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« Reply #16350 on: Oct 21, 2014, 06:53 AM »

Earth at risk after cuts close comet-spotting program, scientists warn

The Guardian
21 Oct 2014 at 00:53 ET   

The Earth has been left with a huge blind spot for potentially devastating comet strikes after the only dedicated comet-spotting program in the southern hemisphere lost its funding, leading astronomers have warned.

The program, which discovered the Siding Spring comet that narrowly missed Mars on Sunday, was shut down last year after losing funding.

“It’s a real worry,” Bradley Tucker, an astronomer at the Australian National University (ANU) and University of California Berkeley, told Guardian Australia.

“There could be something hurtling towards us right now and we wouldn’t know about it.”

The Siding Spring survey – named after the observatory near Coonabarabran in central New South Wales, where the Mars comet was first spotted – was the only program in the southern hemisphere actively searching for potentially hazardous comets, asteroids and meteors.

Celestial objects that pass within 7.4m kilometres of the earth, or which are more than 150 metres in diameter, are considered potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs). There are 1,508 known cases. The most famous asteroid to have struck the Earth landed in Mexico about 65m years ago, and is believed to have caused or contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

A 20-metre meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere undetected in 2013 and exploded spectacularly about 30km above Chelyabinsk in Russia, injuring 1,500 people.

“It’s essentially like a nuclear bomb going off in the atmosphere,” Tucker said. “These things can do inconceivable damage.”

The Nasa-funded Australian survey discovered more than 15 objects, and was led by Dr Robert McNaught, a Scottish-Australian scientist credited with discovering about 475 asteroids and about 82 comets, including the Siding Spring comet – more than any other astronomer.

 

Savage bushfires around the Siding Spring observatory nearly ended the program in January last year. The ANU pitched in more money after Nasa signalled that funding was running out, but by July 2013 “all the avenues had dried up”, Tucker said.

Appeals to the Australian government and local mining companies for a lifeline also went unheeded. “There’s a lot of science that’s hurting,” Tucker said.

May’s federal budget stripped the country’s scientific research agency, the CSIRO, of $111m in funding, with more than 500 jobs expected to go.

Tucker said programs to track abandoned spacecrafts, flecks of paint and other space junk were still relatively well funded. But the Siding Spring telescope used by the program needs an expensive upgrade, and neither Canberra nor private donors were interested. “There’s limited science money, and something always has to give,” he said.

The Siding Spring survey’s partner site in Arizona continues to operate, meaning northern hemisphere astronomers can keep their gaze trained on the objects coming from the northern galactic plane.

“But obviously the northern hemisphere cannot see objects in the southern sky,” Ian Adams, an ANU astronomer, said.

“The comet that went past Mars, that was a southern hemisphere comet, it came from deep in the southern hemisphere’s sky. The northern hemisphere would never have seen it.”

The task of searching the southern galactic plane was now left to “amateurs and enthusiasts” with a decent telescope in the backyard, Adams said.

Tucker said the problem was that governments still saw comet and asteroid-spotting as an academic pursuit rather than an early-warning system. “The idea needs to switch from thinking of this as scientific research … to seeing it as something no different to tracking cyclones,” he said.

“It’s about getting people out of harm’s way, minimising damage. And it shouldn’t be seen as one country’s problem. It’s a global problem.”

China has experimented with using missiles to divert small meteors and man-made space junk, Tucker said.

Scientists at ANU received $60m funding earlier this year to develop another solution: lasers that could be beamed from earth to slow down or alter the orbit of space debris before it collided with Earth.


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« Reply #16351 on: Oct 21, 2014, 07:14 AM »

In the USA...United Surveillance America

FBI Director To Ask Congress To Update Law Permitting Feds To Wiretap Phones

By Susie Madrak
CrooksAndLiars
October 20, 2014 11:00 am -

“It's going to be a tough fight for sure,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the Patriot Act’s original author, said.

