Tidbits – Jan. 5, 2023 – Reader Comments: MAGAers Hold Congress Hostage; Roots of American Fascism; Open Letter to Young UniOrganizers; Come Work With Railroad Workers United; Jan 6th Justice: Our Freedoms, Our Vote – Nationwide Events; Cartoons; More…

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And just so you know, unions do work.....

A. Philip Randolph Institute

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Re: Jan. 6 Report Downplays Role of Christian Nationalism

I wish people had the courage to put "Christian" in quotation marks in these articles. Nationalism of any kind by its very nature is fundamentally UN-Christian. So-called "Christians" need to be called out at every turn for their un-Christian beliefs.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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The Circus Held Hostage  --  cartoon by Lalo Alcaraz


Lalo Alcaraz

January 3, 2023

Re: COVID in China, the U.S., and Everything In-Between

“… We should be very concerned for the people of China. They have gone from a “zero COVID” policy to a “let it rip” policy. It is possible that a variant of concern will arise from their disaster. But the U.S. already has a problem of its own.…”

George Lessard

Posted on Portside's Facebook page


I live in Beijing. I've lived here for many years and have not left China once since the pandemic started. My wife and I have been vaccinated with Sinovac three times and just recently got over a mild case of Covid which was about the same as having caught a cold. We live in a condo development in West Beijing and through contacts we know that most of our neighbors have gotten Covid although some have escaped and aside from a few cases of it developing into pneumonia, especially in those with compromised health, we know of no one who has died or had even serious complications. 

Ambulances are occasionally seen on the streets and hospitals are even more crowded than usual (hospitals are always crowded in Beijing) but we see no evidence in this city that things are anything at all as bad as portrayed by the author of this article which makes me think this is just another example of the daily barrage of anti-China propaganda that  you always read, hear or see in the US corporate-state media complex. By the way, I often go out very early in the morning to bike or rollerblade and if the government were trying to sneak around in the wee hours in the morning to hide something, I have seen absolutely no evidence of that as well and I pass by a great very many hospitals at those times,  

Mike Liston

Re: ‘I Can’t Imagine Who Would Think It’s OK To Take Food Away From Kids’

Possibly the most important measure of who we are as a country.

Alan Rowland

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

GOP Twister  --  cartoon by Rob Rogers


Rob Rogers

January 4, 2023


Re: Older Workers Shouldn’t Have To Live in Poverty

(posting on Portside Labor)

If you have older co-workers, it's likely because they're too poor to retire, and lack adequate community social support infrastructure.

The Durango Worker

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: The American Holiday Tradition of Firing Workers for No Reason

(posting on Portside Labor)

It’s that time of year when bosses send employees packing. Legally, they don’t even have to explain why—and usually, they don’t.

David Richardson

Re: Disabled Minnesotans Are Facing a Home Care Crisis. Workers Are Calling on Democrats To Change That.

Home care workers in Minnesota are organized by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees aka AFSCME.

Local home care workers would benefit from having a union too!

Oso Rojo

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: US Workers Need a Federal Paid Sick Leave Guarantee

(posting on Portside Labor)

One of the biggest problems for US workers are the power of the Unions. This, despite the fact that whatever benefits workers have achieved in the past 100+ years is due to unions and their members.

Many unions only support benefits they have negotiated and attained for their own members rather than benefits for every worker in every area of the country and in every line of work. Universal Health Care is the most obvious problem but "sick leave" along with its lengths, eligibility, allowed usage, etc. is certainly among those issues that should not rest with individual unions but benefit all workers whether a member of the specific union or any union.

This country needs one national activist organization that represents everyone in its struggles for workers. There are many examples of such organizations in the country and the world. Think of the ACLU or Planned Parenthood in the US or Amnesty International and Human Rights watch internationally. They serve everyone, member or not, who fits the definitions of the issues and people they represent.

Arlene Halfon

George Santos is presidential material  --  cartoon and commentary by Drew Sheneman


Congressman-elect George Santos, if that’s his real name, won an upset race in New York’s 3rd Congressional District this past midterm... or did he.

Seems the truth is a slippery thing around Mr. Santos. His campaign biography claimed college degrees from schools he didn’t attend and employment at financial institutions that have never heard of him. What he calls “embellishing his resume” is actually some form of immersive cosplay where this dude pretended to be a congressman for so long it actually happened. How the press only caught on to the fraud after Santos had been elected to Congress is a whole other can of worms, for now, let’s focus on George Santos, a rising star in the Republican Party.

By Drew Sheneman

December 29, 2022

The Star-Ledger

Re: Drag and Kids

(posting on Dispatches From the Culture Wars – January 3, 2023)

Jeez, folks! Yet another defense from you of humiliating, anti-woman Drag performances? And for children no less! Are you oblivious to how many women see this as participating in our oppression and the part it plays in driving us away from the Left?

