If Birds Could Vote

Dear Friends,

As Native Americans ramp up their opposition to the Bakken Pipeline, Alexey Yaroshevsky with The Ed Schultz Show reported this story last week, which includes footage of Jane Kleeb and I on the last legs of the Iowa Pipeline Walk. Check it out hereScreen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.32.44 PM

In what might go down in history as the “St. Francis moment” of the 2016 presidential campaign, a yellow finch settled on the podium during Bernie Sanders’ speech last week in Portland, Oregon. Sanders’ surprised reaction is sweet. But the audience response is an overwhelming outburst of unbridled joy! I have never seen a political moment quite so powerful and moving. Check it out here.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 3.36.20 PM

Sanders saw symbolism in the bird’s arrival (how could he not?). When he announced that the finch was “actually a dove, asking us for world peace,” the crowd went even wilder.

I’ve had my own experiences with birds whose activity seemed to portend an event of significance. When I lived with the Ojibwe in the 1980s, my Indian friends would frequently subscribe meaning to any unusual behavior of a passing bird — often with remarkable accuracy.

In the mid-1990s, I organized a series of marches and rallies with members of the United Steelworkers, who were on strike from Bridgestone-Firestone and in danger of losing their jobs because of weak worker-protection statutes. I had authored strike-breaker protection legislation, and was introducing Senator Harkin at a rally in support of the proposed law change. In the middle of Harkin’s speech, an eagle circled overhead. I nudged Harkin’s elbow, pointed out the eagle, and the Senator worked it into his remarks as a sign of the righteousness of the workers’ cause.

To credit birds with providing guidance to the course of human activities is a matter of personal opinion. But that birds are a deep source of inspiration is undeniable. And I suspect that, if birds could vote, we’d see an entirely different conversation this election.

Listen to the Fallon Forum Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Please like & share:

Spring: Time for Democracy

Dear Friends,

One way to tell if you’re having an impact is the level of push back against you. I experienced this in my Congressional campaign in 2008, when my opponent hired a stalker who filmed me at every public appearance — even at a talk I gave on religion to residents of a senior housing complex.

We witnessed it during Occupy Wall Street in 2011, when two federal agents infiltrated the movement in Des Moines.

More recently, pipeline fighters are aware of two cases where spies, presumably paid for by Big Oil, have infiltrated efforts to stop fossil-fuel infrastructure expansion.

Sure, it sucks to be stalked, infiltrated or spied on, whether by Big Government or Big Business. But it’s also a compliment, indicating that the opposition recognizes you’re making progress toward shaking up their comfortable status quo.

So, when I read over the weekend comments posted on the Democracy Spring website, I thought, “Congratulations, folks. You’ve arrived!” Sure, the posts could simply be the work of cyber trolls. But it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the same ilk who funded “scientists” to deny climate change — or “doctors” to assure us tobacco isn’t harmful.

Democracy Spring is an ambitious, well-organized undertaking, with real potential to make the status quo squirm.

In the organizers’ own words: “It’s time to take mass nonviolent action on a historic scale to save our democracy. This April, in Washington, D.C., we will demand a Congress that will take immediate action to end the corruption of big money in our politics and ensure free and fair elections in which every American has an equal voice.

“The campaign will begin on April 2nd with a march from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. where thousands will gather to reclaim the US Capitol in a powerful, peaceful, and massive sit-in that no one can ignore. Over 2,000 people have already pledged to risk arrest between April 11th-18th in what will be one of the largest civil disobedience actions in a generation.”

Here’s one of the more amusing derogatory comments posted on the Democracy Spring website: “I want to bring my dog. Will gluten free dog food be provided? Im (sic) EXCITED to take a trip on someone elses (sic) dime and meet other freaks and any foreigners who hate men, USA and want to help Hillary take out the USA as we knew (sic) it.”

Bring on the trolls or spies . . . although one would hope that Big Guv or Big Biz would hire infiltrators with a better command of the English language. Whatever. It’s all good. As Gandhi said, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

When it comes to social and political change, if we are to win, I’m a firm believer in using every non-violent tool available: Elections, lobbying, the courts, education, direct action. In fact, no societal transformation — whether it’s the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage or civil rights — occurred without the effective deployment of all these tactics.

When it comes to the struggle against America’s descent into oligarchy, the time is ripe for mass civil disobedience, and Democracy Spring may be the spark. Stay tuned.

*******

Speaking of staying tuned, listen to the Fallon Forum today as we discuss Democracy Spring. Also:

– Jessica Reznicek joins me as she prepares to go to court, and probably prison, for an action against the military-industrial complex in Omaha.

– We’ll analyze today’s Des Moines Register editorial on Donald Trump, which is excellent but misses the seething economic abandonment that, I believe, lies at the heart of Trump’s appeal.

