Skip to main content

There’s an information war raging, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Every day we search hundreds of items on the Internet to bring you insightful and reliable material on the side of democracy and social justice. Once a year we appeal to you to contribute to this work. Please help.

 

Tidbits - Nov. 11, 2021 - Reader Comments: Swing Voters, Virginia, Progressive Caucus, The Squad; Films and Set Workers; Spartacus at 60; Langston Hughes; Palestine and Gaza; Student Vote; Multi-Cultural Children's Books; End Blockade of Cuba; more....

Reader Comments: Swing Voters, Virginia, Progressive Caucus, The Squad; Films and Set Workers; Spartacus at 60; Langston Hughes; Palestine and Gaza; Student Vote was substantial; Multi-Cultural Children's Books; Help End Blockade of Cuba; more....

printer friendly  
Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources, Announcements, AND cartoons - Nov. 11, 2021, Portside

Re: New Poll Tries to Understand Blue-Collar Swing Voters (Judy Atkins; Ted Pearson)
Re: After the Virginia Disaster, the Democrats Better Get to Work (J David Rice)
Re: Here Are the 6 House Democrats That Voted No (Michael Arney)
What Republican Party Fears  --  meme
Re: How to Rebuild the Democratic Party (Jan Gilbrecht)
The Purpose of Public Education  --  meme
Re: I Work in Set Props and am the Daughter of Martin Scorsese. The Way Movies Are Made Now Is Broken. (Lorraine Suzuki; John Hawksley; Derek Hawksley)
Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it  --  cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz
Re: Why Are Medieval Weapons Laws at the Center of a US Supreme Court Case? (Lee Zaslofsky)
Re: 60 Years of Spartacus (Gabrielle Theresa Daniels; Rob Prince; Jerry Judy; Jose Luis Medina; Paul Buhle; Randolph Shannon; John Thompson; Mel Packer; Peter N. Carroll; Arlene Halfon)
Re: Langston Hughes Was a Lifelong Socialist (Frances Madeson; Jamil Lateef; Wayne Heimbach)
Guess What? You're a Socialist  -- Dr. Seuss
Re: St. Vincent Nurses Strike Sadly Reaches Eight Months (Buzz Davis)
Re: Photo Reflects Devastation of Palestinian Economy as Gaza Workers Struggle for Work (George Cohen)
Mister Rodgers Neighborhood  --  cartoon by Mile Luckovich
Re: Global Left Midweek - November 3, 2021 (Dan Morgan; Ethan Young)
Re: Yellowstone Is One of TV’s Biggest Hits. What’s Yellowstone, Anyway? (Karen Lee Wald)

Resources:

66% of Students Voted in Last Election (The Andrew Goodman Foundation)
40 Multicultural Children’s Books about Christmas (Colours of Us)
5 New YA Books on Native American Lives (Facing History and Ourselves)

Announcements:

Counter-Mobilization in NYC at Cuban UN Mission - November 15 (New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition)
New York Times, Stop Union Busting - New York - November 16 (News Guild, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO)

Help Take Action:

Help Change U.S. Policy Towards Cuba - How much longer will we repeat the failed Cuba policies of the past? - Help Contact Your Congressional Representative (Latin America Working Group)

Re: New Poll Tries to Understand Blue-Collar Swing Voters

This is not a poll of working class people, so much as a poll of swing voters who do not have bachelor's degrees. I do object when polls describe the working class as those without higher education when so many workers have BA's or BS's or advanced degrees. However, given this description of the interviewees, it is an interesting poll and shows what kind of organizing work needs to be done. 

Judy Atkins
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

This is all well and good, except that the historical reality is that white supremacy and U. S. history (and capitalism) are inseparable, and real solutions to economic and social problems will elude us forever unless creative ways are found to address that. The truth has been hidden from our people. It is the most massive cover up of the most massive crimes against humanity.

