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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Green Drinks - La Crosse

[from Chris via Vicki via Hank]:
Chris Schneider, hybrid guru and founder of La Crosse Green Drinks, has arranged for Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the U. of Missouri, to come to La Crosse for the December Green Drinks meeting at Hackberry's on Tuesday, December 18 at 6:30 p.m. Dr. Ikerd was the main speaker at Ashland's Alliance for Sustainability "Pie & Politics" community-wide event held this past June at Big Top Chautauqua!

Dr. John Ikerd spent the first half of his thirty-year academic career as a traditional free-market, neoclassical economist. Growing concerns for the lack of ecological, social, and economic sustainability of American agriculture during the 1980s led to broader concerns for the lack of sustainability for American society in general. As an economist, Dr. Ikerd eventually came to understand that growing threats to ecological and social sustainability are rooted in the neoclassical paradigm of economic development, which is inherently extractive and exploitative, and thus, is not sustainable. Dr. Ikerd has spent the last half of his academic career and much of his time since retirement developing and testing the concepts and principles of an alternative development paradigm, the economics of sustainability. He is the author of the book, Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.

For those unfamiliar with "Green Drinks" meetings, there is no charge to attend - it's an informal way to get together to share "green" issues and ideas.

p.s. Bring THREE friends!
Why this matters? Read this.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Progressive State of the Union date set

Please put FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1ST on your calendars RIGHT NOW!

That is the night of the Fourth Annual Coulee Progressives' State of the Union at the Concordia Ballroom, located at 1129 La Crosse Street, in La Crosse. We will host a Community Information & Action Fair from 5 - 10 pm.

That evening, we will focus on GROWING OUR PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY. It will be a chance to network, learn about local progressive activities, campaigns, and candidates, share ideas, and be inspired. We all know that 2008 is an important year for national politics... it's also an important year for our local, growing progressive community. Please plan to join us!



Donations will be accepted on a sliding scale of $2 to $20 to help cover costs, and to raise funds for the La Crosse Peace & Justice Coalition''s bio-diesel bus and other progrressive causes in the community. We will also be collecting non-perishable food items for WAFER food pantry.

If you would like to display information or merchandise, we'd love to have your participation! This is the main focus of this year's event! We are suggesting $10 for a half-table where you could display information or merchandise. Please contact Cathy Van Maren at cvmaren@mwt.net to reserve your space today.

We expect this event to draw a crowd... a simple meal will be provided(including vegan & vegetarian options). You are welcome to bring a shared dessert to the event, if you'd like. (mmm)

Thanks, and see you there!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here's your democracy for you

Poll after poll has shown that the American people do not want more money spent on the conquest of Iraq. Constituents around the country have written, phoned, emailed and gone in person to visit their representatives. Demonstrations and sit ins have accented the point - no more for war.

So, what happens?
House Passes $696B Defense Policy Bill
By ANNE FLAHERTY (Forbes) 12.12.07, 6:02 PM ET

The House passed a defense policy bill on Wednesday that would authorize $696 billion in military programs, including $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ok, it's the "defense policy bill that doesn't send money to the Pentagon, BUT it does signal their intent to continue funding the unpopular war in Iraq. The Dems' "no money until next year" pledges was one of those funny calendar tricks your daffy uncle used to amuse the children at the family Christmas gathering. "See you NEXT YEAR!" he'd wink (but you knew next year was just a few days away).

What about that Iraq funding? Democrats bow to Bush's demands in House spending bill
The final legislation, still under negotiation, will be shorn of funding for the war in Iraq when it reaches the House floor, possibly on Friday. But Democratic leadership aides concede that the Senate will probably add those funds.
...
The agreement signaled that congressional Democrats are ready to give in to many of the White House's demands as they try to finish the session before they break for Christmas -- a political victory for the president, who has refused to compromise on the spending measures.

So, there you have it. Democracy at work.

For more details on just exactly what the Democrats are giving up, check this diary at DailyKos.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What Would Jesus Buy?

While this is the name of a great new movie (which we'll never get to see in La Crosse), it's also a question many of us ask ourselves as we see this season of giving and appreciating turned into a lustfest for more and more and more stuff.

So, if you don't want to buy the latest asbestos-laden toys or the world's largest plasma TV, here are some suggestions for honoring your family and friends and helping others, too.

Brad Pitt's Make it Right Project lets you help reconstruct homes for the people of New Orleans. You can buy a bathroom faucet ($40) or low VOC paint ($25) or sponsor a whole house.

The Heifer Project lets you buy a cow or some chickens or rabbits for a poor family somewhere in the world. The animal or farming gift allows the family to sell products and improve their living conditions. The family also agrees to pass along animal offspring to others in their communities.

Mercy Corps is an international humanitarian aid and development charitable organization that focuses on emergency relief services, economic development and civil society.

Of course there are tons of worthy organizations that could use a donation, from The Arbor Day Foundation to your favorite candidate.

Local organizations, including Place of Grace and Options in Reproductive Care would welcome a year end donation as well.

Until the shopocalypse comes, find a way to step out of the whirlpool and consider donations in a loved one's name, homemade gifts, or services you can perform.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

FEINGOLD LISTENING SESSION IN LA CROSSE DECEMBER 1!!!

[IMPORTANT NOTE: SENATOR FEINGOLD WILL BE AVAILABLE TO MEET WITH THE MEDIA FOR A SHORT TIME PRIOR TO THE LISTENING SESSION. (Hint: BE THERE AT 7!)]

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold will hold his final Listening Session of 2007 in La Crosse County on Saturday, December 1. Senator Feingold has pledged to hold listening sessions in all of Wisconsin's 72 counties each year of his six-year term and this is the Senator's 15th year of holding listening sessions. This session will mark the 72nd listening session of 2007, and the 1080th since 1993. If constituents need special accommodations at the listening sessions they should contact Senator Feingold's Middleton office at 608-828-1200.

His La Crosse County listening session will be held at 7:30 a.m. at the Campbell Town Hall, 2219 Bainbridge Street, in the Town of Campbell. The meeting will last up to an hour.

"I again look forward to meeting with constituents in Chippewa, Dunn and La Crosse Counties," Senator Feingold said. "These listening sessions are an excellent opportunity for me to hear directly from constituents about any issues or concerns they may have, and I appreciate the effort people make to attend these meetings and let their voice be heard. Their ideas and advice continue to enable me to serve the people of Wisconsin to the best of my ability."

BE THERE!

He's pretty good except on Iran.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Buy Here

The UW-L Progressives will again offer an excellent opportunity for us to put our money where our hearts are.

The annual Fair Trade Market will be held November 28 and 29 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Port o' Call, Cartwright Center, UW-L. Gifts from around the world (via 10,000 Villages) plus local and other fair trade goods will be available.

Come and show your support for UW-L Progressives and for the fair trade movement and ideal.

Learn more about Fair Trade here.

We have a dream

Soon, it will be time to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What do you admire most about Dr. King? His faith? His perseverance? His intelligence? His humor? His vision? His model?

Help us plan a great celebration of his life and works in January 2008. The next planning meeting will be at 4:00 p.m. at the Jubilee Center, 1707 Main Street (in the Grandview Building).

Everyone is welcome to help the plan. If you can't come but would like to be involved, please call the Jubilee Center, 782-1394.

Amy Goodman's tribute to Dr. King.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You're Invited

November 15 at 6 p.m. at Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House (8th and Main Streets). Program will include an interactive slide show on Indigenous/Hmong gardening and a short presentation on Food Safety and Indigenous Rights. Vegan food included. All organic. FREE.

Howard Zinn Tells All

Friday, November 09, 2007

Monday - 5th and Jay - 10 a.m. Be There

Rep. Ron Kind, who has never met a war funding bill he didn't like (or at least didn't vote for) has agreed to meet with some of the protesters who piled into his office on November 1, just after four other protesters were sentenced for trespassing earlier this year (see below). The meeting will occur at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 12.

Only the protesters are allowed to meet with him, but we would like to show our support for them and for their demand - NO MORE FOR WAR - by standing near his office, Fifth Avenue and Jay Street, on Monday morning from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.

The Democrats have been a BIG disappointment when it comes to doing something about ending the conquest of Iraq. Their new package provides $50 Billion more for war, with a weak, non-committal withdrawal request. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, claims that if Bush vetoes the funding which includes a timeline for withdrawal, she will not put forward another funding bill this year.

Pelosi may be caught between conservative "Democrats" (I thought we'd gotten rid of those when Lyndon Johnson ordered desegregation in the south?) and the progressive caucus. But the American people couldn't be more clear. "The American people want out."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Kind Trespassers Sentenced

[from Jason]

Today, La Crosse Municipal Judge, Dennis Marcou, found four anti-war protesters guilty of trespassing at Congressman Ron Kind’s office. Judge Marcou fined Anita Zibton and Gail Vaughn $96 each. Two twelve-year-old girls had their fines waived. More than 60 people appeared in court to support the protesters.

While the four defendants were in court, eight additional protesters sat in at Congressman Ron Kind’s office, refusing to leave until he agreed to meet privately to talk about the upcoming War Appropriations Bill. Dozens of supporters stood outside Kind's office.

Adam Conlin, spokesperson for the anti-war protesters, said, "Ron Kind has publicly stated on his website that 'American military power is not the solution to war. More troops, more time, more money—these are not the answers.' We agree with our Congressman and are here to ask him to vote according to his stated public values."

Congressman Ron Kind has repeatedly voted for authorization bills for ongoing funding of the war. "It’s time for Congressman Kind to take a stand. How can the Congressman agree that the solution is not military power while supporting funding for the war?" asked Jason Strangstalien.

After an hour of discussion with Congressman Kind’s Chief of Staff, and communications with the Congressman himself, Ron Kind agreed to the protesters’ demands for a private meeting to discuss the upcoming Appropriations Bill. The bill is tentatively scheduled to be voted on in January of 2008.

The protesters agreed to meet with Congressman Kind on condition that the meeting would be timely and would address the concerns that the overwhleming majority of his constituents oppose the war and want the troops home. Congressman Kind’s staff stated that the meeting would take place before the end of November.

