Thursday, March 29, 2007
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
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
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
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.
Email Billkatra@hotmail.com for more information.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
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.
Monday, March 19, 2007
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
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.
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 CheneyFrom 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.
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 referendumSeveral 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.
- 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  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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
- An occupying power has a duty to restore and ensure public order and safety in the territory under its authority.
- All parties must be prepared to respect the protection of war correspondents under international law
- The occupying power must be prepared to provide all guarantees of a fair trial, including the right to counsel of the defendant's choice.
- Dual-use targets that are essential to the survival of the civilian population must not be attacked.
- Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture are prohibited
- Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment are prohibited
- Vehicles exclusively employed for the removal of wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, or for the transport of medical personnel and equipment, shall not be attacked
- The occupying power shall assure that people shall not willfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be allowed.
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.
Know the Facts,
Friday, March 16, 2007
Then click Read More.
At the hearing, I will deliver the messages you signed, demonstrating that hundreds of thousands of people share my sense of urgency.
If additional people sign our message, it will be as though all of us are there at the hearing expressing our determination to convince Congress to act. Having served in the House and Senate, I can tell you that members of these committees would find this to be a meaningful and impressive show of support.
There are only a few days left before the hearings begin, so please do not pass up this opportunity to join in showing the broad public support we need in order to solve the climate crisis. I know you have friends or family who care deeply about this issue but have yet to sign our message to Congress..
Ask them to help fill that committee room with hundreds of thousands of messages by visiting:
The reason Congress has so far failed to act is not because there are no solutions to the problem. Nor is it because the majority doesn't believe that the climate crisis is real. They have failed to act, because they have not yet faced a sufficient expression of political will on the part of the American people demanding they confront our climate crisis head on. You and I know that political will is a renewable resource, and enough already exists to start solving this crisis. We just have to communicate that forcefully to the political leaders of our country.
In my testimony, of course, I will speak about the scientific evidence for global warming - just reiterated six weeks ago by the world's scientists in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But frankly, the debate on the science has long been over - except for a diminishing number of skeptics and deniers.
At this point, it is far more important to deliver your message about the urgency with which this crisis must be faced. Political leaders need to know that you intend to reward those who do the right thing and that you will work to replace those who do not.
That's why it's vital we fill up the hearing room with 350,000 messages.
Please ask your friends to sign our message to Congress today by visiting:
Together we are building a movement that has the potential to translate your strong feelings into effective change for our country. And we all know that when the United States changes - and offers leadership - the entire world will follow.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Well, here we are, four years later and the shock and awe have worn off. What we have here is a major mess, complete with thousands of dead and maimed; a country contaminated by depleted uranium; children faced with a bleak future of prostitution, drugs, missing limbs and more; a "new" army where women soldiers have as much to fear from their fellow soldiers as from the "enemy" and where veterans are getting a big one-finger salute from the "support the troops" crowd; a military budget that is soaring out of control, and a White House that doesn't give a flying fuck what the Congress, the American people, the Iraqis, the world or anyone thinks. By the way, the cost TO LA CROSSE for this debacle so far is just about $45,000,000.00. (That's Million with an M.)
Representative Ron Kind, fence-sitter esquire, has not helped. He voted for the war but then he signed a letter asking the Decider to "let the inspections work," he says he wouldn't have voted for it, he says we can't just leave, he says, says, says ... but no action.
We want action. So we will take action. Monday, March 19 at 4:00 p.m. at the Exchange Building, 205 Fifth Ave. S. (Fifth and Jay) please come to let Rep. Kind know that we want action now on ending the occupation of Iraq. No more money for war. Bring troops home. NOW.
Also, if you can sign up to stand at Kind's office ONE OR MORE HOURS PER WEEK at a regular time, please contact Cathy. We may put up an online sign up form but for now, please contact Cathy to reserve your one hour a week, every week, contribution to bringing an end to the Iraq occupation.
And, don't forget on Tuesday, March 20 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. visit the Eyes Wide Open exhibit at the Cartwright Center, UW-L. And at 7 p.m. there will be a Veterans' Forum on the True Cost of War. The public is invited; it's free.
There are several other actions planned for March 17. Read more below.
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice has an extensive list of Wisconsin and other events.
There will be a march and vigil in Winona from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 17, on Gilmore Avenue at the entrance to the Winona Mall which is nearby the military recruiting station. Sponsored by Winona Area Peacemakers, the protest rally is part of a national mobilization to oppose a war that has lasted longer than the American Civil War or U.S. involvement in World War II. The theme of the protest rally is: "NOT ONE MORE DEATH - NOT ONE MORE DOLLAR".
There's also March on the Pentagon.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Lately, he's been getting visits from members of The Occupation Project, non-violent peace activists who refuse to take no for an answer. Several activists have been arrested at Obey's Wausau office in the past few weeks, demanding that Obey vote to defund the Iraq occupation and start bringing troops home immediately.
This video shows an encounter in a House office building hallway between Rep. Obey and Tina Richards, a military mom member of Military Families Speak Out in Missouri.
Guess who calls Richards an "idiot liberal"?
Read David Swanson's article, "The War Money Can Be Stopped."
It CAN be stopped. Obey and Ron Kind, our 3rd district weathervane, can stop it. They can stop it. They can. We have to make them understand that.
Monday, March 19. 4 p.m. Exchange Building. Be there.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Her opponent, Annette Ziegler, has been endorsed by Wisconsin "Right to Life and received a big boost in the primaries with unaccountable "issue ads" from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the right-wing, Wisconsin Club for Growth.
Linda Clifford doesn't have rich Republicans spending money for her campaign. She needs us to write letters to the editor; talk to our friends, co-workers and relatives; and help with canvassing and leafletting.
This weekend, volunteers are needed to help with canvassing and leafletting. Remember, this is an open seat on a state Supreme Court that is already tilted to the right. This is important!
If you can help, please email the local coordinator to get more information.
Their next meeting is on Thursday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. at the Ho-Chunk Nation Three Rivers House (8th and Main). For more info, read on.
Reminders about upcoming and ongoing events:
1. Green Drinks - an informal gathering to talk about local environmental issues and ideas meets the third Tuesday of each month, 6:30 p.m. at Hackberry's, above the Food Coop
2. Step It Up Day, Saturday April 14 - to celebrate the National Day of Climate Action. Will there be a local activity?
3. Earth Day at Cameron Park on Saturday, April 21 (rain site: Three Rivers School)
1. Light Bulbs (Michelle Jerome firstname.lastname@example.org). Plans are well underway for obtaining screw-in florescent light bulbs and creating a give-away package with literature, with goal of raising the consciousness of the public about appliance efficiency and other consumer choices we make.
2. Green businesses and construction (John Servais email@example.com).
Time will be spent researching the codes that govern new residential and commercial construction. Minnesota might offer a good example. The group will also investigate which local businesses are setting a high standard for green energy practices, and will study how to publicize those successful practices.
3. Political Action (Glen Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org).
Important is encouraging people to speak at the public hearings for the Eco-Municipality legislation. Members of the committee will contact Steve Doyle and Steve O'Malley, at the County, and City officials to brainstorm how and where to be effective. They will seek out ways of getting members of the business community involved in clean energy efforts.
4. Residential Efficiency (Karl Oldenburg email@example.com).
The issue is how to motivate home owners to make improvements. A novel idea is to work through Xcel Energy to measure the energy consumption of a specific La Crosse neighborhood. The goal would be to encourage a friendly competition among homeowners and possibly neighborhoods in the pursuit of lowering the "carbon footprint."
5. Wind Energy (Carolyn Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org).
The first task is to research current wind projects at Winona, Wilkins (S of Tomah), Trempeleau, the McNealus Steel turbines W of Rochester, and the proposed Gund-Luth wind project out of Westby.
6. Tours to Ecological or Alternative Energy Homes (Joel Lazinger email@example.com). The first task is to compile an e-data base of such alternative homes, and the committee seeks input--so send ideas in. Tours in the spring and summer could follow the pattern of what is already done in other areas by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. How can local building ordinances can be made to be more friendly to alternative construction practices?
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
The legislation was introduced as the City's Planning Department was preparing its own sustainability plan. A representative of the Planning Department answered questions about the plan and funding, endorsing the legislation as a way to tie together the city's, and area's, sustainability planning. The city has set aside $15,000 of Community Block Grant funds each year in 2006 and 2007 to pay for such planning.
Council members, James Bloedorn, who represents District 7, and Tom Sweeney, District 14, recommended a 30 day referral. Bloedorn said he was concerned about the amount of money to be spent and said that this is really a state, federal or international issue. Sweeney said that he thought scare tactics were being used. Apparently, the idea of investing in our future is too deep a concept for these two. Thankfully, the referral was defeated and the legislation passed.
Normally, we warn you not to let up. After all, Tuesday's Committee of the Whole is really only a "practice" council meeting, allowing for public comments. The real vote happens Thursday at the official City Council meeting.
In this case, it appears that the legislation has broad support from members who realize that planning money already set aside will be a great investment in our future and help lead the way for other communities and the state on this issue.
But, if you can, please attend Thursday night's meeting at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. There are no public comments allowed but it will be good to show support for the legislation. And, if your council representative is Todd Sweeney, District 14 or James Bloedorn, District 7, please contact him before Thursday evening and tell him you support this legislation and he should, too. Stress its importance as an investment, point out that La Crosse will lead the way and influence the state and region, remind him that it's an investment in La Crosse's business future as well.
See you Thursday!
Here's the legislation:
WHEREAS, on December 19, 2002 the Common Council of the City of La Crosse adopted Confluence: The La Crosse Comprehensive Plan and a goal of said plan is safeguarding and improving environmental features as a means of promoting neighborhood revitalization, community image and quality of life that enhances, restores and protects natural resources such as the rivers, wetlands, bluffs and wooded hillsides, among others; and
WHEREAS, The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities for sustainable community development has been well shown to fit this goal by the experiences of several cities in the United States including Ashland, Washburn and Madison, Wisconsin and over 75 cities worldwide; and
WHEREAS, the willingness of the City to become an Eco-Municipality through The Natural Step program can serve as a model for others and thereby encourage sustainable practices in the City and throughout the region; and
WHEREAS, the following four guidelines were developed by the American Planning Association to help communities implement sustainable practices:
1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels, and extracted underground metals and minerals.
2. Reduce dependence on chemicals and other manufactured substances that can accumulate in Nature.
3. Reduce dependence on activities that harm life-sustaining ecosystems.
4. Meet the hierarchy of present and future human needs fairly and efficiently; and
WHEREAS, it is important to the goals within Confluence that the City endorse the principles of sustainable community development and prepare a sustainable community plan following the guidelines of The Natural Step Model for Eco-Municipalities.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby endorses the principles of sustainable community development as described through The Natural Step model for Eco-Municipalities stated above, and agrees to apply these principles whenever possible in its planning, policy making, and municipal practices.
BE IF FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Common Council of the City of La Crosse hereby authorizes the Planning Department to prepare and circulate a Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek a qualified person(s)/firm(s) who will assist the Mayor, All City Departments, City staff and others, in preparing said sustainable community plan.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Mayor shall appoint a consultant selection committee and said selection committee shall provide a recommendation to the Common Council for selection of said person/firm and contract for services.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the cost for said planning services shall not exceed $25,000 for the planning consultant(s) and $5,000 for City staff, printing, mailing and meeting costs, with the source of funds being 2006 & 2007 Community Development Block Grant, sustainable plan funds.
Labels: La Crosse, progressive legislation, sustainability, Wisconsin supreme court
Monday, March 05, 2007
With the Democratic leadership signaling weakness and half-hearted amendments aimed at undermining the surge but not the war, our coalition is phoning in a loud and clear message: NO MORE FUNDING FOR WAR. VOTE NO ON THE SUPPLEMENTAL. BRING OUR TROOPS HOME AND OUT OF IRAQ’S CIVIL WAR!
Please use the special number into Congress, 1-888-851-1879. Read more below!
When you call your Senate and Congressional offices, politely tell them one or two of the following points:
* Most Iraqis – both Sunni and Shia -- want US troops out of their country and most believe attacks on our troops are justified.
* US military force is no solution in Iraq – especially given the tainted rationales for invading Iraq, cultural gaps, Abu Ghraib, etc. Diplomacy, not war, is the solution.
* The American people at the polls in November and in opinion polls have expressed their view that the US needs to get out. Four years is enough!
* With its Constitutionally-granted "power of the purse," Congress has the duty to end the war by cutting off war funding, except what’s needed for the prompt, safe, orderly withdrawal of all our troops.
Clifford's campaign does not have big money behind it. We need all the people power we can muster for literature drops and phone banks in the next four weeks. Please read how you can help below.
Linda is a fine attorney with 32 years of legal experience. Her legal practice has includeenvironmental, constitutional, telecommunication regulation, family, first amendment, civil and administrative, immigration and energy law. She has also received honors such as Wisconsin Law Journal -- Leader in the Law, Milwaukee Magazine -- Wisconsin Super Lawyer, and The Best Lawyers in America list 1993 - 2006. She is endorsed by retired Supreme Court Justices Roland Day and Nate Hefferman, and former WI Governors Patrick Lucey (D), Lee Dreyfus (R), Tony Earl (D) and Martin Schreiber (D).
Her opponent, Annett Ziegler, calls herself "a conservative... or rather a traditional jurist," who has very strong support from big business. The national extremist Club For Growth paid for over $250,000 worth of TV ads and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce sent out mailers and auto calls for her. She is very attractive to business and the religious right. She spent over a half a million on the primary, February 20, and has said she will spend what it takes to buy the election. Her husband is a wealthy real estate developer in Milwaukee. [The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has reported several unreported conflicts of interest in cases she has heard, too. - Ed.]
We need all the people power we can muster for literature drops and phone banks in the next four weeks. If you are willing to help, please contact me at 608-783-0172, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will
be doing a lit drops in La Crosse and Onalaska next weekend.
If you would like to contribute to Linda’s campaign, you can do so at lindacliffordforjustice.org, then click on Contribute. Any contribution is appreciated. Every little bit helps.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
We wanted to let you know about our new show from purplearth studioz - Whirling Rainbow, on www.radiodriftless.org. Please check it out. BTW, Radio Driftless could really use your support. They're hoping to get on the radio dial as an FM station and need help in funding and equipment. Also, check out their schedule for other great programs.
If you can't get into radio driftless, surf over to www.purplearth.net for an rss feed, which should be up by Tuesday. The show may move to Mondays in the future, but we'll let you know when that happens. Hope you enjoy!
Whirling Rainbow is a journey through time and space. Join us as we travel the world of rockin' soul, rollin' jazz, psychedelic raggae, techno funk and more. Set your coordinates for radio driftless, Tuesdays, 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.