I think that solidarity among exploited and oppressed people can be built in struggle. That sets the stage for the kinds of discussions that can reach the heart of the matter. History also shows that the Labor Movement and the class struggle is the most fertile soil for this process, but the demands of Black, Latinx and First Nations cannot be sidelined.

Discussion if history does not have to be shaming people. But it does have to teach social responsibility: the collective responsibility of us all to face these problems and deal with them, and it has to teach that the oppressed are the most qualified to project policies and programs to end their oppression.

Ted Pearson

Re: After the Virginia Disaster, the Democrats Better Get to Work

I don’t consider Virginia a disaster. McAuliffe has never been a great candidate (too close to the Clintons) and Virginia traditionally flips and flops. I’ve watched the cable commentators making their hyperbolic doom and gloom statements. The Fox folks are so giddy that you’d think they believed Republicans were never going to win another election. Generally cable news commentators are just biased rabble rousers. They present a distorted picture of everything because they think, perhaps correctly, that Americans are so conditioned to this nonsense that without it, no one will watch their shows.

J David Rice

Re: Here Are the 6 House Democrats That Voted No

I wrote the following (slightly edited) response to Team AOC in response to its "Let's Talk About What Happened" email dated Monday, November 8.

Dear Team AOC,

The Squad was alone in the NO vote category. The entire rest of the Progressive Caucus saw the need to vote YES. This email from you implies that "the progressive" thing to do was to vote NO. If so, is the Progressive Caucus misnamed?

The only reason the Squad was able to vote NO was because enough Republicans crossed the aisle and voted YES. All of them now have targets on their backs from the conservative movement, all of them will be primaried. Had no GOP votes been anticipated, the Squad would have been needed to vote YES for the bill to pass.

So it wasn't a principle issue then, was it? It was a tactical move: the Squad was able to vote NO without the fear of the bill failing. Had the bill failed on the basis of the Squad voting NO, all eyes would have been on the Squad, and common people like many friends and family members would have said, "What is wrong with the Democratic Socialists? Why can't they vote for infrastructure? Why would they join with the GOP to kill Pres. Biden's agenda?"

I severely disagree with the Squad's vote. The fact that this mailer is asking for people to click the button to give approval to the Squad shows me that the Squad is helping to teach more likely younger followers that these reckless tactics are OK. The problem: the balance of forces are so tight, the Democratic majority is so thin, that the Squad's position on this linkage does not come from a hand of strength. And after the November elections? The strength of the hand of progress has grown much weaker.

Don't get me wrong. I am far more sympathetic with the program of the Squad versus the program of most other members of Congress. But I was shocked and very disappointed with the Squad's vote.

Sincerely,

Michael Arney

What Republican Party Fears  --  meme

Re: How to Rebuild the Democratic Party

(posting on Portside Labor)

How about "The time is right to build a genuinely progressive alternative to the Democratic Party that can win elections"

Jan Gilbrecht
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The Purpose of Public Education  --  meme

Re: I Work in Set Props and am the Daughter of Martin Scorsese. The Way Movies Are Made Now Is Broken.

"Why is it in America that we feel the need to make a movie in six weeks when it should take 10 to 12? To save money because some executive in an office has decided this is how much it should cost? That's not the real cost. The real cost is coming at the expense and the well-being of everyone involved in the production."

Lorraine Suzuki
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Strike!

John Hawksley
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

I was fortunate to have more then enough work on stage. The movies I worked on (only local) were grueling and usually uninteresting though the hourly wage was higher. Never liked movies except the craft services!

Derek Hawksley
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it  --  cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz

Lalo Alcaraz
October 27, 2021
pocho.com

Re: Why Are Medieval Weapons Laws at the Center of a US Supreme Court Case?

Why is an outdated, harmful 18th century amendment part of the Constitution?

Lee Zaslofsky
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: 60 Years of Spartacus

Well, I'm not Spartacus.  But it was a great film, and it may have broken the Blacklist.

Gabrielle Theresa Daniels
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

I saw Spartacus in the Loews Valencia theatre on Jamaica Ave and 166 Street in Jamaica, Queens, NY shortly after it first appeared. It was the same theater in which I saw Pyscho either just before or just afterwards. 

