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Tidbits - June 9, 2016 - Reader Comments: Social Security and Primary Activism; Muhammad Ali; Fascism??; Voter Repression; New York Labor Activism; Dixie Chicks; and more....

Reader Comments: Obama changes course on Social Security due to primary campaign and sharp debates - thank you Bernie; Muhammad Ali remembered; Voter Repression; Reason right is on the rise - is it beginnings of fascism?; New York labor activism - teachers, taxi drivers, B&H workers solitary June 14; radical leisure and denial of summer vacations; opposition to Gov. Coumo anti-BDS executive orders - smacks of McCarthyism; Dixie Chicks new tour hits out on Trump; more...

Portside Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - June 9, 2016, Portside


Re: Thanks to Activism and Sanders, Obama Changes Course on Social Security

I am relieved that President Obama has corrected his disastrous proposal to cut social security made in 2013! I was outraged that he could even consider such a thing! Thanks to Seniors, our allies & Bernie Sanders who organized a full court press against Obama, the President has corrected himself and gotten on the "right" (good) side of history! #FeeltheBern !!!!!
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons
Isn't this wonderful! President Obama signs on to protecting and defending social security (and walks away from his "grand bargain,"). Even the HRC position has improved. Thanks are due to the President, to geezers, activists and the Bernie campaign. (Also to Nadia Prupis for the article and to Portside for the link. )
Daniel Millstone
Let's hope and pray that the next generations benefit from a more fair tax on the wealthy to support their hard earned social security benefits. They better heed lest they lose s.s. benefits altogether.
Elliott Milford
"When we were in New Mexico the Hillary campaign put out a statement supporting our action at the shareholders' meeting. I was not surprised by the way our concerns intersected with broader concerns about corporate power, Wall Street power, but it was a pretty cool thing to have experienced."
Sure, but dozens of Bernie Sanders supporters, including most of the leadership of PDACNM (Progressive Democrats of America, Central New Mexico Chapter) were there, outside the Hotel Albuquerque, walking the line!
Ted Cloak
Member, Steering Committee, PDACNM
Lifelong subscriber (practically) to The Progressive.
It is a rare to post more than one item about a subject that is 'fleeting' or particular, however not enough can be said about Mohammad Ali. Young people especially cannot easily understand his impact. In some ways he was like Bernie Sanders in that he shifted everything, but Bernie catalyzed sentiment in a traditionally defined path. Cassius Clay burst on the scene and shifted sentiment and blazed a trail. He risked everything, he was speaking out of his socially assigned bailiwick -sports and he was Black and he was direct and fabulously outrageous. All these articles make different points about a 20 th century American hero.
Carole Travis
A good read about a great American! A story courage, spirit and politics!
William Proctor
Dangerous? Unfortunate word choice. He spoke to truth. Don't play into the hands of those who  preach fear and paint all black males as "dangerous" and in need of caging.
Karyne Dunbar
Dave Zirin's tribute to Ali stands head & shoulders over the others I've read and heard so far.
James Kenny
What is needed now is a large voter turnout in November!
Only voting beats Voter Suppression!
What is needed now is a large voter turnout in November!
James Zeke Bond

Donald Trump's fascist inclinations do not bother his fans
David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times; December 9, 2015
Quite simply, it's because the section of the bourgeoisie that can advance its interests by the military accumulation of capital via control of state levers is getting stronger in relation to the capitalists who depend on the more "normal," modes of accumulation through trade, investment, trade, speculation and what have you.
So many scholars and journalists and activists concentrate on the superstructure of proto- and out-and-out fascist movements --- hatred, terror, myths of the "purity" of this or that people or the glorification of wars, etc. -- that they believe these ideological stinking blooms of fascism are the roots.
But the roots are not in ideas. The roots are in the struggle to control the budget so as to obtain control of the big bucks during times of economic crisis. 
That is why Bernie Sanders' emergence and success scares the feces out of rightwingers and neoliberals alike. That's why they join in a chorus whose litany is that the programs that Sanders and his supporters envisage as ways to use the levers of the state to salvage and improve the lives of masses of people are ridiculed as unattainable pie-in-the-sky fantasies and false hopes.
That's why the big monopolies and financial houses join the openly rightwing bourgeoisie of the developed world to cripple if not kill all the programs of social democracy that people have won in struggle. They wish to extinguish even the knowledge of what various countries have achieved in this regard. 
