Steve King, champion of integration?

When it comes to racially divisive public statements, few members of Congress are in Representative Steve King’s league, and Donald Trump surpasses every presidential candidate of the last half-century aside from George Wallace. Yet King strongly objects to critics who would portray him or Trump as racist. Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported yesterday on King’s interview with a Fort Dodge-based radio station:

“And now we’ve got the Congressional Black Caucus here in Washington, DC, today will be leading a protest and they have declared Donald Trump to be a racist. Now, why are they the authority on that?” the Iowa congressman said on KVFD AM1400 radio in Iowa. “I call them the self-segregating caucus, and so, they long ago moved away from the integration that we really need in this country.”

Click through to hear the audio clip and read more comments from King. He’s still bent out of shape over African-American journalist April Ryan confronting him in July about his assertion that white people had contributed "more to civilization" than had "other categories of people."

King is uncomfortable with black people calling attention to systemic racism, whether they be farmers who sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over decades-long discrimination policies or a football player declining to stand during the national anthem. In a classic example of what psychologists call projection or scapegoating, King labels African Americans "divisive" if they want an important historical figure to be represented on currency, and considers public discussion of police misconduct grounded in racism to be "anti-white." Yet he considers it appropriate to display a Confederate flag on his desk in the halls of Congress.

Some Congressional Black Caucus members literally put their lives on the line to integrate public spaces in this country. Yet King would have us believe the caucus is a force of racial divisions because its members object to Trump’s manifold racist comments. King’s remarks to KVFD reminded me of a Gallup poll from the summer of 1963. During that critically important time for the civil rights movement, some 60 percent of respondents nationwide said "mass demonstrations by Negroes" are "more likely to hurt the Negro’s cause for racial equality." Talk about projecting blame and responsibility "towards a target person or group."

Final thought: King posturing as a supporter of "the integration that we really need" will be news to many of his constituents. Iowa’s fourth Congressional district includes many counties with large Latino populations. Those families are keeping schools and local businesses viable in numerous cities and towns. But that hasn’t stopped King from disparaging Spanish-speaking immigrants and their children as drug mules, or from trying to restrict birthright citizenship to exclude children of people who came to this country illegally.

UPDATE: Added below an image King tweeted on September 23, in which references to NFL player Colin Kaepernick and police officers were replaced with "King" and "Muslim" to highlight what King called "the contradictions of political Correctness."

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Iowa early vote numbers down compared to same point in 2012 and 2014

Although Iowans won’t be able to cast ballots in person or by mail until next Thursday, September 29, candidates and volunteers have been collecting absentee ballot request forms for weeks as they knock on doors.

Today the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office provided this year’s first statewide early voting numbers. Absentee ballot requests are down considerably compared to mid-September 2012 and 2014.

That the Republican Party of Iowa has not yet mailed its first big piece of early vote literature can’t fully explain the trend. At this point in the last two election cycles, absentee ballot requests from Iowa Democrats alone far exceeded current numbers.

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Weekend open thread: Trump detractors, Trump defenders

What’s on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Des Moines Register’s Kyle Munson published an excellent profile of Iowa Republican operative David Kochel and his battle with leukemia. I enclose excerpts below, but do click through to read the whole piece. Kochel has worked for numerous Republican candidates, most recently Jeb Bush. He was a senior strategist for Joni Ernst’s Senate campaign in 2013 and 2014 and for Mitt Romney during the last presidential election cycle.

Kochel has been on the #NeverTrump train for months—an anomaly in Iowa circles, where most well-known Republicans have fallen in line behind the nominee. Yet around the country, a stunning number of GOP elected officials, commentators, or former staffers have said they will not vote for Trump under any circumstances.

Last month, Tara Golshan and Sarah Frostenson compiled a list of more than 100 #NeverTrump Republicans, and 50 former national security officials from GOP administrations signed a letter warning that Trump "lacks the character, values and experience" to be president and "would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being."

Several newspapers that had endorsed GOP presidential nominees for decades have rejected Trump, most recently the New Hampshire Union Leader, which called Trump "a liar, a bully, a buffoon."

All those traits were on display this past week, when Trump tried to blame Hillary Clinton for starting the "birther" movement, called for Secret Service agents protecting Clinton to disarm and "see what happens to her," and went off script during a rally to complain about a mosquito.

On the plus side for Trump, the media’s renewed focus on the Republican candidate’s contributions to birtherism kept devastating scoops by Kurt Eichenwald and David Fahrenthold from getting much traction this week. Excerpts from Eichenwald’s cover story for Newsweek are after the jump.

