OK, Don’t Take Our Word…

February 25, 2023

Don’t take my word, or Girl, I Guess’ word for it, listen to Barbara Ransby and Luis Gutierez:

Don’t Take My Word For It…take the word of Girl, I Guess

February 25, 2023

Our Guy Brandon

If you follow me at all on social media, you probably saw my December endorsement of Brandon Johnson for Mayor of Chicago. Longtime readers of Girl, I Guess will remember that in 2019, Ellen and I made a dual endorsement for the Mayoral race between progressive activist Amara Enyia and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. We made that choice because while we both loved Amara’s campaign, various issues and a lack of an ability to break through as a candidate dogged her for the entire campaign, and Toni had historically been progressive, even though she was a Machine candidate with a capital M. This year, history is repeating itself, with reliable progressive legislator and Mustache Machine Head (upper lip?) Chuy Garcia running, and a small number of other progressives running to his Left. But I don’t think this race is a rehash of 2019. With all due respect to single-issue Transit voters who have fallen in love with Kam Buckner, I think every progressive, Leftist, and voter in general in Chicago should head to the polls and vote for Brandon Johnson to be the next Mayor of Chicago. I’ll tell you why: 

Brandon Johnson is the most progressive candidate running for Mayor.

There it is, plain as day, on his issues campaign page. A slew of progressive issues, plus a forthcoming LGBTQ policy plank that commits to the biggest investment in LGBTQ people of any candidate and hits major community issues that we’ve been advocating for for years and gotten the cold shoulder on from Lori. I got a sneak peek at, thanks to the Johnson campaign sending it over to me and assuring me it’ll be up without edits from what I saw. But let’s tackle the issues themselves. 

Apparently a full public safety plank is on its way, but what Brandon has so far ain’t bad at all, considering that it includes Treatment Not Trauma, ending the gang database, working with the new Community Commission on Public Safety and Accountability to hold cops responsible for their actions (I actually also trust Brandon to nominate good Commissioners), reopening the mental health clinics, and creating year-round youth employment opportunities. Not bad for an interim plan at all. 

On Affordable Housing, Brandon’s platform is the strongest in the field, with commitments to expand affordable housing, naming the wealth divide and historical racism that has led to disinvestment on the South and West sides and committing to actually fix it (not just take credit for pre-existing projects like Lori has), and making housing a human right in Chicago. That includes Just Cause For Eviction. That includes expanding the Affordable Requirements Ordinance. And that includes passing the Real Estate Transfer Tax. A sterling plank which hits all the biggest progressive points. 

On Jobs, Brandon promises to fight for a Green New Deal, protect workers, and regulate corporations. That includes making transit universally free and accessible, passing the Rideshare Living Wage Ordinance, and expanding childcare and pre-K citywide. Oh, and on top of all of that, there are commitments to use TIFs to actually develop and strengthen neighborhoods, not just line the pockets of developers, mandate CBAs for new developments, and add dignified union jobs for Chicagoans. 

It just keeps going and going. On Education, there’s no candidate I trust more than Brandon Johnson to fight for fully funded, fully staffed schools, and make sure that CPS, the City Colleges system, and everything in the Chicago education ecosystem has everything needed to ensure students succeed and thrive. Environment? Brandon commits to ending so-called “sacrifice zones” in neighborhoods near industrial sites, expand Green infrastructure citywide, and reopen and fully fund the Department of the Environment. On Healthcare? Brandon is an asthmatic and has experienced absurd waiting times at Cook County Hospital growing up and trying to access treatment. He’s committed to speeding up and bringing equity to lead waterline replacement, expanding the Health Department to include more frontline workers, and making home care more accessible in Chicago. Good Government? Brandon is committing to passing laws that mandate transparent budgeting on the Citywide level and creates public financing for elections. Progressive positions on Women’s Rights, Immigration, Transportation and transit… you get the picture. Brandon Johnson has experience passing real, impactful, progressive legislation on all of these issues at the County level, and he’s made the commitment in public to do it on the City level again. And while nobody is beating Kam Buckner’s transit platform, taken as a whole Brandon has far and away the most progressive, and the most visionary platform on pretty much every single issue category, and it isn’t even close. But that’s just the first reason why he’s earned our votes as progressives. 

Brandon Johnson is an experienced activist and union organizer who is accountable to the people, and who has won tough elections before.

Brandon has been a leader in his community for years, first as a CPS teacher in Cabrini-Green and then later on the West Side, and later as a union organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union. During his time as a teacher and with the union, Brandon fought against the Emmanuel school closures, was a Dyett Hunger Striker, and fought to support CPS teachers in their recent strikes, and in passing an Elected School Board for CPS. 

