Political Animal


May 22, 2012 9:50 AM Walking the Planks

By Ed Kilgore

The Iowa Republican Party is getting some attention today for a draft state party platform that proposes requiring candidates for federal office to supply proof of citizenship. The chairman of the committee that drafted this and other provisions went out of his way to let reporters know this was intended as a challenge to President Obama’s legitimacy, in case anyone was wondering.

But if you take a look at the document as a whole, the birth certificate requirement is far from the crankiest of provisions. It calls for the abolition of the federal Departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Commerce. It demands a phase-out of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and immediate provisions to make Social Security voluntary. Though it’s a bit confusing on this point, it seems to call for the abolition of public education, or, as it often refers to them, “government schools.” It calls for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations and the repeal of all hate crimes and non-discrimination legislation. It endorses a Fetal Personhood Amendment. It demands permanent restriction of total federal spending to 10% of GDP (the draconian right-wing Cut, Cap and Balance Act would limit it to 19.9% of GDP), and reversal of the Supreme Court precedents that made possible the New Deal and civil rights laws.

The Crazy goes on and on and on, far more than in the Iowa Republican Platform that I mocked way back in the day, in 2010, which I thought was pretty nutty then.

It’s true, of course, that these documents don’t mean all that much, and it’s also true the specific Iowa draft platform was prepared under the influence of the recent takeover of much of the state party apparatus by Ron Paul supporters. But you better believe if any group of two or more Democrats wrote up anything remotely this extreme, alarms would go up from coast to coast. I wish at a minimum Republican candidates for major offices in Iowa had to comment on this document one way or another. Walking those planks would do them a world of good in coming to grips with what’s happened to their party.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Robert Abbott on May 22, 2012 9:56 AM:

    I wonder if it calls for elimination of agriculture price support payments and ethanol subsidies? Oh, and if a tornado should tear apart some town or city in Iowa, should FEMA stay away and will Iowa tell the rest of the country's taxpayers that they don't need any help?

  • Arlington BigFish on May 22, 2012 10:02 AM:

    Robert got to the anomaly before I could: the IOWA Republican Party wants to get rid of the Dept. of AGRICULTURE? Whose subsidies underwrite a large-ish segment of the Iowa economy?

  • nerd on May 22, 2012 10:03 AM:

    I would love to see someone, anyone, write a platform based on the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and see what howls of outrage we would get.

  • Peter C on May 22, 2012 10:07 AM:

    So, who is asking Grassley what he thinks about it??? Who is asking Tom Lantham what he thinks about it??? Who is asking Steve King what he thinks about it???

    Make them own it or criticize it. Make them look stunned and surprised at the inanity of it. Make them offend those who wrote it or those who would be horrified by it. Yes, it is only a proposal, but it is an odious proposal which will not be popular, and it shows who they really are.

    If you live in Iowa and get a chance, ASK THEM! Pin the turd on the elephant!

  • Hedda Peraz on May 22, 2012 10:12 AM:

    On December 28, 1846, Iowa became the 29th state in the Union when President James K. Polk signed Iowa's admission bill into law.

    And, according to the good folks of the Hawkeye State, it has been all down hill, ever since.

    "Roads? We don't need no stinkin' roads!"

  • Diane Rodriguez on May 22, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Sounds pretty close to a secessionist document.

  • stormskies on May 22, 2012 10:45 AM:

    And, gee, wonder why someone like David "I am not a corporate used condom" Gregory won't focus on this on one of the used condom's "Meet The Propagandist" shows.

    Like Ed said if this came out as the Democratic platform in any state the corporate media would be on it 24/7 for days. Wolf Blizter would be in a literal state of continuous orgasms. Chip Reid would begin to pole dance for us as he issued one report after another about it.

    Yet, because these are Repiglicans, we will neither see nor hear anything about it from the corporate 'media elite'. Their corruption speaks for itself because of.

  • TR on May 22, 2012 10:56 AM:

    I wish at a minimum Republican candidates for major offices in Iowa had to comment on this document one way or another.

