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Are We In A New Age Of Robber Barons?

robber baronsrobber baron noun: a wealthy person who tries to get land, businesses, or more money in a way that is dishonest or wrong; an American capitalist of the latter part of the 19th century who became wealthy through exploitation (as of natural resources, governmental influence, or low wage scales)

BillMoyers.com

“What was different about the First Gilded Age was that people rose in rebellion against the powers that be. Today we do not see “that enormous resistance… but people are increasingly fed up… their voices are not being heard. And I think that can only go on for so long without there being more and more outbreaks of what used to be called class struggle, class warfare.”

 

Why The Draft Warren Movement Is Good For The Country

elizabeth warrenThere has been positive media coverage of the draft Elizabeth Warren launch in Des Moines Wednesday (links below).  One question: Has anyone ever decided to run and won because of a draft movement?  That is, since Dwight D. Eisenhower

It doesn’t seem likely that Elizabeth Warren will run for president.  But that is what political movements are all about: people joining together to effect needed change that does not appear likely to happen on its own. 

As progressives know, nothing is going to fundamentally change from the top down.  Real change has always come from the bottom up,  from grassroots politics – the suffragettes, the civil rights movement, the labor movement.  The Occupy movement was successful in pushing the problem of overly powerful banks and corporations into the national debate.  Now we have Elizabeth Warren giving ‘em hell in the U.S. Senate. 

Yes, an Elizabeth Warren presidency seems unlikely. But why not ride the wave and see what happens?  Only good can come from it.

Here’s a note from MoveOn.org.

Dear Iowa MoveOn member,

The Des Moines Register: “This is Elizabeth Warren’s time, activists tell Iowans”

Real Clear Politics: “Warren Won’t Rule Out 2016 as Draft Movement Gears Up”

The Wall Street Journal: “Iowa Liberals Try to Will Elizabeth Warren Into 2016″

Associated Press: “Effort to draft Warren into ’16 race lands in Iowa”

WHO-TV Des Moines: “Iowans Encouraging Elizabeth Warren to Run for President”
Iowans Kick Off Run Warren Run Campaign in Des Moines

Last night in Des Moines, 100 Iowans gathered to kick off the Run Warren Run effort in Iowa. The room was electric as we launched our plans to build a grassroots organization across the state—neighbor to neighbor, person by person, to demonstrate to Elizabeth Warren that she’s got the support she needs to run for president and win, starting in Iowa and across the country.

This comes just after Chris Cillizza, the Washington Post analyst, wrote, “It’s uniquely possible that the populist/’draft Warren’ movement in the party grows strong enough that it forces the senator to reconsider her past denials of interest in the race. And if Warren runs, it’s a totally different race.”1

Click here to view a slideshow of Wednesday’s kickoff. Then, please share it with your friends, and ask them to join you in signing the petition to Elizabeth Warren, which says, “Dear Elizabeth Warren: Please Run for President.”

Last night’s kickoff was an exhilarating, inspiring start to a grassroots effort that could change the future of this country. If you were there, thank you. If you missed it—don’t worry, our organizers will be reaching out in the coming weeks with opportunities to get involved.

Here’s a great snippet of what we experienced, from Peter Nicholas of The Wall Street Journal:

The people in the room were devising a strategy to entice her to jump in. They told stories about why they’d like to see her run. An Iowa State student said she was holding down two jobs and working 45 hours a week to pay for school. She said she is carrying a 12% interest rate on her student loan.

Ms. Warren, she believes, would fight to curb student debt.

“Please run for president, Elizabeth,” she said.

Standing in the back of the room, Beverly Swecker said she had never before attended a political rally. She was there with her husband, a farmer.

Why the plunge into politics now?

“I like her commitment to the common person,” Mrs. Swecker said. “That’s what we need more of in this country right now.”

President of the Iowa Senate Pam Jochum addressed the crowd, calling Elizabeth Warren “brilliant” and “courageous” and calling on her to enter the race.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan told Real Clear Politics that Elizabeth Warren “has an excellent populist message that has been well-received by Iowans and the folks who are caucus attendees.”3

And our allies at Democracy for America announced that their members had voted overwhelmingly to join the draft Warren movement, and pledged $250,000 to the effort. With our friends at Ready for Warren, we’re showing that momentum is on the rise.

