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Tidbits - October 24, 2013

Reader Comments- Shutdown; Tea Party; Keystone XL; Pensions; AFL-CIO Convention; Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap; Class War; Education & Testing; Edward Snowden; GE; Israel; Announcements - Healthcare Crisis in Indiana -Lafayette- Oct 26; Protest Idan Raichel - Israeli Artist and Israeli Army Supporter -New York- Oct 27; Pack the Court: New York Stop and Frisk Case- Oct 29; Labor Education Open House -NYC- Oct 30; ALBA Human Rights Documentary Film Festival- New York- Nov 22 - 24

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Reader Comments,

Re: Purge the Tea Party, Save Democracy


Bettina Aptheker


The image I draw with these words
is not sufficient, I suppose,
to bear the weight I would convey
about a man who struts this day
beneath the nation's dome,
and - pardon my mixed metaphor -
works his way as a hookworm does
in one's intestines - except, of course,
a hookworm does its nefarious work
as nature bid, in silence, whereas he,
with shouts of indignation and patriotic fervor,
not through nature's machination,
but with purposeful malevolence,
inflicts what harm he can
upon this worn and weary nation.

No, my trite depiction is much too pale
to paint the truest picture of this man.
But I believe no artist of brush or pen
can adequately capture someone who
with sugary malice seeks the stature
    of a demigod.
These words will have to do.

Seymour Joseph
October 18, 2013

Re: Koch Brothers could make $100 Billion from Keystone XL pipeline

Ah-ha! So if the environmental case against it isn't strong enough, there's an even better political case against it. :-)

Daniel M. Rosenblum

Re: Retirees Could Face Pension Cuts Under Plan Being Considered by Congress

And, who didn't see this coming? Why should anyone have any kind of financial security unless that person is a multimillionaire in America? Well, if votes are stolen or redistricted into fewer large blue districts and huge numbers of small red districts, then seniors, like minorities, the poor and women will have no vote to stop or undo any of this. The Post Office is under attack because of the benefits it provides for its workers. Now, government employees are under attack because of decent pensions promised to its employees. The private sector has already been stripped of its benefits to its employees. I guess the US will be a third world state when all is said and done. Fortunately, those who watch Fox News or believe the lies of the right, will also be subjected to these new realities. They just won't believe it's coming until each one is affected, one by one. That is what lies do. Confuse and mislead those who will be most affected by the truth. God help us all!

Esther Louise
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The AFL - Path of Least Resistance? Response to Bill Fletcher & Jeff Crosby

Regarding the discussion around the AFL-CIO's invitation to non-Union members, it is not merely a question of which is less or more difficult, addressing internal weakness or uniting externally.  It is a question of the nature of political organization needed by workers as a class to adequately represent our interests.
President Trumka's openness to "outsiders" (outside of Unions) marks an advance in that our class enemy cannot be defeated by Trade Unionism narrowly, but requires the unity of the whole oppressed people.  Whether President Trumka and the AFL-CIO are interested in defeating the class enemy of workers is not certain, and if so requires a sea change in strategy away from its historic collaborationism.
The immediate issue raised is organizational:  How does the Trade Unionism relate to the Labor movement?  Or what is the relationship between the workers' federation and other aligned forces for democracy and equality?  It needs to be stated that what is needed is a political party, led by workers, for people's democracy, the rule of the majority.  To establish this we need to first build a united front of all workers and democratic forces.  If this is President Trumka's objective that is a welcome advance.  But a united front, or coalition, is not the same as formal organization in which all members have the same standing.
Trade Union members, workers, need to know how our specific day to day concerns are to be addressed by this merger.  The residents of my neighborhood have a common interest in uniting against a polluting factory, for instance.  But does that mean the entire neighborhood should vote on the contract for the employees of the factory?  Will they understand or be concerned with the details and specifics of the shop floor?
Labor must unite and unite with all oppressed and democratic forces.  But it must maintain its integrity as representing Union members as workers.
Cliff Smith
Business Manager, Roofers Local 36