    Sounds like it's time to bombard the Des Moines Register with inquiries on this.

  • Anonymous Howard on May 22, 2012 11:05 AM:

    Just a few thoughts on the "Education" section of the document:

    They say, "We demand that education be returned to a purely free market system." Then they go on to list what should and should not be taught, how universities should manage tenure and entrance requirements, what school clubs should be allowed, etc. Aren't those all issues for the free market to decide?

    Also: "We support the teaching of phonetic reading." What does that mean?

  • Anonymous Howard on May 22, 2012 11:26 AM:

    "We believe all individuals have the freedom to choose the quality of air in their home." - For all those who demanded poor indoor air quality?

    "We demand government employees should be compensated at a similar rate as for similar work in the private sector." -Yay! Government employees are all getting raises!

  • boatboy_srq on May 22, 2012 11:35 AM:

    Yet, because these are Repiglicans, we will neither see nor hear anything about it from the corporate 'media elite'. Their corruption speaks for itself because of.

    I wonder whether the increasingly sanity-challenged pronouncements of the Reichwing are being largely ignored simply because they're expected.

    How long will it be before "card-carrying Republican" ceases to be a political position and becomes a treatable psychiatric condition?

  • c u n d gulag on May 22, 2012 12:16 PM:

    I think the state needs to start growing more corn.

    I think there are more nuts there now than ears of corn.

    Is there some competition I missed for Zaniest, least American state?
    AZ, SC, and IA, are clearly in the lead.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on May 22, 2012 12:25 PM:

    "We believe all individuals have the freedom to choose the quality of air in their home." - For all those who demanded poor indoor air quality?

    What does this mean. The only thing I can think of is someone's wanting to do a no. 2 with the wide door open... THAT can't be what it means.

  • emjayay on May 22, 2012 12:29 PM:

    Anon Howard: Re: "We support the teaching of phonetic reading". I think maybe this refers to the sight reading trend that happened aboout forty or fifty years ago. And also maybe the idea of not teaching spelling ("whole language" maybe?) and let students make up their own spelling, assuming they will eventually notice and come around to how everyone else spells. A trend from twenty years ago. And new math, sitting in a circle, not reciting multiplication tables, or anything else they didn't do when they were in school.

    Both sight reading and whole language I assume have mostly blown over but are probably are stuck in some TeaBaggers mind as abuses of socialized unChristian schooling.

    I assume there was a plank about ending flouridation of water and ending innoculating kids against diseases.

  • ET on May 22, 2012 12:29 PM:

    I have this fantasy of the them getting everything they wanted - and then having to live with the consequences. And then I wake up from that nightmare scenario.

    I seriously think that these people really think everything would be better without all of that and have not concept of how bad things would get.

    "When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."

  • TCinLA on May 22, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Just on the one, the abolition of the Department of Agriculture, aka the Farmer's Welfare Office, how do these people figure Iowa got any sort of economy going to begin with? Prior to the federal government developing agricultural subsidies, most of Iowa was an economy that went from boom to bust from year to year; the state had been in a depression since 1919 (along with all the other primarily-agricultural states) when the New Deal came along and saved them so they could become rich enough to become Republicans for more reason than it was Grandpappy's Old Party from the Civil War. Had the Federal government not developed train transportation in the 19th century to enable old Great Grand Pap to get his corn and wheat to market, the state would still be a subsistence ecnomony.

    Every time you think these whackadoodles can't be more crazy, they come along and demonstrate the paucity of political imagination.

  • Mike on May 22, 2012 1:32 PM:

    The next time the GOP controls the Executive branch and both chambers of Congress, they should totally implement this platform. Even half of this platform. It would destroy the GOP as a political force for the next 50 years. (They might also take the country down with them, but they are doing that anyway.)

  • 2Manchu on May 22, 2012 1:52 PM:

    c u n d gulag,

    Don't forget the rural whackjobs here in the Cornhusker State.

    The ones who think opposing prenatal care for women they don't like doesn't mean they still can't call themselves "pro-life".


