A Candid Assessment of Some Presidential Candidates

Dear Friends,

Remember how the Republican field shifted in the 2012 and 2016 Iowa Caucuses? The lead changed so many times that emergency rooms across Iowa saw a drastic increase in whiplash cases.

Ok, I made that last part up. But seriously, remember one-time 2012 front runner Herman Cain? I didn’t think so. How about 2016 flash-in-the-pack leader Ben Carson? Or shoe-in-for-the-nomination Scott Walker? And oh, how I miss Michele Bachmann.

The horde of Democrats running for president this year may or may not experience the same level of volatility, but we’ve already witnessed some surprises. A year ago, how many of us had even heard of …

PETE BUTTIGIEG? This spring, polls had Buttigieg running third among Iowa Caucus-goers. He’s now fourth, and downward may well be his trajectory. Buttigieg is a captivating speaker. But my guess is he was Iowa Democrats’ first flavor of the month. With so many flavors to choose from and voters hungry for change, another new and exciting prospect is likely to slip past Buttigieg. But, it won’t be …

JOE BIDEN. Name recognition has carried Biden thus far, but his descent has begun. There’s more and more chatter about the astounding inconsistencies between Biden’s past record and his rapid transition to progressive policy advocate. Case in point: Biden’s excellent climate plan, which magically morphed out of his intent to find “middle ground” on climate. How’d that happen? Simple: Biden’s advisors discovered that a milktoast climate strategy would bomb with the base. So they quickly retooled and spit out a plan that looked, well, remarkably like the progressive climate proposals of other candidates.

Few Iowans are fooled. Besides Biden’s climate-plan flip-flop, his recent boast about US oil production hangs around his neck like an endangered albatross (sad but true, Climate Change Threatens Survival of Albatross):

“The United States is soon going to be the largest producer of energy of any nation in the world by the end of the 2020s.” — Joe Biden, May 1, 2019, Des Moines, Iowa

Ouch. My prediction: 2020 will be the third time Joe Biden fails in a presidential primary. Meanwhile, on the other side of the sincerity spectrum …

BERNIE SANDERS. Sanders inspires like no other candidate. It’s not just his rhetoric. It’s his consistency over the years. Unlike Biden, Sanders means what he says. His 2016 campaign changed the debate, forcing even Hillary Clinton to pretend she was progressive. Sanders’ 2016 message has set the tone for 2020.

Yet … the Sanders campaign claims to have 24,000 volunteers. Where are they? This army of believers had better deploy soon because Sanders can’t simply do well in Iowa. He has to win Iowa. No doubt, die-hard Sanders supporters will turn out to caucus for him even in a polar-vortex-induced blizzard with a windchill of -79°F. (That is, in fact, the coldest windchill I’ve experienced in Iowa. Take note, campaign workers from milder climes.)

Sanders essentially tied Clinton in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. But he should have won. In various other states, we can blame the Democratic Establishment for stacking the deck against Sanders. But not Iowa. Here, Sanders has only himself to blame for not beating Clinton, as I recall story after story of wannabe volunteers drooling to help but unable to get even a response from Sanders’ people.

His campaign needs to figure out a way for that not to happen again. Logging 24,000 volunteers on paper is one thing. Effectively managing them in the field is a whole ‘nuther ball game.

The even bigger challenge for Sanders is that most of those who supported him in 2016 seem willing to give other candidates a serious look. Maybe it’s not too late for Sanders to bring a majority of his 2016 supporters home, but the competition is stiff, especially …

ELIZABETH WARREN. Who knew that Iowa Caucus-goers actually cared about issues? Well, yeah, we do — and Warren is proving it. She’s strong on policy with a solid track record to back it up. Despite what the Establishment would have you believe, issues matter, both in the primary and general elections.

Warren’s star continues to rise, and not just because of her strength on policy. She’s running the ground game that Sanders failed to fully mobilize in 2016 and has yet to mobilize this time around. Warren also has survived a few bumps, and that bodes well for her durability.

