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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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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For US Congress . . . Eddie Mauro!

Dear Friends,

Eddie Mauro

Iowans living in the Third Congressional District are fortunate to have a talented field of candidates running in the Democratic Primary. But Eddie Mauro stands out as a genuine, authentic, caring person — the complete opposite of the bought-and-paid-for politicians running, and ruining, our state and our country.

I first met Eddie twenty years ago when I was bringing food, clothing, and other supplies to homeless men and women living along the Raccoon River. Eddie wasn’t there for a photo op. I learned that day that he spends a lot of time serving our most disenfranchised population.

Eddie’s commitment to help the homeless, the poor, and the downtrodden has persisted all these years. In fact, at two recent events for the homeless, Eddie was the only congressional candidate in attendance.

Three Eds are better than two: Mauro, Bloomer and Fallon

I’m passionate about a lot of issues, but none more than the urgent climate crisis. Eddie’s position on climate change is not only the strongest among candidates running in the Third District, it’s one of the strongest of any congressional candidate in the country! Check out Eddie’s white paper on The Climate Crisis.

Eddie truly understands the urgent need for bold action on climate change and the importance of creating clean energy jobs as climate mitigation becomes a driver of economic development. His message on climate is one that resonates with both urban and rural Iowans.

Beyond the specific issues that Eddie champions (learn more here), I’m impressed with his authenticity and leadership skills. I’m impressed, too, with the campaign he’s running. Frankly, Eddie is Iowa’s best prospect to beat David Young in the fall.

That means a lot. Winning a tough primary in June means nothing if you can’t win the general election in November. With the Third District listed as one of the pivotal congressional seats in the country, it’s tremendously important that Democrats put forth their strongest champion.

With Eddie Mauro, we’re fortunate that the strongest candidate to win is also the strongest candidate on the issues. Please join me in supporting Eddie. Let me know how you’d like to be involved. A grassroots campaign such as this requires ALL our voices and a whole lot of effort. Let’s make it happen!

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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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Pipeline opponent needs our support

Dear Friends,

In the past three weeks, unlikely coalitions have stopped two pipelines: Palmetto in Georgia and Kinder Morgan in New England. These victories are very encouraging to those of us fighting to stop Bakken, and we need to keep pushing:

– Tell the Army Corps of Engineers to do a full Environmental Impact Statement.
– Circulate our letter to President Obama asking him to tell the Corps to do its job.
– Support legal action defending landowners standing up to Dakota Access.
– Support tribal actions, including the Run for Your Life.
– Prepare for the possibility of civil disobedience.

There’s one more critical action you can take: Support elected officials who’ve stood with us against Dakota Access and against the politicians bought and paid for by Big Oil’s tainted money.

The most vocal, consistent Iowa House member standing against the Bakken pipeline is State Rep. Dan Kelley of Newton. Dan has been with the people in this struggle, and now has a well-financed opponent.

Please take a few minutes to go to Rep. Dan Kelley’s website and make a contribution. He’s up against the very forces we’ve been fighting. Dan’s running a strong campaign, and donations from the grassroots will allow him to buy brochures, yard signs and other materials he needs to get his message out.

And Dan’s message is our message: “It’s clear that the IUB is listening to power and money instead of the people of Iowa, so it’s time for the Legislature to step forward and clarify that eminent domain must only be used for a genuine public purpose,” and “I’m proud to have been the first Iowa legislator to join The Climate Mobilization, a full-scale effort to combat the causes of climate change and to champion realistic solutions.”

So please, go to Dan’s website today and either send him a check or click the “Donate” button. It’s only six weeks until the June 7th primary election, so Dan needs your help ASAP.

On today’s Fallon Forum, we discuss:
– The refugee crisis in Europe, with Michael Luick-Thrams
– How the national political establishment continues to mess with Iowa’s US Senate race
– The frightening number of high school science teachers who deny climate change
Run for Your Life, with Donnielle Wanatee
– Climate catastrophe in the Mekong Delta . . . and possible lessons for the Mississippi Delta

Listen to the Fallon Forum:
– Live on 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
– On KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA) Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m. CT
– On WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– On KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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Catholic Church speaks out on climate

Dear Friends,

I am honored to have Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Catholic Diocese on today’s Fallon Forum at 11:00 a.m. You can tune-in to the conversation live on KDLF 1260 AM La Reina or online. A podcast will be available after the program.

Responding to Pope Francis’ encyclical addressing climate change, Bishop Pates wrote “An honest conversation acknowledges that humans are causing much of the recent climate change . . . The dialogue we need is not about whether to act on clime change but how to act.” (The Des Moines Register, July 2, 2015)

Bishop Pates goes on to challenge us to action, saying, “With presidential candidates already visiting us regularly, I encourage Catholics across our state, and all people of good will, to talk to them and ask not if, but how, they plan to work toward solutions to climate change.”

Already, 2015 has been a big year for climate action, with two major events still on the horizon:

* Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. this month, including a first-ever address by a pontiff to a joint session of Congress.

* The United Nations Climate Summit in Paris, November 30 – December 11, where expectations are high that a serious climate agreement might at last be attained.

I am grateful for Bishop Pate’s clarion call to faith-based action on behalf of creation and our planet. And I am grateful to all who are engaged in principled acts of conscience leading up to these two landmark moments in the face of escalating climate disasters. There are so many encouraging citizen-based actions in progress right now, it’s impossible to note them all. But let me mention three:

1. The Climate Mobilization, a promising new initiative challenging presidential candidates, other elected leaders, and all of us to confront climate change honestly and commit ourselves to “a World War II-scale emergency climate mobilization to protect civilization from the climate crisis.” If you haven’t yet signed the Pledge to Mobilize, please do.

2. Activists, including some of last year’s participants in the Great March for Climate Action, are fasting for eighteen days in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building in Washington, DC. In advance of the Pope’s visit, they hope to call on FERC to stop issuing permits for fracking.

3. The People’s Pilgrimage chronicles an informal network of concerned people heading to Paris for the U.N. Climate Summit, or those who plan to be there in spirit. The initiative’s website says, “You can cross a continent, or only walk a mile. It’s up to you. You can do it any way you like – walk, cycle or some other low or zero fossil fuel means. What matters is the spiritual journey and that you use the journey to reflect on the risks of climate change.”

Join us live every Monday from 11:00-12:00 noon CDT on KDLF 1260 AM (Des Moines) and online. Call (515) 528-8122 to add your voice to the conversation. The program re-broadcasts Wednesday on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 4:00 p.m. and Wednesday on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 p.m. Podcasts available, too.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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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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