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Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label politics. Show all posts

04 February 2020

Abrams, Rapinoe, and Bird, oh my!

Yup...The fabulous Stacey Abrams, along with badass couple Megan Rapinoe & Sue Bird join HBO's THE SHOP: UNINTERRUPTED to chat about the state of the world. Also joining the conversation is EGOT Whoopi Goldberg, Malcolm Jenkins, And Hasan Minhaj.

By the look of the trailer this is gonna be a great conversation. Check it out on Friday, February 7 (9:30-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) or later on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.

19 May 2017

Ole Tangerine Man and Planet

I get a lot of requests to share crowdsourced projects, but this is one of the best ones...a children's book that addresses the way Trump treats people.


After watching the pitch video I was intrigued...So instead of sending off money, I sent off some questions for Carol Steuri, the author, behind what could be a popular children's book. Steuri is not a US citizen and says that the aim of the book is to empower kids to stand up against bullies and protect one another. Once costs are covered, all remaining funds (roughly 20%) will be donated to a nonprofit that inspires women and girls to run for elected office in the U.S.

1) You're not a US citizen, so why are you invested in our story?

Steuri: The U.S has such a huge impact across the globe, it's hard not to be invested. As a Canadian, I don't want to see harm done to my neighbours. As a Canadian living abroad in Europe, I see how U.S politics affects us here with far-right candidates gaining momentum and spewing the same sort of rhetoric. It feels like very uncertain times at the moment and it scares the hell out of me. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter where you live, what nation you call home, what’s happening at moment isn’t right and if you have a voice, use it.

2) Do you have a personal story of being bullied that you leaned on as you wrote? No need for identifying details!

Steuri: I think most people have experienced some form of bullying in their life. There's no one story that helped craft the book other than Ole Tangerine Man himself. However, I wanted to ensure empathy was laced in throughout the story. This book identifies all sorts of bullying behavior, but also attempts to explain what might be going on inside Ole Tangerine Man, as a way to make sense of his antics.

My editor has a Masters in Early Childhood Education and I leaned on her and other teacher friends for their guidance and feedback to ensure the bullying messages were all on point.

3) Some people don't like to see politics in children's books. What do you say to people who might be offended by your book as being too political?

Steuri: Most parents I know are struggling with how best to discuss the current political climate with their kids. This is a conversation starter for just that. I think the elephant in the room needs to be called out because there’s no hiding from it. For those that might be offended, I would encourage them to read the story. It’s not an anti-Ole Tangerine Man attack on him or his followers, it’s a rallying cry to bring all fruits together.

For a very young child though, it’s simply a funny, whimsical little book that empowers them to stand up against bullies and protect one another. The story and illustrations are very playful with lots of rich imagery and the metaphors/puns are only for the adult reader. It was cathartic for me to write and helped me process Ole Tangerine Man's behaviour myself. And from what others have told me, it's quite satisfying and inspiring to read because I think we all need this message right now.

4) Why is it important to you to support women running for elected offices? Is that a message in your book? Perhaps a message for your next children's book?

The book ends with a brave, young blueberry girl challenging Ole Tangerine Man for his crown, as the future Miss Captain AMAZING. So there's that link.

I looked to many different types of organizations who are making it their mandate to stand up against this bully, which is so very important. But I chose to support an organization inspiring women and girls to consider a future run in politics because it felt like a positive, future-oriented approach.

The Ole Tangerine Man and Planet campaign ends in less than two weeks, so hurry and help this book become reality! 

22 October 2016

Clean Air Moms Action

Every year it gets worse. As we move from hot & humid days to cool & crisp air that tiny bit of allergy-induced asthma I have gets worse. My dependency on an inhaler grows.

From past allergy tests, I know most of what I am allergic to is Mother Earth. Her glorious trees and flowers make my life hard and clog up my nasal passages. But I also know from experience that air action days make high pollen days seem like a picnic. What makes me feel worse about those days is that for my health I need to stay in air-conditioned spaces. Even if AC is part of the bigger problem!

That is why I consider the health of our environment is an important issue for me. Despite it not receiving the needed attention during the presidential or vice-presidential debates, our environment is a national issue...even a national security issue!

I really don't understand why such an important issue and one that should be one we can all rally around wasn't truly addressed. I know that Trump has tweeted that climate change is a hoax and that many in the GOP do not believe the science, but even more so why it should be addressed.

That is why when Clean Air Moms Action asked for people to write about why air pollution is an important issue for the upcoming election I said, "HELL YES!" They are traveling the country with a documentary film crew capturing the stories of parents who are fighting daily to protect their children’s health effects of exposure to oil & gas productions, high-tide flood waters, and ground water contamination from coal ash waste sites.

Clean air is an issue that is wrapped up in other issues. Normally we talk about it as a side issue to energy or climate change, but really it should be THE ISSUE. Then we break it down into trade, health care, economy, immigration, etc. Let's flip the conversation! 

No matter who wins the election, we have a lot of work to do to clean up our environment. So make sure you get out there and vote!

Join me in pledging to vote on November 8th (or earlier!)

This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action.
All opinions are, of course, my own

03 November 2015

Happy Pub Day, Love Her Love Her Not!

It is finally real. The anthology, Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox, is officially published!

When Joanne Bamberger invited me to submit an essay to the anthology I was still smarting from leaving a doctoral program. But I dove in and edited an essay that I had written for The Broad Side. While I resemble many other writers in dreading the revision process, it was quite healing to have something to focus my brain on. And the theme of the anthology certainly summarizes my feelings about Hillary. She is complicated and tests my progressive feminist ethics. But I know there won't ever be a perfect candidate. I try to weight her flaws with her strengths.

