Skip to main content

Tidbits - August 4, 2016 - Reader Comments: 2016 - Clinton, Democratic Convention, left electoral strategy, climate change, Jill Stein, Leonard Peltier, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and more...

Reader Comments: 2016 Election Campaign - After the DNC, Hillary, Jill and the Donald; The Election and After - Strategy for this election AND going forward; Climate Change policy needs to be front and center; Campaign for Leonard Peltier's freedom; Ireland and Iceland set the example - jailing bankers that caused meltdown; Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials at the UN and in New York; Letters to the Wall - What the Vietnam War was all about; and more . . . .

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources and Announcements - August 4, 2016,Portside
I've been thinking about the Bernie or Bust delegates, and the debates, productively aired this week on Democracy Now, about the implications of choosing between a neoliberal (Clinton) or a neofascist (Trump) in November. I get the argument that neoliberalism cannot trump (pun intended) neofascism. That is absolutely the case, and the movement against both (along with a trunchent analysis of how neoliberalism in many ways enables neofascism globally) will be the only way to bring about a just, sustainable and socially transformative global governance.
That said, I am really concerned about two things as we look toward November. 1) the argument above seems in some sectors to be conflated into an argument that neoliberalism and neofascism are essentially the same thing, so it doesn't matter whether a neofascist wins the US presidency. And then 2) there seems to be a sense among Bernie or bust supporters that presidential elections are the location for social movement transformation (some even arguing that there is time to build a Green Party victory out of the Sanders campaign in 3 months).
The first argument is patently untenable, and as oppressed communities can attest, black and brown bodies, women's bodies, poor bodies suffer from mightily from the conflation. This is frankly frightening as we see how receptive and widespread Trump's message is to an emboldened white supremacy movement, the go too strategy of capital to divide the working class for centuries.
The second argument is impractical, which is why I'm sharing this article reprinted from the Nation to the Portside. There is no evidence that I can find that presidential politics in and of themselves substantially advance social movements, so I have what I think is a reasonable low expectation of presidents, and so similarly low expectations of presidential electoral politics. Progressives are right, the system is corporate, neoliberal and stacked against systemic transformation from within. You don't get to be a presidential candidate (even Bernie Sanders) without learning to thrive in that neoliberal environment. So the real work of movement change is ongoing, building from the local and grassroots. Presidential elections are about limiting damage until venceremos from the ground up. That's why I'm not dwelling on my disappointment (but not surprise) that Sanders isn't the nominee and am focusing my attention on protecting my brown woman's body from a Trump presidency.
Claudia B. Isaac
Glen Perusek's thoughtful and well-organized piece, "Between Accommodation and Abstention: Progressives and the Democratic Party in the General Election and Beyond" left me shaking my head. How can such a well-considered essay ignore the environmental consequences of that decision? Environmentalism is mentioned at least twice in the article, but Perusek fails to consider the climate crisis in his discussion of principles, strategies or tactics.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that 2015 was the hottest yet and the rate of temperature increase is accelerating. Scientists estimate that if this trend continues, in about five years we will surpass critical tipping points, triggering positive feedback loops that will decimate the productive capacity of the planet. Shouldn't avoiding this be one of the critical underlying principles that inform our strategies and tactics?
Despite its rhetoric, the Obama administration's environmental policies have brought us to the brink. If Hillary Clinton follows this course (and given her promotion of fracking, her course will likely be worse than Obama's), we will cross the key climate change tipping point a few months after the end of her first term. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that this will be irreversible and lead to biospheric collapse that will threaten our species (and most others) with extinction. Obviously, this will make achieving Perusek's long-term goal of creating a mass social-democratic party of the left more difficult.
This is the elephant in the room. When developing our principles, strategies and tactics too many of us either don't, can't or won't discuss this imminent world-spanning crisis. I hope Glen Perusek's next analytic essay addresses the elephant.
Robert Meeropol
No Friction, No Traction
Each one of us finally has to draw personal boundaries, no matter how wide we may hope to keep our social horizon. Consider this a message of critical support to Portside, but for the time being I'm also out of here.
