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Tidbits – Sept. 01, 2022 – Reader Comments: Student Debt Forgiveness; Jan. 06, Racism and Fascism; New York Primary; Union Wave Hits Chipotle; on the Departed Gdr; Chile Votes on Sunday; Cartoons; More…

Reader Comments: Student Debt Forgiveness; Jan. 06, Racism and Fascism; New York Primary; Union Wave Hits Chipotle; On the Departed GDR; Chile Votes on Sunday; Cartoons; more....

Sept. 01, 2022 - Reader Comments and Cartoons,Portside

Some Forgiveness  --  cartoon by Joe Heller
Student Debt  --  Claytoonz cartoon
Re: Not the Win We Wanted, But a Win Nonetheless (Robert Supansic)
Student Loans Explained  --  meme
Re: The March Towards Us Fascism Began With the Corporate Hijacking of Democracy (John Woodford)
Re: At the Jan. 6 Hearings, Race Isn’t Discussed Much. Still, It’s a Central Issue (George Fish)
Re: New York Progressives Splinter, and Dan Goldman Is Headed to Congress (Sonia Cobbins)
Re: A Chipotle Restaurant in Michigan Becomes the First in the Chain To Unionize (Edward A. Sadlowski; Lazaro Jose Castillo Sr.; Joe Sanders)
Tuition is too damn high.  --  cartoon by Drew Sheneman
Re: Inside the Drive To Bring ‘Cultural Workers’ Into the Labor Movement (Marilyn Albert)
Re: My Seventy Years and the Departed GDR (Claire O'Connor; Paul Leavin; Dan Morgan)
Re: Russia-Ukraine: Five Lessons From the 19th-Century Crimean War (Sam Friedman)
Re: An Archaeology of Personhood and Abortion (Arlene Halfon)
Chile looks to the Future (Dan Morgan)



Some Forgiveness  --  cartoon by Joe Heller

Joe Heller

August 25, 2022

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Student Debt  --  Claytoonz cartoon

Clay Jones / Claytoonz

August 25, 2022
Sarasota News Leader

Re: Not the Win We Wanted, But a Win Nonetheless

Political cynics often say, “People have short memories.”  This is not generally true.  More often, people simply lose their perspective.  To restore perspective on the accomplishments of the Biden Administration, one must go back to 1980 and Reagan’s claim that, “Government is the problem.”  For the next 40 years, Republicans and conservative Democrats worked hard to prove him right.  Nothing got fixed and peoples’ expectations of government fell progressively lower.  Now comes Biden with his whole range of achievements, each carefully watered-down to meet low expectations: infrastructure, tax reform, gun control, climate change, student debt.  This is, we are told, the greatest advance in governmental action since Franklin Roosevelt.  Perspective: when they claim to have lifted half of all children out of poverty, we must ask them, “And what about the other half?”

Robert Supansic

Student Loans Explained  --  meme

The Other 98%
Facebook post

Re: The March Towards Us Fascism Began With the Corporate Hijacking of Democracy

Fascism takes root from and grows by the military accumulation of capital.

As our country's big money elements increasingly rely on this mode of profiteering, all of the ideological and cultural attributes of fascism take root and seek to flourish and adapt to our country's particular socioeconomic environment.

The main fact to realize and get across to people is that fascism does not arise from airy ideas floating around in people's minds. It arises from the interests of the most reactionary elements of monopoly capitalists and financiers and spreads from there.

John Woodford

Re: At the Jan. 6 Hearings, Race Isn’t Discussed Much. Still, It’s a Central Issue

No, it has nothing to do w/ social class, or lack of education, or a panicky petty-bourgeoisie (remember, most of the insurrectionists on Jan. 6 were small business owners or white-collar professionals, decidedly NOT blue-collar workers!), or paranoid fears of loss of 'white dominance,' when it doesn't exist in the first place! As was said in the first George Bush Presidential campaign, "It's the economy, stupid." Well, it's CLASS, not RACE, stupid! & don't overlook, more & more "marginalized" women & POCs are joining the upper realms of corporate control, management, those whose who's alleged "white dominance" gives them the power to lord it over--workers!)

As a blue-collar worker in a grocery store, despite having a college degree (which turned out to be essentially useless in the Indiana job market, where I live), I essentially have ZERO "white power," "white privilege." And yes, I've had, and have, black and female managers, and there's essentially NO difference between a "marginalized" manager, and a manager with "white privilege." I feel clearly the CLASS distinction, but feel zero "privileged' racial status!

George Fish

Re: New York Progressives Splinter, and Dan Goldman Is Headed to Congress

The NY Times will always pick finance and real estate. They will almost always pick a rich white man over a young progressive woman of color.They are still stuck in the days described in the witty and telling book "The Girls in the Balcony". That said, why can't progressives be a bit more strategic? If only one had thrown support to Niou, then it would have been a win.

    The Girls in the Balcony: Women, Men, and the New York Times

    by Nan Robertson

Sonia Cobbins

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: A Chipotle Restaurant in Michigan Becomes the First in the Chain To Unionize

(posting on Portside Labor)

Buy Union, Shop Union, Use Union Services!