I hope that you will pick up this anthology and read all of our hemming and hawing over Hillary. I am proud to share space with these fabulous thinkers:

KJ Dell'Antonia, The New York Times
Amy Ferris, Marrying George Clooney
Nancy Giles, CBS Sunday Morning
Froma Harrop, Creators Syndicate
Sally Kohn, CNN
Katherine Reynolds Lewis, Fortune
Mary C. Curtis, The Washington Post & The Root
Lisa M. Maatz, American Association of University Women
Suzi Parker, The Daily Beast & The Economist
Deb Rox, BlogHer.com
Emily Zanotti, The American Spectator
Lezlie Bishop, Author, Talking to the Wall
Anne Born, Author, A Marshmallow on the Bus
Kim Cottrell, Author, A Healthy Stepmother blog
Patricia DeGennaro, Senior Fellow, World Policy Institute
Estelle Erasmus, Redbook & Marie Claire
Jaime Franchi, Morey Publishing
Jolie Hunsinger, Veterinarian
Helen Jonsen, Forbes Media & Working Mother Media
Faiqa Khan, Hey, That's My Hummus! podcast
Rebekah Kuschmider, Author, Stay at Home Pundit blog
Jennifer Hall Lee, Filmmaker, "Feminist: Stories from Women's Liberation"
Linda Lowen, Host of "Take Care" on WRVO Radio
Lisa Solod, Author, Desire: Women Write About Wanting
Lisen Stromberg, Author, Work Pause Thrive (forthcoming)
Aliza Worthington, Author, The Worthington Post blog

Events will be held across the country. Subscribe to my newsletter to find out when we have one in Chicago. And you can purchase your copy from IndieBound or Powells to support VLF!

Thanks Joanne!

12 December 2014

Judy Baar Topinka, the Polka Queen of Illinois Politics Dies at 70

Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register
Illinois politics is a lot of things, but boring rarely is the word to describe it. That is until yesterday. In the wee morning of December 10, 2014, Illinois politics lost its Polka Queen, Judy Baar Topinka.

Since I am an unabashed feminist who normally votes Democratic, one might wonder why Topinka means enough for me to write this post. Well it is because she was freaking awesome to watch. As many people in the media have said over the past day, she was blunt. The only spin Topinka knew how to perform was on the dance floor. I really wanted to share a video of her spinning around during a polka but every single media outlet's videos seem to be tagged with "Topinka polka" at the moment. ARGH!

She seems to be best remembered for her Chicken Little moment of telling Illinois that former Governor Rod Blagojevich was under federal investigation. But Illinois reelected him anyway after he linked her to the previous Governor who was already convicted of corruption. I told ya Illinois politics ain't boring. I still believe if she had chosen almost anyone else other than Joe Birkett as her running mate she may have won. Birkett's strident anti-choice stance pushed a lot of women away from even considering Topinka. For me, I could not forget his role in the Rolando Cruz case. 2006 was the year that the Green Party topped 10% of the vote, meaning a lot more voters than just me had lost faith in Rod, but couldn't vote for Joe.

But what she should be remembered for is that she was one of the first politicians, Democrat or Republican, who marched in Chicago's Pride parade. She was also pro-choice. Hell, she even bragged about voting for the ERA! That was Topinka, a straight shooter.

Which reminds me that one of my friends on Facebook (can't recall!) said something about picturing Dawn Clark Netsch and Judy meeting up in Heaven over some drinks and just shaking their heads at the mess the rest of us are left with. I can see it. And I hope so, because we're gonna need all the divine help to get through the budget mess we are in and appear to be headed into the "even worse" category.

Topinka was beloved by not just Republicans (heck, during her race for Governor her male primary opponents were so vicious to her, Hillary must have send her a card.) but also a lot of us Democratic women who respected her ballsy ways, her feminist sensibilities and how much fun she made politics look.

Thanks, Judy. You inspired a generation of women to lead this state with a wink and a hearty laugh. We shall carry on.

05 March 2013

Dawn Clark Netsch Dies at 86

The grand dame of Illinois politics has died. Dawn Clark Netsch was 86. I had the honor of meeting her on several occasions, usually at fundraisers and luncheons, and each time I would introduce myself to her, she was always gracious. Sometimes I wouldn't say anything, just stand back and watch her as she greeted fans, old friends in her friendly way. For me, she still has one of the best political ads ever -- the straight shooter. Sadly, I couldn't find it in a quick YouTube search, so let me describe it. When she ran for Governor of Illinois in 1994, she ended an ad with her playing pool and making a great shot while someone said "Dawn Clark Netsch, a straight shooter." You can see her holding a cue stick in the photo as she claimed victory after the Democratic primary.  Somehow I'm sure the ad will find its way to the internets today.

I did find that the Chicago History Museum has a 9-part oral history series on her.

She was an inspiration and while I didn't know her personally, I feel a great loss today. Especially as I am headed to a fancy luncheon where a lot of Chicago's power women will be in attendance. It's an event where the chances would had been high Dawn would have appeared. In a state filled with politicians who have broken so many promises and fallen from their pedestals, Dawn would always get a standing ovation anytime she was pointed out in a crowd.

Thanks, Dawn Clark Netsch. May we all serve as graciously as you did.

05 May 2011

Legislative Update

Earlier this month, I asked my Illinois readers to contact their state representatives and ask them to support a bill to unshackle women who were in active labor. A partial victory today because the bill passed!

Sadly the bill passed in an amended state, which limits the unshackling to just Cook County.

I'm hoping to get an interview with Gail Smith, executive director of Chicago Legal Aid for Incarcerated Women, to discuss what this victory means, what percentage of women this will cover and what's next.

CLAIM blogged a bit about the politics that went into getting the bill as far as it has come. Next up the Senate!

