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On this week’s Fallon Forum, Charles Goldman and Jeffrey Weiss join us to discuss:
(01:35) Is Trump merely posturing regarding Iran, or is the threat of war a serious concern?
(16:18) Forget nuclear power and go geothermal — a truly 100% renewable resource of energy;
(29:24) Climate-driven storms damaged the full-size replica of Noah’s Ark at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, proving that God does have a sense of humor;
(51:20) Private research on gun violence reveals interesting findings, plugging the gap left by the ban on federal agencies conducting such research.

All previous episodes are available here.

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Tell me to shut up

Dear Friends,

If you’re among the handful of people who tell me I’m spending too much time talking about climate, let me respond bluntly: You’re wrong. If anything, I’m not spending enough time talking about it. At this pivotal moment in human and planetary history, if the current trajectory of increased fossil fuel consumption continues, Earth will be unfit for human habitation.

Photo by BBQ Guys

If your home was on fire, that’d be the only thing on your mind, right? Well, our world is on fire. As the climate crisis accelerates, I’m truly dumbfounded that it’s not the lead story in the news every single day; shocked that it’s not the top item on every politician’s list of priorities; dismayed that every single one of us doesn’t wake up saying, “Shit! What are we going to do? What am I going to do?”

It’s encouraging that more and more people are arriving at that “Holy shit!” moment. Yet the risk is that it will paralyze instead of mobilize, that instead of grabbing the firehose and exerting all our effort to extinguish the flames, we’ll stand there, frozen in fear, doing nothing.

And doing nothing is morally and functionally unacceptable. It negates part of what it means to be human — that quality of empathy without which the wars and witch hunts that pockmark the darker side of human history would have long ago snuffed out our species.

Methane and CO2 released from the thawing permafrost will further accelerate the rate of global warming. Valdemaras D., Via Pexels

Yet it’s also not possible to feel some level of fear and despair. I understand completely. As Dahr Jamail writes in a Truthout column this week about the increasingly rapid thawing of the Arctic, “I’ve aimed to be fully present, and I’ve had my heart broken, and I’ve now had enough practice at this that I have seen, repeatedly, the transformational qualities of despair and grief. In the face of our overwhelming climate and political crises, that grief is transformed into a new clarity of vision, and a depth of passion for action that was previously inaccessible.”

Please read Jamail’s piece. It’s both sad and powerful. Most important, it’s true. Hopefully, it will inspire you to engage, to take action, to do your part now before the opportunity to act has passed. If you’re inspired to work with me and my colleagues at Bold Iowa to bird-dog presidential candidates to prioritize the climate crisis, we enthusiastically welcome your involvement. Our workload is heavy, and more hands are needed.

If you’d like to support Bold Iowa’s work financially, one way to do that is to buy my book, Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim. Others have found it inspiring, and maybe you will too. All proceeds from the book support climate action.

As my good friend and fellow climate marcher, Miriam Kashia, reminds me, “Action is the antidote to despair.” And action — both changing our individual lives and pushing relentlessly for collective transformation — is what may yet see us through the difficult times that lie ahead and are, in fact, already upon us.

Ed Fallon

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Apology is O’Rourke’s path out of climate contradiction

Dear Friends,

Six Bold Climate Bird Dogs arrived at Beto O’Rourke’s CNN town hall last week with great expectations. O’Rourke had just released a climate plan that generated much excitement. He talked about climate during his recent Iowa tour and the plan is featured prominently on his website.

Beto O’Rourke speaking at his Climate Change Roundtable in Des Moines on May 6, 2019. Photo by Shari Hrdina

Forty-five minutes into the CNN town hall, Terrance Pendleton asked O’Rourke a general question about climate. That was followed by Patrick Bourgeacq’s more specific inquiry into O’Rourke’s past donations from fossil-fuel interests and his pro-oil-industry votes while in Congress.

O’Rourke responded adequately, then something unexpected happened. Moderator Dana Bash picked up where Bourgeacq left off. She pushed O’Rourke about his controversial 2015 vote to support lifting the ban on crude oil exports.

[Historical perspective: On October 9, 2015, the US House voted to lift the 40-year ban on crude oil exports during the heat of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). That wasn’t a coincidence. DAPL was never about US oil independence. It was about selling fracked oil to the highest bidder. DAPL officials assured us that the oil running through Iowa was for domestic consumption. Lifting the ban on crude oil exports exposed the company’s lie. O’Rourke voted for the bill and it was signed into law by President Obama — a bipartisan betrayal of the greater public good.]

