How do you represent those people?

Aaron Hawbaker is the chief public defender for Black Hawk County. -promoted by Laura Belin

I am a criminal defense attorney. More specifically, I am a public defender. That further distinction is important for this discussion, because public defenders do not choose their clients based upon ability to pay or the merits of their case. They take all comers, warts and all. I am now in my fifteenth year of public defense and have had the responsibility of defending individuals charged with the spectrum of human baseness.

I am often asked, more frequently the more notorious the case, how can you represent those people?

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Protecting Iowa's courts

Connie Ryan on the current Republican effort to pack the courts: “Iowans understand this legislation is intended to advance the specific political agenda of a small group with a loud voice, placing our courts in harm’s way.” -promoted by Laura Belin

Interfaith Alliance of Iowa jumped into the business of protecting Iowa’s fair and impartial courts upon the announcement by the religious right in the summer of 2010 that they intended to unseat three highly qualified Supreme Court justices. They were politicizing the retention elections simply because they were mad the court ruled for the marriage rights of same-sex couples based on equal protections under our constitution.

The thought of a special interest group seeking revenge on our courts for a constitutionally-based and unanimous decision was unprecedented and frightening. Iowans wondered if this was where the division in our country was really taking us? Would extremist, special interest groups actually go after highly qualified justices committed to the constitution and the rule of law as retribution? The answer was yes.

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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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