They would rather see the rise of police states on their own soil than to see people struggle successfully for nationally funded public education, nationally funded health plans, livable pensions, decent public housing, public control of the police and transparent diplomacy that makes it harder to concoct wars for "regime change," run Big Brother-sanctioned assassination programs (first abroad, but soon no doubt at home) and despoil our planet.
The Dept. of Defense has grown into a many-tentacled parasite that is sucking wealth secretly as well as openly out of ever-wider sections of the U.S. economy. Its chosen contractors have become national and international viruses that civil society is losing the power to resist.
Our so-called intelligentsia and economic commentators  seem ignorant of the Bulgarian Georgi Dimitrov's pioneering study of fascism. It reads in a critical part:
"...Fascism is not a form of state power "standing above both classes -- the proletariat and the bourgeoisie," as Otto Bauer, for instance, has asserted. It is not "the revolt of the petty bourgeoisie which has captured the machinery of the state," as the British Socialist Brailsford declares. No, fascism is not a power standing above class, nor government of the petty bourgeoisie or the lumpen-proletariat over finance capital. Fascism is the power of finance capital itself. It is the organization of terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia. In foreign policy, fascism is jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations.
This, the true character of fascism, must be particularly stressed because in a number of countries, under cover of social demagogy, fascism has managed to gain the following of the mass of the petty bourgeoisie that has been dislocated by the crisis, and even of certain sections of the most backward strata of the proletariat. These would never have supported fascism if they had understood its real character and its true nature.
The development of fascism, and the fascist dictatorship itself, assume different forms in different countries, according to historical, social and economic conditions and to the national peculiarities, and the international position of the given country. In certain countries, principally those in which fascism has no broad mass basis and in which the struggle of the various groups within the camp of the fascist bourgeoisie itself is rather acute, fascism does not immediately venture to abolish parliament, but allows the other bourgeois parties, as well as the Social-Democratic Parties, to retain a modicum of legality. In other countries, where the ruling bourgeoisie fears an early outbreak of revolution, fascism establishes its unrestricted political monopoly, either immediately or by intensifying its reign of terror against and persecution of all rival parties and groups. This does not prevent fascism, when its position becomes particularly acute, from trying to extend its basis and, without altering its class nature, trying to combine open terrorist dictatorship with a crude sham of parliamentarism.
The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie -- bourgeois democracy -- by another form -- open terrorist dictatorship. It would be a serious mistake to ignore this distinction, a mistake liable to prevent the revolutionary proletariat from mobilizing the widest strata of the working people of town and country for the struggle against the menace of the seizure of power by the fascists, and from taking advantage of the contradictions which exist in the camp of the bourgeoisie itself. But it is a mistake, no less serious and dangerous, to underrate the importance, for the establishment of fascist dictatorship, of the reactionary measures of the bourgeoisie at present increasingly developing in bourgeois-democratic countries -- measures which suppress the democratic liberties of the working people, falsify and curtail the rights of parliament and intensify the repression of the revolutionary movement."
John Woodford
Ann Arbor
"The Middle East has always been associated with two natural resources, oil (because of its abundance) and water (because of its scarcity).' True enough. And now certain patterns have become quite clear: first, Western fighter jets followed that abundance of oil; now, Western drones are closely shadowing the lack of water, as drought exacerbates conflict.
Just as bombs follow oil, and drones follow drought, so boats follow both: boats filled with refugees fleeing homes on the aridity line ravaged by war and drought. And the same capacity for dehumanizing the other that justified the bombs and drones is now being trained on these migrants, casting their need for security as a threat to ours, their desperate flight as some sort of invading army. Tactics refined on the West Bank and in other occupation zones are now making their way to North America and Europe."
Diane Laison
I've been feeling this for some time. Well written.
Charles Patrick Lynch
(posting on Portside Culture)
Dear Sister Muse,
Your art is greatly appreciated.
I live in Long Beach and am active enough in the community to be gaining an appreciation for the complexities of life here for Cambodian refugees of all ages here in USA.  As a retired union organizer and political activist,
I carry many of my own opinions about the Vietnam/American War and the legacies of USA criminal foreign (and domestic) policies over many years beyond my lifetime.
Since retiring I've worked for close to a year in Vietnam teaching labor relations and have had the chance to learn from Vietnamese students, professors, people's organizations and friends (also have been lucky enough to travel extensively in Vietnam) about official and informal opinions about history between Vietnam and Cambodia.
As is true for the Vietnamese, the trauma of war and global politics as well as the genocide experienced by Cambodians, coupled with the refugee experience here in USA (contrasted to the promises and expectations of the USA) has profound, complex and deep impacts on individuals as well as community.