O’Rourke’s response to Dana Bash is worth viewing. As I watched the exchange live, I was wishing O’Rourke and I could talk casually over a pint of Guinness, something along these lines (O’Rourke’s quotes taken directly from his responses at the forum):

Me: “You honestly think voting to let a few rich guys sell US oil overseas makes sense?”

Beto: “Yes, I’m happy with that vote.”

Me: “Ouch. It’s just hard to see how someone who understands the urgency of the climate crisis, someone who just released a progressive, far-reaching plan to fight it, doesn’t regret a vote that clearly takes us in the wrong direction, takes us, in fact, one step closer to extinction.”

Beto“Look, I drove here tonight in a Dodge Grand Caravan that is burning gasoline.”

Me: “Please, Beto. You’re better than that. I’m so over climate deniers and other detractors calling me a hypocrite because I arrive at a pipeline protest in rural Iowa by car. Sorry, the bus and train aren’t running today.”

Beto“I want to make sure that we’re independent of the need to obtain those fossil fuels from the Middle East or Venezuela.”

Me: “Whoa. Stop right there, Beto. The legislation you supported had nothing to do with making America independent of foreign oil. It was simply about letting rich oil tycoons get even richer at the expense of our land, water, property rights, and climate. Come on, you know that!”

Beto“I’d rather those jobs and that exploration take place here in this country to satisfy our energy needs and the energy needs around the world.”

Me: “So, you’re admitting you’re ok with our land being exploited to satisfy the rest of the world’s thirst for oil? Look, if that’s your perspective on climate, it puts you on the same page as Joe Biden. Sorry, that’s not the kind of Democrat I’m interested in supporting.”

Beto“I’d love to toughen EPA standards to make sure we’re doing this in the most environmentally sound way.”

Me: “No, no, no! There’s no environmentally sound way to exploit, transport, refine, and burn oil. Dang, Beto, look at your plan! It’s spot on. Yet defending your 2015 vote on the export ban says to Iowans that you don’t really get it.

“Here’s my advice: Admit that your vote was wrong. Apologize to the Iowa farmers, landowners, and Native communities directly impacted by the pipeline. Apologize to Earth for driving another nail into an unsustainable climate future. Then perhaps, after a thorough and sincere mea culpa, Iowans will take your climate plan seriously.

“Otherwise, Beto, people see your jumping on the climate bandwagon as pure political posturing. I wanna believe it isn’t. I wanna believe you mean every word of it, and that one of the first things you’ll do to steer America on the road to a fossil-fuel-free future is to shut down DAPL and all the pipelines causing so much immediate harm and doing so much long-term damage.

“Yup,” I’d say as I chug the final swig of my Guinness. “The only way out of your dilemma is through contrition. But it has to be sincere, because one thing Iowans are skilled at is seeing through a phony. I, for one, wanna believe you’re the real deal and that you’ll deliver on your climate plan. Prove me right and the next pint is on me. And you might even get my vote.”

— Ed Fallon

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King implies Clintons should be executed

Dear Friends,

I’m not prone to cliches, but I can’t get this one off my mind: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Witness hapless US Congressman Steve King (R-Eighteenth Century), who despite public chastisement by fellow House members for his comments in support of white supremacy, was again unable to conceal his propensity to think outside the sanity box.

Last week, King posted a meme on social media showing Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who during the early years of the Cold War were executed for treason. The meme also features Bill and Hillary Clinton, noting that they are “still running free,” accompanied by “#LockHerUp.”

And why does King believe the Clintons should be locked up? He apparently buys the meme’s reference to a conspiracy theory claiming the Clintons sold uranium to the Russians, long-since debunked. How debunked? Even Fox News host Shepard Smith rejects the accusation.

The meme’s clear implication is that the Clintons deserve the same fate as the Rosenbergs — execution. In an age where the radical fringe feels emboldened to act violently against leaders and entire classes of people it disdains, King’s meme is not only politically irresponsible, it’s morally objectionable — and deeply so.

King knows he’s about to experience the election fight of his life, with three Republicans set to challenge him in the June 2020 primary. Most politicians, when threatened with electoral extinction, dive for that nebulous realm of messaging vagueness called “the center.”

