Thursday, December 01, 2005

Earth Day Every Day

EARTH WEEK! coninutes
On March 17, Governor Doyle signed into law Wisconsin's new Energy Efficiency and Renewables Act, which will mandate more efficient and cleaner energy use. "The new energy legislation, Senate Bill 459, requires 10 percent of the state's electrical supply to come from renewable energy resources by 2015. It replaces an earlier law that required 2.2 percent renewable power by 2011. The act sets tougher standards for state agencies, requiring the six largest state agencies to draw on renewable power for 10 percent of their power needs by the end of next year, and 20 percent of their power needs by 2015. It requires the state to pursue additional funding for the research and development of agricultural digesters, and it also calls for a pilot program to test the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of burning leftover corn plants to heat residences.

"The act requires Wisconsin utilities to directly support energy efficiency programs, ensuring annual expenditures of $85 million a year to promote energy efficiency. It also increases funding to local governments for energy efficiency projects, requires the state to update building codes to include higher energy efficiency standards, and requires the state to set higher energy standards for state building projects and purchases."

On Monday, May 8 please join WISPIRG and the UW-L Progressives as they host an energy forum with State Senator, Dan Kapanke at 7 p.m. in the Port o' Call, Cartwright Center, UW-L.

Let's make sure Senator Kapanke hears from his constituents that we want more clean energy, more energy efficiency and more state focus on how new energy technologies, including energy efficiency, can benefit the people, businesses and workers of Wisconsin.

Remember - REBATES available! from Focus on Energy You can get $2 per Energy Star compact fluorescent bulb or $5 per multipack (up to a total of 12 bulbs) from now through June 30. Take advantage of this offer to switch out high wattage incandescent bulbs and save money and energy. For example, Farm and Fleet in Onalaska has a sale on (through April 30) for compact fluorescent bulbs (12 watt (60 or 75 watt equivalent) for $2.49. Use your $2 per bulb rebate and get a cf energy saving bulb for just 49 cents! Focus on Energy also has a rebate program for schools, businesses, farms, local governmental units, private colleges and universities, etc., too up to 2,500 bulbs per entity!

Monday, November 28, 2005

La Crosse Says YES!


FIFTY-FIVE percent of La Crosse voters said "YES" to the April 4 referendum, "Should the U.S. begin an immediate withdrawal of its troops starting with the National Guard and Reserve?" The final total was 3,614 yes votes and 2,983 no votes. The far south and north sides of La Crosse voted against the referendum with the central city and university area saying yes.

(Please note that George Bush won his election in November 2004, the one that supposedly gives him a mandate to continue the occupation of Iraq indefinitely, with 50.7% of the vote.)

Over 30 Wisconsin communities voted on some form of the referendum. Amery, Mt. Horeb, Whitefish Bay and Edgewater all voted "yes" with margins in the 52-54% range. Shorewood's yes vote was 70% of the total. Some communities turned down the advisory referendum. [to be updated]

Many supporters of the La Crosse referendum felt a victory had been achieved before the vote took place. More people are now discussing the Iraq occupation and the administration's and Congress' role in its continuation. More are aware of the tremendous costs of the continuing occupation - to military members and their families and to communities around the country. More have seen that many Iraqis do not feel safe, do not feel as if they have a democracy and believe the United States will occupy their country for decades into the future. The local news media have stepped up in the past three weeks to provide more and better coverage of the issues and we hope they will continue reporting real facts about Iraq and the local impact of the occupation.

The relatively low voter turnout was a big disappointment. About 21% of eligible voters cast ballots in this election, a bit but not much higher than the normal for spring primaries. Nearly 80% of eligible voters stayed home.

The second disappointment is that even though La Crosse voters said, "Stop this war and start bringing our troops home," tomorrow, another $250 million will be spent on bullets, bombs, bribes and who knows what else. Tomorrow more Iraqis will be kidnapped, killed and injured in the "school for terrorists" the U.S. invasion has created in their country. Tomorrow more military men and women will be put in harm's way.

It's a bittersweet victory, winning an advisory referendum. Our fervent hope is that Representative Ron Kind will take note and work to end this occupation. We hope he will demand accountability of funds already appropriated and say no to more off budget, borrowed-money requests for continuing war. We hope that he will work strongly against any attempts by the Bush administration to justify attacking Iran. And we sincerely hope that his colleagues in the U.S. Senate will revive the bill defeated by Republicans last fall to demand a timetable and real plan for quick withdrawal from Iraq.

Friday, November 04, 2005

How to stop "partisan bickering" - step one

The other morning I was listening to WIZM, the only non-sports talk radio in La Crosse. I listen in the morning because they often announce and provide news about local events and issues. On this particular morning, the host, Mike Hayes, was interviewing local political science professor, Joe Heim.

Hayes was asking Heim why there was so much partisanship and "partisan bickering" and why politicians had to resort to smears and gotcha politics.

