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Tidbits – Feb.15, 2024 – Reader Comments: Israeli Settlements–Obstacle to Peace; High Grocery Bills; Phil Ochs; Standing Together; Pelosi, Biden, Solipsism; We Who Believe in Freedom – Songs and Stories; Holly Near; Celebrating Barbara Ehrenreich;

Reader Comments: Israeli Settlements--Obstacle to Peace; Grocery Bills Still High; Phil Ochs; Standing Together; Pelosi, Biden, Solipsism; We Who Believe In Freedom - Songs and Stories; Holly Near; Celebrating Barbara Ehrenreich; How to Sue the Klan;

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Announcements AND cartoons - Feb.15, 2024,Portside





Re: Israeli Settlements Stand in the Way of Peace. Biden Can Defund Them All

If President Biden is serious about recognizing Palestinian statehood, he has powerful tools to pressure Israel in that direction. Defunding the settlements would be a great first step.

Norm Littlejohn
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Border Crisis ?  - Nevermind, It Can Wait  --  Cartoon by Dennis Goris



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Dennis Goris
February 10, 2024
Dennis Goris


Re: The Real Reason Your Grocery Bill Is Still So High

One of the more enraging bits of wisdom from established economists is that we should get over the problems posed by inflation. Every time I buy milk ($3) butter ($5), coffee ($8) and eggs ($3.79), I am reminded that food costs much, much more than I am prepared to pay.  The Washington Post (link in the comments) tells us “supply chain” stories. IMO, obviously, the real story is about food industry monopolies able to squeeze us. Thanks, therefore to Portside for helping to set things straight on the high prices we’re paying.

Daniel Millstone
Posted on Facebook


Forgetful  --  Cartoon by Mike Luckovich


Mike Luckovich
February 13, 2024
Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Re: The UAW Is Organizing the South

(posting on Portside Labor)

Maybe it's the southern workers who are organizing the UAW.?

Chuck Levenstein


Re: Pilots Got Their Payday. Now Flights Attendants Are Pushing Airlines for Higher Wages

(posting on Portside Labor)

Bravo for the fighting flight attendants!!  It's a worthy cause that the can be won.

Miriam Frank


White Washing Black History  --  Cartoon by Clay Bennett


Clay Bennett
February 5, 2024
Chattanooga Times Free Press


Re: Casualties of a Failed Health Care System

Among the many reasons for our failed health care system, other than the privatization that leads to low costs for the Corporate Owners of health organizations are the lack of sufficient people willing to work in the system. It's not just nurses at all levels but many professionals of many kinds at all levels.

One example, I'm familiar with are Public Health Professionals. High levels of education and training are needed. Education needed is frequently at a MPH or PhD level. Getting education in this country is expensive. Many people who would love to go into the various fields may have to borrow thousands of dollars to get the necessary degrees but salaries are low. People who are in highly paid professions, and who have greater political power, because of their incomes, complain that they repaid their student loans, they don't want anyone getting away without paying theirs.

Many people follow their interests regardless of cost and future debt. However, many people do the math and decide that going into these professions just isn't rational. So, we don't get the Public Health Professionals (and nurses and other medical professionals) that are needed. The lack of people in this and other Health Professions is probably far more costly to our society than free education (as in all other wealthy countries) and/or debt forgiveness would be. But our ridiculous "ethic" keeps the larger population sicker and poorer and our society suffers. An on-going cycle down.

Oh, will they ever ever learn?

Arlene Halfon


Re: Troubadour of 1960s New Left Is Celebrated in New Exhibit at Woody Guthrie Museum


This one is my song: Phil Ochs — When I'm Gone

Play here  

Judith Pasternak


Yes, Ochs "had become disillusioned", and he indeed had his vocal cords injured during the robbery. But the fundamental reason that these things led to his suicide was that he suffered from mental illness. Better to name it, so as to remove the stigma and make it easier for people to seek treatment.

Mike Mauer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Super Bowl Ads To Promote Israel

Yet another reason for me to root against the Patriots.

Dave Lott
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Special Counsel Hur  --  Cartoon by Clay Bennett



Clay Bennett
February 10, 2024
Chattanooga Times Free Press


Re: Why a Faction of BDS Is Attacking Standing Together

Disappointing article.  I was hoping for a real explanation of why part of the BDS movement dislikes Standing Together. That would require an honest engagement with the PACBI statement on how Standing Together "normalizes" occupation. Rather than examining the PACBI argument, Etan Nechin spends most of the piece implying, without evidence, that PACBI is animated by visceral hatred of Jewish Israelis and of any interethnic cooperation. My point is not to render any particular judgment on PACBI or Standing Together -- just to note that the piece doesn't live up to the headline and reproduces a harmful trope about the irrationality of Palestinians.

