Friday, June 13, 2008

War, Inc., a comedy on war profiteering by John Cusack, playing this weekend

War, Inc. by Chicago's own John Cusack looks like a good film to check out. It's playing this weekend and at the Landmark Century Cinema n Lake View and the Landmark Renaissance Place in Highland Park.

It's hard to get our arms around how much money corporations are making off of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And it's hard to think about how much war is getting privatized (and then there's a very strong political force for more war, because that's how they get paid). John Cusack, a really smart and dedicated progressive who happens to be a movie star, made this film as a comedy to (I'm assuming) get the point across. I hope it works. I plan to check it out.

Man, we have got to elect Barack Obama and a massive Democratic Congress in November (with a stronger anti-invasion contingent) to get away from the soul-numbing atrocities that come out of any war -- especially one that our government chose to wage under false and illegal pretenses that enriched a large part of their political base.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What is John Kass' obsession with Barack Obama?

I really don't get it.

I try not to let John Kass get under my skin. I admire his background as a reporter and I think he turns a poetic phrase. But his overwhelming narcissism to fancy himself a political force unto himself combined with his currently zealotry to convince the national press that Barack Obama is not a political reformer because....because he's from Chicago! is getting ridiculous.

His latest column is a good example

For the last, oh, three years, John Kass has tried to sully up Obama's well-deserved reputation as a force for government transparency because he is not waging a battle in the city council against (presumably) Mayor Daley. That's enough to make him borderline corrupt in Kass' columns. Helping to negotiate the biggest Illinois ethics reform since Watergate in his first few years as a state senator? No big deal. Moving the federal ethics law forward after the Dems cleaned up Congress in 2007, essentially on his own through relentless advocacy for greater transparency within the caucus? Whatever. Conceiving of and passing the most aggressive procurement transparency measure the federal government has ever done in partnership with a conservate Republican back when he was in the minority? So what? He endorsed Daley for mayor! So he must be corrupt!

I mean, if Barack Obama were an Alderman and wasn't vigorously pursuing out of some deference to Daley the exact same agenda of transparency and reform that he has successfully implemented in every legislature that he has served, then I think Kass would have a point. But, of course, he's not an Alderman. He's working on federal transparency instead of municipal transparency because, oh, that's his job. 

I really hope Kass quits trying to connect invisible dots for other reporters in some vain attempt to alter Obama's well-earned reputation as a political reformer. It's getting a little creepy.  

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One of the coolest political moments in my lifetime

Chicago's own Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee for President.

And as the "Democrat with backbone" -- a creature he called too rare in his U.S. Senate campaign kickoff speech -- he essentially accepted the nomination in the middle of the Republican convention hall! The audacity! I love it.

This is our moment. It's our moment to elect a leader with blazing intelligence, refreshing humility and a Lincolnian faith in the power of regular people who choose to engage in governance to create a kinder, more just and more productive nation.

This is one of the coolest political moments of my lifetime.

And it will be eclipsed in November when we elect Barack Obama as the next President of the United States of America.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hyde Park event today on democracy and the national popular vote

I'll be participating in this discussion tonight and am also scheduled to discuss the national popular vote on the Cliff Kelley show on WVON this afternoon.

One Person, One Vote? Reinventing Democracy

Monday, June 2

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Experimental Station
6100 S Blackstone Ave

A desire for change is mobilizing record numbers of voters to participate in the primaries this presidential election season. A diverse, robust, and ever-changing population is asserting itself in the electoral process. But how democratic is the political process in this country? As a society, how can we understand and overcome the racialized nature of American citizenship? Who gets to vote, who doesn’t and why? And ultimately, how much do our votes really count?

Join us for a lively, critical conversation about these questions and an opportunity tochallenge ourselves to think, imagine, and act to revitalize and re-invent a more participatory democracy. This program is a part of The Public Square at the IHC's "Looking for Democracy in '08 and Beyond" series.

Free and open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made by e-mail at, or by calling 312.422.5580. Refreshments will be served.

"Louder than a Bomb" poets, Cydney Edwards and Esther Ikoro, will open up this roundtable conversation featuring:

Martha Biondi (moderator) is a member of the Department of African American Studies with a courtesy joint appointment in the History Department. She specializes in 20th century African American history, with a focus on social movements, politics, ideology and protest. She is the author of To Stand and Fight: the Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City.

Michael Dawson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, is one of the nation's leading experts on race and politics, the founding director of the University’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, and a principal investigator on several important studies of Black politics. He is the author of Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies and Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger is the President of Progressive Public Affairs, a communications and policy development firm for people and organizations that want to improve the world. He is an advocate for the national popular vote movement.

Theresa Amato, a Chicago lawyer, is the founder of the DuPage County-based Citizen Advocacy Center and has worked with several nonprofit organizations to build democracy, train citizen advocates, watchdog government and corporate power, and advance justice. In both 2000 and 2004, Amato served as the national presidential campaign manager for Ralph Nader, producing the highest vote count for a third-party progressive candidate in the last 80 years. In 2008, the New Press (New York) is publishing her book, Grand Illusion: The Fantasy of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, which examines the discrimination against third-parties and Independents in our flawed electoral system.

Alejandra Ibanez is the executive director of Pilsen Alliance, a non-profit grassroots community agency committed to preserving the historic cultural class identity of Pilsen by developing grassroots leadership and facilitating advocacy and organizing campaigns that promote self-determination, demand accountability, and build democracy.

This event will kick off our “Looking for Democracy” Postcard Project. Look for the Question Postcards available during the event for your opportunity to voice a burning question that should be at the forefront of America’s agenda this election season and beyond. All postcards will be on display at the Hyde Park Art Center until early fall. Speak up and be heard!

This program is presented in partnership with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, Dropping Knowledge, DePaul University’s John J. Egan Urban Center, Hyde Park Art Center, Southwest Youth Collaborative, Contratiempo , and Experimental Station.

For more information, call 312.422.5580.