In spring of 2005, La Crosse residents voted to support a resolution for the safe and immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, one of dozens of Wisconsin cities, villages and townships to do so.

================= end report ==============

Back in January, a new idea to stop war funding, Operation Occupation began and the targets were Democrats who said how bitterly they opposed the occupation but continued to vote funding for it.

The Obey meltdown and tirade against "idiot liberals" who want to end the war by stopping the funding, is one result. But so far, funding is chugging right along, ensuring we will probably surpass the TRILLION DOLLAR mark Republicans scoffed at just a year or so ago.

The best way to stop war funding is to run someone against Ron Kind in the primary and get rid of the guy. Let him go back to being a prosecutor or run for Governor (now THERE'S a Halloween thought for you!)

So - WHO WILL RUN AGAINST RON KIND?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't settle

In September, I was lucky to talk to a couple of anti-recruitment activists as they toured the country promoting their new book, Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World. Their visit and conversations with friends and family about young people we've known who have been recruited into the military, prompted me to write a letter to the editor of the La Crosse Tribune about military recruiters targeting young people under age 18.

The letter was submitted on September 30 and, after about a week and a half, I asked why it hadn't been published. I was told the editor was seeking a response from "the Army or the Defense Department." Finally it was published on October 18.

Within a couple of days, several angry letters were published, some from people related to military recruiters. They said I should be ashamed of comparing military recruiters to child molesters. I'm not.

I've received positive comments and calls from several people. I invited others to write in their own views on the matter. At least one has, but her letter has not been published. That's when I learned mine is no longer available on the Tribune's web site.

It's their space and they can do what they want, but by eliminating my letter (the negative responses are still available, by the way) they also removed links to the American Friends Service Committee website on Youth and Militarism that includes 10 Points to Consider Before You Enlist, information about recruiting in schools and a link to information about getting out of the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP). Please click Read More below to continue

By chance (maybe), at the same time, the Tribune published a three-part AP series on child predators in the classroom. Predictably, several teachers took issue with the articles which seemed to imply that child predation is rampant among teachers. Yet, the Tribune has not removed these articles from its web site.

My letter wasn't that great. With the Tribune's 250 word limit, a lot was left out. But, as the US prepares to attack Iran (with the support of the American people, apparently) and things bog along in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can bet the military isn't going to waste a penny of its $4 Billion annual recruiting budget by just going after 18 and 19 year olds.

It's an important issue, but the Tribune seems afraid to address it.

Meanwhile, recruiters and military representatives are in and out of our high schools like horses on a merry-go-round. Since the start of the school year, the National Guard, Air Force Academy, Navy, Army, Army wrestlers and Army band have been or are scheduled to be in our local high schools. Do you think any of the AFSC's 10 Points is available to students who talk to these recruiters?

Black River Falls High School, one of the poorest districts in the state, has given the military's ASVAB, vocational and career interest inventory. According to AFSC,
The military uses ASVAB to do targeted recruitment of young people. Recruiters give special attention to students in the 11th or 12th grade who meet minimum standards - what they refer to as "pre-qualified leads." They use test information (scores, name, address, etc.) to identify and reach young people they hope to sign up. Recruiters contact these young people by letters, phone calls, and visits to home and school. Students may receive calls from recruiters even if they say they are not interested in joining the military. One often-used tactic is to leave a message for a student telling him/her of an appointment with a recruiter, even if the student didn't ask for one. Just remember, there is no law that requires a student to join the military or to talk to recruiters.


The Tribune is our only paper. They devote whole sections every day to sports and on weekends to cooking and "leisure." They publish letters from people who are clearly nuts, including regular waves of them from folks who apparently live constantly in the United States of Fetuses. But let one letter in that offends the spouse of a military recruiter who "never lied to anyone" (yeah, right), and oh, my, we can't have THAT now, can we?

I hope people will write to the editor with their own views on military recruiting of children and not let them bury this important issue.

Here's mine:

Get the facts before enlisting

TO THE EDITOR

Parents, schools and communities work hard to keep our teens from dangers like sexual predators, alcohol and tobacco advertising, accidents and disease. Add military recruiters to the list.

Recruiters are focusing on younger and younger students who can’t really make informed decisions. They get contact information from schools, data miners and companies like Jostens. The Defense Department has worked with agencies specializing in marketing to children to develop recruiting tools like music videos and violent video games. Large bonuses and other benefits are promised but not always delivered.

Before they are legally old enough to sign contracts and without knowing all the facts, students are recruited into the Deferred Enlistment Program.

Parents and teens should consider: Twenty-five percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006 were from suicide. Extended deployments are the norm. The “signature wound” of the Iraq war is brain injury. PTSD, alcohol abuse, anger and aggression and divorce rates are high for returning veterans.

Young women should also note that in 2006, more than 100 women were victims of recruiters’ sexual misconduct. Military women report high rates of rape and sexual assault and little help from the military dealing with these crimes.

The American Friends Service Committee has useful information for teens and parents. (www.afsc.org/youthmil/thinking-of-enlisting/10-points.htm). The Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors has information about getting out of the Deferred Enlistment Program (http://www.objector.org/girights/delayed-enlistment-program.html)

Adults are free to enlist if they wish. But we should not facilitate or encourage military recruiters targeting teens.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Tax the Rich

Republican whiners, in the form of the Wisconsin Taxpayer’s Alliance (WTA), complain that public employees’ benefits cost too much.

At the same time, Wisconsin is giving credits worth $1.75 million of taxpayer’s money to Logistics Health (LHI). LHI has received many taxpayer gifts and subsidies and does much of its business with government agencies, especially the Defense Department. (It's no accident that LHI's rise came in with the "Reagan Revolution.")

So, in addition to subsidies, taxpayers pay LHI to do things government could do itself.

A study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities confirms that public insurance is much less expensive than private. This public/private cost difference carries into many other areas. Why pay more for privatization?

Top officers in private business are usually well compensated. Many contribute large sums to political candidates who oppose taxes and to "the public good" as they see it. Even if there’s a crying need for more teachers or updated jail facilities or student financial aid, if a rich donor decides a football stadium is the way to go, that’s the way we go.

This is nuts. We are giving over essential services to profit-seeking private business and decision-making authority to profiteers. Our schools and public programs hold bake sales and raffles to fund essential services but the WTA and their Republican allies block progressive tax increases.

This is what happens when you put people who believe that "government is the enemy" in charge of government. Public employees, always trying to do more with less, are scorned and private businesses, who often get lots of public money, support those who scorn them.

Monday, September 24, 2007

October 27


On Saturday, October 27, people from all walks of life will gather at sites around the country for 11 regional demonstrations against the ongoing occupation of Iraq. George Bush doesn't care what millions of voters and citizens of the world think, but maybe our Congressional representatives do.

From United for Peace: "With each passing month, nearly 100 service-people and countless more Iraqis are killed, some 12 billion of our tax dollars are spent, and the death and destruction continue. Our communities – from New Orleans to Minneapolis – are neglected and suffer the consequences."

Regional demonstrations will be held simultaneously in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans, Orlando, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Jonesborough, Tennessee.

After every demonstration, news commentators (if they discuss it at all) say, "Well, there were only 500,000 people at that event!" But what if there were 500,000 people at 11 simultaneous events?

YOU can go to the Chicago event. It starts and 1 p.m. and ends at around 5 p.m. Buses are going from all over Wisconsin, including Madison and Prairie du Chien. Milwaukee will send at least 15 buses. Amtrak's a possibility but you'll have to stay overnight. Carpooling in an efficient vehicle makes sense, too.

What about La Crosse? We CAN do it. Won't you give up ONE DAY to demand an end to a war that is costing us about $10 BILLION per month? Email me if you plan to go. If you would like to help secure a bus, let me know that. If you can drive others, tell me how many. I will add all names to a temporary e-list so we can coordinate as many people as possible getting to this important event.
For more info about buses from Madison, Milwaukee and other sites around the state, visit Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. We will post info about local transportation options as they are finalized.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This has got to stop!


The half-trillion dollar war just keeps going and going. Tonight, by four votes, a resolution to allow down time at least equal to deployment time failed in the Senate. Republicans keep voting to exhaust our military by continuing the brutal occupation of Iraq. Democrats keep voting to fund it.

IraqMoratorium says, "On the Third Friday of every month, starting this Friday, Take Action! The Iraq Moratorium will be an escalating monthly series of actions demanding an end to the war. Starting on Friday, September 21 and on the third Friday of every month thereafter, we will take the time to show our President and Congress that our troops must be brought home, now! Call Congress today! 202-224-3121."

More info at iraqmoratorium.org/

Monday, September 17, 2007

Prometheus Now

Over the weekend I chatted with Peg Nolan, formerly of the People's Food Co-op, now living in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area of North Carolina. Peg told me about their fantastic Low Power FM station, WCOM-FM, community radio.

This is what we desperately need in La Crosse!

When Wisconsin Public Radio ate the local public radio station, WLSU many years ago, we lost a lot. Few stations have a local focus. WIZM-AM provides local programming and talk in the mornings, but most of its programming is canned right wing propaganda, from Rush to Hannity and some nutso religious money guy who castigates callers for having credit card debt in the evenings. (But do listen to Coast to Coast AM at midnight.)

WLSU provides a few local programs in the mornings and volunteer DJ jazz on weekends, but there's hardly anything about the local music scene and few programs about local issues. Other radio stations provide mostly canned music or sports talk.

I've been trying to get Democracy Now!, an award-winning daily news program, on the free airwaves in La Crosse for years. No go. Not enough break time to make money, said one commercial station (they weren't interested in play for pay, either.) I won't air anything that doesn't "support the troops," said another local broadcaster (code for "buy into rightwing newspeak").

BUT, with a local LPFM station, not only could we broadcast DN! daily to thousands in La Crosse, but we could broadcast other free speech programming, news and analysis kept off the commercial airwaves, programs about local music, local youth issues, events, history, women's issues, health issues, recreation and sports, ... the sky's the limit.

A few years ago, the La Crosse School District was granted a LPFM license, but because they didn't construct the required facility within 18 months of the granting of the license, they lost it.