You caught the nation’s attention in Iowa last night. Thank you. We’ve got momentum. Now’s the perfect time to share the energy, and the petition, with your friends.

Iowa, you’re changing the conversation in this country, and each day proving to Elizabeth Warren why this is her moment.

Thanks for all you do.

–Victoria, Alejandro, Ilya, Mark, and the rest of the team

Sources:

1. “Amid Warren buzz, Clinton might do well not to wait too long to announce 2016 bid,” The Washington Post, December 14, 2014

http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=302054&id=106071-4139708-APN4FXx&t=4

2. “Iowa Liberals Try to Will Elizabeth Warren Into 2016,” The Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2014

http://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-WB-51632

3. “Warren Won’t Rule Out 2016 as Draft Movement Gears Up,” Real Clear Politics, December 16, 2014

http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=302055&id=106071-4139708-APN4FXx&t=5

Want to support our work? We’re entirely funded by our 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Start a monthly donation here or chip in a one-time donation here.
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

Ebola Wins “Lie Of The Year”

corporate media liesThis story underscores what Blog for Iowa attempts to point out about the media as often as we possibly can. 

It was mostly Republicans who were making the exaggerated claims about Ebola,  but they were affirmed and supported by the media who failed to question or challenge these statements.  After the midterms, the scary Ebola news vanished into thin air.

www.politico.com/story/2014/12/politifact-2014-biggest-lie-113590

By Nick Gass

It was the global health scare that spooked a nation.

Fear of Ebola’s potency and spread sparked “exaggerated claims” and statements from politicians and pundits, collectively earning the dubious distinction of PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year, the organization announced Monday. Editors made their pick according to “how broadly a myth or falsehood infiltrates conventional thinking.”

PolitiFact rated 16 separate claims about Ebola and its spread in 2014 as mostly false.

Conservative commentator George Will drew sharp criticism for his miscommunication of how the disease spreads, after saying on Fox News that it can spread through the air. Ebola can only spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, regardless of whether it’s a sneeze or cough.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN that Americans were promised the disease would never reach its shores.

“We were told there would never be a case of Ebola in the United States,” he said on Oct. 12, a claim refuted by public statements from administration and CDC officials.

As far as Sen. Rand Paul’s assertion that Ebola was “incredibly contagious,” “very transmissible” and “easy to catch?” Mostly false, PolitiFact ruled in October…it is “less contagious and transmissible than many other diseases.”

Weeks after the death of Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, lawmakers speculated that suicide bombers infected with the virus could inflict mass casualties in the United States. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn of “reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis.”

And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie predicted the 21-day medical quarantine on medical workers returning from West Africa would become “a national policy sooner rather than later.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/12/politifact-2014-biggest-lie

DFA, MoveOn Launch Iowa “Ready For Warren” Campaign Tonight

elizabeth warren 2016

 What: Run Warren Run Iowa Kick-Off Meeting
When: Wednesday, December 17, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Where: Java Joe’s, 214 4th St., Des Moines, IA 50309
RSVP Here

In November, we asked Democracy for America members who they wanted to see run for president in our 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll. The top choice was overwhelming: Elizabeth Warren.

Just a few days ago, our friends at MoveOn.org launched a $1 million campaign to encourage Senator Warren to get in the race — and DFA launched a new poll asking our members to specifically ratify our own potential campaign to recruit Warren. The results so far? Even more overwhelming than our November poll.

And so, on behalf of DFA, I’m now in Iowa to announce our plans tonight in Des Moines at a Run Warren Run launch event organized by MoveOn, DFA, and Ready for Warren.

Can you come to the Run Warren Run Kickoff Meeting on Wednesday, December 17, at Java Joe’s in downtown Des Moines?

Click here to RSVP and invite your friends.

We’ll have free Run Warren Run limited edition, hot-off-the-press t-shirts — until we run out! And delicious snacks and beverages to enjoy. At Wednesday’s Kickoff Meeting, we’ll be joined by Ilya Sheyman, Executive Director of MoveOn.org Political Action. We’ll learn about Senator Warren’s track record of fighting for working families and standing up to Wall Street. We’ll meet fellow supporters — including members of Democracy for America, MoveOn.org and Ready for Warren — and share stories over good food.

