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Tidbits - March 27, 2014

Reader Comments - Ukraine; Russia; Climate Change; Wall Street; Capitalism; Wanted: Populist Movement of the 99%; Angela Davis; Charter Schools; Government Spying, NSA; NCAA Racism; TPP Announcements - Left Labor Project - Election Strategy Discussion -New York -Apr 3; Need 100 Jewish voices in New York against anti-boycott bill; 2014 Moving Beyond Capitalism Conference; New resource - Politics and ideology in the American Historical Profession

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - March 27, 2014,Portside

Re: The Cold War that Threatens Democracy

Enough of this Cold War language and ideology. The Cold War started as a hot war when every industrialized capitalist [some 16 of them] invaded the USSR to put those uppity workers and peasants back in their place so that they could be exploited to produce profits and concentrate wealth for the capitalist ruling class.

Roger Dittmann, Ph.D.
Scientists without Borders
Professor of Physics, Emeritus
California State University, Fullerton


Hayden's "facts" about Chile are simply wrong. The famous "no" plebiscite occurred in 1988, not during the Carter Administration. The 1980 plebiscite entrenched the military regime. If he wants to talk about rolling back the Monroe Doctrine, he'd do better to mention Carter's negotiations to return control of the Canal Zone to Panamá.

Steve Wise

Re: Wall Street Bonuses and the Minimum Wage

Correctly understood, the Sarah Anderson story on the IPS report ("Wall Street Bonuses and the Minimum Wage") should give us reason to hope.  Following capitalist logic that minimum wage increases put poor people out of work, we can assume that much larger increases in Wall Street pay will rock the finance sector, if it survives at all.  Mass financial layoffs aimed at the richest could send the rest of us a strong moral message to control our greed if we hope to succeed.

Carl Proper

Re: NASA-Funded Study: Industrial Civilisation Headed for 'Irreversible Collapse'?

Worse news cannot be imagined

Robert David Cohen
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Angela Davis: I Always Find Hope in Struggle

Just finished watching the whole thing. Really fantastic, I thought. Thank you, Portside.

Phyllis Willett

Re: The Top of the World, A Review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

An important piece - since for pacifists (as well as others), the violence of our present economic system is a betrayal of human hopes.

David McReynolds


As the book review notes, serious political trouble --demonstrations, strikes, insurgent political movements--will be needed to reverse capitalism's inherent tendency to concentrate wealth.  So, why cannot we start organizing demonstrations?  There are so many millions righteously angry enough at the status quo, from the unemployed, underemployed, underpaid, burdened with student loans, seniors facing old-age poverty, to environmentalists, budget deficit hawks, etc., etc.
Roger Skutt

Re: Enough Recrimination. Let's Build A Populist Movement

Just read Richard Eskow's excellent "Enough Recrimination. Let's Build A Populist Movement."

I wanted to pass on something I saw in the NYT in response to Krugman's latest column. It was written by commenter R. Law from Texas:
    The only reason that this looks like up is because of where we've been.
    Conservatives everywhere, and their apologists, have to answer the central question " Where's the trickle down " ?
    Progressives need to take the debate back to the cons own turf and the ' rising tide ' promises, compared to the objective reality of not just now, but the last 30 years - with the '08 melt down being the cherry on top.
    There are more billionaires in the U.S. than ever before, their wealth has surpassed all previous records, the S&P is at never before seen highs, and GOP'ers are spending all their time trying to justify making sure nothing trickles down.
   " Where's the trickle down" ?

The right always seems to beat us with simple bumper-sticker slogans, but this one is a winner and needs to be repeated over and over again. Even the Pope says that trickle-down is a sham.
Bill Ochs

Re: Lawsuit Opposes 'Co-located' Private Schools (Marilyn Vogt-Downey in Tidbits - March 20)

You are a thousand times correct on that suggestion of having the equal amount given to the public school for every cent spent on charter needs!!!!


Judith Ackerman

Re: Ukraine and Yugoslavia

This is a useful perspective of both the US/NATO interference in Ukraine as well as Yugoslavia.

John Jernegan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I read a bit about this author and turns out she is respected by the people we would respect - she's the real deal and she turns the Bosnian conflict on its head from what I had previously assumed

Jeanne Lenzer


"Rather the way Tito, a Croat, gave almost the whole Adriatic coastline of Yugoslavia to Croatia, and generally enforced administrative borders detrimental to the Serbs."  

