An Iowa climate refugee speaks out

Dear Friends,

John Davis

If President Trump were, instead, Governor of Nebraska, perhaps he’d build a wall along the right-descending bank of the Missouri River to keep immigrants like John Davis from sneaking across the border.

John is one of many southwest Iowa residents punished badly by last month’s historic flood. He’s sorting out how to adapt: “As soon as I get my 90-year-old mom moved, I’m going to box-up what’s left so I can move, too. With my home destroyed, there’s just nothing left for me in Hamburg.”

The pile of destroyed belongings in front of John’s neighbor’s home. “I’ll have twice that amount, representing most of my life,” says John. “I’m looking at a $60k loss.”

John will probably relocate to Council Bluffs. In the New Climate Era, any town with the word “Bluff” in its name is probably a safer bet than living in a floodplain, low-lying coastal community, or fire-prone area out West. Unlike President Trump, John understands that climate change is real. He’s been talking about its inevitable impacts for years. Now he’s a victim.

Unfortunately for John and others, the government’s response has fallen short. “I’m not getting any help from FEMA,” says John. “They sent me a denial letter, reasoning that I can still stay in parts of my house and that I have flood insurance. FEMA sets up programs to give people hope, then crushes them with denials. I’m hopping mad.”

Want to lend John a hand? “Money will help, but people’s activism is more important to me,” writes John. That level of altruism is commendable. Still, John could use our help. Join me in pitching in here.

It’s impossible to know how many flood, fire, and food-shortage refugees there will be in the New Climate Era. Tens of millions will likely come from within our own borders. John Davis represents the growing tip of that iceberg.

Not that America needs another wake-up call, but last week, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released its State of the Global Climate report: “The increasing number of natural disasters and dangers linked to climate change represents ‘another strong wake-up call’ to the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said.” (Click here for full story.)

America Duran lobbying in Washington DC. She came to the US as a young child and has been living in Iowa ever since.

Climate change is the crisis that affects everything. EVERYTHING. It’s already impacting immigration. On the Fallon Forum this week, we dig into that subject with Jon Krieg of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Des Moines, who fills in as guest host. Jon writes, “America Duran, a young immigrants’ rights advocate, joins me on the program to report on her lobbying trip to Washington, DC. She joined hundreds of young people from around the US at a spring lobby weekend organized by the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

“America talks about new legislation supporting Dreamers and people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as work to defund ICE and CBP, two federal agencies terrorizing immigrant communities with detention and deportation.

“We also talk with Erica Johnson, who directs AFSC’s Immigrant Rights Program in Des Moines. We discuss where Iowa’s members of Congress stand on immigration and how you can get your voice heard by elected officials. Finally, we look at legislation at the state level and what’s being done among faith communities to build the Sanctuary Movement.”

Thank you. — Ed Fallon

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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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