And we’ll discuss plans to build an organization across the state of Iowa — including opening offices and hiring community organizers — to demonstrate to Sen. Warren that she has the support to run and win, and that Iowans want a meaningful contest, not a coronation.

The most important thing about the Iowa Kickoff Meeting — and the whole campaign — is the people. Can you join us Wednesday?

elizabeth warrenWhat: Run Warren Run Iowa Kick-Off Meeting
When: Wednesday, December 17, 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Where: Java Joe’s, 214 4th St., Des Moines, IA 50309
RSVP Here

We can’t wait to see you on Wednesday!

 

Annie Weinberg, Electoral Director
Democracy for America

DFA2

Dave Loebsack Continues Work On LGBT Issues

email inbox from Congressman Loebsack:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

In this day and age, it is unacceptable for people to be discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality Caucus, I have always supported efforts to eliminate workplace and marriage discrimination.

Earlier this year, I joined a bipartisan group of Members in calling on President Obama to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination. I am pleased that the Department of Labor (DOL) has taken action by issuing a final rule to implement the president’s directive. This rule will offer new protections to the millions of LGBT Americans employed by federal contractors and subcontractors. While many states and businesses have made critical changes to offer workplace protections to employees, this rule will provide further safeguards. This is a major step in the right direction but there is still much more to be done to protect all Americans seeking employment from discriminatory practices, such as passing the Employee Nondiscrimination Act.

We must continue to stand up for those who have been harassed or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I welcome any suggestions or concerns regarding LGBT issues that you may have. Also, feel free to share dave loebsack updatedthis email with friends, family and colleagues who may be interested in this topic. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.

Sincerely,
Dave Loebsack
Iowa’s Second District

Call Dave Toll Free: (866) 914-IOWA

IOWA CITY DISTRICT OFFICE
125 South Dubuque Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
Tel: (319) 351-0789 | Fax: (319) 351-5789

DAVENPORT DISTRICT OFFICE
209 West 4th Street, #104
Davenport, IA 52801
Tel: (563) 323-5988 | Fax: (563) 323-5231

WASHINGTON, DC OFFICE
1527 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Tel: (202) 225-6576 | Fax: (202) 226-0757

This Week On The Fallon Forum

fallon forumCatch this week’s Fallon Forum live on Monday from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM “La Reina.” Join the conversation by calling in at (515) 528-8122. And you can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.  

This week, the line-up includes:

– Bus travel’s contribution to reducing global warming

– Has torture become as American as apple pie?

– Corporate greed update: Jethro Bodine sues an Iowa restaurant

–  President Obama’s immigration order

Dear Friends,

The last two years of my life have been spent organizing, implementing and wrapping-up the Great March for Climate Action. Without a doubt, this has been the most challenging work of my life. Not surprisingly, other marchers have said the same thing.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis and the empowerment marchers experienced through this journey, we don’t see our work as done. I inquired about marchers’ recent climate-change activity and received responses from 15 engaged in lobbying, direct action, media interviews and presentations. Chances are, there are marchers in your area eager to come and share their story. Already, marchers have given presentations in Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Ontario, Canada. One marcher, Miriam Kashia of Iowa City, has set-up eleven talks!

For my part, I am offering a presentation called Climate March: An Odyssey of Survival, and I am willing to travel anywhere in the country to share the story of this amazing, uplifting and unimaginably difficult experience. If you live in Central Iowa, my first presentation is this Saturday, and I’ll combine it with a mini-concert of some of my favorite Chopin. Please let me know if you’re interested in attending and I’ll get you an invitation.

Two key things I took away from the March that I share with my audience:

1. In a very personal, direct and sometimes physically threatening way, marchers witnessed the impacts of climate change. We lived through the reality that climate change is happening NOW!

2. From coast to coast, more and more Americans are taking action in their communities. Rural and urban. Conservative and liberal. People are waking up to the reality of what we face, and this gives me tremendous hope and encouragement.

To learn more about my presentation, house concert and opportunities for meetings to discuss how to organize for climate action in your community, visit Climate March: An Odyssey of Survival. And through our Facebook Page and Website, we’ll keep you posted on the ongoing work of our diverse family of climate marchers.

ed fallonThank you again for all you have done to support our work!

