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Tidbits – Dec. 28, 2023 – Reader Comments: Trump-Haley-MAGA GOP Embrace Slavery-Fascism; Israeli War Crimes; Migrants and Immigration; Reader Response to Police Reform; Maestro Does Disservice; March on Washington for Gaza-Jan 13; More…

Reader Comments: Trump-Haley-MAGA GOP Embrace Slavery-Fascism; Israeli War Crimes; Migrants and Immigration; Reader Response to Police Reform; Maestro Does Disservice; March on Washington for Gaza-Jan 13; more Announcements; Cartoons;

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Announcements AND cartoons - Dec. 28, 2023,Portside





Re: Fascism 101: Why We Need To Spell It Out

Well said ! I thank the moderator for sharing Walden Bello's essay.

I now know what thinking Germans were feeling in 1931-32 before Hitler attained the Chancellorship on January 30, 1933.

Contemplating the end of American Democracy and the dismantling of the rule of law is heart-rending. I grieve more so for my kids and grandkids, I've enjoyed living in one of the most free nations that has ever existed, they have not had such an advantage.

Nevertheless, we must do what we can. Gotterdammerung may yet be avoided. Keep the faith, things seemed bad at Valley Forge too but we overcame and prevailed. God bless America and give us the strength to save her.

Lawrence Winans


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Re: How Much Can Trump 2.0 Get Away With?

“I am your warrior, I am your justice,” Donald Trump told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD., on March 4. “And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”

The Heritage Foundation has organized Project 2025, a coalition of 84 state and national conservative groups, to pave “the way for an effective conservative administration based on four pillars: a policy agenda, Presidential Personnel Database, Presidential Administration Academy and playbook for the first 180 days of the next administration.”

The project has already published an 887-page document, “Mandate for Leadership 2025: The Conservative Promise,” with the goal of arming “an army of aligned, vetted, trained, and prepared conservatives to go to work on Day 1 to deconstruct the Administrative State.”

The first Trump term was both deeply alarming and a comedy of errors; a second Trump administration will be far more alarming, with many fewer errors.

Norm Littlejohn
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Books on Tape  --  Cartoon by Clay Bennett



Clay Bennett
December 22, 2023
Chattanooga Times Free Press


Re: Haley Declines To Say Slavery Was Cause of Civil War

She's the "reasonable alternative" = she's the smiling fascist.

Eleanor Roosevelt
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Some Facts for the Unconvinced: Why We Need a Gaza Ceasefire Now

An outstanding summary of the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis. An important contribution.

Roger Bybee


Re: Israeli Teen Jailed for Refusing To Take Part in Army’s ‘Criminal Attack’ on Gaza

These brave kids are a great example of why I am pro-Jewish and extremely anti-Zionist

Mike Liston


A Button for Today  --  Being Against Israel's War Crimes IS NOT Anti-Semitism



In America, are some families are holier than others?  --  Cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz



Lalo Alcaraz
December 24, 2023


Bloodsucker  --  Cartoon by Rob Rogers


Rob Rogers
December 21, 2023


Re: Surprise! Police Reforms Didn’t Work

Since the advent of the cell phone video camera, the entire nation has become aware of the pattern of police violence that had previously only been well known in communities where it was practiced.  This produced mass demonstrations, and not only some reforms in places, including more transparency, some accountability, (you may recall that before Ferguson, you could count the cops ever charged for killing or beating someone on the fingers of one hand, today it happens regularly), and it did something else.  It brought the issue of police violence directly to the law enforcement community.  Two documents should open your eyes to this.  Both were produced by gatherings of several hundred mostly police chiefs, sheriffs, some police union leaders, DAs, and  few human rights activists.  They were Obama's President's Commission on 21st Century Policing and a similar gathering organized by the Police Executive Research Forum. Called, "Re-engineering Training" (but in fact about rethinking use of force by police.)  I read them, and was gobsmacked.  I heard police chiefs talking about the issue in language we would use.  It became very clear, there is a significant section of the law enforcement community who believe the old ways, the Blue Wall (no cop ever testifies against any other cop, us against the world), keep yourself safe and anyone who looks at you funny is a threat, your job is to punish those parts of the population who are looked down on by the powers that be - the poor, the communities of color.  A significant amount of police understand that their ability to do their job is directly related to the trust the community has in them, and if 100 cops act right and 1 acts like an animal, all people will see is the animal who wears the uniform, so they're all like that, don't talk to them.

There is a legitimate role for police in society, sorry my anarchist comrades, but it is a fact.  No, for the most part they do not prevent crime.  To do so they would have to be on site as a crime is being attempted.  Not only can't they be everywhere, but criminals (there are such, remember?) generally are patient enough to wait until there isn't a cop around to go to work.