I gotta wonder if it's really that simple: Buy a new iPhone, forget about the feds eavesdropping. Is the encryption really unbreakable, or are the feds only looking for a plausible (legal) cover story for information they plan to get anyway? Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, nice to know this change has little support in Congress -- so far. The Hill:

    FBI Director James Comey has launched a new “crypto war” by asking Congress to update a two-decade-old law to make sure officials can access information from people’s cellphones and other communication devices.The call is expected to trigger a major Capitol Hill fight about whether or not tech companies need to give the government access to their users' data.

    “It's going to be a tough fight for sure,” Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the Patriot Act’s original author, told The Hill in a statement.

    He argues Apple and other companies are taking the privacy of consumers into their own hands because Congress has failed to pass legislation in response to public anger over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

    “While Director Comey says the pendulum has swung too far toward privacy and away from law enforcement, he fails to acknowledge that Congress has yet to pass any significant privacy reforms,” he added. “Because of this failure, businesses have taken matters into their own hands to protect their consumers and their bottom lines.”

    Comey argues that trend will make it harder to solve crimes.

    “If this becomes the norm, I suggest to you that homicide cases could be stalled, suspects walked free, child exploitation not discovered and prosecuted,” he said last week.

    Comey is asking that Congress update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a 1994 law that required telephone companies to make it possible for federal officials to wiretap their users' phone calls.

    Many new mobile applications and other modern devices aren’t included under the law, however, making it difficult if not impossible for police to get a suspect’s records — even with a warrant.

    Forcing companies to put in a “backdoor” to give officials access would also open them up to hackers in China and Russia, opponents claim, as well as violate Americans’ consitutional rights to privacy.
  
    Comey claimed the FBI was not looking for a “backdoor” into people’s devices.“We want to use the front door with clarity and transparency,” he said.

    But for critics, that’s a distinction without a difference.

    “The notion that it’s not a backdoor; it’s a front door — that’s just wordplay,” said Bruce Schneier, a computer security expert and fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. “It just makes no sense.”

    It was reminiscent, he said, of the mid-1990s debate over the “Clipper Chip,” an electronic chip that federal officials wanted to insert in devices allowing them to access people’s communications. In the end, Congress did not require that companies use that chip in their technology.

    Similar arguments have emerged every few years, as technology has gotten better and government agents have feared being left behind. “This is the third or fourth replay,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “So far Congress has done the right thing and stood aside when companies are given the latitude they need to make communications devices and services more secure.

    ”Early indications are that it could be an uphill push for the FBI.“I’d be surprised if more than a handful of members would support the idea of backdooring Americans’ personal property,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who would staunchly oppose the measure, said in a statement shared with The Hill.

**************

Facebook asks DEA to stop setting up fake accounts with users’ real names

Travis Gettys
21 Oct 2014 at 07:29 ET                  

Facebook has asked agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to stop setting up phony accounts using real names.

The social media giant sent a letter to DEA chief Michele Leonhart following a Buzzfeed report revealing that a DEA agent impersonated a woman whose phone was seized during a drug investigation, reported CNN Money.

The U.S. Department of Justice defended Timothy Sinnigen, saying the agent had a right to use photos of the scantily clad woman to set up a Facebook account he used to communicate with other drug suspects.

The woman, Sondra Arquiett, has sued the agent.

“The DEA’s deceptive actions … threaten the integrity of our community,” said Joe Sullivan, Facebook chief security officer. “Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service.”

Facebook shut down the fake account shortly after reports about it were published, and the company demanded the DEA to confirm it has stopped all other cases of impersonation.

It’s not known whether the social media company has confirmed any additional cases.

**********

In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election

By JEREMY W. PETERS
OCT. 20, 2014
NYT

WASHINGTON — New Hampshire has one of the smallest populations of illegal immigrants in the country. Only about 5 percent of its 1.3 million residents are foreign-born, and 3 percent are Hispanic.

But tune into the Senate race between Scott P. Brown, the Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, the Democratic incumbent, and you might think the state shares a border with Mexico, not Canada.

