Learning from baseball

Bruce Lear: “Swinging for the bleacher seats every time will often leave a player sitting in the dugout with a sore back. The same is true for candidates.” -promoted by Laura Belin

I love baseball. It’s a game of chess with four bases on a field instead of knights and rooks on a board. The object is to defend against runs and advance your runners around the bases. An easy game? No!

It has no clock, so the game isn’t lost until the final out at the plate or in the field. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s a game of statistics. The season is 162 games, so there are times of utter despair and utter joy.

James Earl Jones sums it up best in the now 30-year-old Iowa epic Field of Dreams:

“The one constant throughout the years, Ray has been baseball. America has rolled like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.”

For me, baseball is a lot like politics. Winning is based on a strategy about finding that sweet spot in a very long season. It’s slow. It’s methodical. It’s based on statistics we call polls.

This year’s crop of Democratic candidates could perhaps learn from baseball hitters through the ages. Remember, Babe Ruth led the league in home runs but also in strike outs. In politics when there is a binary choice between candidates, too many times waving or watching a fast ball or curve might get you a gig on CNN or Fox instead of the Presidency.

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"This is political": House Republicans vote to limit Iowa AG's powers

North Carolina Republican lawmakers started the trend after losing the governor’s race in 2016. GOP legislative majorities in Michigan and Wisconsin followed suit late last year, seeking to hamstring newly-elected governors and the Michigan attorney general. Kansas Republicans are now trying to limit the appointment power of that state’s Democratic governor.

Iowa House Republicans took their own step toward “banana-republic style governance” on April 23, voting for unprecedented restrictions on Attorney General Tom Miller’s ability to make legal decisions.

The bill’s floor manager, State Representative Gary Worthan, admitted his proposal stemmed from political disagreements with Miller, whom Iowans elected to a tenth term last November.

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IA-01: First thoughts on a possible Rod Blum-Abby Finkenauer rematch

Thomas Nelson of the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier was first to report last week that former U.S. Representative Rod Blum’s campaign has spent $11,365 on polling this year. Blum’s quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission showed two disbursements to the candidate’s longtime pollster in early January.

The payments exceeded the $4,119 Blum for Congress owed The Polling Company at the end of December, indicating that Blum commissioned new surveys in the first district and wasn’t merely settling debts left over from the 2018 campaign.

While I have not been able to find details about the questions asked, his campaign likely tested voters’ views on key issues as well as approval and favorability numbers for himself and Representative Abby Finkenauer. Blum hasn’t ruled out running for office again. Nelson noted that he appeared at a Jones County GOP event on April 11.

No Republican has confirmed plans to run against Finkenauer. I see Blum as a weaker challenger than State Representative Ashley Hinson, who has said she’s considering the race and will make her intentions known after the legislative session ends.

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Julian Castro offers an immigration policy with an international approach

John Webb is a writer in Des Moines. Please read these guidelines if you would like to contribute to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage of the Iowa caucuses. -promoted by Laura Belin

Julian Castro has not yet caught fire in the mainstream media, and I think part of the reason is that he is not easily defined in neat and tidy terms. He is a product of public schools who went on to graduate from Harvard Law. He is the grandson of a woman who came to the U.S. at age 12 following the death of her parents. He is progressive and pragmatic in equal measure, yet he stresses bold policies to address big issues.

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Mueller's findings on Sam Clovis and a top Chuck Grassley staffer

The U.S. Department of Justice on April 18 released a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election.” I’ve posted the full document after the jump. You can download it here or look through a searchable versions here or here.

Dozens of reporters and analysts have posted valuable takes on various aspects of the findings and Attorney General Bill Barr’s brazen lying about the Mueller team’s conclusions. This post will focus on angles of particular interest to Iowa readers: the roles of Sam Clovis, a former statewide candidate here who became a top foreign policy advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and Barbara Ledeen, a senior staffer for U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Hate speech ain't free (except in the U.S.)

Ira Lacher: Lawmakers in Canada, the UK, and Germany “have accepted the premise that if you drop a hammer from the 15th floor of a building, you don’t need to look down to know the hammer has fallen.” -promoted by Laura Belin

There’s a new law in Iowa. Under the guise of promoting free speech, it’s intended to give free reign to those who, under cover of the First Amendment, deliver hate language on college campuses.

The legislation reads, in part: “[I]t is not the proper role of an institution of higher education to shield individuals from speech protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which may include ideas and opinions the individual finds unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive.”

The law permits colleges to restrict hate speech only if that speech contains “a threat of serious harm and expression directed or likely directed to provoke imminent unlawful actions.” But there’s the problem: America, unlike other countries, does not define such language, much less outlaw it.

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