02 May 2011

Coming up for air for Obama and Osama

I just can't believe it's been so long since I've written here. Then again I haven't written at my PhD blog since midterm! I think the lack of blogging sums up how ferociously tough this semester has been.

So much has happened in the world, in my life that I wish I had time to write about. Of course this is where I slap myself for thinking that my voice missing for a few weeks is a big deal.

I'm a practical lady. I understand that sometimes you need to something you don't like to keep things moving. Like say release one's birth certificate three years after you've become President of the U.S.A. to prove one's citizenship. It doesn't mean that I don't realize how racist and hateful the request is. Friends have made comments about it harkens back to slave days when free slaves had to carry their papers with them. But the best statement about the birthers demand to see President Obama's birth certificate was made by Baratunde (who is not a friend friend, but I'm friends with some of his peeps.):

Then just a few days after telling the world that he/we had more important things to focus on, President Obama freaked out everyone by calling a press conference at 9:30 pm Chicago time on a Sunday. ON A SUNDAY! Twitter didn't know what to do with itself. We were making jokes about the zombie apocalypse, speculating that we were going all in to remove Gaddafi from Libya and even just dumb jokes about the President only wanting to interrupt "Celebrity Apprentice." Then word got out that it was about Osama bin Laden, that we just might have killed him. The jokes continued as we impatiently awaited our President to tell the world what happened. Sure word leaked onto Twitter and slowly the TV news folks let the cat out of the bag. But I wouldn't fully believe it until President Obama said it.

And then he did.

I fully admit to feeling elated that bin Laden was removed from this world. And it wasn't the fear of retribution that got me to reel that feeling in. It was my conscience. I came to this fight for justice in the world via Amnesty International and my belief that an eye for an eye is never justice. Even if we had brought bin Laden in for a jury to decide to put him to death, it wouldn't be justice. Sadly, I'm afraid I can't think of what justice could be in terms of bin Laden. There are too many feelings. Contradictory feelings. Then a few friends on Facebook posted a MLK Jr. quote that lead me to this full and correct quote:
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
--Martin Luther King, Jr. [link]
Justice can't be found through bin Laden. It can only be found through us. How we go about the world. How we treat each other. How much love and light we put into the universe.

This morning we decided to talk to our daughter about bin Laden. My husband has a different view than I do. But he presented his view to her and I presented mine. She's only 7 1/2, so I don't expect her have much of an opinion other than "Happy the evil guy is gone." I think I struggled more with trying to explain "evil" to her than the difference in Mommy and Daddy's opinion. She's use to us disagreeing.

I'm still struggling with my emotions over all of this. I remember all too well what bin Laden did to this world. While I was not in NYC that day in 2001, I had friends, close friends who were. I remember hitting my listservs and asking for people to check in. We didn't have Facebook, Twitter or too many blogs. I remember calling Jenn Pozner and letting out the biggest sigh when she answered. But I was in Chicago and no one knew what was happening. My husband worked at a museum and I at a university. Both, we were told by the media, could be targets. We were back home before lunch. I'm not being an idiot about this. But I know I'm not being 100% practical about this either. Life is messy like that.

16 February 2011

Searching for a new Mayor: Part 3 - Endorsements

In the end, we, the people of Illinois, will get the political reform we deserve. If we sit back and fail to speak out, we'll get more of the same -- peanuts. And we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.

That quote is from an excellent editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times in 2009. A mere two years ago. One that if you read it you think that the Sun-Times is trying to champion citizens. Those of us who watch the political circuses that have made us in Chicago and Illinois a punchline. Those of us who watch politicians collect pensions like Beanie Babies while those of us way lower the ladder get legislated against.

So when I read the Sun-Times endorsement of Rahm Emanuel, I kinda threw up in my mouth. Did they really try to sell us on him based on the fact that his career hasn't been in the city?
He has built his career in places far removed from the city streets — in corporate boardrooms, the halls of Congress and the Oval Office. This is where he has learned about public life. This is where he continues to look for insight and campaign cash.
Oh, they sure did. Not Chico or Del Valle who have served this city with all their might, right here? No Emanuel who did serve his district which I once lived in, but did it from afar.But they said that too!
Our most serious reservation with respect to Emanuel, though we believe he has the makings of an excellent mayor, is that he may lack a feel for the real beating heart of the city. 
But we're supposed to trust him to continue to starve our public schools by using TIF funds for police officers and cater to charter schools where some  accounting books would reveal more people getting rich than children learning.

Ultimately I believe that the Sun-Times chose Emanuel because of this:
Emanuel stands apart from Chico, however, in his relative independence from city contractors and unions. Because Emanuel largely made his career in Washington, he simply owes fewer people here. 
Union-busting. City worker benefits. Teacher contracts. Privatizing as much as possible. That's what the Sun-Times and Tribune endorsements are all about. Daley let the city fall so far people want to give up on themselves.

I highly doubt Emanuel owes less people than Chico. OK, maybe they don't all live here, but are all our city contracts only with companies in Chicago? Not so much. And let's not forget all the tax breaks the city gives Hollywood for blowing up things on our streets. I'm not against that last one, just pointing out that Emanuel's buddies in Hollywood CAN come a calling about what he owes them. He is owed a lot of favors too for his outstanding fundraising abilities. Perhaps that's why he has some personal endorsements too. For me, those are totally earned too. If I raise you a ton of money, you better pay me back when I need it. See, I'm not a total idealist when it comes to politics.

Other than Chico being wishy-washy on some issues, the Sun-Times fails to show why Emanuel is truly a better candidate. Can he bring the power of DC here? Sure. Can he fund raise the hell out of his competition? Oh hell yeah. Does that mean he deserves to be the next Mayor? For me, no.