Re: AFL-CIO Convention Repositions Unions to Speak for All Workers

and i wish the bart unions, currently on strike in the bay area and almost totally opposed by the public they serve, had taken that public into greater consideration before it went out...not to avoid striking but to gain their support...

of course the corporate media have blanketed airwaves and print with charges of union greed and lack of concern for those they serve - what else is new? - but the fact is that there has been no real effort to state the case of the unions to that served public and too often the "brothers and (occasionally) sisters" rhetoric that confines unions to an ever shrinking segment of american workers has been all that public has heard...

what are we?..non-members of the family because we don't pay dues? that is fully accepting the profit-loss system and those who own it because they pay for their politicians..and their unions!

i hope this moves us all closer to escaping the divide and conquer identity politics  which have been successful for far too long and brings us  closer to the democratic actions of a united majority of people who don't need to be told they should have crew cuts, afros, blonde or no hair, wear baseball caps or yarmulkes and  pledge allegiance to non-american cultures, so that we can create and maintain truly democratic power for the real majority...

and that is composed of almost all of us who work - or worked while they could - for a living...whether we pay dues to a specific union or not, we pay a heavy, heavy price for a disintegrating political, environmental and even spiritual environment...

we need a union of all of us, or none of us will survive.. this seems another step in that direction..repeat:

it's about time!

Frank Scott

Re: Death of General Vo Nguyen Giap - (Response to Jim Williams - Tidbits - Oct. 17)
I remember that during the Vietnam war, some social democrats supported the war because it opposed communists which, of course was the imperialist argument as well. There was no "third force" that some conjured up.
But, Mr Williams, the reason the US military suffered casualties was not the responsibility of Giap and the Vietnamese people defending their country. If you're looking for someone to blame for the 58,000 American deaths (and the hundreds of thousands of wounded), demand accountability from those who sent them there.

Michael Munk

Re: Tea Partiers' Grave Fear: Why They Disdain Young People - Even Their Own!

Let us not forget that the republican party made a decision  in and around its 1992  presidential convention to welcome  its  'base'  into its leadership. Pat Robertson; long time 'fringe element' was a major speaker-- and elements of 'Christianity' and us/them tones entered the mainstream of republican  rhetoric. Why did they do that? Because they feared that they had run out of steam in the face of Bill Clinton's centrist democrat supports. The reasonable  centrism, or even the  false populism that had carried Reagan had failed to capture popular attention.  There was a shrinking republican  party. They invited a different direction. Their big business support was not  at all opposed to this new way of  using government. In the face of the savings and loan debacle and the looming liquidity  miasma  of the banking industry a vision in which government would assure that tax money could be used to hold up   collapsing  finance; not  support the bottom-- was needed. voila. We have arrived .  

The 'old white men' who you mention are the children and grand children of the  old white men who burned busses in  the 60's.  They do not who think they are losing America-- they never had it. They have always had the illusion; created and controlled for 150 years that if they have nothing-- no money, no power, no future-- they at least are not Black.  Now, they are quite sure they are losing that too; what with  Obama  et al.    For 150 years this privilege has prevented these folks-- that is poor white men-- from  gaining the actual  economic and social  power-- from those that actually have it-- rich white men. that is the inconvenient truth that runs America. which I am sure you all know-- but it is important not to forget it when  discussing tea party phenomena.

Rachel deAragon

Re: The Original Terrorists

An amazing poem about our current America, by the great writer Amiri Baraka.

Nancy Schaeffer Braman
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Let's Get This Class War Started

Thanks Chris for your insightful article on the rich and their minions who seek to enslave the world to their greed . Sign me up for the revolution I have my pitchfork.  

In Solidarity   

Gary Kapanowski    
Philadelphia PA

Love this piece. Mr.Hedges sounds a little pissed off, almost like a dude whos lost a job or two...interesting he mentions nazi-philosopher Spengler...
you guys are doing great, keep em coming!

Michael Clift

Re: Forget teaching to the test - at this Washington Heights elementary school, parents canceled it!

