Dems fail first test

Dear Friends,

For the status quo, it was another great week in politics. The Democratic National Committee — long controlled by the corporate-friendly Clintons and their pals on Wall Street — elected Tom Perez over Keith Ellison as the new Party chair.

Tom Perez with Hillary Clinton

Some of my friends argue that Perez has a progressive track record as former Labor Secretary under President Obama and is now the first Latino to lead the Democratic Party. So what’s the fuss?

They miss the point. What’s now known as the Bernie Wing of the Democratic Party (what Sen. Paul Wellstone called the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and what used to be known simply as “The Democratic Party”) backed Keith Ellison — a solid, independent-minded progressive who made no bones about challenging the Party’s establishment.

Keith Ellison with Bernie Sanders

By all accounts, the establishment knew it couldn’t control Ellison. So it cleverly picked a candidate who, despite a reasonably progressive history, would make sure the Party’s status quo went unchallenged.

Symbolically, if not functionally, the election of Perez as chair is a disaster. It sends the message that the DNC is about business as usual. Sure, Perez attempted to throw the Bernie Wing a bone by appointing Ellison as deputy chair of the Party. But few believe this token gesture will have any effect on altering the Party’s direction.

Here in Iowa, we were shocked that all five of Iowa’s voting delegates supported Perez. The new chair (Derek Eadon) and new vice chair (Andrea Phillips) were swept in on a wave of reform. Eadon beat the establishment’s darling, former State Senator Mike Gronstal, handily. And yet the new leadership’s first significant action is . . . what? Vote against the candidate universally endorsed by reform Democrats? Take that, you Bernie people!

So, what’s a reform-oriented, progressive voter to do? Well, you can stick with the Democratic Party and try to reform it from within. I admire your perseverance and hope you prevail.

Or you can register as a Green or Libertarian, work to start a new party, or campaign for people who run as third party or independent candidates. Yet, I’m not convinced that any existing third party has the gumption and diligence to do the grueling, voter-by-voter groundwork needed to become a serious threat to the two-party monopoly. Prove me wrong.

Or you can choose to remain unaffiliated, and hope that the Democratic Party again finds the soul it abandoned back in the 1980s, or that a new Party becomes strong enough to emerge as a viable alternative.

My path, for now, is to continue to hammer away at the critical issues through building strong, broad grassroots coalitions that bring together voices and interests that haven’t traditionally worked side-by-side, but need to if we’re going to see success at the ballot box and in policy debates in city halls, legislative chambers and the U.S. Congress.

At all costs, soldier on. There are so many ways to make a difference. Even if while trudging along your chosen path you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness, you’ve gotta persist. The stakes are too high to sit back and do nothing.

While your one voice may seem weak and frail even though you scream at the top of your lungs, when that voice unites with dozens, hundreds, thousands and eventually millions of other voices, it becomes a clamor for freedom and justice that cannot be ignored.

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URGENT! Tell DNC delegation to vote for change!

Dear Friends –

This afternoon, Tom Perez — the establishment candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee — tweeted this:

“Grateful fo have Iowa’s support for #DNCchair. Thank you to the entire delegation.”

WHAT?! YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING?! On a wave of change, the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee (SCC) voted in a new chair and vice chair. Committee members know that a new direction is needed. They know that voters rejected the failed status quo.

What part of that message did Iowa’s delegation fail to hear?

This afternoon, according to Perez’s tweet, all six voting delegates from Iowa are backing the Establishment candidate over Congressman Keith Ellison — the hands-down progressive alternative.

This is astounding. Insulting. And yeah, just flat-out stupid.

I guarantee you Republican Party leaders and Donald Trump will be doing the happy dance if Perez is crowned the new head of the Democratic National Committee.

And the vote is Saturday morning!

So, what can YOU do? Contact the IDP’s voting delegates IMMEDIATELY. Tell them that if Perez is the Party’s leader, we can expect the same results we saw under the discredited, corporate-cozy leadership of former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

And why should these six people listen to lil ole you and me?