    They aso forget that it was the New Deal that brought their grandparents and great-grandparents out of the mid-19th Century and into the 20th, with eletricity, telephones, better roads, improved farming techniques and technology, WPA and CCC programs that bettered their towns and farms, and a myriad of other innovations and improvements.

    If my grandparents and great uncles and aunts had to choose life before 1933 versus life after 1933, I know which one they would pick.

    Throw any of these clowns back into the 1890s or 1920s, and they wouldn't last a week.

  • Patango on May 22, 2012 1:54 PM:

    Exactly Mike and TCinLA

    And they STILL have electrical CO OP's here , the farmers could not get electricity or phone service with out it being subsidized by the gov , there would be no one here in iowa without massive gov money building up the place , these people are out of touch screw balls , as is being pointed out , who in the msm is going to point out to the gop delegation from iowa that they want to end medicare and SS? And to the old cranky voters who are cheerleading having their bennys destroyed ? Does anything these people present make any sense? And the media are fine with it

    via their silence ...I am in eastern iowa were we are very blue and have managed to keep our dem house seats through all this , Senator Harkin is pretty liberal , but he will also sell out at the last minute , it is split 50/50 here , the gop of iowa need to be held accountable for their platform , PERIOD

  • exlibra on May 22, 2012 2:09 PM:

    I'm only posting because of the Craptcha, which is as stupefied by Iowa's Gop's wish to dismantle the Dept Of Agriculture, as all the commenters above had been. It says "ogiusda 214,215". Apart from the fact that it may be undervaluing the amounts pumped into Iowa's economy, it's right on the button for the first part.

    Zeitgeist, how did you ever allow this to happen to your state?

  • corey on May 22, 2012 2:12 PM:

    you all just can't seem to break away from the idea that we all have to ask the government for permission. all of you that are so concerned with Iowa farms at this point in your life... do you think those farmers would grow a different crop if the government didnt subsidize and make their demands to keep up with modified corn starch and corn syrup needs? Imagine if they could grow hemp and cannabis legally. We can't have that though. That would cut into the profits of Big Pharma and the petroleum plastics industries.

  • Jim Dandy on May 22, 2012 2:43 PM:

    Eliminate Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Commerce?

    What a disaster. Everyone knows our food is grown by Washington bureaucrats, all knowledge resides in the heads of government bureaucrats, our safety is in the hands of government bureaucrats, nobody would have a home or be able to build one without our government bureaucrats. People would be dropping dead in the streets without our medical bureaucrats. Energy doesn't come from oil, coal, and wood. It comes from Washington D.C. The trees are all going to die without the Interior department. How will anyone get a job or buy anything without the watchful eye of Labor and Commerce?
    Without these huge, cumbersome, burdensome dinosaurs, how would we every make progress?

  • Lorin Partain on May 22, 2012 2:44 PM:

    Sounds like the Republican party is finally growing a pair. It's about time.

  • Zach Dean on May 22, 2012 3:21 PM:

    Yes, Iowa wants to get rid of the UNITED STATES Department of Agriculture, there would still be a state Dept. of Ag. Coming from Nebraska, I understand where they're coming from. Most farmers and ranchers here would agree completely. Keep the government out of their business... with subsidies, AND all the federal regulations that come right along with them. I work in Radio... yet I would LOVE to see the FCC abolished - so just because we work in a specific industry, doesn't mean we're going to wave incense in front of the respective government department. Good to see the Iowa GOP taking a stand for whats right.

  • BuffOrpington on May 22, 2012 3:24 PM:

    Anyone having talent or intelligence with the misfortune to be born in Iowa leaves as soon as he or she can. This is why.

  • Werewolf on May 22, 2012 3:38 PM:

    Is there some sort of Bat-signal that goes out that makes wingnuts pick a particular post for comments? I mean, I get it when they pick one that's a day or two old, so they can pretend that they "won" by flooding a post with comments after everyone else has moved on, but why this post about Iowa?