This is a totally misleading and often false assertion.  Dalmatia was never part of modern Serbia so Tito didn't give it to Croatia out of Croatian nationalism or anything else.  If anything Tito bent over backwards to promote national conciliation by granting many Serb wishes.  It really is possible to oppose US & NATO actions without promoting the Serbian nationalist distortions of history.

Stan Nadel

Re: Putin's Speech

Thank you for this important message. We would have waited a century to hear it reported objectively on US media.

John Crawford


This is quite a speech.  A little awkward in the translation, in spots, very long, and the translator obviously had his/her work cut out for him/her. Pretty convincing, even if not wholly straightforward. But a lot more honest, overall, than most of what's coming from "Our Side."

Leonard J. Lehrman

Re: Spy Agencies, Not Politicians, Hold the Cards in Washington

Good article, but he got it wrong.  The spy agencies have been running the government since they assassinated JFK and got away with it.  This fact was clearly stated in Peter Janny's book Mary's Mosaic published in 2012.  There are hundreds of books that about the JFK conspiracy, but main stream media (also controlled by the NSA/CIA)  have successfully painted them all as crazy conspiracy nuts.

 My theory is that president already knew the ropes when they were elected (Bush and Bush) or they were told after being elected. Any deviation from the NSA/CIA cabal was dealt with - foreign policy belongs to them.  It goes a long way to explain Obama's and Clinton's   NeoCon foreign policy.

Lincoln Smith
Berkeley, CA

Re: Some Facts About How NSA Stories Are Reported

Didn't the First Lady just lecture the Chinese about the importance of freedom of information? Oh, I get it, it's only important for them but not for us because our government is always peaceful and benevolent and right.

Arn Kawano
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: It's the Racism, Stupid: Meet the Press's Epic NCAA Fail

Lament (and Renewal) of a 21st Century African-American Athlete

    My fate in this benighted world
    Can be scrolled without question or doubt,
    For those in charge, having used me up,
    Are determined to spit me out.

    But when stories that now aren't fit to print
    Will some day become print to fit,
    The time will come -- and it's not far off --
    When the spitters will drown in their spit!

Henry Foner

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a "free trade" agreement between the US and the European Union which is currently in secret negotiations. In an interview here, Sahra Wagenknecht, a member of the Bundestag (German parliament) explains: "I feel just as ill-informed as most people. The negotiations are closed to the public and without the involvement of parliaments." However, she says, "more than 600 lobbyists for banks and corporations have exclusive access to the documents and can influence the negotiations directly with their so-called 'expertise.'"

In keeping with previous "free trade" agreements, which are not really about "freedom" of any kind, but are really designed to secure the profits of transnational corporations, what little details we know about the TTIP indicate that it is designed to undermine democratic decisions in favor of the corporate interests that are in on the secret negotiations. A key mechanism in the agreement is the setting-up of arbitration panels where, Wagenknecht explains, companies can sue governments "if their profits are affected by democratic decisions, such as more stringent environmental laws or better workers' rights."

For example, the financial lobby in the USA hopes that the TTIP will help them replace our banking regulations with the even weaker regulations they have in the EU (Wagenknecht uses the word "windelweichen," or "diaper-soft," to describe the EU banking rules). Meanwhile in Europe, regulations against genetically modified corn and fracking could be undermined by the agreement.

The first step, Wagenknecht says, is to protest against these secret negotiations, because "after secret negotiations there can be no democratic basis to sign a subsequent contract." And ultimately, the entire concept of "free trade" agreements should be called into question.

This interview is in German, but there are automatic translators these days which will give you a good sense of what she's saying (Google Chrome's translator is quite good).

John Lacny
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

An Urgent Message from Left Labor Project - Getting Ready: An Election Strategy Discussion

The upcoming midterm elections should promise a breakthrough for the progressive vote. Instead, experts predict that the Republicans will do well, even re-taking the Senate.

Why is this happening? The Republican Party is overrun with far right hustlers - spreading bigotry, pushing austerity, attacking unions and taking the social conservative agenda to new depths of insanity. They've paralyzed Congress in their obsessive war with the Obama administration. The few remaining moderate Republicans stand humiliated.

Polls show the public hates this. Then why should this spell defeat for Democrats? Can we fix this? Will this be a rerun of the 2010 Tea Party Congressional bum rush? How will this effect the 2016 political climate?

We need to discuss this. We need to get together and confront these questions - NOW.

Make a commitment to attend our April 3 meeting: Getting Ready: An Election Strategy Discussion

Our panel speakers will be longtime activist Carl Davidson, 1199 VP Coraminita Mohr, and City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.