Ed Fallon

Are Iowa Republicans Supporting Wage Theft?

Sen. Joe BolkcomWage Theft: Iowa’s Number One Crime

Reprinted with permission from the Prairie Progressive

by Joe Bolkcom

It might seem hard to believe but some Iowa employers are regularly stealing from their employees. It’s a problem in Johnson County and across Iowa. A recent Iowa Policy Project report suggests that unscrupulous Iowa employers are robbing Iowa workers of $600 million annually.

Iowans work hard for every dollar they earn. It should not be stolen from them by their employers. In the fall of 2013, Kossiwa Agbenowossi worked at the Outback Steakhouse in Coralville. She worked hard 7 days a week, scrubbing the dining area, kitchen, and bathroom to support her children. Months and months passed without her being paid for her work.

Thanks to the tenacious organizing work done by the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa, Kossiwa finally got paid for the 49 days of work cleaning the now out-of –business steakhouse. After waiting a year and-a-half to be paid, Agbenowossi received the $2,346 an Outback cleaning subcontractor owed her.

This is a classic case of wage theft, when workers aren’t paid the wages they are legally owed. Studies say it’s a growing epidemic in Iowa, and across the country.  The difference in this case is that Kossiwa had the incredible support of the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa.  They organized public protests at Outback, and filed complaints on her behalf with the U.S. Department of Labor and Iowa Workforce Development. Most cases of wage theft do not result in the worker getting paid.

Wage theft affects us all. Not only are these employers taking advantage of their employees, they are also not paying withholding taxes, worker compensation, or unemployment insurance. They are cheating the system while good employers
and every taxpayer subsidize this deplorable practice.

Iowa has some of the weakest wage enforcement laws in the country with virtually no penalties or enforcement when cases are reported to Iowa Workforce Development. Until last year the department had just one wage investigator to address concerns of our state’s 1.3 million private sector employees. That’s why last year Iowa Senate Democrats insisted on and got funding to add a second wage investigator.

Iowa Senate Democrats have introduced and approved legislation several times over the past few years to establish better safeguards to ensure Iowans get paid and allow investigators to more easily go after businesses that fail to pay what they owe. The bills called for better record keeping, stronger penalties and retaliation protections for workers.

Unfortunately, these legislative efforts have been stymied due to intense lobby efforts by some of Iowa’s largest and most powerful business associations including the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, the Iowa Grocers Association, and the Federation of Iowa Insurers. They have fought the legislation for six years. Moreover, it has no support from Governor Branstad, House Republican Leader Kraig Paulsen, or most Republicans. They appear to not care that taxpaying Iowa workers are getting their money stolen from them.

The vast majority of Iowa’s employers is honest and ethical and has nothing to worry about. The legislation simply requires them to provide the terms of employment to their employees in writing and keep a copy on file. This protects both the employer and the worker if there is a disagreement.

It is long past time to protect Iowa workers from the disgraceful practices of some Iowa employers. It’s time to get tough on wage thieves!

To learn more about the problem of wage theft in Iowa, visit http://www.iowapolicyproject.org/wagetheft.html

–State Senator Joe Bolkcom
lives in Iowa City.

prairie-dog-logoReprinted with permission from the December 2014 issue of  The Prairie Progressive, Iowa’s oldest progressive newsletter, available only in hard copy for $12/yr.!!  Send check to PP, Box 1945, Iowa City 52244.

Democracy For America Still Drafting Warren For 2016

DFA2DemocracyforAmerica.com

BURLINGTON, VT — Following the release of a POLITICO editorial by Governor Howard Dean announcing his intention to support the potential presidential candidacy of Sec. Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination, Democracy for America reiterated its decision, Tuesday, to join the emerging effort to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the Presidential campaign.  Click here for BFIA’s take on it.

Statement from Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director of Democracy for America, on Gov. Dean’s Op-Ed:

“Democracy for America respects Governor Dean’s early support, as well as the commitment of the 24% of DFA members who voted for Sec. Clinton as their top choice in DFA’s recent poll of our membership on the 2016 presidential race. Senator Clinton would make a fantastic President and, should she win the nomination, DFA members will work non-stop to help her make history by becoming our nation’s first woman President.