If the left chooses prejudice - pre-judging - "they're all like that"- we absent ourselves from this discussion.  If we take the position "abolish the police" (a goal we will not achieve) we simply leave the field to others.  Guess whom?  The Back The Blue Whatever They Do folks.  Bottom line, police reform measures will have only minor effects if they are not bought into at the squad car level.  Cops generally work alone, or in pairs, without direct oversight by supervisors (sergeants, lieutenants), just like teachers.  They do a job that is stressful and not without risk.  They operate with a heightened adrenaline level at all times.  If people denounce them as all Klansmen and murderers, and demand that they be disarmed, or all laid off, can you understand why they may not listen to the valid points you may have?

Body cams were never advertised as a tool that would prevent police killings.  Yes, they sometimes fail to function in a fight (get knocked off, sound can't distinguish between shots and the camera being banged on, don't see everything.)  But they remind every officer that there is a record of what he does.  These have led to disciplinary consequences and to discharges and indictments.  Many departments opposed them, as they were resistant to accountability and of course there was the budgetary issue.  Since their adoption most departments strongly support them.  In any interaction between police and public, there is a "he said/she said" situation - everyone saw a situation differently.  Despite their limitations, body cams provide in most cases a factual record of events, not only what happened but what order events happened.  I had a mentally ill relative who, being hungry, went into a store and got some food, thought paying was unnecessary.  When located on the street by an officer, he ended up in jail with a black eye.  He told me he wanted the ACLU, was going to sue.  I was friends with our city's Police Auditor, an independent office that reviews all complaints against the police.  He arranged a showing for us of the incident from body cam of the involved officer.  Which showed that when asked for ID, my relative responded by kicking the officer in the face, followed by the officer punching him out and arresting him.  Police have found that body cams have reduced the number of bogus complaints against the police steeply.

Real reform in law enforcement is a hard goal to reach.  It takes not only full engagement by the left, it also involves discarding prejudice against police as a body.  There are some real pigs out there, as we all know.  There are some cynical and corrupt old harness bulls.  There are younger, conservative, racist individuals on the force to kick some ass.  But there are also thinking, and caring human beings who wear badges.  You can't tell the one from the other when they line up in riot gear facing us.  But I strongly urge my comrades - to be effective on this issue?  Learn something about the police.  Talk to them.  Listen to them.  I've attended our local PD's citizen academy (40 hours of evening classes with presentations from the many parts of the police department.)  It showed me clearly that the 320 or so cops in this town are each individuals.  Different personalities, from borderline psychopath (22 years SWAT, and proud) to people who made their presentations on the edge of tears talking about the people they serve (cops who negotiate with people on the edge of suicide, cops who deal with the homeless and demented and whose hearts break daily at the insane state of the mental health system, lack of housing, etc.)  Some harden themselves, some open themselves.  I also did a ride-along, riding with a cop for a shift, seeing what he did, and how he did it, and being able to talk with him about it.

Knowing what I'm talking about means I have had repeated meetings with chief, deputy chief, and the head of the police union.  All of whom are specifically reform minded.  Eugene Oregon is not a big city, the city has a small population of color, it is not a typical big city.  We pioneered CAHOOTS, a non-police response to people in mental health, drug, or other crises on the street.  They work with the police.  After opposing the program in its first year, they are its most ardent supporters since, say they couldn't function without it.  But CAHOOTS will not respond if there is a threat - the person in crisis is armed or violent - they let the police take the lead in making it safe for the CAHOOTS workers.

The horrors of police brutality, and the logic that has maintained it, need to be fought with all our might.  Changing that situation will not involve abolishing policing.  The slightest acquaintanceship with your local departments daily log - what they do - will demonstrate that.  But there are reforms - in terms of policy regarding use of force, regarding accountability and transparency, in terms of how to operate - emphasizing patience, respect, taking a de-escalatory approach as opposed to GET THE FUCK ON THE GROUND NOW NOW NOW!!  There are cops who favor these approaches, though they will tell you, "You can only de-escalate if the subject is willing to do the same."  We have to understand that it is a big ask to ask an officer to approach a mentally ill person who has been discharging a firearm and instead of letting your Glock talk for you, to try to talk him down, open handed, and ask him to hand over the gun.  Fantasy scenario?  It has happened at least 5 times I know of, one I witnessed.  We have a department that supports and encourages this approach.  Among younger cops there is a sort of feeling of, "15 days since our last use of force incident, lets keep it up, team."  Of complaints filed against officers for violation of policy?  40% are coming from... other cops.  The attitude is, "I don't want to be riding in the car with an officer who escalates situations, is abusive and aggressive.  He is endangering me, and he is making life harder for every cop on the force."  The department is very proud that they very very seldom have cops who have been disciplined for violating policy break the same policy again.  Some of the old harness bulls took retirement, some were strongly urged to take retirement, some quit and went elsewhere to cop, some were fired summarily.  The union's attitude is they insist all procedures are done correctly, the rights of each employee are respected, and if they're fuck ups, the union has no interest in protecting them for being fuck ups.

