlaw pornography, a principle which he attempted to have presidential candidates endorse in his 2012 “Marriage Vow.” In his 2006 gubernatorial campaign, Vander Plaats cited the work of prominent pornography-ban advocate Judith Reisman.

6. Promotes Birther Conspiracies

A big fan of Donald Trump’s “bold” birther crusade, Vander Plaats remains unconvinced that President Obama has a birth certificate proving his U.S. birth.

Potential Iowa Senate Candidate Vander Plaats Explains Christian Nationalist View Of Government

Bob Vander Plaats, the head of the social conservative group The Family Leader, will reportedly be deciding in the next few weeks whether to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Tom Harkin this year. While he hasn’t made a final decision yet, Vander Plaats is widely considered to be the frontrunner for the Republican nomination if he enters the race, and already seems to be selling himself as a candidate.

Progress Iowa shares a video of Vander Plaats speaking at The Family Leader’s annual “Life, Marriage & Family” rally yesterday, in which Vander Plaats lays out his Christian nationalist view of government. Speaking about recent court decisions in favor of marriage equality, Vander Plaats – who led the effort to oust three Iowa Supreme Court Justices who ruled for marriage equality in 2009 – claimed that “rogue justices” and President Obama (“who is in over his head”) have “forgotten” that the American government is actually an instrument of God.

“God institution (sic) government,” he said. “He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government.” He went on to explain that “the purpose of government: to promote righteousness,” which he counts as following “God’s principles and precepts” on everything from economics to family policy to foreign affairs.

Vander Plaats frequently portrays the Constitution as an extension of the Bible, claiming that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it “goes against the law of nature’s God” and that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision provoked a “constitutional crisis” by “going against the document that predates the Constitution.”

The remarks start about three minutes into the video.

I happen to believe the reason you will see a leader who is in over his head, why you will see a Congress with a nine percent approval rating, and why you see rogue justices taking authority that isn’t theirs to take, is that they have forgotten, many of them have forgotten who is the Lawgiver. That God institution (sic) government. He has three institutions: He has the Church, he has the family, and he has government. Where those three intersect, that is the focus of The Family Leader. That is where we focus our attention, we focus our crosshairs.

God instituted government. That’s why we have the founders who referenced in the Declaration of Independence, ‘the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.’ Because they knew when you start walking away from the law of nature and the law of nature’s God and you start implementing your own laws about what’s best for Bob, what’s best for Greg, what’s best for Tamara, what’s best for Nancy, you will have a train wreck. there has to be a higher standard. And that’s the standard that we try to achieve here at the Family Leader, we try to promote at the Family Leader. The purpose of government: to promote righteousness.

All you have to do is look at God’s principles and precepts. They are for our good and our benefit, not our harm and our destruction. You apply his principles and precepts to economics, then your economic house is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to marriage and the family, well marriage and family is in order. You apply his principles and precepts to foreign policy, and foreign policy is in order. So, when you’re looking for the solutions, where should we look? We should look up, and not to the sides, and definitely not to the poll of the day.

Rep. Steve King Thinks The High Cost of Abortion For Low-Income Women Is Hilarious

At a House subcommittee hearing yesterday on a bill that would severely restrict access to insurance coverage for abortion, Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa mocked an expert who testified, accurately, that paying out of pocket for an abortion could cost a low-income woman more than a month’s rent.

Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanentban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”

“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.

When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

CNS News transcribed the exchange, which the anti-choice website LifeSiteNews described as “ humorous” :

Rep. King: “Okay, then your answer, then, would be that, in exceptional cases it may cost a woman more for a single abortion than it does for her one month of rent check. Is that an accurate way to depict what you said?”

Prof. Wood: “That’s correct.”

Rep. King: “Okay, because I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”

The Guttmacher Institute estimates that the average cost of a first-trimester abortion is between $450 and $500, depending on the method used; Planned Parenthood says a first-trimester abortion can cost up to $950. Later-term abortions, which are more rare, can cost many times that.