The article by Glen Perusek (originally published in The Stansbury Forum) has been republished in Portside. The article is deadbeat and dismaying. I will not take the time to write a line by line counter argument. What would be the point? In every big election, the critical supporters of the Democratic Party summon up the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and then we are back to arguing about swing states and the Supreme Court. And even if I did write a response to Perusek, I would not blame you if you did not take the time to read it. In fact, I've taken a break from political journalism during most of this year, though I remain a political animal. After this dismal presidential campaign is history, maybe I'll take another look at Portside. But you've lost this reader and I'll tell you why.
I am 61 years old, and I've heard variations on "the inside / outside strategy" ever since my teens, a strategy that has only advanced the flaming downward spiral of the capitalist party system. I even accept the most common sense version of that argument-- namely, we can hope to keep conversations open with nearly everyone. Life is full of surprises. But life is also short, and I am likelier to talk with Republican neighbors than with the career politicians of corporate parties. Truly, I'm likelier to talk with some Libertarians than with many members of the official left, simply because sectors of the left have proven they cannot be trusted with basic human rights and civil liberties.
Not so different in that respect than Obama and the Clintons, who (for example) campaigned in public as defenders of "traditional marriage" until a social movement forged ahead of their careers. Now they claim to have "evolved," but they remain committed to ruling class barbarism. The happy talk about diversity is no more than up to date polling and campaigning. Historically, when any parade can be raided for voters, career politicians  jump to the head of the parade. The more the merrier? That is the usual response of the opportunist left, and thus even sectors of the left prescribe general amnesia. Where there is no social memory there will also be no social resistance. If this point seems too theoretical, let me make this modest argument for theory: Theory is memory with a purpose.
From time to time, I'll find articles at Portside I'm unlikely to come across elsewhere, and from time to time I send some your way. I prefer the perspective of the editors at Popular Resistance, however, and of other sites in open rebellion against the corporate state. The editorial slant of Portside is plain. Jill Stein and the Green Party, for example, do not get the attention given to the corporate candidates, and indeed the members of DSA, CCDS, and some other progressive groups have no coherent commitment to independent political action every day of the year, including election days. 
The Socialist Party likewise deserves honorable mention more often, even in reduced circumstances, if only because it still holds up the torch of (small d) democratic socialism and independent political action. That torch naturally passes to the young, who are making some fateful blunders of their own. Historical lessons tend to be expensive. Truly, just as Marx noted, we make history but rarely as we would wish.
Kshama Sawant's victory in Seattle is a special case, since voters were really voting for 15 bucks an hour, first and foremost. Not for Socialist Alternative as such, and certainly not for their full Trotskyist program. We can be glad to give SAlt and Sawant credit for a significant and independent electoral win.
Like a growing number of voters and citizens, I am committed to independent political action against the big corporate parties, both in class conscious social movements and in electoral efforts. Participating in DSA and CCDS forums would be an exercise in frustration, and not the best use of my time. Others sometimes send me excerpts of those discussions...
I'm well aware that DSA and CCDS trace back to different branches of the left, but this only underscores the actual convergence between some social democrats and some "scientific socialists" in relation to the Democratic Party. 
Independent political action is urgent and also deserves to be partisan and programmatic, outside and against the parties of corporate control. The Green Party is not a party of consistent democratic socialism, but their program is decently social democratic. Electorally, the Greens get my vote in their efforts toward peace, economic democracy, and ecological sanity. Whereas the "representative system" enforced by the ruling class is catastrophically committed to a corporate command economy at home and abroad, and indeed to war and empire. Giving credit where it is due, Sanders helped to open a wider public conversation about democracy and socialism. He also kept his public promise to endorse a candidate with real experience (unlike Trump, a racist nationalist) in the international enforcement of ruling class interests. 
The Democrats and Republicans keep each other in the truly Big Business of war and empire. Resistance means friction against that system, in social movements, in class struggles, and in electoral campaigns. No friction, no traction.
Scott Tucker
Meme from Michael Eisenscher
Sanders conducted an amazing campaign. He has obviously decided it is important to push the DP left and not get lost in the wilderness of third parties in a country that has never supported them. He has said he will continue to campaign for measures in his platform and he will work to get progressives elected at all levels. 