The Prometheus Radio Project provides help for local groups wishing to apply for licenses. Their online document, Organizing Your Station, gives a good overview of equipment needed. There's a lot more info out there.

Anyone interested in getting a start on an LPFM community radio station? Email me.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

EMERGENCY!

[Update: Well, don't bother contacting Russell Feingold. You'll get a rehash of all the reasons Iran is a bad guy but no mention of the Bush administration's plans to bomb the hell out of it. Another Senatorial non-answer.]

Floods, mudslides, resignations, revelations ... summer closes with a bang and fall begins with a bang.

A Wisconsin Public Radio program on August 29 featured retired CIA officer, Robert Baer, whose book, See no Evil, was made into the film, Syriana. Baer says he is certain the US will attack Iran within the next six months. Listen here.

Shortly after, several diaries and articles have appeared, including


You get the picture.

And, according to one diarist, it's all set up with the news rollout by Admin. friendly media. And they are already rolling out the "why".

This is an emergency. Call or email Feingold, Kohl and Kind. Do it now.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Solarize!

[from Bill]:

The public is invited! Wednesday, August 29, 7:00 p.m. in the basement of the Ho Chunk: John Murphy (formerly of La Crosse, now in Viroqua), owner of Greenhome Solar, will educate those present about the new technologies and benefits of solar hot water and space heating systems. He'll bring demo models of new solar collectors; he also promises a slide show on some of his recent installations. He'll surprise many with his information about state and federal rebates, that could possibly result in a $6000 system costing you as little as $1000!

John will also talk about Focus on Energy, the state program that promotes investment in renewable energy systems and technologies. He'll be happy to answer questions about car conversions to bio-diesel, about ways to achieve greater energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

Currently, John is an instructor at Viroqua's Youth Initiative high school (chemistry, physics, electricity). He is a long-time advocate of alternative energy technologies and the environment. His email address is nonewCO2@yahoo.com, and his telephone number is 608-790-1789.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One small step for a House of Representatives

" US House votes to bar permanent Iraq bases"

"The bill passed by 399 votes to 24 as most Republicans also backed it, despite many Bush supporters deriding the vote as purely symbolic."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ban permanent bases

[From United for Peace and Justice:]

The House will vote tomorrow (July 25) on bill to ban permanent bases in Iraq and to ban US control of Iraqi Oil.

Calls are needed!
Stop Empire Building! Ban Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq!
Call your Representative
202-224-3121
Tell then to vote YES on HR2929


Talking points:

The perception in Iraq that the U.S. is planning a permanent, or decades long presence in their country has fueled the armed insurgency and been an obstacle to peace negotiations.

The U.S. has dozens of military bases scattered across Iraq, including at least four that the Pentagon identifies as "enduring."

(from the Friends Committee on National Legislation)

Background Information and Text of bill:
Although we have won this vote before, each time it has been part of a war funding bill, and the ban has applied only to the money in those bills -- thus the current ban on permanent bases will expire in September. This vote on HR2929 will be permanent ban. The bill also includes language prohibiting U.S. control of Iraqi oil. Unfortunately, the bill will be voted on under a strict rule which will require a 2/3 majority for the bill to pass.

Read more here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

SICKO is in La Crosse!

SickoFinally SICKO has come to La Crosse.

Please consider spending a little of your time at the Ward Avenue Cinema this week handing out the flyers prepared by the California and National Nurses Associations and info and a petition from Michael Moore's SICKO site.

Make sure everyone you know sees this film. It's not about the uninsured - it's about those who think they/we are covered.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Something to do!


Sunday, July 29 from noon to 5 p.m. at the
Northside Oktoberfest Grounds.


Food (fajitas, hotdogs, brats, veggie options), beverages, live music, raffle and silent auction.

Children's activites including crafts, games, pi
├▒ata (with prizes)
6 years old and under = free; 7 to 16 = $5; 17+ = $10
(Admission includes entrance, meal and children's games)

Paid For By The La Crosse County Democratic Party, Jason Gillette Treasurer




Saturday, June 02, 2007

Continuing occupation ... of Kind's office

[From Anita]

On May 30, four people were ticketed for trespassing at Ron Kind's office. We went there with a Code Pink woman who is touring the country, targeting the 59 Democrats who voted for $100 billion more for the war. Ron Kind is one of those Democrats.

After talking with the office staffers for about an hour, the young women were determined to stay and be on record as citizens for peace. I actually suggested leaving, but they insisted on taking their stand, so I joined them along with Gail Vaughn.

These two 12 year old girls were willing to risk going to juvenile detention. This is the second time they sat in on a dialog with the office staff (the first time they left before tickets were issued). They say they are willing to return.

Our first court appearance is June 26, at which time we will plead "not guilty". We will then have a trial by jury in the city court, then go to a trial in the circuit court.

A continuing "occupation" of Kind's office would help alert Ron to the reality that We the People are against the war. The logic for continued funding of the illegal and immoral war presented by the staffers to explain Ron's position was baffling at best, a Republican spin at worst. The Orwellian undertones were most disturbing. And as I have mentioned before, Ron has articulated the lies told by Bush to start the war and Ron specifically stated that the war would not be won in the battlefield, but rather with negotiation...and then he votes for $100 billion more insanity and destruction.

Please keep calling him and consider sitting in with us next time.

Peace

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chewed up and spit out

From Obbie and RoZ:

We just read two very moving letters by Cindy Sheehan. The first, written this morning, was a message of disgust at the Dummycratic party and its inability to stand up to Emperor Bush and stop the war. Then as the day ground on, she apparently suffered from a lot of abuse from all directions, and threw in the towel on her activist efforts.

The political bureaucracy has done what it seems to be designed to do: it has taken another good-hearted person and worn her down to the point that she has nothing left to offer:
I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost.

Please read both letters. There’s a lot written between the lines
that this country needs to learn.

http://www.counterpunch.org/sheehan05282007.html
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/5/28/12530/1525

More discussion here...
http://blog.purplearth.net/?p=48

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just say no

Well, that didn't take long.

All that sputterin' and fist shakin' and big talkin'. All that hope that the Democrats would come through and change things.

Well, yeah. Sure.

They changed things all right. It's like sending your five year old into a poker game to play for next month's rent. It's like thinking that scarecrow is really going to keep the birds out of the corn. It's like hoping there really is enough gas in the tank to get to the job interview.

We don't want more billions spent on the conquest of Iraq. Period. How clear is that? How clearly did voters tell Ron Kind, WE DON'T WANT MORE BILLIONS SPENT ON WAR WITH IRAQ. Did he listen? No.

Well, you have to keep trying, right? You have to keep emailing Ron Kind or calling him (local office, 782-2558) even though you know damn well he couldn't give a fig for your opinion, desire, concern or demand. You can email Feingold and thank him for keeping up the fight. And you can email Kohl to see if he's ready to do anything yet.
But, really, it's not going to help. As long as the noise machine keeps equating spending billions of dollars on weapons and Iraqi lawmakers' two month vacation with "supporting the troops" and as long as Ron Kind and his buddies keep voting against their constituents' interests and wishes, it's really an exercise in futility.

New party, anyone?

I noted on another list that the Republican party grew from anti-slavery Democrats who were outraged that their party supported the disastrous 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. That same year, the fledgling party was forming (in Ripon, by the way) and by 1855, Republicans, including Cadwallader Washburn, (and other opposition party members) controlled the House of Representatives. By 1860, Republican, Lincoln, was elected president.

Were those folks smarter? more passionate? better organized? Can anti-war stir the same passion and sentiment as anti-slavery? Can't our internets, cell phones, myspaces, automobiles get as much done? Or are we so Anna Nicole Paris Angelina'd that a rat could gnaw off our pinkie toe and we'd never even feel it?

I don't know. I'm one of those idiot liberals who doesn't go for this new-fangled reverse reverse reverse psychology. We have to fund the war to stop it. Doesn't this sound like something from George Orwell?

We have to stop funding the war to stop it. That's the message. If you're up for it, tell them that.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What kind of people are we?

[UPDATE: Common Chemicals Pose Danger for Fetuses, Scientists Warn]

Who would poison their food for generations to come and not even think about it?

* A new study of hundreds of existing studies and databases concludes that chemicals we put into our environment cause breast cancer. "The researchers named 216 chemicals that induce breast tumors in animals. Of those, people are highly exposed to 97, including industrial solvents, pesticides, dyes, gasoline and diesel exhaust compounds, cosmetics ingredients, hormones, pharmaceuticals, radiation, and a chemical in chlorinated drinking water."

* For years now, we've been warned against eating fish because of mercury contamination. "Federal and state advisories focus on how much and what species of fish can be hazardous to women and children, but there are increasing signs that adult men, and women beyond childbearing age, are also at risk."

* Our oil gluttony knows no limits. No matter what, we must have oil. More, more, MORE! "In violation of Peruvian law, Oxy dumped an average of 850,000 barrels per day of toxic oil by-products from the extraction process, known as 'produced waters,' directly into rivers and streams used by the Achuar for drinking, bathing, washing, and fishing, totaling approximately 9 billion barrels over 30 years of operation."

* Fluoridated water should not be used to mix infant formula. Who knew?

* Chemicals linked to birth defects in canned foods and the consultants tasked to oversee for safety found to have worked for the chemical's manufacturer.

* Globalization means we now get food from anywhere and everywhere. Do they use banned pesticides? Do they follow safe handling rules? Do they wash their hands? Who knows? Who cares?
And while there are a few bright spots, they turn out not to be after all, " U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in a published order said his initial injunction against planting more of Monsanto's herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready alfalfa should stay in place until government studies on its environmental effects are concluded.

The ban is nationwide. An estimated 220,000 acres of Roundup Ready alfalfa have [already] been planted.

Who would do such a thing?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The bill that should have passed


Rep. James McGovern (MA) (no relation to former presidential candidate, George McGovern) proposed a real "support the troops" bill in the House on Thursday: HR 2237, to provide for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq.

Let's see, how did Ron Kind, the guy who heard from his constituents in the strongest of terms that WE WANT OUT NOW, support the troops???? Was he a co-sponsor? No.
But did he vote for the bill - the bill that doesn't just call for a pullout of U.S. troops but also demands that we remove contractors, transfer permanent bases to Iraq and help Iraqi refugees (in fact, a plan close to one offered in 2006 in a book by former presidential candidate George McGovern, Out of Iraq)?

Well, ... no.

So, all of us who took time off work, arranged for a sitter, left our comfy routines to go to a Ron Kind (not) listening session, hats off for another useless effort to hold this "representative" to vote in the best interests of his constituents and his country.

In fact, according to Meteor Blades, a regular DailyKos diarist,
A surprisingly large number of House Democrats, 169 – including Iraq war veterans and a few Blue Dogs, including hawk Jane Harman – voted Thursday for the nine-month withdrawal plan, so many that Jim McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat who was the chief sponsor of the proposal, was amazed. "This is proof that the United States Congress is getting closer to where the American people already are."

Who will run against Ron Kind in 2008?

Here's the text of the bill that should have passed (and that Ron Kind rejected in favor of this war FUNDING bill.)

H.R. 2237: To provide for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq.

Commencement of Redeployment- Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of units and members of the Armed Forces deployed in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and contractors operating in Iraq and funded using amounts appropriated to the Department of Defense.

(b) Completion of Redeployment- The Secretary of Defense shall complete the redeployment of the Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq within 180 days beginning on the date of the commencement of the redeployment required under subsection (a).

(c) Prohibition on Use of Funds To Increase Armed Forces Serving in Iraq- Funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense under any provision of law may not be obligated or expended to increase the number of members of the Armed Forces serving in Iraq in excess of the number of members serving in Iraq as of January 1, 2007, unless the increase has been specifically authorized in advance by an Act of Congress.

(d) Authority To Determine Locations Outside of Iraq for Redeployment- Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict the locations outside of Iraq to which units and members of the Armed Forces redeployed from Iraq may be transferred, including redeployment to an adjacent or nearby country at the invitation of the government of the country or redeployment to bolster military forces deployed in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

(e) Authority To Retain Armed Forces in Iraq for Limited Purposes- The Secretary of Defense may retain in Iraq members of the Armed Forces for the purpose of providing security for the United States Embassy and other United States diplomatic missions in Iraq; protecting American citizens, including members of the Armed Forces; serving in roles consistent with customary diplomatic positions; engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach; and training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces. At the request of the Government of Iraq, the Secretary of Defense may retain in Iraq members of the Army Corps of Engineers and defense contractors engaged in reconstruction projects in Iraq, to the extent necessary to complete such projects.

(f) Availability of Funds for Safe and Orderly Redeployment- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds appropriated or otherwise made available in any Act are immediately available for obligation and expenditure to plan and execute a safe and orderly redeployment of the Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq, as required by this section.

(g) Transfer of United States Military Facilities in Iraq- The President of the United States shall transfer to the Government of Iraq all right, title, and interest held by the United States in any military facility in Iraq that was constructed, repaired, or improved using amounts appropriated to the Department of Defense and occupied by a unit of the Armed Forces.

(h) Prohibition on Use of Funds To Further Deploy United States Armed Forces to Iraq- Beginning on the date of the completion of the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq under subsection (b), funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may not be obligated or expended to further deploy units or members of the Armed Forces to Iraq, including through participation in any multinational force in Iraq, except as provided under subsection (e) or unless such deployment of units or members of the Armed Forces is specifically authorized in advance by an Act of Congress.

(i) Assistance to Iraqi Security Forces and Multinational Forces in Iraq- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict the use of funds available to the Department of Defense for the purpose of providing financial assistance or equipment to the Iraqi Security Forces or multinational forces providing security or training in Iraq at the request of the Government of Iraq.

(j) Continuation of Diplomatic, Social, and Economic Reconstruction Activities in Iraq- Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict the use of funds available to any department or agency of the United States (other than the Department of Defense) to carry out diplomatic, social, and economic reconstruction activities in Iraq at the request of the Government of Iraq.

(k) Asylum or Other Means of Protection for Iraqi Citizens - Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict the authority of the President to arrange asylum or other means of protection for Iraqi citizens who might be physically endangered by the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq.

(l) Definition- In this section, the term `Armed Forces' has the meaning given the term in section 101(a)(4) of title 10, United States Code.

Friday, April 27, 2007

So, La Crosse is one of the greenest cities?


Stopping global warming

Good lord! It's worse than I thought! Apparently, the people judging the cities didn't notice the 85 to 90 percent Single Occupant Vehicle rate (at least that's what I've observed on several different occasions.)

I don't know ... if La Crosse is one of the greenest cities, we're really screwed.

We, the undersigned

[Sign on by contacting Katie Nekola, 608-251-7020 ext. 14)

RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES

We the undersigned strongly support increasing our use of homegrown renewable resources like wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass to 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2020. Increasing our use of renewable energy is critical to reducing global warming pollution, protecting our environment, and strengthening the economy.

More than twenty states and the District of Columbia have already enacted Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) and are reaping the benefits. In addition, ten states have increased or accelerated their standards. This policy has proven to be an effective, efficient, and popular driver of expanded renewable energy development. It is time to bring those benefits to the rest of the nation.
Developing our renewable energy resources will create jobs, save consumers money and bolster rural economies. Recent analyses by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found that a requiring 20 percent of electric generation from renewable energy sources by the year 2020 would create over 355,000 new high-paying jobs and save consumers at least $49 billion on their electric and natural gas bills.

In addition, by shifting away from fossil fuels, we can diversify and secure our energy supply while reducing global warming pollution. A 2006 analysis by U.S. PIRG found that by obtaining 20 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020, we could cut global warming pollution over 500 million tons, the equivalent of taking approximately 89 million cars off the road. Similarly, a report released last month by the renewable energy scientists of the American Solar Energy Society indicates that renewable energy alone can help us reduce our global warming emissions 26-34 percent by 2050. The recently released U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report underscores the urgent need for these reductions.

In time of rising energy costs and the threat of global warming impacts such as sea level rise, increased droughts and more intense tropical storms, we need a new energy future. Increasing our use of renewable energy is a critical step toward a cleaner, more secure energy future. That’s why we strongly support increasing our use of renewable energy to 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is NOT a drill

Really, I don't have much hope. I was just thinking about the reports that say we have about ten years TOPS before the Earth starts to melt and that we have to cut greenhouse gases by 80 percent or else.

I mean, look around our own little bubble. Already, the La Crosse Speedway's season of nightly races has started. My friends' neighbors will haul out their gas powered leaf blower to blow that one leaf down the driveway and into the street (and don't forget the bug zapper). Across the city, people who live less than five miles from work will hop in their 8 passenger vans to drive to work, then drive home to lunch, then drive back to work, then drive to the gym, then drive home. And, coming this Christmas, another humongo Rotary Lights "gift" will pump the equivalent of three houses' worth of annual pollution so people can drive their cars around Riverside Park and donate a can of corn to the poor (who, scientists note, will suffer the most from the effects of global warming.) [Read More below.]

And how many parents or hobbyists are going to be hopping into the car every weekend to follow their kids or their passions all around the region (and don't get me started on the folks who have to drag a trailer (horse, go-kart, ATV ...) behind their giant truck.)

Me, I'd love to get a new car. The Zap Xebra is a cute little 100% electric city/commuter car (top speed somewhere under 45 mph). I'd love one of those, but my farm is in Chaseburg and electric cars in winter require a nice warm garage and quite some babying.

I'd love to have a Zap, or even a Zap Xebra TRUCK (three wheels, two seats, flexible bed with quarter-ton carrying capacity (on the flat).

And, I'd love to have a Honda Fit - versatile, qualiity and 40+ mpg. Even better, I'd hold off for the coming (rumor has it) Honda Fit Hybrid - same versatility and maybe 60 to 80 mpg. And both are low-cost, another major factor for me.

There are problems with all electric and problems with hybrids. Electric puts out far less pollution that hybrids (even if all the power to charge comes from a coal burner) BUT to be affordable, most use lead acid batteries which are only good for three to five years and have to be replaced and recycled.

I DO ride my bike when I can (less than I used to, but still quite a bit) but there are some days when I just cannot ride the bike and be the taxi and the go-fer.

Well, that's just cars. Just the tip.

We are trying to help by growing food for local consumption, but getting the word out is a full-time job and I already have one of those! In the meantime, the average food item travels about 1,500 miles before hitting your plate. How much crap does that pump into the air?

If you are more optimistic than I am, do this experiement. For the next 24 hours ask everyone you know what they are personally willing to do to stop global warming.

I don't have a lot of time right now, but I really don't see how this is going to happen barring some major guv'mint interference in our lives. During the blitz (the bombing of Great Britain - especially London and other major cities - during world war 2), the British people had blackouts - no streetlights, no car lights, no house lights (heavy curtains required) at night so targets couldn't be easily identified from the air. But that took a war and a government decree and neighborhood blackout wardens to strictly enforce things AND there weren't big political cronies spending millions to convince the people that the blackouts were a waste of time and the Blitz was just a theory.

Are we ready for neighborhood CO2 wardens? Should we get a carbon ration card at the beginning of the year and have to have it punched whenever we participate in a carbon-emitting activity? What about the guy who has to truck his demolition derby car all over the state (now, multiply by millions).

[Shakes head sadly.] I don't think this is going to work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Universal Health Care

Aesculapian Staff
UPDATED 4/20/07 - Corrected number of children without health care in the U.S. according to the National Coalition on Health Care. Thanks, Obbie!

[From Maureen Freedland of the Great Northern River States Health Care Initiative]

La Crosse County has 7,700 residents without health insurance.

Uninsured children are twice as likely to not get needed medical care.

46 million Americans -- one out of every seven, including 8.3 million children -- do not have health care coverage.

Many of us believe we need to have a major overhaul of how medical care is covered in this country. There's an event planned in La Crescent, for Wisconsin and Minnesota people, to be part of Cover the Uninsured Week -- a national effort.

That event is planned for 1:00 p.m., Sunday, April 22 in at the La Cresent High School. Please click READ MORE below for more details.
The local Wisconsin group helping to plan this is the Great Northern River States Health Care Initiative, a group of folks from both sides of the Mississippi who have come together for the purpose of advocacy for a better health care system. The event is also sponsored by the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition.

Let's hurry up and help us get to the point where the public recognizes that "single payer" health insurance is the system we could adopt that would be most fair, affordable, universal, and comprehensive. It will give us the most choices in our medical cares. Health Savings Accounts, which hopefully we won't get instead, are at best a partial solution, for those wealthy and healthy enough to afford them.

Health care is a human right and it should not be treated as a privilege or a commodity. Please come to this Community Conversation on April 22 at 1:00 at the La Crescent High School.

Here's the news release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Craig Brooks 507-459-0237
A Community Conversation on Universal Health Care
La Crescent forum to discuss how to overhaul the medical care system

Citizens of Minnesota and Wisconsin are invited to a conversation about single-payer health care and what state legislation is currently being considered, as lawmakers participate in “A Forum on Single Payer—The Solution with NO Fine Print,” Sunday April 22 at La Crescent High School, 1301 Lancer Blvd. from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Dr. James Hart, a member of Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC) and Physicians for a National Health Program, will give an introduction to Single Payer health care to open the conversation. Participants will then share stories about their personal challenges with our health care system, after which elected officials, including Sen. Sharon Ropes and Rep. Ken Tschumper, will describe pending legislative proposals. A question and answer session will conclude the forum.

"We need to educate ourselves and make our voices heard," said Craig Brooks, an organizer of the event. "If we don’t let them know what citizens want, the lobbyists will control the outcome. We hope to raise awareness as to the benefits of a single-payer health care system."

The event is co-sponsored by the Great Northern States Health Care Initiative, citizens from Wisconsin and Minnesota who are advocating for better health care systems in our states and the nation, and MUHCC. Interested persons are invited to contact Craig Brooks at 507-459-0237 for further information.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

STEP IT UP!

Saturday, April 14 is National "Step it up" day. We can't wait another five or ten years for politicians to go around and around about whether global warming is "real" or not. It's time to step it up!

The La Crosse Earth Week Coalition and La Crosse Clean Energy Coalition have a whole week of events, speakers and workshops planned. Today's alternative energy workshop at UW-L kicks things off. Click Read More below for the whole schedule!

Click on the image below for the full schedule of Earth Week activities:

Earth Week Schedule







Tuesday, April 10, 2007

STOP!

[Recycling an email sent earlier] Remember, April 11, Ron Kind at La Crosse Public Library. Be there at 9:30 a.m.

The other day I listened to Kathleen Dunn's WPR program. She interviewed two investigative reporters about their latest article in Vanity Fair about a private contractor, SAIC, which raked in 8 BILLION of tax dollars last year, much of it related to Bush's adventure in Iraq. Please listen to it!

One quote, "If your listeners make less than $100,000 dollars, chances are most of the federal taxes they pay this year will go to SAIC."

SAIC's most visible face a few months ago, was David Kay, the guy who spent years scaring people about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and then months searching for (and never finding) them (at taxpayers' expense). SAIC is all over Iraq, claiming marvelous technology and never delivering.

SAIC, Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater - this is the another face of the continuing occupation of Iraq. (Here's a DailyKos diary about cronyism and BODY ARMOR ) Read more rant below.
Recently, we closed last year's Bring Them Home LaX website. After that successful referendum, I moved most of the files to this site.

When that site was closed, about 2250 U.S. service men and women had died conquering and occupying Iraq. That number this morning is 3292 - more than 1,000 additional U.S. troop deaths since we voted last year to end the occupation and tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths.

There are about four MILLION Iraqi civilian refugees (half internally displaced and 2 million now outside of Iraq.) This has been called the biggest refugee crisis since 1948.

The Iraq civilian casualty (650,000+) figure, poo-poohed by the Bush administration, has been shown to be accurate.

Mercenaries are the second largest military contingent in Iraq (see this new article about "Military Contractor Wants to Build Mercenary Camp" - and this one about the slave laborers being used to build the new Empire Embassy in Iraq - )

The question is, why doesn't anyone just say STOP!? Why did the Dems agree to fund one more year of slaughter. Do they think something is going to change? Or are they just using the death and destruction to win political points in next year's elections?

STOP.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Miles to go


If you haven't seen the PBS program about the Antarctic expedition by Ernest Shackleton in 1914, watch it. And imagine yourself at the top of the first mountain, expecting to see a town below and instead seeing nothing but ragged, ice covered mountains. Do you stop or go on?

We did have one victory Tuesday, Elliot, but the rest? Ziegler? This shows you what $743,000 of Republican business money can buy. We assume there will still be an investigation of her ethics, but where will that go? Bjerke? Horne?

Bleh! We have fire - they have money (and churches that motivated Ziegler/"Right to Life" voters)

Notes on La Crosse Clean Energy Coalition

[from Bill]

The third gathering of the La Crosse Clean Energy Coalition was on Thursday, March 29, in the basement of the Ho-Chunk Building. We had a fine presentation by Anne Morse, from Winona, who shared with us some of the promises and bumps in the road of their group that, in short order, will begin constrution of a 2.0 megawatt wind turbine. Our own task group on wind energy was educated and inspired; perhaps serious deliberations will begin locally about La Crosse's own possibilities for wind energy generation.

The downside of the meeting was the absence of several of our key players, which slows the progress of deliberations for a few of our task groups. The task groups that met: fluorescent light bulbs, green building construction, home energy conservation, wind energy, and political affairs. Read more below.

Glen Jenkins will spearhead the group's efforts to author an "action agenda." This will be a pamphlet to inform the public about future directions that a regional plan for clean energy could take.

Kudos to Barb Frank, who has done the ground work for organizing the visit of Mary Rehwald to our community. Mary, a long time member of Ashland's City Council, has been instrumental in her city's "eco-municipality" work. La Crosse's City Council recently took first step in that same direction.

So mark the dates: Mary will speak at the Reinhart Building of Viterbo University on Tuesday, April 17, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p. m. and at Viterbo's Murphy Center on Wednesday, 18 April at 9:00 a.m.

Keep the calendar out: mark the date of our next CEC meeting: Thursday, April 26, at 7:00 p.m. in the basement of the Ho-Chunk Building. The first half of the meeting will feature Guy Wolf, who will educate us about the grave perils awaiting the Midwest (and the world) as energy and agricultural resources here are redirected toward the production of ethanol. There are better alternatives! As usual, the second half of the meeting will be dedicated to the meetings of the separate task groups.

New members are always welcome. Email Bill or call him at 785-2031 for more info.

VOTE

City Clerk Teri Lehrke expects voter turnout to be around 15%.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Supreme Court for Sale

David and GoliathOf course, the supreme court race is but one in a series of super high dollar struggles between rich Republicans and the rest of us. But the gloves and masks are obviously off and it seems that this race may be, or maybe MUST be, the last stand of the people against the cronies. LINDA CLIFFORD NEEDS YOUR HELP!

Marcia just passed along this cheery news: "We just found out that the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has dropped another $730,000 in TV commercials for Annette Ziegler the last 4 days before the election."

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has documented Republican "third party" issue ads and extraordinary spending in this race and that pits Madison attorney, Linda Clifford, against Republican Ziegler who has violated the Judicial Code of Conduct dozens of times during her tenure as a state circuit judge. Please read more below!

Please email Marcia if you can help make phone calls for the good candidate.

Right now many believe the Wisconsin Supreme Court is evenly split between Republican/Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce/Wisconsin "Right to Life" judges and, on the other (our) side, human judges who actually believe that the constitution is meant to protect the rights of the people.

If the Republic/WMC/"Right to Life" candidate is elected, we are not going to be happy.

Do what you can to get the word out.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Over 250 viewed Eyes Wide Open exhibit in La Crosse

[From June]

The venue was a good place to have the exhibit. As you entered the room, you saw the large AFSC banner hanging above the tab;es where we had placed the boots in the center of the room. The sandwich boards were placed around the room, and one in the hallway outside Port O'Call where we had the display. The pile of shoes and boots for the Iraqis were on the floor to one side, under the large EWO banner. The map with the poppies was near the boots with a podium where we put the large book with names and addresses of the Wisconsin dead so people could look them up and find the place on the map.

At the entrance we had the other things - biographies, comment book, cost of the war handouts, etc. Most of the visitors were connected with the University. Professors sent or brought groups of students and one of our volunteers was a lively, assertive greeter who encouraged many to stop by who probably would not have done so. Read more below!

One of our volunteers, Duane Teschler, is a Veteran for Peace. He was there all day and offered to read the names. He had a good loud voice, and red them slowly with dignity and feeling I am not sure exactly how many times they were read, probably 10 or so.

People were reverent, many visibly moved, some asked questions, others expressed their opposition to this war and sadness at the suffering that has and is happening. A few shared that they had someone special who was serving overseas.

All three TV stations came to the exhibit. Duane spoke to them, and the Tribune reporter got comments from some of the visitors. I only saw a glimpse of one of the TV programs, it showed Duane and a close up of the boots... The local WPR station, WLSU, had announcements of the event on their calender and interviewed some of the volunteers. I did not hear that either. We had contacted all of these media folks before the event.

The volunteers kept an accurate count of the visitors who came. It ws 270.

THANK YOU to local volunteers: Anita Beskar, FSPA (the FSPA donated the pickup to bring the exhibit to La Crosse), Duane Teschler, Bob Schneyer, Peg Umhoefer, Lois Durall, Mickey Collins, Kent Johnson, Barb Hammes, Dan Poler, Cathy Van Maren, Grace Nichelson-Maly, Madeline Kepner, Eileen Young, Jeremy Jansen and three other UW-L students, and Lori White and her family and Bonnie Pickett who took the display back to Madison for us (gratis). Also, thanks to Guy Wolf, Matt Stewart and the staff of Multicultural Student Services Office at UW-L for getting the venue, and assistance with set up and equipment.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Now THIS is a real failure on our part


Up for election but running uncontested are the following incumbents:


* Richard Becker, District 9
* Bruce Ranis, District 12
* Bernie Maney, District 13
* Tom Sweeney, District 14
* Joe Ledvina, District 15
--- snip ---

People, we have to do a better job!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Kind votes for more Iraq war money


Even though the headlines say, House approves deadline for war pullout, this "emergency" supplemental spending bill, approves billions of NEW dollars for war.

Supporters of the US Troop Readiness, Veterans Health and Iraq Accountability Act - 2007, including Reps. Obey and Pelosi, say it's the only way to start bringing an end to the Iraq debacle. But, to gain enough votes to pass, it was porked up and watered down so thoroughly that in the end, it resembled a big fat sausage.

Spinach is in ($25 million) but the McDermott amendment barring an Iran attack was pulled out. Read more below.

Read Pelosi's summary here.

Note that the bill removed the "don't attack Iran language," softened the Murtha troop readiness language, and allows the Decider to waive restrictions. It requires Iraq to turn much of its oil profits over to foreign corporations. In addition, to win votes, it is loaded with non-defense related spending from subsidies for California spinach growers to milk subsidies to subsidies for rural schools.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), defends the "add ons",I do not grant that the only legitimate emergencies are those that the president has defined for Iraq. What a number of the Republican leadership have been describing as add-ons in my bill are in reality leftovers from last session [when Republicans controlled Congress.]

Bush vows to veto the bill. Let's hope he does.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

La Crosse Clean Energy Coalition

[from Bill]
Next meeting Thursday, March 29, 7:00 p.m. Three Rivers House basement (8th and Main) New participants are welcome!

At 7:05 our guest speaker will be Anne Morse, Environmental Specialist from Winona County, who will talk about the Winona County wind turbine. Read more below!
Anne Morse, for 19 years the Environmental Specialist with Winona County, and member of their Wind Team, will report on the steps taken to get where they are now: on the verge of commencing construction of a wind turbine. She will discuss: partners/shareholders; wind and site feasibility studies; financing; zoning and land-use issues; role of city and county; agreement with Xcel Energy; financing. The Winona experience should be very instructive for us here in La Crosse.

8:00 Task Groups meet. For any new people: e-mail me back to find out about our different task groups--we'd love to get you involved.

8:40 End.

Email Billkatra@hotmail.com for more information.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seven Ticketed at Ron Kind's La Crosse Office

From Anita:

On the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, about 50 people gathered outside Ron Kind's La Crosse office to demand no more money for war and to bring the troops home now. A majority of the crowd were college students. Inside, seven people talked with the aide to Kind and stayed until the police came in to issue trespassing tickets. It was a useful dialogue for ourselves, if not the aide. When one hears others talking for an hour on the subject with such intensity and passion, looking the police in the eyes and refusing to leave is not that difficult. Read more below - including how you can help!
Two twelve year olds stayed until asked to leave by the police...they almost decided to remain but saw upfront what it was like to sit in .... they say next time they may not leave.

We have been highly conditioned to obey the law, yet we allow Congress and the President not only to break the national, international and moral laws, but Constitutional laws as well.... and, how many of us have had a few too many and drove home? or inhaled? or sped down the highway? All these acts are breaking the law and put one's self at risk of arrest and having a record. To occupy the office of an official and demand accountability at the risk of one's arrest was much easier this time.

The fine of $90 or two days in jail (which a possible outcome) feels insignificant when considering 650,000 Iraqis have died at the hands of the US and $2,000 a SECOND is being spent for the invasion and occupation...with no end in site!

The aide said that the phone has been quiet at the office about the war during the last few months.

We know how frustrating it feels to just talk to the staffer, but I highly encourage everyone to call...again and again and again as you hear new bills being proposed. Kind needs to know what you think.

Please mark your calendars and attend the following if possible:

April 11 is a town hall listening session with Kind in La Crosse.

April 25 is our first court appearance for the trespassing charge. Keith Belzer has graciously consented to represent us again as most of us will probably go to trial on the issue.

Peace,
Anita

Monday, March 19, 2007

THE HUMAN COST OF THE IRAQ WAR

TUESDAY, MARCH 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Port o' Call, Cartwright Center, UW-L (corner of State Street and Campbell Road)

Read an account of the Eyes Wide Open exhibit in Viroqua at Kicktime.

Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely-acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq War, features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty, a field of shoes and a Wall of Remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed in the conflict, and a multimedia display exploring the history, cost and consequences of the war.

Since 1917, the American Friends Service Committee has championed the dignity and worth of every individual, the sanctity of human life and humanity's collective responsibility to promote peace. For almost 90 years of work in war zones on four continents, we have gained an intimate knowledge of the costs and horrors of war.

When this exhibit was unveiled by our Chicago office in January 2004, there were 504 pairs of boots symbolizing the lost lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. With each passing week, each stop in a new city, more pairs of boots are added to represent the newly fallen. Alongside the boots stands a wall of remembrance with the names of the more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion.

As the exhibit makes its appearances across the country, families and friends come to grieve for lost loved ones and strangers honor those who gave their lives to a cause far from home.

At each stop, person after person leaves notes of commemoration, photographs of lost soldiers, identification tags, flowers, and American flags to accompany the boots on their journey.

Although a majority of Americans now believe this war is a tragic misadventure, the human cost of the Iraq War grows every day. How many more boots will be standing at silent attention before this war ends, before Iraqis and American soldiers are out of harm's way?

This traveling exhibit is a memorial to those who have fallen and a witness to our belief that no war can justify its human cost.


Mary Ellen McNish,
General Secretary, AFSC

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bring Them Home - La Crosse archive

After the successful petition drive and referendum vote in spring 2006 - "The U.S. should begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq starting with the National Guard and Reserve" - we stopped updating our website. As we work now, one year and more than 1,000 U.S. military deaths later, to hold our elected officials to the will of the voters, we think some of that old web site might come in handy. No updates have been done since last April, but some of the links and quotes are still useful. Read more below.


note: I am still working on reformatting everything.

West Point Grads Against the War

West Point Grads Against the War is a new website started by graduates of West Point to educate citizens about why even these honored military veterans oppose the U.S.
occupation of Iraq. Their main purpose is "To help reclaim the honor of the United States Of America."


"Instilled by the Cadet Honor System with a fundamental, longstanding respect for truth, we graduates of the United States Military Academy believe that honor is a basic attribute of character. That we are no longer cadets is irrelevant. We stand appalled by the deceitful behavior of the government of the United States and, in particular, its widely known malefactors. Lying, cheating, stealing, delivering evasive statements and quibbling not only has demeaned these deceivers and the United States of America, but has placed vast numbers of innocent people in deadly peril. We will not serve the lies.

  • "The war in Iraq was launched illegally. It has since killed tens of thousands of innocents, causing incalculable damage to Iraq and the Iraqi people, as well as the reputation of the United States of America. We will not serve the lies.

  • "When we West Point graduates took our commissioning oath of office one past June morning, we swore to protect our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The deceitful connivances of the current administration have resulted in a war catastrophic to our nation’s interests: politically, economically, militarily, and morally. We now stand to protect our nation from these deceivers. We will not serve their lies.

  • "We seek justice for all victims of this illegal war, both servicemen and servicewomen, and the citizens of Iraq.

  • "To our purpose we invoke the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence whereby we too 'mutually pledge to each other our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor.'"
For more information, visit their web site.


Coming Home Disillusioned

Christopher Sheppard, former Marine Captain writes: The war has cost the American taxpayers $250 billion and counting. The vast majority — 94 percent — of the more than 2,300 United States service members killed in Iraq have occurred since Bush's "Top Gun" proclamation. The cost in men and materiel has been far beyond what we were led to believe.

I volunteered to go back to Iraq for the fall and winter of 2004-2005. I went back out of frustration and guilt; frustration from watching Iraq unravel on the news and guilt that I wasn't there trying to stop it. Many fine Marines from my reserve battalion felt the same and volunteered to go back. I buried my mounting suspicions and mustered enough trust and faith in my civilian leadership to go back.
I returned disillusioned by what I saw. I participated in the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. We crushed the insurgents in the city, but we only ended up scattering them throughout the province. The dumb ones stayed and died. The smart ones left town before the battle, to garner more recruits and fight another day. We were simply the little Dutch boy with our finger in the dike. In retrospect, we never had enough troops to firmly control the region; we had just enough to maintain a tenuous equilibrium.

I now know I wrongfully placed my faith and trust in a presidential administration hopelessly mired in incompetence, hubris and a lack of accountability. It planned a war based on false intelligence and unrealistic assumptions. It has strategically surrendered the condition of victory in Iraq to people who do not share our vision, values or interests. The Bush administration has proven successful at only one thing in Iraq — painting us into a corner with no feasible exit.

I will never trust any of them again.


Powell: It was all Cheney

From Robert Scheer: On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the president followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us.

The harsh truth is that this president cherry-picked the intelligence data in making his case for invading Iraq and deliberately kept the public in the dark as to the countervailing analysis at the highest level of the intelligence community. While the president and his top Cabinet officials were fear-mongering with stark images of a "mushroom cloud" over American cities, the leading experts on nuclear weaponry at the Department of Energy (the agency in charge of the U.S. nuclear-weapons program) and the State Department thought the claim of a near-term Iraqi nuclear threat was absurd.



If polls were elections ...

Sunday's La Crosse Tribune reported that a poll of county citizens showed less support for the referendum than the city's 55% vote. This may mean the people polled do not have all the facts about Iraq. In the end, the only polls that really matter are elections (otherwise we would have a different president today.) We encourage continuing education and discussion about the issues. In light of daily revelations about pre-war information manipulation by the White House and the continuing deterioration of Iraq, by November who knows what the vote might be.


Why Iraq was a Mistake, by Lt. General Gregory Newbold, U.S. Marines (ret.)

General Newbold's article appears in the April 11, 2006 issue of Time magazine.
Here is an excerpt:

I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.

With the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership, I offer a challenge to those still in uniform: a leader's responsibility is to give voice to those who can't--or don't have the opportunity to--speak. Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important.



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.


The city of Milwaukee will vote on its version of the Iraq troop withdrawal referendum in November. Other communities around the state
have expressed interest in bringing the debate to their citizens. Bring Them Home - La Crosse is considering a May workshop for other
community leaders. More information about this will be posted as plans are finalized.

