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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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.

Continue Reading →

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