Such "gendered presentation” by men mimicking stereotyped aspects of women’s oppression, like wearing high heels and acting foolishly, is offensive to most women in the same way that blackface is to Black people or doing tomahawk chops at ballgames is to Native American people. Drag doesn’t have to be "overtly sexual" to teach boys that disrespecting women is “fun entertainment" and let girls know that they just have to put up with it—not to mention reinforcing the same male supremacist attitudes and pursuits by adults.

The Right's very public opposition to Drag—and its kindred transgender doctrine—seems to compel a knee-jerk reaction in the Left into supporting both. This is harming efforts to organize women and is even driving some into the arms of the Right because the Left has abandoned us. How about some consideration and political maturity where the female sex is concerned.

Carol Hanisch

Re: Telling Americans To ‘Eat Better’ Doesn’t Work. We Must Make Healthier Food 

(posting on Portside Culture)

The article raises a lot of good points. And there’s no question that way too many people eat like crap (which of course contributes directly to healthcare costs spiraling out of control). But implementing mandates may be a slippery slope - as it could result in protests, misinformation spread, fistfights in school board meetings, Dr Google Trolls who act like they suddenly have PhD’s in Nutrition, etc. We need to somehow develop a culture of education and prevention so that people are intrinsically motivated to eat better.

Glenn Hughes

Posted on Portside's Facebook page

The Roots of American Fascism

by Bill Scheuerman and Sid Plotkin

January 3, 2023

Texas Governor Greg Abbot’s Christmas Eve political stunt of sending busloads of desperate immigrants, including women and children, to Vice President Harris’ home in Washington is another sign that Trumpism exists without Trump. To many modern-day pundits, the wide-spread acceptance of Trumpism suggests that the seeds of fascism are already taking root in America as countless Republican politicians now openly espouse Trump’s authoritarian program of hyper-nationalism, lawlessness, racism, sexism, macho calls for violence and, of course, the use of force to maintain power. Understanding how the Trumpist brand of fascism has become an acceptable part of American politics is essential to reversing its spread.

If, as Marx observed, traditions of past generations weigh on the brains of the living, then the roots of American fascism are part of its historical DNA. Trumpism yearns for a return to the good old days of a white, male, Christian America, marked by the genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Africans, the denigration of waves of immigrants, Jim Crow, the lynching of thousands of blacks, misogyny, antisemitism, and homophobia. Rather than view this history with shame, Donald Trump gave Americans permission to celebrate it. The question is: why do so many Americans accept his invitation?

The globalization of American capitalism and the successful war on organized labor treats working class people as disposable parts. Plant closings, outsourcing, and the loss of decent paying union jobs have created record levels of economic inequality. While the super-rich ride their private multi-billion-dollar rocket ships into outer space, forty percent of American adults don’t have $400 in the bank to pay for an emergency. Structural changes in the economy as witnessed by the rise of the service and gig economies place increasing pressures on American workers, many of whom survive by working multiple jobs without benefits or job security. 

The decline of unions leaves most workers institutionally naked with no major institution to represent their economic or political interests. Lacking the institutional backing of organized labor, it becomes a case of “every man for himself” as class consciousness evaporates, and isolated and aggrieved individuals try to understand their plight. That's when contemporary snake oil salesmen in the form of cable news companies step up to fill the void with racist vitriol that feeds upon the aggrieves feeling of victimization. Energized by the lies, many of the aggrieved heed the call of their Great Leader by wrapping themselves in the second amendment to reclaim their manhood and power.

Egalitarian democracy in the United States must face up to what it now confronts: a strident, violent movement aimed at restoring the Jacksonian vintage of white man’s democracy. Rather than addressing the issues raised by our racist past, Trumpism prefers to rewrite that part of our history. Consider their spurious attacks on teaching American history by calling it critical race theory, a strawman created to stir up the Republican base, or the book bannings taking place in red states throughout the United States.

Acknowledging America’s racist past is essential for curbing the rise of fascism, but creating policies that address our country’s alarming level of economic inequality is just as essential. Aside from advocating tax cuts for the rich and powerful and for squelching gun safety laws, Trumpism has little interest in public policy. If good paying, secure jobs provide buffers against fascism, changes in tax laws that encourage plant closings and overseas investments are crucial, as are labor law reforms to facilitate organizing and strengthening unions. So long as Republicans and Democrats alike continue to feed at the corporate trough, these reforms are unlikely even when faced with the possibility of a full-blown fascist state replacing our constitutional government.

[Sidney Plotkin, Professor of Political Science, Margaret Stiles Halleck Chair of Social Science, Vassar College. Author of many articles and several books, including Veblen's America: The Conspicuous Case of Donald J. Trump (London & New York: Anthem Press, 2018).

