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Tidbits - Dec. 6, 2018 - Reader Comments: George H.W. Bush 'Legacy'; Midterm elections; Migrant Caravan; Sex, families, socialism; Political Culture of Fascism; Books for Children; Heather Booth film; Announcements; more...

Reader Comments: George H.W. Bush's Ignored Legacy; Midterm election analysis; New York's two-tier minimum wage; Migrant Caravan; Sex, families, socialism; Political Culture of Fascism; Books for Children; Heather Booth film; Announcements; more...

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources and Announcements - Dec. 6, 2018,Portside

Re: The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush (Lawrence Reichard; William Friesen; Wayne Gravelle; Michael Airton; Dan Jordan; Tom Caves; Raymond Guy LaFauci; Patricia Perlo; Lee Sorenson; Association of Concerned Guyanese USA; Kris Sarabjit)
Re: Class Prejudice and the Democrats’ Blue Wave? (Sonia Collins)
Re: Midterm America - A Blue Wave From Another Universe (Harriet Fraad)
Re: Billionaire Republican Donors Helped Elect Rising Centrist Democrats (Alan Barnes; Dave Lott; Howie Leveton; Lisa Bilander-Gray; Alan Hart; Cary Berkelhamer)
Re: It’s Too Easy for the Ultra-Rich to Pass Down Wealth. Here’s How to Fix That (Tim McCallum)
Re: For Low-Wage Workers Fight For 15 Movement Has Been a Boon (Laura Owen)
Re: 'They Are Not Closing Our Damn Plant': Union Vows Fight as GM Plans Oshawa Closing (Aida Rivera; Judy Atkins)
Caravan  --  cartoon by Rob Rogers
Re: “It Is Not a Natural Disaster”: Dana Frank on How U.S.-Backed Coup in Honduras Fueled Migrant Crisis (Melissa Estes; Simon Shepherd)
Re: 'Progressives of the World to Unite': Sanders-Varoufakis Call for New Global Movement (Roberta Histed)
Donald Trump and the War on Drugs (and other things) - a poem by ‎David Eberhardt
Re: No Scrubs (Michael Munk)
Re: For Richer, For Poorer: Re-Imagining and Reclaiming the Family for the Left (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Re: ‘From The River To The Sea’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means (Stan Nadel)
Why I Recommend Portside (Hollis Stewart)
Thanks (Jose-Manuel Navarro) 


The Political Culture of Fascism - Jairus Banaji (South Asia Citizens Web)
Books for Children - Joelito’s Big Decision/ La Gran Decisión de Joelito (Ann Berlak)
50% off all Haymarket Books for the holidays!


Three PBS screenings of "Heather Booth: Changing the World" in New York and New Jersey - December 11 and 19
NAFTA 2.0: Fix it or Nix it - Expert Webinar on Dec 13 (Global Exchange)
Last Call for Mental Health Tour to Cuba! - February 24 - March 3


Re: The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush

Greetings.  Your piece on George H.W. Bush was good, but you omitted a couple of things.  One is the invasion of Panama.  The official U.S. body count was, I think, less than 100, but some observers put it as high as one or two thousand.  In any event, some Panamanian victims were bulldozed into mass, unmarked graves, and it seems the neighborhood of El Chorillo was specifically targeted because its residents were poor and working-class supporters of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega.

El Chorillo was of no military consequence, and as such its targeting constituted a war crime.

The justification of the attack on Panama was that Noriega was involved in drug trafficking, but this doesn't stand up.  The U.S. itself was involved in drug trafficking, perhaps in cahoots with Noriega himself.  This was done to fund the contra war in Nicaragua, as was revealed in the heroic reporting of Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News.

So, what was the real reason for the invasion of Panama, which killed many Panamanian civilians?  It is known that at least one high-level Bush aide - I believe it was Forest Gregg (sp?) - met with Noriega sometime before the invasion, presumably to talk about Panamanian cooperation with the war on Nicaragua - a cooperation that Noriega eventually ended.  This is pure speculation, but I think Bush invaded Panama because Noriega had evidence of Bush involvement in drug trafficking and or illegal involvement in the contra war on Nicaragua.  It's important to remember that the Iran-contra scandal led to indictment and conviction of high-level Reagan administration officials, and for a while it looked like that crisis might even bring down the Reagan presidency - in other words it was very serious stuff.