And while I wasn't planning on voting for Emanuel anyway, the fact that he admitted that it was his idea to throw women under the bus for health care reform sealed the deal for me. I don't care if he had permission from Our Bodies Ourselves, Gloria Steinem and the ghost of Margaret Sanger! He crafted a strategy that pushed feminist and women's health care organizations into a corner. He was also the person who crafted the strategy to seek out conservative Democrats who started the ignition on the bus. You would think he could use that muscle of his to keep them in line on abortion rights. The muscle that I keep hearing people say that the next mayor should have. He may have endorsements from pro-choice organizations in Chicago, but the fact is that Planned Parenthood Illinois and Personal PAC also endorsed Chico, Braun and del Valle. So since they all have the pro-choice seal of approval, I think it's a moot point to make one's decision on based solely on endorsements.

In the end, on Tuesday night I'll be watching the returns and praying for the 49% line to hold. The 50% line would be too much for me!

Citation: Since the Sun-Times has a poor archive system, I used LexisNexis. If you want to read the full editorial, here is the citation: April 29, 2009. "Time to stand up to end corruption" SECTION: EDITORIALS; Pg. 26

20 January 2011

Tiffany Dufu is the new President of The White House Project

If you follow me on Flickr, you already knew this. I had no idea this information was embargoed until today. I swear! But hey, that's what happens when you invite people with digital cameras to an event, give them some awesome news and don't say "SHHHH!" Or maybe I was so freaking excited that Tiffany was going to be the next President of The White House Project that any shushing went over my head. Either way, CONGRATS TIFFANY!

Here's to passing of the baton. Thanks to Marie Wilson for her amazing years of leadership. I'm sure she won't be retiring to her porch, so let's keep an eye out for her next thing.

Again, congrats to Tiffany!

From the press release:

The White House Project...announces the appointment of its second President, Tiffany Dufu, on Inauguration Day, 2011.

“I can think of no better time to transfer the reins of power of The White House Project to the next generation than today, our country’s official Inauguration Day,” says Marie Wilson. “Tiffany is an extraordinary leader whose competence and passion for our mission will take the work to an entirely new level. For a founder, there is nothing more satisfying than leaving a loved institution in such worthy hands.”

Ms. Dufu has furthered her life’s work of advancing women and girls at The White House Project for the last four years, most recently as Vice President of Development and Administration. Over the course of her 15-year career she has raised nearly $20 million for nonprofits, forging new partnerships, support and strategies.

Says Tiffany Dufu, “The White House Project was founded to advance women’s leadership in all sectors of society, up to, and including, the U.S. presidency. As an African-American woman of the next generation, I believe that this transfer of leadership across generational and racial lines is emblematic of our country’s journey, and reflective of The White House Project’s mission and results. My vision for my administration is to harness the power of the 11,000 women we’ve already trained to lead around the country – half of whom are women of color – and to leverage technology to train hundreds of thousands more."

About Tiffany Dufu

Ever since she accepted the Girl of the Year Award in eighth grade, Tiffany Dufu knew that she wanted to make a profound impact. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, the daughter of a homemaker and a minister, Ms. Dufu was an early feminist who challenged the perceptions of adults around her who often insisted “little girls can’t lead.” She knew that she needed not only to affect change, but also wanted to be public about it – so that other girls could be leaders, too.

As Associate Director of Development at the Seattle Girls’ School, a nonprofit education institution committed to giving all girls the power to be innovative, confident, critical thinkers, Ms. Dufu raised $2 million in just under a year. As Major Gifts Officer at Simmons College, she managed a portfolio of more than 150 donors, and worked in recruitment to create a more diverse student body. While in Boston, Ms. Dufu was featured in a Boston Globe article that, within 24 hours, became the most-forwarded article in BostonGlobe.com history. She leveraged the overwhelming response to encourage a productive dialogue in the city about race relations, and soon became a fellow in LeadBoston and a catalyst for the Commonwealth Compact project, working to make Greater Boston a desired destination for people of color and women.

As Vice President of The White House Project, Ms. Dufu has forged new partnerships, has strengthened the Corporate Council and has refined the organization’s strategy. Having now raised nearly $20 million toward the cause of women and girls, she has been featured in The New York Times, The Seattle Times and on NPR, and is a frequent speaker on nonprofit fundraising and women’s leadership. She currently serves on the board of Harlem4Kids, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and holds a B.A. and M.A. in English and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington.

13 January 2011

Searching for a new Mayor: Part 2 - Libraries

I know I'm totally slacking on this mayor thing here. I did add some informational links over on the sidebar (so click on over RSS readers) to help my fellow Chicagoans make their decision. I had planned to go a little crazy blogging over the semester break, but the lure of books won out.

And I know that in part one of this series, I touched on libraries, but are forcing me to revisit:
If he had to choose between giving every Chicago Public School a library or every public school student a lap-top computer, he would choose: “A laptop. It opens you to the library of the world. Instead of a teacher saying, ‘Open your books, we’re going to learn about India’, she could say, ‘Pull out your lap-tops. We’re going to Skype with your fifth-grade colleagues in Mumbai.’
The purpose of a library is not to simply have access to books, but to have access to a trained librarian who can teach and guide children as they learn to be researchers and consumers of media. A laptop does none of this.

Yes, I would love for every child in Chicago to have access to the internet. But I also want them to have access to a library and a trained librarian.

In academic circles Wikipedia is a double-edged sword. If you mentioned Wikipedia early on, eyes would roll. Now not so much. More and more academics are learning that like it or not students, like anyone on the internet, will type in a phrase or term into a search engine and find themselves at a Wikipedia page. So it's not a classic encyclopedia - that's the point. We need to teach children as early as possible that Wikipedia is a tool, not so much a source for gaining information. In other words, go there to start your search and use the references section, but do not simply quote JFK's Wikipedia page in your report.