He is an honest man ! He said if he was not the nominee that he would endorse Clinton and he did so with grace and class.  He recognizes that Trump is a huge threat to democracy so he is being constructive. He is a class act and a shrewd strategist in for the long game. He should continue to receive  respect and support. He is not going to undermine Clinton for pragmatic reasons. But as a lifelong   socialist he will remain consistent. You should appreciate him.
Laurel MacDowell
Hillary Clinton made history this week when she was officially named the Democratic party nominee for president. As we head into the final stages of the 2016 presidential race, we want to be sure you've seen The Nation and I.B. Tauris's latest book, Who Is Hillary Clinton? Two Decades of Answers From the Left.A carefully edited anthology of our coverage of Clinton's career featuring essays by writers such as Erica Jong, Katha Pollitt, and Barbara Ehrenreich, it's a fascinating time-lapse depiction of the leading Democratic presidential candidate as seen from the left. A must-read for this election season, Who Is Hillary Clinton is available in paperback and digital formats for tablets, smartphones, and computers.
Our backlist from eBookNation includes 10 other titles.  Join the conversation. Download an e-book or order a paperback today!  And thank you.
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor & Publisher,
The Nation
Based on the liberal record of silence after electing Obama, I challenge Borosage's prority that:
"The first task of his continuing political revolution is to make certain that Trump loses.." How about :the first task is to defeat Hillary/establishment dems in Congress and elect Bernie supporters in their place."
Michael Munk
The great political writer/observer and most wise philosopher, Jim Hightower professes his profound understanding of this most essential topic: namely the real possibility of an authentic grass roots movement for social democracy and beyond. IF YOU STAY INVOLVED and I would add actively engaged.
Larry Aaronson
The D party establishment is using the threat of trump as it's  trump card. I am stuck, voting for Hillary, just because of that. The situation is quite disgusting. I just hope that spirit of Bernie is rubbed into Hillary a little bit at least, And that we don't get the same old republicratic garbage that we've been getting from the Democrats since Bill Clinton.
Judith Ackerman
And the next president definitely will not be Jill Stein, so tread carefully.
Carl Foster
Warren Four Supreme Court Justices. Number of Supreme Court Justices needed to form a majority and agree on a decision? Five. Yikes.
Susan O'Donnell
So true and truly scary with a Trump at the helm.
Mary F. Warren
Leonard Peltier's last hope for freedom! Will POTUS Obama do the right thing? POTUS must be petitioned, appealed to and pressured to do the right thing!
William Proctor
They should have a link to a petition. There are several out there. Here's one.
But don't have any illusions that Obama will do the "right" thing.
Diane Moore
President Obama should pardon Leonard Peltier.
Howard Harawitz
Please Google "Letter from Leonard Peltier" -- the Native American who has been in prison for 41 years. He begins by writing: 
"As the last remaining months of President Obama's term pass by, my anxiety increases. I believe that this President is my last hope for freedom, and I will surely die here if I am not released by January 20, 2017."
Finley Schaef
Could you give us the contact information for this committee? Thanks, 
Mike Liston
Moderator's Note:
The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) is a project of the Indigenous Rights Center.  We are the hub of communication between Leonard Peltier and his program coordinators, the general public, government officials, political and tribal leaders, the media, and his supporters worldwide. We are in daily contact with Leonard who is currently imprisoned at USP Coleman, Florida.
Our contact information is as follows.
Mailing address (for donations, correspondence, merchandise orders):
P.O. Box 24
Hillsboro, OR 97123
c/o Indigenous Rights Center LLC
202 Harvard SE
Albuquerque, NM  87106
All Telephone Inquiries:   (505) 217-3612
What We Do
Our staff and volunteers plan and coordinate an ongoing international freedom campaign to win Leonard's release. Our activities include outreach and networking; local, as well as national and international organizing; public education; media relations; and political lobbying.
We work closely with Leonard's attorneys who, with Leonard, decide on the legal actions to be taken to win his freedom.
The ILPDC also works in solidarity with other political prisoner organizations and those seeking environmental and social justice, advocates for Indigenous and human rights, and the movement for prison reform.
