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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Nov. 14 - MTU Open House


NOVEMBER 14 PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OPEN HOUSE  Please join the City of La Crosse Muncipal Transit Utility (MTU) for an evening of information, tours, free bus rides, and a celebration of Public Transportation! The OPEN HOUSE will be held on Wednesday, November 14 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Transit Center, 314 Jay Street. Please call 608-789-7350 with questions.

If you are already a bus rider, here is your chance to demonstrate support not just for what we have now but for a robust, well supported, and interconnected system going forward. If you aren't a bus rider yet, here's an opportunity to learn more about the system and how you can benefit.

The benefits are many.

The private vehicle is a household’s largest contributor to greenhouse gases. By taking existing public transportation instead of driving a car, an individual can reduce annual carbon emissions by an average of 4,800 pounds, (tinyurl.com/apta-businfo), A strong public transportation system is good for the environment.

In addition, public transportation serves all people, regardless of age, income or ability. Riding the bus is safer than driving. Riding the bus saves most commuters money. There are major economic values for communities with strong public transportarion systems. Converting to electric buses can not only improve communities' air quality and carbon footprints, it can save them big money, too. And, as noted by Enrique Peñalosa, the former mayor of Bogotá, Columbia, public transportation is democracy in action.
A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.




Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fight the Frac

Good news from Jackson County (via Frac Sand Sentinel):

For immediate release: Contact Attorney Tim Jacobson, Fitzpatrick, Skemp & Associates, LLC, 608 784-4370, ext. 238, tim@fitzpatricklaw.com

Wisconsin trial court rules in favor of anticipatory nuisance claims against frac sand mine. Omnitrax calls it quits.

In a written decision issued on Election Day, the Jackson Co. Wis. Circuit Court, Judge Scott Horne of La Crosse presiding, ruled that the anticipatory nuisance claims of a group of private landowners against the proposed OmniTRAX frac sand facility would be allowed to proceed to trial.

In response, OmniTRAX’s lawyer immediately informed the judge that a trial would not be necessary, because in light of the court’s decision, OmniTRAX intends to abandon the project, before the first shovel has broken ground.

The Jackson Co. court’s decision in favor of the landowner plaintiffs in Ripp, et al. v. OmniTRAX follows the August 9 decision of the Wisconsin court of appeals in the case of Krueger, et al. v. AllEnergy, which concluded that Wisconsin law does recognize a claim for “anticipatory nuisance” in situations in which the harm has not yet arisen but is inevitable and certain if a planned course of conduct by a defendant is followed.

The plaintiffs in the case against OmniTRAX are three married couples who own land and live next to the area where the frac sand mine, processing facility and rail load-out facility were proposed to be constructed. They have been seeking to prevent the substantial disruption of their rural quality of life and health from the creation of a neighboring frac sand facility. They alleged in their complaint that the proposed OmniTRAX facility would create nuisance conditions, including, but not limited to toxic air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, ground disruption and vibration due to blasting, destruction of agricultural and forested lands and landscapes and wetlands, adverse impact on endangered species, depletion of groundwater, and loss of property values. They further alleged that siting this mine as contemplated would unreasonably interfere with the rights of these landowners to the quiet and peaceful use and enjoyment of their property rights.

...

Read more in Chris Hubbuch's Wisconsin State Journal article.

More details at the memorandum decision and order denying motion to dismiss.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Make a Climate Call

From La Crosse Citizens' Climate Lobby:

To amplify the impact of these meetings and help to move Congress a step closer to climate legislation, please use the link below to call your legislators on Friday, November 9th. Its organized to make it very easy to make your calls. If you don't get through, you can leave a message Friday night or call on Monday, Nov. 12th.

https://citizensclimatelobby.org/call-congress-to-act-on-climate/#/38/

Time and again we hear from members of Congress that they don't hear enough from their constituents that climate change matters to them. Calling your Senators and Representative is the first step in building a relationship with your congressional offices and creating the political will needed to address climate change.