There's also the question of Bush's possible involvement in an alleged agreement between the 1980 Reagan campaign and the government of Iran to hold Iran's 52 U.S. hostages until after the 1980 election, presumably in exchange for the arms that were in fact sent to Iran, a presumed mortal enemy of the U.S., after Reagan took office. During the 1980 campaign, polls showed that Jimmy Carter would have won the election if the hostages had been released.

According to Reagan campaign official Barbara Honegger, in the fall of 1980, right in the final, post-Labor Day run-up to the general election, Republican vice-presidential nominee George Bush made no campaign appearances for four days.  Needless to say, this is unheard of, and speculation is that Bush went to Europe to meet with Iranians to work on the deal.

Thanks again for your piece.

Lawrence Reichard
Belfast, Maine

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This interesting.  By no means was I privy to the information mentioned here. However in the circles of intelligence a lot of this was being passed around.  Not sure why I am so enthralled with this stuff.?

William Friesen


Inappropriate to trash the dead.

Wayne Gravelle
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Far more inappropriate to sit back and let a false heroic narrative be created about a historical figure. That's how the facts get twisted and how the mistakes of history become ignored and thus repeated later, all in the name of arbitrarily-imposed mourning periods.

Michael Airton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Not trashing, just keeping reality alive.

Dan Jordan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Tom Caves
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Don't leave out banking (S&L) fraud, money laundering. To his credit, he was a much better actor than Reagan.

Raymond Guy LaFauci
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Everybody is elevating a warmongering racist. He was in Dallas when JFK was assassinated. He doesn't deserve a tribute; what he needed was a trial for war crimes at the Hague. And exactly what was he doing with JFK.

Patricia Perlo
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Two things left out of this summary...first is that Bush Sr. was possibly the only American who didn't remember where he was when Kennedy was killed...(yes, it turned out to be Dallas)...the second is that he is believed to have met with Iranians in Paris where they agreed to continue holding the US hostages until after Reagan was elected. The October Surprise.

Lee Sorenson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


“When a political leader dies, it is irresponsible in the extreme to demand that only praise be permitted but not criticisms,” it leads to “false history and a propagandistic whitewashing of bad acts.” The inconvenient truth is that the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush had far more in common with the recognizably belligerent, corrupt and right-wing Republican figures who came after him — his son George W. and the current orange-faced incumbent — than much of the political and media classes might have you believe.

Association of Concerned Guyanese USA
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Lots of praises coming from the "liberal" media.

Kris Sarabjit
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Class Prejudice and the Democrats’ Blue Wave?

It is an easy dead end to glibly dismiss Trump voters as racist, which also implies stupid, and turn our backs on them., I think it would be better to listen to everyone and to concentrate on those districts that were "Obama-Trump” districts because they went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016." It's very complicated, but not hopeless, especially if there are real benefits like Medicare for All and free college.

Sonia Collins
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Midterm America - A Blue Wave From Another Universe

It was not mentioned that the votes from  5 counties in the Mississippi Delta, the poorest most African American areas were not counted. Nor was it mentioned that the polling places are mostly in white areas where African Americans rightly feel unsafe. This information was gleaned from 2 Mississippi colleagues, one white, one African American. Democracy?

Harriet Fraad


Re: Billionaire Republican Donors Helped Elect Rising Centrist Democrats

“... in the era of unlimited campaign giving, the organization has provided a backdoor way for Republican donors to shape control of the Democrats, even when the GOP is defeated at the ballot box.”

Alan Barnes
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Now, the billionaire GOP donor has pivoted to influence the future of the Democratic Party. Records show Bacon is one of several deep-pocketed donors that have shifted to financing recent Democratic campaigns. Though national media attention has focused largely on newly elected democratic socialists and progressive members, the House Democratic caucus has also swelled with pro-business moderates, such as the Blue Dogs, the Problem Solvers Caucus, and the New Democrats.

Dave Lott
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


This is why 100 million voters stayed home in 2016!

Howie Leveton
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


We see how staying home worked out. Elections are the the task is to hold these folks, including my own congressman, accountable for advancing a progressive agenda. Hold Town Halls, phone calls, meetings, picketing. Keep up the pressure and let them know what we want.

Lisa Bilander-Gray
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Republicans in all but name.

Alan Hart
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Corporate Dems, Are funded by the same forces that fund the GOP. Just because they have a D by their name. That doesn't mean they're going to help ANY workers. EVERY DINO MUST BE PRIMARIED!!!

