‘The Front Page’

Science March – Tri-Cities – Earth Day 4.22.17

by , posted on Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 at 4:12 pm

I was at the Tri City version of today’s Earth Day Science March. It started at 11:00 a.m., stepping off from the Metra station and going to Island Park.

The first thing I noticed when I got to the assembly at the Metra station was the size of the crowd. I had honestly expected it to be thinner as many people I knew were planning on going into Chicago for that march.

If I had to estimate, I’d put the crowd at 500 plus.

The second thing I noticed were the dogs. There were many there, several sporting signs,

or t-shirts.

I took more than a few photos of signs, but here is one of my favorites on this Earth Day:

It was definitely a family affair. Lots of kids, in and out of strollers.

I am pretty sure I know this good reverend, but as I don’t think he recognized me, and I could have been wrong due to the sunglasses and hat, I didn’t press it. But I loved his sign anyway:

I took this shot of the March heading up Third Street in Geneva. From this vantage point it stretched three or four blocks ahead and at least three behind.

I took the video linked here on YouTube as we approached IL Route 38. The Geneva Police Department kindly blocked traffic to allow the march to cross. I still don’t know whether those who were honking were doing so in support of the Science March, or to object to the delay. I put the March at about six blocks long, so the lights cycled more than a few times before we all made it across, and we were crossing busy IL-Route 38, the only river crossing in Geneva. We definitely held up traffic.

We headed across the bridge and down the stairs to the bike trail leading to Island Park. If you’re not familiar with it, it is so named as it is an Island in the middle of the Fox River.

I took this brief video of some of the speakers before we all started to disperse.

As we were dispersing I met Katie, who is a science educator. I was speaking to John Rice, one of the leaders of Fox Valley Indivisible and she stepped up to us to ask him for information about how to get involved with that effort. I offered to text her info later, in exchange for a photo of her sign, which she graciously agreed to. Her sign is one of my favorites.

Most importantly, I see Katie’s desire to get connected to more ways to be involved is a sign that despite many predictions that the protests will peter out it’s still growing a movement out here. People really want to take back control of their democracy. It shows, again and again and again, in march after protest after meeting.

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Hultgren Q&A

by , posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at 3:11 pm

I was at the Hultgren Q&A session at the Arcada on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. I actually went to the rally across the street, organized by Progressives of Kane County that was scheduled before the event, held a sign for a while, and really appreciated the passing cars honking in support. There were lot of attendees there from Fox Valley Indivisible, Action 14th District IL, Kane County Indivisible, and more, so i hope I have the actual organizer right. The rally was the only real opportunity the evening afforded to speak up – and appropriately and accordingly named the Hear Our Voices Rally – because the rules of the Q&A specified that only Hultgren was allowed to speak.

There were some really interesting speakers at the rally. Perhaps I should have been taping all of them, instead of holding a sign, but by the time I thought of that we were down to the last speaker and I just managed to catch the tail end of her remarks. You can watch that here on YouTube.

I was wavering about whether or not it was worthwhile to attend the Q&A where the rules allowed Hultgren six minutes for opening remarks, then three minutes to answer each question, but allowed the attendees to do nothing more than write questions down on cards. It was really more of a one-sided debate than anything, which may have been inevitable as it was coordinated by those perennial debate organizers, the League of Women Voters.

As the rally was winding down and while I was still trying to make up my mind, I thought I’d wander across the street and take some photos of the line, which I could see from my position across the street had already stretched around the corner and out of my sight.

I ended up taking video as I walked the length of the line as well. It’s here on YouTube.

After I had walked to the end of the line taking that video, I walked back to the front of the line, saw them say people could start going in, and walked back to the end and got in line. When I eventually passed in through the doors, they were telling us we could go up to the balcony if we chose. That caught my attention, as the theater seats 900, but the advance notices had said they would seat up to 800. As the advance notices also said the balcony would not be opened I figured that accounted for the difference. As you can see from this photo, the place was packed and the balcony was indeed occupied.

By the time the event started I could not see a single open seat, so I’d say there were at least 800 in attendance, and we might even have hit that 900 capacity.

I recorded the whole thing, with the exception of a minute or two dropped out due to inadvertently powering down my cell phone.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Part 3 is here.

Again, I really think this was mostly just a one-sided debate. Audience members did provide the questions, and I want to give the LWV credit for choosing good ones out of the more than 400 they estimated were written. Once or twice they did do follow up questions as well, but for the most part it gave Hultgren all the opportunity he needed to recite his talking points. He did exactly that, often going off on tangents that were semi-related to the question, without answering the actual question.

I think it’s important that this event happened though, as there were several points where Hultgren was induced to give an answer about a position or a potential vote that we now have on record, such as the question about budget cuts wherein the moderator asked him for a straightforward yes or no answer to potential cuts to various programs.

In the meantime, I’d encourage everyone to keep calling, emailing, faxing, writing, doing whatever you can to push Hultgren to conduct an actual Town Hall. His contact info is here.