I don't remember Heim's response because I started thinking of the WIZM daytime schedule:

Every weekday morning there's a short (three minute?) Rush Limbaugh bit where he distorts, lies and calls anyone who disagrees with him all manner of nasty and hateful names - from "feminazi" to communist sympathizer, pinko, wacko and more. His tone from beginning to end is disrespectful and undemocratic. In other words, he doesn't lay out facts and state his side of the argument, rather he twist and distorts the facts and then calls anyone who doesn't agree with his twisted distorted conclusions a commie, facist, terrorist sympathizer or worse.

Then, for six full hours every weekday, WIZM broadcasts Limbaugh and the equally shrill Sean Hannity. Six hours daily of distortion and demagoguery, thirty hours per week of one-sided biased slanted shrill partisan opinion.

But wait, there's more!

On the weekends we get three hours of Mike Gallagher and three of Drudge. So in all, WIZM is contributing to the polluted "partisan bickering" atmosphere to the tune of at least 36 hours of programming per week. (And I'm not counting the right-leaning Jim Bohanon who hosts a program every weeknight.)

Now, if WIZM really wanted to be fair and contribute to non-partisan discussion and debate, it could replace Limbaugh or Hannity with a talk show giving a different point of view like Ed Schultz or an Air America program.

Personally, I'd love it if WIZM carried the daily award-winning news program, Democracy Now which interviews guests from all across the political spectrum and discusses important news stories that get no coverage on most other news programs.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, if Mike Hayes truly wants an end to partisan bickering and gothca politics, he ought to take a look at his own station's contribution to the polluted political atmosphere.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Don't believe in evolution? Don't use it!

Majority of Americans Reject Theory of Evolution

"NEW YORK (Oct. 23) - Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved."

I say, if you don't believe in a theory, then don't use it! Check out this handy website to see what you'll be missing, including the latest medicines and treatments, advice about how to control superweeds, bacteria and viruses, and research about foods, animals the environment and more!

And, while you're at it, we wish you wouldn't use any other scientific theories, either. So - no nukes for you! Oh, and be sure to avoid stepping outside - that pesky theory of gravity, you know.

Sheesh! What hope is there?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

How Bushco Supports the Troops

Two stories from a dailykos diary (

1. from The News Tribune

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle).
The bonuses were offered in January to Active Guard and Reserve and military technician soldiers who were serving overseas. In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.

"This is outrageous," the senator said in a telephone interview. "It makes me angry that this administration has broken another promise to our troops."

A Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, confirmed the bonuses had been canceled, saying they violated Pentagon policies because they duplicated other programs. She said Guard and Reserve members would be eligible for other bonuses...

Murray, a leading Capitol Hill critic of management of the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs, said she didn't know why the bonuses were dropped but suspected it was connected to the tight federal budget.



2. from The News Tribune (10/16) (Tacoma, WA)

For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire'

His hand had been blown off in Iraq, his body pierced by shrapnel. He could not walk. Robert Loria was flown home for a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he tried to bear up against intense physical pain and reimagine his life's possibilities.

The last thing on his mind, he said, was whether the Army had correctly adjusted his pay rate -- downgrading it because he was out of the war zone -- or whether his combat gear had been accounted for properly: his Kevlar helmet, his suspenders, his rucksack.

At his home near Middletown, N.Y., Robert Loria plays a keyboard. He lost his left hand in a bombing in Iraq.

But nine months after Loria was wounded, the Army garnished his wages and then, as he prepared to leave the service, hit him with a $6,200 debt. That was just before last Christmas, and several lawmakers scrambled to help. This spring, a collection agency started calling. He owed another $646 for military housing.


On the PBS documentary show, Frontline - The Torture Factor, you can see another way this criminal administration is injuring people - both those who are tortured and, in many cases, those who are forced to torture.

How many outrages will it take for "values voters" to get it?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Are Progressives Schizophrenic?

Are progressives schizophrenic?:
David Sirota argues YES! in his latest Huffington Post post. "we rightly decry politicians that on issue after issue seem to slither around in the Washington, D.C. mud like invertebrates, desperate to evade any sort of concrete position. Then, we turn around and venerate politicians/candidates based on little more than rhetoric and so-called 'profile' - qualities that have nothing to do with actually demanding or rewarding politicians/candidates that have specific convictions." Anybody but (insert name of latest right-wing criminal politician here)? Or "this I believe"? While Sirota argues that values voters are needed within the Democratic party, maybe Democrats need to see if that coat still fits and be willing to trade it in for a GREEN one when the opportunity presents itself.

When, year after year, even the most promising of Democrats (Russell Feingold comes to mind) turns coat and backs a particularly odious bill or appointee, you have to wonder, what's the use? Particularly in these days as the whole foundation of our political life is getting an extreme makeover by corporatist Republicans, even Russell Feingold doesn't seem to get it.

His statement during the Roberts nomination hearings,

"History has shown that control of the White House, and with it the power to shape the courts, never stays for too long with one party. When my party retakes the White House, there may very well be a Democratic John Roberts nominated to the Court, a man or woman with outstanding qualifications, highly respected by virtually everyone in the legal community, and perhaps with a paper trail of political experience or service on the progressive side of the ideological spectrum. When that day comes, and it will, that will be the test for this Committee and the Senate. And, in the end, it is one of the central reasons I will vote to confirm Judge John Roberts to be perhaps the last Chief Justice of the United States in my lifetime,"

makes it clear that Senator Feingold still thinks we are playing a badminton game when in fact the venue has been switched to WWE Ultimate Smack-Down.