Not King. He doubles down on crazy talk, like fantasizing about killing liberals in a new civil war. Like insisting that an all-white society would be superior to others. Year after year, quip after quip, the crazy talk goes on and on.

Yup. If nothing else, one has to admire King for his consistency, honesty, and chutzpah. We’ll see how those traits serve him in his upcoming election battle.

Ed Fallon

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Bill Clinton’s biggest “accomplishment”

Dear Friends,

Do you realize how embarrassingly rare it is for a progressive voice to be heard on the so-called “public” airwaves? Unless I’ve missed something (and I hope I have), the Fallon Forum is the only progressive political talk show on commercial radio anywhere in Iowa.

That’s not only sad and wrong, it’s dangerous. Our airwaves have been sold-off to a shrinking handful of corporate giants. As a result, traditional radio listeners are inundated 24-7 with a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and their ilk.

Vice President Al Gore looks on as President Clinton signs the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

It’s no wonder so many Americans have been brainwashed into buying the lie that climate change is a hoax. So yeah, this sell-off of what used to be OUR airwaves is downright dangerous.

Lest people forget, it was President Bill Clinton who signed the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996, the bill that made possible this travesty of fairness. Clinton delivered many other plums to Corporate America during his presidency, including NAFTA, welfare reform, and the repeal of Glass Steagall. But the Telecommunications Act was perhaps the most far-reaching in its damage. (Note of historic interest: Joe Biden voted for all four of these bills while Bernie Sanders voted “no.”)

Which brings me to two important conclusions:

1. Support progressive talk radio. Yeah, the Fallon Forum for sure. But across the country, there are other talking heads pioneering alternatives to the Limbaugh-Hannity-Beck model of divide, lie, and further divide. There are excellent community-owned stations, too, including KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames), KICI 105.3 FM (Iowa City), and the 300+ stations affiliated with the Pacifica Network. Support us!

2. DON’T NOMINATE ANOTHER CORPORATE DEMOCRAT FOR PRESIDENT!! Ignore the “we must nominate a moderate” blather. As the late Paul Wellstone used to say, the division in America is not between left and right, it’s between top and bottom. I’m encouraged that many Democrats running for president this year understand the distinction and have track records that suggest they’ll deliver on it.

One final word about the unraveling of the public airwaves. As Michael Corcoran wrote in this Truthout story marking the 20th anniversary of the passage of The Telecommunications Act, “In 1995, before the Telecommunications Act was passed, companies were not allowed to own more than 40 radio stations. ‘Since passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, Clear Channel [now called iHeartMedia] has grown from 40 stations to 1,240 stations – 30 times more than congressional regulation previously allowed,’ according to a report from the Future of Music Coalition.”

Domination of the economy and our lives by an oligarchy of unaccountable corporate or government interests is a blow to liberty. Nowhere is that domination more evident than in radio. Yet like water, the human spirit constantly seeks out cracks in the oligarchy’s armor — cracks through which to carve a path toward innovation, and through innovation, a path toward freedom.

Let’s do all we can to help bring that reality to fruition.

Ed Fallon

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Presidential candidate climate flow chart

Dear Friends, Bird Dogs, Penguins, and assorted Climate Patriots,

The last couple weeks have seen a whirlwind of activity. There are now 236 Iowans signed up to bird-dog presidential candidates. Caucus goers probing candidates on climate change have literally been everywhere!

Doug Fuller with Marianne Williamson at Enchanted Mystical Boutique

Charles Goldman and I discuss some of these interactions on this week’s Fallon Forum. Check out our conversations about Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke. Also, we dig into how bailouts have been, well, nothing more than badly-targeted socialism. And Charles, donning his pretty green medical scrubs, queries, “Is Obamacare now officially on life support?”

Sid Barfoot questions Eric Swalwell in a one-on-one situation.

Back to the presidential campaign and the relentless efforts of bird dogs, penguins, and assorted climate patriots. Our work is absolutely helping to elevate the conversation about climate change nationally — even making the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

With the knowledge that saving the world doesn’t have to be gloom and doom, Randall Damon came up with this entertaining and instructive flow chart for how to determine if a presidential candidate is truly up to the task of being the climate leader humanity needs. Feel free to share, with attribution.