Once he got elected to the County Board, Brandon didn’t stop fighting for marginalized communities. Early in his first term, he passed the Just Housing Ordinance, prohibiting discrimination against people with arrest records in public housing, and added Medicare Expansion to his accomplishments later in his first term. And he passed the Justice for Black Lives resolution and the Budget For Black Lives through the County Board, securing commitments for racially just and equitable budgeting and spending, which led to a (small) reduction in the Sheriff’s Budget the next year. AND he was an early responder to COVID in nursing homes, helped pass a law that let the Cook County Public Defender represent migrants in Immigration Court, and co-sponsored an ordinance alongside Commissioner Alma Anaya which shut down the Cook County Gang Database. Brandon has experience doing the work of the people, and has already accomplished on the County level many of the top progressive priorities for the City. I believe as Mayor he could get it done again. 

But don’t just take my word for it, take word of all these endorsing organizations and electeds, including 6 progressive Ward IPOs, The People’s Lobby, United Working Families, United Northwest Side, Activate Chicago Parents, One People’s Campaign, Grassroots Illinois Action, the AFT, IFT, CTU, CCCTU, SEIU; four Girl, I Guess Golden Shrugees (Delia Ramirez, Lilian Jimenez, Anthony Quezada plus Will Guzzardi); Alders and Green Endorsees Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Daniel La Spata, Jeanette Taylor, and Carlos Ramirez Rosa; County Commissioners Bill Lowry, Stanley Moore, and Josina Morita; Cristina Pacione-Zayas, and Jonathan Jackson (who I don’t love, but whose endorsement is a big deal in the Black Political Establishment anyway) and longtime State Rep Mary Flowers. That’s one hell of a list, comprised of progressive electeds from across the City.  

The tough election point is important, too but underrated; Brandon Johnson knows what it takes to win a knock-down, drag-out fight for public office, and that’s exactly what this Mayoral race is going to be, every step of the way. Although he was functionally unopposed in 2022 (Libertarians are for laughs, not for serious candidacies in Cook County), Brandon won his County Board seat by primarying Original Soda Tax Hater Richard Boykin in 2018. The margin? 437 votes. Kam Buckner has never faced a challenger in an election. Chuy Garcia hasn’t won a close election during this century. I’ll take the guy who knows how to win the close ones.

Brandon Johnson can win this election. No, seriously, Brandon can win this election. He’s got the money, with over $1.8 million in the bank as of the release of the Guide. He’s winning debates, being attacked by Lori, and is already polling (sorry, surveying) in first place in some measures. This isn’t some longshot, head-in-the-clouds Green Party Lefty campaign with all the right politics but not a prayer in the world of winning. Brandon’s campaign has the endorsements of most of the endorsing progressives in the City, has common sense policies that center progressive and community priorities and resonate with voters. He’s not a widely-hated candidate who’s been in politics for decades, nor is he scandal-prone or possessing a trove of skeletons in his closet. There’s no reason that Brandon can’t make the runoff. What happens then? Against another progressive like Chuy, Brandon can easily consolidate Black and progressive support to pull out a victory. Against a conservative like Paul Vallas or Willie Wilson, Brandon cleans up because nobody wants a Republican or a failed technocrat as Mayor. Against Lori, if she somehow makes the runoff? Lmao you’ve gotta be kidding me. Now all he needs is your vote. Dear reader, we’ve got a huge opportunity to elect an accountable, experienced, rooted, grassroots-made progressive to the highest office in this City. We’ve just got to hit the polls, request our mail-in ballots, and send Brandon Johnson to City Hall.

Brandon Johnson

February 23, 2023


We’re down to the wire in Chicago.

The election for city council and mayor is next Tuesday, the last day of February. It’s a large field, and to win a candidate must receive over 50% of the vote, so the most likely result will be a runoff in early April between the top two vote getters. Hold on to your hats!

If you missed Episode # 66 of Under the Tree (I Am Waiting for Democracy with “Girl, I Guess”) check it out. Stephanie Skora, the force behind theGirl, I Guess Progressive Voter Guide, isa self-described “Jewish, queer, trans, nerd” dedicated to helping members of the community navigate confusing ballot races and identify the most progressive candidates. She’s brilliant, relentlessly radical, and hilarious—an unbeatable combination.

Among the top candidates for mayor, two are genuine progressives: Chuy Garcia and Brandon Johnson. Chuy is a long-time organizer and community builder, and part of the Progressive Caucus in the US Congress. Love him, and hope he stays in Congress doing great work. Brandon is an educator, a labor and community organizer, a leader of the progressive caucus in the Chicago Teachers Union, and a member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Love Brandon. 