  • bro43rd on May 22, 2012 3:54 PM:

    All hail the almighty all-knowing democrats, if they were in power everything would be peachy. Yeah right?? Prosperity is a byproduct of freedom/liberty. Neither the dems or repubs are the party that promotes liberty. Changing out one big-gov statist (dem) for another big-gov statist (repub)is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. Good luck with that. Time to embrace LIBERTY and any candidate who honestly promotes it!

  • zeitgeist on May 22, 2012 4:08 PM:

    oh sure Ex Libra, you had to identify me with this mess :)

    don't blame me - I'm from the very blue center of the state. its those wingnuts in Western Iowa. I blame 2Manchu - I think his state is contagious!

  • Rick Miller on May 22, 2012 4:28 PM:

    I agree with Jim Dandy...these departments are needless, but also destructive. These regulators have always been easily corruptible- they act on behalf of the large corporations who promise them lucrative futures. Consequently, the regulations always favor the big players in the "marketplace." This hinders progress as the entrenched companies use the force of the State to crush competition with regulations rather than winning a contest of innovation and customer satisfaction. This is the reality of what many call the "mixed economy" that goes unacknowledged- regulators are always going to be in the pocket of big business, so big business will always support more regulations. To be sure, the missteps our economy is experiencing is not a result of capitalism, but of the command/control economy.

    Recognizing this fatal flaw of corruption in government, there is a good case for abolishing these agencies on the federal level. Certainly the constitution renders decisions not specified to the federal government to the States, and they can provide a unique regulatory environment that represents the values of the inhabitants of that State. Also, regulators would then be closer to those they represent- and if they failed, people (and their tax dollars) would have a much easier time moving to another state that was more in line with their values.

  • jaybird on May 22, 2012 4:52 PM:

    ahhhhh the Federal Government, where all departments are "The Department of Redundancy Department" I have no use for them.

  • James on May 22, 2012 5:45 PM:

    The platform sounds good to me. Has the department of education or any of those other departments actually done what they set out to accomplish? It would seem that after some time when a department is set up to improve education, or employment, or energy, or anything else, that it should actually work. Do any of the depaartments above work? Have they made things under their sphere of authority better or worse. I can't think of any improvements those agencies have made to our well-being. Why not cancel them?

  • UncleSim on May 22, 2012 6:12 PM:

    I WISH the Democrats would publish a platform this extreme, if that's what they really believe. All this bipartisanship hasn't made things any better for us, so maybe lawmakers SHOULD do a little less cooperating when it comes to placing new burdens upon our backs?

  • John W on May 22, 2012 6:49 PM:

    Yeah, the people of Iowa would have died if it wasn't for big government... Reminds me of a quote from Harry Browne: "Government is good at one thing. It breaks your legs, then gives you a crutch and says, 'See, without us you wouldn't be able to walk.'"

  • jsjiowa on May 22, 2012 8:00 PM:

    I read through the platform this morning and thought it sounded like Steve King had written it (or the South before the Civil War -- did you catch the nullification provision?). So I guess I agree with zeitgeist that it looks like Western Iowa has taken over the party. Page after page of crazy....I mean, did they miss any major conspiracy theory? Certainly, the UN has them scared, as many times as it is mentioned.

    I could be wrong, but I think the provisions about "air quality" are a response to the smoking ban in public places that passed a few years ago ("1.14 We believe all business owners have the freedom to choose the quality of air in their establishments." .... though it's a bit odd that they need to assert personal liberty concerns about their home air quality, too...).

    Last election the Des Moines Register had citizens submit questions for the press to ask the candidates for Governor during a debate. I asked them to inquire about their respective party platforms. It was not asked. The only publication that addressed the platforms last time around was Cityview. Can't wait to see what Civic Skinny has to say about this draft...

