Skip to main content

Tidbits - June 29, 2017 - Reader Comments: Truckers Strike; Trumpcare Round One; White Workers Against Racism; Workers and Unions; Roseanne Barr; Handmaid's Tale; Radical History; More on the United and Popular Front; AlterNet Hiring; and more....

Reader Comments: Truckers Strike Against "Owner-Operator" Debt and Poverty; Trumpcare Down, But Not Out; Working Class Whites Organize Against Racism; Slavery; Workers and Unions; Roseanne Barr; Handmaid's Tale and Race; Herb March - Untold Working Class and Communist History; Julian Assange; More on the United and Popular Front - Reality, Theory and Relevance for Today; Honduras; CIA Torture; AlterNet is Hiring; and more....

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources and Announcements - June 29, 2017,Portside
Job Announcement:
Just another American form of slave labor. Can you guess which party the trucking company executives vote for?
Ken Hinton
The American corporate slave..... gonna be hell to be paid when they eventually figure it out...
Robert Berkemer
This and minimum wage slave labor are nothing new. Thanks to T-Rump it may only get worse. Heaven forbid anyone managing on slave minimum wages ever gets sick. Get used to the homeless. They're coming to a neighborhood near you. 
Rebecca Hancock
Traitor McConnell just invoked Senate Rule 14, which allows TrumpCare to bypass committee and without debate go straight to a floor vote.
No committee debates and no public hearings, mean that we, and most likely many Senators will know very little about what's actually in the bill when it gets voted on (just like the House).
If McConnell has his way, the bill will be voted on by July 4th, before Congress goes into August recess.
We need to make sure at least 4 Republican Senators are a solid NO vote.
Whip list below!
1. CALL these Republican Senators below if they represent you and pass on to family and friends in these states:
Probably A No Vote
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665
Susan Collins (ME) 202-224-2523
On the Fence
Dean Heller (NV) 202-224-6244
Jeff Flake (AZ) 202-224-4521
Wild Cards
Ted Cruz (TX) 202-224-5922
Mike Lee (UT) 202-224-5444
Rand Paul (KY) 202-224-4343
2. CALL your Senator even if not mentioned above, Democrat and Republican alike. We need to get back to making noise about the AHCA!
Neil Alan Bufler
James West Sr.
Yvette Eva Hirsch
How to fix healthcare... make it universal or allow citizens the same coverage as our politicians... problem solved
Sean Stoltz
Since the 3-4 Repubs who do not currently support this MURDEROUS legislation want even stronger attacks on health care, united we have to find Repubs who are vulnerable to our power. AND we need to make sure ALL Dems grow some ovaries to fight this conscious and deliberate MURDER of us all and our communities using any and all tactics. Stay in the phones and in the streets!
Leanna Noble
Meme from Michael Eisenscher
Insurance is NOT "health care" ! No one goes to an insurance company for tests, diagnosis, treatment. Why does "health care" cost so much? Keep asking "why" and eventually the core will be "government" Laws, Rules, AND Regulations...
Thomas Vichich
According to the article, one of the sources of savings from the change to single-payer is, "Enacting a single-payer system would yield considerable savings overall by lowering administrative costs."
Enacting a single-payer system would yield considerable savings overall by lowering administrative costs
The "administrative costs" savings likely come from ending the pay to those who are now doing that administrative work.  There will -- or should -- be costs associated with their unemployment and other needs (retraining?) until they obtain other employment.
Advocates for reforms, whether in health care, energy systems, the military-industrial complex, the justice system, etc. rarely include the costs of transition for those whose current livelihoods will be adversely affected by the change.
That omission amounts to "cost-dumping," in this case not by corporations or by government but by the reform advocacy; without being accounted for, it presumes dumping of costs onto the disemployed themselves, or their families, or on government programs.
Reform efforts which leave those costs out of their accounting are weakening the moral force which is part of the strength of the reforms they advocate.
