Politics: Steyer sinks as Iowa women rise

Dear Friends,

I caught the tail end of Tom Steyer’s bait-and-switch press conference yesterday. With great flair and grandiosity, Steyer announced he wasn’t running for President. Instead, he’ll invest his time and money pounding the impeachment drum.

Tom Steyer

I’m ambivalent about whether Steyer runs for president. But if Steyer could have picked a more poorly conceived cause than impeachment, I’m not sure what it would have been (maybe opposing continental drift?). If Democrats in the US House want to impeach President Trump, fine. But there’s not much any of us can do to impact what is largely a procedural undertaking.

Do I believe Donald Trump deserves impeachment? Absolutely! That and more. I occasionally find myself uttering the phrase “lock him up,” relishing the delicious irony of that prospect. But remember, if Trump is removed from office, the Democratic nominee for president will likely face Mike Pence — a far more formidable opponent who is brighter than Trump yet likely to advance the same regressive, pro-corporate agenda.

Despite all its flaws, our democracy has survived two years of Donald Trump. We can probably hang on for another two years. If Democrats are smart enough not to nominate another status-quo candidate, Trump could soon be refining his golf game at Mar-a-Lago instead of creating constant chaos in the West Wing.

What’s saddest about Steyer’s shift is that he’d carved out such an important niche for himself. People knew him as “the rich guy who cares about climate change.” Why would he abandon his cutting-edge work on climate for any other priority, especially one as short-sighted as impeachment? Hopefully, Steyer will spend a couple hundred thousand of his vast fortune to hire consultants to give him better advice — or he can save his money and take my advice for free.

Cindy Axne

In other news, congratulations to Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer — Iowa’s newest members of Congress, and the first two women ever elected to the US House from Iowa. Both unseated Republican incumbents in competitive contests, helping assure the Democratic takeover of the US House and setting up a roadblock to some of the worst proposals coming out of the Trump administration.

Abby Finkenauer

Now the real work begins — not just for Axne and Finkenauer, but for us at the grassroots. If the favorable rhetoric we heard from Finkenauer and Axne on climate change during the campaign is to be matched by action, they need to join the 45 other House Democrats who have signed on to the Green New Deal. This proposal, championed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a broad, growing coalition, is the most far-reaching and comprehensive solution yet. As the urgency of climate change grows, we’re beyond the days when small steps and half-measures made sense. America needs an all-hands-on-deck strategy that fully mobilizes the power of government, business, and the grassroots to tackle the existential crisis of our times.

Randy Feenstra

Across the state, supporters of Bold Iowa are talking with the three Democratic members of Iowa’s congressional delegation about the Green New Deal. I’d previously suggested we not waste our time lobbying Steve King. But now that King has a Republican primary opponent — State Senator Randy Feenstra — Iowans living in the Fourth District should approach both candidates about the Green New Deal.

I’ve had great feedback from some of my readers on conversations they’ve had with our congressional delegation. One thing is clear: We have a lot of work to do. None are yet on board. Let’s change that. — Ed Fallon

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A snowless hike in December

Dear Friends,

Lettuce, spinach and arugula sprout in our cold frame in January 2019.

If you work the land, it’s impossible not to notice that our climate is changing dramatically. Here’s a photo taken today (January 3) of the cold frame Kathy and I planted in mid-October. Normally, the seeds sprout a little bit, then the young plants hunker down until early March. The way they’re growing this year, we’ll be eating fresh greens later this month.

That’s wonderful on one level — and deeply disturbing on another.

Farming is one way I connect with the land. Another is walking. Sundays are often my long-trek day, and I’ve found that regular 10-20 mile hikes do wonders for my mental and physical well-being.

Preparing to skip a stone across an ice-free Raccoon River, December 23, 2018.

It’s hard not to love a December rich with snow- and ice-free walking conditions. Hiking through Brown’s Woods on December 23, I was struck by the complete lack of ice on the Raccoon River and the occasional clumps of greenery not normally seen in the dead of winter.

In 2018, humanity witnessed the wrath of Earth’s changing climate through unprecedented storms, fires and droughts. The photos in this blog show the kinder, gentler face of the New Climate Era.

Enjoy — but don’t be lulled into complacency. Over the next decade, all of us will have to work with extraordinary vigor and diligence if we are to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Wild greenery in December 2018.

One of two resolutions I bring with me into the New Year is to mobilize for climate action as if our lives depend on it — because they do!

A great place to start is the Green New Deal. Iowa’s Democratic members of Congress need to sign on to it NOW! Ask Congressman Dave Loebsack, Congresswoman Cindy Axne, and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer to join the 45 other House Democrats who agree we need a full-scale economic mobilization to fight climate change IMMEDIATELY. (At the national level, thanks to the Sunrise Movement and The Climate Mobilization for their leadership on Green New Deal.)

Ed’s shadow and walking stick lead him along a snow-free trail in Brown’s Woods on December 23, 2018.

Thank you for reading, and try to avoid sunburn the first half of January. Temps for the next nine days are forecast to range from 40° to 54°. For perspective, the average high temperature for Des Moines in January is 31°. As greenhouse gases proliferate, the deviation from what used to be normal is only going to become more and more pronounced.

We can and must do great things in 2019. Let’s begin today.

Ed Fallon

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Time for a Green New Deal

Dear Friends,

Protesters line the hall outside of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington, DC.

If you ever feel hopeless about the climate crisis, yesterday was a real shot in the arm. Nearly a thousand young people occupied the offices of US Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Jim McGovern, demanding action on the Green New Deal.

Over 150 participants were arrested at Pelosi’s and Hoyer’s offices. In an affirmation of the power of nonviolent direct action, Rep. McGovern came out of his office to talk with protesters and agreed to sign on to the Green New Deal!

