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Friday, October 21, 2016

Sign the Petition - Freedom of Speech & Press

#NoDAPL: Native Americans and our Constitution are under assault

The petition to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the U.S. Department of Justice reads:
"Journalism and activism are not crimes. Ensure that journalists can exercise their constitutional rights to do their jobs without fear of government intimidation or prosecution. Uphold the rights of Native Americans and their allies to peacefully resist the Dakota Access pipeline without threat of violence."
#NoDAPL: Native Americans and our Constitution are under assault
The First Amendment is under attack along the Dakota Access pipeline route in North Dakota. In recent weeks, police and private security forces outfitted in riot gear and armed with assault weapons have used dogs and pepper spray on peaceful Native Americans and their allies protesting at pipeline construction sites.

Now, overzealous law enforcement officials in North Dakota have jailed journalists and celebrities that were performing their constitutionally-protected right to free speech and the press by documenting police attacks on protesters.

These actions are a serious affront to the constitution and to sovereign tribal rights and are an egregious abuse of power by the police and the government in order to protect the fossil fuel industry. North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the U.S. Department of Justice must protect protesters’ right to assemble and the right of journalists to do their jobs.

Tell North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the U.S. Department of Justice: Stop police abuse and protect the constitution, not the fossil fuel industry.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of over 200 other tribes from across the Americas are leading the resistance to protect sovereign land and drinking water from destruction by the fossil fuel industry. It is the largest gathering of indigenous people in over a century.1 However, in an attempt to quell these historic nonviolent protests, Gov. Dalrymple ordered a state of emergency that has militarized the police force, set up a highway roadblock and mobilized the National Guard to intimidate protesters. The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota has called a “State of Emergency for Civil Rights.”2

In September, Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, and her crew filmed as armed security forces deployed pepper spray on nonviolent protesters and unleashed dogs that bit tribe members. Her reporting went viral, with over 14 million people on Facebook and millions more through the mainstream media viewing her reporting.

In response, a North Dakota state prosecutor issued charges and a warrant for Goodman’s arrest for participating in a “riot,” which is in direct violation of her constitutionally protected right to work as a reporter. The charges – which were dismissed by a judge on Monday in the wake of widespread condemnation – have been called “a transparent attempt to intimidate reporters from covering protests of significant public interest” by the Committee to Protect Journalists.3

Tell North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the U.S. Department of Justice: Stop police abuse and protect the Constitution, not the fossil fuel industry.

In addition to Goodman’s arrest, authorities in North Dakota are actively targeting journalists and others with a wide audience to prevent them from reporting on the protests. Acclaimed actress Shailene Woodley, who filmed the Dakota Access protests for 40,000 viewers on Facebook Live, was singled out by police for her celebrity and arrested on the scene.4 Police also arrested climate documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, held her for 48 hours without access to her lawyer and charged her with three counts of conspiracy that could land her in prison for 45 years – all for simply filming the protests.5

Based on the reports, it appears that government officials are attempting to intimidate indigenous people resisting the pipeline and silence the press from spreading the word. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is quoted as saying that, in response to the protests, the federal government is looking into “what potential steps could be taken to ensure the safety and security of our energy infrastructure.”6

The injustices perpetrated by the government and the fossil fuel industry against journalists, Native peoples, and their allies are an unacceptable assault on the First Amendment. We must stand with them now and ensure their constitutional rights to assemble and report are fully protected.
Tell North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and the DoJ: Stop police abuse and protect the Constitution, not the fossil fuel industry.

  1. Life in the Native American oil protest camps,” BBC, Sept. 2, 2016.
  2. Jennifer Cook, “North Dakota’s Governor Declared a State of Emergency to Deal With Peaceful Oil Pipeline Protesters. We Call It a State of Emergency for Civil Rights.,” American Civil Liberties Union, Sept. 13, 2016.
  3. MEDIA ADVISORY: Journalist Amy Goodman to Turn Herself in to North Dakota Authorities,” Democracy Now!, Oct. 13. 2016.
  4. Actress Shailene Woodley arrested during pipeline protest,” BBC, Oct. 11. 2016.
  5. Josh Fox, “ The Arrest of Journalists and Filmmakers Covering the Dakota Pipeline Is a Threat to Democracy—and the Planet,” The Nation, Oct. 14, 2016.
  6. Catherine Ngai and Nia Williams, “Canada-U.S. oil pipelines resume operations after activists halt flow,” Reuters, Oct. 12, 2016.

