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Tidbits - June 2, 2016 - Reader Comments: Paul Krugman; Clinton Might Not Be...; Prisoners Sue Prisons; Shostakovich; Nestle Control Over Water; and more...

Reader Comments: Paul Krugman Was Wrong About the 1990s; Clinton Might Not Be the Nominee; Why It's Nearly Impossible for Prisoners to Sue Prisons - kudos from defense lawyers and prisoners; Why did Portside run the New Yorker piece on Donald Trump; If Shostakovich Were Alive - Why did Portside run the hatchet piece; Nestle Control Over Town's Water; Trump, Racism, Anti-Semitism and Catholic Universities; New York Studio Workers Need Your Support; and more...

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - June 2, 2016,Portside
no steps forward, 2 steps back
Jim Price
Thanks again - it's a beautiful, clear analysis! 
Victor Grossman
Berlin, Germany
This is an important article, but Foroohar doesn't go far enough. Certainly, Krugman has explicitly called for massive infrastructure investment as necessary to keep up industrial capacity but also as a way to create meaningful jobs.  So, I'm not sure that the headline is accurate. But I want to see what Foroohar advocates beyond what Krugman has already called for (besides keeping Bill Clinton out of a meddling role in the economy).
Bruce Kanze
Follow the link to her longer article about "financialization" as the central economic dynamic of the 1990s. It is important to take an historical view on the economic challenges we face today -- how they are grounded in structural shifts in the global political economy (what has been called the displacement of Keynesianism by "neo-liberalism") that are longer term and deeper than the mortgage crisis of 2007-2008.....
Good piece. I've stated for years the 90's economy was false because it created service jobs that pay little.
Kathy Hale
In a recent New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama's War on Inequality," economist Paul Krugman makes the statement that President Obama has done "a substantial amount to narrow income gaps," and may have been able to do more, if not for a resistant Congress.
The article, however, manages to avoid the reality that the income gap has gotten significantly worse under President Obama's administration, by several measures. It also avoids the fact that the administration has managed to not only ignore, but actively suppress nonviolent social movements like Occupy Wall Street, that demanded he respond to the growing issue of inequality in our country. On the latest Economic Update, Professor Richard Wolff provides striking evidence against Prof. Krugman's rosy view of inequality. Listen to the latest Economic Update: Listen, Prof. Krugman online and keep the conversation going.
In the same episode, Professor Wolff also provides updates on recent current events: European leaders' failed policies on Greece, major automobile corporations buying ride-share companies, and a very interesting statement by Pope Francis.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!
The   Team
Democracy at Work
Well, what about 100 Bernies? One reason they're not out there is that Bernie has refused to endorse some of them, like three of his supporters who challenged the establishment Dem incumbents for Oregon Senator, Governor and 5th CD rep.
Michael Munk
An interesting speculation from a former pollster and political adviser to Bill Clinton while he was president.
Alfred Rose
STOP living in LaLa land ................... Bernie WON'T be the President as much as we would like him to!!! If he were the true frontrunner, he would come under attacks such as we've NEVER seen.   The republicans would turn him into Hugo Chavez.  And since the majority of voters are baby boomers who had the dangers of socialism drilled into them, he wouldn't stand ANY chance!!! We can't go around acting like a bunch of tired old hippies
Tracy Turner
Considering every poll that I have seen showing Bernie beating Trump by a much larger margin than Clinton [if she beats him at all], it is Clinton who should drop out--for the sake of the party, the election, and the country, but her ego and political ambition do not auger well. Which civilization will she destroy next? --with how much more human tragedy and refugees? We're likely in for a rough ride. Hang on.
Roger Dittmann
I want Bernie out!!!  He is hurting Hillary.  I could never see him as president.  I would no longer watch State of the Union addresses.  I can't stand his screaming.
Sister James Ann Germuska
I'm a fairly avid reader of Portside. I am appalled at the concluding comment of this article of black being totally negative. I had hoped that a progressive publication would not fall into stereotypic "black is bad, white is good" rhetoric.
[Moderator's Note: The sentence which the writer is referring to is the following:
[The poet Alexander] Pope made another observation, which was that even as you recognize that the world is a mixed-up place, you still can't fool yourself about the difference between the acceptable and the unacceptable: "Fools! who from hence into the notion fall / That vice or virtue there is none at all," he wrote. "Is there no black or white? / Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; / 'Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain." The pain of not seeing that black is black soon enough will be ours, and the time to recognize this is now.