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Still No Hultgren – But Lots of Protests

by , posted on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at 11:11 pm


This morning between 10:00 a.m. and noon I attended a healthcare rally. It was a little bit different than your standard protest. Rather than standing in one spot, groups of us were assembled on all four corners of Route 64 and Randall Road in St Charles, and when we had walk signals several of us would cross to another corner.

The ability to keep moving was an advantage in keeping our energy up, and in making sure those in cars stopped for the light got a good look at our signs, but it also helped to keep us warm. I had a lot of layers of clothes on, topped with my longest and warmest coat, two hats, two pairs of gloves, and was still freezing. I really think the fact that a couple of hundred of his constituents would spend their Saturday morning freezing to try to a message across would give Randy Hultgren pause for thought.

It was nice to see news crews from the Chicago stations, and photographers from local papers there, but I think the most encouraging part were the honks of support from passing motorists. They were constant. And I had not previously considered whether the majority of truckers were ACA supporters. Now I’m convinced of it.

Today’s healthcare rally was planned by Indivisible Illinois Congressional District 14…I think. I say that because there are so many of these groups mushrooming up that when I attended a meeting for Indivisible Fox Valley last week there were people there from two other groups and at one point we were discussing coordinating between the groups and it was decided that someone would first have to make a chart to figure them all out. And all of the groups I’m aware of have future rallies and protests planned. All of them.

I’ve named just two of the groups that I’ve interacted with in this post, but I know there are more, and I keep running into people I know, but not from any previous political effort of mine. Today I ran into a former co-worker. Last week I dog-sat for my downstairs neighbor so she could go to a rally at Trump’s place in Chicago.

I really don’t think these Republican constituent dodgers have any idea what they are up against. Their bubbles are thick indeed.

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Missing: Hultgren IL-14

by , posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Not that long ago I wrote about my Congressman’s attempts to kill me.  Since then I’ve joined in an ongoing game of “Where’s Randy?” with many — oh, so many — of my fellow residents of IL-14.  We’ve been calling his office, we’ve been visiting his office, we’ve been relentlessly commenting on his Facebook page with several concerns, but one unified message:  When’s your town hall Randy?

There has been a deafening silence in response to all of our Facebook pleas for a town hall.  Our calls to his office have yielded an array of answers from “no news on a town hall yet,” to “we’re looking for a venue, just let me take your name and number and we’ll get back to you when it’s scheduled,” to (and I am NOT making this up) “he’s leaving the country.”

Just now Randy the Elusive took the cowardly step of posting a recorded video to his Facebook page saying “I’m answering your most pressing healthcare questions from your recent phone calls, emails and meetings with me. Take a look.”

Yes indeed, please do take a look at the soon to be former Congressman Randy Hultgren reading cherry-picked letters and spouting vague talking points.

When you’re done with that, and if you are at all near the Chicagoland area, please do clear your calendar for this event on the afternoon of March 3.    

Guess Randy will be back from Africa by then.  We are working on a way to, er, greet Randy appropriately without disrupting this event for the Veterans attending, so if you think you can make it, please say so in a comment, or message me and I’ll respond with information about that.

Meanwhile, beyond spreading word of Randy’s cowardice I’m at a loss for how to get him to face his constituents, so any suggestions would be welcome.

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When your Congressman Tries to Kill You

by , posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2017 at 11:08 am

then sends you a perky email asking hultgren-200how you feel about that, I think it only courteous to respond.

Click below to see the text of my emailed response to Randy Hultgren:
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For Tom Hayden

by , posted on Friday, November 11th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Coming of age in the wake of Watergate, in the waning days of the Vietnam War, the student movement of the Sixties made a great impression on me, even if only a bit after the fact. Contrary to conventional wisdom, that

generation of activists was still very much on the scene as I began to become politically active myself in the mid-Seventies. And as I learned about that recent history, it was the founding generation of SDS, Students for a Democratic Society, that I identified with most. Tom Hayden, especially

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Superdelegates and the DNC Unity Reform Commission: An Outsider’s Inside Perspective

by , posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2016 at 2:21 pm

20160723_202251On the first day of the Democratic National Convention, the rules committee co-chairs, Barney Frank and Leticia Van de Putte, announced the creation of the Unity Reform Commission to the delegates of the convention.  Van de Putte indicated that this commission “received overwhelming support from all members of the rules committee.”  This was followed by glowing endorsements of the commission by Clinton delegate and DNC-appointed rules committee member Wellington Webb and Sanders delegate Diane Russell.  The message portrayed to the delegates in the convention and people watching at home was that the democrats were unified under Clinton and that the superdelegates would definitely be reduced by a full 2/3 in accordance with the will of the voters.  However, this glorified commercial left out important details of the commission and the process which produced it.

I was one of the three rules committee members from Illinois selected to represent Bernie Sanders.  At the rules committee meeting, 25 members were DNC-appointed (equivalent to the “superdelegates” of the rules committee).  The rest were apportioned by state according to the presidential share of the vote.  There should have been 187 total members, but some of them appeared to be missing as the total number of votes never approached this number.