But this election season is still young. Plenty of candidates are poised to see their prospects improve, such as …

ANDREW YANG. No one does a better job at messaging their uniqueness than Yang. He’s built a deep following nationally, and his peeps are all over social media. Criticize their man and the Yang Gang’s cyber-hammer comes down hard. I’ve got 60+ communiques to prove it.

Political capital has a lot to do with momentum, and Yang is building it slowly and steadily. He’s poised to be the flavor of the month, though I’m not sure he can ride that wave to a top-three, or even top-five, finish in Iowa. As good as he is, there is one candidate who has Yang beat when it comes to clever and creative, and that is …

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND. Many have written off Gillibrand. That’s a mistake. If I were to vote for a candidate for president based on the desire to have someone fun in the White House, it’d be Gillibrand. The Ranch dressing thing. The dressing like a drag queen thing. Beating the ISU student in arm wrestling. What’s not to love about all that in a world leader? “My president is stronger than your president and looks great in drag.” Gillibrand would restore America’s credibility on the world stage in ways Donald Trump could never imagine.

Gillibrand is no policy schlep either. When pushed by Bold Iowa’s bird dogs to feature climate more prominently on her website, she did it — immediately! Her embrace of the urgency of the climate crisis speaks well of her policy priorities.

But when it comes to climate, one candidate has Gillibrand and all the others beat …

JAY INSLEE. Not only is Inslee laser-beam focused on climate, as Governor of Washington he’s got a solid record of action to back it up. Given that the climate crisis is Democratic voters’ top concern and that the impacts of climate change are likely to increase over the summer and fall, Inslee should see his stock rise. But he needs a ground game in Iowa. He needs to talk more about his track record on a range of issues and what he would do to address them as president.

Finally, Inslee — and all the candidates — must address the one consideration on voters’ minds even more pressing than climate. That is …

WHO CAN BEAT TRUMP? Trump will only be defeated by a candidate who can’t be pegged to the status quo. That rules out Biden. It’s remarkable to me, astounding in fact, that anyone still believes that a self-described “centrist” (read “corporate-friendly”) Democrat stands a chance against the madcap faux populism of Crazy Uncle Donald. Fretting over the criteria of electability fed to us by insider pundits who take their orders from the Establishment will give us the same result we got in 2016.

You want electability? Nominate a candidate who’s a decent person, whose rhetoric and record on key issues is strong and consistent, and who demonstrates a solid commitment to tackling the existential threat of climate change. That’s how we beat Donald Trump and assure leadership in the White House that represents the public interest, not the corporate thugs who’ve held sway over America for far too long.

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Join the BIRDS!

Dear Friends,

WANTED: Climate patriots to join BIRDS.

Yup, BIRDS. That stands for Bold Iowa Relentless Dog Squad. We’re assembling a squad of supporters to persistently “bird-dog” presidential candidates about Bold Iowa’s agenda. Voters have a right to know if candidates will:

German Wirehaired Pointer (Bold Iowan) with Ringneck Pheasant (Presidential Candidate). Ok, that’s going too far. (Photo: Steve Oehlenschlager)

— Mobilize for an all-out assault on climate change;

— Oppose the expansion of oil pipelines, fracking, and other destructive fossil-fuel projects;

— Stand with Indigenous communities to defend their sovereignty, land, and water;

— Stop the abuse of eminent domain;

— Push for non-industrial, distributed generation of renewable energy, and

— Support legislation like the Green New Deal, and Carbon Fee and Dividend. (Thanks to The Climate Mobilization, Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby for their national leadership on these initiatives.)

SIGN UP TO JOIN BIRDS TODAY!

Bernie Sanders

I’ve bird-dogged presidential candidates since 1987. It works! Back then, a coalition of Iowa peace groups convinced five of six Democratic candidates to support a nuclear test ban and oppose the dangerous Trident missile system.

