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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