Thursday, November 08, 2018

TODAY
5 pm
Corner of West Avenue & Main Street


Nobody is Above the Law

BREAKING: PROTESTS CALLED FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 5 PM LOCAL TIME
Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel's Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller's boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it. The Nobody Is Above the Law network demands that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation. Our hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. We will update this page as the situation develops.

Donald Trump just crossed a red line, violating the independence of the investigation pursuing criminal charges in the Trump-Russia scandal and cover-up.
Trump putting himself above the law is a threat to our democracy, and we’ve got to get Congress to stop him.
We're mobilizing immediately to demand accountability, because Trump is not above the law.


RSVP to attendIf you choose to attend an event, you agree to engage in nonviolent, peaceful action, to act lawfully, and to strive to de-escalate any potential confrontations with those who may disagree with our values.

I'm getting messages from folks saying the event is listed as being on Friday, but I'm not able to see where it says that. The event is TODAY, Thursday 11/8, @ 5pm at the corner of West Ave & Main Street in La Crosse. 

Please bring signs and wear red!

Also, please note, we are NOT planning to block traffic, just to hold up signs in the high-visibility area to raise awareness. 

Thank you all and hope to see you there!
Megan

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Life or death.

Really.

Get Out the Vote in La Crosse County!
Set your clock back tonight, grab an extra hour of sleep, wake up refreshed, and head down to the LCDP Office at 115 5th Ave S. in downtown La Crosse or to 1343 Pinecrest Ln in Onalaska for canvassing or phonebanking today, tomorrow, and election day.

Think of it this way: three hours of your time instead of four more years of Walker and Republicans.

Every additional phone call, every additional canvass packet that goes out, every additional contact is so important.

Walk-ins welcome. Send a message to Donald Trump and Scott Walker that Americans are ready for a change. 

And ...


Monday, October 15, 2018

Vote with your ballot (and your roof)

Absentee in person voting has started. In La Crosse, head to the City Clerk's office 2nd floor City Hall) between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The clerk's website has more info, including a sample ballot. If you don't live in the city of La Crossed, contact your municipal clerk and check myvote.wi.gov for your details. (If you vote early, you will be available for GOTV or driving people to vote or helping at the polls on election day).

One reason this election is so important is the increasingly dire warnings about catastrophic global warming. The latest report (and this is the concensus version which "waters down" some if the worst news) tells us we must make immediate and major large scale changes to carbon emitting systems. In addition, new warnings from cyber security experts, detail the apocalyptic effects a cyber attack on the US electricity and gas grid could have. Now is the time to plan to become as energy self-sufficient as possible.

On Tuesday at 6:30 pm you can learn about the Sierra Club's partnership with SunVest, Inc. to help people install solar on their rooftops. The program, at the Ho-Chunk Three Rivers House, 8th & Main, is free and open to all. Those who sign up for the Sierra Club/SunVest program will receive a free site assessment and analysis of solar capacity, cost, and payback time. The group buy gives a discount to those who sign up and SunVest will donate to the Sierra Club for every completed project. Read more about it at
www.sunvest.com/programs/sierraclub/

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Important Actions Coming Soon


Whatever issues you may have with the DNC, Steny Hoyer, Tom Perez, Joe Manchin, the DPW, et al, the fact is we have important elections coming up soon and we don't want any more regressives in office. In fact, we want fewer regressives in office especially in Wisconsin where science has become an optional reality, global warming a forbidden concept, and good roads a distant memory (to name a few).

That means all hands on deck to work for fewer regressives which, this year, means more Dems. In La Crosse, the county Dem Party is hosting two weekends of action - this weekend and next, plus a four day GOTV action just before election day. Activities will include canvassing and phone banking to make Wisconsin SANE again.

If you can help with these efforts, please do. If you can do more, like join the party and help work from the ground up to transform its priorities and policies, do that, too.

Here are a few ways you can help immediately (from the Comfort Captain). Please email chair@laxdems.com SUBJECT: Action Aid

This weekend we’re expecting upwards of 100-200 people coming through the Dem office before and after canvassing, on Saturday and Sunday this weekend and next. Then there's a week off before the big GOTV 4 day extravaganza, Sat 11-3 thru Tues 11-6, when we’re expecting 400+ people. They’ll be working 3 hour shifts starting at 9am til 9pm. 