Joseph Maizlish,
Los Angeles
California could adopt a Canada style system for $3250 US per citizen. $127 Billion a year for California's 39.2 million people. This would cover GP visits, drugs for the poor and seniors, medically necessary surgeries and interventions. Not eye care or dental. Basically Medicaid without the part B. It would be a game changer for California, just think of all the money currently paid in premiums and higher costs because of the uninsured, poof, gone... I don't think Americans realize how hard they are fleeced. Because they insist on "free market" solutions, which is an oxymoron when it comes to health care. No one is a libertarian with cancer. Ayn Rand gladly became a taker to get cancer meds care of Medicare. Every Republican talking point is sociopathic in nature...
The $200B figure seems suspect. In my jurisdiction of Nova Scotia, an Upper Canadian resource colony for the past 150 years and so much like the south, high rates of obesity, cancer, an aged population - can provide Canadian style healthcare for $4.5 Billion year, for its Million citizens. Our costs are probably among the highest in Canada because of the low population, more than half rural, old, infirm... For $3250 US per citizen. $200B pegs that figure at $5000 US per citizen...
Michael Murphy
Found this rather interesting.  Have never heard of some of these “groups”. Sound to me that trouble is bubbling under the surface and could possibly explode  anytime soon. Then again this could be idle chatter from dissident  opportunists.
William Friesen
In my experience when working class whites flip away from racism, the transformation can be more sincere and complete than when privileged white people talk the talk. Their lives have taught them lessons that apply.
Sonia Collins
Yes, I know that from my personal experiences.
Ted Auerbach
How about we say no to white supremacy?
PJ Tedrick 
Recommended reading for everyone who wants to know more
Nancy Dulberg
Nice that you ran an article on slavery but was bothered by the tone of it which seems to try and minimize the breadth and horrors of it.  Author seems to revel in showing diminished % of slave holders and the number of slaves.
This is appalling--liberalism at its worst!
The author also ignores a major PBS special called Slavery By Another Name that clearly demonstrates that while legal slavery by that name ended, the practice of enslavement did not and still exists today. The article ignores the reality that enslavement just changed forms so that 
Black people were literally kidnapped off the street and put into enslavement in a growing prison system. We see today that prisons are really nothing but holding pens for primarily Black people and other people of color. They became used via government and today private corporations as slave labor. Prisons are designed for profit building of the owners. Their profitability is demonstrated in the fact that about 85% (if not more today) of State prisons are privately owned for profit.  In this system there is no concern for the life of prisoners who are easily replaced. Enslavement also still exists by virtue of the segregated communities, schools, lack access to healthy food, housing, clean environments and jobs which keep people of color trapped in dysfunctional environments.  Those stats are readily available to demonstrate the ongoing inequity and intentional prevention of people of color from advancing in the same way that poor and working class white workers were able to do.
So next time you run an article on such a topic, please ensure that you are doing one that is really a progressive interpretation and a liberal one that actually works to assuage 'white' guilt and actually prevents the very conversation the author portends to support. Maybe you might reach out to Tim Wise for such an article if you need a white voice on the topic.
Tanya Marquette
New Paltz, NY
Belatedly sharing a link related to Juneteenth...
Marilyn Wann
Pray it sweeps the country like a bonfire. Grassroots all the way! We must flush the toilet in Congress, of both major parties.
Edgardo Rivera Sr.
(posting on Portside Labor)
As a white man who has been in those lines and worked next to people of every color and race , they are America , much more than many of the self - righteous hypocrites that would demean them.
Tony Volpe
I'm going to have to order this book.....
"U.S. bosses fight unions with a ferocity that is unmatched in the so-called free world. In the early days of the republic, master craftsmen prosecuted fledgling unions as criminal conspiracies that aimed to block their consolidation of wealth and property. During modern times, corporations threaten the jobs of pro-union workers in over half of all union elections—and follow through on the threat one-third of the time. In between, bosses have resorted to spies and frame-ups, physical violence, court injunctions, private armies of strikebreakers, racist appeals and immigrant exploitation.