The nightmare scenario for us would be a runoff between the failed incumbent, Lori Lightfoot, and Paul Vallas, former failed CEO of Chicago schools, and the far-right beneficiary of the police union’s endorsement and big money. 

The political ads tell a story: Vallas never mentions the elephant in the room, the intimate police connection, emphasizing instead that he supports women’s reproductive freedom and LBGQ rights; Lightfoot worked hard to soften and humanize her public image as a difficult narcissist, but when her campaign continued to head downhill she turned negative. Lightfoot apparently saw Chuy as her main threat, and her early attacks were particularly egregious—she depicted him as a marionette, his strings being pulled by a corporation, a corrupt politician, and Sam Bankman-Fried, a Jew. Racist to the core, dishonest, and one of the oldest antisemitic tropes available. And as Brandon continues to surge, Lightfoot’s ads have turned on him, calling him a “radical,” and not as a complement. None of her ads are the least bit honest, and worse, she has dusted off a  despicable playbook—racist, antisemitic, and anti-communist to boot.

A sad sideshow is people who once knew better, posting and reposting the bullshit: “Brandon can’t be trusted to negotiate with teachers because he was a teacher;” “Brandon wants to fund schools and housing for the unhoused  and mental health clinics, so he will make Chicago less safe.”  Some folks seem to have lost their minds.

Brandon Johnson has the energy, the vision, the policies, the skills, and the broad support of young Chicagoans to become a transformative leader for our city. He is thoughtful, measured, and  caring.

Vote for Brandon Johnson.

Episode # 67

February 23, 2023

Jim Mellen, PRESENTE

February 19, 2023

My old comrade Jim Mellen passed away in Mexico a few days ago. He was a brilliant and committed revolutionary—one of the authors of the original Weatherman paper in 1969—whose impact on my thinking when I was a student in Ann Arbor was immeasurable. I hadn’t seen him in decades, but he remained vivid and alive in my head. Rest in Power, Jim.

Here is a note from his wife:

Dear friends of Michoacan Net.

My husband. James G. Mellen, died yesterday evening at home at the the age of 87.

He had an incredible life and you can view a 2 hour documentary about part of his life when he was a leader of the radical movement of the 60’s. It can be found on You Tube by doing a search for James Mellen Weatherman.

But he was more than an activist and cared deeply regarding justice for the disenfranchised all of his life. We only had about 15 years together, but it was a sweet relationship in the autumn of our lives. He was not traditionally religious, but typical of him, he told me to “do what you want. I’ll be dead!” Thus, last night we did a semi traditional “velorio” with his casket in our living room with his favorite music, classical and jazz, throughout the night. Abundant flowers, candles and the vegetable chilacayote surrounded his casket. Today at noon, there will be a mass outside our home in Zirahuén. Anyone is welcome. He will be cremated in Patzcuaro afterwards, but we will not bury his ashes in Zirahuén until a later date. He is wearing his red tee shirt that says “the communist party” with silly figures of Marx, Lenin and others wearing party hats and having a good time. He was a serious intellectual with a doctorate in political science and international relations.

Later in life he received a doctorate in jurisprudence in California and practiced law in the San Francisco Bay Area. But despite his seriousness, he also had a devilish sense of humor so I thought it fitting that he went out of this physical world with some levity as well. Anyone is welcome to join us at noon.

Teresa (Terry) E. Baumgart


February 14, 2023

From Mike Klonsky

To: Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Command.
With all due respect, General, are you f…king nuts?

At the Pentagon presser yesterday, You were asked by a reporter if extraterrestrials might be involved in the airforce’s downing of the four “objects” this week. You responded that he would leave that to intelligence agencies to address but that “I haven’t ruled anything out.”

Haven’t ruled it out? Really? May I point out a few things to you, sir?

If indeed the “cylinder”, and the “octagon thingy with “strings hanging off it” did belong to ETs visiting us from another galaxy, far far away, why in the world would you want to shoot them down when we have so much to learn from them?

Given their technological skills required to get to Planet Earth light years away, did you really believe your F-15s would be a match for them in a dogfight? Even if Tom (“Top Gun”) Cruise himself was behind the joy stick?

Are you really a top general in the Air Force? (Scary)

As for the Pentagons, octagons and cylinders…is there actually some kind of geometric symbolism (code language) going on here? What’s next, a shootdown of a rhombus?

Given all the Pentagon, State Department, and White House buffoonery over balloon-gate in the past week, not to mention the possibility of an ET/China/Russia united front against the US, it may be time to reconsider the next war. Don’t you think, sir?

I await your reply.


Girl, I Guess

February 9, 2023

Free Palestine!!!

February 5, 2023