We need healthy food for people both snacky stuff and hot crockpots. If you can help supply some food and comfort for these volunteers (and if you can be one yourself), please email!

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

October 14: Rally for Justice

for Women, People of Color, Immigrants, the LGBTQ Community & Environmental Justice

SILENT NO MORE !
LET EVERY VOICE BE HEARD

Sunday October 14, 2018: 1:00-3:00 pm
Copeland Park—1130 Copeland Drive 
 (park off Clinton Street west of Rose Street)

Hosted by The Reverend Krista Taves
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of La Crosse

Music by The Mayfield Experience




Thursday, October 04, 2018

Greater than Fear Rally TODAY

Rally and march in Rochester tomorrow (Thurs) 

A counterpoint to Trump's rally that night. The rally is noon-3:30 pm at Soldiers Field on Broadway. Program starts at 1:00, and march downtown and back. Positive and non-violent. Scroll down for details.  (Bring a sign if you’d like to.)

There’s parking at RCTC for park-and-ride.) 

Please pass this on to folks who oppose Trump and want to peacefully support tolerance and diversity.

GREATER THAN FEAR: RALLY and MARCH (Facebook):
MAP: of Rochester Community and Tech College (bus location)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Community Market study

From City Planning:

Thanks to the City of La Crosse Common Council, Gundersen Health System, and Mayo Clinic Health System, the City has hired a consultant to begin a feasibility and site location study for a Public Market.  The selected consultant, Aaron Zaretsky, will be in town on October 3 and 4 and is interested in meeting with community members to educate on a public market and get input for his research on the feasibility and potential location.   

Mr. Zaretsky will be holding an informational session and will also be conducting one-on-one meetings as well as visiting important sites throughout the city.  Please let me know if you are interested in participating in any of the meetings by responding to this email.

This invitation is by no means exclusive.  Please pass this invitation along.

Andrea D. Schnick
Economic Development Planner
City of La Crosse
400 La Crosse Street
Office: 608.789.8321

-----

These are really great community spaces. Check out these examples:

Jean Talon Market in Montreal
Leeds Kirkgate Market (largest covered market in Europe)
Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia
Pike Place Market in Seattle

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Another world is possible


I am quite sure every woman on earth has had at least several of experiences similar to those described by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. If we let it be, this is how this world is - the moral hierarchy of authoritarians  (as described by Prof. George Lakoff in Moral Politics: "The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.").

Working Families Party is calling for a solidarity walkout on Monday. "On Monday, September 24 at 1 pm ET/ 10 am PT people from all over the country will take part in a national walkout to stand in solidarity with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Please wear black and walk out from wherever you are — home, work, school — and then capture it in a selfie to post to social media with the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors. Click here for more information and to invite your friends"

It's a very small gesture but it's a step . Another world is possible if we don't get lulled into the media fueled lala land where Trump/NoTrump is the one and only subject of the day, if we don't accept minority rule, if we want a livable future, we will act. Every day. I hope you can participate.

I was going to write a short post to encourage everyone to see Michael Moore's new film, Fahrenheit 11/9. This is the perfect segue.

At the front, he asks, "How the fuck did we get here?" And then he masterfully, in my opinion, and logically crams some of the most important clues to that mystery into an hilarious, heartbreaking, maddening, saddening, frightening, stomach-twisting, tear-jerking Michael Moore movie.

Some say it's too disjointed, but to me it's like a multi-voiced fugue with all the seemingly disconnected stories woven together to describe exactly how the fuck we got here. And, more importantly, how we can make a different future.

Moore, an activist, believes activists, including those people whose activism is only, so far, the urge to throw up, have to get out there and say hell no. Hell no to raising a generation of traumatized by mass shootings teens, to crappy pay and conditions and inhumane treatment of public servants, ignoring mass murder by elected rich white guys whose only concern is turning a profit for cronies, compromises that keep the same well- connected, well-funded centrists in control, and so much more. (It's the duopoly, as Nader might say.)

It's a call to join and take over the party, run for office, stand up to corporate elitists whether they're the heads of corporations, the heads of parties, the heads of unions, or our own (supposed to be) public servants.