Cary Berkelhamer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: It’s Too Easy for the Ultra-Rich to Pass Down Wealth. Here’s How to Fix That

Don't be ridiculous. if it were that simple then by now the tax code should be three words. 30% for everyone... done.

Tim McCallum
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: For Low-Wage Workers Fight For 15 Movement Has Been a Boon

(posting on Portside Labor)

The minimum wage in Nassau county is 11$ per hour! That’s insane! Where I live is called the “Gold Coast”! Gold for some but not for most ! Disgusting and disgraceful!

Laura Owen
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: 'They Are Not Closing Our Damn Plant': Union Vows Fight as GM Plans Oshawa Closing

And what can you really do?

Aida Rivera
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


There is plenty you can do. If you are willing to go up against big corporations. It's so discouraging when the Premier of Ontario says right away there's nothing he can do! How about (step one) support the union in their struggle to keep the plant open?

Judy Atkins
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Caravan  --  cartoon by Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers
October 26, 2018


Re: “It Is Not a Natural Disaster”: Dana Frank on How U.S.-Backed Coup in Honduras Fueled Migrant Crisis

The U.S. government interfered in Latin American countries’ governments, installing regimes favorable to U.S. corporations. The governments were de facto corrupt. Then they abrogated their responsibilities to their citizens so their societies degenerated into lawless gang extortion and violence. Yes. We did this.

Melissa Estes
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


A good read by investigative reporter Naomi Klein “The shock doctrine” backs this statement

Simon Shepherd
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: 'Progressives of the World to Unite': Sanders-Varoufakis Call for New Global Movement

The income gap has been steadily widening along with the erosion of democracy. Those who love the power that the present system gives them will loudly scream “socialism” or “communism” and we are supposed to recall the terror of Russian oligarchy dictatorship as proof that caring for the less advantaged is the road to ruin. The power-loving ones that have been steadily working to turn us against one another are very worried about people uniting to support each other. They want us jealous and suspicious and ready to commit mayhem in search of the crumbs thrown by the powerful. Thus they have turned “socialism” and “communism” into four letter words and worked diligently on our fears. How much longer are we going to give them the satisfaction of controlling us?

Roberta Histed
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Donald Trump and the War on Drugs (and other things) - a poem by ‎David Eberhardt

Lately watching the National Geographic channel- I am (of all things) identifying with Peruvian or Thai drug enforcement officers- why?

Here is the result of your test:
The liquid on the powder turned orange-
Indicating meth and orange hair!

trump clearly an addict to deception and greed!
Hiding, disposing of evidence..
The Jorge Chavez airport in Lima.

A flight scheduled to Amsterdam then Bangkok
Reveals a nervous passenger- trump
Weapons, a back pack, wrapped in plastic!

Drug dogs react to the orange liquid
As republicans- say: "not my suitcase-
I want to join the authorities coordinating!

I see us in the peace movement
As law enforcement U N does not do!
trump has ingested balloons that may kill him!

‎David Eberhardt
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: No Scrubs

From Kristen Ghodsee's interview with Jacobin:

"if a man is heterosexual and he wants to be in a relationship with a woman, it’s not that easy to get a woman by providing her economic security she doesn’t have, or buying her something that she needs. He has to be kind, thoughtful, attractive in other ways. And it turns out that when men have to be “interesting” in order to attract women, they are. They actually end up being better men. It’s not that difficult a concept. I don’t know why people are so shocked by this. "


"One of the most positive features of state socialism, Ghodsee argues, is that it gave women economic independence from men. In the former Soviet countries, women may not have been able to take part in free elections or find a diversity of consumer goods, but they were guaranteed public education, jobs, housing, health care, maternity leave, child allowances, child care, and more. Not only did this arrangement liberate women *and men alike* from the anxieties and pressures of sink-or-swim capitalism; it also meant that women were much less likely to rely on male partners for the fulfillment of basic needs. This in turn meant that* heterosexual women’s romantic relationships with men were more optional, less constrained by economic considerations, and often more egalitarian.* As Ghodsee writes in her book:"

When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state...   Read the rest here.

Michael Munk


Re: For Richer, For Poorer: Re-Imagining and Reclaiming the Family for the Left

Read "In Woman's Defense," by Mary Inman, published in 1941 as a collection of articles in the CPUSA's West Coast paper, and later in book form. She touches on all these arguments in a way that set off quite a controversy within the CP that echoed for years.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: ‘From The River To The Sea’ Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

This article by Nassar is both disingenuous and dishonest.  It is disingenuous because the phrase has in fact always meant exactly what Nassar denies--the total elimination of Israel and its Jewish population (sometimes with an insignificant exemption for Jews who lived there before 1917). Not only Hamas, but also the PA leadership have frequently declared that they will not allow Jews in their Palestinian state. 