More recently, we witnessed the power of bird-dogging in the 2016 presidential election. In November of 2014, Charles Goldman and I asked Bernie Sanders where he stood on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sanders hadn’t made up his mind. Over the next year, anti-DAPL Iowans bird-dogged him relentlessly. Not only did Sanders eventually come out against DAPL, he ran ads leading up to the Iowa Caucuses touting his opposition.

Trump supporters eye us as we plan a “Rosie the Riveter” action during our work with The Climate Mobilization in 2015. From left: Peter Clay, George McCloskey, Kristy Medo, Miriam Kashia, and Ed Fallon. (Not pictured: Barb Schlachter. Photo: Shari Hrdina)

Whether a candidate is a Democrat or a Republican, bird-dogging is effective. In 2015 at the State Fair, Shari Hrdina filmed my conversation with Mike Huckabee about DAPL and eminent domain. We had similar conversations with Rand Paul and Chris Christy and landed some excellent coverage.

Our most memorable bird-dogging experience in 2015 was when five of us got tossed from a Trump rally in Waterloo after challenging then-candidate Trump to promise to fight climate change.

The 2020 campaign is noteworthy because of the sheer volume of Democratic candidates running or likely to run for president. Iowans who understand the urgency of the climate crisis not only have an opportunity but an obligation to plug into the Caucuses and make our voices heard. There is probably no other forum where our bang-for-the-buck is greater.

So, tell me you’re ready to join BIRDS, and that you’re willing to work with other Bold Iowa supporters in your community to make sure every candidate for president hears from us at every stop they make. Soon, we’ll be offering trainings to get folks up to speed on bird-dog style and content.

Polls show that Bold Iowa’s agenda resonates with a clear majority of Iowans. Let’s make sure the presidential candidates know that, too.

Ed Fallon, director, Bold Iowa

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My Endorsements in Iowa’s Democratic Primary

Dear Friends,

First, it should come as no surprise that Gov. Reynolds signed SF 2235 — the bill pushed by the pipeline company. Years ago as an elected official in Clarke County, Reynolds stood with big developers against farmers and landowners who were fighting to protect their land from eminent domain for a lake. By signing SF 2235, the Governor made it clear that her loyalty is to Big Oil — not farmers, landowners and our environment.

Thus, Bold Iowa’s work moves from lobbying to education, building awareness about the Landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit. Click these two links to learn what you can do to get involved:

Stop Eminent Domain Abuse Roadshow

2018 Climate Justice Unity March

And if you’re unclear about the urgency of the climate crisis check out this article and this article about the crazy warm temperatures in the Arctic and how that’s connected to the Upper Midwest’s coldest spring ever. SERIOUSLY! If you have any doubt about how important is this moment in history, please read at least one of these articles.

(These two screen shots were taken at the same moment last week. That’s North Pole, Alaska, not THE North Pole. But you get the point.)

Climate change isn’t the only factor I consider in deciding which political candidates to support, but it’s the most important. I’m encouraged to see so many good candidates running for office and talking about climate change. On a host of issues, we’re desperate for new blood, bold ideas, and progressive leadership.

With that in mind, here are the folks I’m endorsing in the June 5 Democratic Primary Election:

Cathy Glasson

GOVERNOR: In a crowded field, Cathy Glasson stands out. She’s worked in the trenches for years, standing up for everyday folks and fighting tirelessly for the best interest of working Iowans. I’m confident we’ll see the same kind of leadership from Cathy as governor.

I’m also confident Cathy can win. Establishment Democrats want you to believe we’ve got to nominate a “moderate” backed by big money. Really? Because that worked so well with Hillary Clinton, Bruce Braley, John Kerry, Staci Appel, etc, etc. As Bernie Sanders demonstrated in 2016, voters are hungry for leadership that puts people ahead of corporate interests and the entrenched forces of political stagnation.