Egg Rolls

Just wanted to make sure everyone knows about this upcoming event - a way to eat tasty egg rolls and support the Hmong community in La Crosse!

Hi Friends and Supporters:

Our next Eggroll Fundraisers are back at the Hmoob Cultural and Community Agency of this Fabulous Fall Season. Starting on Friday, November 11th and ending on Saturday, November 12th. Sales start at 9 AM and go until 6 PM each day.

Please join us for the most delicious EGGROLLS imaginable!  :)​

We are trying something new this year. Instead of selling eggrolls as singles, we are selling them as packs in order to shorten the wait time for our community.​

Hmoob Cultural and Community Agency logo


Friday, November 11th and Saturday, November 12th, 2016
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Eggrolls: 3-pack for $5.00, 6-pack for $10.00, or $15 per dozen
Veggie or Pork

Walks-in Welcome

(Pre-order must be submitted before 4:30 PM on November 10.)

•Cash or check payable to: HCCA•

Hmong Cultural and Community Agency
1815 Ward Ave., La Crosse, WI
(Corner of Ward Avenue and South Avenue)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hot Coffee

[First, a reminder - progressive potluc tonight 5 to 8 pm. Get directions by emailing couleeprogressive[at]]

Do you know about LinkTV? It's an independent television channel available on cable and satellite tv line ups that digs into the issues most other television channels don't cover.

Today I am temporarily in a house with satellite TV and I'm watching the 2011 documentary, Hot Coffee, on LinkTV. You must watch it.

Here's a blurb from the doc's website:

Because of the success of the public relations campaigns, paid for by tobacco, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, to name a few, our civil justice system is not impartial. Jurors have been led to believe that a large verdict will affect their pocketbooks. Voters believe that we have a court system out of control that needs reforming.  Although there are consumer advocacy groups who have attempted to set the story straight, there has yet to be enough money to launch the kind of public relations campaign for consumers that can even begin to combat and challenge the public relations campaigns of pro-business and tort reform groups. Over the last few years, however, documentary films and independent film festivals have become a vehicle for alternative ideas to get a public forum.

If you have access to LinkTV through cable or satellite, the documentary will air again on Monday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m.

The film begins by telling the story of 79-year-old Stella Liebeck who ordered a cup of coffee from a drive-through window at a McDonalds restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mrs. Liebeck was seated in the passenger seat of a parked car and, as she tried to add cream and sugar to her coffee, spilled the entire cup of scalding hot coffee on her lap. She suffered severe third-degree burns, years of expensive medical treatment, and a lawsuit that soon had the whole country talking.

Following an explanation of what really happened in the Hot Coffee Case, filmmakers show how this case and the myth of frivolous lawsuits was used to "catapult the propaganda" as George W. Bush says to remove basic legal rights of Americans and give a free pass to corporations.

Tort Reform - (or as Ralph Nader calls it, "tort DEform") - a concerted effort to limit or end the rights of citizens to sue when there is harm. Using a misrepresentation of the hot coffee case (and others), Republicans and their business cronies pushed for these limits in state legislatures around the country. In Wisconsin, for example, the Republican legislature in ALEC modeled "tort reform" passed in 2011, limited citizens rights to sue nursing homes for neglect and injury, prohibiting parents from suing over the death of an adult child. (Read more about how Republicans have provided health care providers and institutions with the freedom to malpractice in Wisconsin here.)

Capping damage awards - arbitrary limits on amounts juries can award when they decide that e someone has been harmed and deserves compensation. This section highlights a baby born with severe disabilities due to medical negligence. The jury that heard the case, including estimatees of the funds needed to provide maintenance, care, and living expenses for the victim, awarded a reasonable amount. But a cap cut the award by 80 percent. As a result, it's probable that the victim will need to go on Medicaid for care which will ultimately provide a lower quality of life paid for by taxpayers rather than the people responsible for the injury.

