Iowa Legislature should also condemn Steve King

Dear Friends,

There are two main reasons Iowa makes the national political news: (1) The Iowa Caucuses, and (2) Congressman Steve King (R, late-1800s). The Caucuses operate on a regular, predictable, four-year cycle while King’s hateful rhetoric runs on its own erratic time table.

Steve King (R-IA)

After more than a decade of King embarrassing Iowa and casting doubt on our image as “Iowa Nice,” leading Republican elected officials are finally taking action against him. The US House resolution condemning King for his most recent outburst in defense of White supremacy is, well, better late than never.

Action by Congress is not likely to be, nor should it be, the final word against King. Pressure from his own Party is now so pervasive that, I believe, King is in the homestretch of his long tenure of embarrassing Iowa.

To speed along that inevitability, the Republican-controlled Iowa House and Senate should offer its own resolution condemning King. Governor Reynolds would have no choice but to sign it. The resolution should cite not only King’s most recent “White supremacy” quote, but his long litany of racially inflammatory remarks (yeah, I know, it’ll be a lengthy document).

The US House resolution was offered by Democrats. A resolution at the state level from a Republican-led legislature would send an even stronger message that stamping out racism is a bipartisan commitment.

Of course, King’s tumble from tolerance raises another question: Why does President Trump get a pass? Among the long list of hateful, hurtful things Trump has said or tweeted is this recent anti-Native belch:

“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!”

Responding to Trump in this New York Times story, Storm Reyes, a Coast Salish indigenous woman, said, “As a Native, Trump’s tweet was equivalent to making a ‘joke’ about 9/11, Pearl Harbor or the Holocaust. I found it awful that not only did Trump use this tragedy as a joke, weapon and insult, but that his ignorance of American history is so great that he didn’t even know that Wounded Knee was a massacre and not a battle.”

Come on Republicans, you’re on a roll. Keep it going. An Iowa House and Senate chastisement of Steve King is the right thing to do and, for what it’s worth, would give Iowa a favorable national political headline. And while you’re learning to navigate with your new-found moral compass, take action against President Trump, whose disdain for non-White people is as bad if not worse than King’s.

Ed Fallon

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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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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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Political shot heard round the world

Dear Friends,

I’m encouraged that, more than ever, people are taking seriously the importance of voting. To those who still feel it doesn’t matter, let me share this story:

Former Iowa State Rep. Becky Reynolds-Knight (D-Van Buren County)

When I was a state representative, I sat between two lawmakers who were excellent colleagues. Both were attentive to their constituents and accomplished important work at the Iowa Statehouse. Becky Reynolds-Knight sat to my right. Out of 11,732 votes cast in the 1996 general election, Becky won by only 146 votes. To my left sat Bill Witt, who won his first election in 1992 by only 17 votes out of a total of 12,793 cast!

Former Iowa State Rep. Bill Witt (D-Black Hawk County)

So, is every vote important? Ask Bill and Becky. Better yet, ask Al Gore, who as the Democratic candidate for president in 2000, lost Florida’s electoral votes by only 537 votes out of almost six million cast in Florida — and over 50 million cast nationwide.

Yup. Every vote matters. Every election matters — and this election matters more than most. The problems confounding America — climate change, money in politics, immigration, gun violence, health care, foreign policy, and more — have grown worse and seemingly intractable.

They’re challenging for sure, but not intractable. True, Democratic leaders have sometimes failed in the past. But the current impasse is the fault of this reactionary Republican Congress and administration, who have proven inept at solving any of America’s most pressing problems while digging the hole deeper on many issues.

In Iowa, Republicans controlling the Statehouse have been worse than inept. In fact, the Republican trifecta at the State Capitol has been embarrassingly successful at enacting all sorts of draconian policies, too many to list here, several of which are so bad they’re being challenged in the courts.

Voters sometimes support a divided legislature or Congress. I get that. I understand the urge to split one’s ticket, hoping that Democratic control of one chamber and Republican control of the other will lead to a more thoughtful, cooperative approach to policy making.

J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for Congress

Maybe that works sometimes. But that’s not the medicine for what ails Iowa and America today. Divided chambers will accomplish nothing. A new wave of Democratic leaders is rising, bringing a fresh perspective that’s resonating with voters. Let’s give them a chance to govern. To do that, Democrats need to control the House and Senate at both the state and federal level.