William E. Scheuerman, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, SUNY Oswego.  Retired President of the National Labor College and past President of United University Professions, the nation's largest higher ed union. He is a long-time labor activist. Scheuerman has written several books and numerous articles in both scholarly and popular journals. His most recent book is A New American Labor Movement: The Decline of Collective Bargaining and the Rise of Direct Action. (New York: SUNY Press, 2021).]

An Open Letter To Young Union Organizers

By Timothy Sheard

January 2, 2023


Young union leaders bringing the fight to the bosses at Starbucks, Amazon, Chipotle, REI and other bastions of corporate power across the country are inspiring millions and breathing new fire into the labor movement.

They’re meeting in parks and pubs, in backyards and union halls, highlighting the many benefits that come with unionizing: better pay, job security, reasonable shift allocation, health benefits —and most important of all — respect on the job.

While these arguments for signing union pledge cards address vital issues, young union leaders may be in danger of falling into the same trap legacy unions fell into in the 50’s and 60’s ─ letting the bosses control the social order narrative.

We’ve all heard that narrative. It goes like this: A bold, innovative entrepreneur borrows money from investors and builds a new corporate entity. When the company turns a profit, the CEO and the investors reap all the rewards and rightfully become rich.

The workers, meanwhile, who toiled to produce all that wealth in the form of products and services are paid a wage that the bosses call a “cost.” In this narrative, workers are simply debits in the loss columns that cut into the company’s profit margin — and nothing more.

But workers are not “costs.” They are disenfranchised investors — as deserving of a share of the company profits as any CEO or financial investor. Perhaps even more deserving.

Consider workers who toil for 25-30 years for a company. At the end of their work lives they retire, if they are healthy enough to have survived. During those working years, they provided institutional knowledge that was critical to the running of the company. They trained new hires and solved immediate problems on the shop floor. They invested their lives in the company.

But the corporate class writes the rules of business, so they mis-classify workers as “costs” rather than as “investors.” And at the same time the bosses are paying off the political class to write laws codifying the company’s right to further disenfranchise workers, they steal from the public by under-paying or not paying taxes. These companies utilize public services — from paving and lighting the streets, providing fire and police protection, and health inspectors for food — but too often duck paying their fair share of the taxes that pay for it all.

What’s more, the bosses consistently overcharge consumers. Even though they could sell their products or services at a lower cost and still turn a reasonable profit, they insist on high prices. Maximizing profit is their core philosophy. When consumer demand is high, they raise prices higher, even if their costs have not changed. If companies are awash in profits, they never provide financial relief to customers who are pinching pennies trying to cover the cost of food, medicine, rent, and the like.

Young union leaders need to deliver the message to rank and file workers that they are investors deserving a cut of the profits, and bosses are crooks. Delivering this message will raise worker awareness and heighten their commitment to fighting for their fair share of the pie. By finally realizing they are investors, workers will soon demand their place on the board of directors and have an real voice in how the company is run from then on.

Maybe one day they will even own the company.

[Timothy Sheard is a retired nurse and founder of Hard Ball & Little Heroes Press, a labor & social justice imprint.]

Come work with Railroad Workers United


[Letter to 500 Labor Historians, signatories to the Open Letter to Joe Biden in support of the demands of Railroad Workers United]

At this juncture in history, railroad rank & file workers have a unique opportunity right now, with greater visibility of our working conditions and struggles against rail carrier management in the wake of our recent contract battle.

To bolster the reach and effectiveness of our campaigns - particularly our campaign in support of public ownership of rail, and the campaign work we will begin in 2023 to prepare (early and aggressively) for our next contract negotiations in two years, our hope is to partner with academics and students studying rail from a worker-led perspective, or those studying labor and rank n' file labor organizing more generally.

We have some new, if limited, financial capacity to hire a student or two this year. One position would resemble a "student hourly" position that typically occurs within a university. This would be a limited number of hours per week to help us with the day to day administrative needs of the organization (membership processing, database work, membership communications, miscellaneous administrative tasks). While this is not glamorous work, it is still the crucial work of labor organizing and would expose a student to the inner workings of a labor union caucus, and the issues and struggles of working railroaders.

Another position we envision would be tailored for an advanced undergrad or graduate student with research interests related to rail nationalization, public ownership of infrastructure, and/or labor organizing who would help us with our campaign for public ownership of rail. This would be a cross between a researcher and organizer for the campaign who would work closely with our members - all of whom are working railroaders - leading that work.

We'd be grateful for any feedback from academics regarding how to structure this work, so it is beneficial to students and non-exploitative. While we aren't experts, we know that there are opportunities within academic institutions for things like "capstone" projects in courses, and internships for credit.