Cathy’s got the right stuff going on in spades. And yeah, she’s got a solid statement on climate change, too. I hope you’ll join me in supporting her and getting involved in her campaign.

Deidre DeJear

SECRETARY OF STATE: Deidre DeJear is a breath of fresh air and will make a fantastic Secretary of State. She’s got a strong background in small business ownership and knows the importance of making sure the Secretary of State’s office is a welcoming place for people hoping to make their entrepreneurial dream a reality.

On the elections side, in 2012 Deidre “developed and implemented a program to educate, motivate, and mobilize low-propensity voters, which resulted in over 5,000 new registrants and more than doubled African American turnout.” That’s from her website. And in terms of being accessible, Deidre has always responded to my calls and inquiries with enthusiasm.

Thomas Heckroth

CONGRESS (IA-1): Thomas Heckroth‘s opponent in the Democratic Primary, Abby Finkenauer, is a big supporter of the Dakota Access Pipeline, so this endorsement is easy. Heckroth’s stand on climate is solid. He writes, “Climate Change is also a threat to global security and must be a factor in United States foreign policy. Whether it is forced migration due to rising sea levels or whole cities running out of water, global security challenges will continue to crop up due to climate change.”

Thomas also writes, “As we transition away from fossil fuels, we must finally end the unnecessary and unaffordable subsidies that we provide to major fossil fuel companies. There is no reason why we should continue to incentivize coal, gas, and oil companies when we have the tools to move forward with clean, renewable sources of energy.”

Eddie Mauro

CONGRESS (IA-3): Eddie Mauro received my endorsement early this year and I’m doing everything I can to help him win the nomination. Eddie and I go way back, meeting at a homeless camp where he was providing food and supplies.

Besides his deep compassion for those in need, Eddie has one of the strongest positions on climate change of any congressional candidate in the country. He writes, “Decades of delay have allowed global warming to become a global emergency. Climate is impacting all our continents. Time is now of the absolute essence, and we have a small window to revolutionize the global economy before our basic life-support systems collapse.”

Not only is Eddie solid on climate change, but he’s got the best chance of beating David Young. We can’t risk another two years of a Republican Congress, nor two years of a do-nothing Democratic Congress. Eddie will work hard and for the right stuff.

JD Scholten

CONGRESS (IA-4): JD Scholten is vocal on issues that matter and his campaign is resonating beyond Democratic voters. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s raised more money than incumbent Congressman Steve King.

On climate change, JD writes, “The burning of fossil fuels is creating more carbon dioxide than the atmosphere can handle. This is scary stuff. I wish this was an issue we could deal with in 20 years, but it’s not. There are a number of things we need to do to combat climate change. Carbon farming is one that hasn’t been talked about enough, and Iowa is uniquely positioned to lead the way. This takes excess carbon out of the air and puts it into our soil. In each acre of land, there’s about an elephant-sized amount of organisms that use this carbon. This benefits and strengthens the soil by creating organic matter. Carbon farming is a win-win.”

Connie Ryan

IOWA SENATE (DISTRICT 21): Through her work with the Iowa Interfaith Alliance, Connie Ryan has been a leader in advancing LGBT equality, religious tolerance, and the fight against racism. Connie also helped create Justice Not Politics to protect our courts. Her advocacy hasn’t focused much on climate, but we’ve talked and she understands the urgent nature of the crisis.

Beyond that, her opponent, Claire Celsi, is difficult to work with. I offer that based on experience spanning nearly twenty years. Connie might have a learning curve on climate and environmental issues, but I’m confident that as a lawmaker she’ll be accessible and responsive.

John Mauro

POLK COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS (DISTRICT 5): John Mauro is a quiet, behind-the-scenes guy. He’s done a heck of a lot as a Supervisor to make Polk County government a leader in providing critical services to people in need. John’s opponent, Matt McCoy, is running an aggressive campaign to unseat Mauro. But my experience with Matt over the years has not been favorable. In fact, just two weeks ago, Matt promised he would offer an amendment to SF 2235 to remove the Dakota Access Pipeline from the definition of “critical infrastructure.” He drafted the amendment, then mysteriously withdrew it. I twice asked for an explanation and didn’t get a response.

