Midterm Election: The Color Purple

Dear Friends,

First, I want to thank Matt McCoy for calling out Matt Whitaker (President Trump’s new acting Attorney General) for Whitaker’s politically-motivated witch hunt against McCoy in 2007. Whitaker was a U.S. Attorney at the time and came after McCoy on alleged extortion charges.

Matt McCoy

The trial was an embarrassment to Whitaker and the U.S. government. In a column by McCoy in Politico this week, former Des Moines Register editorial page editor Gil Cranberg noted, “The case against McCoy was so anorexic that not one of the 12 jurors considered it worth protracted consideration.”

The Politico story also notes that Jerry Crawford (McCoy’s attorney) approached the prosecuting attorneys during the trial and asked them to save face, saying, “Pull this case now. I’m embarrassed for the United States of America.”

After a mere 25 minutes of deliberation, the jury found McCoy not guilty. Other examples of Whitaker’s unabashed partisan perspective are too numerous to list. The bottom line is, among many Trump appointees poorly qualified for their jobs, Whitaker ranks higher than most — and that says volumes.

So, to the recent election — here are my three take aways:

1. More Democratic women should run for office. The fact that in four suburban Polk County house districts incumbent Republicans (all men) were ousted by Democratic challengers (all women) indicates a changing perspective among suburban voters. What happened in Polk County was the norm in many other suburbs across the country. Was this a blip, an anomaly? Will Republicans recapture the burbs in 2020? I doubt it. What we’re seeing is a generational and gender-driven shift among suburban voters away from a Republican Party grown callous to the interests of most people.

Fred Hubbell

2. The Democratic Party needs to run progressive populists for higher office. Never again should Democrats nominate a candidate for governor, U.S. Senate, or president who can be easily tagged as elitist or status quo. On a personal level, I like Fred Hubbell immensely. He and his wife Charlotte are great people, and Fred would’ve made an excellent governor.

But Fred wasn’t a great candidate, at least not in these times. Here’s what I wrote in a blog I published last May before the primary election: “I see the barrage of ads touting Reynolds’ humble background — growing up on a farm, her dad taking a second job at a factory to make ends meet, working at a grocery store and later as a waitress. That stuff resonates with Iowans. Voters will have a hard time relating to someone as wealthy and privileged as Fred Hubbell.”

The bottom line is, even with suburban voters moving into the Democratic column (barely), that’s not enough to win a statewide election. You can’t simply hope to blow past rural Iowa by racking up huge vote totals in Polk, Linn, Scott, and a few other urban counties.

And that brings me to the third take away:

3. Democrats must regain the support of rural voters. Others have said this too. (Tom Vilsack comes to mind.) Urban Democrats can and must reconnect with rural voters. In my experience, the only way to do this is to spend prodigious amounts of time in rural communities. You can’t pay a flying visit. You can’t just pop by to talk. You have to go with the intent to listen, learn, and build relationships.

If Democratic candidates and Party leaders make a focused, sincere, concerted effort to do this, rural voters may come to see that they have a lot more in common with city folk than any of us have with Wall Street. For our part, urban Democrats may come to better understand the challenges facing rural communities and stop bashing rural voters as a bunch of dumb rubes.

If that happens, there’s no reason Democrats can’t regain the populist rural/urban majority they formerly enjoyed — a majority that once allowed the Party to accomplish great things for both Iowa and America.

Ed Fallon

 

Political shot heard round the world

Dear Friends,

I’m encouraged that, more than ever, people are taking seriously the importance of voting. To those who still feel it doesn’t matter, let me share this story:

Former Iowa State Rep. Becky Reynolds-Knight (D-Van Buren County)

When I was a state representative, I sat between two lawmakers who were excellent colleagues. Both were attentive to their constituents and accomplished important work at the Iowa Statehouse. Becky Reynolds-Knight sat to my right. Out of 11,732 votes cast in the 1996 general election, Becky won by only 146 votes. To my left sat Bill Witt, who won his first election in 1992 by only 17 votes out of a total of 12,793 cast!

Former Iowa State Rep. Bill Witt (D-Black Hawk County)

So, is every vote important? Ask Bill and Becky. Better yet, ask Al Gore, who as the Democratic candidate for president in 2000, lost Florida’s electoral votes by only 537 votes out of almost six million cast in Florida — and over 50 million cast nationwide.