Buying state supremeourts to uphold business-friendly "tort reforms" and damage award caps - John Grisham's great novel, The Appeal, was based upon the 2000 re-election campaign of  Oliver Diaz for Mississippi's Supreme Court which is highlighted in this section. We have seen almost carbon-copy situations in Wisconsin.

Mandatory Arbitration - the practice of forcing people to use arbitration rather than use the courts
Case of a KBR (Haliburton) employee raped and beaten by co-workers, rape kit given to employer and disappears, imprisoned in a shipping container. After rescue by federal troops she was unable to sue for the mistreatment and torture because of the arbitration clause in her employment contract.

Featuring Joan Claybrook, John Grisham, and George Lakoff among others, the film lays out one way that, as President Jimmy Carter has said, "The U.S. is now an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery."
“When somebody goes to court, they’re doing something extraordinary that is hidden. To go to court and to sue is not a simple procedure. You have to go through a lot of trouble. It affects your life. You’re going to be attacked in all sorts of ways. Going to court to gain justice is heroic. That idea has to be out there. When you ‘win a case,’ you win it for other people as well as gaining justice for yourself.” - Professor George Lakoff

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Opportunity for progressive women

This is already an historic year for women, with the first woman ever to be nominated for president from a major political party. But our work is not over. While Hillary Clinton sits at the top of the ticket, our partner, Emerge Wisconsin, is training female leaders here in the state to continue breaking glass ceilings. Emerge Wisconsin, the state’s premier candidate-training program exclusively for women, will accept applications for its 2017 class until Nov. 18, 2016.
If you are a progressive woman who has ever considered running for office, you should apply!

Emerge Wisconsin is an affiliate of Emerge America, which is training the next generation of female Democratic leaders across the country. Women will be selected to participate in the 2017 class that begins in January 2017. Emerge Wisconsin’s curriculum includes training in public speaking, fundraising, campaign strategy, field operations, labor and endorsements, networking, media skills and messaging and ethics in politics.  Participants meet monthly for six months.

Emerge Wisconsin has trained more than 175 women since its founding in 2006.

Application -

The deadline is Nov. 18, 2016. The application is available at the below link or by contacting Emerge Wisconsin at or by email:

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Stopping the TPP (still ticking)

[Ron Kind won another term as Republidem representative from Wisconsin's Third Congressional District in the August  primary (where Bernie handily won a majority in April - where were the Bernie voters in August?) when, with no Republican on the ballor, he defeated Myron Buchholz with 81% of 13% (about 10%) of the voters. We can at least write in Myron Buchholz on our fall ballots to show opposition to the TPP. Cha nces are, the great compromiser Obama will give away the store to get the TPP passed in the lame duck session. More proof that what the majority of people want is not usually what we get in our deMOCKracy.]

Reprinted from The Daily Call, 10-12-16:

Get Ready For What’s Coming Up: We Still Have To Fight The TPP

The fight is in the House, where Paul Ryan is working behind the scenes to try to put the votes together to pass it.