“However, Senator Elizabeth Warren, not Secretary Clinton, recently won first place in our membership poll by nearly twenty points. Senator Warren’s record of standing up to Wall Street and the big banks in the fight against income inequality is inspiring Americans and progressive activists nationwide. The strong support for Warren and the bold populist progressive vision she’s outlined for our country is why, later today, we’ll ask our members to ratify our decision to join the emerging Draft Warren effort.

“We’ve said from the very beginning of our discussions of 2016 that one of DFA’s top priorities will be ensuring that the battle for the Democratic nomination is a contest, not a coronation. Our members clearly agree with that priority which is why we’re planning to work on drafting Warren into the Presidential race and aren’t ready to follow the Governor’s lead in making an early endorsement of Clinton.” — Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America

Facts about Democracy for America, the 2016 Presidential Election, and Gov. Howard Dean:

  • This week, Democracy for America announced that it would ask its members to ratify its decision to join the emerging Draft Warren effort.
  • Conducted immediately following the 2014 mid-term election, Elizabeth Warren placed first in DFA’s 2016 Presidential Pulse Poll of its membership with 42.6% of the vote. Bernie Sanders placed second with 24% and Hillary Clinton placed third with 23%.
  • Full results of DFA’s 2016 poll can be viewed (and manipulated) at: poll.democracyforamerica. com/results
  • While now chaired by Gov. Dean’s brother Jim, Democracy for America was founded by Gov. Dean and he continues to serve in a strategic advisory role for the group.
  • Governor Dean has a history of endorsing early in Democratic primaries, often backing unexpected candidates, like NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013.
  • Governor Dean and DFA often agree on endorsements. In 2014 alone, DFA and Dean raised and spent over $1 million for their jointly-endorsed, top priority “Dean Dozen” candidates.

T. Neil Sroka
Communications Director, Democracy for America
neil@democracyforamerica.com

Howard Dean Is Ready For Hillary

Dean crowd 2004Howard Dean is campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  I find two things interesting about this: 

(1) Apparently, Clinton wants Howard Dean’s support. Since Dean was transformed into a radical lefty unhinged monster by the media in 2004, and has been effectively ostracized from the DC inner circle since the Obama presidency,  this is somewhat surprising.  I interpret it as a signal that she knows she needs progressives on board with her campaign.  Could it also be a signal that she intends to not repeat the errors of 2008 and that she intends to defy conventional DC wisdom in the execution of her 2016 presidential campaign?  

(2) Howard Dean’s grassroots organization DFA is simultaneously running a “Draft Elizabeth Warren” campaign.  In today’s media driven, rigid, black or white world, this would seem at odds.  But when you think about it, why not?    It is possible that two opposing views can co-exist:  Dean can support Hillary and still support the idea that a primary should not be a coronation, which he has repeatedly said.  Howard Dean and DFA going off in different directions is a happy celebration of the democratic process.

Dean’s op-ed in Politico makes a powerful case for a Hillary Clinton presidency, and calls to mind who I believe Hillary really is, a thoughtful, competent, hard working person who cares deeply about the country. 

 I’m Ready for Hillary

by Howard Dean

Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified person in the United States to serve as President. If she runs, I will support her. I have known Hillary for almost twenty-five years. We first met when I was the governor of Vermont and she was the First Lady, giving us the opportunity to work together in various capacities, particularly on expanding health care access. During those years, I have learned that she is one of the most conscientious and competent people I have ever met. She has an enormous capacity to analyze and solve problems. She has a work ethic that drives her to persist until the job is done and done right. And she has a record in the Senate of successfully working with both sides of our very combative political spectrum in order to accomplish goals that improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

One of the most important reasons I am supporting her is because Secretary Clinton understands the institutional requirements of the Supreme Court. More than 73 percent of Americans think the Supreme Court is no longer a fair arbitrator and is influenced by political considerations. I am one of those 73 percent. This Court has repeatedly made decisions that have harmed our country for the sake of extending a political and ideological agenda that is far outside the mainstream of American traditions—on issues like campaign finance, voting rights, the rights of women, and religious freedom.

America needs a thoughtful President who will appoint judges and justices who will stand up for the Constitution and the law instead of catering to the dictates of those who fund the right-wing Federalist Society. I am confident that Hillary Clinton will provide that leadership.