Edward A. Sadlowski

Posted on Portside's Facebook page


What’s happening in this country with unions is great

Lazaro Jose Castillo Sr.

Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Unions are poised to do great things. So far, it looks real good. Young people are not going to take it anymore.

Joe Sanders

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Tuition is too damn high.  --  cartoon by Drew Sheneman

Drew Sheneman

August 25, 2022
New Jersey Star-Ledger

Re: Inside the Drive To Bring ‘Cultural Workers’ Into the Labor Movement

(posting on Portside Labor)

It is good to know that AFSCME is tackling the organization of cultural workers in a big way. However, AFSCME is not the only union which has organized these workers. UAW Local 2110 in New York represents museum workers, continuing an effort started in the early 1970s when my mother, Margie Albert, organized the workers at New York's Museum of Modern Art into District 65, which later affiliated with the United Auto Workers, which represents those workers today.

Marilyn Albert

Re: My Seventy Years and the Departed GDR

Brilliant! Extremely well written. As is evident from his skill at presenting controversial and complex issues. Thanks. A must read for everyone.

Claire O'Connor

Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I read this article with anticipation, and ended in disappointment. I appreciate the difficulties under which the GDR was founded, and the forces arrayed against its success.  But Mr. Grossman writes that “new generations” should learn from the “successes” of the GDR (which he explains in detail) and not only from its “blunders, nasty habits and limitations.”    But unless I missed them, he neither lists nor explains any “blunders or nasty habits” that those making policy in the GDR committed or suffered from; either in the Government or the Party.

I don’t know what “new generations” can learn from Mr. Grossman’s history.

Paul Leavin


In the summer of 1966, I had the chance to work on a state farm near Dresden in East Germany, the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The country was still quite poor, recovering from the second world war. The East of Germany had much less industry than the West, and the destruction in the war had been much greater. For example, the whole centre of Dresden had been flattened in an horrific fire-storm caused by British and US bombers, when the Red Army was close to liberating it. The bombing did not help the Soviets but meant they inherited a destroyed city. 

Then the USSR justly took a good deal of the factory machinery that did survive as reparations. Plus, of course, after years of Nazi anti-communism many of the skilled professionals and technicians preferred to ‘go west’ rather than stay in the ‘Soviet zone’. A huge re-training programme was needed in the GDR, including replacing 87% of the teachers. The West also received the capital investment of the Marshall Plan, to develop capitalism and prevent any move to socialism.

The economy really took off in the 1970s, but in 1966 there were still many horses on farms, and not many modern tractors. The cows were still milked by hand in makeshift stalls out in the pastures in summer – that was the biggest difference from what I had known in England. This was possible because a technical secondary school was attached to the farm, so there were plenty of students available – they worked on the farm one week in three, if my memory is correct.

Work went on much as on any farm, producing wheat, rye and milk as part of a national plan – but there was one event which was an eye-opener for me.

Green maize was to be harvested for silage, which is like making sauerkraut. The green material has to be cut, chopped, blown into trailers and stacked in a heap. Because of the lack of infrastructure, the heap was just made in a field. The maize had to be compacted, to exclude the air. Therefore it was important to finish the harvest as quickly as possible, which meant working round the clock for a couple of days. So, a meeting was necessary.

One evening the whole team assembled: the farm manager and brigade leaders, the union rep, all the tractor drivers and representatives of the students. For work in ‘unsocial hours’, and for a special harvest, there were bonuses on offer. Work teams for 12-hour shifts were organised. I did not understand all the details but the discussion went smoothly, until one young tractor driver said ‘No’. He would not work a night shift. As far as I could understand, he was newly married and would not work even one night. The brigade leader tried to persuade him. His colleagues tried to persuade him. Everyone tried to persuade him, using arguments about joint effort, collective work and so no. To no avail. At length, and the discussion lasted some time, he still refused. There it ended.

Were any threats made? Did he risk getting the sack? Nothing like that at all (there was no unemployment in the GDR but losing his job on that farm would have meant an upheaval for his family of course).

This was eye-opening to me. In this ‘totalitarian’ state a farm worker could refuse to work unsocial hours above his normal work hours, even for a couple of nights, and keep his job. Even though his fellow workers were annoyed with him, it was accepted. The contrast with the situation in ‘free’ England was total. A farm worker who tried to exert his rights in anything like the same way would not last a week. The boss’s word is law and you are ‘down the road’ if you don’t like it. (2) When I returned to the same farm in 1971 there were no working horses and much better machinery, including several good Zetor tractors from the Czech Republic. 5,000 of those were sold to Chile under very favourable terms to help Salvador Allende’s agrarian reform, as part of the 15,00 from other socialist countries, but that’s another story.

Good silage is produced by anaerobic fermentation, where sugars are converted to lactic acid and the silage has an attractive smell. If air gets in, butyric acid can be produced, you get an unpleasant smell and the cows do not like it.

