Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
March 25, 2014
POLITICS: Iowa Senate Candidate Bruce Braley Insults Iowa Farmers

iowafarm

You won't believe what Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley was caught on tape saying about Iowa farmers:

Braley, the presumptive Democratic nominee for an open and hotly-contested Senate seat in Iowa, is a lawyer, and a former president of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, and he's speaking here to fellow lawyers at an out-of-state fundraiser, presumably blissfully unaware that things said at fundraisers could be videotaped (who knew?):

[I]f you help me win this race you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who's been literally fighting tort reform for thirty years, in a visible or public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Because, if Democrats lose the majority, Chuck Grassley will be the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Let us count the ways in which this is colossally stupid.

One, Braley seems unaware that there are a lot of farmers in Iowa, who may well like the idea that someone with their background, their experience, and their voice will have a position of influence in the U.S. Senate, over the courts. This may come as news to Congressman Braley, but while lawyers live with the most immediate day-to-day business of the courts, they affect the lives of everyone - yes, even those lowly Iowa farmers. As a lawyer myself, I like the idea that we should have some lawyers on the Senate Judiciary Committee and on its staff, but the whole point of democracy is that the common man gets a say in how he is governed, not just the experts. Relatedly, Braley's stress on "your background, your experience, your voice" just emphasizes how he sees the voice and interests of trial lawyers as one that will be very different from that of farmers.

Two, Braley didn't just say farmer - he said "farmer from Iowa," as if to underline to his audience that they should view an Iowa farmer as especially parochial. I will hazard a guess that this is not the first time most Iowans have heard themselves spoken of this way, and that they will not like it much.

Three, Braley manages to mention here that his losing the election would elevate the state's senior Senator to the chairmanship of a powerful committee. Way to go making the sale there.

Four, he manages to sneak in the fact that he's been a longstanding opponent of tort reform, and doesn't even bother to come up with some focus-group-tested euphemism for reform. He's bluntly telling the trial lawyers in the audience that he's for their interests - not like those Iowa farmers. [UPDATE: The Des Moines Register helpfully notes that "Braley's biggest donors this election cycle to date are lawyers and law firms, according to OpenSecrets.org. They've funneled $1,122,748 into his campaign."]

Well done, Bruce Braley, well done. This might even get you 47% of the vote.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:33 PM | Politics 2014 | Comments (9)
Comments

Patent reform > Tort reform.

Supporters of the plutocracy, don't agree, but who admits that anymore?

Posted by: Berto at March 25, 2014 8:26 PM

There's actually a number of reforms that can and should be made to the patent and other intellectual property systems, but probably I have in mind different things than you do.

Posted by: Crank at March 25, 2014 8:30 PM

Of course you have in mind different things, Crank. After all, unlike me, you support the plutocracy.

Posted by: Berto at March 26, 2014 11:55 AM

You'd think a free-market/ small government guy like yourself would want no patents and intellectual property rights.

Just kidding. I know you aren't at all for free markets and small government, it's just the persona you make up for the internet.

Posted by: Berto at March 26, 2014 12:17 PM

You cannot have business without defensible property rights. That's as true of intellectual property as it is of land and equipment. There's fair arguments over the proper scope and duration of patents and copyrights, but there's a reason why Congress' power to grant them was expressly written into the Constitution.

Posted by: Crank at March 26, 2014 12:32 PM

So free markets and small government is no way to run an economy.
Again, you come around to the liberal view.

I look forward to you admitting the GOP (AKA The Tea Party) doesn't really care about small business too.

Posted by: Berto at March 26, 2014 2:08 PM

Crank,

I read your stuff all the time, and I find it very thoughtful and well done. I never write in to drop a compliment, so I figured I would do so now. I will try to be a more active member of the community. Keep up the good work man!

Nick

Posted by: Nick in South Bend at March 27, 2014 10:19 AM

Nick - Thanks.

Berto - Lemme tell ya a real-life story. One of my uncles joined the Marines out of high school, and joined the FDNY out of the Marines. After some years of fighting fires, he had an idea for a tool that would make one of the tasks of firefighters easier and save cities and towns money. He invented a device, which he patented. At one point, this being New York in the 70s, a prototype got stolen from his car.

He was a firefighter with no investment capital. Any big company getting wind of his idea could have beat him in the marketplace without paying him a dime. But with his patent, he was able to build his own company, make a nice profit, improve his lot in life. Today, you might consider him the "plutocracy" because he's the owner. But when he started, he was just a fireman from the Bronx with an idea.

That's why property rights matter, because they allow people to follow the American Dream of upward mobility. Reform is needed to keep big companies from squatting on patents they're not using to stifle innovation. But if you develop a new idea, the law should protect your ability to sell it for a profit for a limited time.

Posted by: Crank at March 28, 2014 6:52 PM

Great story, and I totally agree, Crank. Both on the reasons for patents, and the need for patent reform.
In fact, there are plenty of good reasons for government to be involved in business.
I repeat: Free markets and small government is no way to run an economy.

Posted by: Berto at March 31, 2014 4:43 PM
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