If you’re a Democrat who is tired of a Party that fails at the polls and at policy . . .

If you’re a former Democrat, like me, who would rejoin the Party if it charted a new course . . .

If you’re registered No-Party, Green or Libertarian and want to see a Democratic Party aligned with the people, not special interests . . .

Then they really oughta give a hoot about what you think.

So, tonight, or first thing tomorrow morning, contact these folks and tell them to support change and vote for Rep. Keith Ellison:

Jan Bauer (Jan’s active on Facebook)
Scott Brennan 515-288-2500 (ext 1) (work)
Derek Eadon 515-954-8630 (cell)
Dave Loebsack 319-804-9218 (his campaign manager, Joe Hern)
Sandy Opstvedt (Sandy’s active on Facebook)
Andrea Phillips 515-707-6431 (cell)

Thanks for doing whatever you can do on short notice! – Ed Fallon

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Bold Iowa to Occupy Offices

Dear Friends,

Christine Sheller and Arlo blocking construction equipment during a BAT action last fall.

The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Tomorrow, here in Iowa, we’ll continue to stand with our allies at Standing Rock and with Iowa farmers, landowners, Native communities and environmentalists who have fought Dakota Access every step of the way. Public officials and businesses who’ve supported the pipeline need to hear that a 30-inch pipe carrying 570,000 barrels of oil a day is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Those who helped bring this catastrophe to our fields and waters need to know that we’re not done fighting.

So, if you haven’t yet signed up for a BAT tomorrow — Wednesday, February 21 — it’s not too late. Just respond to this message and we’ll hook you up with someone in your area leading an action. Here’s more detail, in the form of the press release we sent out this morning. (You can read the original release posted on the Bold Iowa website.​​)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Contact: Ed Fallon, Bold Iowa Director, (515) 238-6404 or ed@boldiowa.org

Bold Action Teams (BATs) to Occupy Offices
In at least 10 cities, teams of Iowa pipeline fighters, some risking arrest, will occupy offices of politicians and banks that have supported the Dakota Access pipeline 

Des Moines, IA — On Wednesday, Feb. 22 throughout the day during business hours, Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for a DAPL Day of Direct Action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Cities where actions will occur include Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Iowa City, Newton, Sioux City and Omaha, Nebraska. Some cities will see multiple teams and actions at several locations.

“The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “Here in Iowa, we continue to stand with our allies at Standing Rock and with Iowa farmers, landowners, Native communities and environmentalists who have fought Dakota Access every step of the way. Public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that this pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. And they need to know that we’re not done fighting.”

Bold Iowa’s BATs were formed last fall to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline at targeted locations across the state. Teams of five people mobilized repeatedly, preventing construction equipment from working up until the point where BATs were threatened with arrest. On one day in Calhoun County, BATs were able to stop construction for 7 – 8 hours.

As further evidence of the effectiveness of Bold’s BAT approach to protesting the pipeline, DAPL’s attorney, Bret Dublinske, wrote to the Iowa Utilities Board on December 19, 2016 that Dakota Access had been unable to finish work on the pipeline in 2016, “due to the 90 day regulatory delay from March 10, 2016 until June 7, 2016, as well as several incidents of trespassers interfering with construction work.”

“We know this approach worked to slow down construction of the pipeline,” continued Fallon. “Now we’ll see how well it works to disrupt business-as-usual for the politicians who backed the pipeline and the banks that financed it.”

Bold Iowa is part of the Bold Alliance, building a coalition of small-and-mighty groups in rural states to fight Big Oil, protect landowners against the abuse of eminent domain, and work for clean energy solutions while empowering a political base of voters who care about the land and water.

# # #

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DAPL Contractor Reaches Out

Dear Friends,

Recently, Heather Pearson was contacted by a former DAPL contractor, who said to her:

Heather Pearson, leading the chants at the Women’s March in Des Moines.

“I have the highest respect for what you and others are doing to protect the environment. Truth be told, I really had no idea about the concerns involving the pipeline, or knew much about it at all. Boy, was I in for a shock!