– On the cultural side of talk radio, we’ll visit with Karla Kash of Repertory Theater of Iowa about the troupe’s current production: Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, broadcasting live from the Cultural and Culinary Cross-roads of America (a.k.a., Des Moines, Iowa) from 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM and online. The number to call to add your voice to the conversation is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Please like & share:

Shame on the IUB!

Dear Friends,

Governor Branstad’s appointees to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) — Geri Huser, Nick Wagner and Libby Jacobs — should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, it was clear all along that Branstad had stacked the deck in favor of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the Texas company wanting to build the pipeline. But in previous meetings Huser, who chairs the IUB, at least seemed to want to take adequate time to air the range of concerns raised by landowners, environmentalists, Native Americans and defenders of property rights.

But any good-will Huser may have generated over the last month was squandered last Thursday when the IUB took all of seven minutes to summarize its rationale for a unanimous vote in favor of granting eminent domain to ETP.

I don’t use the words “travesty of justice” too often. But that’s the best way to describe the cavalier manner in which the IUB bulldozed its way through a discussion that should have been thoughtful, informative and respectful of public opinion.

Iowans deserve better. Sure, what we really deserved was a “no” vote. But even anticipating the probability of a “yes” vote, the public should have heard a serious, measured discussion before the final vote.

We didn’t get that. And the IUB, DNR, Governor, and Iowa House and Senate lackeys of Big Oil should brace themselves for the next round of popular resistance. Prepare to see us in the Courts, at the Statehouse, and in the “Town Square,” as I call it, where we’ll continue to bring our case before the people of Iowa, whose opposition to the pipeline dropped by 10% over the past year. (In the most recent poll, less than half of all Iowans now support the pipeline.)

And if you want to know who specifically are some of the elected lackeys supporting the pipeline, click HERE to find out which Iowa politicians received donations from ETP. (Kudos to Gavin Aronsen for an excellent piece of investigative journalism.)

Today on the Fallon Forum, Dr. Charles Goldman and I will talk about the ruling. We’ll also prognosticate on the possible outcome of Super Tuesday 2. We’ll hear from Katy Heggen with the Iowa Environmental Council, and State Rep. Dan Kelley discusses his proposal to divest state funds from Exxon because of that corporation’s decades-long deceit, now coming under increased public scrutiny.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Please like & share:

Judge Not

Dear Friends,

{The Iowa Utilities Board meets March 9th and 10th beginning at 9:00 a.m. at 1375 E. Court Ave in Des Moines. The IUB could make a decision this week on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline. Come if you can, otherwise livestream the meetings, and I’ll be live-tweeting and “Face tweeting” as well.}

What a relief! Wall Street now has an Iowa Democrat it can get behind for U.S. Senate.

Patty Judge’s entry into the race last week was greeted with extensive coverage by Corporate Media, who largely have blown-off the other three Democrats in the race. The Des Moines Register’s headline, “Patty Judge challenges Chuck Grassley,” says it all, ignoring the reality that Judge is running not against Grassley but against Rob Hogg, Bob Krause and Tom Fiegen in the Democratic Primary. The winner of that race gets to face Grassley in the general election this fall.

And it shouldn’t be Judge.

Her long history of support for Corporate Ag’s agenda has hurt and continues to hurt Iowa farmers, our environment, our rural communities. I served with Judge at the Statehouse. I fought her anti family farm agenda when she was Secretary of Agriculture. I ran against her in what was then a five-person primary for Governor in 2006. Patty Judge and I go way back. Her allegiance lies with Big Money, and that reality will become clear as this race heats up.

For now, don’t let Corporate Media fool you into believing Judge is the defacto nominee, the only one who can beat Grassley. It is, alas, easy to be fooled, as I discovered running into a friend of mine yesterday. He’s bright, progressive, very active in Democratic politics. Yet he told me he was supporting Judge. When I pointed out that Judge was horrible on issues he and I cared about, he agreed, but said he would vote for her because she was the most “electable.”

How many more times will we fooled on the question of “electability?” Barack Hussein Obama — by virtue of his name and skin color — was initially deemed to be thoroughly unelectable. A few shoe-in, absolutely-the-most-electable candidates in recent Iowa history? Jim Ross-Lightfoot, Governor. Jim Nussle, Governor. Bruce Braley, U.S. Senate. Staci Appel, U.S. Congress. Yup. All were presented by Corporate Media and their Party Establishment as so “electable” they didn’t even get primary opponents. All got their clocks cleaned in the general election.

What voters want is someone with a solid track record to assure us they will challenge the status quo and stand with people against special interests. Among the four Democrats running for the U.S. Senate nomination, there’s no-one more tightly bound to the status quo than Patty Judge.

Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CST on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. The number to call is (515) 528-8122. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Monday at 6:00 a.m. on WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans). Check-out podcasts here.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

Please like & share: