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Unfettered Opinons from David Johnson

“I’ll Take a Pen-raised Pork Chop Over a CAFO Pork Chop Any Day”

July 3, 2018
By Darren Fraser , Emmetsburg News

A few weeks ago, State Senator David Johnson stopped by the office for an interview. David Johnson, Independent. We spoke for two hours; a wide-ranging conversation.

Johnson is outspoken, candid and refreshingly direct. When he defected from the Republican Party after Donald Trump was elected president, Republicans ostracized him in the legislature. His bills were not heard; he could not get on a committee. The Republican leaders fashioned rules to strip Johnson of any committee assignments.

The irony was not lost on me. Trump's supporters love his candor. They love his tweets; they love his plainspoken pronouncements. Mostly, they love him because he promised to drain the swamp. Save for draining a swamp, Johnson is a Trump lover's ideal Republican. He believes life begins at conception and ends at natural death. He believes marriage is between a man and woman. He is against big government. He just despises Trump.

I considered various ways to write this article. I decided on letting Johnson speak for himself on several topics, beginning with the president.

President Trump: He is a bigot; he has sexist tendencies; he is a white nationalist. Period. He believes the media is the enemy. What does he think the First Amendment is about? I'm not going to be a member of an organization that is led by somebody like that.

Republican Party: The Republican Party is no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln. The [Iowa] senate Republicans in the last two years are in lockstep. Not a single one of them will break away from what leadership is telling them to do. It's no longer about governing. When you go down there [Des Moines], you're supposed to govern. You just don't vote no or vote yes on everything that is supposedly going to take government off our backs. It's no longer about policy; it's about control.

Iowa Legislature: There's no discussion at all. Whether it's that issue [confinements] or abortion. At one time I was called the leading pro-life senator in the general assembly. These last two years I wasn't consulted at all on the bills. The pro-life legislators have become very mechanical. Almost antiseptic. There's just no empathy or compassion. There is no interest in listening to the other side. Nobody has a monopoly on morality.

Terry Branstad: I did my job for 18 years. I carried a lot of water for Terry Branstad when it comes to healthcare. I carried a lot of water and never got a thank you from him or his staff. He boosted privatization of Medicaid. I am constantly talking to people who can't negotiate this new system of managed care organizations. And what does he do? He goes to China.

Kim Reynolds: I have not seen any original initiatives from her. She's just an extension of Branstad and it's too bad. She has taken a hard turn to the right. She needs that conservative base to win her election. Not re-election; election. She has not been elected yet. And she had better remember that.

Mega hog farms: The day is coming when we're going to have pickup trucks running up and down our country roads with Iowa Select, Prestage or Seaboard and Triumph painted on their sides. Is that what we really want? I don't think so. Is it too late? Could be. It's not right. It's not farming. And why do we continue to tax these operations as if they are family farms? They are industrial scale in their production and they ought to be taxed accordingly. I'll take a pen-raised pork chop over a CAFO pork chop any day.

Jeff Hansen: He is not a family farmer. He is the number one hog producer in the state. He's in the top ten in the nation in hog production. Jeff Hansen lives in a gated community in West Des Moines. He doesn't live with his hogs. I commend those producers who do.

Pork industry: The pork industry is running roughshod over this state. When you've been to the site of a hog confinement built by one of the top 30 hog-producing companies in the nation that is under the first tier of regulations so that it can be built anywhere without regard to separation distance; 174 feet away from another farm couple's bedroom window; and it's legal? You're ruining this couple's quality of life; you're driving them away.

Healthcare: The only answer to our problems is to have universal healthcare. That's the only way we'll get through this. It's going to take the leadership from the president and leaders in Congress. The states on their own cannot solve this problem.

Taxes: The tax cut is going to hurt rural Iowa. We have seen this argument: 'We've got to cut taxes. We promised to cut taxes.' We have a tax bill without [actually] saying, 'Oh, this is intended to bring new growth, new people.' It's not going to happen. Trickle-down economics does not work today.

Middleclass: Gutting the collective bargaining agreement in 2017 was one of the biggest mistakes the legislature has made. I fought that vigorously. These were middleclass jobs. We're chasing middleclass jobs out of rural Iowa. We're paying professionals a pittance of what they deserve, so we're losing a professional class.

Farm Bureau: The problem [with state politics] is this governor and this legislature are outright owned by Farm Bureau and the pork industry. Farm Bureau gave $685,000 to Republican candidates between 2010 and 2016. Farm Bureau lobbyists have lied to the legislators about certain issues. I've caught them lying; I've written about it.

Water quality: Our water quality is terrible, and this water quality bill is a joke. It's just a shell game of moving money from one fund to another. The size of the problem [water quality] is huge; it's going to take billions of dollars over probably 40 years. But we have to invest in it and the only way we're going to do that is raise the state sales tax three-eighths of a cent.

Steve King: I don't know what Steve King does; he doesn't raise money; he doesn't accomplish anything, except take advantage of fear. There is a fear across this country and across Iowa about the change of demographics. There is a fear that there will be more minority people here. It's not too long from now that America's future will be decided by people who are brown and black and not by people who are white.



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