These are not ordinary observers or commentators. They've been in the thick of electoral battles and seen important victories. We need to hear from them. They need to hear from you.

Come to Gallery 1199, 310 W. 43rd Street, at 6 pm on Thursday, April 3. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.

Tell your friends, colleagues and co-workers. The issues on the table will effect all of us.

Seating is limited. Send your RSVP here.

- Sorry, this is only for those living in New York state.

We invite those of you who are Jewish to join a specific effort we are organizing to make sure our NY State legislators know there are Jewish New York voters who oppose the anti-boycott bills in Albany. We would like to get very brief video messages from 100 Jewish New Yorkers. These will be edited into one piece, copied onto dvd's and sent to all of our elected officials in Albany.

It has become clear that at least some of our elected representatives in the NY State Legislature are afraid of appearing anti-Semitic if they vote against these bills (see history of bill below). All too often any criticism of Israeli policy is explained away as being anti-Semitic. We need to counter this manipulative distortion. Defending the right of an academic organization to support a call for a boycott is part of our rich history of protecting free speech.

This will be a powerful statement, one that we know will help in our state-wide campaign to defeat this legislation. But for this to work we need everyone to follow the guidelines below. Please feel free to share this with other Jewish New Yorkers, especially people throughout the state.

If you have any questions about this project, please contact us.

Jane Hirschmann,
Leslie Cagan,



1) Each statement should be no more than 30 seconds long, less would be better. Write out what you want to say and then read it out loud slowly. Time yourself to make sure you are under 30 seconds. Sample statements are below.
2) Be sure to: include your name; say that you are Jewish, and that you live and vote in New York State. If you are not from NYC, it would be great to include the city you are from.
3) You can record your statement with a camera or on your smart phone, Ipad, or computer.
- Get fairly close to the camera look straight into the camera.
- Make sure you are in focus and there are no lights shining behind you, or anything else that will be a distraction from your message.
- Make sure the room you are in is quiet and there are no noise distractions.
- The camera must be perfectly still during the entire statement, no shaking, make sure your camera is propped up securely.

4) Once it is done, you can upload it to us by going to ?
- Click on the "Already have an account?" link. It is important that you NOT enter your information and hit the join button, which is above the link.
- It will take you to a log-in page where you enter in user name: and password: stopthebill.
- Once on the welcome page, click on the upload a video button on the right. Click on "choose a video to upload" which will browse your computer. Select  your video file and hit open.
- On the next page choose the "upload selected videos" button. It will take time to upload so just keep it running until it is complete. If you have technical difficulties, write to

5) We must have your message no later than Monday, March 31st. Of course, you should send in your message as soon as you've completed your recording.

Sample messages:

My name is Jane Doe. I am a Jewish New York who votes. I oppose the anti-boycott bill because it infringes on academic freedom and free speech. All of us have the right to express our opposition to government policies, including Israeli policies. We must not be punished for exercising that right. Any anti-boycott bills or resolutions must be defeated.

My name is Joe Schmo. I live in Rochester, NY, I am Jewish and I vote. The anti-boycott bill being considered by the NY State Legislature would undermine academic freedom by punishing those who support the academic boycott of Israel. You must defeat all anti-boycott bills or resolutions.
My name is Jane Doe. I am a voting New Yorker,  Jewish and an academic. The anti-boycott bill is aimed at limiting my academic freedom and punishes me economically for participating in organizations which support the boycott against Israel and its institutions. You must defeat all anti-boycott bills or resolutions.


In January a dangerous bill was passed in the NY State Senate. If it becomes law, this bill will severely punish any state-funded college or university that uses any of those funds to support activities connected to an organization that supports the academic boycott of Israel. This bill is in direct response to the resolution passed last fall by the American Studies Association in support of the academic boycott of Israel. A similar bill was introduced in the NY State Assembly in February, but quick and effective organizing forced that bill's main sponsor to withdraw it and re-introduce a new version of the bill. The new version has less severe penalties, but the fact that there are any penalties makes the legislation an unconstitutional assault on academic freedom and free speech.

Leslie Cagan
Jane Hirschmann

2014 Moving Beyond Capitalism Conference - Making Another World Happen

July 29 to August 5, 2014 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

The Center for Global Justice will host a major international conference on the topic "Moving Beyond Capitalism." The idea is that many people are developing practices and institutions that point toward a future alternative to actually existing capitalism. We want to bring together both activists and thinkers from the global South and North who are making another world happen. As we look around we can see many efforts that are being made as people respond creatively to the crisis of capitalism. Things like worker owned self-managed cooperatives, public banks, local currencies, community supported agriculture, alternative media, participatory budgeting, 21st century socialism, and more. People are applying principles of localization, solidarity, horizontalism, and participation as they rebuild the commons and empower themselves through economic democracy. These are the experiences and ideas we want to explore in the conference with the hope to spread them more widely.