"The labor question has never been a genteel debate about power and fairness in America.
"A new book from the University of Illinois Press’ “The Working Class History in American History” series offers a broad survey of how bosses have historically engaged in union-busting. Against Labor: How U.S. Employers Organized to Defeat Union Activism is a collection of scholarly essays edited by Rosemary Feurer and Chad Pearson."
Michelle Walsh
(posting on Portside Labor)
Two-thirds of all state governments are firmly under Republican control, and Portside decided to promote the idea of allowing states to waive the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. Oh sure, what could possibly go wrong with that?! In regards Andy Stern teaming up with someone from the extreme right to promote a neoliberal "innovation" scheme (such as company unions), this is hardly news or "unlikely", except perhaps to Jonathan Rauch. A few years ago Andy was making nice with Newt Gingrich. His class collaborationism became too much even for SEIU, the union Stern previously headed and hardly a beacon of militant class conscious unionism.
Alan Hart
(posting on Portside Labor)
Virginia transit unionizes to take back #healthywork in a right-to-work state.
The National Football League Players Association is to blame.  They strike and Kaepernick is hired in 10 seconds.  This would preserve their ability to speak more freely year round.  They do not want to speak, obviously, nor protect Kaepernick.   The Not For Long (concussion) owners do not believe in free speech, they never did.  Most Not For Long fans do not believe in free speech either.
The leadership of the players' association should be ashamed.
Tim Kearney
Many agricultural states, red, blue, purple, enjoy trade with Castro's Cuba since the last century. This has shaped voting patterns on Capitol Hill. It business, not personal, as the line from the Godfather goes.
Patrick L. Barton
"The study acknowledged a solid base of core support for Israel comprised of Jews, evangelicals, older Americans and the political Right, but noted that college students overall, Jewish college students and minority groups, are populations that Israel is at risk of losing."
Katharina Harlow
As usual, Weiss is peddling the anti-imperialism of fools ("I insist the problem is the Israel lobby"). To quote Joseph Massad: "The United States has had a consistent policy since World War II of fighting all regimes across the Third World who insist on controlling their national resources, whether it be land, oil, or other valuable minerals. This extends from Iran in 1953 to Guatemala in 1954 to the rest of Latin America all the way to present-day Venezuela. What then would have been different in US policy in the Middle East absent Israel and its powerful lobby? The answer in short is: the details and intensity but not the direction, content, or impact of such policies." ("Blaming the Lobby,")
Kevin Lindemann
if the citizens in a lot of countries knew what their governments were giving Israel and what Israel was doing with it they wouldn't have much support.
Danny Cameron
(posting on Portside Culture)
Thanks for this post Portside. Very interesting - the new 2017 version of Roseanne is not the same as what was. Her support for Trump politics, and affinity with what she sees as the "Trump base" that she feels was "ignored by the Clintons and Obamas," is no reason to fall for the trap of Trump. Her attacks on BDS and support for every right-wing twist of Israel and Netanyahu, should have been a warning.
Jay Schaffner
She strikes me as someone who went crazy when she became famous.
John McCarthy
she is echoing the sentiments of many.
Doug Fulton
I never liked her, and never thought she was funny, just mean and rude...
some comedians are abAddamle to make snarky comments, and comedy is essential at times. People like Colbert, Trevor Noah, and my favorite Hasan Minaj. They get the message over without the coarseness of Roseanne.
Sharron Thompson
I am truly saddened by this...I want to write to her, to tell her things about Israel, Palestine; to knock some sense into her!! Wow, this hurts since i loved her so and I always defended her politics. Now, when they mention her, I will hang my head in sorrow. How can I reach out to her?
Linda Crowley
I was always skeptical. Never saw her as a progressive.
Willie Williamson
(posting on Portside Culture)
Good essay and good points.   "Color-blindedness" can be pernicious.  
What might be an optimum balance in a screenplay between a focus that predetermines character solely or exclusively by race and attendant historic trauma and one that completely elides that history? Moira is forced to undergo a repetition of historically sexual, gendered and racial trauma but that is never clearly recognized by the script nor the novel.