Vander Plaats: Marriage Equality Unconstitutional Because It's 'Against The Law of Nature'

Last year, Religious Right activist and possible 2014 Iowa Republican Senate candidate Bob Vander Plaats claimed that the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling had provoked a “constitutional crisis” because it defied “the law of nature and the law of nature’s God.”

In an interview on the Steve Deace show last week, Vander Plaats elaborated on this constitutional analysis, claiming that a Utah federal judge’s ruling legalizing marriage equality was wrong because same-sex marriage “goes against the law of nature” and therefore is “against the Constitution.”

Vander Plaats also encouraged Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to simply ignore the court’s ruling and issue an executive order staying the decision until it’s put to a popular vote. 

He warned guest host Jen Green that the Utah ruling was the first step on a slippery slope to tyranny, showing the need to put judges “in their place” as he did in Iowa in 2010.

Vander Plaats: First of all, Justice Shelby, there’s a lot of issues with his ruling. Number one is, you had the people of Utah already amend the Constitution to what marriage is. And you’re supposed to uphold the Constitution, not redefine the Constitution. So, that’s number one.

Two is, there is no research on it, there is no data on it. Why? Because it never existed before. So all there is is speculation. But what we know is it goes against the law of nature, and the law of nature’s God, which means, again, it’s against the Constitution.

My suggestion to Gov. Herbert: Don’t overcomplicate this. Don’t over-study this or analyze this. Lead on this. Issue an executive order from the governor’s office that places a stay on this judge’s decision until the people of Utah resolve this, either through the legislature – the people’s representatives – or through another vote, if you need to go through another vote. But you don’t allow an activist judge to have his way to inflict same-sex marriage on the entire state of Utah.

It is We the People who are the final arbitrators of this deal. They gave us the power of the king. The governor is the executor. He’s got the executive branch, he’s the one who gets to enforce or not enforce. By him staying silent, he’s really enforcing this judge’s opinion. That’s why he needs to step up and lead, and what I’d say, issue that executive order.

And for the Lead or Get Out of the Way members and audience, and especially those in Utah, what really has to concern you here is that if they will do this to the institution of marriage, they won’t even blink an eye when they take your private property, tell you how to educate your kids. If you really want to have tyranny, keep allowing activist judges to keep activism alive. You need to put them in their place. That’s what I’d encourage Gov. Herbert to do.

Green: You will be made to care.

Vander Plaats: You will be made to care. But Gov. Herbert could make that judge made to care. Just like in Iowa, we made the judges, that they should care about what they’re doing.

Vander Plaats: Gay Marriage, Utah Polygamy Ruling Will Lead To Parent-Child Marriage

Count Bob Vander Plaats among the Religious Right activists responding to a court decision decriminalizing polygamy in Utah by crowing that they “correctly” predicted that marriage equality victories would lead to legalized polygamous marriage.

Steve King: Immigrants Will 'Erode The Law Further' By Voting Democratic

At a panel discussion on immigration policy today, Rep. Steve King of Iowa claimed that Democrats support bipartisan immigration reform because undocumented immigrants would “vote for a more liberal agenda” which in turn, “erodes the law further.”

King suggested to the panel, convened by the right-wing Judicial Watch, that if given a roadmap to citizenship, undocumented immigrants would go on a crime spree: “When people break the law to come here and we reward them with breaking the law, then they think that’s all right to break another law. It breeds disrespect for the law. We cannot be a great nation if we are going to willfully destroy the rule of law, especially for political purposes.”

King touted Robert Rector’s discredited Heritage Foundation study, which purported to show a devastating economic impact from immigration reform, but which was both deeply methodologically flawed and co-written by someone who believes that Latinos are genetically inferior.

Later in the discussion, King claimed that President Obama’s executive order implementing parts of the DREAM Act had provoked a “constitutional crisis.” He also lamented that immigration proponents have been pushing the “sympathy factor” with the help of “a lot of Christian groups who misread the scripture.”

