Ernst steals Judge’s schtick

Patty Judge was offensive then, and Joni Ernst is offensive now. Ernst, a US Senate candidate, is making a lot of hay with her “let’s make ’em squeal” in Washington schtick, recalling her days of castrating hogs. Republicans are eating it up. It must drive Texas oilman Mark Jacobs, her primary Republican primary challenger, bonkers. She is getting national publicity for free, he has to buy his.

For propriety’s sake, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

It was a spring night in 2006 at the Storm Lake Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse. Judge, then Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, was running against Mike Blouin and Chet Culver for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the wake of Gov. Tom Vilsack, D-Mount Pleasant, moving onto Washington aspirations.

Judge talked to her opponents and BV County Democrats about raising cattle somewhere near Adel or Adair or wherever she roamed with the doggies. She talked about roping and branding and, just to show she was a farm girl, castrating cattle. And she made a similar swipe about how she was going to get those bureaucrats or Republicans or city slickers where it hurts.

Blouin winced. He was standing, otherwise he would have crossed his legs.

With a line like that Culver decided he had better cut a deal before he got cut. So he invited her to be his lieutenant governor candidate where she could do no harm other than to his opponents, like Blouin or Republican Jim Nussle. It’s always good to have a pit bull on a leash.

They won, Culver and Judge, and she went on to ignominy. Her main accomplishment was to emasculate the Iowa Department of Natural Resources by running off the best director it ever had, Jeff Vonk. He is happy to be in South Dakota far, far away from the Rocky Mountain Oyster queen, the cowgirl with a sharp knife and dull wit.

Judge graduated to anonymity after Culver lost, thank goodness.

Up rears Miss Piggy, a Red Oak wonder named Joni who cut hogs in her formative years. She does her best impersonation of Sarah Palin, almost as good as Tina Fey. She is one tough hombre, as it were.

The ad is all over the place.

But Patty Judge was there first, reveling in the gore of livestock plumbing.

Ernst one-ups Judge with another ad, showing the Iowa National Guardswoman aiming a pistol barrel straight at the camera and shooting. We’re not sure what the point was. Perhaps it was a warning to those who caught Ernst lying about missing votes in the legislature because of Guard duty when, in fact, she was not on Guard duty. She must have been cutting hogs or practicing on the shooting range. No other explanation is available.

We found it off-putting when Judge talked castration over pork loin. She did not speak to our higher aspirations or even our lesser angels. We find it unsettling when a candidate points a gun at your face, even if through a TV screen. Voters must love the thrill of it — to live vicariously through a person who can’t get pig parts off the brain, and might like to blow your brains out and then field-dress you.

A marijuana pickle

Gov. Terry Branstad said this week he has not made up his mind about signing into law a bill that would allow the use of a special oil derived from the marijuana plant to treat victims of certain forms of epilepsy. The cannabis oil contains chemicals that ease seizures but is stripped of the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana called THC. If Branstad does not sign the bill, he invites the wrath of a group of tenacious mothers who sought the legislation, and he invites a more ambitious effort in the next legislative session.

A bill in the Senate would have allowed the use of marijuana for 16 specific conditions, including cancer and PTSD patients. The bill got stripped down to the one condition and passed in the final minutes of the legislative session, thanks to the relentless work of the mothers of epileptic children. Legislators swore off any further effort. But we know there will be another effort, and Democratic senators are saying as much.

If Branstad truly wants to contain the spread of marijuana use, this is the way to keep it in a smaller box. Just allow one little bit to pass at a time to slow the train down.

Or, he could veto the bill and get those mothers driving a freight train that pulls along all the other 16 conditions, most of which would allow for marijuana treatment using the psychoactive variety.

Democrats regard the epilepsy legislation as the first brick out of the wall fortifying against marijuana use and/or abuse. Branstad can only slow them down by taking one step at a time in concert. Even he knows that you cannot allow marijuana for one patient in pain and not another dying of cancer. The governor is probably trying to decide how to hold back the water as best he can. Options are few as sympathies expand.