Go see it. It's at the Marcus on Ward Avenue at least through Wednesday. Take your young friends and then urge them to get active, too.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 22: 156th Anniversary of preliminary Emancipation Proclamation


AAMAN’s
4th Annual Juneteenth Citywide Celebration
Saturday, September 22, 2018
12:00 Noon to 5:00 p.m.
South Side Neighborhood Center and Poage Park
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.

From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

This year there were two dates of Celebrations in La Crosse. The First Celebration was on Saturday, June 23, 2018 featuring the Enduring Families Project’s African-American Living Historical Tour.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. This issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22nd is what inspired our second Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday, September 22, 2018.

Opening: 12:00 p.m. to 12:20 Shaundel Spivey, Cultural Liaison with the School District of La Crosse will have students present “What Juneteenth Means to Me.”

There will be two Reenactments Performed by the Enduring Families Project of the African American Living History Bus Tour that took place at AAMAN's Saturday, June 23, 2018, Juneteenth Celebration. If you missed those Tours, you will be well informed and educated about the history of African-Americans in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

1:35-1:50 p.m. Mandela Barnes, Democratic Lieutenant Governor candidate: Inspiring young people to register and vote in November.

The 1st 150 Participants EAT FREE. Meal provided by Piggy's Restaurant: Beginning at 1:50 p.m.
• Pulled Pork with Honey Dijon BBQ Sauce on Brioche Rolls
• Pickle spears
• Penne Pasta Salad

2:00-3:00 p.m. Participants visit Vendors, Organizations, City, and County Booths, Northgate Hair and Wigs-Rochester-MN Salon, Democratic Party, League of Women Voters, La Crosse Human
Services, Sheriff’s Department printing ID’s for kids and their parents, Rich Sims from UWL with
Student group sharing Basketball Handling to Kids and More!

Thanks to our Sponsors:
Enduring Families Project, Gundersen Lutheran Health System, Sheriff’s Department, La Crosse County Democratic Party, Viterbo University, La Crosse Historical Society, City of La Crosse, Explore La Crosse, La Crosse Parks &
Recreation, and La Crosse County.

For complete details or addition information contact Cecil Adams at aamancfmlp@gmail.com and visit https://www.aaman.online/juneteenth2

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Mayor's Home Energy Challenge


New Program Offers Incentives to Property Owners Who Make Energy Efficiency Improvements
La Crosse homeowners who want to save on energy bills this winter and increase the comfort of their homes now have up to $4,100 in incentives available to them, depending on the variables explained in the fact sheet attached. Mayor Tim Kabat is launching the Home Energy Challenge, which gives the first 100 households who sign up the ability to receive incentives to cover a portion of the costs of making their homes more energy-efficient through insulation and air sealing.
The launch event is taking place at the home of Casey and Sonja Meehan, who chose to make home energy improvements themselves and are encouraging other homeowners to do the same. Casey and Sonja moved to La Crosse in the summer of 2014. They loved the idea of being able to walk, bike, or bus to work, the proximity to all the amenities downtown and on local college campuses, and the potential to be part of a close-knit neighborhood. One detractor was the poor energy efficiency of the older 1920s home that they purchased, but quickly realized that was something they could fix.
“Our home still had the original insulation in the attic, so it was really cold in the winter. After we had the work done, we noticed right away that the temperature in the house was way more comfortable. In addition to making our house more livable, we knew that the improvements were going to save us money in the long run as we wouldn’t be using as much heat.  We also felt it was simply the right thing to do from an environmental standpoint,” said Casey.
For the Mayor, launching this initiative is also about La Crosse residents coming together to make the City one of the most sustainable communities in Wisconsin. “If we accomplish our goal of 100 homes, the City would reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 290 metrics tons per year, the equivalent of 317,676 pounds of coal burned or taking 62 vehicles off the road. That’s a really great investment in our community and our planet,” said Mayor Tim Kabat.
At the launch event, the Mayor will be joined by the City’s partners in the Home Energy Challenge- Xcel Energy and Focus on Energy. In addition, several local employers will be present who will be encouraging their employees to participate in the challenge.
For more information on the incentives being offered and more details about the program, go to http://www.cityoflacrosse.org/energychallenge

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fighting Bob Fest - La Crosse Saturday, Sept. 15



Saturday 9/15 from 3 pm - 7 pm
 - Our Wisconsin Revolution La Crosse is hosting a day of training, music, games and food. Participants will also get to hear from some local elected officials and progressive Wisconsin voices. The keynoter will be John Nichols. 