Yup. Every vote matters. Every election matters — and this election matters more than most. The problems confounding America — climate change, money in politics, immigration, gun violence, health care, foreign policy, and more — have grown worse and seemingly intractable.

They’re challenging for sure, but not intractable. True, Democratic leaders have sometimes failed in the past. But the current impasse is the fault of this reactionary Republican Congress and administration, who have proven inept at solving any of America’s most pressing problems while digging the hole deeper on many issues.

In Iowa, Republicans controlling the Statehouse have been worse than inept. In fact, the Republican trifecta at the State Capitol has been embarrassingly successful at enacting all sorts of draconian policies, too many to list here, several of which are so bad they’re being challenged in the courts.

Voters sometimes support a divided legislature or Congress. I get that. I understand the urge to split one’s ticket, hoping that Democratic control of one chamber and Republican control of the other will lead to a more thoughtful, cooperative approach to policy making.

J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for Congress

Maybe that works sometimes. But that’s not the medicine for what ails Iowa and America today. Divided chambers will accomplish nothing. A new wave of Democratic leaders is rising, bringing a fresh perspective that’s resonating with voters. Let’s give them a chance to govern. To do that, Democrats need to control the House and Senate at both the state and federal level.

Across Iowa’s Fourth District — home of unabashed white supremacist Congressman Steve King — a veritable tidal wave of change is poised to shake things up. Democrats have fielded good candidates against King in the past, but I never felt any could dethrone him.

This year, I’m confident that King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, can and will defeat King. Scholten — propelled by growing discontent with King’s voting record and litany of inflammatory comments — is running an impressive campaign fueled by hard work and intelligent, articulate stands on key issues. It doesn’t hurt that Scholten has raised more money than King, most of it from the grassroots.

Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District

It also helps Scholten that businesses who supported King in the past (Land O’Lakes, Purina, Intel Corp.) and a growing list of Republican elected officials are finally speaking out against King.

If you’re supporting one or more candidates with time and money, thank you. But take time to help J.D., too. His defeat of Steve King will land a promising, progressive Iowan in Washington, D.C. and send a message that reactionaries like Steve King don’t speak for Iowa and are no longer entitled to positions of political power.

Over the next five days, l’ll continue to reach out personally to the hundreds of independents and Republicans I know in the Fourth District and encourage them to vote for J.D. Scholten. I suspect nearly every Iowan reading this blog knows people in the Fourth District. Call or write these voters. Stress that, on an election ballot with so many important races, what happens in the Fourth District is critical.

How critical? If Scholten defeats King, it would be 2018’s political shot heard round the world.

Ed Fallon

Let them in!

Dear Friends,

I woke up this morning ready to tell you about my new book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. But news accounts of the huge migrant caravan of Central American refugees heading northward through Mexico has touched my heart deeply. I know some of you won’t like what I’m going to say, but I feel compelled to say it anyway.

Let them in! It’s a tough truth to accept, but U.S. policy in Central America has been a major contributing factor to the destabilization and corruption driving Hondurans, Guatemalans, and El Salvadorans from their homes. As this excellent article in the Independent points out, the U.S. is long overdue for a reckoning.

Over 7,000 migrants march through southern Mexico, heading north toward the U.S. border. (John Moore, Getty Images)

From the article: “America must acknowledge the role we played in creating this crisis over the past half-century and find a way to solve it. It isn’t only our raison d’être, it’s our moral responsibility. There is a humanitarian crisis in our own backyard, one we helped cause, and we must be willing to do our bit and help these desperate people any way we can.”

I know what it’s like to walk a long way. But I don’t know what it’s like to live in a country where human rights abuses are so horrific that you have no option but to flee, often with your children and few possessions. Here’s one news account that offers some additional insight.

I know I’m doing my part to help create a better world, but I wish I could do more. If I had another eight hours in the day, I’d organize a caravan from Iowa, walking south to the Mexican border, to welcome and offer help to the migrants. If anyone else thinks that’s a good idea, let’s meet at 10:00 this Saturday morning at Ritual Cafe to discuss it. I can’t lead the charge on it, but I’m happy to brainstorm ways in which we can help the caravan. I’m concerned what might happen to the migrants when they arrive at our border.