Okay, before we get a skewed perception of this story, I worked in this building for 5 years-left 2 years ago. The building was P.S.128 a public school. Three years ago, the Office of Portfolio Planning came in and told us our school was to be co-located with an "EMPOWERMENT SCHOOL"-which is basically NYCDOE's version of the Montessori model. Their tests scores were comparable to our students (mostly Dominican, ELL, low to mid level income families), but because they were this type of school the NYCDOE did not penalize them for low test scores, meanwhile P.S. 128 was constantly being put on the watch list for restructuring because of low test scores. This is a NON-story people because it is an Empowerment school and they are getting specialized treatment to begin with-it is public relations/free advertising for Castle Bridge-nothing more.

Meanwhile, my old school is continually getting squeezed out of space as the co-located school takes up more and more room (which by the way, they lied to us about in the original agreement where they told us it was only a temporary use of space for grades K-2, 2 years at most). This story reminds me of the wolf in sheep's clothing. Castle Bridge seems like the protagonist until you take a closer look at the history. Now what would happen if the Principal of P.S.128 cancelled the test? That would probably mean the administration would be fired.

Dan Leopols

Re: My Visit With Edward Snowden

Great article - a must read.

Barbara Allen Clarke
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Acting with Impunity: The Case of General Electric

General Electric is no longer rated as one of the very best-run corporations, but its size and its connections continue to protect the corporation's destruction and often illegal behaviors.  GE's ability to flaunt the law and responsible business practices with impunity or near-impunity goes back many decades, and the Ft. Edward situation stands as only the most recent spectacle of the company's cancerous erosion of the public welfare.  GE has fought industrial democracy for a century; has belied its spokesmen's support of a "free market" economy by repeated instances of price-fixing; and, has demonstrated its contempt for the United States through defrauding the American government (and taxpayers).  If the readers of Portside had committed as many crimes and other injustices as General Electric has done, we'd be in prison for life.  Perhaps now that the Supreme Court has declared corporations to be persons, we can expect to see GE sentenced to jail!

Jim Young
Harrisburg, PA  

Re: This Land Is Our Land?

This is what so many forget: this land is the land of the First Nations peoples.  It was stolen from them.  But it is still their land.

Maggie Tobin

Re: It's Time to Put an End to Israel's `Don't Ask-Don't Tell' Nuclear Policy

"Pam Bailey is a freelance journalist and activist who has lived and worked in the Gaza Strip" where the rulers are committed to wiping out Israel AND the alleged international Jewish conspiracy that Hamas incorporates into its charter from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion--but she doesn't understand why Israelis might feel the need to have nuclear weapons in case of a last resort situation (as almost happened in 1973).  She is a mirror image of those who don't understand why Iran might look at what happend in Irak (no nukes) vs N. Korea (nukes)--their co-members of Bush's "axis of evil."  If nukes are the only guarantee against destruction countries threatened with that will want to have them.
Stan Nadel

Re: Media Bitis & Bytes

Fittingly but unfortunately, Your piece titled "An Unfinished List of Ventures in Journalism You Should be Watching (and why)" promises, but includes, no list at all. Can you improve on this?


Judy Shattuck
long-time grateful subscriber

[Moderator's Note: Click on the live link -
and it shall appear!]

Healthcare Crisis in Indiana: A Call to Action - Lafayette (Indiana) - Oct. 26

Event calls for action to approve Medicaid expansion.  "The Healthcare Crisis in Indiana: A Call to Action," the event focuses on the Medicaid expansion and why Indiana needs to opt in instead of expanding the Healthy Indiana Plan.

"It's a political issue," said Dr. Rob Stone, director of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan, an organization that works for universal health care. About 400,000 Hoosiers could be covered with the Medicaid expansion, he said. Stone,  one of Saturday's speakers, said Michigan and Ohio chose to expand Medicaid, even though their governors  are conservative. He said the expansion is a step in the right direction as part of the ACA, but only if  health reforms continue.