We're also curious to learn more about how graduate research assistantships and postdoctoral research projects are formed and articulated within universities and if the grants and funding streams that support these types of positions ever allow for partnership or collaboration with an organization outside of the university — a union caucus like ours, for example. We don't know if this is possible, but we do appreciate that universities house individuals that see, understand, and have the expertise and capacity to study labor struggles like ours and we would be enthusiastic partners in this work.

If you think there is a possibility of us working together in a capacity as outlined above (or otherwise), please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We look forward to working together in the coming months and years!

In solidarity,

Ron Kaminkow, RWU Organizer



Jan 6th Justice: Our Freedoms, Our Vote  --  Nationwide Events


Jan 6 Justice: Our Freedoms, Our Vote!

On January 6, 2023, the Not Above the Law and Declaration For American Democracy coalitions are partnering to hold nationwide actions on the second anniversary of the violent attack on our Capitol. 

We know that even though some of the most prominent election conspiracists lost their midterms, they are already looking to 2024 for ways to overturn the will of voters.

They are working to sabotage future elections by changing state laws, threatening election officials and packing election administration offices so that they can have the final say over election results even when they lose.

They are willing to do so in order to put people in power who want to take away our freedoms, whether it is our reproductive rights, our social security, our Medicare, or our ability to access affordable higher education, address the climate crisis or prevent gun violence.  They are also working to ensure that the people of Washington DC continue to lack representation and a voice in our democracy.

Meanwhile, they are launching sham investigations in the House of Representatives, while the need for real investigations into the criminal actions surrounding January 6 continue.

We cannot be complacent; together on January 6th, we will mobilize to both observe the January 6th attacks and launch into the next phase in our work: 

Passing local, state, and federal legislation to protect our freedoms

Pushing back against the potential sham investigations the new congress is planning

Uplifting the findings of real critical investigations like the Jan 6th investigation

We need all hands on deck to make this January 6th national day of action as big as possible.


Find An Event Near You

Click here to find an event

EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE: An Oral History of the New York Commune 2032-2052 - January 11


Register for WED. JANUARY 11 (virtual)


Wednesday, January 11, 2023 * 6:30pm - 7:30pm ET

Join us for a look at this acclaimed work of speculative fiction, where the authors invite us 50 years into the future, to envision how we may survive and thrive through the collapse of neoliberalism, capitalism and patriarchy.  New York City is the main stage, and our younger generations become the heroes of tomorrow as we learn through their lived experiences.  Everything For Everyone is a collection of fictional oral histories conducted with the characters who make their revolution, by way of the "New York Commune," a radically new social order forged in the ashes of this future's capitalist collapse. 

Join us virtually via Zoom.    Click here to register.


M.E. O'Brien - Author, Everything For Everyone

M. E. O’Brien writes and speaks on gender freedom and capitalism. Her co-authored speculative novel, Everything for Everyone: An Oral History of the New York Commune, 2052–2072, was published by Common Notions in August 2022. Her second book, Family Abolition: Capitalism and the Communization of Care, will be out with Pluto Press June of 2023.

O'Brien co-edits two magazines, Pinko, on gay communism, and Parapraxis, on psychoanalytic theory and politics. Her work on family abolition has been translated into Chinese, German, Greek, French, Spanish, and Turkish. Her writing has been published by Work, Employment and Society, Social Movement Studies, Endnotes, Homintern, Commune, and Invert.

Eman Abdelhadi - Author, Everything For Everyone

Eman Abdelhadi is an academic, activist, and artist who writes and thinks at the intersection of identity, politics, sexuality, and gender. Her academic work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and covered by press outlets such as the Washington Post, Associated Press, and NPR.

Abdelhadi is a poet and an essayist as well as co-author of Everything for Everyone, An Oral History of the New York Commune 2052-2072--a novel published with Common Notions Press in 2022. She received her PhD in Sociology from New York University in 2019 and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.

Rebecca Lurie - Director, The Community & Worker Ownership Project (CWOP)

Rebecca Lurie is the founder of the Community and Worker Ownership Project at the CUNY School for Labor and Urban Studies (SLU). She is also on the adjunct faculty of SLU.

Lurie is a founding member of the worker-owned cooperative, New Deal Home Improvement Company. She began her working career as a union carpenter, transitioning to worker education through the union’s apprenticeship program and the construction industry. Using a sectoral approach for understanding industries and their employment needs, and dedicated to inclusiveness, Lurie has collaborated on numerous community economic development projects in NYC, including pre-apprenticeship programs, a Bronx green jobs network, a kitchen incubator, and the design of Best for NYC.

Lurie serves on the Boards of the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative and the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. She holds a Master’s in Organizational Change Management from The New School, a certificate in Adult Occupational Education from CUNY, and is certified in Permaculture Urban Design.

Sponsored by the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies.

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Source URL: https://portside.org/2023-01-05/tidbits-jan-5-2023-reader-comments-magaers-hold-congress-hostage-roots-american-fascism