That’s been my experience with Matt over the years: cordial when you run into him, but unresponsive when the rubber meets the road. I’ve heard that from others, too. With John Mauro, I know I’ll always get my phone calls returned and questions answered. That counts for a lot.

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And now, a mea culpa: In my blog last week, I referenced a story about the Standing Rock court ruling. I thought it had just happened, yet it was from last year. Ouch. Note to self: check sources more carefully, even when they appear to be reliable.

*******

This week’s Fallon Forum was hosted by Charles Goldman and Ed Fallon, with special guest David Houston of Homes 4 My Peeps. Here are the segment titles:

– When I grow up, I want to be compost
– It’s not “if,” but “when” will Trump be impeached
– What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic
– Kansas’s failed tax-cut scam catches fire in Iowa
– Latest U.S. bombing in Syria gets mixed reviews
– Pushing back against banks that finance pipelines

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Endorsements

Dear Friends,

Due to multitudinous requests for more detail about the candidates I’m endorsing . . . .

220px-Bernie_SandersPRESIDENT: BERNIE SANDERS – This is relevant if you live in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota, or if you have friends who live in those states. In other words, it’s relevant for all of you!

This race is not over. Not even close. If Sanders wins next Tuesday, the Democratic convention in Philadelphia is going to be, well . . . . HUGE! Any American who understands that a Donald Trump presidency couldn’t lead to fascism should be fighting as hard as possible for the candidate best able to defeat Trump in November. Nearly every single poll shows Sanders trumping Trump by significant margins. Hillary Clinton either wins by margins that are sometimes too close for comfort or, in some key states, actually loses to Trump.

A Trump presidency is a risk we can’t take.

I dislike polls as much as anybody. But as I learned when I ran for Congress, professional polls are remarkably accurate. Democrats supporting Clinton need to face the fact that Sanders is the strongest candidate to avert what could be the greatest threat ever to our liberty and freedom.

So, tell your friends and their friends in the states listed above to vote for Bernie Sanders on June 7. If you want to get even more involved, in a brilliant piece of campaign strategy, the Sanders campaign has launched a coordinated effort to ask supporters across the country to call voters in these states. Click here to get on the phone for Bernie.

Rob Hogg from iContactU.S. SENATE: ROB HOGG – I have good friends who are supporting Bob Krause or Tom Fiegen. I respect that. I would be content with either of them as my U.S. Senator. But Hogg has absolutely distinguished himself as one of not just Iowa’s but America’s most vocal and effective advocates for serious climate action. With Hogg in the Senate, the U.S. Congress will no longer be able to ignore the climate crisis. He feels that strongly about it, and understands it that thoroughly.

And now, to utter words that the Iowa Democratic Establishment dreads . . . . I will not vote for Patty Judge in November. I will vote for Hogg, Fiegen or Krause if any of them wins the nomination. But not for Judge, and I know there are lots of Iowans who feel the same way. The last thing the U.S. Senate needs is another pawn of corporate interests. On this account, Judge has a long and distinguished record. My interests, and I suspect your interests, will be not be those that drive Judge as a U.S. Senator. As when she was Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and Lt. Governor, it will be corporate donors who have her ear, not us.

So, not only is Hogg the best candidate to fight the climate crisis, he’s also the best candidate to beat Judge in the primary and Chuck Grassley in November. Want to learn more from the man himself? I’m hosting a house party and concert for Rob at 735 19th St in Des Moines this Sunday, June 5th from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Donations to Rob’s campaign appreciated but certainly not required. Here’s the link to the Facebook invitation.