Your poetry touches and conveys much that I have heard and seen in both the Vietnamese and Cambodian people I know here and in Vietnam.
Again, your words are appreciated.
Leanna Noble
(one of the moderators at Portside)
Independents can't vote in the democratic primary so this is rather misleading. Voters who decline to state may ask for a democratic ballot in the primary, but not independents. I find this a dishonest post. I voted early for Bernie as a declined to state voter with no problem. Spreading false info is a disservice when there is so much distrust and emotions are high!
John Frediani
If the mass media didn't project an HRC victory, would it have happened anyway? We live in a two-party system, in the past and right now. No wishful thinking gets us around that horrible reality. News flash: Secretary Clinton will win the nomination.
Given the two-party assumption, the question is, do you think she is better enough to fight for versus her beast of an opponent? If your answer is "no," go work for the Green Party, or the Workers World Party. They are both fielding candidates.
If your answer is "yes," get over her faults -- I agree she is a candidate of the bourgeoisie. Tell me something I don't know. That doesn't mean the forces for democracy won't get a bad beating by the ultra-right if she doesn't win. (With the Supreme Court issue, the beating will last for a long time.)
Disagree? Go to the Greens or the Workers World. Or some other party that disagrees with the popular front and has blinders on regarding the two-party system.
Mike Arney
(posting on Portside Labor)
Of major significance -- a breakthrough for the rights of organized labor!
Alfred Rose
(posting on Portside Labor)
Teachers in NYC are fed up with corporate education, and are lining up to fight.
Ellen Graubart
(posting on Portside Labor)
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with and interviewing a comrade and friend to many of us, Javaid Tariq of the NY Taxi Workers Alliance. After a few twists and turns (including Javaid bum rushing the stage at a Red Baraat show) and much delay, my piece about his incredible story for Asian American Writers' Workshop is finally up. Thank you Javaid and NYTWA!
Sonny Singh Brooklynwala
On Tuesday, June 14th at 9:30am, join us as we stand with B&H Photo Video workers as they fight for a fair contract and safe working conditions!
Eight months later, workers are facing renewed retaliation from B&H management in the midst of contract negotiations for working conditions that respect their human rights. B&H management has forced worker leaders who were injured on the job to re-apply for their positions after medical leave. They have also hit workers with false disciplinary charges and threatened to fire them.
On Tuesday, JFREJ and the Laundry Workers Center will be showing B&H management that a broad coalition of Jews believe in respecting the dignity of labor and stand with the workers of B&H. Join us.
Tuesday, June 14th
In front of B&H Photo and Video Store (420 9th Avenue in Manhattan)
Please RSVP to to confirm your attendance.
Amanda Altman
Education Director & Leadership Development Coordinator
Jews For Racial & Economic Justice
330 Seventh Avenue, Suite 1901
New York, NY 10001
I thought this article raised important question about a fundamental issue of capitalism, the struggle over the length of the working day.  If I remember Capital correctly,  for Marx this struggle amounts to the control over surplus value.  The hours above and beyond those that are required to reproduce the laborer and laborer's household produce surplus value for the capitalist.  So the extension of the workday and workweek translate directly into accumulation of additional profit for the capitalist class.
Eva Swidler is uncertain as to why the US union movement abandoned this fight, but she is certainly right that it's an important issue to address.  It seems to be connected with what happens to adjuncts and other part time workers with uneven distribution of labor time.  Full time employees work 60-70 hour work weeks while millions who want full time work go without.  German businesses are given subsidies by the government during economic downturns to reduce hours of employees evenly rather than lay off workers. That practice may go on in other economies as well.  In the US, the lack of control over work time and elimination of time for community seems to determine this uneven distribution.
Another insight that stood out for me was her association of leisure with community.  Without using the time to build community, leisure becomes anomic and isolating.  She seems to imply that the expansion of work hours per household has helped atomize the work force and at the same time led to a loss of collective culture outside of work. 
David H. Slavin
[sharing of Portside post on the UALEList (United Association for Labor Education (UALE))]
Note: "The Right To Be Lazy" (1883 Paul Lafargue) is online.
Good summer reading...
Dave Ecklein
The East Side Freedom Library is making some activities available (please see our webpage and our Facebook page), but we know this is nowhere near enough. This essay reveals how badly we need to build the social movements to make significant changes in our society.