Look for the fest, including canvassing training, music, organizing and more, at Cameron Park and The Brick House 228 5th Ave. South La Crosse, WI. 

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Rise for Climate - Sept. 8

from Coulee Region Sierra Club


Please join the Coulee Region Sierra Club and other local and regional organizations and leaders at the Rise for Climate event at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 8 in La Crosse's Riverside Park near the big fountain. 

Rise for Climate is a global day of action to end the era of fossil fuels. This event is one of thouands being held around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that puts people and justice before profits. No more stalling, no more delays: it’s time for a fast and fair transition to 100% renewable energy for all. Read more about it at https://riseforclimate.org

The list of speakers below includes 
  • Coulee Region Group Vice Chair Kathy Allen talking about the Sierra Club's Ready for 100 campaign and the Sierra Club's endorsements in the upcoming elections: 
  • Ho-Chunk Nation Member Bill Greendeer to talk about holding leaders in  responsible for the well-being of existing and next generations (Seven Generations principle) and also the ethical idea of the Rights of Nature 
  • Organizer Janette Dean to welcome everyone and explain why environmental policy is the fastest way we can protect our planet 
  • Member of La Crosse's Hmoob/Hmong Community to share Hmoob environmental concepts that apply to climate protection
  • UWL Professor Paul Reyerson to speak on the latest global and national climate science and impacts 
  • Sustainability Institute's Casey Meehan to speak on Midwestern state impacts & some of the many opportunities and benefits of sustainability 
  • Speaker to share the city and county's emissions reductions progress as part of their Sustainability Indicators and related goals 
  • Coulee Region Sierra Club Vice Chair Kathy Allen to share their candidate endorsements and to share CRSC's Ready for 100 effort (100% renewables by 2050 or sooner) 
  • Ken Tschumper, Former Minnesota State Representative to talk about MN's clean energy legislation and MN's 2018 Candidates 
  • La Crosse Democrats spokesperson Avery Van Gaard to read a climate-related statement from WI Gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers & WI Rep. Jill Billings 
  • Charles (Chuck) Davis, Sr. of Tomah - Oglala Lakota, of the Oceti Sakowin

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Important stuff coming up

First, if you haven't signed up to help make calls and knock doors for Scott Walker & Co.'s desperately needed replacements, ?!why the heck not!? Do you really want another term of environmental, public services, and infrastructure disasters? Do you want mining companies and CAFOs to decide the quality of our air and water? Do you want even more millions of tax dollars doled out to Walker cronies with no strings attached? Call NOW and sign up to help. (608 615-1733)

Second, while we dither, the planet's burning up. Come to the Rise for Climate rally on Saturday and make a commitment to push for real action. Changing a few lightbulbs and riding your bike around when it's nice out isn't going to cut it. We need big and deep changes right away. (And be sure to start out at Pride in the Park, in the north half of Riverside).

There are many events to highlight, but you can check the calendar (and let is know if something is missing!)

One more important and timely event from Viterbo's Ethics Institute:

THE LATEHOMECOMER AUTHOR KAO KALIA YANG TO OPEN THE D.B. REINHART INSTITUTE FOR ETHICS IN LEADERSHIP LECTURE SERIES AT VITERBO UNIVERSITY SEPT. 13

Kao Kalia Yang, educator, filmmaker, and author of the award-winning book The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, will open the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership’s fall 2018 lecture series at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Viterbo University Fine Arts Center Main Theatre.
The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoiris the story of her and her family’s move from the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in Thailand where the author was born in 1980 to Minnesota in 1987. It is the firsthand account of a journey from place to place many Hmong people have had to make to find “home.” The book received a Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for several other prestigious honors.