All proposals were submitted by Sanders-appointed rules committee members.  The majority of us are lifelong democrats who wanted to improve our primary process for the future of the Democratic Party and believed strongly in the concept of one person/one vote.  Many devoted a large amount of time to preparing for the rules meeting and writing proposals for various rule changes.  There were about 50 proposals in all.  I myself submitted 8 proposals with the help of two separate groups of dedicated delegates and activists who contributed to background research on historical rule changes and also to the writing of some of the proposals.  So when I arrived the day of the rules committee meeting, I felt a real responsibility to accomplish significant change.  Clinton rules committee members and DNC members did not propose any rule changes.

Eliminating the superdelegates was the top issue for most of the Sanders rules committee members.  We knew this proposal might not pass in the rules committee.  However, if we submitted a minority report, we could have a debate and floor vote on this issue on the convention floor.  We already had the signatures we needed for the minority report.  It was important to do this to give this undemocratic issue a spotlight at the convention.  Also, if the proposal to eliminate superdelegates passed at the convention, it would then require only a majority vote of the DNC committee (rather than the normal 2/3 vote) to amend the Charter of the Democratic Party, fully eliminating them.  We wanted to fight for our delegates and our voters to have a voice. (more…)

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“NO TPP” Signs Became Banner of Resistance on the Floor of the Democratic Convention

by , posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2016 at 11:57 am

Sanders Delegates Started To Change the Conversation on TPP at DNC:

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NO TPP signs become banner of resistance during Democratic convention

I will never forget the rush that swept through me on my first night at the Wells Fargo Center while looking into a sea of “NO TPP” signs that quickly became the banner of resistance to the oligarchy that surrounded us on the convention floor.  I panned the 180 degrees and looked at the thousands of Democratic insiders, wealthy donors, and lobbyists that watched us chant “No T-P-P!” from their seats and VIP boxes above us.  We were not supposed to be here – this was not our party, yet, we were here.  Thank you Bernie Sanders!  The Democratic Party is still loyal to their corporate donors, but we silenced the pro-TPP voices at the Democratic convention.

Despite the fact that the convention hall was filled with “NO TPP” signs, neither President Obama (who supports the TPP), or Democratic nominee Clinton (who, as of today, opposes the TPP) mentioned the words, “TPP” in their prime-time speeches before the assembly of delegates and party leaders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week.

Speaking in favor of the TPP would have caused a loud, “boo” from delegates.

Speaking against the TPP would have caused the wealthy corporate donors hiding in VIP boxes to tightly grip their wallets.

The speakers, just like the Democratic platform, remained silent on the TPP issue.  The real victory is how we used an interruption strategy to help shape the narrative on the convention floor despite the fact that it was a highly orchestrated, four-day charade with endless anti-Trump speeches, very few votes, and zero meaningful discussions or debates.

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Hillary Clinton Refuses to Unify the Democrats on the TPP – July 9th DNC Platform Meeting Update

by , posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2016 at 2:24 pm

During the DNC platform committee meetings, Hillary Clinton surrogates stood with their presumptive nominee in opposing any efforts to take a clear stance against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and better unify the party.

You can watch the C-SPAN debate on Amendment 93 here at roughly 18:30 in the C-SPAN video – Day 2, Part 1.

The first round of TPP discussions came when Lee Saunders (AFSCME), a Clinton surrogate, initiated Amendment 93, that opposed free trade agreements that do not have protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards. The Saunders amendment did not specifically state opposition to the TPP.

Ben Jealous (former NAACP President), a Sanders surrogate, jumped on the opportunity and sought to amend the Saunders amendment by adding the words, “and that’s why we oppose the TPP.” The parliamentary procedure by Jealous created a vote on the full Saunders Amendment plus the words, “and that’s why we oppose the TPP.” The Jealous Amendment failed.

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We need to undercut President Obama’s TPP at the Democratic Convention

by , posted on Thursday, June 30th, 2016 at 7:07 pm

At the last Democratic Party Platform Committee meeting in St. Louis, Secretary Clinton’s surrogates on the platform committee voted to keep the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) off of the platform agenda.  We also saw the language and strategy that they are employing to allow the Clinton campaign to quietly shift positions on the TPP; giving the Obama Administration one last chance to pass this disastrous trade bill.

According to the Washington Post, during the platform meeting, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Clinton) said, “I don’t want to do anything as he ends his term to undercut the president of the United States.”

Dr. Cornel West (Sanders) effectively countered Cummings when he said, “the responsibilities of citizenship should transcend loyalty to the president.”

I would like to go a step further – We need to undercut President Obama’s TPP.  It is not good for America or working people anywhere in the world.  It is not good for the environment.  The TPP extinguishes democracy; replacing it with corporate government. We don’t need the TPP.  The president is wrong and he needs to reverse his position on the TPP.  The time to send this message is at the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia.  If you need to read more about the TPP, this in-depth analysis from Public Citizen titled, “Secret TPP Text Unveiled: It is worse than we thought,” is worth the read.

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