Who is going to teach that? A classroom teacher? On top of the standardized test she is tasked to teach our kids? (That's a dig at the system, not teachers!) Why not a librarian who say went to library school and has been taught how to teach children the methods of research and analyzing sources? How else did we know that we can quote a book, but not the National Enquirer? Seriously, that is what our children are deciding when they go online to do research.

In the internet age we have to allow for students to quote websites, but are we teaching them how to figure out if the site they are quoting is a talking out of their ass or writing a well researched article? That's what librarians are doing on top of making sure our kids have access to books and magazines.

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm terribly disappointed in
Gery Chico for falling into a this or that trap. Our children need both access to libraries and laptops. Plain and simple.

17 December 2010

One Feminist's Take on the No Labels Launch: Part 2

Or rather day two.

I knew instantly that I would have a difficult time summing up this gathering and doing a decent analysis. And given the amount of instant commentary on the event, it's even more difficult. But let me take a shot.

First my White House Project roomie & I knew which building to enter by the number of satellite news trucks parked outside of Columbia University's Lerner Hall. I believe the tone was set with David Brooks' question/statement of "How can you say you love this country and yet hate half of it?" I'd like to think he was talking to both sides of the political spectrum. As for me, I love this country and while I disagree vehemently with a good chunk of my fellow citizens, I'd be hard pressed to say I hate them. I hate how they want to limit the freedoms of those who don't follow their beliefs.

Congressman Bob Inglis threw out another theme for the day - the media. He mostly focused on what we would call news media. The hyper-partisanship of the day. At one point, I can't recall exactly when, an image of Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann was shown as if to say Exhibit A in this war of words. I believe this was also a theme at Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert's rally. 

And No Labels seems to want to pick up, but in a serious and methodical way, where Jon & Stephen left off. They say they want to recapture reason and civility in political discourse. Now, what's not to love about that? 

But as other commentators have pointed out, can you sustain a movement as civil discourse as your center?  

No Labels likes to consider itself a grass roots movement, but I didn't see any grass stains at the launch. Rather I saw a lot of DC insiders who frankly aren't as inside anymore. They have been pushed out by Tea Partiers and perhaps MoveOn folks. Both those groups were the unofficial pinatas (another animal for their logo?). What they truly aim to do is energize that mushy middle of the political spectrum. The folks who aren't up in arms over "Don't Ask Don't Tell" in either direction. They are the folks who couldn't give a rat's ass if half the Navy was gay. They just want the Navy to do it's job. They aren't escorting women into health clinics because damn it, it's your choice, not mine. Thus they don't have a fire under their ass and sometimes vote, sometimes don't. It was made very clear that this mushy middle of citizens are clearly not voting in primaries, thus giving both Dems and the GOP radical candidates in general elections and then that turns off the middle ground again. Vicious cycle played over and over across the country.

And this is where I see their true power. Their strategy is to organize in every Congressional district and hold that Congressperson and related Senators to task. No more of this "Nothing passes until we get X" bullshit. No Labels folks want to see the Congress earn its paychecks, pass bills that stimulate our economy, fix our schools, settle immigration and get this country back on track. As I mentioned a few times in my live blog of the event, the moderates in this country want the radicals to back off. If No Labels can truly organize people to hold their elected officials accountable for their tantrums we could get some work done. But when is it a tantrum and when is it standing up for ones convictions?

I really wish that PunditMom, Jill Zimon and a few other of the Feminist Mama Crew had been invited. Luckily, Jill was able to tweet along with me most of the day. She brought some fab perspective to the events. At the local level, labels aren't helpful. The issues most local officials are dealing with are basic city services. As a councilwoman herself, Jill knows what she's talking about. But No Labels wants to focus on the federal level where the shit is hitting the fan every day. So back to issues.

Outside of getting rid of the Tea Party and MoveOn folks, I have no real idea of what solid outcomes No Labels wants to accomplish. The lack of women on the stage speaking was shameful. If women truly are the best people to find common ground, then that stage should have had far more women on it. Instead we got Joe Scarborough who lashed out at bloggers in their PJs eating Cheetos in their basement. Um, isn't that a label Joe? Is he really the face of a mature and civil DC? My friend Robin pointed out that it was also absurd to be listening to Mayor Bloomberg talk about fair redistricting and voters rights when he pushed the NY City Council to let him stay on for a third term. So he of the purple tie isn't quite the face No Labels should have either.

Yes, I'm tired of political tantrums, but there's also a place for Senator Bernie Sanders' filibuster. Quite honestly I got the sense that No Labels was shaming the far right more than the far left. I can't recall anyone on the left saying that they won't vote on anything at all until they get X. Because if anything, the past two years have been full of compromise that pulled legislation to the right.

I do hope that No Labels will be able to invigorate the middle part of this country, to get them to come out and vote in the primaries. If not, I fear for what we will be faced with in 2012, especially in terms of the Presidency.

I'm so happy that I went to the No Labels launch. I learned that my labels aren't so much labels and lines I draw in the sand, but rather the issues that I hold near and dear to my heart, that I will fight for until the day I die. My issues are about making this country a more fair and just place to live. I don't see how No Labels can help move forward a feminist agenda. From what I saw on Monday, No Labels has its heart in the right place and again, I truly hope they are able to engage people who haven't been voting in primaries or have been turned off by politics. We need everyone to vote, to have a voice. But for now, I'll use mine to advocate for this country to move forward on a road map full of labels.

