Letters to the Editor: New speaker for the Right


The new Speaker of the U.S. House, Mike Johnson, is extremely right wing. He devised and supported a legal strategy to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on lies about massive voter fraud. He was prominent in defending Trump against impeachment and advocated expunging the second impeachment from the record. 

He wants to raise the retirement age and cut trillions of dollars from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but supports tax cuts for the rich. He is anti-science; he doesn’t believe humans cause climate change. He thinks teaching evolution denies God (something Charles Darwin didn’t do) and leads to mass shootings.  He invokes his vision of Christianity to wage culture wars and wrote “Men are designed by God to be leaders, providers and protectors in the home. Women are designed by God to be helpers and nurturers in the home.” 

He thinks businesses may invoke religious freedom to refuse to serve gay people. He wrote “homosexual marriage is the dark harbinger of chaos and sexual anarchy that could doom even the strongest republic.” He voted against aid to help Ukraine’s war of survival against Russian invasion. He opposes abortion citing lack of workers, but wrote a bill to make immigration more difficult.  He wants to complete a border wall, which won’t solve the immigration issues. He has been described as a less abrasive Jim Jordan.

The radical members of the House don’t like government and are ok with shutting it down and did so, demanding a radical speaker. Mainstream Republicans preferred a more moderate speaker and had three choices: cooperate with Democrats, cave to the radical right or permanently shut down the government.  They caved.

In the classic novel Dune, the protagonist says, “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.  You’ve agreed I have that power.  We are not here to discuss or to negotiate or to compromise.  You will obey my orders or suffer the immediate consequences.” 

If House Republicans refuse to cooperate with Democrats the radical right will have absolute control of government since they will shut it down unless they get their way. I fear the new speaker will give the radicals that power since he is one of them.    


Jim Eliason, Storm Lake

MAGA nanny state thrives 

Iowans will soon re-elect and elect new city council and school board members. Hundreds of Iowans have put themselves and their ideas forward as they campaign for votes based on addressing unique local challenges and needs. 

These local elected officials are the backbone of making our small government democracy work. They make decisions for all of us about how our local public schools operate, what roads get built and repaired, how public safety, water, sewer and library services are provided, and how to pay for it all.  

In a healthy democracy that’s how things are supposed to work. Unfortunately, we do not live in healthy democracy.  

In Iowa our autocratic Governor and Republican-controlled legislature have been quietly taking a sledge hammer to local elected official prerogatives and decision making. Since 2017, the GOP has approved at least 56 different bills that have stripped local decision-making authority or local control of our daily lives away from our locally elected officials.  

The approved bills cover a vast array of topics including building and zoning codes, fireworks, higher wages, septic tank inspections, food stands, shooting ranges, short term housing rentals, home-based businesses, absentee ballot requests, school book bans, and community health protections. Local elected leaders now live in fear of GOP legislative retribution for addressing local problems with local solutions. 

Simply put, our MAGA governor and legislature are drunk on power. Their “we know best” anti-democracy, power grab to consolidate more power in Des Moines runs counter to our long time “home rule” traditions and values.   

Iowans have long trusted their local elected officials to solve unique local problems while protecting our rights, freedoms and liberties. On November 7, we will elect hundreds of dedicated Iowans ready to serve our communities. Sadly, their ability to do so will remain under siege from menacing MAGA nanny state politicians that wants to control what we think and how we live. 

Joe Bolkcom, Des Moines 

City school funding is strangled, too

I’m responding to Art Cullen’s column in the Oct. 20 issue of the Storm Lake Times Pilot.  I hope that the “big money in Des Moines” is a reference to the State Legislature, not the city or school district. We are being strangled by the Governor and Republicans as well as rural communities.

Harold A. Swihart, Des Moines

Fund cultivated-meat research

Members of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus should support a massive increase in federal funding for cultivated-meat research. For readers who aren’t familiar with the term, cultivated meat is grown from livestock cells, without slaughter. No other policy, with a reasonable shot of becoming law, has the potential to reduce more animal suffering and death.

While cultivated meat is currently sold in a few high-end restaurants, it faces a number of technological hurdles in order to compete with slaughtered options. Perhaps the most important of these is lowering its cost. This can be achieved with public money for research. I hope the compassionate legislators who make up the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus will prioritize the goal.

Jon Hochschartner, Granby, Conn.

Slippery slope

I felt honored to receive a personal email introduction from Mike Johnson, the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. To not share his fundamental beliefs would be selfish.  First up he says, “Faith: Our nation began with the bold declaration that all men are created equal by God, and that our rights derive from Him.”  

That is one interpretation of what it actually states in the Declaration Of Independence, “that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The Declaration adds, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” God is not mentioned. The Creator having already done his work I suppose.

Mike is a family man after faith and puts our country right up there in third place. In summary, Johnson claims “We must elect more leaders who make decisions based on American values with an emphasis on God, family and country.”

They say his nickname in the House is MAGA Mike, and he has earned it.  He was an early supporter of Trump and filed lawsuits to try to overturn the 2020 election results. He voted against certifying Biden’s election results.

I anticipate we can now expect legislation lifted directly from the Old Testament. Sounds like a guy Iowa will love and he will take inspiration from your state.

Ron Platt, Overland Park, Kan.

Iowa lawmakers placing bets

Songwriter David Crosby once said, “It can’t happen here is number one on the list of famous last words.”

Maine is the latest gun violence poster child. Lest Iowans think it can’t happen here, I remind you that a recent study by Everytown shows Iowa six points below Maine on gun safety strength.

Iowa’s GOP lawmakers at every level are culpable. Our Washington contingent has failed us. A 2022 House bill to reinstate the lapsed assault weapons ban passed with no help from Feenstra, Hinson and Miller-Meeks. (These same lawmakers even voted “no” on an active shooter alert bill). The Senate didn’t even take up the assault weapons bill. Senators Ernst and Grassley do enjoy NRA ratings of 93% and 100% respectively, so judge for yourself on their probable votes.

Our GOP state lawmakers are equally guilty. Just days after the 2022 Texas mass school shooting, Iowa legislators passed a bill to allow wider use of assault weapons. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed it. Iowa ranks just one point above Texas on gun safety strength. Should we be proud of this?

One Maine Democratic representative has recently apologized for his “no” vote on the assault weapons ban — cold, dead comfort. Clearly, he had been betting that it couldn’t happen in Maine and he could keep his seat in Congress. Iowa’s GOP lawmakers are placing the same bets. This must stop before they become poster children for famous last votes. Let’s make that happen in 2024!

Karen Heidman, Sioux City

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