Adam Gopnik's piece in the New Yorker was the most irresponsible writing I can remember reading in my life.  The comparisons were ridiculous and pseudo-intellectual and exposed Mr. Gopnik's ignorance of world history.  Whether one agrees or disagrees, his comparisons likening Lenin and Castro to Hitler were not only absurd but were not even rational.
Stan Maron
(posting on Portside Culture)
Too bad old Shostakovich isn't around to say whether his internal life and thoughts were as filled with cowardice and self-hatred as Barnes imputes to him. Kind of slimy to use this method to make illegitimate the man's work, and the whole idea of art serving a social purpose. This is the man who wrote the Leningrad Symphony, to put into music the bravery of the thousands who resisted the Nazi siege of the city for 900 days, and died for it (and for us).
  • "Barnes likens their musical production to coal miners meeting a daily quota."  Kind of insulting to coal miners and workers.  But Barnes' and the reviewer's intent here is to say artists in socialism have no legitimacy because they get stipends from the government.  Aside from the fact that mainstream artists in the U.S. (at least those who produce work politically acceptable to our market-loving art establishment) get grants from the National Institutes for arts and humanities, and have to show product to keep the money, why shouldn't socialism support artists?  Andy why shouldn't artists support a transformation of society away from capitalism? 
  • "As Shostakovich reflects on how his own works have changed under the Soviet regime, he feels both shame and a hilarious sort of faith in the irony of the situation. He believes that irony has the potential to protect the proper message of his music, hiding it in a 'secret language...'"
  • "and he thinks it possible that 'it is our destiny to become in old age what in youth we would have most despised.'"
Yecch. Filled with shame. Becoming what he would have despised. Barnes is lucky Shostakovich isn't around to reply.
Not hard to understand why all this makes the book pretty popular with the NYT and the Christian Science Monitor, who've turned trashing Russia and the Soviets into an industry.
But Portside?
David Bacon
Excellent piece on how the prison grievance process--which was created to provide a non-confrontational way to resolve issues between staff and prisoners--has morphed into a maze sown with land mines barring prisoners' ability to bring their grievances to court.
While this strategy may provide short-term benefits to short-sighted prison officials, in the long run, it is destructive. If prisoners do not have an effective way to resolve issues through the bureaucracy, then they will seek other avenues of redress: hunger strikes, work stoppages, and ultimately violence--either self-directed, or directed at others (staff and their fellow prisoners).
This is a particular problem in Illinois, where the grievance process almost never provides relief, and is designed explicitly to lay procedural traps for the unwary.
Excellent article. Very interesting and informative. It shows why the Georgia Department of Corrections grievance process is a joke and so are the steps that follow.
There are currently no regulations governing prison grievance processes, and, in the two decades since the law's passage, many prisons' procedures have become so onerous and convoluted-"Kafkaesque," in the words of one federal judge-that inmates whose rights have been violated are watching their cases slip through the cracks.
I believe James Baldwin would have loved this elegant and heartfelt accolade. Thank you for reminding us of one of our greatest intellectuals and writers.
Ernest Brill
Breaking up the banks - here's how. We can learn a lot from the successful farmers and labor movements from a hundred years ago.
Jay Schaffner
Except it's not breaking up the banks. It is a totally different political program. I'm amazed that this is so hard for experienced political activists to comprehend. Really, I expect more of experienced activists. Time to step up folks,
Greetings.  Your article "The Brazilian Coup's Image Problem" by Gianpaolo Baiocchi is excellent, but there is one small problem, and that is that there is a close quote quotation mark missing in line three after The word "investigation" and before the word "the."
Thanks for the very good article, and keep up the great work.
Lawrence Reichard
Belfast, Maine
This is part of our judicial system? Really?
William Proctor
Tom Cornell
The Republicans want to privatize everything and are doing it!
Howard Harawitz
Finally I understand why Weaver Street Market (local co-op) stopped selling Poland Spring water.
Flora Taylor
fascinating study about our DNA and relationship with the other homo genus
Tillyruth Teixeira
(posting on Portside Culture)
"Non, je non regrette..."  is from a body of wonderful songs from a an incredibly wonderful singer.  It's clear that she was not a Nazi supporter when so many in France, then, were so eager to ship people off.
Claire Carsman
"Why I support the protestors" - My letter to the president of DePaul University
Reverend Dennis Holtschneider
President of DePaul University
Chicago, Illinois
Reverend Holtschneider,
While I was happy to see you condemn many of bigoted beliefs of Milo Yiannopoulos, a guest lecturer for the DePaul University College Republicans, I was also equally angered with your condemnation of student protestors. "I was ashamed for DePaul University," you wrote in an email.
