Recognizing Bleeding Heartland's talented 2018 guest authors

The Bleeding Heartland community lost a valued voice this year when Johnson County Supervisor Kurt Friese passed away in October. As Mike Carberry noted in his obituary for his good friend, Kurt had a tremendous amount on his plate, and I was grateful whenever he found time to share his commentaries in this space. His final post here was a thought-provoking look at his own upbringing and past intimate relationships in light of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Friese was among more than 100 guest authors who produced 202 Bleeding Heartland posts during 2018, shattering the previous record of 164 posts by 83 writers in 2017. I’m thankful for every piece and have linked to them all below.

You will find scoops grounded in original research, commentary about major news events, personal reflections on events from many years ago, and stories in photographs or cartoons. Some posts were short, while others developed an argument over thousands of words. Pieces by Allison Engel, Randy Richardson, Tyler Higgs, and Matt Chapman were among the most-viewed at the site this year. In the full list, I’ve noted other posts that were especially popular.

Please get in touch if you would like to write about any political topic of local, statewide, or national importance during 2019. If you do not already have a Bleeding Heartland account, I can set one up for you and explain the process. There is no standard format or word limit. I copy-edit for clarity but don’t micromanage how authors express themselves. Although most authors write under their real names, pseudonyms are allowed here and may be advisable for those writing about sensitive topics or whose day job does not permit expressing political views. I ask authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, such as being are a paid staffer, consultant, or lobbyist promoting any candidate or policy they discuss here.

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Cory Booker gave the speech Democrats needed

It would be hard to overstate how dispirited, angry, exhausted, and hopeless many Democrats felt after watching the Brett Kavanaugh nomination play out. Not only have right-wing, partisan ideologues solidified their control of the U.S. Supreme Court, millions of sexual assault survivors feel like the Republican-controlled Senate punched them in the gut.

No one would have blamed Senator Cory Booker for missing the Iowa Democratic Party’s Fall Gala on October 6. He was stuck in Washington as Republicans scheduled a Saturday afternoon vote on Kavanaugh, without a full investigation of sexual assault allegations or any acknowledgement that the nominee lied under oath repeatedly during his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony.

Booker cast his vote against Kavanaugh, rushed to the airport and made it to Des Moines in time to give the keynote speech to more than 1,000 activists. Outside the hall afterwards, I heard one sentiment over and over again: Booker’s uplifting message was just what people needed to hear on a discouraging day.

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Please, for the sake of the nation (and my heart, body and soul)

Laura Hubka chairs the Howard County Democrats, is vice chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Disability Caucus, and is the first district liaison to the party for the Veterans Caucus. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I decided to go to Obama.org just to check it out after looking at one of President Barack Obama’s posts on Twitter (my heart jumped and sank at writing that last statement). It was full of videos from the campaign in 2008. Almost all of it from Iowa. Young people, music, chanting and all the excitement of what could be. The hope, the change, the light in the peoples faces. I had to fight back the tears.

I feel like something inside me has faded. A light inside me is dim. I am afraid that the winds of change from 2016 have blown out my candle. I keep trying to light it but it is like lighting a wet wick. I can’t seem to find a hot enough fire. My heart literally aches.

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Dave Loebsack is safe, so why is he still voting like a Blue Dog?

U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack voted for yet another bad Republican bill on September 7. Despite being a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Loebsack has long had a less progressive voting record than most of his House Democratic colleagues.

Occasional conservative votes were understandable after Loebsack survived a close call in 2010 and faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside spending on attack ads before the next two general elections. But the last remaining Iowa Democrat in Congress coasted to a sixth term in 2016 with no groups spending money against him. He outperformed Hillary Clinton by about 9 points in the 24 counties he represents. Iowa’s second Congressional district is by common consent a safe Democratic seat this year. As of June 30, Loebsack’s campaign had nearly $2 million cash on hand, while his GOP challenger Christopher Peters had less than $30,000.

Why isn’t Loebsack a more reliable progressive vote in the House?

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Post-modern queer youth experience

“LGBTQ youth are forgotten even by members of the LGBTQ community,” writes advocate Nate Monson in this thought-provoking commentary. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Since 2007, I have served as the executive director for Iowa Safe Schools, a non-profit founded in 2002 to support LGBTQ youth through education, outreach, victim services, and advocacy. The organization works on the overall improvement of the queer youth experience for thousands of students across the state. The queer experience is the culmination of events and relationships a person has based on their LGBTQ identity. LGBTQ students are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience a range of issues such as bullying, homelessness, and suicide.

In early April, I gave a Tedx Talk at Wartburg College about the Post-Modern Queer Youth Experience.

Working in the LGBTQ equality movement for over a decade has given me a front row seat to its inner workings. What I’ve found is that LGBTQ youth take a back seat in this broader conversation on equality, even though LGBTQ youth represent one of the most marginalized and at-risk populations.

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Expungement clinic makes debut in Linn County

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker and Mahder Serekberhan, a recent graduate of Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, describe efforts to break cycles of hardship stemming from encounters with the criminal justice system. -promoted by desmoinesdem

The Linn County Board of Supervisors, the City of Cedar Rapids and Iowa Legal Aid have teamed up to offer a legal clinic this fall for Linn County residents seeking relief from the consequences stemming from encounters with the criminal justice system. This Expungement and Employment Barriers Resource Clinic will be held Saturday, September 22 in Cedar Rapids at the Linn County Community Services Building located at 1240 26th Ave Court SW.

Anyone who has experienced Iowa’s criminal justice system and needs help with expungement, court debt, background check issues, or obtaining a driver’s license or vehicle registration can sign up by visiting the Linn County Board of Supervisors website at www.linncounty.org, or by calling Iowa Legal Aid at 515-243-1193. In addition, the clinic will host several community organizations that will offer assistance with housing, financial planning, education, and other issues.

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