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Joni Ernst: an “Onion of Crazy” and the "Midwest Mama Grizzly"

Joni Ernst and Sarah Palin

Joni Ernst (left) with Sarah Palin (right): two peas in a very peculiar pod ...

Iowa senator Joni Kay Culver Ernst certainly has interesting qualifications: she is a pistol-packing hog castrator, a Harley rider, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, and an ardent believer in lunatic fringe conspiracy theories. But of course she is skeptical about climate change!

Ernst's bragging about castrating hogs has resulted in her being nicknamed Onion of Crazy, Joni No Baloney, Joni the Ripper, The Nutwhacker, The Sperminator, The Bushwhacker, Whacknut, Midwest Mama Grizzly, Mama Fearest, Joni Cutzyernutzoff, De Nutter, The Castrator, Joni "Squeal Like a Pig" Ernst, Pistol-Packin' Joni, The Biscuit Baking Ballcutter, Palin's Iowa Clone, and the Iowa Kook. She was catapulted to this dubious form of stardom by her "shock and awe" campaign ads. One featured her talking about castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, then promising to make Washington "squeal" in a similar way, while puzzled pigs watched with trepidation. (Jimmy Fallon parodied the ad by aping, "I'm Joni Ernst and I grew up throwing battery acid in people's faces!"). In another ad, a macho-looking Ernst wearing black leather roars up to a shooting range on a Harley. The narrator confides that she "carries more than just lipstick in her purse." Ernst pulls out a gun, cocks it menacingly, and we're told that "Joni's gonna unload." She then fires at a target symbolizing the federal government and its "wasteful spending." The narrator points out that "Joni doesn't miss much." She then asks voters to give her a "shot." Needless to say, the NRA gave an A ranking to Wyatt Ernst. (Ironically, the real Wyatt Earp was a firm advocate of gun control; the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral was fought because the Clanton gang insisted on carrying guns in public.)

Sarah Palin endorsed Ernst as follows: “Iowa, come together and send this Midwest Mama Grizzly roaring to Washington on her Harley so she can join with the good guys to get our country back on track!” Palin has the political hots for Ernst, saying, "I haven't been this excited about a candidate in quite a while." And they do seem like two peas in a peculiar pod.

Ernst professes to have secret information about Iraqi WMDs that no one else in the government has: "... I do have reason to believe there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That was the intelligence that was operated on. I have reason to believe there was (sic) weapons of mass destruction. My husband served in Saudi Arabia as an Army Central Command sergeant major for a year and that's a hot-button topic in that area." But according to Colin Powell, who vastly outranks her husband, the "information" about WMDs in Iraq was provided by an an informant code-named Curveball who had a vendetta against Saddam Hussein, and wanted the US to take him out. Even George W. Bush finally admitted that there were no WMDs in Iraq, saying that trying to prove Iraq had WMDs had been his most difficult and perplexing task as president. Sort of like trying to prove that black is white.

Ernst packs a pistol and is ready and willing to use it to take out the federal government. She talks about jailing federal officials or shooting them. She told the audience at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa: “I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson nine-millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere. But 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 the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

Ernst has called President Obama a "dictator" in public, and joined Sarah Palin in calling for his impeachment.

In a Campaign for Liberty in 2012 survey, Ernst answered "Yes" when asked if she would support legislation that would "nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement [it]."

One of Ernst's qualifications for high office, according to her, is her experience as a hog castrator, which she referred to in a campaign ad: “Washington's full of big spenders. Let's make ’em squeal!” Her plans to make people squeal at deep cuts include abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service and Obamacare. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called Ernst an “onion of crazy” because “every time you peel back a layer, you find something more disturbing about her views.”

She wants to abolish the federal minimum wage entirely, saying: "I do not support a federal minimum wage." She called the federal government setting the minimum wage "ridiculous" but then said that she thought $7.25 per hour was "appropriate" for Iowa. Waffles, anyone?

She co-sponsored a personhood amendment to the Iowa constitution, which would give a just-fertilized egg the inalienable right to life with no exceptions for rape, incest or the mother's life being endangered. There is a video clip of Ernst being asked who should be punished if a personhood amendment were in place. She replied, “I think the provider should be punished if there were a personhood amendment.” So presumably if a doctor tried to save a pregnant girl's life at the expense of a fertilized egg's existence, he could be prosecuted for murder. According to Iowa State Senator Dennis Guth, who spearheaded the amendment, “My intent is to preserve the full rights of all persons for everyone in this country from the moment of conception to the time of natural death.” So it seems Ernst also supports denying adults the right to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

At the final debate of the Republican Senate primary, Ernst "volunteered that she would vote for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage." But Ernst also said that she believes gay marriage is "a state issue," noting that she co-sponsored a bill in the Iowa Senate to amend the state constitution.

As an Iowa state senator, Ernst co-sponsored resolutions concerning state nullification of federal law. One such bill asserted that Iowa could ignore any federal laws which "are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment," while another urged the nullification of certain EPA regulations related to coal-fired electricity plants. (Courts have consistently ruled that nullification is unconstitutional.)

Ernst admits that she doesn't understand climate change science, but she nonetheless somehow knows that the federal government's regulatory role should be "very small."

Ernst voted against bringing Senate File 79 up for a vote in the Iowa Senate, a bill that would legalize medical marijuana.

At a January 2014 GOP forum in Montgomery County, Iowa, Ernst warned that Agenda 21, a 1992 United Nations voluntary action plan for sustainable development, could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place. But Agenda 21 is one of the loopiest conspiracy theories.

In an interview with the Des Moines Register on May 9, 2014, Ernst said that she was "extremely offended" by comments made by Republican opponent Mark Jacobs in which she was characterized as AWOL due to missing over 100 votes in the legislative session ending April 7, 2014. Ernst stated: "If [Mark Jacobs] had any sort of service like I have, he would've understood what AWOL means. I have not been AWOL, I will never be AWOL." Previously, in an article in The Gazette, Ernst cited her National Guard duty to rebuff criticism about her missing votes, but The Gazette found that only 12 of the 117 missed votes came on days when she was on duty. The other 105 missed votes represented 57 percent of the Iowa Senate votes that session.

But when an elected official is this far gone, going AWOL and missing votes is a very good thing.

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