But I will never forget the Spartacus showing. 

At that dramatic moment when the Roman military leader asks Spartacus to step forward... and Kirk Douglass does so,, he is followed by half of his captured army. "I'm Spartacus", "I'm Spartacus." One of the most moving examples of solidarity on film from that time onward. Still gives me chills. 

And so it was in the Loews Valencia... where after hearing the cast stand forward with their "I'm Spartacus" comments, someone - a kid - in the audience, moved as I was - stood up  and joined the film... "No, I'm Spartacus" he yelled so everyone could hear... and one after another virtually everyone in the whole theater, myself included, stood shouting "I'm Spartacus" as well...and then we all cheered. 
Only time I ever saw anything like that... in a movie theater in Tunis watching the Battle of Algiers where the whole audience was more participants than spectators.

An aside, Kirk Douglas, and I went to the same little college upstate New York - St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. As the legend has it, Douglas whose original name was Issur Danielovitch, hitchhiked to Canton, New York with nearly no money in his pocket and talked the admissions officer into giving him a football scholarship. He graduated from there - as I did some 30 years later.

Rob Prince
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

That's a great story,,,and a great movie...my favorite KD movie would have to be " lonely are the brave" filmed in new mexico late fifties or early 60s. The greatest show of solidarity I witnessed was with the UFW of course

Jerry Judy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

On 6 October 1960, the film Spartacus opened in New York City’s DeMille Theatre. Time Magazine celebrated “a new kind of Hollywood movie: a super spectacle with spiritual vitality and moral force.”

Jose Luis Medina
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Many nuances missed here, but esp the alternative script project by Abe Polonsky. Never mind, it's a good subject

Paul Buhle
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Based on book written in prison by Howard Fast.

Randolph Shannon
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Spartacus was more than a film about a slave revolt against the Roman Empire. The film dealt a blow against the Hollywood Blacklist at a time when the masses were beginning to rise once more against the injustices and could no longer be repressed.

John Thompson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

The script-writer was none other than Dalton Trumbo, who was also the author of "Johnny Got His Gun", one of the finest anti-war novels ever written and in some way, mostly unconsciously, an influence on my life and politics. It think I was quite young when I stumbled across it and was blown away. A few years ago, while Emily and I were hiking and training across parts of the US, we wound up in Grand Junction CO, a relatively small town that had quite a bit of "art" in the way of statuary on the streets in it's small business section. One of those was a man sitting in a bathtub and writing and I thought it looked like Dalton Trumbo. As it turns out, it was and he spent his early years in that town. Apparently soaking in the bathtub was one of his favorite places to write.

The Man in the Bathtub in Downtown Grand Junction

Mel Packer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

There are errors in the article about the Hollywood 10. One is that the author confuses HUAC which investigated the Hollywood 10 in 1947 and charged them with Contempt of Congress and Senator Joe McCarthy. Obviously the 2 branches of Congress are blurred.

Moreover, there was no "trial" of the Ten, but they were indicted for contempt and the courts refused to hear their appeals. 

Peter N. Carroll

      =====

This article, especially the brief mention of its sexual politics brought back reminders from 50 years ago. I reviewed George Gilder's first major book, "Sexual Suicide", for a Psychiatry Journal. Gilder argued that the then nascent Women's Movement would destroy our so vital culture; one like the world had ever seen (nothing I'm saying is an exact quote, as I'm much older than I was then). I remembered a passage in Howard Fast's book where her owner asks Lavinia (Spartacus' wife) how Spartacus could have tried to destroy the greatest culture the world had ever known and I quoted that line in my Review. I've since learned that every attempt to improve society and social conditions is met with some form of the same question. "We are perfect, why would you try to change us?" It's asked whether we're discussing immigration, homelessness, race, poverty, mental illness and any other underdog issue. Oh, will they never learn?