When someone called a talk radio show to ask Mr. Brown about global warming the other day, Mr. Brown immediately started talking about border security. “Let me tell you what I believe is a clear and present danger right now,” he said, brushing aside the caller’s concerns about the environment. “I believe that our border is porous.”

Footage of agents patrolling the rocky, arid Southwestern landscape is featured in Mr. Brown’s ads — not quite the piney highlands of New Hampshire.

A political group led by prominent conservatives like John R. Bolton, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, attacked Ms. Shaheen last week with a video that juxtaposed two alarming images: a horde of people rushing a fence, presumably along the Mexican border, and a clip of Islamic militants right before they beheaded the journalist James Foley, a New Hampshire native. The ad was pulled after the Foley family complained.

Republicans have long relied on illegal immigration to rally the conservative base, even if the threat seemed more theoretical than tangible in most of the country. But in several of this year’s midterm Senate campaigns — including Arkansas and Kansas, as well as New Hampshire — Republicans’ stance on immigration is posing difficult questions about what the party wants to be in the longer term.

Some Republicans are questioning the cost of their focus on immigration. Campaigning on possible threats from undocumented immigrants — similar to claims that President Obama and the Democrats have left the country vulnerable to attacks from Islamic terrorists and the Ebola virus — may backfire after November. At that point, the party will have to start worrying about its appeal beyond the conservative voters it needs to turn out in midterm elections.

“You should never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to screw something up and blow an ideal opportunity,” said Ralph Reed, an influential conservative who has battled with hard-line Republicans to take a more charitable view on immigration.

“There is a sense in which, I think, the overwhelming desire to gain control of the Senate has kind of so fixated the party’s strategic brain trust that trying to get a hearing on long-term strategic issues doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment,” he said.

Still, immigration could be important to voters in states that do not have significant immigrant populations, and that seems to be the calculation of the campaign of Mr. Brown and others.

Much of the harsh talk on immigration today may have to do with simple math. In the states that Republicans need to win to retake the Senate, Hispanics are a sliver of the electorate. Nationally, they make up 11 percent of eligible voters. But in the eight states with close Senate races, fewer than 5 percent of eligible voters are Latino, according to a new Pew Research report.

Colorado is the only state with a competitive Senate race where Hispanics make up a significant share of the electorate — 14 percent. As a result, Republicans there have steered clear of making immigration policy an issue. Faced with polling that showed immigration could help Representative Cory Gardner, the Republican Senate nominee, strategists there still decided not to focus on it.

Instead, the Republican-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce is running ads in Spanish in Colorado featuring Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate.

In Kansas, where Hispanics account for 6 percent of eligible voters, the opposite scene is unfolding. The campaign of Senator Pat Roberts, a Republican, has been running an ad reminiscent of the infamous 1994 spot by Gov. Pete Wilson of California that showed immigrants racing across a busy highway to enter the country illegally. Mr. Roberts’ ad depicts two shadowy figures climbing a fence. “Illegal immigration is threatening our communities and taking jobs away from Kansans who need them,” the announcer says.

Opposition to the immigration bill that passed the Senate last year (and has languished in the House since) has become a focal point for many Republican candidates who denounce any “amnesty.” And the split between Republicans who support an overhaul and those who do not has led to some awkward moments on the campaign trail.

In New Hampshire, Mr. Brown slammed the Senate bill as too lenient just hours before Senator Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who helped write the legislation, went to campaign for him.

In North Carolina, Thom Tillis, the Republican Senate nominee, held a campaign rally with Mr. Bush at the end of September. But after Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul, Mr. Tillis quickly tried to put distance between them, saying, “You have to make it clear that amnesty shouldn’t be on the table.”

Republicans who want to see a broad-based immigration overhaul say the debate is unhelpful.

“Those that support the status quo are supporting amnesty,” said Scott Reed, the senior political strategist for the Chamber of Commerce. “And we hope this election is about leadership and governing, instead of all talk, no action.”