By Scott Galindez
Reader Supported News (10/9/16)
Many of you have heard Paul Ryan say the votes are not there in the House to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring it up for a vote in the Senate. Larry Cohen, the past president of the Communications Workers of America and current chair of the board of Our Revolution, is not so sure.
Cohen doesn’t trust McConnell and he told RSN that Ryan is seeking the votes. They don’t say it publicly since there is a very important election coming up. Opposition to the TPP comes from progressive populism and right-wing reactionary populism. So Democrats supporting the TPP face opposition on their left and Republicans face opposition on their right.
The election in November is the big reason there hasn’t been a public push for votes on the largest trade deal ever. Publicly, both presidential campaigns oppose the TPP. With Hillary Clinton we have to wonder if this is an example of her “public position” while privately she supports it. For Trump, it is a nationalist reactionary movement that he is trying to tap into.
What this sets up is a behind-the-scenes push to get the votes in a lame duck session. GOP leaders want the TPP. The leader of the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, wants the TPP. If they can ram it through Congress in the lame duck session after the election, then the next president’s hands are clean, and the leaders of the two major parties get to deliver a gift to those they really represent, corporate America.
Food and Water Watch describes the TPP as the following:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam). If Congress approves this controversial deal, it would not only harm workers and the environment, it could unravel hard-won national and local policies on fracking, food safety, the environment and local democratic autonomy. The rules of the TPP game are rigged for corporations, making it easier to use trade rules to undermine and unravel these domestic safeguards.
Here are just a few ways the TPP would harm our food, our water and our democracy:
    • The TPP grants corporations special rights to sue over policies the companies claim hurt their profits — demanding cash damages for public health, environmental safeguards, consumer protections or local fracking bans that corporations don’t like.
    • The past free trade deals have cost millions of good jobs and contributed to the growing economic inequality in America and the TPP would make it easier to offshore and outsource more jobs.
  • The big food and agribusiness companies will try to use the TPP to weaken U.S. food safety rules and inspection at the border, potentially exposing people to unsafe imports.
Those are just a few of the problems we face with the TPP. If this is true, why does President Obama want the trade deal so badly? Cohen says he is not a psychologist but he thinks it is a legacy thing. He thinks the president is looking for another major accomplishment. The gridlock in Washington has prevented Obama from accomplishing most of his agenda, so the TPP would be a major accomplishment.
How Do We Stop It?
According to Cohen, the votes are there to pass the TPP in the Senate. He is not optimistic that, if McConnell backs down and allows a vote, we can stop it. He believes the fight is in the House, where Paul Ryan is working behind the scenes to try to put the votes together to pass it. Cohen said they got 60 votes in the Senate to pass fast track and they only need 5o votes to approve the TPP, because the vice president would vote for it.
In the House, most Democrats oppose the TPP. Representatives at the Congressional District level are usually influenced by organized labor, so it will be hard for Obama to sway most Democrats. Twenty-eight Democrats voted in favor of the TPP last year. They are:
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
James Himes (CT-04)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
Gerald Connolly (VA-11)
Donald Beyer (VA-08)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Derek Kilmer (WA-06)p
Ron Kind (WI-03)
If your Representative is on that list, let them know that you oppose their position and call on them to vote against it.
If your Representative is not on the list, they need to hear from you that you appreciate their principled position. Let them know that you have their back. They will be pressured by corporate lobbyists and the White House to approve the deal.
Our Revolution has made stopping the TPP a priority in the coming months. They have also launched a campaign on climate change that will oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. Josh Fox is touring the country and leading that fight.
Larry Cohen is traveling the country building opposition to the TPP. We must not allow a lame duck session vote to take place. On Thursday night, Cohen was in Des Moines for a town hall meeting sponsored by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Below is the entire meeting filmed by RSN and streamed by Political Revolution TV.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Reminder - Stand with Standing Rock - Tuesday

Despite a disappointing outcome in the appeals court, the Standing Rock and other actions continue to stop the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure through Native American sacred spaces and under important waterways including the Misourri and Mississippi Rivers. Donate, spread the word, get a shirt, consider going to help out. Do what you can.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Nader effect - buyer beware

Many people are warning that a vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein (who will be inserted into tonight's presidential "debate" by Democracy Now! as she was in the first "debate") is a vote for Trump. 

Those of us who lived through the "election" of 2000 have heard this type of argument before. And, following the selection of George W. Bush, years' worth of misinformation have solidified the myth that "Nader cost Al Gore the election."

D Buzz Davis, a longtime Wisconsin progressive activist has sent a link to a great Jimmy Dore show from October 7. Dore clearly and simply walks us through what really happened in 2000. I URGE you to view this video. 

Don't let misinformation and false memories keep you from voting (if you still think that matters) for the candidate you prefer, and consider that whoever beomes president, the make up of the Senate and House maybe even more important. 

And don't think voting is the most you can do. It's barely the least you can do. Do more.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Inaugural Potluck Reflections

Thank you to everyone who joined us last night for what we hope will be the first of many gatherings sharing food and ideas to enrich and progress our community. It was so exciting and heartwarming to see how many of y’all already know each other, the existing connections, and new friendships taking root!