So, about Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim — this is the book I’ve been working on for four years. I’m excited to have it accomplished, and hope you’ll come to the book launch on Sunday, December 2 at 2:00 at 500 E Locust Street in Des Moines. I hope you’ll buy a book, or two, or three, too. (Think stocking stuffer . . . better than coal.) All proceeds support the work of Climate March.

Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim is my memoir from the 2014 Great March for Climate Action. The book’s cover reads: “On the 3,100-mile, 8-month walk from LA to DC in 2014, dozens of marchers became a mobile village — weathering harsh conditions, sharing joys and sorrows, and intensifying their commitment to the cause as they sounded the alarm about the climate crisis. Through humor and candid introspection, Ed shares his experience on the March and how it brought into focus his lifelong search for love and meaning — even as intense, interpersonal dramas threatened to tear the March community apart.”

At the launch on December 2, I’ll talk about the book, read selections, and take questions. Hardcover and paperback books will be available for purchase and, sure, if you like, I’ll sign your copy. We’ll have beverages and light homemade snacks, because I don’t believe in parties without snacks. Thanks to Downtown Disciples for providing the space.

Thanks! – Ed

Utilities Board rules against DAPL!

Dear Friends,

First a quick reminder about two events happening in Des Moines today and tomorrow (and check out our conversation about them on the second half of this week’s Fallon Forum):

— Wednesday, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Thoreau Center (3500 Kingman Blvd in Des Moines), the Middle East Peace Education Coalition is sponsoring a talk by Rabbi Brant Rosen titled “Anti-Semitism: the Reality and the Myth.”

— Thursday, 5:00-7:00 p.m. on the west side of the Iowa State Capitol, Iowa CCI is organizing a rally and concert to raise concerns about the World Food Prize’s focus on GMO crops and industrial agriculture vs organic production and family farms.

So, just when you think there’s been enough big news on DAPL, along comes more. Yesterday, in a decision favoring petitions filed by the Northwest Iowa Landowners Association (NILA) and the Iowa Sierra Club, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) ruled: “Dakota Access, LLC, shall file information describing how it will comply with the Utilities Board’s requirement that it maintain $25,000,000 in general liability insurance coverage for the benefit of affected parties in Iowa.”

This is significant! Dakota Access tried to weasel out of the liability commitment it made when it received a permit two years ago, and the IUB said, ‘NO’! (Kudos to Board members Geri Huser and Nick Wagner for voting in favor of the ruling.) Dakota Access argues that its commitment of $25 million is for an oil spill in any of the four states DAPL passes through (Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and North Dakota). The IUB’s ruling makes it clear that the $25 million commitment must be specifically for Iowa.

I spoke with John Murray of NILA this morning. John’s a Storm Lake attorney who has been active in defending landowners along the pipeline route since the beginning. John says, “If you look at what happened in Kalamazoo Michigan, where an oil spill reached a major water body, if we had something like that happen in Iowa, $25 million isn’t going come close to covering it. The $25 million requirement was an outgrowth of criticism that NILA and the Iowa Sierra Club raised regarding the risk of an oil spill. If Dakota Access fails to provide this coverage for Iowa the next logical step is for the IUB to revoke the permit.”

So, yeah, this ruling is a big deal. But it’s important to keep it in perspective. In a joint press release put out today by Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa, Christine Nobiss, director of Indigenous Iowa, said, “Twenty-five million dollars is nothing. Clean up of the 2010 oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan cost over a billion dollars. People who live there are still getting sick and dying. No amount of insurance can cover the full damage of a major oil spill. We need to assure the IUB continues to stand up to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).”

The IUB has given Dakota Access 21 days to comply with its insurance requirement. But really, we’ve been playing Russian Roulette. For sixteen months, DAPL has run close to half a million barrels of oil a day across our land and waterways without having even the minimum amount of insurance the IUB required. Dakota Access and its parent company, ETP, argue that the risk of a spill is minimal. Well, just this week, an ETP pipeline in Texas leaked into Button Willow Creek and Canyon Rock Lake. This one was a relatively small spill.

Next time, it could be worse. Next time, it could be Iowa.