USA Political Prisoners: yes," virgina", they do exist. Gary Tyler, USA political prisoner [ Destrehan, St. Rose, Louisisana; i.e. the New Orleans suburbs, 10 mins from New Orleans Int'l Airport, up River Road, about 3 miles: ] , Freed after he had to say he was/is guilty of manslaughter. Tyler had to lie to get out. He's out now. Hooray; freed 4.29.16. Now it's Leonard's time. Free Leonard Peltier. Still being held and screwed over by the system. Who is in charge of the activist branch of his team? does anybody know?
Maureen Kelleher
Would you like to be able to track the movements of Big Brother around the world? Maybe you don't want to know, but just in case you do, The Surveillance Industry Index (SII) has been created by journalists, activists and researchers together with the a pro-transparency software group, Transparency Toolkit. it tracks the activities of 528 surveillance companies. Where are they located? In authoritarian socialist countries? No, they're in the "free world" capitalist countries!
Thanks to Portside
"The U.S. has been fighting wars -- declared, half-declared, and undeclared -- for almost 15 years and, distant as they are, they've been coming home in all sorts of barely noted ways."
Would you believe over 200 years??
Bob Fearn
Harold Meyerson doesn't seem to get WHY the booing occurred at the Democratic National Convention. Isn't it obvious that it was primarily because the Democratic National Committee had their thumb on the scales? This ostensibly neutral body didn't play fair. Bernie lost but he didn't lose a fair fight. So the delegates were right to boo. (And what precisely is wrong with booing the likes of ex-CIA head Leon Panetta?)
The idea that Hillary Clinton has really moved leftward is silly. Her rhetoric has moved somewhat leftward, at times, in response to the Sanders campaign. Can we really expect that if she wins she'll govern to the left of Obama? The official Democratic Party platform is always ignored by Democratic presidents. And if she's really a born-again progressive, why the constant reach-out to "Republicans for Hillary"? Why pick the awful Tim Kaine as her VP?
Furthermore, Trump may be truly reactionary, but if Clinton really requires the votes of Sanders delegates in order to win, she's already doomed. She's proven herself to be politically tone-deaf, still acting as the consummate insider in the year of the outsider. If she loses it's her own fault.
And no, she didn't win the DP nomination honestly. See report here.
Key paragraph:
"Election Justice USA has established an upper estimate of 184 pledged delegates lost by Senator Bernie Sanders as a consequence of specific irregularities and instances of fraud. Adding these delegates to Senator Sanders' pledged delegate total and subtracting the same number from Hillary Clinton's total would more than erase the 359 pledged delegate gap between the two candidates. EJUSA established the upper estimate through exit polling data, statistical analysis by precinct size, and attention to the details of Democratic proportional awarding of national delegates. Even small changes in vote shares in critical states like Massachusetts and New York could have substantially changed the media narrative surrounding the primaries in ways that would likely have had far reaching consequences for Senator Sanders' campaign."
Jason Schulman
Nearly every commentator noted that Trump's acceptance speech failed to provide any solutions to the problems he mentioned.  Few noted that he also failed to provide any history to these issues, any mention of where they came from.  Instead, they hung out there in mid-air, disembodied, unconnected.  Like the bulbs on a Christmas tree.  Look: blacks killing policemen.  Look there: illegal Latinos running amok.  And there: bad trade deals.
As Trump was speaking, Roger Ailes was forced to resign as President of Fox News.  Publicly the charge was his repeated involvement in sexual harassment at the network.  But this had been going for years.  The misogyny at Fox News both on air and off was something of a legend, all of it condoned by Mr. Ailes.
But perhaps the real reason for Ailes' firing was that he destroyed the Republican Party.  He gleefully orchestrated an incessant pandering to the right wing for 20 years.  It won a steady audience of several million and immense profits.  It also taught that audience that they  were always right -- no matter what they thought, no matter what the facts were, no matter the constraints of reality, political or otherwise.  Fox News opportunistically fanned their anger against the Wall Street bailout, even though it was proposed by the Bush Administration because capitalism was hanging in the balance.  In the process, Fox News disconnected the right wing base from its own leaders and from conservative ideology.  In other words, it made that base ungovernable  -- perhaps the real reason for the gridlock the Republicans have created in Washington.  Thus, we arrive at Donald Trump and his disconnected Christmas tree bulbs.