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton built up a strong record of working effectively with our partners and allies to deal with challenges to global peace. In her four years as Secretary of State, she traveled nearly a million miles and visited with foreign leaders in 112 countries to address common problems from terrorism to overcoming the oppression of women to global warming. She has the experience and knowledge required to protect American national security in a time of new challenges that threaten peace and prosperity, including the menace that is ISIL. Secretary Clinton’s work serving President Obama has earned the respect of any thinking American—including Republicans—both inside the Beltway and around the country.

Finally, although the statistics suggest the economy is improving, over 60% of Americans aren’t feeling good about their own situation. Nearly all of the gains in the past fifteen years have bypassed the vast majority of Americans, while the holdings of the top 20% have increased dramatically. This is a fundamental disparity that will be the greatest challenge our next President must tackle—how to reestablish a commitment to all of us to restore the opportunity to live and achieve the American Dream.

Hillary Clinton will not shrink from this challenge. In the coming months, I expect her to lay out her plans to attack income inequality and help rebuild the middle class. She knows how to sell a broad range of Americans on these policies, and has shown how to stand up against extremist economic policies.

America needs a President who will focus on the next hundred years, not one who hopes to turn the clock back by a hundred years. I am sure I will have disagreements with her as she focuses on getting Americans back to work and rebuilding an America that works for all of us. I value and respect her enough that whatever differences may exist will be minimal compared to the tasks we really need to do for the good of restoring our country. We need a mature, seasoned, thoughtful leader at a time when maturity and thoughtfulness are increasingly rare commodities in Washington, D.C.

If I have the opportunity, I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton for President.

Howard Dean is the former governor of Vermont and the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Today On The Fallon Forum

fallon forumCatch this week’s Fallon Forum live on Monday from 11:00 am – 12:00 noon on KDLF 1260 AM “La Reina.” Join the conversation by calling in at (515) 528-8122. And you can hear the Fallon Forum on KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames) at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and on KPVL 89.1 FM (Postville) at 7:00 pm on Wednesday.

Dear Friends,

“What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures.” – Samuel Gompers, founder and long-time president of the American Federation of Labor

The American Labor movement has a prestigious history of accomplishments that benefit each and every one of us. Samuel Gompers – who died ninety years ago this week – provided the Labor movement not just with leadership and vision, but with a firm moral compass as well.

Yet as I walked across America, I met hundreds of hard-working people who had lost faith in Labor – people whose lives and land were being ruined by fracking, pipelines and pollution from oil and gas refineries. In each case, Labor’s leaders turned a deaf ear to the plight of those in the cross hairs of fossil-fuel expansion. They were focused solely on jobs to the point that they no longer cared what impact those jobs had on the well-being of others and future generations.

And I had to ask, “Has Labor lost its moral compass?”

As I attended one of the public meetings on the proposed Bakken Oil Pipeline last week, I thought about Gompers. Sure, everyone can get behind building a school. But what would Gompers say when it came to building jails, prisons, arsenals or pipelines? Would he agree with the leadership of the Iowa AFL-CIO in choosing to side with Big Oil over farmers, landowners, environmentalists, and the long-term best interest of its own members? I seriously doubt it.

I panned the roughly 250 people in attendance at last week’s public meeting and saw a crowd mostly opposed to the pipeline, or at best unconvinced. Then there was the other side: a few officials and staff of the corporations that will get rich; a handful of labor union reps; and some key Democratic and Republican operatives, including a former state party chair (Republican) and a former legislative leader (Democrat).

So, what does the Iowa Democratic Party Platform say relevant to the proposed pipeline?

“We support . . . Converting from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy;”

“We oppose . . . Tar sands oil/Keystone XL Pipeline;” and

“We oppose . . . Favoring private enterprise with Eminent Domain.” (On this point, the platform of the Republican Party of Iowa concurs.)

Given their history and stated policy, leaders of both the Iowa AFL-CIO and the Iowa Democratic Party should come out against the Bakken Oil Pipeline. In doing so, they would stand with their core constituencies and demonstrate an integrity and vision that look beyond short-term job creation and the next election cycle.

ed fallonAnd yes, they’d make Samuel Gompers proud.

Thanks, and I hope to meet you on the airwaves this week!

Ed Fallon