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Tidbits - January 5, 2017 - Reader Comments: Labor Movement, Unions and Trump; North Carolina; Rockettes; Progressives, Neoliberalism and Broadest Fight Possible; Russia; GamerGate; Standing Rock; and more...

Reader Comments: Labor Movement, Unions and Trump; Coal Miner's Heritage; North Carolina; More on the Rockettes; Protests and Social Security; Progressives, Neoliberalism and the Broadest Fight Against Trump-readers exchange; Vietnam War;

Tidbits - Reader Comments and Announcements - January 5, 2017,Portside
I know and respect Peter Olney and, as always, he provides thoughtful political analysis in his article.  But I am very dismayed by his failure to include in his election analysis the issue of race, specifically why so many white Trump voters responded so enthusiastically to Trump'e openly racist and mysogonist appeals and policy prescriptions (e.g., the ethnic cleansing of millions of undocumented Mexicanos and Latinos).  The final paragraph of Olney's article calls on the working class to make sacrifices to defend immigrants, Muslims, and people of color.  But the rest of his article virtually ignores this very important issue and thus reduces the tasks he articulates for the labor movement to relatively narrow trade unionism, what we on the left used to refer to as economism.  I find it unfortunate that so many of white leftists and progressives seem unwilling or unable to grasp the deeply racist current that seemed to motivate so many white Trump voters including working class whites.  Unless we get this straight any strategy we pursue will be deeply flawed.
In Solidarity,
Bill Gallegos
Los Angeles, California
I am not on board with this. The decline in union representation was bad but union households went slightly for Trump. The AFLCIO pull lists had many Trump supporters.
Daniel Millstone
...think you are wrong on this--in days gone by unions were capable of blocking in many of the parts of the country that went Trump. just on say so--yes, perhaps the remaining union folk went for Trump, but unionization in this country is now below 6%, and 51% (or 70%) of 6.6% is not a lot of votes. I hesitate to say that anything specific did this, more of a perfect storm to me.
Tim Brown
Let's not romanticize white workers. But the bottom line is that unions are no longer able to reach such workers to challenge these values. In the absence of unions, disaffected and marginalized workers are increasingly susceptible to racism and xenophobia.
The rise of Trumpism would not have been possible without the dismantling of the labor movement that preceded it. Unions are among the few organizations with the institutional means to transmit progressive values to workers, and workers view political socialization by unions as legitimate because they defend their interests at work.
Business unionism instead of political, militant, ranknfile unionism meant/mean workers dis-armed of tools for self-education, analysis, strategies and organization to protect ALL workers as a class and build effective fightback against ever present onslaught of capital.
Leanna Noble
(posting on Portside Labor)
"The loss of that radical core has brought us to accepting a lump of coal as the best we can do. The loss of the radical part of the labor movement has allowed the exchange of lives for profit to continue."
Beth Emma Goldman
Our grandfather was one of them. Whenever I see a Frick museum, I think there should be a plaque for all those who died to make his fortune possible
Sonia Collins
Thanks to Portside for sharing this. 
History Museum
Mt. Olive, Illinois
Each appointee is opposed to the agency or department s(he) is charged with leading: is there method in this apparent madness?
Gerald Hudson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page
Nor "cruel and baffling" but "expected and ghastly"!
Brad Smith
Republicans show how their replacement for Obamacare is just around the corner
Tom Toles
January 4, 2017
"There would have been no labor movement without a social gospel underpinning. There would have been no abolition movement without William Lloyd Garrison and other people of deep faith. Without strong voices from the social gospel movement, there may have never been a New Deal. There would have been no Civil Rights Movement without the moral framework underneath the Civil Rights Movement. There would not have been a critique on poverty and unchecked capitalism, labor rights, healthcare, criminal justice reform, climate change, and raising the minimum wage, without a moral premise underneath it. Moral framing allows us to change the language."