Read more at the link.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Progressive Media Project FREE Workshop

Some of us attended this last year. Highly recommended and FREE (including free breakfast and lunch).


The Progressive Media Project, with the support of the BRICO Fund, is again offering six FREE full day op-ed writing workshops this fall throughout Wisconsin—including La Crosse on Friday, November 2.

The workshops are free, open to anyone, and is a great opportunity for those interested in further developing writing skills for advocacy work. REGISTRATION HERE.

Location: Ho-Chunk Nation - Three Rivers House, 724 Main St. La Crosse Date: Friday, November 2, 2018

Time: 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM

Here is the FB page for the La Crosse workshop- https://www.facebook.com/events/270228463809267/


We founded the Progressive Media Project in 1993 to diversify and democratize our nation’s op-ed pages. We train activists and staff from nonprofit social justice organizations to write op-eds, and we edit and distribute op-eds to newspapers around the country, with an emphasis on lifting up voices that are underrepresented in the mainstream media.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

White supremacism and transmisogyny tolerated in a local organization

Warning: quotes of abusive white supremacist and transmisogynist language

White supremacism comes in many more forms than shouting racial slurs or engaging in blatantly discriminatory behavior. In addition to these forms of 'hard' white supremacism, there is also a wide array of behavior which can be called 'soft' white supremacism- things which enable or sanction more blatantly harmful behavior and make spaces harmful to marginalized and oppressed people. The same problem exists for other kinds of oppressive or abusive behavior, particularly transmisogyny.

Recent events within the La Crosse Area Freethought Society (LCAFS) regrettably exemplify one of these forms of 'soft' white supremacism. A toxic member of this organization occasionally posts racist and transphobic content to the group's e-mail listserv. In April 2017, he made a series of statements denying the validity of transgender people, saying things like “We have to help people accept who they are, not who they wish they could be. No one should be changing their bodies,” “People don't get to choose. Science does. Genetics does,” and “they they don't have a womb and can't bear a man a child.” I called for him to be banned for abusive behavior, but when that call was rejected I settled for joining in on pointing out all the reasons he was wrong, none of which had any effect as this is the Internet.

The grounds on which he was not banned were stated by one of the LCAFS board members: “That's not how we roll here. In this group, the freedom of speech is incredibly important, and we are not in the business of kicking people out just because the words they say ruffle some feathers. Now, if a member crosses a line and begins advocating violence, threatening others, directly harassing others, etc- then that is an offense that we would consider removing a person for.”

The idea that transmisogynist language is merely “ruffl[ing] some feathers” but is not itself abusive, and the idea that it is not itself “cross[ing] a line” imply that transmisogynist language is not a problem or not harmful. The problem with a policy that only direct harassment is worthy of removing someone from the group is that it creates a hostile environment for people who are part of the targeted group. I'll talk about the problem with the “free speech” argument momentarily

The issue of this toxic member came to a head this May, when he posted a link to a YouTube video by a notorious white supremacist organization (Southern Poverty Law Center page about them: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/american-renaissance) about supposed racial IQ differences; he claimed it was part of an earlier discussion and called it “controversial” and was “sure it will generate some discussion”. Several people briefly discussed its merits, including one who pointed out that that group is “a nasty pool of hate and misinformation” and another who wrote a lengthy apology for the statistical merits of discussion supposed racial differences in IQ.

White supremacist propaganda has no place in civil society. Free speech does not mean a free-for-all; it relies on rules. Fraud is banned; nobody would dare use a “free speech” defense for scam artists. Credible threats are banned. Speech or ideas delivered in a disruptive manner is generally banned (although sometimes necessary, but then it's not on "free speech" grounds). Similarly, many ideas which have been discredited are not given a platform; universities are not in the habit of inviting speakers to seriously discuss perpetual motion devices, Cartesian vortices, or phrenology. The phrase “sifting and winnowing” implies that some ideas deserve to be discarded.