Ed Fallon

ALERT! Another oil pipeline is in the works!

Dear Friends,

In a world where it seems that most news is bad news, I’m sorry to have to pile on. But it’s better to know the truth than to live in denial — and if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it at least let’s you know what you’re up against and gives you a fighting chance to push back.

So, here’s the bad news: Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is planning to lay a second pipeline across Iowa!

Last week, I received an anonymous call from a long-time professional in the oil industry. I’m by nature cautious and not inclined to believe claims that aren’t well founded. So, I spent close to three hours on the phone with the caller. I also did a whole lot of additional research to corroborate what they told me.

Sorry to say, but their claim adds up. Just as ETP was quiet about DAPL #1 in 2014 — not letting the public know until it had bought off Iowa’s political establishment and had its ducks in a row — ETP wants to keep this new pipeline under wraps as long as possible.

We can’t let that happen! If we are to defeat this new pipeline, we have to start organizing NOW. One of Bold Iowa’s next steps is to determine what exactly ETP has to do to site the new pipeline, since it’s not immediately clear what existing easements allow.

Beyond that, there are three things YOU can do to help. Here’s our call to action:

1. Ask state and federal candidates running for office in Iowa if they support or oppose a second Dakota Access pipeline running diagonally across Iowa. We especially need to know where the candidates for governor and US Congress stand, but also candidates for the state legislature. Ask them (documented with a video if possible), let us know what they say, and we’ll spread the word so voters know.

2. Donate to Bold Iowa. We need your financial support to keep this fight going. Please consider a monthly donation as that gives us the solid base we need to focus on our work. We already spend way less time fundraising than most non-profits, and our monthly donors make that possible.

3. Share this press release through your social media connections and with any member of the mainstream media you have a connection with. Here’s a link to the release and the full text:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 11:00 a.m. CT

Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 and ed@boldiowa.com or Christine Nobiss at (319) 331-8034 and cnobiss@gmail.com.

Inside source indicates second oil pipeline planned for Iowa
Credible source within oil industry says twinning of DAPL in the works

Des Moines, Iowa —  Bold Iowa’s director, Ed Fallon, revealed today that, over the past week, he has had extensive contact with a highly credible source within the oil industry who informed him that Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) intends to build a second pipeline along the existing easement through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois.

“I’m by nature cautious and not inclined to believe claims that aren’t well founded,” said Fallon. “So, I spent close to three hours on the phone with the caller. I then did my own research and their claim adds up. Just as ETP was quiet about the first DAPL in 2014 — not letting the public know until it had bought off Iowa’s political establishment and had its other ducks in a row — ETP wants to keep this new line under wraps as long as possible so farmers, landowners, Indigenous communities, and other opponents have less time to respond and fight back.”

Fallon says his source’s information is supported by recent developments. A Jamestown Sun story two weeks ago indicated that the “Bakken Formation has reserves of 30 billion to 40 billion barrels of recoverable oil, or roughly four to five times more than the government’s latest estimate.”

On top of that, according to a Dallas News story out this week, “Growth in the Permian {Basin in West Texas} has, in fact, been shrinking, down almost every month this year, while declines in older wells are trending higher, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.”

“From ETP’s point of view, if you couple the economic realities that favor Bakken oil with the political reality that a change in leadership in Washington, DC is inevitable, it makes sense that ETP would want to move quickly and aggressively to expand its capacity significantly,” Fallon said.

Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa have worked as partners in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline for over two years. “As we push back against the abuse of eminent domain, the acceleration of climate change, and the threat oil pipelines pose to our land and water, it’s essential that the voices of Iowa’s Indigenous leaders are heard and taken seriously,” concluded Fallon.

Indigenous Iowa raises awareness about the devastating effects that oil, gas, and coal have on the environment, particularly on Indigenous lands where government-backed corporate conglomerates practice predatory economics and exploit communities. Indigenous Iowa promotes the development and implementation of renewable energy through the worldview of Indigenous ideologies.

Bold Iowa builds rural-urban coalitions to fight climate change, prevent the abuse of eminent domain, protect Iowa’s soil, air and water, and promote non-industrial renewable energy.

# # #

Iowa’s Suffering Senator

Dear Friends,

I’ve had it with Iowa’s welfare queens. Wells Fargo. Rockwell Collins. Pioneer Dupont. Chuck Grassley.