It is not just Republican candidates who are focusing on immigration to the concern of many in the party, but outside groups. Citizens United, the conservative political organization, is running ads in states like Arkansas attacking Democrats for being too easy on people who entered the country illegally.

“Mark Pryor voted against building a border fence? What was he thinking?” says one commercial from the Citizens United Political Victory Fund that goes after the Democratic senator who is fighting to hang on to his seat.

David Bossie, president of Citizens United, said the issue of immigration was resonating at the moment because of how it played into the broader notion that the government was failing on a number of fronts, from fighting the Islamic State to responding to Ebola. “Can we trust the government to secure the border?” Mr. Bossie asked.

As for any long-term damage Republicans could suffer by alienating Hispanics, Mr. Bossie said, “I don’t go through life trying to calculate every single possible way things can and can’t go, because that’s an incredibly negative, jaded way to do things.”

**************

Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them

OCT. 21, 2014
NYT

Political analysts keep urging the Republican Party to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters. Yet the party’s congressional leaders show little sign of doing so, blocking an immigration overhaul and harshly criticizing President Obama for his plan to defer deportation for undocumented migrants.

There’s a simple reason that congressional Republicans are willing to risk alienating Hispanics: They don’t need their votes, at least not this year.

Republicans would probably hold the House — and still have a real chance to retake the Senate — if they lost every single Hispanic voter in the country, according to an analysis by The Upshot.

Such a thing would never happen, of course, but the fact that the Republicans may not need a single Hispanic vote in 2014 says a good deal about American politics today.

The fact that the Republican House majority does not depend on Hispanic voters helps explain why immigration reform has not become law, even though national Republican strategists believe the party needs additional support among Hispanic voters to compete in presidential elections. It’s true that Republicans would stand little, if any, chance of winning the presidency in 2016 if they lost every Hispanic voter. If anything, the Republicans probably need to make gains among Hispanic voters to compete in states like Florida and Nevada.

But Congressional elections are different. Although the young, urban and racially diverse Democratic coalition has won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, that coalition has not delivered House control to the Democrats. Gerrymandering isn’t the only cause, either. It’s the way the population is distributed.

Even a situation in which every Latino voter in America chose the Democratic candidate would mainly allow Democrats to fare better in the heavily Hispanic districts where the party already wins. This is already occurring, to a lesser degree. Over the last decade, Democratic gains among young and nonwhite voters have allowed Democrats to win a majority of the House vote without flipping enough districts to earn a majority of seats.

The Upshot analysis found that if not one of the eight million Hispanic voters supported the Republican candidate, Republicans would lose about a dozen House seats, especially in Florida and California. The loss of those seats would make the Republican House majority more vulnerable if Democrats made gains elsewhere in future years. But given the Republicans’ current strength across rural areas and in conservative suburbs, the loss of every Hispanic every voter would not be enough to cost them the 17 seats that would flip House control.

Those heavily Democratic districts are concentrated in metropolitan areas, while much of the country’s geographical area tilts Republican — and is still heavily non-Hispanic white. In districts held by House Republicans, Hispanics represent only 6.7 percent of eligible voters and an even smaller share of the electorate.

Hispanic voters will most likely make up less than 4 percent of voters in 18 of the 24 Republican-held congressional districts deemed potentially competitive by the Cook Political Report. Very few, if any, of these districts will be close enough for the loss of a fraction of Hispanic voters to make a difference.

Perhaps the clearest way to see that Republicans do not need Hispanic voters to keep the House is to look back to 2012. Because it was a presidential year, Hispanics voted in larger numbers than they are likely to this year, yet Republicans probably would have retained the House without Hispanic support two years ago. Republicans would have lost about 11 seats — six short of what Democrats needed to take the House – according to an analysis of election results, exit polls and census data.