The argument that there are racial differences in IQ is technically true on the surface level, but white supremacists use this statistical trivia to imply that there are inherit genetic differences between races; this conclusion has been debunked repeatedly (see https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve or http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/course/topics/curveball.html). In short, IQ is measured according to culturally-biased tests which effectively measure socioeconomic status, not any kind of 'inherent' intelligence.

The racial IQ argument is still used, despite the fact that it's useless, because those who spread it are not trying to make rational, logical arguments. White supremacists do not argue in good faith. They misportray themselves in order to manipulate people into believing things that are not true. They skirt the edges of the rules of civil debate, breaking rules in spirit while carefully abiding by them in letter. They gradually gain control of the discourse through these and other techniques such as gaslighting, or even seize editorial control if possible. Their target audience is not people who understand the arguments or situation, but people who are new to the ideas or confused. They use the techniques of cults and abusers (side note: these are also the techniques of contemporary right-wing authoritarian regimes like the ones in Turkey, India, and the United States).

After several days of discussion of whether or not this person should be removed from the group, with all except me agreeing that he should not be, he returned stated that his reason for posting the video had been taken completely the wrong way. "Every single one of you have missed the point," he said.  However, if you think that this was a prelude to him distancing himself from the video and clarifying that he only posted it for discussion purposes, I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment. "If IQ is genetic, we can identify the genes and use genetic engineering to make children smart, regardless of race."  It went downhill from there.

After the LCAFS leaders again refused to ban him, I snapped and made a somewhat regrettable comment attacking the person, the leadership of the Freethought Society, the other members, and the organization as a whole. In response, I was banned. I was informed that the reason I was banned was that my comment was borderline abusive.

Let's go back and check the scoreboard.

The transphobic white supremacist was not banned or told to stop his abusive behavior. I, however, was banned for being rude. What else is there to conclude but that the LCAFS leadership considers rudeness directed at them as being worse than transmisogyny and white supremacism?

E-mail responses from one of the LCAFS leaders highlighted that their reasoning was that I was not able to “conduct [my]self in a reasoned and measured way” and that “the manner in which [I] expressed [my]self via email crossed the line into abusive language”. Has there ever been a better example of middle-class white obsession with form over function? Or of privilege so extreme that there are no real-world consequences, and so everything is regarded as purely academic and aesthetic?

I was told that “We don't have a list of topics that are off-topic, nor do we have an intention of developing such a list and policing it”; I see no reason why transmisogynist and eugenicist statements should not be considered abusive under the same policy by which I was removed (which, for what it's worth, I have never seen; in all my years in LCAFS, I never even knew there were bylaws. I cannot recall there ever being elections to the board. It is not a democratic organization).

Unwilling to let the matter rest, I attended LCAFS's monthly “Think And Drink” social gathering at a local restaurant in July. One of the founding leaders of LCAFS graciously allowed me to address the group, where I reiterated the necessity of removing this toxic and abusive racist from their organization. The only response I received was that another one of their leaders, the one who had kicked me off of the discussion list, refused to tell me whether the person in question had been banned from the group, and threatened to have management remove me from the restaurant. Instead, I had a lengthy side conversation with the other leader, where we completely spoke past each other- I again repeated the importance of removing the person in question, while he focused entirely on my behavior. He also decided to tell a story about “racism” against him, a white man, when he was a child; needless to say, I was not swayed by his story of a Native American neighbor telling his child not to play with him because he was white.

He concluded by telling me to drop it. However, white supremacism and transmisogyny have no place in society, and especially not in organizations which claim to be progressive. Individuals and groups trying to spread those kinds of hate work by worming their way into the discourse, presenting lies as fact, and trying to sway people who are new to these discussions. They cannot be allowed to have access to any potential recruiting ground. They do not have a right to equal access to forums, because their strategy is to poison the well.

The La Crosse Area Freethought Society must remove this toxic and abusive person. Until they do, all people and organizations should be wary of LCAFS. I also urge all readers to be more vigilant about unsalvageably toxic individuals and manipulative techniques, both in your organizations and in your personal lives.