As for Nassar's pseudo history, it was the Arab High Command that declared in 1948 that they would "drive the Jews into the sea" and perpetrate a historic massacre--that was what "from the river to the sea" meant then and it still means that. This attempt to whitewash the genocidal intent behind the phrase is beneath contempt and any leftists who buy into this are as deluded or self deluded as their predecessors who believed that Stalin's Soviet Union was a worker's paradise.

Stan Nadel


Why I Recommend Portside

Portside covers both the domestic stories of importance to the organizing of the working peoples but also the international side. Too many leftists have been intimidated by the war on terrorism, accepting it as necessary, and backed away from supporting self determination and the national liberation struggles across the globe as though the US has the right to determine who is capitalists to support versus terrorists. It is time we rise up again to support the movement for liberation and stop letting people like Trump and Pence speak for us.

Hollis Stewart
Posted on Portside's Facebook page



Thanks for the your continued excellent and provocative reporting.

Jose-Manuel Navarro


The Political Culture of Fascism

by Jairus Banaji

September 2, 2002
South Asia Citizens Web

[Talk delivered at a Gujarat Seminar organized by the Vikas Adhyan Kendra in Bombay, September 2002]

Much of the Left still subscribes to the view that fascism is primarily a product of the manipulations of capital or big business. There are several things wrong with this view. It ignores the political culture of fascism and fails to explain how and why fascist movements attract a mass following. It embodies a crude instrumental ism that conflates the financing of fascist movements by sections of business with the dynamics of fascism itself. It also views fascism in overtly pathological terms, as abnormality, thus breaking the more interesting and challenging links between fascism and 'normality'. Finally, it contains a catastrophist vision: it sees fascism as a kind of cataclysm, like some volcanic eruption or earthquake, a seismic shift in the political landscape. So far as the situation in India is concerned, this has surely demonstrated that that is not how fascism grows. In India the growth of fascism has been a gradual, step by step process where the fascist elements penetrate all sectors of society and emerge having built up that groundwork. So, if we in India have anything to contribute to a theory of fascism, part of the contribution lies in disproving the catastrophist element. This still leaves the other two perspectives, which I called 'instrumentalist' and 'pathological' respectively. Both are dangerously wrong and part of the reason why the left has failed to establish a culture of successful political resistance to fascism. 

Now in contrast to the 'official' view, there is another group of theories of fascism which also emanated from the left, although a more disorganized left, a left outside the Comintern, driven out of Germany by Nazism, and not collectively represented by any school. I have in mind two rather brilliant analyses that were developed in the 1930s against the background of German fascism; one by Wilhelm Reich who was a practicing psychoanalyst. In his clinical work in Berlin in the early thirties, Reich would have come across literally hundreds of active supporters of Nazism. He was a committed socialist who fled Germany when it became impossible to live there, and died, ironically, in a US jail in 1957. 

Read in full here.


Books for Children - Joelito’s Big Decision/ La Gran Decisión de Joelito

Give a young person or her teacher Joelito’s Big Decision/ La Gran Decisión de Joelito Written by Ann Berlak, illustrated by Daniel Comecho.

Beautifully illustrated and translated Spanish/English bilingual Joelito’s Big Decision/ La gran decisión de Joelito tells the story of a boy, a burger, a friendship and the struggle for a living wage. Timely & timeless Decision (Hardball press, ages 6-15).

Let young people know that the fight for a just wage continues.

Ordering information here.

Ann Berlak
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


50% off all Haymarket Books for the holidays!


This is the year to introduce your favorite radical books to your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and comrades. 

We've assembled a guide of some of our books that make great gifts, with suggestions for (just about) anyone on your list. 


Here's the deal:

Take 50% OFF everything on our site!

Get a FREE Ebook bundled with every book purchase!

Get FREE Shipping on orders over $25 inside the US.

Order early for delivery by December 25th.

Haymarket Books
PO Box 160185
Chicago, Illinois 60618


Three PBS screenings of "Heather Booth: Changing the World" in New York and New Jersey - December 11 and 19

Through telling the story of 50 years of life in the movement, this film inspires people to organize.

Civil Rights, Women's Movement, Immigration Reform, elections, training for progressive organizing are part of what is covered.