The occupational hazard of plutocrats is to confuse money with power.  Rupert Murdoch thought he could have his cake and eat it, too.  Roger Ailes gave him huge profits and the power of a king maker.  The other media empires followed suit, substituting news as news (power) for news as entertainment (money).  Years ago, William Paley, the founder of CBS, knew the difference.  He allowed, however reluctantly, Edward R, Murrow to go after Joe McCarthy.  When Walter Cronkite's came out against the Vietnam War,  Lyndon Johnson knew he had "lost the country".   The media barons who decided in the wake of Watergate to more forcefully use their enterprises to assert their class interests (recall Reagan's "Teflon Presidency"), they revealed the growing decadence of their class.  They foolishly gave up power for money and are now confronted with a politically ungovernable internet.
A debate rages over the future of the Democratic Party and support for Hillary Clinton.  I have never been a Clinton supporter, but to ignore the crisis in the Republican Party is to play a fool's game.  A Trump Presidency will be about much more than control of the Supreme Court,  income inequality, or even a return to officially condoned racism.   Having recently studied /Mein Kampf,
/I know something about Hitler.   Donald Trump is no Adolf Hitler.  But the men (sic) he will have to turn to are truly desperate to restore their power.  A Trump Presidency will employ the government's massive surveillance ability to stifle dissent, unleash the police to contain "disorder", use the FCC to constrain the media and the internet, and dangle disconnected light bulbs to remove real issues from democratic discourse.
Robert Supansic
Iceland and Ireland have brought about justice to the banking system ...When will the U.S. take action??
Mark Clay Boyd
Just what we need here!
Maggie M Tobin
one small step for mankind
Jim Price
Thanks. A very informative and critically reflective account and needed critique of Left methodological/analytical flaws.
James Early
"To win, Hillary should be like Bernie" - perhaps you did not watch the convention.  Sanders supporters were put in the back of the hall, signs confiscated, and treated like rubbish.  Our slogan is actually Hell no DNC, We won't vote for Hillary"!  We don't want a neoconservative to ACT like Bernie. we don't want HRC at all
David Makofsky
I am an aba therapist working with autistic children, and this violence against the black therapist really rocked me. It was so easy to imagine how the young man could run out into the road, and how the therapist would go out there to coax him back in and get him out of the dangerous spot. Then, the people charged with serving and protecting come upon them and shoot the therapist with his patient right next to him. Nightmare. Our country is so sick. Here's an update. Kinsey is out of the hospital and limping with a cane. His autistic patient was traumatized and is still in the hospital recovering. 
Patricia Dowling
Cop unions need to be expelled from the labor movement.
David Berger
An interesting use of genome analysis - to study the very first organism - "LUCA"!
Steve Jones
[Here is a letter that we will be presenting to the Japanese Consulate in NYC on FRIDAY, AUGUST 5 at 12 noon, 299 Park Avenue at 48th St.   If you're in NY, please join us!   See action alert here.]
In observance of the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Japan-
We, the undersigned represent a coalition of concerned peace organizations and citizens of the United States who have been involved in advocating the importance of abolishing nuclear weapons and achieving world peace. We are gathering here, in front of the office of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, with a bouquet of flowers expressing our sincere regrets and apologies for the needless deaths of those killed, by our nation's atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki-including all nationalities, races, civilians and prisoners of war-a war crime and crime against humanity, although our government has never apologized. We also wish to extend our deep condolences and apology to those atomic bomb survivors, or Hibakusha, who as a result of the horrific bombings, have endured great mental and physical hardships for such a long time. 
In May, President Obama visited Hiroshima city as the first sitting U.S. President. We were very disappointed to learn that during the visit President Obama spent less than 10 minutes at the Atomic Bomb Museum and 10 minutes with Hibakusha without listening to their experiences nor accepting accountability for the dropping of atomic bombs on cities in Japan. It was also disrespectful to Hibakusha when President Obama described horrific atomic bombings, in his 17-minute-speech, as "death fell from the sky" as if they were natural phenomena. We wish to express our deep regret not only over the longstanding failure of the U.S. government to negotiate an international treaty in good faith for the total elimination of nuclear weapons, but also in electing a U.S. President who continues to push efforts to "modernize" the U.S. nuclear arsenal with its development cost estimated at one trillion dollars over the next thirty years. This despite his acceptance of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, which was given partly in recognition of his "promotion of nuclear nonproliferation". 