Mary Cantoral
When I read the book in 85 , I assumed Gilead had simply killed everyone of colour, people with disabilities, Jews, intellectuals, like the nazis did.
It's an interesting question and I wonder how Ms Atwood would address it, them.
Christine Didur
(posting on Portside Culture)
ALL OF US NEED TO READ THIS SUPRESSED HISTORY!!!! Communism is only a dirty word in the U.S.A Did you know that the largest Communist Party in Europe at one time was in Italy? The U.S.A. once had a vibrant C.P. It was responsible for much of the labor unionization movement!. Read well and learn. May I suggest W.E.B. Du Bois?
OH S##T I'm in trouble now!!!! The fascists will be after me now for sure!
Robert C. Frederick
A series of evolutionary theories claimed to break from the previous one profoundly but all actually reflected the perceived crises of the day?
Chris Lowe
Since it never went to trial I will always consider him guilty of pedophilia. He should have faced a judge if he really was innocent. And I have no respect for anything a pedophile says or does. This is a wasted read.
Carol Lister
Odd to see NYRB's hatchet job on Assange on Portside [The Nihilism of Julian Assange – Sue Halpern (New York Review of Books)]
Michael Munk
[responses to Paul Krehbiel, and responses to the posts that were previously posted in Portside]
Our Friend, 1944 poster by Ben Shahn (1898 - 1969) for the National Citizens Political Action Committee (PAC) an arm of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), urging people to "register and vote." It was published to elect a progressive president and congress in 1944 - specifically to help propel Franklin Roosevelt into an unprecedented 4th term.
Two years later, a photographer noticed a copy still displayed on a NYC storefront

Todd Webb photo, 106th St NY 1946
Michael Munk
The Popular Front was designed in the Soviet Union, not as means towards a revolutionary strategy for socialist transformation, but to block such a possibility. The Stalinist regime was in the midst of consolidating its power in the 1930s. It wanted nothing more than to be left in splendid isolation—to build "socialism in one country." Stalin feared both a defeat of fascism by workers' revolution and by war. Workers' revolution in the "West," particularly in Spain or Germany, might embolden the Russian working class to against the Stalinist party-state. And the Kremlin, acting on that fear, sabotaged those revolutionary challenges at every turn.
The Popular Front was designed to convince the Nazis that unless they sought a separate accord with Stalin, the USSR was prepared to align itself with the West. The Popular Front was, plainly, a counterrevolutionary strategy designed to assist the Stalinist regime in stabilizing its rule. It was self-consciously counterrevolutionary.
Now imagine if the 100,000 members of the CP/YCL had worked towards building a labor party. I suspect we'd have a labor party. But they opposed this because they were supporting FDR.
The Popular Front suited American conditions if your goal is to dissolve American socialism into American liberalism.
As for the smaller groups: the SP failed to grow because it was wracked by factionalism (the Trotskyists didn't help, I admit) and its right wing decamped to FDR's Democratic Party, and the SWP gained little traction in part because its leaders were jailed via the Smith Act and because the CPUSA was so much larger. Same fate for the Workers Party. No Moscow gold for either wing of Trotskyism either. (Plus both groups were, if you were in the CP or in its orbit, "Trotskyite fascist wreckers" who deserved to be beaten -- literally -- out of the labor movement.)
Let's not repeat previous mistakes. Let's not look for "allies" in the capitalist class or its representatives. Let's not do the second-time-as-farce routine.
Jason Schulman
Making a Useable History Out of the Popular and United Front
Paul Krehbiel says, in his response to a reader’s comment on his essay “United and Popular Front: Lessons from 1935-2017,” that many CPUSA leaders, including “the entire top leadership of the party” were “publicly known as Communists,” and that their public notoriety did not save them from persecution. This is a true enough statement. But hidden within this exchange is what I take to be a larger problem with discussions of this kind, one concerning the lost history of the Left in the United States; a loss that unfortunately makes discussions of questions like this one about the history of the United and Popular Front that much harder to conduct. It often seems as if different people are using the same names but talking about different things.