Senator Charles Grassley

Yes, Grassley. The Senator announced this week that he’ll apply for federal farm bailout money. Despite being worth $3.3 million. Despite working full-time as a US Senator since 1981. Despite his criticism of government assistance for the poor.

In an October 4 Des Moines Register story, Grassley said, “I would brag to you, actually, that this experience of mine — not being an absentee landlord but suffering what farmers suffer and being joyful when they are joyful — is a good experience for a senator from an agricultural state to have.”

I have no doubt that actual farmers — those who work the land day in and day out — suffer plenty, especially given Trump’s trade tariffs and the extreme weather of the New Climate Era. I’m sure there are plenty of ways a US senator suffers, too. But I’m also certain that — given such a powerful position that comes with incomparable prestige and privilege — the joys far outweigh the suffering.

So, just as Senator Grassley earned a reality check when he announced last December that the poor “are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” it’s time for another — drum roll please — Grassley reality check!

Once and for all, Senator, please put to rest the myth that you’re a farmer. You might have been a farmer many decades ago, but you’re now a career politician. You don’t tout that fact because voters don’t like career politicians. But if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it’s at least refreshing. So I’d like to suggest this slogan for your 2022 re-election campaign: “Vote Grassley, Iowa’s Leading Career Politician.”

No doubt, there are plenty of farmers hurting due to the tariffs, farmers who could use a shot in the arm. Grassley’s not one of them. His justification for taking bailout money as “equal treatment for everybody” rings as hollow as an empty grain bin. Everyone’s not equal, Senator. To pretend that you, as a US Senator worth $3.3 million, share much in common with the average Iowa farmer is creative accounting at best.

Here’s the box of garden produce we brought to Iowa’s suffering Senator.

Ironically, as more consumers localize their food sources, potential beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs are small farmers raising so-called “non-traditional” crops. (I use quotation marks because, face it, heirloom fruits and vegetables are a heckuva lot more traditional than GMO corn and beans.) That includes farmers like . . . me!

The official definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” Yeah, the Birds and Bees Urban Farm that Kathy Byrnes and I operate in Sherman Hill is officially a farm. I would wager a hefty sum of produce that Kathy and I do a lot more hands-on farm work than Senator Grassley has done in a long, long time.

Grassley’s “equal treatment for everybody” got me thinking, “Where’s our bailout?” So I called the USDA Farm Service Agency to enquire. I learned, alas, that the bailout only applies to farmers raising corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy, almonds, and cherries — some of the same crops that already receive hefty taxpayer subsidies.

I’m not opposed to some system of price support for agriculture. Food production is too unreliable — and too important — to not provide a back-up plan to assure farmers don’t lose everything when there’s a bad year, or two, or three. But the only explanation for farm subsidies targeted to just a handful of commodity crops is the political and monetary clout of Big Ag. No Iowa farmer ever got crazy rich growing garlic — and no garlic farmer is rich enough to sway federal farm policy.

It’s time to revisit government support for agriculture. If we must have subsidies, let’s target them to farmers who actually need them, and not merely to those raising crops primarily destined for export. And to be clear, Birds and Bees Urban Farm will never ask for nor accept government handouts. There is strength in diversity, and with over three dozen products, we always have plenty of products that do well even as some fail. We don’t want or need the government’s help.

I want to encourage Senator Grassley to boldly go where few big farmers have gone before and say “No!” to taxpayer handouts. Taking him at his word — that as a farmer, he has suffered — Kathy and I today brought Senator Grassley some of the bounty of our harvest. Here’s the livestream from that effort, which one could say was marginally successful. The Senator’s staff was, as always, gracious and accommodating, and agreed to forward our request for a meeting to discuss farming and climate change to the Senator.

I’ll keep you posted as to whether that meeting transpires.

Ed

Plant a fall garden in the New Climate Era

Dear Friends,

Some of the more undesirable features of life on Earth have already gotten worse in the New Climate Era: stronger storms, hungrier mosquitoes, more virulent ticks, a historically embarrassing president.

Our fall bed of lettuce, arugula, and radishes has been going strong since late August.