For those who didn’t make it or couldn’t stay the whole time, some topics discussed:
  • Saving Our Unique Land (Rachel). Concerned locals are invited, Monday 10/10 at 1:45 at La Crosse County Courthouse, to visibly support the Town of Holland as it challenges the legal, environmental, and ethical concerns of the Badger-Coulee transmission line in this appeal case. More info at
  • Stand with Standing Rock (Cathy). Show your support for the environmental and indigenous rights lead. Tuesday 10/11 from 5-6 at Burns Park (8th and Main St). More info at
  • Injustice Boycott (Monica). Against police brutality and injustice because Black Lives Matter. Nationwide, starts December 5th, details to come. More info at
  • Potential for joining the La Crosse County Democratic Party (JD). Mixed feelings and dialogue welcome.
  • Training on how to run for office (Jess). County Board member Patrick Barlow has offered to share his experiences and insights. Coming in November, details TBD.
  • Citizen’s Climate Lobby urging national legislation on carbon tax (Peter). Ongoing.

As this was our first time hosting such an event, we learned a lot already! Some logistical tweaks Peter and I have come up with so far:  
  • STARTING EARLIER: We would like to try an earlier start-time. Like 5 pm. We hope to better accommodate families with kiddos, people who work early Friday morning, and anyone who does earlier bedtimes. We are flexible on the end time, so if you still want to stay later to hang that is great too.
  • CLARIFYING GROUP TIME: For similar reasons, we would like to consider a set time to call together the group’s attention for discussing issues and ideas. Like 6 pm. We’d love feedback on that. Last night happened fairly organically, which was nice in a way, but unfortunately it happened later in the evening, meaning that several friends had already left. Every one of you is valuable, and I was sad about the missing voices. I see it as preventable. We want to modify to make it more organized without being too rigid, hoping to enable more people to participate. Some of this will probably trial and error, and again we are very open to input on this.
  • ALL AGES: A reminder we welcome kids of all ages. We have some toys and activities, and of course feel free to bring your own bag of tricks. I will say our house is not “toddler-proof”, so parental supervision is advised for kids at that dangerous explorer phase. But we will have some particularly kid-friendly spaces set up next time. Last night we had some rad babes from 4 weeks to 6 years old, and they were some of the cutest people there IMHO. Bigger kids, teens, and students are certainly welcome too. Especially if they want to babysit :D
  • ACCESSIBILITY PROBS: Unfortunately, our house is not ideal for all abilities. Coming through the front requires six concrete steps (three and three), plus the curb which is not ramped unless you come from the street corner about 100 feet from our door. Coming through the back requires two deck steps and is a wider entrance. We do not have a ramp but the back is relatively friendlier. If these structures pose a barrier to you or someone you want to invite from coming, please let us know, and we can help make it work. There is a bathroom on the first floor.
  • TRANSPORTATION: We are right on a bus route (woo!), so consider that. You can park bikes or wagons in the backyard, and there’s plenty of street parking for cars. If you need the back entrance for accessibility reasons, let us know, and we will make sure there is room for you to park in the alley. We could probably squeeze 4 cars max back there.
  • COMMUNICATION: It might be helpful if we have a scribe during the large group discussion. Something to think about before next time. The day after potlucks, we could post on the blog with a summary and updates. We will share the blog posts on the Coulee Progressives facebook page for easy sharing among FB users. If you would like to write about local issues, let Cathy know, and she can give you access to blog. More content would be great! Relevant events will be posted on both sites, with an emphasis on facebook because that can be a useful way to invite FB users to come to events.

What do you think? If you have feedback, concerns, or proposals for improvement, please feel free to share publicly online for discussion, send Peter or me a message privately, or save for group discussion at the next potluck. We would love to have these hybrid social-strategizing (sociagizing?), fun-organizing (funganizing?) community potlucks every other Thursday. We are happy to host. If/when others want to host, be our guest! (Or actually we’ll be yours :D yukyukyuk.)

The next potluck planned is 10/20. Come alone or invite anyone you feel would appreciate a safe, friendly environment for progressive discussion and organizing. Who are the people you know who want to see change? Who is already working for change? What coalitions can we build in our community? There is so much work to be done in our world. How much more can we do when we all move together?

With hope for the revolution,