Ok - he can go into this next round with his newly strung racquet, but I am looking for the Progo-Terminator to hold onto Roe, the Endangered Species Act, a non-political Park Service, a no-torture civil society and so much more.

I agree with Sirota that the "grass roots" needs to quit being so timid and back candidates on substance over style. I just think Sirota is too timid himself in limiting his field of candidates.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Worse Than Watergate

How a Lobbyist Stacked the Deck:
Abramoff Used DeLay Aide, Attacks On Allies to Defeat Anti-Gambling Bill
by Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi, Washington Post, Oct. 16.
"[T]he Internet Gambling Prohibition Act went down to defeat, to the astonishment of supporters who included many anti-gambling groups and Christian conservatives. A senior aide to then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) helped scuttle the bill in the House. The aide, Tony C. Rudy, 39, e-mailed Abramoff internal congressional communications and advice, according to documents and the lobbyist's former associates. Rudy received favors from Abramoff. He went on two luxury trips with the lobbyist that summer, including one partly paid for by Abramoff's client, eLottery Inc. Abramoff also arranged for eLottery to pay $25,000 to a Jewish foundation that hired Rudy's wife as a consultant, according to documents and interviews. Months later, Rudy himself was hired as a lobbyist by Abramoff. ... The work Abramoff did for eLottery is one focus of a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation into his dealings with members of Congress and government agencies. Abramoff is under indictment in another case in connection with an allegedly fraudulent Florida business deal." Crooks and Cronies, Part One.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Reuters: U. S. Troops Starving Iraqi Civilians

"A United Nations human rights investigator on Friday accused U.S. and British forces in Iraq of breaching international law by depriving civilians of food and water in besieged cities as they try to flush out militants. Swiss Jean Ziegler, UN special rapporteur of the commission on human rights on the right to food, speaks, with regard to World Food Day on October 16, about the hunger situation in the world at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Oct. 14, 2005. But the U.S. military denied the charge and said that while supplies were sometimes disrupted by combat, food was never deliberately withheld. Jean Ziegler, a former Swiss sociology professor who is U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, said the Geneva Conventions banned military forces from using 'starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.' But he said that in Falluja, Tal Afar and Samarra, Iraqi and U.S.-led forces had cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults on entrenched Sunni insurgents over the past year. 'A drama is taking place in total silence in Iraq, where the coalition's occupying forces are using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population,' Ziegler told a news briefing."


Support the troops.

Read the story here.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Support American Girl!

I'm not into purchasing expensive plastic gunk for kids, but if you must purchase a doll this holiday season, please consider purchasing an American Girl doll. "The Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA), in a campaign launched Wednesday, is urging its members to demand that American Girl halt support for Girls Inc., which it called 'a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group.'" Read the AP report here.

Now, Girls Inc. is a 140 year old organization that supports the growth and health of independent, strong girls.

And the AFA? According to People for the American Way, "Two of the main duties that AFA assigns to itself are 'promoting the centrality of God in American life' and 'promoting the Christian ethic of decency.' 'Indecent' influences in American culture include: television, the separation of church and state, pornography, 'the homosexual agenda,' premarital sex, legal abortion, the National Endowment for the Arts, gambling, unfiltered internet access in libraries, and the removal of school-sponsored religious worship from public schools."

So, it's time to stand up to these religious bigots and misogynists. If there's a girl in your life and you want to give her a doll, book or something else American Girl offers, please get it from them and let them know why.

(Cross posted at Coulee Progressives.)

Health Effects of Climate Change

". . . we can see some of the health effects that may lie ahead if the increase in very extreme weather events continues. Heat waves like the one that hit Chicago in 1995, killing some 750 people and hospitalizing thousands, have become more common. Hot, humid nights, which have become more frequent with global warming, magnify the effects. The 2003 European heat wave — involving temperatures that were 18°F (10°C) above the 30-year average, with no relief at night — killed 21,000 to 35,000 people in five countries. But even more subtle, gradual climatic changes can damage human health. During the past two decades, the prevalence of asthma in the United States has quadrupled, in part because of climaterelated factors." There's much more in this October 6, 2005 report by Dr. Paul R. Epstein (associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Boston) published in the New England Journal of Medicine. You can also hear an interview with Dr. Epstein.

(Cross posted at Coulee Progressives.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Campus Camp Wellstone

Campus Camp Wellstone

This is a great opportunity for our community! Those who can will attend and learn about making a difference. This session's theme is the environment - timely since there are many issues nationally and locally that need immediate attention. Those who can't, COOK! Thanks to Obbie and RoZ for coordinating food and all the great cooks and businesses who are donating ingredients, casseroles, beverages, desserts and more! Wow!

If you attend Campus Camp Wellstone, please let us know how it was!