For more about how white supremacism and other forms of abusive behavior are tolerated and perpetuated by people who might themselves not "be racist", read these excellent articles:
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/10-ways-white-liberals-pe_b_8068136

Kevin Hundt

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Ron Johnson staff office hours

Just notified Sen. Ron Johnson's staff will hold office hours on THURSDAY, AUG. 16 from 8:30 to 9:30 am at the Campbell Town Hall, 2219 Bainbridge Street.

One question, for example, why isn't Sen. Johnson demanding all families torn apart by D Trump's "zero tolerance" policy be immediately reunited? What about the bus full of school children bombed by the US in Yemen? Etc.

How much do you want change? (location update)

The candidates are chosen. Now we have just a few months to work for the change we want.

How much do you want a state government that promotes affordable healthcare (maybe even Badgercare) for all rather than spiraling premiums,  junk policies, and punishments for the working poor? How much do you want a real DNR with real scientists driving policies that protect the environment? How much do you want fair maps and a return to Wisconsin's commitment to clean government? How much do you want official recognition that catastrophic climate change must drive an immediate switch to statewide renewable clean energy? How much do you want fair funding for great public schools pre-k through university? How much do you want decent multi-modal transportation infrastructure that serves all the state? How much do you want our job and small business development agencies to actually benefit local and state small businesses (with audits and accountability for incentives given). How much do you want our state to stand up for the rights of all its citizens?

That's how much we all need to work, from now until election day, to make those changes. Sign up to canvass, phone bank, and text bank. Donate if you can. Make sure everyone you know plans to vote in November. Make sure they know why this is so important.

Even if you've never canvassed, or you don't like calling strangers, or you don't want to talk politics, just remember what's at stake and how much you want change.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tony Evers, will join lieutenant governor candidate, Mandela Barnes, at ***LOCATION UPDATE*** Pearl Street Brewery, 1401 St. Andrew Street on Friday at 3 pm. Drop by to meet them and sign up to make a change this November.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Defend the census

The 2020 census is just around the corner. What could happen if incompetents or malicious actors get their hands on running the census? Plenty!

For example, a contractor could be hired to print and distribute the census but then file for bankruptcy and get a ruling that we taxpayers still owe them millions for not printing it. Yes, that has happened already.

Anti-immigrant (to be polite) Trumpolytes like Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach could push very hard for a citizenship question on the "must complete under penalty of law" census.  Yes, that is happening, too. This Mother Jones mag article tells us why Republicans are working to undercount minority voters in large states. This NYT article describes states' attempts to block it by suing the Trump administration.



This site is collecting citizen comments for the Commerce Department. You have until August 7 to weigh in.

We already know that numbers matter. Republican gerrymandering is but one arrow in their "total minority rule" quiver. 

Small states' outsized representation in the US Senate also affects who gets on the Supreme Court. Small state voters' votes count much more than votes of those who live in larger states. If the census can be rigged to undercount minorities in large states whose "vote power" is already diluted, it will get worse faster.

2012 Slate article pointed out that, "one Wyoming voter has roughly the same vote power as four New York voters." The authors of One Nation After Trump note that by 2050, about 30% of voters will elect about 70% of US senators.

Jud Lounsbury, writing in The Progressive magazine, shows how this skews the vote by numbers and race:
"That means in North Dakota a voter—who is most likely to be white—has three times more say in who gets to become President. And it means that a California voter—who is most likely to be not white—has a vote that is worth only about 83 percent as the rest of the country."

David Yaris, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty, details all the ways Republicans have used the constitution, written to ensure power for wealthy white men, to retain power for a minority of voters and how those same tactics can bring back majority rule.

Until then, working to make sure as many as possible vote and as many as possible are counted in the census will dilute the voter suppression initiatives. (And consider staying in or moving to one of the small states where one vote really counts as more than one in national elections.)

Monday, July 30, 2018

City Fair Housing Survey

from the City of La Crosse website:

7/30/2018 - Please take the City’s Fair Housing Survey
 
The City of La Crosse is preparing a fair housing study and we need your input. This study will examine patterns of race, poverty, and housing needs in the region. Your opinion will help La Crosse improve housing for its residents. By taking the survey, you also will have the chance to win a $50 Visa gift card! The deadline to take the survey is September 1, 2018.     

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LaCrosseFairHousing