The United and Popular Front was a complex endeavor involving a whole political, social, and cultural world, and not taking all that into account only limits our perspective. But that is only part of the problem. We should also consider the voices we access to tell these histories. Too many writers and scholars treat histories of the left wing movement as if participant voices, especially the voices of those who theorized, created, activated, and lived within these movements (with the exception of a few canonized leaders, or those “canonized” by virtue of apostasy) don’t matter. Related to these two problems is one about class and political alliances as such, a problem that has always been central to working class politics. A useful discussion of this question could benefit from talking, not just about various congresses in Moscow in the 1920s and 1930s, but also about events in Berlin, London, Shanghai, Paris, Havana, New York, and elsewhere, where political parties in the mainstream of the workers’ movement had been focused on these problems since the middle of the nineteenth century. A final problem has to do with legacies. Here Krehbiel offers an admirable starting point. It is a discussion we need badly. We would best be served, however, if, to start with, we faced history as a complex, rather than as some other kind, of phenomenon. 
All this brings me back to “publicly known” Communists and the United and Popular Front. In the fall of 1945, some 135,000 voters in New York City chose two publicly known Communists, Benjamin J. Davis and Peter V. Cacchione, to represent them on the New York City Council, a legislative body. Both served with distinction. Cacchione was first elected in 1941 and died in office in 1947. Davis was first elected in 1943 and would win again in 1947. At a time when most black people were legally banned from voting, Davis was one of the few, and one of the most important, African American political office-holders in the United States. These were the faces of the United Front in New York City in those days. They were part of a broader Popular Front that had already sent at least one local citizen, Vito Marcantonio of the American Labor Party, to Washington to sit in the House of Representatives. In the summer of 1948, as the Presidential election campaign was getting underway, a Federal Grand Jury in Manhattan handed down indictments on criminal conspiracy charges against twelve men. One was a prominent newspaper editor. Another was a local and national trade union official. Another had run for President of the United States on the country’s first mixed-race ticket after leading one of the most significant strikes in U.S. labor history. A couple of them were organizers in the insurgent labor movement in the country’s industrial heartland. Yet another was the leader of a statewide political organization in the Midwest consisting of hundreds of active members. And one sat in the New York City Council. What we must remember about each of these people is that they were well known. Some, like Davis and William Z. Foster, were famous, and their fame was not unrelated to why they were indicted. 
These were the defendants in the Foley Square Smith Act conspiracy trial. The indictments were announced on July 20, 1948, in the week between the close of the Democratic Party convention and the opening of the Progressive Party convention. Part of the government’s intention in indicting these twelve Communist leaders at that precise moment was to disrupt the upcoming election campaign, the United and Popular Front, and the entire alliance policy that went with it. Much critical ink has been spilled about the faults and failures of the United and Popular Front as both movement and policy. However, unless such assessments consider why no less an entity than the United States government thought this movement a successful enough challenge to its prerogatives that the Truman administration (and subsequent administrations) spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars trying to crush it, then it is hard to see the usefulness of such criticism. On the other hand, knowing why our government opposed the United and Popular Front with such vigor will not just clarify this history for us. Krehbiel shows how we can fruitfully engage in such an inquiry. Such knowledge will go a long way toward helping us understand that history’s usefulness for our own time.
Geoffrey Jacques
Today marks the 8th anniversary of the US-backed military coup in Honduras. Since June 28 2009, the post-coup regime has been maintaining a system of oppression and violence reflected in the blatant disregard for human rights that has led to the death of at least 113 environmental activists, including the feminist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, the internal displacement of more than 174,000 people, and the forced migration of thousands more.
Today, as the Honduran regime continues to arm itself with weapons and training provided by the US government, we cannot forget that four out of the six generals officially linked to the orchestration of the coup were trained at the School of the Americas (SOA, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC). They are Generals Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, Luis Prince Suazo, Miguel Angel García and Carlos Cuellar. The leadership of SOA graduates in the coup follows a pattern of anti-democratic actions by graduates of the SOA .