“Regarding Dakota Access, I’ve never had a position working for such a morally bankrupt entity. I struggled with it everyday. You always hear about corruption in large corporations, but when I witnessed it firsthand…WOW!

“When my contract ended, I was so relieved to be out of work. I did get to meet a lot of wonderful people over the course of my contract. I also learned a great deal about DAPL and how they do business. Like I said, I have the highest respect for you and others like you. Keep up the good work! Keep up the fight! You have support in unlikely places!”

Heather’s conversation, and the fact that the contractor reached out to her, is nothing short of amazing.

The contractor also told Heather that DAPL was so concerned about our “BATs” — the Bold Action Teams we mobilized last fall to stop construction — security formed special units to respond to the BATs. How’s that for validation that our efforts were effective!

In sharing this story, Heather writes: “Once people realize that this is just a corrupt, private corporation that wants to ship its toxic sludge to the export market via our farmland and watersheds, people tend to oppose the project. We must keep up the fight. We must continue to spread the message. We must take time to talk to people and combat the mountains of disinformation out there. We have to make our voices heard. It works!”

Heather’s story is a reminder that everything we do makes a difference. It’s also a reminder that, in the spirit of nonviolence, we must always show kindness and respect toward workers, law enforcement and security personnel.

Ed Fallon

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Day of Direct Action Against DAPL

Dear Friends,

[Check out the original post on the Bold Iowa website.]

As we claw our way through the gut-punch gauntlet of President Trump’s funhouse, it’s easy to want to just quit, give up, “crawl into solitude” as one dismayed friend told me this week.

Don’t! That’s just what Trump wants. In David Frum’s excellent article for The Atlantic, “How to Build an Autocracy,” he writes:

“Trump and his team count on one thing above all others: public indifference. . . . What happens in the next four years will depend heavily on whether Trump is right or wrong about how little Americans care about their democracy and the habits and conventions that sustain it. If they surprise him, they can restrain him.

“We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me. Don’t be afraid. This moment of danger can also be your finest hour as a citizen and an American.”

There will be lots of opportunities to fight back against the steamroller President Trump has unleashed on our land, water, climate and property rights! Start by putting February 22 on your calendar:

Day of Direct Action Against DAPL — February 22, 2017

WHAT: Bold Action Teams (BATs) will mobilize for direct action across Iowa, targeting officials and businesses that have aided and abetted construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 22 during “business” hours. Commit for the entire day or for a minimum of 3 hours.

WHERE: In or near your community, at a government office, bank or other place that has supported construction of the pipeline. We’ll have a comprehensive list of targets available shortly before February 22.

WHY: The Dakota Access pipeline isn’t finished. Politicians, public officials and businesses who’ve supported it need to hear that the pipeline is wrong for Iowa and wrong for our planet. Because when we do nothing, when we crawl into our solitude, the forces of greed and injustice win.

THE PLAN:

* Take Wednesday, February 22 off from work (yes, I know not everyone can, but if you can, it’s important).

* Sign-up for a BAT — we’ll help connect you with folks in your area.

* Meet with your BAT of 5-10 people over coffee on the 22nd to study the message, discuss the code of nonviolence and plan details for the action(s).

* Invite local press to meet your team and travel with you to the action.

* Each team will be led by an experienced leader, someone well-versed in non-violence and capable of effectively directing the action.

ACTION: BATs will occupy the targeted space and read statements, press releases, articles and other material explaining why this pipeline is wrong. One or two members of each BAT will take photos and video. BATs either stay until arrested or until security threatens to arrest them. If BATs choose not to risk arrest, they then either disperse or travel to another site for a second action.

FOLLOW-UP: We’ll have a “hotline” — a BAT-line! — for teams to send photos, video and a brief summary immediately after the action.

Let’s make this big! We need 100 BATs. Sign up here to participate, and include a message indicating your preferred role(s) (i.e., team leader, risk arrest, spokesperson, photographer, videographer, driver).

Onward, through the Trump gauntlet and beyond! – Ed

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