Iowa Group Threatens Recall Campaign Against Judge In Abortion Rights Case

The Iowa Religious Right group that successfully campaigned to unseat three state supreme court justices who ruled in favor of marriage equality has set its sights on a new target: a judge who granted a stay in an influential abortion rights case.

The Family Leader, run by prominent conservative activist Bob Vander Plaats, gained national attention in 2010 when it ran a successful campaign, with plenty of funding from national Religious Right groups, to oust three state supreme court justices in retention elections after the court ruled unanimously to legalize marriage equality in the state. The group tried its luck against another justice last year, but the tide had turned enough that the judge held on to his seat.

Now, the group is taking aim at a District Judge Karen Romano, who ruled this week that Planned Parenthood could continue to use video conferencing to guide women through early-term abortions using abortion-inducing drugs – drugs that are widely considered safe to take at home during the early weeks of a pregnancy – while a ban on the practice is appealed. Planned Parenthood had challenged a ruling by the Iowa Board of Medicine banning telemedicine for chemical abortion,  but for no other medical practice. Judge Romano did not rule on the merits of the case.

Vander Plaats’ group issued a statement yesterday claiming that Judge Romano had “not learned a lesson” from the 2010 election and urged voters to remember the judge’s “activism” in her 2016 retention election.

The Family Leader’s Chuck Hurley told the Des Moines Register that his group is “open” to a recall campaign against Romano but hasn’t decided yet whether to go beyond the barely-veiled threats in its press release. Hurley did take the opportunity, however, to allege that Romano was biased because she was appointed by former Gov. Tom Vilsack who “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

Romano said Wednesday afternoon that she was not shocked by the Family Leader’s statement.

“I think in the current climate, it doesn’t really surprise me,” she said in a brief interview.

She added, “I understand that the issue the case deals with is a volatile issue.” She said she couldn’t comment any further.

Chuck Hurley, the Family Leader’s vice president, said Wednesday that the group hasn’t decided whether to mount a recall campaign against Romano. “We are definitely discussing it and are open to it,” he said.

He added that he didn’t know much about Romano’s personal views, but he knows she was appointed in 2001 by former Gov. Tom Vilsack. Hurley said Vilsack, a Democrat, was “notoriously and admittedly an activist who selects judges who support his liberal viewpoints.”

UPDATE: The president of the Iowa State Bar Association has denounced Vander Plaats' move, calling it "political bullying," and the Des Moines Register spoke out against his "not-so-subtle" threat to Romano in an editorial

UPDATE 2: After telling the Register that his group would be "open" to launching a recall campaing against Romano, Hurley followed up with the paper and "clarified" that he in fact meant "we are not launching a campaign against Judge Romano nor do we have any plans to do so at this time. We were simply pointing out that it was this kind of judicial activism by Iowa judges that led to Iowans voting out three Iowa Supreme Court judges in 2010.” 

More Evidence that the 'Court Efficiency Act' Isn't So Efficient

Unable to come up with any legitimate reason to filibuster President Obama’s three nominees to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Senate Republicans have landed on a not-so-convincing excuse: They claim that the court has too many judges as it is and that it would be wasteful to fill its remaining vacancies.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa has even gone so far as to introduce a bill that would permanently reduce the number of seats on the influential court from eleven to eight (the number of active judges currently sitting on the court), thereby preventing President Obama from placing any more nominees on the court. (The president has had one nominee confirmed to the DC Circuit, compared to four nominees under President Bush and eight under President Reagan).

Grassley’s bill would reduce the number of slots on the DC Circuit by three and “reallocate” two of those seats  to circuits that he contends need the judges more.

There are a number of gaping flaws in Grassley’s logic, the first of which is that he and his fellow Republicans were eager to fill the very same DC Circuit seats that they are now trying to eliminate back when President Bush was the one making nominations.

Then, there’s the fact that there seems to be absolutely no basis for reallocating the two D.C. Circuit seats to the Eleventh and Second circuits. The official office that evaluates the needs of federal courts and makes recommendations for adding and removing seats doesn’t include the D.C. Circuit in its recommendations because the court’s caseload is uniquely complex and difficult to compare to that of other courts…and it also hasn’t recommended that the Eleventh or Second circuits get new judges.

This was confirmed by a former Chief Judge of the Eleventh Circuit whose statement  [see p. 34 of this pdf] was submitted into the Senate record last month confirming that his former court indeed does not need new judges:

Since my appointment to the Eleventh Circuit on October 1, 1990, the judges of our court annually have voted whether or not we should ask Congress to authorize more federal judges.  Each time our court considers the topic, an overwhelming majority of our members have voted “no!” 

Even one of the co-sponsors of the court-rigging bill – Sen. Jeff Sessions – has gone on record saying that the Eleventh and Second Circuits actually don’t need new judgeships.

All of which makes one suspect that of all the goals that Sen. Grassley might have in mind with the Court Efficiency Act, the efficiency of the courts is probably not one of them.

PFAW

Iowa Senate Candidate Bruce Braley Stands Against Citizens United

The Democratic frontrunner in the 2014 Iowa Senate race, US Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA01), is placing the issue of money in politics front and center in his campaign.

On Sunday, Representative Braley sent an email to his supporters requesting they sign a petition to stand with him “to stop more money from flooding our election system.” The letter referred to McCutcheon v. FEC – a campaign finance case that the Court is hearing this term – and the infamous Citizens United decision, which Braley said is “destroying the election process.”

The American public overwhelmingly agrees with Representative Braley’s assessment, but Braley, a longtime supporter of campaign finance reform, has proven he’s not in the “money in politics” fight just because of public opinion.

Prior to Citizens United in the 111th Congress, Braley cosponsored the “Fair Elections Now Act,” a bill that provided for public financing of congressional campaigns. Following Citizens United, in 2010 and 2012 he cosponsored the DISCLOSE Act, which, had it not been blocked by Republican filibusters, would have stopped “dark money” social welfare organizations and trade associations from spending anonymously in federal elections.

Braley has personal experience with these Citizens United-empowered dark money groups. As People For the American Way documented in “Citizens Blindsided,” during the 2010 election, Braley was the target of a large influx of anonymous outside spending from the American Future Fund, a secretive group without an office or even a website.

In May 2012, Braley spoke about the attack ads in an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show. In the interview, Braley referred to Citizens United as the “worst thing to happen to democracy in [his] lifetime” and spoke about the implications of the decision:

… now, we can see that very powerful moneyed interests are trying to buy the government they want and have no restrictions—literally—on what they can spend. And that’s why Americans have to wake up and realize they need to ask the tough questions when they see these ads on TV and they have innocuous names – paid for by the American Future fund. Most people don’t realize that this is really a highly coordinated effort to get rid of people who speak truth to power and aren’t going to be swayed by some of these powerful special interests [emphasis added].

In 2014 in Iowa, voters have the chance to stand with Representative Braley and against “these powerful special interests.” They want to dominate the political process by buying it; he wants to keep the “for sale” sign off the US Senate.

 

PFAW

Rep. Steve King Just Wants to 'Unleash Human Nature'

Last night, as Congress finally ended the government shutdown and the Tea Party’s dreams of ending Obamacare through sheer force of will faded once again, Iowa’s KCRG asked local lawmakers to reflect on the 16-day shutdown and near default. Republican Rep. Steve King, a Tea Party stalwart and cheerleader of the shutdown, waxed philosophical, telling the station that he merely wants “to continue to unleash human nature” in the United States.

“I want what’s best for the long-term best interests of this country, I want it to be on constitutional underpinnings, and I want to continue to unleash human nature,” he said. “And I’m afraid we’re going in the other direction here, and that is troubling to me.”

