Sunday, November 08, 2015

Iowa's Progressive Senate Candidate Tom Fiegen Endorses Bernie Sanders


On his website, Iowa Senate candidate Tom Fiegen explains that he supports Bernie Sanders "because he has demonstrated unconditional support for working people since he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont 34 years ago. He tells the truth." Feigen, who is running against somewhat doddering right-wing senator Chuck Grassley-- first elected, very narrowly, to Congress in 1974-- right after Nixon was driven from office (and just as the GOP was losing dozens of seats across the nation, including 2 in Iowa). Everyone, nationally, who was, like Grassley, first elected that day has either died or retired, including well-known politicians like Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chris Jim Jeffords (R-VT), Max Baucus (D-MT), Paul Tsongas (D-MA), Larry Pressler (R-SD), Henry Waxman (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Norman Mineta (D-CA), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Jim Florio (D-NJ), Abner Mikva (D-IL) and Paul Simon (D-IL)... except Grassley.

There are three Democrats running to replace him, state Sen. Rob Hogg, ex-state Sen. Tom Fiegen and ex-state Rep. Bob Krause. No Blue Dogs, New Dems or corporate whores in that trio. What drew our attention to Fiegen was his endorsement of Bernie Sanders and Bernie's platform and his commitment to run on those issues.
Fiegen shares similar stances with Senator Bernie Sanders, including repealing Citizens United.

“I want to fix the bribery of politicians in the guise of campaign contributions,” Mr. Fiegen said. “People throw around the reference to Citizens United, but the problem is much more systemic and ingrained than that.”

Mr. Fiegen cites an NPR story from 2012 about convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In the piece, Mr. Abramoff explains how he donated $100,000 to Mr. Fiegen’s opponent, incumbent U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, in exchange for allowing his client, Tyco International, to evade paying billions in taxes.
You can read Fiegen's whole endorsement statement here and you can contribute to his campaign here. I asked him to write a guest post on an issue most DWT readers are unaware of but that is of crucial concern to people in Iowa.

Water And Agricultural Poisons
by Thomas Fiegen

In farm country, we have a problem. A lot of us can’t drink the water because of the ag poisons in it, and more of us are dying of cancer caused by the same ag poisons.

Here in Iowa, 60 cities and towns have nitrate levels in their water supply too high to drink. The community of Des Moines, Iowa spends over $7,000 a day to remove nitrate from the source of its water, the Raccoon River. Plus it is looking at new filtration equipment which will cost north of $140 million to replace the current system. Two of the Top 10 cancers in Iowa in 2015, thyroid and ovarian cancer, are directly linked to high nitrate in our water.

In addition to nitrate, we also have a problem with all the weed spray that we are being doused with by a few of our chemically addicted farmers. At the top of the list is glyphosate aka Roundup™. According to a story in April of this year by National Geographic, Roundup was invented in 1974. By 1987, we were applying 11 million pounds of Roundup in this country. Last year, it was up to 300 million pounds. Roundup is now so pervasive in our environment that 75% of the rain collected by the U.S. Geological Survey now contains Roundup. The National Geographic also sampled soybeans in 300 randomly selected bins across the Corn Belt and 90% contained Roundup. In March of this year, the World Health Organization, after a review of over 900 studies, concluded that Roundup is a causal agent for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In 2015, non-Hodgkins lymphoma is also one of the Top 10 cancers in Iowa.

The Iowa College of Public Health has kept extensive records on Iowa cancer deaths by type and county since 1973.  In 1975, before Roundup was in use, and before corn on corn on corn to supply corn ethanol, according to the Iowa College of Public Health, we had 5,320 cancer deaths in Iowa. This year, after 40 years of medical progress in treating cancer, we will have over 6,400 cancer deaths in Iowa. That is an additional 1,100 cancer deaths per year.  My home town of Clarence, Iowa is 1,100 people. That is like wiping out an extra entire town of Clarence every year. How many more family and friends are we willing to lose early to cancer so that a few farmers can poison themselves and all of us with ag poisons?

I have visited 86 of the 99 counties in Iowa so far this year. The farm wives and widows get it. One widow, a survivor of thyroid cancer, told me how her husband had flu-like symptoms whenever he sprayed weeds on their farm. She told me that she could smell the chemicals on his clothes when she washed them. She knew something was not right, but she did not put her finger on it. Her husband died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She has had multiple tumors since her initial battle with thyroid cancer. She told me that she now knows that the ag chemicals they used was the reason she is a widow and has cancer. I have heard story after story like the one from this widow as I travel around Iowa. When I was a young boy in school, all of our bus drivers were retired 75 - 80 year old farmers. In my community today, we do not have many 75 - 80 year old retired farmers. They have all died of cancer and their wives have retired to town as widows.

Here is how we can fix the problem. First, we ban bribes of Congress under the guise of political contributions aka Citizens United. For too long chemical companies have been able to “buy” favorable legislation and regulations. Next, we need to amend and enforce the Clean Water Act to limit non-point sources of poisons. The next Farm Bill should also include not only a mandatory conservation requirement to quality for any federal subsidy or payment, but also a mandatory water purity requirement for ag runoff. We also need to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) to remove the blanket immunity for chemical manufacturers and applicators, and instead impose strict liability for damages to people and property caused by ag poisons. Finally, we need to teach our farmers good and sustainable management practices to reduce and ultimately end their reliance on ag chemicals to grow crops.

We know how to grow food without chemicals. We have done it for centuries. If we are going to reduce and end needless cancer deaths in rural America, and survive as a species on this planet, we need to go back to growing food sustainably with limited or no chemicals. 
Again, please consider helping Tom Fiegen replace Chuck Grassley as the Senator from Iowa, something you can do at this special ActBlue page dedicated to progressives running for Congress who have endorsed Bernie Sanders.

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