Jane Audette
Notice the title here is not a rhetorical question. It is a didactic statement "We Are Witnessing the Birth Pangs of a Third Reconstruction"
Post Civil War, Black Republic Reconstruction was the only time in all of American history that a truly racial fusion politic emerged in these reunited states. This was the only time that there was a genuine modicum of so called social democracy in the reconstituted democratic republic of the re-United States of America.
Unfortunately this only directly effected the rebellious states of the former Confederacy. All that having been said, after the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments 800,000 Black men voted in the 1868 election to put the radical general Ulysses S. Grant into the White House. They also elected 20 Black congressmen and two US Senators and hundreds, if not thousands, of Black state legislators.
These Radical Republicans of the race fusion party established the first public school system in the whole of the South, paid for largely by the property taxes of former slave holders. Think of this. From 1810 to 1860 the planters of King Cotton were the richest capitalists in all of America. Now their former property (Black labor) were enfranchised and taxing them to pay for the education of all the children of the South (Black and poor white collectively!). They wrote state laws that decriminalized debt, vagrancy, homelessness, thus abolishing the heinous Black Codes. They began the reconstruction of the war torn Confederacy and established a whole new infrastructure: rail roads, country roads, harbors, bridges , etc. They created welfare programs for the poorest. They supported the federal Freedom Bureau.
The was a violent backlash: State sanctioned terrorism: lynching, burnings, mass displacement of share croppers and tenant farmers. A state prison system that was slavery by a new name!
This article reminds of the historical lessons of this tragic reversal.To Wit:
But inside this long, sad tale about America lies a roadmap for today. We must begin to think in terms of a Third Reconstruction. I believe the turmoil we are witnessing around us today is in fact the birth pangs of a Third Reconstruction.
The demographics are changing in the South and in the country. We know that if you just register 30 percent of the unregistered black voters in the South and you get them to vote along with progressive whites and Latinos, the South is no longer solid. We saw that with the breaking through of President Obama in 2008. It wasn't about President Obama; it was the expanded electorate that broke through in North Carolina and Florida and Virginia. That was the first sign of an idea whose time has come.
When Obama broke through in North Carolina in 2008, we witnessed firsthand the whitelash that America is reeling from right now. Some folks are saying we'll have to wait and see what a Trump administration decides to do. But we've already seen it in North Carolina. The blueprint for what it looks like to "take back America" in the 21st century was laid out in the extremist makeover of North Carolina's government during the 2013 legislative session. What's the policy agenda of Make America Great Again? I can tell you because we've seen it:
Give tax breaks to corporations and to the wealthy, attack public education, deny people access to health care, attack immigrants, attack the LGBTQ community in the name of "religious liberty," strip environmental protections, and, finally, make it easier to get a gun than it is to vote.
But just as there's been a Moral Movement in every era to raise a moral dissent against extremism, we've seen in North Carolina what a 21st century Moral Fusion Movement can look like. According to Public Policy Polling's analysis, "Moral Mondays" laid the groundwork for the only successful resistance to the "Trump-effect" on down ballot races in the 2016 election. As such, PPP Director Tom Jensen argues, this movement offers lessons for resistance to a Trump administration.
What have we learned?
Larry Aaronson
This is an important essay on African American History.
Very nice piece. What America should be about. I would only add that all these pipelines conveying ultra carbon intensive oil from tar sands and shale formations must be stopped if we are to avoid climate genocide.
Theodroe Kraig
Radio City Music Hall and James Nolan are pretty mad at Marie Claire magazine for disclosing the conversation between the dancers and Dolan, who owns the dancers, Radio City, Madison Square Garden, the Knicks, the Rangers....
Rockette Management Tells Dancers to "Tolerate Intolerance"
In the wake of more inauguration backlash, Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan calls a meeting with the Rockettes to make his stance clear.
By Kaitlin Menza
January 3, 2017
Read full story here.
Fred Niles
Holy shit!