Meanwhile, pathetic lackey and convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza took to Twitter to defend Trump’s admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who "unlike someone else we know—LOVES his country & FIGHTS for its interests." When a commenter pointed out that D’Souza "would be dead" if he were in Russia and criticized the president, D’Souza countered that opposition figure Garry Kasparov "is a public critic of Putin & very much alive." The former world chess champion posted a priceless response: "Have you noticed I live in New York now? Stop spitting on the graves of Putin’s victims with your dictator worship." Kasparov added a few minutes later, "If you can’t articulate criticism of Hillary Clinton or Obama without praising a brutal dictator, you’re incompetent & should just shut up."

It wasn’t for nothing some called D’Souza "Distort D’Newsa" when he became a nationally-known flame-thrower during the 1980s.

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IA-Gov: Sales tax hike for conservation may become fault line in 2018

Leaders of a campaign to provide a "permanent and constitutionally protected funding source dedicated to clean water, productive agricultural soils and thriving wildlife habitats" in Iowa touted support in the business and agriculture communities this week. You can watch Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy’s September 12 press conference here or listen to the audio at Radio Iowa. Under a state constitutional amendment Iowa voters adopted in 2010, revenues generated by the next 3/8th of a cent sales tax increase (estimated at more than $180 million per year) would flow into a Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Scroll to the end of this post for a current list of IWLL coalition members and details on the formula for allocating trust fund money.

Without knowing which parties will control the Iowa House and Senate next year, it’s hard to gauge prospects for passing a sales tax increase. Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy commented on Monday, "The best time to move on a piece of legislation is just following an election. That’s when you get your best bipartisan compromises, and I think ultimately, this is something we can find a bipartisan compromise on."

Who might lead statehouse Republicans toward such a compromise is unclear. The GOP lawmaker most supportive of IWLL has been State Senator David Johnson. But he left the party this summer to protest presidential nominee Donald Trump and told Bleeding Heartland in a recent interview that he plans to remain an independent during the 2017 legislative session.

At least one Republican running for governor in 2018 will support the sales tax increase: Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett. That stance will put him in conflict with either Governor Terry Branstad or his chosen successor, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. In addition, support for funding IWLL among major farm lobby groups could create problems for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, also a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2018.

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Former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning joins #NeverTrump camp

Donald Trump is too ignorant to be president, according to former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning, the most prominent Iowa Republican to disavow the GOP nominee.

Corning served six years in the Iowa Senate, then eight years as lieutenant governor during Terry Branstad’s third and fourth terms. Since unsuccessfully seeking the GOP nomination for governor in 1998, she has held leadership roles in numerous non-profit organizations. As a pro-choice moderate, she has been increasingly outnumbered within Iowa GOP ranks. Nevertheless, she supported every Republican presidential nominee from Dwight D. Eisenhower through John McCain, Corning told Bleeding Heartland yesterday in a telephone interview. Despite voting for President Barack Obama in 2012, she never left the Republican Party and endorsed Jeb Bush before this year’s Iowa caucuses.

Corning said she realized while watching the Republican debates that Trump was not a candidate she could ever support. As for why, she cited his "know-it-all demeanor when he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about." Had she ruled out voting for him by the time he locked up the GOP nomination? "Oh, yes. Yes."

Like State Senator David Johnson, who came out against Trump this summer, Corning declined to state publicly for whom she will vote in November.

After Jeb Bush announced in May that he would not support Trump, I sought comment from State Senator Charles Schneider and the six Iowa House Republicans who had endorsed the former Florida governor before the caucuses. Schneider said, "I intend to vote for Trump assuming he is the nominee," while State Representative Greg Forristall likewise confirmed he "will vote for the Republican nominee." State Representative Dave Heaton commented at that time, "It’s pretty hard for us to turn our back on the party’s selection, so I probably would support [Trump]." State Representatives Zach Nunn, Linda Miller, and Ron Jorgensen did not respond to my inquiries.

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A close look at Republican message-testing in key Iowa House races

Republicans are testing potentially damaging messages about Iowa House Democratic candidates, along with statements that might increase support for GOP candidates in battleground legislative districts. After listening to several recordings of these telephone polls and hearing accounts from other respondents, I have three big takeaways:

• Republicans are seeking ways to insulate themselves from voter anger over inadequate education funding and the Branstad administration’s botched Medicaid privatization;
• The time-honored GOP strategy of distorting obscure legislative votes is alive and well;
• The Iowa Democratic Party’s platform plank on legalizing all drugs may be used against candidates across the state.

Read on for much more about these surveys.

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