Vernon_Monica_circle - Version 2U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 1: MONICA VERNON – The First District is the northeast quadrant of the state. Honestly, I don’t know Monica Vernon that well. I’ve met her a few times, like her well enough, and hear good things about her. But I know Pat Murphy really well, and when I think of people I enjoyed serving with at the Statehouse, Murphy is not on even on the long list. He was difficult to work with, and often opposed me and others on progressive legislation that the vast majority of voters supported.

This primary election is pretty much a repeat. Murphy won last time, only to lose in the general election in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic. He had his chance and blew it. I say it’s time to give Vernon a shot.

Desmund Adams orignal from net - Version 2U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 3: DESMUND ADAMS – The Third District includes Des Moines, Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa. I’ve been crystal clear that Desmund Adams is my guy. (Click here to see the video from my house party for him.) Adams is a fast study on issues, and as our Congressman, he’d be Iowa’s lone progressive voice in Washington. (Someone pass that along to Congressman Loebsack for me.)

The other Democratic candidates are Mike Sherzan and Jim Mowrer. I’ve only met Sherzan once and don’t have a good sense of his priorities, though I could conceivably vote for him in November.

But as with the U.S. Senate race, I’ll make it perfectly clear that, should Jim Mowrer win the Democratic primary, I will not vote for him in the fall. The last thing Washington needs is another foreign policy hawk whose main claim to political viability is a tenacious ability to rake in money from special interests.

Besides, in terms of winning the general election, Adams presents the greatest contrast with Rep. David Young — and contrast is never a bad thing in a swing district such as the Third.

Rep. , Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

IOWA HOUSE DISTRICT 29: DAN KELLEY – Dan Kelley has done an excellent job over the last six years representing Jasper County at the Statehouse, where he’s admired for his sincerity, integrity and hard work. He’s been Iowa’s most vocal opponent of the Bakken Pipeline — which is, I suspect, one reason he has a primary opponent from . . . you guessed it: The Democratic Establishment.

More than anything, Dan needs boots on the ground, so to speak. Come join me in Newton on Saturday, June 4 at 10:00 a.m. to knock on doors for Dan so we can send him back to the State Capitol where he has done so much good for his constituents and for all of Iowa. Click here for detail on Saturday’s door knocking event.

EddieMauro - Version 2IOWA HOUSE DISTRICT 41: EDDIE MAURO – I first met Eddie Mauro when I was helping deliver meals to the homeless along the Des Moines River one day. No, Mauro wasn’t homeless. He was delivering meals, too. That impressed me, and suggested that he has the heart and sense of compassion needed of a true public servant. So, if you live in Sherman Hill, southwest Des Moines or west-central Des Moines, please consider giving Mauro your vote.

 

 

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Check out podcasts from this week’s Fallon Forum:

1. Trump Watch
2. Pipeline Grinds to a Halt
3. Allergies Worsen in New Climate Era
4. Veggie Thumper
5. Soylent Beef

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines, IA)
– Outside of central Iowa, listen live here: FALLON FORUM LIVE-STREAM
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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Dems’ caucus review panel a joke

Dear Friends,

Last fall, Dr. Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP), approached me to discuss how to build a bridge to progressives and other disaffected voters who’d left the IDP. A few weeks later we met over lunch at Hoq Restaurant, where Dr. McGuire offered to convene a statewide meeting to hear the concerns of these voters. We stayed in touch and agreed to move forward with the idea after the Caucuses.

On February 1st, the Iowa Caucuses saw a virtual tie between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, followed by a slew of complaints about cramped venues, long lines and other glitches. That led to a clamor across Iowa and beyond to examine what went wrong and institute reforms. The IDP announced a task force. I told Dr. McGuire on two occasions I was willing to serve on it, and received encouraging responses that she would get back to me.

Well, she didn’t get back to me. A caucus review panel was indeed established, and its membership announced last Saturday.

Disaffected voters are nowhere in the mix. Of the committee’s 25 members, nearly every appointee is an IDP insider.