The would-be Republican losses generally fall into two categories. The first are the few Republicans, often Hispanic themselves, who represent districts with a meaningful number of Hispanic voters. This group includes Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both from the Miami area, and Representative David Valadao, from the Central Valley in California.

All Republican Hispanic voters were transferred to Democrats in these estimates, regardless of whether they faced a Democratic opponent in 2012. For a more detailed explanation of this methodology and estimates for every House District, see this post.

The second group are the members in extremely close districts, where losing anything, even a tiny number of Hispanic voters, could make a difference. Representative Rodney Davis, of rural Illinois, who won by just 1,002 votes in 2012, is an example.

These estimates are just that — estimates — and they may be imperfect in some districts. Another dozen districts would have been extremely close, and Democrats could have won the chamber if six more of them had gone their way. But if the Republicans could have survived losing every Hispanic voter in 2012, their chances would be still better in 2014, when Hispanic turnout will be lower than it was two years ago. Most analysts also expect the Republicans to pick up a handful of seats this year, giving them a bigger cushion to withstand would-be losses from Hispanic voters.

The Republican lead in the race for control of the Senate, on the other hand, does not include such a cushion. A percentage point could make the difference in several of this year’s crucial contests, and winning every Hispanic vote might be worth a point to the Democrats — even in states with a small Hispanic population. Hispanic voters will represent about 3 percent of the electorate in the Senate battlegrounds.

We did a special run of our Senate model, Leo, imagining that the Republicans lost every Hispanic voter. In this situation, the odds flip — precisely, as it happens. Republicans would have just a 31 percent chance of retaking the Senate, compared with the current chance of 69 percent on Monday. Without any Hispanic votes, Republicans would lose a bit of ground everywhere, but become decided underdogs in Colorado and find themselves in a tight race in Texas.

Yet the Republicans would still have a plausible path to victory — as plausible as the actual Democratic path — because they could pick up the six Democratic seats they needed elsewhere. In South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Alaska, North Carolina and New Hampshire, there are very few Hispanic voters.

Perhaps most remarkable is that we’re even entertaining this notion. In reality, the Republicans will win millions of Hispanic votes this November. But the House Republican majority does not depend on those votes. Indeed, it could even withstand losses far beyond reason.

To win the White House in 2016 or any future year, the Republicans will need a substantial number of Hispanic votes. But the fact that the party doesn’t need many of those votes to hold the House makes the Republican effort to appeal to Hispanic voters far more challenging. The Republican Congress has few, if any, immediate incentives to reach a compromise on immigration reform or otherwise reach out to Hispanics.

For individual Republicans in Congress, supporting such measure would verge on the irrational. It would leave them vulnerable to primary challenges and offer little or no benefit in the general election.

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Chuck Todd Is Wrong: New Poll Shows Alison Lundergan Grimes Positioned To Win In Kentucky

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Monday, October, 20th, 2014, 6:59 pm   

Contrary to Chuck Todd’s belief that Alison Lundergan Grimes disqualified herself, the new Bluegrass Poll of Kentucky shows Grimes in a position to win as she is deadlocked with Mitch McConnell.

McConnell leads Grimes 44%-43% in the poll, but this margin is well within the 3.9% margin of error. The previous Rasmussen poll that had McConnell leading by eight points looks like an outlier.

McConnell approval rating remains underwater at a net (-9). Thirty-nine percent of respondents approved of the incumbent while 47% disapproved. The barrage of negative ads against the Democrat appear to have taken a toll as her approval rating has dropped to net (-8). Thirty-seven percent approval of Grimes while forty-five percent disapprove.

The Lexington Herald-Leader pointed to some other numbers that suggest a very close election, “In the latest poll, McConnell and Grimes were tied at 43 percent among men. McConnell led among women 44 percent to 43 percent despite Grimes’ effort to highlight votes McConnell has taken to block action on the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

The Grimes campaign said that they are on course for a narrow victory on Election Day. In a statement campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said, “Today’s Bluegrass poll confirms yet again that the 15-month campaign plan from which we have never wavered has Alison poised for a narrow but decisive victory on November 4th against a 30-year entrenched incumbent who – astonishingly – cannot consistently break mid-40’s numbers in public polls as we approach Election Day.”