Thanks again for caring about our world, our future, and what’s left of the public airwaves. — Ed

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Bold Climate Penguins grill Andrew Yang

Dear Friends,

We kick-off this week’s Fallon Forum with Dara Jefferson and Oliviah Walker of the Meskwakie Tribe, discussing the upcoming National Day of Awareness rally for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It’s at the Iowa State Capitol, Sunday, May 5 at 1:00. Come stand with our Native allies who are fighting to let people know of this tragedy — and let’s do something about it!

On this week’s Forum, I also talk with Sam Kuhn and Matthew Peirce — two young activists who have been instrumental in the success of Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign. Sam and Matthew share a bit about their backgrounds, what brought them to Iowa, and how they’ve been able to make a difference for Planet Earth through asking questions at presidential candidate events.

Bold Climate Penguins with Andrew Yang: Sheila Knoploh-Odole, Kathy Byrnes, Matthew Peirce, Sid Barfoot, Lysa Fisk and Sam Kuhn.

Well, Sam and Matthew’s work goes beyond simply asking questions. On two occasions, Sam and others have pushed the envelope by displaying “Climate is a Crisis” signs at events where they weren’t allowed. Just this week, Sam, Matthew and nine others launched the Bold Iowa Climate Penguin brigade at an Andrew Yang rally.

Yup. Penguins. Like most of the presidential candidates, Andrew Yang seems to get the urgency of the climate crisis, yet fails to prioritize it. Yang claims that poor people don’t care about climate change, and that their attitude is “the penguins can wait in line.”

So, dressed as penguins, six Bold Iowa members sat in the front row at Yang’s Des Moines rally on Sunday. One penguin — Sid Barfoot — asked Yang if he would prioritize climate change, saying, “Full disclosure, I’m not a penguin. I’m a person with financial struggles dressed as a penguin. Those of us at the bottom, we’re the least responsible for carbon emissions — yet we’re the most vulnerable to the consequences of a changing climate.

Video of Penguins talking with Andrew Yang

“Sure, we penguins would love an extra $1,000 per month. But we just found out that the second largest penguin colony in the Antarctic collapsed due to ice melt. Meanwhile, 150,000 people were displaced last year by the deadliest wildfire ever in California, and just this year, thousands were displaced by the unprecedented flooding in the Midwest.

“Neither people nor penguins have time to wait in line while our next president spends political capital on anything like universal basic income. Our question is, will you adjust your campaign’s focus and make averting climate catastrophe your number-one priority, so that both people and penguins win?”

Besides the penguins, others participating in the action were Todd Steichen and Osric Jamerson holding the sign. Not pictured were Pascha Morgan, Beth Chrzastek and Ed Fallon.

The penguins were supported by other Bold Iowa members throughout the audience, two holding a large banner reading “LET THE PENGUINS SPEAK!” Yang’s answer was, well, less than satisfactory. Bottom line is this: If the next president is serious about reducing US carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 (the target given to us by scientists, not politicians), some version of a Green New Deal will have to be their highest priority.

Also, this action resulted in the mainstream media reporting on climate change, in the Des Moines RegisterWHO TV Channel 13, and a brief mention in Politico.

Also on this week’s program, I talk about the Extinction Rebellion (ER) and the incredible ten days of action that shut down big chunks of London and compelled the political establishment to meet with the movement’s leaders. As ER talks about launching a similar campaign in the US, it’ll be interesting to see how authorities here respond.

Ed

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Do Gillibrand’s arm-wrestling and drag-queen moments help or hurt her?

Dear Friends,

[Check out the press release about Thursday’s Climate Bird Dog Workshop, below and at this link.]

Climate Bird Dogs video Kirsten Gillibrand talking about climate.

On this week’s Forum, Charles Goldman and I reflect on the Republican Party, which spends so much time pledging faux fealty to a strict constructionist interpretation of the US Constitution, yet has no problem with President Trump’s latest attempt to override states’ rights. Yes, by executive order, President Trump hopes to put the kibosh on states that refuse to allow pipelines to cross their borders. It’s too early to tell, but the courts may, again, put the brakes on Trump’s latest attempt to weaken democracy while rewarding fossil fuel giants.

Charles and I also talk about the ironic spectacle of Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase), Ray Dalio (hedge fund Bridgewater Associates), and other billionaires who have publicly questioned whether capitalism is in crisis due to rising income inequality. Maybe a charitable non-profit can form out of this new-found empathy: Billionaires for the Poor. Any billionaires who follow the Fallon Forum are invited to launch the effort.