In the meantime, those who would like to consider a November referendum should:

  • Investigate proper wording of their referendum. Check with your city or municipal clerk. Note that including the word "immediate" may cause more debate. What does "immediate" mean? What does "BEGIN and immediate withdrawal" mean? Some people, even though this is an advisory referendum, just can't get past that word.

  • Ensure you are using the correct petition format for your referendum. Your petitions should say "Petition for Direct Legislation" at the top and your referendum should be in the form of a statement. Check with your city or community clerk's office to make sure you are using the correct format.

  • Find your target number - How many signatures do you need? "a number of electors equal to at least 15 percent of the votes cast for governor at the last general election in their city or village."

  • You will have up to 60 days to collect petition signatures. It is recommended that you plan to collect at least 10% more signatures than you need. Some of the signatures will probably be dropped when the petition is certified.

  • Train your petition gatherers well. They should understand that they must collect signatures face-to-face, they must sign and certify the petition AFTER all signatures are collected. Signatures should be legible and each entry should be complete.

  • Time your campaign to present your referendum to your governing body in July (at the latest) If your governing body fails to pass the referendum, it must go on the November ballot

  • Plan many events during October to help people focus on the costs, the reasons, the consequences. We hope to list some resources here in future weeks.

  • The main goal is education, attention and action. Troops will not come home even if your referendum passes. But the more people who learn more about the issue, the better.

Check back next week for more information.


Educational programs for La Crosse referendum

Several programs during March and early April let citizens get more information about the troop withdrawal referendum . Please see below and here for more information on written and web sources.

They included:


  • The Dreams of Sparrows, the first IraqEye collaboration between Iraqi and
    American filmmakers. (Please email if you'd like to borrow it.)

  • Canvassing by students and others to help identify supporters.

  • Two talks by Mr. Sami Rasouli whose powerful description of his personal experience returning to Iraq to help clean up after the
    attacks on Fallujah helped bring the message that many Iraqis do not want the United States as a "babysitter."

  • A forum on Iraq, hosted by the La Crosse Tribune and News Channel 8 WKBT at UW-L. Speaking in favor of the resolution were Ryan
    Schryver and Bruce Jones.

  • A soapbox forum at the public library. Mark Tayler or Round River Institute represented the "vote yes" side.

  • A special vigil by Women in Black at the downtown post office.

  • A student forum at UW-L on the first day of Peace Week.

  • A strong letter-writing campaign from many La Crosse residents.

  • This web site which has provided links to many news and opinion articles and information for voters.

  • Yard signs provided by our friends in Madison.

Now it is time to vote. Even a strong "yes" vote will not make the war end, or the killing stop, or the Iraqi people safe in their homes and neighborhoods. But, like the first few steps in a journey of one thousand miles, it will get us a little closer to our goal and, we hope, send a message to our elected representatives that they must start paying attention and stop playing politics with people's lives and futures.



Questions from the Forum



Some important questions asked at Monday night's forum did not receive full answers. We take this opportunity
to provide more information and will update as possible through the week.


Q: What about the effects of Depleted Uranium on the troops?


A: As reported by Juan Gonzales in the New York
Daily News
troops from the current invasion and occupation of Iraq have been found to be contaminated by radiation. Veterans for Common Sense
point out that many troops were not tested as they should have been by law, and many returning troops were not receiving mandatory medical
screening. The Christian Science Monitor reported that "The
remains of toxic bullets litter Iraq." Mr. Sami Rasouli reported that Iraqis must now import all their fruits and vegetables because the depleted
uranium weaponry used by the United States and Great Britain have contaminated the soil. Sites
contaminated during the first (1991) invasion of Iraq
remain "a toxic wasteland" and are blamed for Iraqi cancers and birth defects. Dr. Doug Rokke,
who helped assess the DU problems of the First Gulf War, says,
"They arrogantly refuse to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives
that require United States Department of Defense
officials to provide prompt and effective medical care 'all' exposed individuals." In addition,
contaminated armaments returning from Iraq are now being shipped by train across the country, unencapsulated. Read about
radioactive tanks in Kansas.


Q: Will we need a draft?


A: For several months in 2005, the military was
not meeting its recruitment goals.
Their response was to lower
their goals
and double signing bonuses. In addition, they
have lowered their standards, granting waivers to an increasing
number of recruits with criminal records. In fact, several recruiters have come under fire for
lying, falsifying records and using illegal tactics.
Many people believe that an economic
draft
has been in existence for several years, as college funds like Pell grants and low-interest loans dry up and recruiters target low-income
and minority teens
with bonuses for signing and money for college,
Thousands have been forced to remain in the military beyond their expected separation date through
"Stop loss" orders.
In addition, the army is promoting far
more officers than in previous years
leading many to believe the quality of leaders will deteriorate.


Should the occupation continue for many more years, as George Bush has
implied
, the military will need to do something different and drastic to maintain troop levels for an occupation and rotations.




Q: Was there a terrorist training camp in Iraq?


A: Many media reported a terrorist training camp in Iraq in 2002. However, Michael
Chossudovsky of the Centre for Research on Globalisation in Canada, says
, "Secretary of State Powell in his February 5 [2003] address to the
United Nations Security Council accused Saddam Hussein of collaborating with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Powell accused Baghdad of
supporting Ansar al-Islam, a 'deadly terrorist network' based in the ethnic Kurd controlled region of Northern Iraq. ... [But] Baghdad has no jurisdiction
in the ethnic Kurd controlled region of Northern Iraq. In fact, the region is in the US sphere of influence."
The media watchdog organization,
Media Matters for American, founded by the former
Republican consultant, David Brock, reports that as late as November of 2005, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly repeated his previously
debunked claim that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had 'allowed Ansar Al-Islam, an Al Qaeda affiliate, to exist in northern Iraq.'
In fact, as Media Matters for America has documented, northeastern Iraq, where Ansar Al-Islam operated, was 'outside of Saddam's control
before the war' [Associated Press, 1/23/04], and the terrorist group's pre-war ties to Al Qaeda were tenuous."


Even more puzzling is prize-winning investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh's report in his article
The Getaway that,
in November 2001, American bombing in Afghanistan had forced "thousands of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters to retreat inside the northern hill town of
Kunduz. Trapped with them were Pakistani Army officers, intelligence advisers, and volunteers who were fighting alongside the Taliban. ...
Surrender negotiations began immediately, but the Bush Administration heatedly—and successfully—opposed them. ... Northern Alliance officials ...
claimed that Pakistani airplanes had flown into Kunduz to evacuate the Pakistanis there."
Hersh says that US and Pakistani officials denied
the reports, but "In interviews ... American intelligence officials and high-ranking military officers said that Pakistanis
were indeed flown to safety, in a series of nighttime airlifts that were approved by the Bush Administration. The Americans also said that
what was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control, and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of
Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus."


Whether there was or wasn't a terrorist training camp in Iraq before March 2003, there are plenty of them now. In fact, "Iraq has replaced
Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of 'professionalized' terrorists, according to a report released [January 13, 2005]
by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank."
Read the article here.



more soon.








Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, U.S. Army (ret.)



Q: What's your assessment of the war in Iraq?


A: Utter debacle. But it had to be from the very first. The reasons were wrong. The reasons of this administration
for taking this nation to war were not what they stated. (Army Gen.) Tommy Franks was brow-beaten and ... pursued
warfare that he knew strategically was wrong in the long term. That's why he retired immediately afterward.
His own staff could tell him what was going to happen afterward.


We have fomented civil war in Iraq. We have probably fomented internecine war in the Muslim world between the
Shias and the Sunnis, and I think Bush may well have started the third world war, all for their own personal
policies.


Q: What is the cost to our country?


A: For the first thing, our credibility is utterly zero. So we destroyed whatever credibility we
... And I say "we," because the American public went along with this. They voted for a second Bush administration
out of fear, so fear is what they're going to have from now on.


Our military is completely consumed, so were there a real threat - thankfully, there is no real threat to the U.S.
in the world, but were there one, we couldn't confront it. Right now, that may not be a bad thing, because that
keeps Bush from trying something with Iran or with Venezuela.


The harm that has been done is irreparable. There are more than 2,000 American kids that have been killed.
Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed in which no one in the U.S. really cares about those people,
do they? I never hear anybody lament that fact. It has been a horror, and this administration has worked overtime
to divert the American public's attention from it. Their lies are coming home to roost now, and it's gonna fall
apart. But somebody's gonna have to clear up the aftermath and the harm that it's done just to what America stands
for. It may be two or three generations in repairing.


Read the interview here.











Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired) Larry Wilkerson



Q: We've been talking grand policy. The then director of the CIA, George Tenent, Vice President Cheney's
deputy Libby, told you that the intelligence that was the basis of going to war was rock solid. Given what you now
know, how does that make you feel?


A: It makes me feel terrible. I've said in other places that it was-- constitutes the lowest point in my
professional life. My participation in that presentation at the UN constitutes the lowest point in my professional
life.


I participated in a hoax on the American people, the international community and the United Nations Security
Council. How do you think that makes me feel? Thirty-one years in the United States Army and I more or less end
my career with that kind of a blot on my record? That's not a very comforting thing.


Q: A hoax? That's quite a word.


A: Well, let's face it, it was. It was not a hoax that the Secretary in any way was complicit in.
In fact he did his best-- I watched him work. Two AM in the morning on the DCI and the Deputy DCI,
John McLaughlin.


And to try and hone the presentation down to what was, in the DCI's own words, a slam dunk. Firm. Iron clad.
We threw many things out. We threw the script that Scooter Libby had given the-- Secretary of State.
Forty-eight page script on WMD. We threw that out the first day.


And we turned to the National Intelligence estimate as part of the recommendation of George Tenent and my
agreement with. But even that turned out to be, in its substantive parts-- that is stockpiles of
chemicals, biologicals and production capability that was hot and so forth, and an active nuclear program.
The three most essential parts of that presentation turned out to be absolutely false.


Read the interview here.











Major General Paul D. Eaton, U.S. Army (ret.)



"During World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion.
The most important quote in it was this: 'It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.'


"By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our
allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary.
Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.


"In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what
has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down."


Read General Eaton's editorial
in the New York Times.
He does not indicate whether or not he supports a redeployment or withdrawal of troops but he does make it clear that
Rumsfeld has been a disaster on all fronts and that "Congress must assert itself. ... Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse ..."











Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.)



Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.), is a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute and a professor at Yale University. He was
Director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988. From 1981 to 1985, he served as Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence,
the Army's senior intelligence officer. From 1977 to 1981, he was Military Assistant to the President's Assistant for National Security
Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Read the whole paper here.


Iraq through the prism of Viet Nam


"Phase One in Vietnam lasted from 1961 until the Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in March 1965, authorizing deployment of large U.S.
combat forces in South Vietnam. It began with hesitation and a gross misreading of American strategic interests. It concluded with the U.S.
use of phony intelligence that made it seem that North Vietnamese patrol boats had attacked U.S. ships in the Tonkin Gulf without provocation."


"Phase One in Iraq, the run-up to the invasion, looks remarkably similar. Broodings about the 'necessity' to overthrow Saddam's regime were heard
earlier, but signs of action appeared in January 2002, when President Bush proclaimed his 'axis of evil' thesis about Iraq, Iran, and North Korea,
countries he accused of acquiring 'weapons of mass destruction' and supporting terrorists against the United States. This became the cornerstone
of his rationale for invading Iraq, and it was no less ill-conceived than the strategic purpose for President Johnson's war in Vietnam. It better
served the interests of Iran and Osama bin Laden."




Please read General Odom's other pieces about Iraq, too, including What's
Wrong with Cutting and Running?
, published in August 2005 and Want
Stability in the Middle East? Get out of Iraq!
, published on Veterans' Day, 2005.











Withdraw from Iraq



by former Senator George McGovern and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) (excerpt) Read entire piece here.



We were early opponents of the US invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, once American forces were committed, we hoped that our concerns would be proven wrong. That has
not been the case. The United States must now begin an orderly withdrawal of our forces from this mistaken foreign venture.





The justification for the war was based on false or falsified information. What had been initially characterized by the Bush administration as an uncomplicated military
operation has turned into a violent quagmire. Our leaders underestimated not only the insurgency, but also the deep-rooted ethnic divisions in Iraqi society.


There are no clear answers from the administration or the Congress on how long our forces will need to stay in Iraq, what the anticipated costs in human life and
treasure will be, or even what would constitute success.


Instead, many of our policymakers seem resigned to an open-ended occupation. Former Defense Undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz has told Congress that we will be there
for at least another 10 years. It is common to hear even some who voted against the war say, ''now that we're there, we have no choice but to stay."


We very much disagree. Calls to maintain the status quo echo the same rationale used to keep us in Vietnam. To those who contend that we would weaken our credibility
if we withdraw, we believe that the nation's standing would greatly improve if we demonstrate the judgment to terminate an unwise course.



Our continuing presence in Iraq feeds the insurgency and gives the insurgents a certain legitimacy in the eyes of much of the world. We know from our own history that
armies of occupation are seldom welcome.


There have been elections in Iraq, and yet it remains unclear whether the different political, ethnic, and religious factions want to work together.






One thing, however, is clear: Washington cannot determine Iraq's destiny. It doesn't matter how many times Condoleezza Rice or Donald Rumsfeld visit. It doesn't matter
how many soldiers we deploy. The myriad factions in Iraq themselves must display the political will to demand a system of government that respects the diversity that
exists in their country.











Plan for Withdrawal



by Erik Leaver, Research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the policy outreach director for the Foreign Policy In Focus Project (excerpt -
read all here.)



Despite the real obligations Americans feel they owe the Iraqi people, the lessons of the last three years provide ample evidence that the United States isn't
even upholding the Hippocratic oath of "First do no harm." Bringing the troops home surely will not cure all of Iraq's ailments. But given that Bush's goals are
unreachable, the only option is to change course and bring the troops home now.













What about the LAW



The Geneva Conventions which are international law and the
law of the United States, say









Bring Them Home - La Crosse Jess Thill, treasurer







Email the webmaster with comments.
























SUPPORT HR 543



A bi-partisan resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives in December which would allow for 17 hours of debate on the U.S.
course in Iraq. A good summary is here. Please call Rep.
Ron Kind (in La Crosse at 782-2558) and strongly urge him to sign on to this resolution.





YES





The United States should begin an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq starting with the National Guard and Reserve.











Know the Facts,
Don't be fooled by Slogans




"The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all."
- John F. Kennedy






Fact Check



Opponents of the referendum say:



The President's Protecting
our Freedoms



FALSE


Bush claims exemption from Patriot Act reporting requirements



Justice Dept. Says Gov't can spy on doc-patient, lawyer-client relationships


"Proactive" arrests


Warrantless searchs, seizures



Bush Administration Moves to Eliminate Open Government



FBI Spies on church, peace groups


200,000 in "Terror" database
including babies, grandmothers



John Dean:
Warrantless wiretaps illegal





President can hold indefinitely
without charges




Food not Bombs, IndyMedia
on FBI Terror List






"They attacked us."


FALSE



"911 Commission Sees
No Iraq, Al Qaeda Link"



"Bush Flatly Declares
No Connection Between


Saddam and al Qaeda"



Rumsfeld sees no
link
between Saddam Hussein, 9/11






Anti-War = Anti-Troops




FALSE


These are quotes from former


and current soldiers:



"... we all here know the good news stories are bullshit and do not really affect the mission in any way. It's like this thing we keep saying here about all the new people we've recruited for the iraqi police. It leaves out the fact that my platoon was in a 40 minute gun fight with the iraqi police. So you recruited more of them ... awesome! I am sure that will make everything better. Also, they don't do ANYTHING. They don't even leave their building, and that is not an exaggeration. They don't. So what good is a billion-man police force that doesn't do anything? Also, they get almost no training. They tried to stand up some kind of mentoring initiative here using the guardsmen that are civilian cops, but it so far has fallen through. They will get set up to be killed, as is already suspected of the THREE SVBIEDs that have hit their station. Inside jobs, all. During our fight with them, we picked up the police chief (who was riding in a car that was shooting at a coalition vehicle -- an M1A1. You know how that story ends) and he was with a guy (who it turned out was his nephew) who had this radical islamic terrorist literature on him. It would be a joke if it weren't costing our lives.


"'the iraqi army is making progress and we're handing over more and more to them everyday.' Complete bullshit. What's the good news in the fact that all their logistics, medical, engineering, staff function, etc. is being done by us? ALL OF IT. And PS, they're not being trained on any of the other shit, either, except a broken medical training program.



"You can clearly see by reading the news how much it matters that X number of people have power now. The bottom line is, the overwhelming majority of people live in fear. We can do NOTHING to help them. We don't have anywhere near the manpower, and our actions are too severely restricted. Good thing 2500 people died for this.


"What are the good news stories? I would love to hear them. Spare me the heart warming tales of a single family or school or neighborhood that was helped. Operation Iraqi Freedom is, at this point, an abject failure. This is the most dangerous place on earth and it's getting worse, not better."




"We need to get out of Iraq because Iraq is the reason why the
military is shrinking."





"Not only would an immediate withdrawal prevent the unnecessary deaths of more of our country's
honorable military personnel,
but it would also increase the security of our nation by allowing our troops to do what they signed up for;
defending the country."




"The London attacks were further proof that our terror
strategy is self-defeating, and that the invasion/ occupation of Iraq was the critical mistake.


Ben Franklin's definition of insanity applies. Our leaders insist on doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."




"The first step, of course, is to
establish as conventional wisdom the fact that the war was never in the US interest and has not become so.
It is such an obvious case to
make that I find it difficult to believe many pundits and political leaders have not already made it repeatedly."







Iraqis Speak




"What I saw I saw Iraq in shambles. Unemployment rate high 60-70% Production facilities shut down Iraq completely without statehood.
Security in the hands of violent groups and also monitored and patrolled by occupier forces. ... Social problems. No jobs. Woman have
no employment. And no men. Because men are dead mostly. Iraq today is like a huge prison,"

Rasouli told students at Superior High School.
"The country has become lawless, broken. It's not a country any more."

"The rate of females in Iraq higher than male so women need jobs, but they have no jobs provided for them, unless they work for Iraq CIA, otherwise they have to be in the street selling sex for money. And I've seen 'em in Jordan and Syria, when they have the chance to leave and support their families, unfortunately."

"Is this the democracy that the Iraqi are receiving? Is this the type of liberation?"



"I got nothing from this so-called liberation, just this cell phone and my satellite receiver. But I lost my three daughters,"


said Nawar Maarof, a 34-year-old taxi driver who said he had dreamed of becoming an accountant. "I have a feeling that my destiny
is the same. Anyway, we're all dead."



Riverbend, from Baghdad Burning blog:"I sat late last night switching between
Iraqi channels (the half dozen or so I sometimes try to watch). It’s a late-night tradition for me when there’s electricity- to see what the
Iraqi channels are showing. Generally speaking, there still isn’t a truly ‘neutral’ Iraqi channel. The most popular ones are backed and
funded by the different political parties currently vying for power. This became particularly apparent during the period directly before
the elections. I was trying to decide between a report on bird flu on one channel, a montage of bits and pieces from various latmiyas on
another channel and an Egyptian soap opera on a third channel. I paused on the Sharqiya channel which many Iraqis consider to be a reasonably
toned channel (and which during the elections showed its support for Allawi in particular). I was reading the little scrolling news headlines
on the bottom of the page. The usual-mortar fire on an area in Baghdad, an American soldier killed here, another one wounded there… 12
Iraqi corpses found in an area in Baghdad, etc. Suddenly, one of them caught my attention and I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering
if I had read it correctly.


The line said:


"The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are
accompanied by coalition forces working in that area."


That’s how messed up the country is at this point. We discussed it today as it was repeated on another channel. "So what does it mean?"
My cousin’s wife asked as we sat gathered at lunch.


"It means if they come at night and want to raid the house, we don’t have to let them in." I answered.


"They’re not exactly asking your permission," E. pointed out. "They break the door down and take people away-or have you forgotten?"






Former Iraq Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi:
"Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record ... People are doing
the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse. It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise
reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things. ... 'We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are
being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia
courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them."