15 December 2010

One Feminist's Take on the No Labels Launch: Part 1

One of my favorite scenes from "The West Wing" is from the episode "Angel Maintenance." In it Matt McCoy plays a moderate Republican Congressman who is working with Josh on a bill. He goes off on Josh and I believe Toby (no, I'm not digging out the DVDs on this one) about how offended he is that the Democrats are targeting him in the upcoming election. He outlines in a very Yoda way that by pushing him, a moderate, out of office only opens the door for a far more conservative candidate to replace him or for him to have to go hard right to keep his seat.

It is a favorite because it was one of many moments that really stuck with me and made me consider how I view moderates. Not only that, but to consider the physics of politics. What happens those of us on the left push for others to be just as left? Some of them join us. Others run hard right.

As friends & long time readers know, I'm not a good Democrat. I don't send money to the party, DCCC, DSCC or local Dem groups. As a feminist I am hugely disappointed in how often the party selects men to go up against women Dems in primaries. I am also hugely disappointed in the notion of Blue Dog Democrats who sit with the Dems, but often vote against issues, like choice, that are central to being a Democrat. I also live in Chicago and not all Democrats are "good" Democrats.

Which brings me to our last election. I publicly supported the Democrat Forrest Claypool, who ran as an independent, for County Assessor. The Democratic candidate Joe Berrios won. What did Scott Cisek, Director of Cook County, tweet the next day?

Yes, it was a fierce campaign and yes, I was disappointed the next day, but this tweet fits right into how I've felt the party has been run. "Good Democrats" tow the party line. "Bad Democrats" think and act on their own convictions.

All that is why I attended the No Labels launch in New York on Monday.

I received the invitation to attend through The White House Project. I've attended a training in 2007 and really enjoyed it. Not to mention that I didn't get to finish the training in 2007 due to horrible weather. So an invitation "from Marie Wilson" + event in NYC + a chance to finish a training + the event happened after the semester was over and BAM! I was in. Yup, it was like I was Luke headed back to Dagobah.

So on Sunday I sat in a room with 100 other women who have run for office, want to run for office or want to help other women run for office talking about the dire situation that our country finds itself in. There was a huge theme of women as collaborators, willing to find common ground and great communicators. Yes, lots of gender essentialism.

But it was a feeling that appeared to be agreed upon by all the women in the room. It was confirmed by mom after mom talking about how they have to find common ground between their kids. I shared the fact that Tony & I have to compromise on our parenting decisions. 90-95% of our parenting ideas are agreed upon, it's that last bit that requires compromise. A woman at my table said, "That's just like our country!"

Lisa Borders, one of the trainers, told us that the day after she lost her bid to be mayor of Atlanta the only call she received from politicos was from a lone Republican. Lisa is a Democrat.

Kiki McLean kept talking about wanting to make her party (the Dems) stronger by pushing them to reach across the aisle and backing up elected officials (of all parties) when they do work towards bipartisan solutions. She gives props on the No Labels blog to Tom Coburn for not taking the bait and calling President Obama names.

While one woman did ask how No Labels would handle issues like abortion and the death penalty, most of the day was focused on process.

Process such as going into a room to find common ground, not enter a discussion over a bill or issue "hoping that the other side loses." Process such as stop calling each other names like "hijackers" and "socialists."

I am a progressive pro-choice Latina mom. I like my labels. But this room of women made me question if I need to cling so tightly to them.

I went to bed on Saturday, exhausted and eager to see what Monday would bring.

13 December 2010

No Labels Launch - December 13, 2010



05 November 2010

Searching for a new Mayor: Part 1 - Schools

While not as shocking as Daley's retirement, the timing of Ron Huberman's decision to quit on the Chicago Public Schools was a bit shocking. But it's one that many of us looking forward to a new Mayor and new head of CPS are moving past quickly. There are a lot of issues in CPS, some obvious and urgent, some not-so-obvious, but still in need of attention. I hope to write a little bit about those issues here and encourage Chicagoans to make it a priority to ask all Mayoral hopefuls not just about their dedication to public schools, but what plans they have to address certain needs such as:

  • The scattering of CPS students: The recent decision to allow any and all siblings to go to the same magnet school is AWESOME. There are far too many parents who are shuttling all over this city to take 1 kid here and another one there. That said, why don't we go back to the idea that a school is a community center, that kids in the neighborhood go to a school down the street and then families know each other in the neighborhood? I know one family who live in Hyde Park and one kid goes to school on the near West Side and the other on the far South side. Thankfully there are two parents to shuttle these kids. Why shuttling? Because CPS doesn't bus kids who live farther than 4 miles away from the school. Um, aren't these the students who SHOULD be bused in? Instead they are shuttled by parents or take the CTA at a younger age than most parents plan. This issue is always raised when talking about gang fights but the current mayor says he won't let gangs draw school maps. Nice dodge. 
  • The drop out rate: Why do we need hip hop stars to come in and tell kids they need to stay in school? I love the idea, don't get me wrong, but I think it signals that we aren't providing certain students with a good view of what their future holds....Or others in power are painting them a picture that they are rejecting and thus see no use in education. 
  • RECESS: My daughter's school does not have recess as a regular part of their day. Sometimes they go out before school, but if it's before school, is it recess? There are far too many studies that say recess is key to academic success. Not to mention Michelle Obama wants out kids to be moving.
  • Libraries for all: The Whittier Moms should not be forgotten. Not when we have 164 schools without libraries and some schools have sorry excuses for a library. I talked to one mom whose child goes to a school with a literature focus that does NOT have a library. 
I'll cover more in future posts. Cause I didn't even mention capital issues.