Ok, we can’t blame the ascendency of Donald Trump on climate change. But he is exacerbating the problem with such moves as deleting references to climate change from the White House website, withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, and supporting fossil fuel expansion with the Dakota Access pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, and fracking.

As climate change progresses (read “worsens”), the list of undesirable creatures and features is only going to grow.

Our heirloom tomatoes look determined to produce through early November. This variety — Siciliana Rosa — is still going strong.

I have, however, noticed a few positives to climate change — most notably an extended fall garden season. As both carbon and methane emissions further concentrate in Earth’s atmosphere, growing some (or much) of one’s own food is likely to become not merely a pastime but an essential element of life. So, with an eye toward both great dining today and survival in the future, I’d like to recommend to you the virtues of a robust fall garden.

Sweet Garden Sunshine peppers promise an abundant fall harvest.

 

 

 

 

And I’d like to remind you that you’re welcome to come tour our urban farm during the event Kathy and I are hosting for Rob Sand and Deidre DeJear this Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines. We’ll serve a light breakfast (much of it from our garden), and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will be here. Merkley’s on the list of Dems potentially interested in running for President in 2020.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the urban farm collage below, or check out the guided video tour on my Facebook page.

There ain’t no stopping these greens: Swiss chard, kale (two varieties), and collards.

Squmpkin! This accidental cross has proven hardy and resistant to pests and powdery mildew.

We don’t have a lot of land to work with. But the sky’s the limit (sort of), so we rigged this vertical sweet potato spider trellis.

Our second planting of green beans (in the raised bed where we grew cauliflower this spring) has done really well.

Our two hot pepper plants are nearly seven feet tall! I’m not a huge fan of scorching my palate, but when a crop does this well, you learn to love it.

We left these pods of okra to ripen to have seed for next year. Seed saving in the New Climate Era is likely to become a standard household activity.

Leeks are another crop that keep on giving — and they’re so hardy they’ll likely continue to produce into November.

We’ve still got some eggplant, though the plants are fading fast. Gotta figure out to control the flea beetles next year.

We won’t harvest these young carrots til November. Behind them, fall zucchini is a new experiment. No flowers yet, but we’re hoping.

Turnip bulbs are starting to flesh out. We planted more turnips than normal people should be allowed to plant. Enough said.

Our adopted gnome Trumpski guards the herb bed.

One hive failed, but the other just gave us over two gallons of honey!

Politico calls Rob Sand a “young Robert Mueller”

Dear Friends,

The excitement around November 6 is above and beyond what we normally experience leading up to an off-year election. Coast to coast, young, progressive candidates are fueling that excitement — as is growing discontent over President Trump’s reign of error. Even conservative voters are pulling away from the Tweeter in Chief over his:

Rob Sand

— Escalating trade war with China,
— Support for pipelines and fracking,
— Belief that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing,” and
— Lack of a moral compass.

In Iowa, two candidates firing up voters are Rob Sand, running for State Auditor, and Deidre DeJear, running for Secretary of State. Check out the great story about Rob and Deidre in Politico this week — and the entertaining comparison of Rob to Robert Mueller.

Deidre DeJear

Better yet, come meet Rob and Deidre in person at a fundraiser Kathy and I are throwing:

Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines

Our co-hosts are Rachel Scholten, Jon Krieg, Charles Goldman, Carla McIntire, Cheslea Lepley, and Cyndy Coppola. Kathy’s making an egg dish (from our hens and garden of course) and baked French toast. We’ll have tea and coffee. Sorry, no mimosas.

Also, US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will join us! Jeff is a key national leader on many important battles, and we’re honored to welcome him at this event.

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

By any reasonable measure, Democrats at the state and federal level should do well in the mid-term election. The stars are so firmly aligned in Democrats’ favor that only a series of Himalayan blunders could lead to an electoral outcome where Republicans prevail.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Don’t underestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to unleash an avalanche of Himalayan blunders. Justified skepticism aside, it’s almost certain that Democrats will, on balance, gain seats up and down the ballot. The prospects for that are enhanced when each of us invests time, effort, and money in candidates and causes that inspire and empower us. Above all else — vote!

But one election cycle doesn’t mean Democrats are on the cusp of a lasting political transformation. Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election and beyond, if the Democratic Party is to avoid permanent minority party status, Democrats have to talk truth on tough issues while rising above the tired old politics of partisan division. It’s important to call out Democrats who don’t get this.