Relevant to income inequality, Charles and I also take a look at the various Democratic suggestions for making the ultra-rich pay a greater share of their assets to care for the commons. Most of these ideas, including those from presidential candidate US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), revolve around some form of a “wealth tax” — certainly a non-starter in the Republican-controlled US Senate, but red meat (or juicy slabs of tofu, take your pick) to Democratic caucus goers and primary voters.

Finally … Will US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) become the second presidential candidate to prioritize the climate crisis, after Washington Governor Jay Inslee? She seems to be hedging that direction. But will arm wrestling an ISU college student, swapping clothes with a Des Moines drag queen, and other spontaneous outbursts of genuineness elevate her profile or tank her candidacy?

Thanks, and here’s the press release about Thursday’s big climate event:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 23, 9:00 a.m.
Contact: Ed Fallon at (515) 238-6404 or ed@fallonforum.com
Contact: Samantha Kuhn at (847) 682-2924 or sam@boldiowa.com
(Visit www.boldiowa.com/climate-bird-dogs)

Over 200 sign up for Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign
Since January, Bold Iowa supporters have grilled candidates on climate

DES MOINES, IOWA — On Thursday, April 25 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Mickle Center, 1620 Pleasant Street in Des Moines, Bold Iowa will host a Climate Bird Dog Workshop. Participants will hear from Iowans on the front lines of the climate crisis and from Climate Bird Dogs about their experience interacting with presidential candidates (details here). The bulk of the workshop will involve a series of role plays, demonstrating how bird-dogging progresses from a simple Q&A exchange to edgier, more creative tactics — and possibly into civil disobedience.

“Since January, our supporters have attended dozens of events across the state,” said Bold Iowa director, Ed Fallon. “We’ve asked presidential candidates to make the climate crisis their top priority. So far only one, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, has done that, although US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) might be getting close. This week’s workshop will fire-up even more caucus goers to take aggressive action. We hope to convince every presidential candidate — Democrat and Republican — to make climate change their top priority.”

One of the front-line presenters to kick-off the workshop is John Davis, a long-time climate activist who lost his Hamburg home to this spring’s historic flood. “This unprecedented flood in southwest Iowa was caused by humanity,” said Davis. “As we continue to pour carbon into the air — causing an ever-increasing rise in temperature, particularly in the Arctic — more of these catastrophic weather events are certain.”

Donnielle Wanatee of the Meskawaki Nation will also address attendees. Wanatee was one of the first Iowans to speak out against the Dakota Access Pipeline. She participated in the Climate Justice Unity March in 2017 and the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March in 2018, which crossed the route of DALP through Story, Boone and Webster counties.

Bold Iowa’s mission is to build rural-urban coalitions to (1) fight climate change, (2) prevent the abuse of eminent domain, (3) protect Iowa’s soil, air, and water, and (4) promote non-industrial renewable energy. Workshop facilitators include Bold Iowa’s director, Ed Fallon, who brings thirty-two years of bird-dog experience to the conversation, and Samantha Kuhn, a Climate Bird Dog team leader.

# # #

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Britain’s Anti-Extinction Invasion

Dear Friends,

[Check out Ed on Lee Camp’s show Redacted Tonight.]

At the tail end of a presidential candidate event recently, I ran into an old friend, a woman I’ve known since we were in college together in the 1980s. I told her I was encouraged by the candidate’s strong stance on climate, but concerned that it wasn’t their top priority.

My friend responded, “Climate’s not my issue. It’s maybe ninth or tenth on my list. I don’t have kids and won’t even be alive in another ten years or so.”

I was shocked. How could an intelligent, progressive woman who is genuinely concerned about human welfare be so dismissive of future generations? The exchange reminded me that our challenge is not simply to get politicians and the media to wake up to the existential threat of climate change. Our challenge is also to wake up our friends, families and neighbors.

A recent Extinction Rebellion protest in Oxford Circus targeted fashion’s toll on the environment. Photograph: Brais G Rouco/Brais g. Rouco

While Bold Iowa’s Climate Bird Dog campaign continues to produce solid results, it’s clearly time for a new level of agitation. The question I always ask when debating the merits of an edgy action is, “Will it bring new people into the cause or drive folks away?” In the past, I’ve tended to come down on the side of not wanting to alienate potential allies.