But as we move towards these changes, I would like to see one thing changed. The way we view schools on the CPS website. Take the Jane Addams Elementary School. We can click around and see when they were inspected for asbestos, how well they recycle and demographics. But you have no idea if you are applying to school without a library, that keeps their students inside for 6 hours without fresh air and how long they give kids to eat their lunch. But you know there is a dress code. Jane Addams was a bookworm. If there isn't a library at her namesake school, she's rolling in her grave. But you don't know these things unless you think to ask (why would anyone think otherwise until the Whittier moms brought the issue to light?) or you find out when your child comes home to report there is no library.

This is a critical time for public education, especially in Chicago. We have a new mayor coming in soon and eventually new leadership for CPS. In DC "No Child Left Untested, er, Behind" needs to be revamped so that the top schools can go back to being totally awesome. Honestly, is it a surprise that NCLB reform is now all the rage once the top schools start failing?

But I'm rested from Tuesday...Gotta be. Mayoral hopefuls are having fund raisers and signatures are being collected. We need to get a hopping!

02 November 2010

Join the PBS NewsHour for Election Coverage

30 October 2010

2010 Illinois Voters Guide

I truly am honored that friends ask for my opinion about who to vote for and what they should know. I try not to just tell people who to vote for, but offer my opinion why and give you things to ponder.

I'm not about to just tell you who to vote for, but also give you tools to help you make up your own mind.
Who I plan to vote for
I am voting AGAINST the Illinois Governor Recall Amendment. If we vote someone in, we must live with them unless they are impeached or until we vote them out. Eric Zorn has a nice piece about why we should vote NO.

I'm not going to go too far down the ballot, just the big (in my opinion) races.

Governor & Lt. Governor: Pat Quinn & Sheila Simon
I wrote about this race a few weeks ago and this is the hardest race for me. I truly believe that Rich Whitney would make a good governor and bring the new innovative ideas to the table to get Illinois out of this mess, I just know that none of those ideas, even if it was handed to Whitney by God himself, would see the light of day due to Speaker Madigan. Thus, I will vote for Gov. Quinn as Brady is too extreme in his beliefs. I've also admired the way Quinn fights for the average citizen.

Point to ponder: In the last election, Rich Whitney won over 10% of the vote which made the Green Party an established party of the Illinois. This means they get to play by the same rules as the Dems and GOP in terms of signatures needed to get on the ballot - HUGE victory. To maintain the Green Party as an established party, Whitney needs to win 5% of the vote (according to WBEZ this morning). It makes me sick that 8% of Illinois is supporting Cohen, while only 6% is supporting Whitney

U.S. Senator: Still wrestling over

I do not trust Giannoulias. I do trust that he'll vote along the Democratic party line. Kirk use to be independent enough for me to consider voting for, even with his support of the war, cause well, the Democrats supported the war too. LeAlan Jones of the Green Party has a great story and is as progressive as I would want a candidate to be. Mindful Metropolis has a great profile of him [dynamic PDF]. I can't give any recommendations on this race.

I know that my friends will yell at me for this saying that we need to keep the Democrats in power. But by putting a man that I don't trust in the history books? That his biggest accomplishment before becoming Treasurer was being Obama's basketball buddy? Nope. Sorry. I want to vote for the person not the party. 

Comptroller: You choose David Miller
David Miller's a dentist! Although I do love the chutzpah of Judy Barr Topinka. The comptroller writes the checks. This should be a great foil office to the Treasurer and General Assembly. Because I wish this office would act as more of a check on the system, I left Judy in the mix. But after hitting publish, this was the one race I felt like I should reconsider. Then on the way to dinner, I read the endorsement from the Gazette Chicago: "In February, we endorsed Judy Barr Topinka for State Comptroller over her less-than-qualified opponents in the GOP primary, but that does not mean we think she’s the best choice for this post." Sometimes it takes reading my thoughts in others writing to smack me across the back of my head.

Cook County Board President: Toni Preckwinkle
Again, do I need to explain this one? Cook County is in a world of pain, hopefully she has some fab ideas.

Cook County Assessor: Forrest Claypool
If I had a Democratic Party membership card, not only would it be full of demerits, but it would definitely be taken away from me for supporting Claypool in this race. I'm not naive. Claypool isn't bias free, no one is. Carol Marin says it best:
There is one, unequivocal, no-holds-barred protest vote on the November ballot. One contest that is nothing short of a bullhorn blasting how fed up people are with the corrupt, conflict-of-interest-ridden politics of this state.

It's the race between Democrat Joe Berrios and independent Forrest Claypool for the seemingly obscure but immensely powerful position of Cook County assessor...

Berrios is a lobbyist in Springfield, where Madigan runs the show. And Madigan's private property tax law firm representing wealthy clients looking for big tax breaks appears before the Board of Review, where Berrios helps run the show. And if Berrios wins as assessor, his power over tax bills only increases...

There is rebellion brewing over this, and not just among voters, but within the Democratic Party itself. And it's not going over well with party leaders. Those leaders, by the way, are named Madigan and Berrios. Madigan chairs the state party. Berrios runs the Cook County party.

Berrios and Madigan think it should be a mortal sin for any Democrat to do anything to embarrass the party. That includes, according to party bylaws, "felony convictions, or actively opposing nominees endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party."

Only in Illinois would disagreeing with the party be right up there with committing a felony.
And now my dear reader, go forth and vote on Tuesday.

28 October 2010

The Stir's 30 Political Mom Bloggers Who Will Change Your Vote

On Monday I was listed as one of 30 political mom bloggers who will change your vote. When I got the email I was excited. Who doesn't like to get recognized for their work? Especially since I've been really focused on local stuff of late. But Monday I was in a migraine coma, so when I read the email and clicked to the site on Tuesday morning, I only had time to scan through and see that I also got my mug included.

