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.