Steve King Insists 9/11-Muslim Brotherhood Link Confirmed By 'Well-Placed Sources Within the Middle East'

Iowa congressman Steve King, who joined fellow Republicans Rep. Michelle Bachman and Rep. Louis Gohmert in Egypt last week, where they delivered a televised message praising the Egyptian military’s crackdown on dissenters, claims that the group’s insistence that the Muslim Brotherhood was linked to the 9/11 terrorist attacks comes from a “very reliable” source “within the Middle East.” But he won’t say who his source is because “then it would be a political incident.”

The Bush administration’s 9/11 commission found no such link, except to note a handful of instances where Al Qaeda members had peripheral contact with the sprawling group.

While Bachmann has attempted to backtrack from the comments, King has characteristically doubled down.

The Omaha World-Herald reports:

Tuesday, during a call with reporters, King defended Bachmann's statements.

King said he had received evidence tying the Muslim Brotherhood to both the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and last year's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He said his information comes from “very well-placed sources within the Middle East.”

Pressed for more details, King declined to specify even the country from which the information originated.

“That source is a very reliable source and it is very sensitive,” King said. “If I were to clarify the source of it, then it would be a political incident. And I'd just as soon not initiate that.”

Radio Iowa adds:

“I have received evidence that there was a foundation there among the Muslim Brotherhood in each of those cases and it’s not something that I think that they can just simply say is wrong. They would have to be the ones to prove the negative,” King said. “It takes a fair amount of self-confidence, sometimes misplaced self-confidence, to be so critical with a basis to do so.”

King was asked twice during his telephone news conference to reveal the source of his information.

“I think I’ll just stick with my answer of very well-placed sources within the Middle East,” King said, “and I think that it will be verified over time.”

Bob Vander Plaats Praises Russia's Ban On Pro-Gay Rights Speech

One of the chief players in Republican politics in Iowa yesterday praised Russian president Vladimir Putin for his role in criminalizing speech supportive of gay rights as part of a larger crackdown on the country’s LGBT community. Bob Vander Plaats, head of the group The Family Leader and recent host of a summit with likely presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum, defended the ban in an interview with conservative talk show host Steve Deace.

While speaking about the crisis in Syria, Vander Plaats commended Putin for appropriating American “strengths” like “military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs,” which have now “defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama.”

Vander Plaats praised Putin for taking a stand and saying “don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.”

Deace interjected that Putin shouldn’t be deemed a hero of thepro-familymovement since he recently divorced his wife, Vander Plaats but said “it doesn’t matter.”

Vander Plaats: He has taken what used to be our strengths — military might, decisive action, core values, morality, beliefs — and he’s saying, those are being turned into your guys’ weakness and guess what I’m doing? I’m taking those. I’m taking decisive leadership, you’re following my lead. As a matter of fact, Obama’s now agreeing with Putin, ‘oh you know maybe we’ve got some other options here now.’ So he’s taking Putin’s lead. Putin’s saying, ‘you know what don’t bring this homosexual propaganda into my country for the Olympics; we believe in one man, one woman marriage; there is no homosexual marriage in Russia.’

Deace: Says the guy that just kicked his wife of four decades to the curb.

Vander Plaats: It doesn’t matter. He’s taken what used to be our strengths, which has now defaulted into our weaknesses because of Barack Obama, no leadership, and he’s making them his strengths and he’s emerging now on the world stage as a newly discovered leader. Ladies and gentlemen this is why you need to rise up, this is why we rise up, to demonstrate, we do have a voice in this process.

Of course for gay people and gay rights advocates in Russia, they will no longer have a voice in the already-undemocratic state.

David Lane Digs In

In July, we reported on Christian-nation extremist David Lane’s closed-door pastors briefing in Iowa, and the presidential hopefuls and other politicians who have flocked to Lane’s gatherings over the years.

This week the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs reported that Lane’s American Renewal Project is holding church-based voter registration drives on three Sundays this month: Sept. 15, Sept. 22 and Sept. 29.  Steve Michael, a spokesperson for the project, told the Register that after the American Renewal Project’s $1.2 million voter registration campaign in Missouri during the last election cycle, the state saw a 3 percent increase in evangelical voters.  He said it will organize in Iowa “steadily until the 2014 election.”