The Grimes campaign is correct. Mitch McConnell is very, very vulnerable. McConnell’s numbers are terrible for an incumbent, but his endless supply of Koch fueled negative ads has also managed to drag Grimes down.

Chuck Todd’s claim that Grimes disqualified herself from office by not saying if she voted for Obama in 2012 looks as absurd now as the day he said it. Todd was so busy cheerleading for McConnell that he ignored the fundamental dynamics of this election.

Mitch McConnell is not popular. McConnell has run a terrible reelection campaign about nothing. The biased Republican polls have created a false narrative of McConnell momentum that doesn’t exist. These are things that Beltway Boys like Chuck Todd don’t see.

Todd was wrong. Instead of being disqualified, Alison Lundergan Grimes is in a position to win.

*************    

No Republican Wave: Senate Polls Show More Good News For Democrats

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Monday, October, 20th, 2014, 5:21 pm   

Two new polls of the Senate races in Kansas and North Carolina reveal that a Republican wave remains media wishful thinking, as Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan leads in North Carolina, and Independent Greg Orman is tied with Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas.

The PPP poll of North Carolina found Sen. Kay Hagan leading her Republican challenger Thom Tillis 46%-43%. The bad news for Republicans is that the North Carolina race features a voter breakdown that looks like the roadmap to a Democratic victory. Hagan lead with women (49%-37%), African-Americans (85%-4%), and young voters (61%-27%). Tillis leads with men (49%-42%), white voters (55%-34%), and seniors (54%-37%) Hagan has a better net approval rating (-9) than Tillis (-12), and has consistently maintained the same roughly three point lead for months.

The Kansas Senate race is turning into a nailbiter. A new Monmouth University poll shows Independent Greg Orman tied with Republican Sen. Pat Roberts 47%-47%. One of the main issues for Orman is that he has not been able to completely persuade Democrats. Orman got the support of 81% of Democratic. His support among Dems is ten points lower than the level of support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis. What is helping Orman is that only 76% of Republicans are supporting Sen. Roberts. Orman’s inability to woo more Democratic support is probably due to his refusal to say who he will caucus with if he wins.

Democrats keep doing better than the media is giving them credit for. The 2014 election is extremely close. The idea that there will be a Republican wave as some sort of backlash against President Obama remains a media driven fantasy.

The reality is that the media has chosen to push an anti-Obama storyline while ignoring the fact that the 2014 election is one of the closest midterms in decades. Anyone who claims to know how this election is going to turnout is not telling the truth.

The Republican Party has failed to turn the campaign into a national referendum on Obama, and the result is an election that is being contested on a state by state basis. The series of individualized election plays perfectly into the hands of the Democratic get out the vote machine.

The battle for control of the United States Senate will likely to come down to five close elections. The Senate majority will be decided by results in Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Kansas, and Iowa.

Democrats are hanging tough, and in position to turn the Republican wave of 2014 into a trickle down the pant leg of American democracy.

*************

Joni Ernst Promises Americans a Very Painful Lesson If Elected

By: Rmuse
PoliticusUSA
Monday, October, 20th, 2014, 9:30 pm      

After the 2012 general election Republicans promised to “not be stupid” and tamp down on candidates making statements that alienated voters such as Willard Romney’s infamous “47-percent moochers” remark. Of course, Republicans have done nothing to change their message, and have instead spent the past year-and-a-half either calling hardworking Americans inherently lazy for not earning more than poverty wages, or labeled them as moochers for expecting a return on their tax dollars and contributions to Medicare and Social Security pensions conservatives call “entitlements.” There has been a substantial movement among well-established mainstream Republicans to campaign on “educating” Americans about the “value and culture of hard work and responsibility,” and one Republican is promoting a Koch brother agenda that will teach Americans to be self-sufficient in a nation without a government for the people.

Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst said  that “What we have to do a better job of is educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient. They don’t have to rely on the government to be the do-all, end-all for everything they need and desire, and that’s what we have fostered, is really a generation of people that rely on the government to provide absolutely everything for them. It’s going to take a lot of education to get people out of that. It’s going to be very painful and we know that. So do we have the intestinal fortitude to do that.”

What Ernst claims she has the intestinal fortitude to do is repeal Obamacare, privatize Social Security, abolish education spending, eliminate food stamps, and force people to seek out church assistance once they have been liberated and educated in the Koch tradition of government-less self-sufficiency. She said, “We have to take a good, hard look at entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, Obamacare, and Medicare) and figure out how to get people off of those. It’s exponentially harder to remove people once they’ve already been on those programs.”

Ernst’s treatise on government dependency revealed that not only is she a hard line devotee of tea party orthodoxy, she has a perverse vision of America’s 20th Century as a monumental error; because like the Koch’s she sees government for the people as an abomination that needs to be abolished once and for all. Ernst laid out her Koch-libertarian agenda, including the wholesale elimination of each and every one of the New Deal’s protections, under the guise of “educating the American people that they can be self-sufficient.” In Ernst’s mind, educating the people is “gutting and annihilating all government services” that she openly admits will be “very painful” for the American people. However, according to her ideological bent, Americans will soon get over losing unemployment insurance, healthcare, disability insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and workplace protections because they will have been liberated from the government and learned a “very painful lesson in self-sufficiency.” It is the Koch vision for America that Ernst promises to see through to fruition as recompense for their valuable campaign contributions to her Senate candidacy.

Ernst’s intent to enact an incredibly cruel policy vision is to correct what she believes are a rash of America’s past mistakes; like provisions in the New Deal that her Koch donors believe set America on a path of total devastation regardless the benefit to all Americans. Ernst also parrots a typical libertarian mindset that government is evil and claims that Americans have come to “rely on government for absolutely everything” instead of “relying on what churches and private organizations are doing because, as she errantly claims, “government gives them everything.” Ernst means everything like Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, access to affordable healthcare, workplace protections and the like, that her historical revisionism informs was not only a complete and utter waste, but something that the people never needed in the first place. It is not clear where Ernst gets her version of early 20th century Utopia that was the Great Depression, but she is certain Americans in food lines and working 80-hour weeks for dirt-pay were not only self-sufficient, but happily liberated from government protections.

Ernst is certain that programs aiding Americans were not there for those who really needed it and were completely ill-suited to help Americans who needed it most whether it was during the recent Republican Great Recession and 80 years ago during the Great Depression. Ernst pretends the gross amount of suffering among Americans could only have been helped by self-reliance and more churches but not government intervention. Most Americans look back at the New Deal’s provisions, after both the 1930s and the most recent Republican recession, and regard them as preserving Americans well-being and elevating their way of life. They also view them as vindication of valuable government programs solely because they assisted the great majority of the people; including the older white people Ernst is likely appealing to most. However, for Ernst and her ilk, every and anything government has done to help the people since the New Deal has been degrading to Americans and teaches them dependence that Republicans are poised to bring to an end, along with the federal government.

For most Americans, the open hostility toward the American people by Koch-fueled Republicans like Ernst is founded on an innate heartlessness toward humanity and not regard for all Americans as “citizens.” As an aside, Ernst does not display the same level of heartlessness toward a zygote she strongly believes the government has a biblical duty to protect and care for by bestowing personhood and constitutional protections by government fiat. It is likely that the majority of Americans do not share either the Koch brothers, teabagger Republicans, or Joni Ernst’s hatred of government programs or the American people. However, for Republicans panting to elect candidates like Ernst to impose a Koch education amounting to “annihilating” all government programs has nothing to do with reducing the size of government and everything to do with enacting policies that “will be very painful” for the people.


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