Mimi Haberfeld
Curtis Muhammad
I think this title and article are misleading. First of all, is this the normal policy of Social Security to suspended payments if you are in jail or not? More than seniors receive Social Security. The violation here seems to be on the part of the Canadian government rather than the US government. This SS document on the website has been in place for quite some time and indicates that, regardless of the reason why you are jailed, you don't receive SS benefits during that time though your family may still.
Cecelia Hobbs Gardner
Many people are being held in prison, before their trial - they have not been found guilty by the juridical system, yet it seems there is a problem in their receiving Social Security and Disability benefits.
Jay Schaffner
I understand but these are the Social Security rules and they are not targeted at these specific people though the rules do, potentially and unfortunately , work against innocent and guilty people equally as they often do in this country. You have to prove your innocence before having income reinstated. I just disagree with the slant of this. I am no government ally or flagrant supporter but I think we should respect the facts
Cecelia Hobbs Gardner
Great idea to start a socialist Sunday school! Congratulations, Hae-Lin Choi, and thank you for the interview, Maxine Phillips. When I studied the socialist movement at the turn of the century, I notice that Sunday schools like this were really important for building community and getting women to participate.
Meredith Tax
An incisive analysis.
Michael Atheneos
Great example of historical thinking, seeing the present as a product of history.
You think Neoliberalism and being progressive are one and the same? Think again!
William Proctor
Neoliberalism & progressive are 2 different things.... They don't mix well.
Tom Caves
Thank you for the piece, The End of Progressive Neoliberalism by Nancy Fraser from Dissent. I wondered how folks such as the writer justified the position of not organizing all available forces to defeat Trump. It is good that she came out of the closet. I think she represents many. I have been looking for someone to speak up from this perspective (not my own).
From her essay she seems to consider the contamination of our politics by the Clinton, neoliberal machine as a greater danger than the potential victory by Trump and his neoliberal proto fascists.
I have some issues of dissent from this piece. There is a left in the US.  Weak, yes, but it exists. For example the CCDS says of the election, 
"The movement for justice and progress in the U.S. has suffered a great setback. And the depth of the reactionary movement that led to this setback was underestimated by most on the left. It's necessary to reflect on what it has taught us and about our shortcomings but it's also vital to assess our strength to meet this great challenge."  
I think they are referring to the Fraser position when they say,
"And the depth of the reactionary movement that led to this setback was underestimated by most on the left."
Democratic Socialists of America's position is here.
There were a good number of socialists (not liberals) who worked night and day to defeat Trump including myself. Most did so on some form of this perspective.
While she makes good points in criticizing liberals (she calls them progressive neoliberalism), I encourage her and her allies to continue to explain their own views.
I will use data from California  in response since I know the data from here more than national data. The Trump election is most likely going to eliminate health care for some 2-4 million children, in particular the children of the undocumented. Some 2-4 million workers (immigrants) now face deportation. At least 40 % of these are parents of U.S. citizen children. Some 1-2 million US citizen children will have one or both of their parents deported while the child is left behind in the US.
These and other potential consequences are described here.
In addition we should consider the potential threat to the environment, to global warming, to labor unions, and of course to war - among other issues .
Please go further to explain the position that working to defeat Trump was a liberal position, not that of a real left.  As an activist in a socialist organization, and an activist on immigrant rights for over 30 years, I have difficulty understanding this perspective. 
Duane Campbell, 
Thoughtful, and it doesn't even mention Pres Obama signing into the creation of a national anti-propaganda center on the crest of the "outside interference" wave. From Tuesday's Democracy Now:
"President Obama on Friday signed the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, providing nearly $619 billion for war and military spending. The measure passed both houses of Congress with a veto-proof majority and will bring troops a modest pay raise while increasing the number of active-duty soldiers to more than 1.3 million. The NDAA also restricts transfers from the Guantánamo Bay detention center, guaranteeing that Obama will leave office without fulfilling his pledge to close the prison. Meanwhile, press freedom advocates are raising alarm over a little-known bill rolled into the NDAA, which will create a national anti-propaganda center. Under the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, the State Department will actively work to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests."