[Full story at The Journal & Courier (Lafayette, Indiana)]

October 26th, 2013 from 3:00-5:00pm
Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South Street in Lafayette

Two experts will be speaking: Dr. Rob Stone of Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan from Bloomington and Mildred Williamson, Ph.D., M.S.W., HIV AIDS Section Chief, Illinois Department of Health.  The event will be moderated by Joe Micon, Executive Director of the Lafayette Urban Ministry and former Indiana State Representative.
This event is to be a springboard for a state-wide campaign to pressure Governor Pence and our Indiana elected officials to expand Medicaid in Indiana when the 2014 legislative sessions begins. This will include letters to the newspapers, contact with these elected officials including visits to them at the Statehouse, a Lobby Day at the Statehouse and more.

Protest Idan Raichel - Israeli Artist and Israeli Army Supporter - New York - Oct. 27

Protesting self-proclaimed Israeli propagandist and army supporter Idan Raichel

Sunday, October 27 at 6:00 - 7:30 pm

Beacon Theatre
2124 Broadway, between W. 74th and W. 75th Sts

"We certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict."

Idan Raichel went on a 2012 tour of Africa initiated and produced by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Israeli embassies in Africa. According to Avi Granot, head of the Foreign ministry's Africa Division, "The goal in sending Raichel to Africa was to present Israeli culture at its best." In a 2008 interview, Raichel proudly acknowledged (translation): "We certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict." Israel's consul general for the Pacific Northwest Dr. Andy David recently affirmed Raichel's role, saying: "I think Idan is maybe the best ambassador that Israel has through his music and inclusiveness."

"...I feel that our army is a basic ingredient."

In a 2011 interview, Raichel stated, "At the end of the day, it's the basic things in life that make it possible. It's like a chef who cooks at the restaurant and has all the fancy ingredients in the world ... I feel that our army is a basic ingredient." Raichel's support for the Israeli army is materialized in his endorsement of the organization Thank Israeli Soldiers, which creates "educational programs" and sends care packages to Israeli soldiers. In his personal testimony on the organization's webpage, Raichel states, "Let us all get together and show our care and warm regard for the IDF troops who guard our country night and day." Raichel's celebration of the Israeli army ignores its long record of brutal human rights abuses committed against Palestinians in service of the imposition of an apartheid regime.

Let us know you're coming on Facebook

Also join us on Tuesday, October 29th at 6pm as we protest the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, "Israel's finest cultural emissary" and "Israel's musical ambassador throughout the country and the world."

On Facebook? Let us know you're coming

Endorsers: Brooklyn For Peace; International Socialist Organization (ISO); Jews Say No!; New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership (NYACT); Park Slope Food Coop Members for BDS; Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at Brooklyn College, College of Staten Island, Columbia University, Drew University, John Jay College, New York University, and Rutgers University - Newark; WESPAC; Women in Black, Union Square.

Visit us online at or Contact Us

Pack the Court: Appellate Arguments in Stop and Frisk Case - New York - Oct. 29

Please pack the court on Tuesday, October 29, at 11 a.m. for oral argument in Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, our successful challenge, along with co-counsel Beldock, Levine & Hoffman, LLP and Covington & Burling, LLP, to the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stop and frisk practices.

Floyd was brought on behalf of the millions of New Yorkers illegally stopped and frisked by the NYPD over the past eight years and was the first - and largest - federal class action lawsuit challenging the NYPD's stop and frisk practices. In August, District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ordered a sweeping reform process after she found that the NYPD has engaged in a widespread practice of unconstitutional and racially discriminatory stops and frisks. Later that month, the Mayor and the City appealed her decision and filed a motion to stay the reform process, which Judge Scheindlin rejected. Now the Mayor and the City have filed a motion for a stay in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Earlier this month, community groups, labor organizations, and other allies flooded the steps of City Hall and submitted declarations to the Court of Appeals, explaining why this remedial process needs to move forward.

On October 29th, Plaintiffs' attorneys will argue against the City's motion for a stay and demonstrate why the reform process should go forward now rather than waiting months (or longer) for resolution of the City's appeal of the case.