Channing Dutton

As Britain’s Extinction Rebellion ramps up its colorful campaign of creative nonviolence, moving from the streets of London to cities across the US, that’s the conversation attorney Channing Dutton and I kick around on this week’s Fallon Forum. Are shutting down roads and bridges, disrobing in front of politicians, blockading media conglomerates the kind of actions the climate movement needs? Does posing that question even matter any more? Is it time for an all-out assault on climate apathy?

Sheila Knoploh-Odole

Later in the program, Sheila Knoploh-Odole joins me to discuss pushing city governments to address climate change, since state legislatures and the US Congress are mostly doing nothing, or in some cases digging the climate cavern even deeper. For those in Des Moines, on April 22 at 4:30, come to the Des Moines City Council’s meeting where the Energy and Water Use Benchmarking Ordinance will be discussed.

Climate March reunion with Glenn Gilbert, Ed Fallon, Clifford Peterson, Lisa Peterson. One of Ed’s book readings visited Goshen, Indiana where the March came through five years earlier. Photo by Kathy Byrnes.

Also on the program, I talk about the recent book tour that took Kathy and me to five states for eleven presentations. We hated to burn so much carbon to fight climate change, but at least we were getting 50 MPH in Kathy’s Prius. It’s hard to measure the success of such a tour, but the following message I received from a young man in Pittsburgh was enough to declare the trek a success:

“I picked up a copy of Marcher, Walker, Pilgrim at your talk in Pittsburgh a little over a week ago, and I devoured it, and I’m totally floored. It’s wonderful that you wrote it, because it could inspire countless people to go many steps further than they currently do in the fight against climate change, and help them understand what that fight could look like. Also, fantastic writing. It’s filled with with deeply poetic and pointed passages. … Reading your book has inspired me to write about climate change and take larger strides in the fight against it.”

Onward! — Ed Fallon

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Farewell, LaVerne Johnson

Dear Friends,

Sadly, those of us fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) lost one of our strongest allies this week. LaVerne Johnson died suddenly and unexpectedly on Sunday. My heart goes out to his wife, family, and closest friends — though he will be missed by more people than he would have imagined.

LaVerne Johnson standing by his gate, showing me the intake that pipeline workers placed on the wrong side of his fence.

I first met Vern four years ago this month, when I walked the proposed Iowa route of DAPL.

Recalling my first conversation with Vern always brings back a smile. In the most calm, polite, Iowa-nice tone imaginable, Vern told me how delicately he had eviscerated the lies and empty rhetoric of the land agents sent to convince him of the virtues of running an oil pipeline through his farm.

Later, in response to pipeline workers tearing through his tile and then placing an intake on the wrong side of his fence, he took out a full-page ad to let the world know the kind of people he had to deal with. I believe the title of the ad was “You Can’t Fix Stupid.”

Vern and Ed in front of the DAPL valve placed on Vern’s land over his strong objections.

Some landowners opposed DAPL in the beginning, then buckled under pressure. Hard to blame them, given the relentless badgering and how quickly Iowa’s political “leadership” acquiesced to the company’s demands once they were bought-off with a campaign contribution or two.

But not Vern. Vern fought to the end the “sons of bitches,” as he called them in his ever-so polite, Iowa-nice manner. In fact, he’s still fighting. Vern is one of nine landowners on the lawsuit before the Iowa Supreme Court — a lawsuit that has cost Vern and other plaintiffs so much in terms of time, money, and stress. Hopefully, when it finally issues its ruling, the Court will understand the grave injustice of allowing eminent domain to be used for a distinctly private and destructive purpose.

As harsh as Vern could be with those who did him wrong, he was an impeccable gentleman with everyone who acted with respect and integrity toward him. The second or third time I visited with Vern, he told me we really needed a more lengthy, unrushed conversation, one that involved a mint julep. I told him I’d provide the mint if he could come up with the “julep.” I’m sorry we never got to follow through on that possibility.

Well, Vern, if and when I see you in that Great Swath of Cropland in the Sky, I’ll bring along some mint, if I can sneak it past St. Peter. And being a man of your word, I’m sure you’ll have the rest of the ingredients ready to go. It’ll be a good conversation, and one that we won’t have to hurry through.

Thanks again, Vern, for all you’ve done. We will never forget your commitment to fighting what will, in the annals of history, surely go down as a great evil foisted upon Iowa’s people, land, and water.

— Ed Fallon

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