Palestine Legal (Formerly known as Palestine Solidarity Legal Support)
June 6, 2016
Palestine Legal issued the following statement in response to Executive Order No. 157 Directing State Agencies And Authorities To Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel, signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 5
Executive Order No. 157 is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and establishes a dangerous precedent reminiscent of McCarthyism. It is unprecedented for a state to create a list of entities that support or engage in a First Amendment protected political activity, and deny them financial benefits because of it. Boycotts are a constitutionally-protected form of speech, association and assembly, and have a long history of being used successfully to address injustice and demand political change.
The State of New York may not punish businesses, organizations, and other entities because of their speech and political views. This executive order would chill First Amendment protected activities by requiring persons to avoid or renounce such activities before they can be considered beneficiaries of public funds. It will certainly invite legal challenges.
637 S. Dearborn St.
3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60605
General Information:
I'm reaching out because I noticed that you're currently linking to the Demos How Student Debt Reduces Lifetime Wealth. We've recently released our "2016 Report on the Real Cost of Student Loans" after noting that student loan debt has nearly tripled over the past decade.  The report exposes some of the effects that student loans can have over the course of a lifetime in areas such as, home ownership, retirement savings, lifestyle sacrifices, and the potential overall reduced financial security.
For example, did you know that nearly 70% of students who graduated from a public or nonprofit college in 2014 walked across the stage with student loans? GoodCall breaks down the report to show various consequences student borrowers could potentially face.  The full report can be found here.
Michelle Billick
Dear Labor for Bernie supporters and activists,
Now that the primaries are nearly over, Labor for Bernie is supporting the People's Summit in Chicago, June 17-19.  This meeting is being convened by National Nurses United and other organizations supporting Sanders' political revolution.
Participants at the summit will help develop an agenda to hold our elected officials more accountable to popular demands for justice, equality and freedom.
Labor for Bernie will have a caucus meeting at breakfast on Sunday morning, June 19. Please use this short form let us know if you plan to attend.
The Summit will be an opportunity to sum up the primary experiences, make plans for the upcoming convention and discuss what a movement dedicated to extending the political revolution would look like.
When/Where Details:  
The People's Summit will take place from 6pm on Friday, June 17 to Noon on Sunday June 19 in Chicago Illinois at the McCormick Place Convention Center just south of the Loop.
Register for the People's Summit by click on this link.  Please register ASAP to assist organizers with food orders etc.
Registration Cost: $100 full / $50 for students & employed.
Check out the website for an overview of the program. In addition there are the breakout sessions & trainings on Saturday Afternoon.  
We hope to see you in Chicago!
In Solidarity,
Rand Wilson
for Labor for Bernie
Promoting Peace is a free online resource offering detailed guidance and links to resources for students and those working as advocates.  Focused on concrete steps that can be taken as an individual, a family, a community, and global society it showcases evidence-based approaches shown to be effective in preventing and stemming violence and fostering more compassionate communities.
Personal reflections by members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are coupled with those from their partner organizations across the world whose members, directly affected by political violence, have also worked to turn their grief into actions for peace. It is an opportunity to learn from models such as schools in Columbine, CO who found restorative justice more effective than mandatory expulsion, the Afghan Peace Volunteers who invite all to join in their dedicated efforts to replace war and terror with friendship, and the Nonviolence Peaceforce that effectively staunches violence in countries around the world.
Launched as a partnership among September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows with sponsorship from both the Community Tool Box, a platform that serves 5.8 million users in 230 countries and has been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Portuguese, and Russian, and the Charter for Compassion which engages hundreds of schools and communities worldwide, the resource will be widely available. You can help by sharing the site within your networks.
As we approach the 15th commemoration of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, let us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that no family in any part of the world has to experience the needless loss of a loved one to violence that could have been prevented. Promoting Peace will help us work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.
The country trio performed their 1999 hit "Goodbye Earl" against a Trump backdrop
By Rebecca Macatee
June 2, 2016
Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines, and Emily Strayer of the Dixie Chicks perform onstage during the DCX World Tour MMXVI Opener on June 1, 2016, in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Getty Images for PMK // NBC New York
The Dixie Chicks aren't afraid of mixing art and politics.
The Texas-based trio kicked off their DCX MMXVI World Tour on Wednesday in Cincinnati and they've got a new political foe: Donald Trump.
The Dixie Chicks performed their 1999 hit "Goodbye Earl" against a backdrop that showed Trump with devil horns and a comical mustache and goatee.
Natalie Maines is no stranger to political controversy. In 2003, she slammed George W. Bush for his plans to invade Iraq. 
See more

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