Fight smart, please.

Jack Radey


In with the new ...  --  Cartoon by Mike Luckovich


Mike Luckovich
December 28, 2023
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Re: Hollywood’s Maestro Does Disservice to a Great Musician and Educator

Remember violinist musician who was blind and wrote that big volume on all these conductors under which he had played and suffered under them in the orchestras in which he had played? I read to him the typeset manuscript in his westside apartment....  His book was so negative about all these famous conductors.... This movie avoids the whole conductor personality and goes off into lala land. Bernstein would hate that movie!!!

Susanne Scholz


Re: Let Bradley Cooper’s Maestro Be the Death of the Biopic

(posting on Portside Culture)

Biopics will go on and on, bad, terrible and some not so terrible. We wish Felicia's civil rights and antiwar activities had been in there, and support of Black Power. It was a brave thing to do within Jewish American life.

Paul Buhle
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


A very snotty review.

Nora Lapin


Some Hollywood biopics that have featured excellent performances from the so-called leading men and women who star in them, but I have yet to see one that didn't somehow sanitize its subject matter in ways that reinforce the dominant ideology's view of an outstanding individual's life.

Avram Barlowe
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I’m worried about seeing it!! Not interested especially in a semi straight not very political Bernstein …..

Felicia Kornbluh
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


and leaving out literally everything about AIDS was to leave out a lot about further character-defining qualities of both Lenny & Felicia.

Darren Jurmé Allumiér
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


It was a “nice” biopic… not at all reflective of his music, his politics, his life, IMHO…

Gary VandenBergh
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Awful movie with disjointed narrative. Bradley was playing Bradley and, daresay, the film was missing Tom Wolfe’s brilliant radical chic critique…

Joel Sucher
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Year 2023, Year 2024  --  Cartoon by Jeff Danziger


Jeff Danziger
The Rutland Herald


Webinar: Know Your Rights - Journalists + Free Speech At Work  -  January 4  (National Writers Union)



NWU event for all journalists concerning the attempts to intimidate and silence US media workers who oppose the leveling of Gaza.

Thursday, January 4, 2024     8:00pm ET/5:00pm PT


March on Washington for Gaza  --  January 13  (American Muslim Taskforce for Palestine)



Globalizing Labor Movements in Dialogue: Strikes and Political Strategies in the US and Asia  -  New York - January 18  (The CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies)



Global Labor Movements in Dialogue: Strikes and Political Power in Asia and the US

January 18, 2024
10 am - 4:15 pm

At The CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
25 W. 43rd Street, 18th Floor

With Kevin Lin, Kiang Teerakowitkajorn, Zoë West, Youbin Kang, Lisa Xu, Biju Mathew, Muhammad Ridha and Alex Han.

Participation is free but please register


Freedom Now Suite: Celebrating Max Roach's Centennial - Newark, NJ - January 26  (New Jersey Performing Arts Center)



Be part of the revolution! Experience a night of music exploring social Justice through the lens of Max Roach’s revolutionary Freedom Now Suite. The activism runs deep through each piece as The Last Poets, Nasheet Waits, Cassandra Wilson, Sonia Sanchez, Mayor Raz Baraka and more take the stage.

Friday, January 26 @ 8:00PM

Prudential Hall
Betty Wold Johnson Stage

Newark, New Jersey

Featuring Cassandra Wilson, Ravi Coltrane, Sonia Sanchez, Saul Williams, Nasheet Waits & more.

The revolutionary 1960 album We Insist!: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite explored issues of social justice and racial inequality through the lens of jazz and poetry. In celebration of the centennial of Max Roach — drummer, bebop pioneer and civil rights activist — this landmark work is reimagined for today’s world.

Musical director Nasheet Waits (of Max’s percussion ensemble M’Boom) is joined by vocalist Cassandra Wilson, poets Sonia Sanchez and Saul Williams, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and bassist Eric Revis. The Honorable Mayor Ras Baraka will help open the program, with a special appearance by The Last Poets. Experience the modern evolution of the Freedom Now Suite, a piece that continues to live, expand and inspire across generations.

“We American jazz musicians of African descent have proved beyond all doubt that we’re master musicians of our instruments. Now what we have to do is employ our skill to tell the dramatic story of our people and what we’ve been through.”

–Max Roach to DownBeat magazine

Purchase tickets here