Congressman Dave Loebsack

Case in point: Twice at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed this week, Congressman Dave Loebsack demonstrated why he should serve as the poster child for much of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. When I approached Dave politely to ask a couple questions about the Dakota Access Pipeline and climate change, he walked away and said he wasn’t talking to the press. I immediately thought, “Hmm, that reminds me of Donald Trump.”

When Dave had his five minutes at the mic, he used nearly the entire time to say, in so many words, “Republicans bad, Democrats good.” Sorry, but voters are sick and tired of partisan blather and vacuous generalizations about “the other side.” We want genuine conversation about real issues. And we want civility and unity — something Loebsack’s Republican predecessor, Congressman Jim Leach, understood and practiced.

Make no mistake: In recent years, Republican officials at both the state and federal level have carved a wide swathe of policy carnage favoring big corporations and the fantastically wealthy over average Americans and our planet. So, why doesn’t Congressman Loebsack focus on the initiatives that distinguish Democrats from Republicans instead of throwing out trivial sound bytes that turn off voters?

Great question. Too bad the Congressman wouldn’t let me ask it.

Ed

On this week’s Fallon Forum . . .

The Fallon Forum: September 18, 2018, 11:00 – 12:00 noon

We focus on last week’s historic lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline: Puntenney, et al vs Iowa Utilities Board. Guests include landowner Keith Puntenney, Pam Mackey-Taylor with the Iowa Sierra Club, and Christine Nobiss with Indigenous Iowa.

Here’s the link to last Wednesday’s court hearing: Iowa Supreme Court Livestream

Here’s the link to the Pacifica Radio program Keith Puntenney did last week: Sprouts: Iowa Landowners Sue Dakota Access Pipeline

It’s impossible to know when the Iowa Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the case. Best estimates are that it may take six months. So it’s important to continue to take every possible opportunity to educate the public about the importance of this lawsuit! Share the above links far and wide, and stay tuned for regular updates and additional calls to action.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March: Day 1

Dear Friends,

Regina Tsosie starts the IUB press conference with a song. (Photo by Fintan Mason)

After a stormy night, marchers carpooled to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for a press conference to announce the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. Though the IUB was closed, we know board members are paying attention. It’s important for them to hear that they made the wrong decision when granting the authority to use eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. Most Iowans agree. Iowa law agrees. Soon, we’ll see whether the Iowa Supreme Court agrees.

Manape LaMere (in red) embraces Ako Abdul-Samad (in blue) after both offer a blessing to send off marchers. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

Blessings by Ako Abdul-Samad and Manape LaMere sent marchers off along the Des Moines River. Given last night’s storms — and a forecast for continued rain and cloud cover today — I wouldn’t have guessed that our biggest challenge today would be heat and humidity.

Halfway through the March, the day warmed considerably, with the heat index hovering around 90 degrees. One young marcher felt faint and had to sit in the shade before being rescued by one of our support vehicles. The conditions hit several older marchers hard, too, requiring extra breaks in the shade.

A welcome respite came at Sue and Tom Broadbooks home in Ankeny, where the family invited us in to cool off and enjoy home-made cookies. This was the first exceptional act of kindness and hospitality in a week that would see many gestures of goodwill toward us.

Our campsite at the Griffieon farm north of Ankeny. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

Marchers made it through a difficult 13.2-mile day to enjoy a wonderful evening of food and conversation at the Griffieon farm. Half the marchers accepted the family’s generous offer to sleep in their machine shed. The rest of us braved a second night of severe weather in our tents.

Four-mile creek, near the Griffieon farm, looked more like a river today. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

I’m a veteran tent-dweller, yet have never seen my tent pummeled so mercilessly by the driving rain that hit us in the middle of the night. It was as if buckets of water were being hurled against the sides of the tent. I worried that the nearby ditch between our tents and the road would fill with water and wash over the field where we were camped. That didn’t happen, but if our first night’s rainfall had been as bad as some storms that Iowa has seen in recent years, that field could have indeed been swamped. We were lucky — and reminded that, in the New Climate Era, the most marginalized populations are often the most at risk.

Ed Fallon