Bill Mazza
I'm not certain that Putin did everything he is accused of. But I know that he is an authoritarian nationalist interested in restoring the Russian empire. I know that he has persecuted minority groups. I know that he was involved in a war as uncaring of civilian lives as Bush was. How can anyone on the left defend him in any way? Just because US imperialism is wrong that doesn't make Russian imperialism good. A curse on them all, fascists, rich men and imperialists
Euan Johnston
Thank you Norman Solomon!
Anthony Holdsworth
Vladimir banned gmo's from Russia and appears to sincerely care about the health of his people. I do know that I don't really know what is going on around the world, so I keep my mouth shut about Mother Russia.
Alexandra Vekich
Putin gets no pass from me...
If we are internationalists and we expect to have the fullest understanding as to what it will require to get our country's leaders to move in a certain direction, we'd better pay attention to pressures coming from outside the country. 7/8th of the federal budget is directed at foreign policy so it is relevant. I have a long view understanding of Putin, where he comes from, and what he is capable of. If we have someone in the white house that is willing to appease him then I consider it very relevant, since our livelihoods are interwoven with global affairs, so are those of dockers and seafarers globally. It helps us make better choices as to how we respond when we have the full view.
John Persak
Look, I'm no fan of Vlad, but hey!
Folks can spend all the time they want bad-mouthing Putin, but to what end?
No foreign leader, and that includes Putin, is responsible for NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA, KORUS, and all the other job-killing acts of Congress. None of them can be blamed for our health system that rations care to the poor, is dysfunctional, fragmented, and overpriced. Not one foreigner shipped our jobs offshore. Zero of them used the courts and corporate-friendly lawmakers to renege on promised pensions. Aliens cannot be blamed for 1/3 of our nation's children living in poverty. The list is long...
But hey, politicians here are so forthright and magnanimous so why waste time cleaning up our side of the street when it is already clean, right?
Yup, and pigs fly.
Just as during the presidential campaign, people are being distracted by rumors that, if proven true, won't return one job to the US, or cure the ailing, of provide security in retirement, or feed hungry children.
Why in the hell are some people arguing within the parameters set by "them"?. Kick out the jambs! Let's start talking about what WE must do to heal our troubled country.
Richard Austin
Matt Taibbi looks at the shoddy journalism deployed in the Russian-hacker story.
John Woodford
When the Russian hacking story first came out, my mind flashed back 2-3-4 years to the time when Chinese hacking dominated the news.  After a month or so of really terrible stories about China, NSA announced a cyber-warfare campaign against that country, and all of the finger waving at China ceased.  Aha, I said, now I understand the point of the media campaign: NSA wanted start hacking the Chinese and didn't want the news to come out in an investigative report with negative implications.
When the Russian hacking story broke this year, my first thought was that I've seen this movie before.  Of course, this time the story didn't go away, but got all tied up in the presidential campaign.  Thus I've tended to feel that the original Russia stories had the effect of stirring up much more sh-- than was intended and, once you jump into the slime, it's hard to jump out again.
Thus I've always been skeptical of these stories.  The Rolling Stone article is a summary of the evidence.
Dave Richardson
He's not going to be able to survive 4 years of these political cartoons.
Sherry Wood
Why is Portside forwarding articles by Sam Biddle, who is known for his gamer bullying and explicitly asking that bullying be brought back.? Generally I love the articles from Portside, which are written by thoughtful people who are committed to the values that we share. However, Sam Biddle does not share our values.
Julie Salwen
Moderator's Note:
GamerGate is about women who criticized the gaming industry for the bad treatment women characters have gotten in video games. Some of those women have been subjected to incredible amounts of bullying. The bullying has come from lots of (male) video game fans. It sounds like Biddle is calling for the shaming of the bullies. If that's what he's saying, he's right, even if he's not being tactful.
Here is some coverage of Biddle's role in the GamerGate discussion. It is clear that he is, in fact, mocking the bullies who are posing as victims.