The action was organized by the Sunrise MovementClick here to watch the livestream.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The Green New Deal is an ambitious, comprehensive, and realistic proposal to move America to an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy within ten years. It’s already supported by 22 members of Congress.

Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leading the charge. In a recent broadcast, she said, “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.”

And not a moment too soon. The recent United Nations report on the alarming severity of the climate crisis indicates we have 12 years to figure this out — or pay consequences so dire we’re looking at the possibility of humanity’s last hurrah. Check out the UN report here.

What these impassioned young climate warriors are doing is inspiring. More members of Congress need to sign on to the Green New Deal. To date, no member of Iowa’s congressional delegation is on board.

Let’s change that!

Who’s ready to tell Abby Finkenauer to sign on? Dave Loebsack? Cindy Axne? And yeah, why not — Steve King?

Let us know if you’re willing to help convince your representative to get behind “the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.” Incrementalism is no longer an option. The existential threat of climate chaos demands an all-out, full-scale mobilization.

Time is running out on humanity’s game of climate roulette. We need our elected leaders to step forward NOW and support the Green New Deal. Remind them it’s not just the right thing to do politically, it’s essential to our continued survival.

Thank you!

The Bold Iowa Team

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Politico calls Rob Sand a “young Robert Mueller”

Dear Friends,

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

Rob Sand

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

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

Deidre DeJear

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

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

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

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

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

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

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

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

Congressman Dave Loebsack

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

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

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

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

Ed

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Honoring a great American tradition

Dear Friends,

Filling in for me Monday, August 8th at 11:00 on the Fallon Forum is Maria Filippone. Her focus will be on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and her guests include Isaac Christensen with Jewish Voices for Peace and Kathleen McQuillen of American Friends Service Committee. An important part of the conversation often overlooked is the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. See below for details for how to listen to the show live, rebroadcast, or as podcast. And callers are always welcome at (515) 528-8122 during the live broadcast on Monday at 11:00 CT.

*******

In every fight against injustice, there comes a point when men and women of conscience must defy laws allowing that injustice to persist. In the protracted fight to stop the Bakken pipeline, we have arrived at that point.

The crowd at a South Dakota Farm Alliance Rally on Feb. 12, 1985 (from The Daily Republic).

The crowd at a South Dakota Farm Alliance Rally on Feb. 12, 1985 (from The Daily Republic).

Over the past two years landowners, farmers, tribes and environmentalists have done everything possible to stop the pipeline.

We have pursued legal and legislative channels at great cost of time and money.

We have held forums, rallies, protests, flotillas, press conferences and more.

We have written letters and opinion pieces for our newspapers, spoken with radio stations and TV reporters, and written countless letters to government agencies.

We have learned more about pipelines, climate change, watersheds and eminent domain than we ever imagined we’d need to know. With the knowledge we’ve acquired, we’ve educated others — and public opinion has moved our direction. The most recent Iowa Poll shows less than half of Iowans support the pipeline while 3/4ths oppose the use of eminent domain to build it.

We await court rulings on a lawsuit filed by ten Iowa landowners and another just filed by Tribal leaders in the Dakotas, and remain cautiously optimistic that the court will decide in our favor. But barring an injunction, those cases may take time.

Meanwhile our land, water, property rights and climate are being trampled.

From the perspective of climate change, it is unconscionable that our government enables this pipeline to go forward. President Obama claims to understand the seriousness of climate change, having said, “No challenge–no challenge–poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Yet he hasn’t lifted a finger to stop this pipeline.

From the perspective of eminent domain, Republican Governor Terry Branstad campaigned against the abuse of eminent domain, yet now has no problem with its use for a powerful, wealthy pipeline company.

From the perspective of our environment, Democratic officials like State Senator Mike Gronstal and Congressman Dave Loebsack either openly support the pipeline or refuse to stand with their constituents against it, despite grave concerns about the potential impact on our land and water.

As with many great struggles before us, when those elected to represent and protect our interests fail to do so, it is incumbent upon the people to challenge an unresponsive government through nonviolent civil disobedience.

In this struggle against the Bakken pipeline, there are two key examples of the failure of law and government to respect and protect our rights.

First is the Army Corps of Engineers’ abdication of its responsibility to assure the safety of our waters. In issuing a permit to Dakota Access, the Corps failed to assess the full range of the pipeline’s probable impacts.

Second, the decision by the Iowa Utilities Board to issue eminent domain to a private company providing no service to Iowans is an assault on the sanctity of our right to own and enjoy property. If government can allow your land to be confiscated for an oil pipeline, where will the assault on liberty strike next?

Yes, it is time to defy an unjust law, time to defend liberty, time to fight the expansion of the fossil-fuel infrastructure and the accompanying destruction of our environment.

In the tradition of other great American struggles for freedom . . .

From the Boston Tea Party to the labor movement struggle to secure rights and freedoms we still enjoy and take for granted;

From the fight for women’s suffrage to the civil rights struggle of the 1960s;

From the Farm Crisis when farmers stood with their neighbors to block foreclosure auctions to the struggles happening now all across the country in opposition to fracking, pipelines and oil drilling;

. . . It is time to step forward and risk arrest.

Over a month ago, a Pledge of Resistance was circulated. The Pledge was initiated by Bold Iowa and supported by Iowa CCI, CREDO Action and 100 Grannies for a Livable Future. To date, over 1,000 people have signed the Pledge, which reads:

“{W}e are the conservatives, standing up for a safe and secure future for our families. It is those we protest, those who profit from poisoning our water, who violate our property rights, and who are radically altering the chemical composition of our atmosphere — and the prospects for survival of humanity — that are the radicals.”

If you are moved, please sign the Pledge and stand with us in a final attempt to stop this pipeline that our planet can’t sustain and most Iowans don’t want.

*******

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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