It has been shown around the country and people are inspired by it to take action.  At a recent screening one person said, "I came in thinking there was nothing we could do, and I leave ready to take Action, Resist and Organize!"


NAFTA 2.0: Fix it or Nix it - Expert Webinar on Dec 13


Today, the Trump Administration held a signing ceremony with Mexico and Canada for a supposedly “new” version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But this retread NAFTA fails on jobs, wages, human rights, the environment and public health. It also has big giveaways for the oil and pharmaceutical industry that make it even easier for them to abuse people, our communities, and the environment.

Trump, who started the whole renegotiation process has threatened and cajoled Mexico and Canada into signing an agreement that will face stiff opposition in all three countries as the ugly details become more widely known.

This is a bad agreement and the next few months will be critically important in applying grassroots pressure to Congress to either fix the NAFTA proposal by reopening the texts to add real worker and environmental enforcement mechanisms, or nix it.

Mark your calendars for our NAFTA 2.0 Fix it or Nix it webinar on December 13 at 5pm (PT).
This webinar is an important opportunity to provide our movement with information about the impact that NAFTA has had and how Trump's NAFTA could continue to harm working people and the environment in all three countries. It will also provide grassroots activists with tools to contact their member of congress and get involved in the fight against Trump's pro-corporate NAFTA.

We have an exciting lineup of panelists:

  • Arthur Stamoulis serves as Executive Director of the Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC), a national coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer and human rights organizations working together for trade policies that promote a just and sustainable global economy. 
  • Anthony Torres is the Associate Campaign Representative with the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Office. He is a systems-level thinker, political ecologist, and climate activist whose work focuses on the creation of new collective stories to challenge dominant narratives of extraction, exploitation, and extinction.
  • Ted Lewis has led Global Exchange's work for peace, democracy, and human rights in Mexico since the dawn of the NAFTA era in 1994. Throughout that time he has written, spoken-out, and organized resistance to North American trade policies that undermine labor rights, displace people, disrupt communities, and devastate the environment. Ted's analysis been published widely and he is cited frequently in print, radio, television and online media.
  • Catherine Houston is the Political, Rapid Response and Women of Steel Coordinator for the United Steelworkers District 12. She is an activist and grassroots communication and mobilization educator for the United Steelworkers, fighting for fair trade, worker rights, women’s issues, safety and health, and sound legislative policy on behalf of all workers and working families. Catherine trains workers to be actively engaged rapid response activists and Women of Steel to be activist leaders through education, growth and empowerment.
  • Manuel Pérez-Rocha is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington and an Associate of the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam. He is a Mexican national who has led in efforts to promote just and sustainable alternative approaches to trade and investment agreements for two decades. He has long been a thought and action leader of tri-national organizing for economic justice.

Join us on December 13 and help us make sure that Trump does not get to impose this bad deal on the whole continent.

In Solidarity and Action,

Global Exchange
1448 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
t: 415.255.7296 | f: 415.255.7498


Last Call for Mental Health Tour to Cuba! - February 24 - March 3

Next week is the deadline to apply to join the one week trip to study mental health care in Cuba, sponsored by Medical Education Cooperation With Cuba (MEDICC). 

This trip is February 24 to March 3, and approximate cost is $3800 including travel to Florida airport.  The trip consists of 4 days in Cienfuegos, Cuba, 1 day in Santa Clara and 2 days in Havana.

In 1995, Cuba instituted an integrated structure to improve its mental health services. With 17 psychiatric hospitals and 101 mental health centers, Cuba has produced a unique, community-based approach to preventing and treating mental health issues.

Join MEDICC to explore the country’s health system, focusing on the development and priorities of the mental health program. Travelers will participate in a full-time schedule of activities, and will have many opportunities to get to know Cubans in the settings where they live and work.

Participants will spend 4 nights at the Hotel Jagua in Cienfuegos and 3 at the Hotel Presidente in Havana. This trip will host 15-20 participants. If interested, please contact MEDICC to request a traveler registration form.

Travel logistics and visas will be arranged by Marazul, a travel agency specialized in Cuba travel. The total cost of the program will depend on the number or participants and program structure, and is currently estimated at $3,400-$4,100 per person depending on single or double occupancy. Marazul will inform participants of the final costs and send an invoice 4-6 weeks before departure. MEDICC and Marazul will make visa arrangements for all participants.


For any questions relating to the MEDICC People-to-People educational exchange to Cuba, please contact Gateways Program Manager Christian Vigil at or 510.854.9189