Kevin Young
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


There is a real Israeli left with a magazine and notable figures like Gideon Levy of Haaretz. I certainly think that they should be encouraged.

Nora Lapin
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Exposed: US DEA Used Criminals To Spy On, Destabilize Venezuela, Mexico, Bolivia

Ben Norton and company practice the anti-Imperialism of Fools! Please, please let's find better sources for these stories than campists. Their tankie spin only serves to hurt the left in the long run.

Austin Kelley


Re: Leonard Bernstein’s Radicalism

(posting on Portside Culture)

Re your otherwise rather good article on Leonard Bernstein: Bernstein was active in the American Soviet Music Society. So were Ned Rorem, Muriel Smith, and a number of others mentioned below. But not during his undergraduate years at Harvard, 1935-39! At least 6 years later....

The Music Committee of "The National Council of American-Soviet Friendship", organized in 1943, was active under the chairmanship of Sergei Koussevitzky; he was supported by prominent musicians—Aaron Copland, Roy Harris, Fritz Reiner, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Lily Pons, André Kostelanetz, and Benny Goodman. After the war, in 1946, the American-Soviet Music Society was set up as an independent organization; among their officers and members were Leonard Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Morton Gould, Daniel Saidenberg, Elie Siegmèister. There was a national Advisory Board of thirty-five members, and an "American-Soviet Music Review" was published, but it did not flourish beyond the first issue in autumn 1946. The political circumstances of the late 1940's—The Cold War, McCarthyism—made the Society cease its activities within a few years. The tragic post-war estrangement between the Soviet Union and its former allies was reflected almost immediately in the field of music.

The photograph that Elie Siegmèister had on his piano, which hangs on my wall, of Copland, Siegmèister, Bernstein and Blitzstein, is from a 1945 organizational meeting of those composers, to set up the American Soviet Music Society; which was active until killed by the Cold War.  (Same with the American Soviet Medical Society, which my parents were active in, around the same time.)

With kind regards -

Leonard J. Lehrman


Re: Bob Moses: Gardener of Minds

(posting on Portside Culture)

This Robert Moses (not the other one) is one of my heroes. He identified math literacy as a frontier that had to be conquered for the sake of equality. So he started the Algebra Project.

Sonia Cobbins
Posted on Portside's Facebook page


Re: Why Some Are More Equal Than Others

(posting on Portside Culture)

I find the Reeves article to be woefully inadequate. Without getting into details this article discusses the question of equality without dealing with the struggles for equality occurring over the millennia.

Marx said "All history is the history of class struggle." I think that this little tidbit should be added to any review of a book on equality, whether it's mention in the source book or not.

David Berger


Forced Labor Funnies  --  Cartoon by Jen Sorensen


This cartoon is based on the AP story entitled “Prisoners in the US are part of a hidden workforce linked to hundreds of popular food brands” that was published recently. (It’s a long piece, so if you’re in a hurry, you can check out their “takeaways” article summarizing the report.) To put it briefly, prisoners are doing a lot more labor in the food supply chain than I think most of us realized. While some inmates choose to work, many are compelled to do so under threat of punishment. The 13th Amendment allows involuntary labor as punishment for a crime, so the practice — which disproportionately affects people of color — can look an awful lot like slavery. The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, where inmates do farm work, is literally located on a former slave plantation. These jobs often pay pennies or nothing at all.

Help keep this work sustainable by joining the Sorensen Subscription Service! Also on Patreon.

Jen Sorensen
February 7, 2024
Jen Sorensen


Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and the Spectacular Solipsism of Our Nation's Capital

by Tom Gallagher

February 14. 2024

When Nancy Pelosi relinquished her position as Speaker of the House at the end of the last congressional session much of the country may have assumed that she retired from Congress entirely. In fact, until recently the less diligent among her own district's political observers might have been forgiven for thinking the same, given that she appeared to have entered into a type of still-in-office retirement – adopting the title of Speaker Emerita while serving on no congressional committees.

No more, though. Her recent outburst against opponents of Israel's ongoing devastation of Gaza that has followed upon Hamas's October assault left no doubt that – for better or worse, she's still at it. What particularly raised eyebrows was her call for an FBI investigation of whether the people disrupting President Biden's speaking engagements by shouting out demands to support a Gaza ceasefire were funded by Russia. To wit: "What we have to do is try to stop the suffering in Gaza ... But for them to call for a ceasefire is Mr. Putin's message."

Putin's message is it? This is a spectacular level of obliviousness – for anyone, really, much less for someone who within the past two years ranked second in order of succession to the presidency of the United States. In a statement defending her call for an investigation of the funding of opponents of the Biden Administration's pro-war policies, her office referred to her being "Informed by three decades on the House Intelligence Committee." Perhaps if she had kept her committee membership current she'd have been cognizant of the December 12, 2023 United Nations General Assembly vote calling for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in the Israel-Hamas war, and in particular the 153–10 margin (with 23 abstentions) of its passage. So, was that 153 countries delivering Putin's message?