Dan Morgan

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Russia-Ukraine: Five Lessons From the 19th-Century Crimean War

reply to Tidbits content - August 25

SB Loveless seems to think that the Nazi invasion of the USSR during World War II was only fought by Russians.  This is clearly untrue.  People from all over the USSR fought back, and I believe that Ukrainian deaths surpassed those of Russians, and were in the millions.

Phetrus Xavhad is correct about US imperialism's slaughters, but seems not to understand that there are many neonazis in Russia, supported by Putin, and that the neonazis in Ukraine are a minor force.  I have worked with both Ukrainian and Russian public health workers and researchers for many years and have talked with friends in both places about these issues.

Sam Friedman

Re: An Archaeology of Personhood and Abortion

Regardless of any social, cultural, religious, or other supernatural beliefs regarding "who is a person", no other human being in our society is forced to provide their body for the benefit of any living being.

No-one is forced to provide organs after they die or their blood while alive. Nobody, not even a parent is forced to donate bone marrow, kidneys or livers.

We kill innocent people in other countries because our leaders don't like their leaders. We don't provide health care, food, housing or other necessities to keep people alive even though no-one would be forced to donate their bodies to keep these people alive.

That whole issue is just plain hypocritical hatred of women.

Arlene Halfon

Chile looks to the Future

On Sunday, 4th September, Chileans go to the polls to ratify the draft New Constitution. It is a forward-looking progressive text, based on social equality and a vision of sustainable science-based development. There is the duty to protect ecosystems and fight climate change. Full rights for women and sexual ‘dissidents’. It will do away with constitutional privileges for private property, and other barriers to equitable progress.

With less than a week to go until the referendum to approve Chile’s New Constitution (NC), the battle is bitter. Big business and the Establishment, whose power is threatened by the NC, are using all their tools. All sorts of lies and distortions are created and pushed on TV news programs. Lots of money has been spent on YouTube videos, Facebook, Instagram and Tik Tok.

For four weeks now, we have had two 15-minute slots a day on TV with half for the ‘Approve’ option and half for ‘Reject’. The vote to have a new constitution was so massive – 78% - that those against this proposal pretend they are for a new one – but ‘better’. The right wing who rejected reform are practically invisible. The only public faces for ‘reject’ are of the ‘centre-left’ which is divided. Many Christian Democrat Senators for example, past and present, are fiercely for ‘reject’ but the party’s delegate conference voted by 63% to approve the draft.

In this region we see a lot of people on the Internet just saying "Reject!" with no arguments, just prejudice. But the New Constitution (NC) is selling like hot cakes, and there are long queues in Santiago to get the free copies. The lies have been answered and the only real fears have been dealt with by the political agreement now to clarify and limit some of the text's articles.

The text promises many basic rights, such as healthcare, education, housing (not even mentioned in the present constitution). Decent pensions and social security system are promised.There will be freedom from social discrimination, and gender parity and rights for nature and animals. The Senate, which has been a ‘counterbalance’ in other words a block on radical change, is replaced by a Regional Assembly with limited powers. Regions and even municipalities will have autonomy. There will be separate  indigenous judicial systems. Many provisions, like those, will have to be defined by laws after the constitution has been adopted.

The right wing offensive has been most effective in criticizing some of those rather vague formulations, but has preferred to use lies and distortions to instill fear. Their most powerful weapon, not openly expressed, is racism. The first article defines the future Chilean state thus:

“Chile is a social and law-based democratic State. It is plurinational, intercultural, regional and ecological.

“Plurinational” – for the first time, Chile’s national minorities will be recognised, and this is anathema to the nationalists here, who have a whole history of denial of their existence. The genocidal war to dominate the Mapuche people, for example, from about 1860 to 1880, is called “pacification” and their very existence was then erased from official history. Where I live, Chilean and European colonists were installed next to Mapuche reservations (called ‘reductions’) and inter-marriage plus religious conversion has greatly diminished indigenous culture. But it lives and us grows in many places still.

So the message used over and over again is that the draft “divides” us. A coded message against recognition of the Mapuche and other minorities (Aymara, Diaguita, Rapa Nui and several others).

The other strength of the ‘reject’ forces is plain social conservatism, largely based on reactionary religious trends, both Catholic and Evangelical. Against the right to abortion, any alternative to traditional marriage and family structure, and rights for homosexuals. An extreme distortion is to say that protecting sexual dissidents from discrimination means protecting pedophiles.

Chile has a beautiful national anthem but it was misused by the civilian-military dictatorship. So on the daily TV spots this week, a silly statement by one of the authors of the draft, that ‘the national anthem is divisive’ gave the ‘reject’ editors the chance to show a very diverse range of musicians playing it. A real own goal.

Despite this, gatherings to support ‘Approve’ have been massive. In the small and quite rural municipality here, with 56,000 voters, we have had two motorcades through the town, with over 40 and over 80 vehicles, causing a big impact. I think we will win, with about 55% to Approve this promising new constitution.

Dan Morgan