  • Doug on May 22, 2012 8:49 PM:

    To the nut-jobs (supporters of the bigoted Paul, no doubt) who have swarmed I respond thusly:
    NOONE is forcing ANY farmer to plant ANY crop he/she doesn't want to plant. However, if said farmer/s wish to receive Federal and/or state funds for what they plant, they have to go by the rules. If you care to see what completely unbridled "farming" can do, I'd suggest you look up some of the newsreels about the Dustbowl from the 1930s. Also notice how thin, actually scrawny, most of those farmers and their families were - the word you're looking for is "malnutrition".
    You twits sound just like that idiot song "A Country Boy Can Survive". Yeah sure, IF that "country boy" has a machine shop to make parts for his 4wd truck and guns. And don't forget the oil well for gasoline. And the iron mine and smelter.
    Then there's the several tons of potatoes, seed grains and vegetable seeds needed for growing crops. Remember: plant first, then eat. Then there's the machinery needed to spin wool and cotton (AFTER removing the seeds from the latter). Gonna need a entire building set up to render carcasses down for their fat for candles/lamps/soap and tanning the hides.
    Don't forget the twenty-year supply of anti-biotics - necessary until one of the young-uns finally deciphers that book on medical chemistry...
    Sorry, but we're ALL in this TOGETHER; not unlike those celebrated COMMUNAL barn-raisings, so popular in rural areas.
    Good lord, if you want a joint THAT badly, just GROW some marijuana...

  • George Whitfield on May 22, 2012 9:57 PM:

    I don't think walking planks is the correct phrase. Rather I think the platform proposals are bridges to a better, more peaceful and prosperous future. And for those interested in a choice other than the red and blue teams that have led America to debt and ruin, I suggest this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zh4dU9QNPU8 and www.garyjohnson2012.com Thanks a lot!

  • 2Manchu on May 23, 2012 12:28 AM:


    Sad, but true. Luckily I live in Omaha, where it seems most of the sanity in this state resides.

    At least when you don't count the Anglo-Saxon stronghold of West Omaha, that is.

  • Zoe on May 23, 2012 7:11 AM:

    Why the F are Democrats pissed about Republicans having a more extreme platform than "normal." ("Normal" meaning a watered down centrist position that is congruous with the watered down, centrist position of "normal" Democrats.)

    Hey Dems, maybe I'd actually be able to stand y'all if you held your Nobel prize winning, "peace" candidate to his word. Instead y'all just caved to the security state growing at a more rapid pace than during Bush.

    Don't now insult Republicans for going back to a closer position to the Goldwater platform. Your outrage is absurd.

  • Rick Miller on May 23, 2012 7:54 AM:


    "NOONE is forcing ANY farmer to plant ANY crop he/she doesn't want to plant. However, if said farmer/s wish to receive Federal and/or state funds for what they plant, they have to go by the rules. If you care to see what completely unbridled "farming" can do, I'd suggest you look up some of the newsreels about the Dustbowl from the 1930s."

    If you would care to see what central planning can do, take a look at the starvation of the people of Ukraine by the Russians during the same time period (early '30s). This resulted in the death of 5-8 million people. Who was worse off, the farmer who starved to death from his mistake, or the one who was deliberately starved by his own government? Remember, 262 million people were killed in one way or another by their own government in the 20th century alone (google democide). I am willing to bet the free market has a better record than that!

    As far as the "Country Boy Can Survive" mentality you speak of, I think you are on our side! When you talk about the difficulty in procuring all the stuff you need to survive on your own, you are really describing the division of labor- of course, this is a key aspect of capitalism, and is really what allows us to prosper.

  • Roger Ford on May 23, 2012 10:07 AM:

    welcome to political dogmatism (wuff).

  • Etienne de la Boetie on May 23, 2012 12:34 PM:

    Looks like one step closer to a more enlightened society based on voluntarism and non-coercive exchange and one step farther from the welfare/police state. The state is a gang of thieves writ large.

  • Spinoza on May 24, 2012 1:24 AM:

    Wow. I am struck by how many people believe that federal entitlement spending is an immutable law of nature, such that denying the wisdom of our current institutions is derided as "insane," tantamount to the denial of gravity or heliocentric orientation.

    Be careful where you tread. Ad hominem attacks are the last things heard before the fall of arrogance.

  • Nick on May 25, 2012 2:00 PM:

    "The Crazy goes on and on and on..."

    You mean like the status quo in Washington that is destroying this nation?

    Get your head out of the sand.