Tuesday night I took a good look at the list which claims to be bipartisan, drawing from both sides of the aisles. Which is pretty true. From my count, I could ID about 10 conservative/Tea party moms and 15 liberal/progressive moms. A few I couldn't quite figure out within 15 seconds and a few seem to be real life moderates. Yeah them! I'm serious. Moderates frustrate me, but they push me to think more than far right folks.

Curiously not everyone listed was listed with a photo, despite the fact that far more than six of us have public photos. Three of the women with photos are obviously women of color. Four of the women on the list are obviously women of color. I say obviously because I know some women of color don't "look" like women of color. I welcome any corrections to my count.

So while I am really honored to be included on this list, I have to question the whiteness of this list. I haven't had time to gather up my own list of moms of color who will change your vote ala Annie at PhDinParenting, they are out there. In fact, you might just want to see Annie's list. There also appears to be a lack of queer mom bloggers listed.

Here are just four more political mamas you should listen to:
  1. Cynematic was technically covered when they listed MOMocrats, but I do think she deserves a shout out on her own;
  2. Mamita Mala is owner of VivirLatino, a media outlet that does pretty much nothing but politics. Even VL's fluff sometimes has a political bent.
  3. Liza Sabater's culture kitchen oozes mom+politics=awesomeness.
  4. MOMBIAN. Enough said.
I don't think that we need to have a representative from every single category because I think there are too many categories (where are my pagan mamas?!). But on the bigger categories, race/ethnicity/sexuality/geography/class/ability, I believe we can do better.

And did anyone else notice that The Stir joined my call for drafting Jessica Valenti to the mom blogger team? 

I wouldn't say, as The Stir did, that Jessica has brought her mamahood to the pages of Feministing yet as she's dealing with recovering from an emergency c-section, her daughter being in the hospital for 56 days and now at home. Not quite the way we all dream of joining the mamahood.

But generated a lot of comments and buzz on social networks. She asked for people to consider how women without access to top notch medical care give birth and to donate to Women Deliver or any group that works on maternal health issues. And I believe proves my point that she has a lot of power at the moment and when she uses that power to shine a light on traditionally mommy issues, she's gonna do a lot of good. Some political bloggers who are moms try to keep the kids out of their politics, but I hope Jessica doesn't. She's done so much for feminism in general that she'd be a great asset to what political mom bloggers are doing. But for now she should just be enjoying that cutie pie grrl of hers and sleeping when she sleeps.

13 October 2010

When will Chicago get to say Madame Mayor again?

Originally posted at Chicagonista

Chicago has always been a fun electoral town, with our machine and “vote early and vote often” motto. But Chicagoans need to hold on to their hats as we prepare for the mother of elections – We’re getting a new mayor!

Once the news got out that Daley decided that he had his full of being mayor, it seemed like everyone who could threw their hat into the ring. Everyone but women at least.

To be the mayor of Chicago one needs to win not just a plurality of votes, but you need 50% + 1 of the votes cast. If not, there’s a run off between the top two candidates. As we saw in the 2008 Democratic primary for Rahm Emanuel’s Congressional seat, a crowded race means one could win with just 20% of the vote. Many believe that may be all that is needed to get into the mayoral run-off. So why haven’t more women jumped into the race?

Read the rest at Chicagonista

03 October 2010

The Race for Illinois Governor

As my friends know, I abhor negative campaigning. A lot of you say you do as well, but I've seen studies that say that we are most impacted by negative ads - meaning they work...Up to a certain level at least. I've also read that negative ads hurt if voters feel overwhelmed by them. I've heard from friends who say they want to know why we should vote FOR someone not AGAINST a candidate.

In that vein, I want to vote for Green Party nominee, Rich Whitney. As Eric Zorn said in today's paper:
Of the five candidates for governor at the joint interview, Green Party nominee Rich Whitney was the best spoken, had the best command of the facts and, in my opinion, had the most sensible ideas for moving Illinois forward.

If we only had an instant-runoff voting system where a ballot cast  for a third-party candidate down in the polls, as Whitney is,  isn’t a purely symbolic gesture at the expense of a voter’s second favorite candidate.
 But the reality is that we do have a system that a vote for Whitney could cost Democratic nominee, Gov. Pat Quinn, the election. Chances are that Greens and Dems have more in common and that Whitney wouldn't be siphoning off votes from Republican nominee, Bill Brady.

What kind of Illinois would Brady bring about? This video gives us a taste.

So what am I going to do?

Gov. Quinn did reject abstinence-only sex ed funding which is exciting. The Illinois Dept of Health & Human Services was just awarded $2.2 million in PREP funding. PREP is for "evidence-based programs that reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and address other adulthood preparation topics such as healthy relationships, communication with parents, and financial literacy."

When I voted for Whitney four years ago, I wasn't as scared of Judy Baar Topinka as I am of Brady. I also loved the idea that if Whitney broke the 10% barrier, then the Greens would have an easier time getting candidates on the ballot. And that part happened.

Honestly Brady scares the hell outta me. The flier from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action (where I use to blog) states it pretty well:

Illinois is a world of a mess. I think we need strong leadership, but I also believe that women's rights shouldn't be sacrificed in this quest for strong leadership. Of course, all our rights could be sacrificed if the state can't pay all the health care providers & other social service agencies that have been waiting for over a year for their bills to be paid.

I have a feeling I'll be debating this vote up until I have to connect the line on my ballot. I think Whitney has the leadership and vision to get us out of this mess, but he would be severely hampered by the General Assembly who wouldn't want to give a third party any credit. And that, again, brings me to Quinn, who I repeat, supports just about every issue I care about.

On top of all of this is the reality that I work for a state institution. Quinn gave his office big raises, while I continue to see great people lose their jobs and those of us left behind are having to do far more work than our salaries reflect, especially given that last year we had a pay cut.

Care to share who you will be voting for and why?


This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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