Arlene Halfon Washington CC (Colony of Colombia)
Yes, Spartacus (at least the book) was universal and it's too bad it's no longer being read en masse.

Re: Langston Hughes Was a Lifelong Socialist

Omitted from the article is an important accomplishment. Hughes wrote the libretto for Troubled Island, an opera composed by William Grant Still about the Haitian Revolution that broke the color barrier at the NYC Opera in 1949. It's gorgeous!!!

"Troubled Island" Opera Music - William Grant Still

Frances Madeson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Back when being a socialist was cool

Jamil Lateef
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

    “Listen, Revolution,
    We’re buddies, see —
    Together,
    We can take everything:
    Factories, arsenals, houses, ships,
    Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
    Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
    (Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
    Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
    All the tools of production.
    (Great day in the morning!)
    Everything —
    And turn ’em over to the people who work.”

Wayne Heimbach
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Guess What? You're a Socialist  -- Dr. Seuss

 

Re: St. Vincent Nurses Strike Sadly Reaches Eight Months

(posting on Portside Labor)

Good article!  Not good situation Biden should call that CEO into his office and play hard ball.

Buzz Davis 
Vets for Peace in Tucson

Re: Photo Reflects Devastation of Palestinian Economy as Gaza Workers Struggle for Work

Thank you so much for publishing this piece. Quite a revelation for me , even though I have kept up with the relationship between Gaza and Israel for decades. And even more importantly, exhibiting that photo. I predict that it will go down in history as a game-changer. If it is given the chance to effect millions of Americans, by being generally revealed, for example, to the media, I think it will make a huge splash. (((BTA, I was the staff photographer for the  US Weekly Guardian newspaper,  in the 70s. I continue to do my thing as a Social Documentary photog.

Thanx again. Keep up the good work.

In Solidarity-

George Cohen

Mister Rodgers Neighborhood  --  cartoon by Mile Luckovich

i

Mike Luckovich
November 10, 2021
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Re: Global Left Midweek - November 3, 2021

It is very sad to see that the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) has joined the imperialist campaign against China, because this campaign is now the greatest threat to world peace and stability.
Apart from the usual distortions of Marx, stripping him of his revolutionary approach, the criticisms of China are also the usual ones we hear in the present campaign. The unproven accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang emanate from pro-imperialist sources. They ignore the real danger of separatist terrorism, financed by the USA and Turkey in particular, which has been suppressed by measures of detention and re-education - nothing like the bombings of whole regions, and Guantanamo style torture used by US imperialism.

The Hong Kong ‘democracy’ protests, with violent occupations and burning of public buildings, again financed and encouraged from outside (the usual culprits) have been dealt with judicially. This is not “intensifying violations of human rights”. Many protesters were calling for ‘independence’, a totally unacceptable demand when Hong Kong was only torn from China by British imperialism as part of that country's century (and a half) of humiliation. Taiwan is also an integral part of China – Chiang Kai-shek did not retreat to a foreign country in 1949.

Of course China is very nationalist, and makes some territorial claims not accepted by others in the region. But it does talk about negotiated settlements. In 1979, under Mao, it did invade Vietnam but has done nothing similar since – unlike the real imperialist powers in the world. Where is China’s hegemonism? Does it interfere to destabilize or topple governments around the world? No – unlike the real imperialists. Does it invest in a win-win way to help countries develop? Yes. China’s growing influence threatens the USA’s ability to bully and dominate the world, and this is what is behind the campaign to smear China, to try and throttle its economy and to threaten it militarily.

Progressives in imperialist countries, particularly the USA but also Britain, Japan and others, with powerful propaganda machines, need to carefully examine how they are manipulated. A major geopolitical battle is underway, and aiding the imperialist campaign against China does damage to the fight for peace and progress across the world.

Dan Morgan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

      =====

Dan Morgan's comments raise a slew of questions. The most important: When does criticism of China become part of the imperialist campaign against China? When it contradicts the CPC's claims about its treatment of civilians in minority regions? When it questions the Chinese state's territorial claims, which are highly controversial in east Asia? 