And the goal of the committee? As quoted in the Des Moines Register (April 2): “{P}arty officials — including those now serving on the committee — have all but ruled out major changes to the Democratic caucus process.”

That’s code for, “We’ll pretend to care, but let’s stack this committee to make sure nothing of substance gets done. And let’s minimize exposure by sending-out the press release on Friday — the slowest news day of the week.”

Like the Democratic National Committee and, presumably, state Democratic parties around the country, the IDP doesn’t get it. If Dr. McGuire was sincere about wanting to rebuild the Party and stem the hemorrhage of voters from its rolls, setting-up a rubber-stamp committee of insiders only digs the Party’s hole even deeper.

How deep is that hole?

– In Iowa in 2009, there were 111,000 more D’s than R’s.
– There are now 28,855 fewer D’s than R’s.
– “No Party” voters have solidified their spot as the largest voting block.
– Five of Iowa’s six congressional representatives are Republican.
– The Iowa House is solidly Republican.
– The Democratic majority in the Iowa Senate is razor thin.
– Four of six statewide elected offices are held by Republicans.
– Even my chickens have switched their affiliation to “No Party.”

If Party officials think they can woo back disgruntled former Dems with platitudes and rhetoric, they should think again. Want examples of what’s actually working?

Bernie Sanders. Look at the enthusiasm and political revolution his candidacy has sparked! Though it makes the corporate element of the Democratic Party quake in its gucci boots, THIS — not your phony caucus review panel — is the future of politics in Iowa and America.

– Speak-truth-to-power grassroots organizations like Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. These folks have a solid string of victories for the people Democrats say they represent, but too often don’t.

– New grassroots efforts like the Bold Alliance, which is building rural-urban coalitions to oppose Big Oil and the abuse of eminent domain while working for clean energy solutions.

On June 7th, I’ll vote in the Democratic Primary for Rob Hogg for U.S. Senate and Desmund Adams for Congress. On June 8th, I’ll switch my voter registration back to “No Party” . . . unless Party officials demonstrate that they’re prepared to change their ways.

I’m not holding my breath.

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

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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

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Copters for Kids

Dear Friends,

{Check out and “like” my Facebook Page for pics, videos and impressions of the presidential candidates . . . and for updates on my exploits with chickens and organic gardening.}

“Hey kids! Forget the pony rides. This year, Crazy Uncle Donald’s taking you for a spin in his monster-copter.”

And thus, Iowa’s premiere annual showcase of cultural, culinary and agricultural glory morphs from State Fair to Trump Fare. Hopefully, 2015 will be an anomaly, with future fair-goers spared the pomp, press and privilege of a Donald Trump visit.

Trump and Chopper

Trump and Chopper

Or, for that matter, a Hillary Clinton visit. Like Trump, Clinton refused to appear on the Presidential Soapbox. And unlike the other candidates, instead of entering the fairgrounds through a public gate, Clinton slipped in to an exclusive corner of the grounds, where the fair’s big-money donors park their RVs for the week. Welcoming Clinton to the fair was a hand-picked entourage including three of Iowa’s Democratic kingmakers: Tom Harkin, Jerry Crawford and Bill Knapp.

(Warning: incoming vent. “Democratic kingmakers” . . . unless the Democrat is too progressive, too critical of big business. In 2010, Crawford had no qualms backing Republican Bill Northey over Democrat Francis Thicke for Secretary of Ag. Similarly, Knapp had no qualms backing Terry Branstad over Jack Hatch for Governor last year. Really, the two aren’t so much Democratic kingmakers as they are Status-quo King-and-Queen makers.)

In terms of pandering to the national media circus, the Trump and Clinton campaigns can declare their Iowa State Fair visits a success. In terms of providing access to the voting public, both candidates failed miserably — by design.

Fortunately, most presidential candidates seem willing, if not eager, to submit themselves to the exposure and risk provided by the Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox. Shari Hrdina and I listened to and/or spoke with six of the candidates. Here are my impressions.

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