And wait, it gets worse – NATO! Our government went all out not only in maintaining NATO – a Cold War era organization – into the post-Cold War era, but pushed its expansion all the way to the Russian border. And whether or not you think this was a provocation that contributed significantly to Russia's current actions, there's little arguing but that NATO is currently reckoned as an explicitly anti-Putin alliance. So what to make of the fact that NATO's member states backed the ceasefire resolution by a 20-2 margin (and 9 abstentions), with only the Czech Republic joining the U.S. in opposition? Is NATO too dominated by nations intent on delivering Putin's message? Should we get the CIA out there investigating that one, Madam Speaker Emerita? (As if they're not already.)

Of course it would be one thing if this were just an instance of cluelessness on the part of a single member of Congress, but the degree to which our government is out of sync with the rest of the world goes far beyond that. Consider the matter of another UN resolution, this one recurrent: Last November the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly against the US's economic and trade embargo against Cuba, declaring it to be in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law.

Although few Americans will be aware of this vote due to the scant attention accorded it by our newsmedia, our press corp might reasonably defend their minuscule reporting on the grounds that a resolution against the U.S. embargo – in place since 1960 – didn't much qualify as news, in that this was the 31st such vote, one having occurred in every year since 1992, with the exception of the 2020 Covid year, and each one resulting in the policy's condemnation. The outcome of this most recent vote, by the way, was 187-2 (U.S. and Israel), with one abstention (Ukraine).

Now, as to the matter of Pelosi's concern for stopping the suffering in Gaza: One hopes that she is sufficiently up to date to realize that, upon hearing Israel's January 26 claim that some United Nations Relief and Works Agency employees were involved in the Hamas attack that precipitated Israel's ongoing invasion, Biden immediately halted American funding of the agency. UNRWA currently operates schools and centers estimated to be sheltering more than half of the entire population of Gaza and is the territory's principal source of food. Without the funding cut off by the U.S. and ,a number of other nations, it will not be able to operate and will be unable to pay its 30,000 Palestine-based employees, 13,000 of whom are in Gaza. (The Israeli charges that are currently crippling the agency were leveled against 12 UNRWA employees, less than one tenth of one percent of its total Gaza workforce.)

And the funding cutoff is not the only deadly obstacle UNRWA faces. On February 5, the head of the agency's Gaza operations reported that "a food convoy waiting to move into Northern Gaza was hit by Israeli naval gunfire." In fact, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs writes that "By the agency's count, at least 154 UNRWA staff had been killed during the fighting in Gaza as of February 8. UNRWA also reported that its facilities have been hit at least 290 times during the hostilities, which have now claimed the lives of over 27,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry."

Nor is UNRWA the only agency under attack. On February 1, the Gaza offices of Belgium's development agency were bombed and completely destroyed. (Belgium was one of countries that did not suspend UNRWA funding in response to the Israeli charges.) Any of these attacks may well have been launched using weapons the Biden Administration has been providing in abundance, bypassing Congress as needed. Is Pelosi actually aware of any of this? Seems inconceivable that she isn't, but then the beauty of being a member of Congress is that the job doesn't really require knowing what goes on in the rest of the world – and certainly doesn't require caring about what the rest of the world thinks.

None of this solipsism in any way to be confused with any kind of "isolationist" impulses, mind you. Just to keep our place in the world in perspective, there are some other numbers that might also take the average American aback: According to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, as of September 2022, there were 171,736 of our active-duty military troops stationed across 178 foreign countries, the lion's share – 115,126 – in Japan, Germany, and South Korea, where they are stationed at one of the 312 bases our military maintains in the three countries. The total number of U.S. foreign military bases is estimated to be in excess of 800. (I will not hazard a guess as to the exact number, lest I land on the correct number by chance, thereby risking arrest since that exact number is a military secret.) American troops in 178 foreign countries, nine of which agree with our Gaza policy and one of which agrees with our Cuba policy! Those kind of numbers seem strange to anyone else?

Pelosi, by the way, is running for reelection. Unfortunately, however, the depths of her apparent disinterest in the actual events occurring in Gaza – and who knows where else in the world – are unlikely to be plumbed during the course of the upcoming campaign season. None of her opponents are given the remotest chance of unseating her and her presence is not anticipated at any candidates night events.