You were so ashamed that you felt the need to issue an apology to the College Republicans. "They deserved an opportunity to hear their speaker uninterrupted, and were denied it." I think you should have condemned the College Republicans for bringing such a notorious bigot to DePaul, and apologized to the campus community.
Whether this apology was really directed toward the pampered bigots of the College Republicans or to the rich Republican donors of DePaul is another question.
However, one issue that escaped your attention is Milo Yiannopoulos anti-Semitism. I find this disturbing. Yiannopoulos is a self-proclaimed Roman Catholic, whose anti-Semitism is well-known. "Jews run most of the banks; Jews completely dominate the media; Jews are vastly disproportionately represented in all of these professions."
Doesn't a Catholic University have a special responsibility to combat anti-Semitism? After all it was the nearly millennial long anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church that brought religious legitimacy to political anti-Semitism that culminated in the Nazi Holocaust.
Vatican II specifically addressed this issue and declared its opposition to "hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." "Any time and by anyone" would seem to include Yiannopoulos and the DePaul Republicans.
You and I are of the same generation and are well aware that many American Catholics never abandoned their anti-Semitic beliefs despite the church's teachings. Many "dissident" Catholics, including the actor Mel Gibson, have become notorious for their ant-Semitism and racism. Gibson's anti-Semitism has been denigrated wrongly as a substance abuse problem.
Why are you lapsing on this issue? You imply that people like Yiannopoulos shouldn't be taken seriously. "I believe they are more entertainers and self-serving provocateurs than the public intellectuals they purport to be." Isn't that what many people thought of Donald Trump one year ago and he is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party?
While Trump's supporters on your campus are known for their vile xenophobic racism towards Mexicans and misogyny; other Trump supporters have carried out anti-Semitic attacks online against Jewish reporters critical of his campaign.
A Catholic university should not provide legitimacy to any speaker helping to revive anti-Semitism in the United States.
I wait for your reply.
Joe Allen
Chicago, IL.
Author, Vietnam: The (Last) War that the U.S. Lost; People Wasn't made to Burn: A True Story of Race, Murder, Justice in Chicago; The Package King: A Rank and File History of United Parcel Service.

Staff at New York's Avatar Studios voted overwhelmingly in September to join American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 802, and nine months later they still do not have a contract. This is unacceptable! 
Stand with the assistant engineers, maintenance technicians and production assistants at Avatar Studios, 
Click here to join musicians and supporters to demand that Avatar Studios respect their workers and negotiate a fair contract now! 
Avatar Studios, a New York institution with its unique acoustic spaces, is one of the few large recording studios left that can accommodate Broadway cast albums, film and TV scoring, and big bands. Avatar and their staff are essential to the New York scene and a valued part of our community.
Sadly, Avatar doesn't treat their staff with the dignity and respect they deserve as skilled professionals essential to the success of the studio. Some Avatar workers earn minimum wage: $9 per hour. That is unacceptable. That's why assistant engineers, maintenance technicians and production assistants began organizing last summer and formed a union.
Click here to join musicians and supporters to demand that Avatar Studios respect their workers and negotiate a fair contract now! 
Musicians Standing Together Have the Power!
Local 802, American Federation of Musicians
(212) 245-4802 |
The Radical Black HangOut Series: June 23, 30 & July 7 
A national political education program for radical & revolutionary Black organizers and activists engaged in the movement. 
  • Including Live Interviews with Movement Leaders * Interactive On-line Curriculum * Small Group Discussions * Group Chat * Multimedia Revolutionary Resource List for participants?
  • Content includes: Black Radical & Revolutionary Traditions * Black Resistance & Black Organizing * The System & What We're Up Against * The Movement Today & Moving Forward
  • Similar to LeftRoots' past public HangOuts on Black Lives Matter, Venezuela, 21st Century Socialism, Grassroots Feminism, Jackson Rising, and more - but this series is being developed for Black organizers, by registration only.  As always, free.
  • Organized in partnership with Black-led movement organizations across the country who are committed to the continued political development of their own amazing members and staff. 
LeftRoots is a new organization of social movement Leftists, led by Black, Asian, Latino & Arab organizers and activists, outside the c3 structure, committed to connecting our grassroots struggles to a serious strategy for liberation.  
for more info about LeftRoots or to learn more about the Radical Black HangOut series. contact:  or