Today we demand justice for Berta Cáceres and the thousands of people assassinated or forcibly displaced as a consequence of the post-coup regime and the US military, economic and political intervention in Honduras. On this anniversary, join Berta's family in calling for the Berta Cáceres Act, HR 1299! Write to your Member of Congress by clicking here. continue with the week of action by engaging with communities that are important to you, to help build awareness about the ongoing violence in Honduras and ensure their support for the Berta Cáceres Act. Begin organizing your faith community, labor union, or other community organization so that they add their name to the list of hundreds of endorsers, big and small, to this important bill.
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
phone: 202-234-3440
iRaq [Abu Ghraib prisoner]
Forkscrew Graphics
Silkscreen, 2004
Los Angeles, CA
Is the Trump administration attempting to erase history? Last Friday, congressional officials confirmed the administration has begun returning to Congress copies of the Senate's explosive 2014 report on CIA torture. The move raises concerns that copies of the classified report will now be buried in Senate vaults or even destroyed-and, along with it, lessons from one of the darkest chapters in America's history. Under the Obama administration, the 6,770-page landmark investigative Senate report was initially sent to federal agencies in hopes it would eventually be made public. Now the reports will be returned to the Republican-controlled Senate. Documents held by Congress are not subjected to laws requiring government records to be eventually made public. Democrats are expressing fear that the Trump administration intends to erase electronic copies and destroy hard copies of the report.   
To read highlights of the report and the current attempt to destroy it go to:   
CSPG's Poster of the Week combines the infamous photograph of a prisoner tortured in Abu Ghraib, the U.S. run prison in Iraq, with the internationally distributed iPod ad.  
Photographs of the torture, abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. military personnel, were first seen by the U.S. public in April 2004. Seymour Hersh, the same journalist who exposed the My Lai Massacre during the Viet Nam war, also exposed the torture of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison.
The Apple ads used dancing silhouettes with white wires against a flat brightly colored background to promote the iPod, a pocket-sized device for playing music files. Artists soon merged the horrific Abu Ghraib hooded man with electric wires hanging from his fingers, with the now iconic iPod ad.  The two earliest and best known versions were Copper Greene from New York and Fork Screw Graphics from Los Angeles, both of whom inserted their anti-war graphics into displays of the real ads, provoking viewers to do a double take when passing by.
This is a very effective form of culture jamming-once someone sees the parody or politicized version, they can rarely see the real advertisement without thinking of the politicized one.
3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 103, Culver City, CA 90230
Instagram: @politicalgraphics
Job description is below. Please send your cover letter and resume to  AlterNet Seeks Experienced Editor Please feel free to circulate! READ MORE»
AlterNet seeks a talented and experienced (2+ years) editor to join our core team and assist in the production of feature-length essays and reported articles for our high-volume operation -- we publish 200 articles a week, about half of them original. The role has a managing editing component to it; we expect you are familiar with the terrain of the contemporary breaking news environment.
We are looking for an editor with existing relationships with freelance writers who fit AlterNet's coverage. Strong knowledge and contacts with other publications is a plus. Also important is being fast and clear with copy, having knowledge about social issues, knowing the personal is often political, and possessing an eclectic progressive worldview.
A deep background on several issues such as human rights, environment /food, culture, social change, consumer issues, and others will be a big asset. The ideal editor has a natural grabby headline writing talent, and backs that up with old school editing skills. This editor needs motivation to generate big audiences with their stories by marrying popular topics with quality content. Overly earnest is not high on the list. There will be some weekend work and the weekly schedule can have some flexibility. Pay depends on experience, but is competitive.
You will work out of our New York Office.
We seek diversity among our editorial staff and are an equal opportunity employer.
Please send your cover letter and resume to It really helps your chances if you think through whether you are actually a good fit for this job, and if you take the time to explain why.