We Who Believe In Freedom - Songs and Stories of Liberation  --  Chicago  --  February 18  (Songs for Ceasefire; Tzedek Chicago; Chicago Artists Against Genocide)



In the Zoom Room  -  Holly Near: Because of Song  -- February 19  (The First Coast Freethought Society)



MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2024 in the Zoom Room. Singer / Songwriter / Peace Activist, Holly Near, will share stories about her life and sing thoughtful original songs with humor, style, and craft. A lively discussion is sure to follow. ZOOM Meeting ID: 86930248001. Passcode: 363219. Please RSVP and LEARN MORE about Holly Near at our Meet-up page here:

🎉 Now in our 26th year! 🎉

The First Coast Freethought Society is an organization of individuals who prefer science and reason over religious dogma and fanaticism. We have enjoyed the nonreligious population of Northeast Florida since 1998 as we seek ways to improve the quality of life within our communities.

Our advocacy prefers progressive ideas over regressive ideas with an emphasis on equality, equity, and critical thinking, through education and community outreach.

We provide a place to discuss philosophy, science, books, movies, current events, and a venue for local and national speakers to share their expertise. We offer support to those who question or have rejected religious beliefs.

Our public activities are free! Check out our YouTube Channel, monthly meetings, newsletter, book and move discussion groups, and our monthly Secular Sunday in the park. We hope you can join us!


CELEBRATING BARBARA EHRENREICH: IN HER WORDS  --  New York City  --  February 20  (Produced in Association with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and Annabelle Gurwitch)





Tuesday, February 20 | 7PM | Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre

Expected Run Time is 75 minutes

This event has sliding scale ticket prices to make space for all. Please choose the ticketing tier most comfortable for you.

Actors and admirers take the stage to honor the late activist and social critic with readings from her groundbreaking books, including the national bestseller Nickel and Dimed. Ehrenreich’s passion for amplifying the voices of America’s disempowered shines through in the pages of her library, which tackles topics such as the labor market, women’s rights, health care, science, love, and communal joy. Hosted by Maria Hinojosa, and featuring: Caroline Aaron, Danny Burstein, Nancy Giles, Annabelle Gurwitch, Jessica Hecht, Merritt Wever, and Lizz Winstead! With an introduction by Alissa Quart.

Tickets for the event are available at They are priced on a sliding scale, in an effort to remove price as a barrier for entry.

GET TICKETS  Click here


Film Screening - How to Sue the Klan  -  New York City  --  February 28  (Center for Constitutional Rights)


How to Sue the Klan is the story of how five Black women from Chattanooga used legal ingenuity to take on the Ku Klux Klan in a historic 1982 civil case filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Their victory set a legal precedent that continues to inspire the ongoing fight against organized hate.

Join the Center for Constitutional Rights for a screening of How to Sue the Klan and a talk-back with the filmmaker and Center for Constitutional Rights attorneys – past and present – to discuss this important case and its legacy.

Wednesday, February 28

Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St., New York, NY 10012

5:00 p.m.: Doors open
5:30 p.m.: Welcome and screening
6:00 p.m.: Talk-back and Q&A

Reserve Your Seat  


  • Randolph M. McLaughlin, Professor of Law at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law. Randy is a former Center for Constitutional Rights Staff Attorney who litigated Crumsey v. Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and is featured in the film.
  • Betty Lawrence Lewis, Adjunct Professor at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law and NYC College of Technology. Betty is also a former Center for Constitutional Rights Staff Attorney who litigated Crumsey v. Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and is featured in the film.
  • Vincent Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights 
  • Emily Early, Associate Director of the Southern Regional Office, Center for Constitutional Rights

More about Crumsey v. Justice Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

On April 19, 1980, four Black women stood waiting for a cab on Chattanooga’s 9th St. when a car passed, driven by a local Ku Klux Klan leader. His passengers, also Klansmen, worked together to fire shotgun blasts from the open window. The gunfire wounded the four friends, and a fifth woman was struck by flying glass as the Klansman continued up the road, firing more shots. In criminal court, an all-white jury acquitted two of the Klansmen and sentenced the third to just nine months. He served only six. Civil unrest followed the verdict, sparking national attention and the attention of attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. The organization had been waiting for the right opportunity to use a new legal strategy against hate groups in civil court. Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Randolph McLaughlin and his legal team filed a civil case in federal court on behalf of the injured women, arguing that they were entitled to compensation based on a Reconstruction-era law called the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Enforcement Act.

We’re thrilled to host this event and share some of our history with you. Find out more about the Center for Constitutional Rights’ work supporting generations of Southern freedom fighters to transform material conditions, dismantle systems of oppression, and advance visions of collective liberation on our Southern Justice Rising project page.

We hope to see you on February 28!

The Center for Constitutional Rights team

Read more about the Center for Constitutional Rights’ work supporting generations of Southern freedom fighters to transform material conditions, dismantle systems of oppression, and advance visions of collective liberation on our Southern Justice Rising page.

Center for Constitutional Rights  
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7th Floor
New York, NY 10012

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Donations: 212-614-6481
Fax: 212-614-6499