On July 17, 1945, Leo Szilard and 155 scientists of the Manhattan Project sent a petition to President Truman opposing the use of atomic bombs on Japan, and urging him to consider moral responsibilities in deciding whether or not to use the atomic bomb. We all must never forget that even scientists who were directly involved in developing atomic bombs could not stop a military decision to use the product of their research against innocent people, which consequently destroyed two cities and killed many innocent non-combatants including women and children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The lesson learned from World War II should be this: No matter how hard it is to accept, persons everywhere are accountable for their actions and have the responsibility and obligation to provide for all children, theirs and others, a peaceful society where they can live in a more humane and safer world without fear of nuclear weapons or war. 
Thus, we in our coalition who appreciate the value of Article 9 in your peace Constitution encourage the Japanese government and lawmakers to respect the fact that the majority of Japanese people want to protect Article 9 which renounces war forever, and will inspire young scientists never to engage in military research. What Article 9 exemplifies for all the nuclear weapon states (including our own U.S.A.) is more powerful and honorable than the possession of nuclear weapons, and more powerful than contributing directly or indirectly to the ravages of war at home and abroad.
Victimized by the use of atomic bombs in war, Japan has also been a victim of the world's worst nuclear power plant accident since Chernobyl, suffering from massive radiation leaks that have spread well into the Pacific Ocean; the evacuation of more than 150,000 people, most of whom haven't yet been able to return home; and a rise in thyroid cancer among children. The use of nuclear technology, whether military or civilian, comes with enormous risks and unthinkable consequences.
Therefore, our coalition calls on Japan to play a more active role in supporting and promoting the Humanitarian Pledge, an international commitment endorsed by 127 non-nuclear weapon states around the world, to fill the legal gap and begin negotiations to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons, just as the world has done for chemical and biological weapons. We appreciate Japan's participation in the Geneva meetings of the UN Open Ended Working Group for Nuclear Disarmament, which has been boycotted by the five NPT nuclear weapons states.  However, we now urge that the Japanese government give its unequivocal support for moving the ban treaty negotiations forward in the Geneva Working Group meetings and support efforts of other non-nuclear weapons states to start negotiations this fall in the General Assembly to prohibit and ban the bomb!
We humbly promise to keep raising our voices to press our own government not to repeat the same mistakes:
Dated: August 5, 2016
Contact info: Veterans For Peace-Chapter 34 (NYC) P.O. Box 8150, New York, NY 10116-8150
Join us as we stand against nuclear weapons on this 71st anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima. On display in the park will be a 20-panel exhibit chronicling the history of the nuclear arms race, historic demonstrations against nuclear weapons, and what can be done to prevent this on-going disaster from becoming a worldwide cataclysm. We will be handing out literature as well.
DATE: Saturday, August 6
TIME: noon to 5 pm
PLACE: Temperance Plaza, Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan
just east of Avenue A and St. Marks Place, in the Lower East Side
For more information, go to:  War Resisters League - New York City
Below is a link to a new book of Letters to the Vietnam Wall Memorial.  This has been a project of the Full Disclosure campaign for an Honest Commemoration of the American War in Vietnam sponsored by Veterans For Peace.  For the last 2 years we have delivered letters by veterans, anti-war activists, and others to the Wall n Memorial Day  These letter are heartfelt, powerful, and still relevant.  So please order your book now and consider contributing to next year's writing campaign.  And tell your friends.  You can stay informed by going to our web site, including a report on this year's activities.
In solidarity,
Howie Machtinger
Paperback, 316 Pages
Letters to The Wall: Memorial Day Events 2015 & 2016
List Price: $15.64
Price: $7.82
You Save: $7.82 ( 50% )
Prints in 3-5 business days
Order here
eBook (ePub)
Price: $3.99
Order here