The "Stand-up Sundays" model goes like this: Pastors ask their congregation members to stand up if they're already registered. Volunteers will then hand out voter registration paperwork to the adults still seated. But each Iowa pastor will decide how to do it, Lane told the Register.

Iowa is among 11 states the American Renewal Project is targeting in the 2014 cycle, Michael said. The others are Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.

Organizers will do “Pastors and Pews” events followed by voter registration drives in each state. Next up is Louisiana on Sept. 26-27….

Lane said Iowa may be one of the most registered states in the nation, thanks to the attention from the presidential campaigns, so he expects Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina to be more "target rich areas."

It’s worth noting that Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina are also among the top Senate races for 2014, as are other states on Lane’s target list. 

Ted Cruz 'Honored' To Go Hunting With Steve King

Texas senator and likely 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz has made a notable friend in Iowa: Rep. Steve King. The Des Moines Register reports that Cruz has accepted King’s invitation to go pheasant hunting on the opening day of the hunting season next month, and was “honored to have received the invite.”

“Yes, we are confirmed for a hunt with King,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in an email Friday to the Des Moines Register. “The senator has enjoyed getting to know him and work with him on important issues before Congress. He’s honored to have received the invite.”

Prior to the 2012 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses, King hosted former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum twice for bird hunting at Iowa game preserves and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on one occasion. The Iowa congressman said in an interview on Thursday he hopes to shape the debate for the 2016 GOP presidential contest by serving as a “guardrail of constitutional conservatism.”

Cruz’s proud association with King is another sign that the Texan has no plans to moderate his positions in advance of a presidential run. King earned rebukes from his party leadership last month when he insisted that most young undocumented immigrants are drug runners with “calves the size of cantaloupes because they’ve been hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.” He has also compared immigrants to dogs.

Cruz has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal.
 

Steve King Compares Unemployed to Children Who Don't Do Chores: 'You Get to Eat After You Do the Work'

UPDATED

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King appeared at an event in North Carolina Monday where, according to a Red Alert Politics blogger who attended, he chastised unemployed Americans, saying “I want to see more Americans step up.”

King reportedly compared the unemployed to children who refuse to do chores, implying that those who are out of work should not receive a helping hand:  “Now what kind of a family — if you had six kids and a third of those kids would say ‘I’m not doing the chores, Mom,’… pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work.’”

Speaking to a group of conservatives in Charleston, S.C., on Monday evening, the Iowa Congressman said that it wasn’t the economy that was sluggish, but the 100 million non-working Americans giving up jobs to “unskilled” illegal immigrants.

“One hundred million Americans aren’t contributing and yet we’re looking out across the board and saying let’s bring in some more people that are uneducated, unskilled and we’re going to put them into the unskilled workforce and somehow we’re going to increase our economy,” King said during the Charleston Meeting. “…I want to see more Americans step up.”

This “middle class standard of living” is the direct result of President Obama propelling the country into a “dependency state,” according to King.

“We borrow money from China to pay people not to work and we say we’re going to grow our GDP because we have sympathy for people that are in this country illegally,” he said.

King equated America to a family, comparing the amount of non-working Americans to children refusing to do their chores.

“Now what kind of a family — if you had six kids and a third of those kids would say ‘I’m not doing the chores, Mom,’” King said. “…pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work.’”

UPDATE: Raw Story found the video of King’s remarks.

Here, King compares the unemployed to delinquent children:

And here, King claims that President Obama is using unemployment benefits to encourage women “not to have a man in the house” and “pushing the dependency class”  in order to “increase [his] power base.” Later on, King recalls a controversial incident in which he declined to contradict a constituent who called President Obama a Muslim and a Marxist. “I don’t know his religion, I don’t question that at all,” King said. “But my answer was, ‘Well, he’s at least a Marxist.’”

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