Among the many presenters we expect to participate we already have confirmations from David Schweickart (his ideas on economic democracy are widely discussed), Gar Alperovitz (author What Then Must We Do?), Gustavo Esteva (de-professionalized Mexican intellectual), and Margaret Flowers & Kevin Zeese (Occupy activists and members of the Green Party Shadow Cabinet).

If you would like to make a presentation (by giving a paper, workshop, or panel), this Call spells out what we have in mind more fully.

We are also looking to make the development of the conference participatory. We are looking for volunteers to help us
* find foundation grants to support participation by those with low income.
* spread the word by distributing the Call far and wide.
* find other organizations to partner with the Center in putting on this conference.
* make the proceedings widely available by live streaming the proceedings and producing DVDs of major presentations.
* volunteer during the conference with the million and one tasks needed to make such an event go smoothly.

If you can help in any way, contact our Administrator, Olivia Canales, at



Starring: Samuel Eliot Morison,  Oscar Handlin, Richard Hofstadter, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur M. Schlesigner, Jr, Daniel Boorstin (including HUAC testimony), Allen Nevins, William Hardy McNeill, Eric Hoffer, John Blum, Stanley Elkins, and others. With 305 fact-filled footnotes!

Contents: Introduction: Thomas SchofieldOn Active Service by Jesse Lemisch: The "Present-Mindedness" of the New Left; Repression after World War II; The Ideology of Anti-Radicalism; Historians as Activists I; American History Rewritten; The Ideology of Repression at the End of the Sixties; Historians as Activists II; Notes; Acknowledgements

Available for free download and/or reading online at:

At the tumultuous 1969 meeting of the American Historical Association, I presented a paper,: "Present-Mindedness Revisited: Anti-Radicalism as a Goal of American Historical Writing Since World War II" (there is a description of this presentation and the atmosphere at the AHA in Peter Novick's chapter, "Collapse of Comity," in That Noble Dream: The `Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession. The paper had an interesting history after that first presentation. After much positive (and negative attention) at the AHA meeting and in the New York Times and elsewhere, I submitted it serially to the American Historical Review and then to the Journal of American History. It received stunningly negative readings. R.K Webb of AHR  wrote: (3/27/70)" "I wonder if the activism of the New Left historians  today, unlike the activism you so deplore in your article, may not be a bar to serious scholarship that can appeal to any scholar outside the sect itself.." Marty Ridge at the JAH (a nice man) sent me (7/17/70) a fifteen-page handwritten negative report from his anonymous reader,.who wrote, "Lemisch is certainly the Tony Galento [an unorthodox boxer] of the Left I don't know how you can tell him that he certainly cannot do it in the pages of the Journal. He probably believes that he can, which says something about how far he and his ilk are estranged from civilization [emphasis added]." Ridge himself wrote, "This essay more than any that I have read in the last several years has disturbed me."

I was invited to present versions of my paper at dozens of institutions, where it received an enthusiastic reception, particularly from younger historians. In those years, after national attention to my paper, and earlier political firing/non-renewals at the University of Chicago and Northwestern, I was preoccupied with the problems besetting the job-seeker in a two-career family, exacerbated in my case by a partial blacklisting and repeated department votes vehemently in my favor over-ruled by the one senior holdout who would deliver to the dean/provost the over-my-dead-body speech. Shortly after I arrived at SUNY-Buffalo in 1973, I made contact through law student Thomas Schofield with New Hogtown Press in Toronto, a small left press with excellent publications in social and labor history. Thom, who had been an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, arranged to write an introduction for a Canadian edition, and it was published in 1975 as On Active Service.. Almost 40 years later, people who want to read it encounter difficulties, and I'm told that there is lively circulation in xerox samizdat.

Recently I posted on the US Intellectual History blog a short article. "Higham, Hofstadter and Woodward: Three Liberal Historians?" This precipitated fierce debate.…, with some 80 comments, many of them lengthy and, quite frequently, over the top. It seemed to me that it was time to make On Active Service available, and I have found ways to do this, online and free.

Historians/American Studies people: now that On Active Service is so easily available, please consider assigning it in courses.

Jesse Lemisch.

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