Is the only way to oppose Washington's new cold war to 'hear, see, and speak no evil' regarding one of the most consequential world powers?

If the international left says yes to the last question, we will be empty-handed in the fight for peace, sovereignty, and democracy.

Ethan Young

Re: Yellowstone Is One of TV’s Biggest Hits. What’s Yellowstone, Anyway?

(posting on Portside Culture)

Writers (and editors) shouldn’t assume that all readers are familiar with certain “popular culture” TV shows (or anything else for that matter). It limits your scope of readers. (I’d never heard of much less seen “Succession” so it was not useful to tell me Yellowstone was a ranch set version of it).

I was taught that as a journalist I should never assume all readers had read yesterday’s news, and that all articles should be self-explanatory to someone picking up a a newspaper for the first time.

The form of media has changed greatly, but this basic principle should not

Karen Lee Wald

66% of Students Voted in Last Election (The Andrew Goodman Foundation)

We can't get over this incredible report from the Institute for Democracy and Higher Education!

Students built on the momentum of 2018 and voted at even higher rates, jumping from 52% in 2016 to 66% in 2020. That 14 percentage point increase outpaces that of all Americans, who jumped 6 percentage points from 61% to 67%. That students, often younger and first-time voters, turned out at rates commensurate with the general public is nothing short of stunning

You can read the full report here

The Andrew Goodman Foundation

40 Multicultural Children’s Books about Christmas (Colours of Us)

I know Christmas is around the corner when my daughter pulls out her German Christmas Song CD and listens to it non-stop (usually way into the new year…). Time to search the internet up and down for the best multicultural children’s books about Christmas! Get your family into a festive mood with some of these treasures I found!

Colours of Us
P.O.Box 2678
Plettenberg Bay 6600
South Africa

5 New YA Books on Native American Lives (Facing History and Ourselves)

by Kaitlin Smith
November 10, 2021
Facing History

This November is Native American Heritage Month--a national observance that draws our attention to the histories, contemporary experiences, and insights of Indigenous peoples of the United States. As valuable as this heritage month can be for drawing increased attention to this area that demands greater attention in our classrooms and in the wider society, Native American Heritage Month also beckons to the importance of surfacing and centering these themes all year long. One common hurdle that undermines these efforts is the struggle to identify appropriate resources that are written by and about Native peoples with the adolescent in mind. There are a host of books and other materials that we can turn to as we construct lesson plans and recommend reading to our students, and what follows are five texts to consider.

Members of our staff are exploring these five new books published within the last year and we invite you to explore them alongside us and share your reactions in the comments. Written by a group of Indigenous authors across North America for readers ages 12 and up, these texts address themes including Indigenous youth navigating adolescent identity, community, resistance, and imagining new futures, as well as questions that Native and non-Native young people may have about the history and contemporary experiences of Native American populations. Excerpts from each text’s publisher - here

Facing History and Ourselves
16 Hurd Road  
Brookline, MA 02445

Counter-Mobilization in NYC at Cuban UN Mission - November 15 (New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition)

Monday, November 15 2:00 pm Counter-Mobilization in NYC at Cuban UN Mission

New York-New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition

New York Times, Stop Union Busting - New York - November 16 (News Guild, New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO)

Next Tuesday, November 16 at 12PM. Join these media workers to denounce NY Times' anti-union activity! 

New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
post on Facebook

Help Change U.S. Policy Towards Cuba - How much longer will we repeat the failed Cuba policies of the past? - Help Contact Your Congressional Representative (Latin America Working Group)

Cubans are facing an increasingly dire humanitarian situation. Food shortages, long lines, and a lack of medical supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed the island nation into the worst economic and humanitarian crisis it has faced in recent history. It is critical, now more than ever, that the United States take immediate action to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the Cuban people and take concrete steps to foster constructive engagement with Cuba, leading to the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.

What's Going On?

Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Bobby Rush (D-IL) are circulating a Dear Colleague letter to President Biden regarding changing U.S. policy towards Cuba to address the humanitarian and economic crisis and restore engagement with our Caribbean neighbor. The letter calls for the suspension of U.S. regulations that prevent food, medical supplies, and other humanitarian aid from reaching the Cuban people and for the lifting all restrictions on Cuban Americans sending remittances to their families and on non-family donations, allowing nonprofits and faith groups to provide humanitarian assistance and start-up capital for Cuban small businesses and civil society. It also urges a rollback of the Trump Administration’s travel restrictions to Cuba and calls for a return to a policy of dialogue and engagement.  

These members of Congress have signed Congressional letter to change policy. Can you help get your Congressional representative to sign?

Signatures on Cuba Letter – 11/10/21 @ 10:30 PM (23):
Deadline to Join Letter:  COB Friday, November 19th

    James P. McGovern (MA) – co-lead, Rules Committee Chair
    Barbara Lee (CA) – co-lead, SFOPS SC Appropriations Chair
    Gregory W. Meeks (NY) – co-lead, HFAC Chair
    Bobby L. Rush (IL) – co-lead, Energy SC Chair, E&C
    Nydia M. Velázquez (NY)
    Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
    André Carson (IN)
    Steve Cohen (TN)
    Peter Welch (VT)
    Dwight Evans (PA)
    Andy Levin (MI)
    Jake Auchincloss (MA)
    Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04)
    Rashida Tlaib (MI)
    Mike Doyle (PA)
    Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ)
    Jared Huffman (CA)
    Jan Schakowsky (IL)
    Alan B. Lowenthal (CA)
    Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ)
    Anna G. Eshoo (CA)
    Adriano Espaillat (NY)
    Grace Meng (NY)

What's YOU Can Do

We need you to get in touch with your representative and urge them to sign onto the letter NOW! The deadline for sign ons is Friday, November 12. Find your representative here. Then, here’s what you do:
  • Call the number for your representative’s office.
  • Ask to speak to the office’s foreign policy aide.
  • Once connected, read (or adapt) the script below.
  • You might be asked to just leave a message, either with the front desk or on voicemail. Should that happen, read the same script.
Sample script:
 
“My name is [FIRST AND LAST NAME] and I’m a constituent calling from [CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE]. Cuba is currently facing the worst economic and humanitarian crisis the island has seen in recent history. Food shortages, long lines, and a lack of medical supplies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the suffering of Cubans on the island and of their families in the United States who are desperate to help but often unable to.
I’m calling you to urge Rep. [YOUR REP’S LAST NAME] to sign onto Rep. Jim McGovern’s dear colleague letter to President Biden, urging him to advance a U.S. policy towards Cuba that addresses the humanitarian and economic crisis and restores a policy of engagement. The letter calls for immediate and concrete actions to alleviate the crisis, such as lifting specific licenses required to send medical supplies and ending restrictions on sending family remittances and lifting restrictions on travel. These are just a few actions President Biden can take to improve the quality of life in Cuba. These actions will also guide us down a path of engagement with Cuba in areas such as migration, disaster response, and climate change. Protecting human rights in Cuba, including the right to protest, can only be achieved through engagement, rather than unilateral isolation, which has proven time and time again to be a failed policy.
Is this something Representative [YOUR REP’S LAST NAME] can support? I hope you will consider my request, and thank you for your time.”
 

How much longer will we repeat the failed Cuba policies of the past? Time is of the essence, and we cannot keep bargaining with Cuban lives. 

The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) and the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWGEF) mobilize concerned citizens, organizations, and networks to call for just U.S. policies towards Latin America and the Caribbean. We advocate in the halls of power for human rights, peace, and social, economic, and environmental justice. We work closely with civil society partners in Latin America to amplify their human rights campaigns and make sure their voices are heard in the policy debates that take place in Washington, DC but shape the lives of millions throughout the region.

Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
2029 P St NW, Suite 301
Washington DC 20036

(202) 546-7010
lawg@lawg.org