Across Iowa’s Fourth District — home of unabashed white supremacist Congressman Steve King — a veritable tidal wave of change is poised to shake things up. Democrats have fielded good candidates against King in the past, but I never felt any could dethrone him.

This year, I’m confident that King’s Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten, can and will defeat King. Scholten — propelled by growing discontent with King’s voting record and litany of inflammatory comments — is running an impressive campaign fueled by hard work and intelligent, articulate stands on key issues. It doesn’t hurt that Scholten has raised more money than King, most of it from the grassroots.

Iowa’s Fourth Congressional District

It also helps Scholten that businesses who supported King in the past (Land O’Lakes, Purina, Intel Corp.) and a growing list of Republican elected officials are finally speaking out against King.

If you’re supporting one or more candidates with time and money, thank you. But take time to help J.D., too. His defeat of Steve King will land a promising, progressive Iowan in Washington, D.C. and send a message that reactionaries like Steve King don’t speak for Iowa and are no longer entitled to positions of political power.

Over the next five days, l’ll continue to reach out personally to the hundreds of independents and Republicans I know in the Fourth District and encourage them to vote for J.D. Scholten. I suspect nearly every Iowan reading this blog knows people in the Fourth District. Call or write these voters. Stress that, on an election ballot with so many important races, what happens in the Fourth District is critical.

How critical? If Scholten defeats King, it would be 2018’s political shot heard round the world.

Ed Fallon

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The Ends Are Near

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, Lars Pearson and I were discussing the state of our country. Lars bemoaned the prospect of 3 1/2 more years of Donald Trump as president while I prognosticated that, within a year, the Tweeter in Chief will no longer occupy the White House. Our conversation ended with a friendly wager, one that Lars hopes I win.

Given the President’s response to the horrific events in Charlottesville, I’m inclined to move up the date of his premature departure. Most business and political leaders, even those in his own party, condemned the President’s remarks. Exceptions included Iowa congressmen Rod Blum and Steve King, who offered nuanced statements that belie their sympathy with the alt-right crazies. (See Kathie Obradovich’s column for details.)

So much quality commentary has been shared about Charlottesville, it’s hard to know which to recommend. If you’ve got just a couple minutes, I’d suggest this brief but powerful statement by my cousin, Jimmy Fallon. (Yeah, all Fallons are related, having crawled out of the same bog in southern Roscommon County, Ireland.)

A man or woman can’t serve effectively as president if he or she loses the trust of the American people. America’s confidence in Donald Trump was shaky to begin with. With each new offensive statement, tweet and proposal, that confidence erodes even further.

Yes, the end of the Trump presidency is near. For that, a growing majority of us are increasingly grateful.

But wait! Another end is near, relevant to climate change. This end is so delicately poised it could go one of two ways:

(1) Our rapidly-warming Earth arrives at that tipping point long predicted by scientists, where cataclysmic disruptions severely alter life on our planet. Many people will die, especially front-line communities least responsible for causing the problem. Those who survive will have no choice but to adapt. The pain will be prolonged, but humanity will be dragged kicking and screaming into a challenging but sustainable future.

(2) A different historic tipping point is achieved. Americans wake-up to the reality that we face an existential crisis like no other. The nations of the world launch the all-hands-on-deck, full-scale mobilization advocated by The Climate Mobilization. We mitigate the damage and destruction through preparedness, innovation and cooperation, arriving at that sustainable future with a lot less pain and suffering.

Ed talks with Dave Price on TV 13’s “The Insiders” this week. Click image to view video.

I’m opting for the second tipping point, and my life for the past decade has been committed to helping birth that reality. (Here’s my recent appearance on The Insiders with David Price.) Honestly, I’m surprised we aren’t there yet, given the growing number of climate indicators:

* Nearly every year sets a new record for warmest ever.

* Ice and snow in the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland are melting at alarming rates.

* Storms are measurably stronger.

Yes, this end is near too. Just as we’ll survive Trump’s presidency, abbreviated or otherwise, we’ll survive climate change. But the longer we wait to mobilize, the uglier it’s going to get. That’s a reality none of us want to see.

So let’s kick it into high gear! Mobilize! Make those personal changes that allow you to live lighter on the Earth — and allow you to live more sustainably.

Especially, let’s convince our leaders to act NOW. School board and municipal elections are coming up. Next year’s midterm primary election is just over nine months away. Act now. Act boldly — in the streets, in the fields and in the voting booth.

Ed Fallon

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