First time I ever heard about this amazing man or his amazing story.
Laurie Sheridan
The police chief committing the war crime in the infamous photo was called "laughing Larry" Loan. Later he was wounded and sent to a hospital in Australia where protests got him transferred and welcomed to Walter Reed. There were protests there too but no effort by US authorities to try or deport him. With the Vietnamese victory in the war he escaped with his family in a plane and was again welcomed back in the US. He ran a pizza parlor in suburban Washington DC until his death in 1998.
Another notorious war criminal granted safety in the US.
Mike Munk
"We wanted our country to be what we had been taught to believe that it was."
Although the author of this essay has tried to make america a better country he failed to make clear the fact that america has killed more innocent people and overthrown more democracies since WW2 than any other country, by far.
Bob Fearn
This is the plan for American schools too.
Helen Stein
This weekend activists dropped a giant banner at an NFL football game calling on US Bank to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Thousands of protesters joined the Rose Bowl Parade to call attention to the issue. These actions remind us that the struggle at Standing Rock is not over. January 10 is a national day of action calling on banks to pull their funds from this pipeline. We need you to add your signature to the petition today so it can be counted
Judith Le Blanc, Native Organizers Alliance
 * * * * * * * * * 
Less than two weeks ago we won a historic victory for tribal sovereignty. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Oceti Sakowin elders and headsmen, the International Indigenous Youth Council, and other water protectors defeated the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The company behind the pipeline -- Energy Transfer Partners -- and President-elect Donald Trump have pledged to start the project up again if they can. Once again, we can stop them.
The pipeline can't continue without the financial support of a number of big banks. We -- as customers and account holders -- can pressure the banks financing the project to take a stand.
The pipeline threatens the water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of people downstream on the Missouri river. It's also a violation of Native sovereignty. Already irreplaceable sacred sites have been destroyed.
The peaceful resistance of water protectors captured the imagination of the world. The prayer camp at Standing Rock became the front line of the fight to protect Mother Earth. Attack dogs and water cannons could not defeat us.
Help ensure that our victory at Standing Rock holds. Let's end the Dakota Access Pipeline for good.
Judith Le Blanc (Caddo), Native Organizers Alliance
LeeAnn Hall, People's Action Institute
People's Action Institute offers new vision and bold leadership to solve the triple crisis of growing inequality, systemic racism and a planet in peril.
810 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL 60642
Time Magazine - January 26, 1959
A teleconference sponsored by the Peace and Solidarity Committee Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).
CCDS is hosting a teleconference exploring the significance of the life's work of Fidel Castro on
Monday, January 30, 2017, 9-10:30 p.m. EST (in the Midwest the program begins at 8 p.m. and the West Coast at 6  p.m).
Art Heitzer and Otis Cunningham will make presentations followed by discussion, sharing of experiences, and questions.
Art Heitzer has practiced civil rights and employment law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, since 1975. He has chaired the National Lawyers Guild Subcommittee on Cuba for over a decade, He has worked to defend victims of laws prohibiting travel to Cuba, organized solidarity around the work of Pastors for Peace and, in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, has written about the blockade of Cuba.
Otis Cunningham has been a Pan-Africanist and an Anti-Colonial, anti-Apartheid activist since the 1960s. He was on the National Committee of the Venceremos Brigade from 1985 to 2000 and continues to work on Cuba Solidarity. He has written and researched on race in Cuba.
The panel discussion will be chaired by Pat Fry, long-time Cuba Solidarity activist and a former co-chair of CCDS.
Everyone is invited to attend via Webex or calling in. Information about connecting with Webex and a call-in number will be available by January 25, 2017.
For further information contact Art Heitzer ( or Harry Targ at (
Save the date and information for connecting to the conference will be issued later.
Regret to inform our readers that there will be no Friday Nite Videos this week and next week - Jan. 6 and Jan. 13
Friday Nite Videos will return Jan. 20, 2017 - Think all of us will need the videos especially on that day.