What: Oral arguments opposing a stay in Floyd v. the City of New York

When: Tuesday, October 29 from 11 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
(We suggest arriving at least 30-45 minutes early to clear security and obtain a seat in the courtroom.)

Where: Second Circuit Court of Appeals, 40 Foley Sq., Courtroom 1705

Please check our event page here for updates.

See you Tuesday, October 29th to pack the court!  
Thank you for your continued support.

Vincent Warren
Executive Director

Labor Education Open House on October 30 (New York)

Dear Labor Leader and Friends of Labor,

I am on the faculty at the Cornell ILR School, but I am also a member of the adjunct faculty at the CUNY's Murphy Labor Institute where I teach a class on Labor History as part of a joint CUNY-Cornell labor education program in which you can earn the Certificate in Labor Relations.  This is just one of the labor education programs that you will learn about at the Labor Education OPEN HOUSE on Wednesday, October 30 (see the flier below).

Both universities are committed to helping to develop educated, informed, and effective leaders and advocates for labor rights and social justice.

Please forward this email and flier to any and all labor officers, staff and rank-and-file member leaders and activists who may be interested!

What:         OPEN HOUSE for Labor Education

When:        6:15 pm,  Wednesday, October 30 (snacks at 6 pm)

Where:       The Murphy Institute (CUNY)
                    25 West 43rd Street (18th floor)
                    Manhattan (5th & 6th Ave)

Planning to attend?  If so, please RSVP to Laurie Kellogg, M.A. in Labor Studies at or 212-642-2055.

My best wishes to each of you!
In solidarity,

Gene Carroll, Co-Director
NYS AFL-CIO/CORNELL Union Leadership Institute
16 East 34th Street, 4th floor
New York, New York 10016
(212) 340-2853
Associate, The Worker Institute at Cornell ILR
Advancing Workers' Rights and Collective Representation

ALBA Human Rights Documentary Film Festival - New York - Nov. 22 - 24

Impugning Impunity: A Human Rights Documentary Film Series

November 22-24, 2013

Pace University, Multipurpose Room

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) is pleased to present Impugning Impunity: A Human Rights Documentary Film Series, which will be held from November 22-24, 2013 at Pace University in the Multipurpose Room, 3 Spruce Street New York, NY 10038. Now in its third year, this annual film series activates a community-wide dialogue on human rights issues through the presentation and discussion of acclaimed documentaries exploring topics such as governmental abuse of power, historical memory, civil rights and racial inequality.

The selected documentaries include eight powerful and inspirational films from across the globe. Among these are Sundance Film Festival Winner "Dirty Wars" written by Jeremy Scahill; Icarus Film Festival Winner, "The Tiniest Place" by Tatiana Huezo; and the New York premiere of "The Land of Ebb", Toronto International Film Festival Official Selection Winner, directed and produced by Andrew Williamson.

The 2013 program also includes a number of Q&A sessions with the directors directly after the screenings. On Saturday November 23rd at 7:30pm, we will be joined by filmmaker Peter Miller and Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Leili Kashani, for a discussion of "ISN 310: Djamel Ameziane's Decade in Guantanamo" and "A Class Apart." Additional guests include Scott Garren (An American Renegade) and Antonino D'Ambrossio (Let Fury Have the Hour).

ALBA is an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting social activism and the defense of human rights through educational programs. Underscoring ALBA's commitment to uphold the values of the American volunteers who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War, each film was selected on its capacity to inform and incite social activism and the defense of human rights. The film series focuses a wide-lens on contemporary modes of injustice and serves to realize ALBA's vision to highlight and support human rights activism.

Impugning Impunity is made possible with the generous support from ALBA's community partners, including the Puffin Foundation, the Department of Political Science at Pace University, and the Center for Constitutional Rights; with support from the New York Civil Liberties Union, The New Press, Veterans for Peace and Ambulante.

Individual events are $10 for the general public and $8 for students. Weekend Passes are available for $35.

For a complete program of events, please visit

For further information, please contact Marina Garde or visit