December 2011, Week 5


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Sat, 31 Dec 2011 19:35:33 -0500
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Tidbits - December 31, 2011

-  Playing Bigger Than You Are (Stewart Acuff)
-  Re: Clashes Erupt as Protests Spread Across 
   Syria (Michael Munk)
-  Re: The Second Cold War and South America (John Talbutt)
-  Review -- Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the Farm
   (Duane Campbell)
-  Chicago-Midwest ANC Centenary Coordinating Committee -
   January 8, 2012 (Harold Rogers)
-  Re: Ron Paul is Not an Alternative - He is Not Anti-War,
   He is a Union-Busting Racist - Dissenting Views to
   Portside Moderator (David Makofsky, David Reno, Gordon


-  Playing Bigger Than You Are

When I was a young community organizer in Dallas, Texas
almost 35 years ago my first organizing mentor, Stephen
Holt, had a saying that our organization,ACORN, and each of
us organizers should be about "playing bigger than you are".

He was referring to the center of the Washington Bullets
basketball team, Wes Unseld, who while shorter than other
centers in the NBA played as if he were much taller.

Holt meant that ACORN should occupy that space in the
political and civic life often left vacant by low and
moderate income people.

The folks in the Occupy movement are doing that very well.
Indeed, they have changed the political and economic
discourse in America.

And Mike Langford and the Utility Workers Union of America
are playing and working that way as well.

Indeed, since those early years of knocking on doors and
organizing actions in the Oak Cliff working class area of
Dallas, I've worked very hard at "playing bigger than you

That is why my publisher, Levins Publishing, and my editor
Jane Dickerson chose that phrase to title my brand new book.

Please go to Levins Publishing on the web to read Sen.
Bernie Sanders foreword, see more about the book, and how to
order it.

The book has been called a "primer for progressives", a
firsthand look at some of America's most important
community, political, and labor campaigns and lessons to be
learned from them.

In this time of change and political turbulence in America
we all need to learn more about organizing average Americans
against the forces the radical rightwing and the financial

Stewart Acuff


-  Re: Clashes Erupt as Protests Spread Across Syria

Imagine reporting on OWS from the perspective and sources of
the occupiers while ignoring or challenging claims of local

But that's how the media from the NYT on down spins their
reporting on Syria, relying almost exclusively on
opposition sources-- as they did during the NATO
intervention in the Libyan civil war. Deadly attacks by the
opposition are consistently ascribed to "defectors" from the
Syrian military, although several neutral sources and the
Syrian government describe them as "foreign" or "foreign-
financed terrorists."

The opposition agenda's, as it was in Libya, is to persuade
the US and its allies to intervene on behalf of a claimed
"duty to protect" civilians. This covers the Obama regime's
objective of regime change in nations which oppose his and
Israeli foreign policy. Who knows what allowing OWS to
dictate its media coverage could lead to?

Michael Munk


-  Re: The Second Cold War and South America

Capitalist nations are by their nature predatory and it is
well that South American nations, particularly those moving
toward social justice and equality, be on guard.

That being said I think there is much that is misunderstood
here.  "The war on terror" is not past.  It was not a
strategy but a tactic based on lies to accomplish 1. the
invasion of Iraq, 2. an attack on civil liberties, and 3.
circumvention of the Geneva Convention.  Presumably the U.S.
is out of Iraq but still the Patriot Act is enforced,
Guantanamo is a prison and attack drones - acts of war by
any standard - still attack..

In fact, drones, and other encroachments on Pakistani
sovereignty, all done in the name of the war on terror, have
brought an end to U.S./Pakistan cooperation.  With this
China and Pakistan, who share an enmity toward India, have
found areas of cooperation.  This is certainly a realignment
that should not be ignored by any appraisal of U.S. global

The article puts a U.S. base in Taiwan where rather famously
there is none. Ironically, were there a U.S. base in Taiwan
it would be toast the same day the U.S. attempted to stop
oil to China. The other bases in this area, including
Okinawa which the article somehow overlooks, have been in
place - often at greater strength - for fifty years.  There
existence hardly portends a change in policy.

There is no indication that the policy makers in the U.S.
are so stupid as to assume that the fact that the U.S. is in
decline while China is ascending means that the U.S. would
benefit by damaging the Chinese economy.  The concern I hear
is that the Chinese growth rate may drop further next year.

As for the dire prediction of domestic fury and fierce civil
strife overcoming the U.S. for the next four years, it seems
to be inspired by the far right austerity hawks leading the
European creditor nations and I wouldn't move to Canada just

John Talbutt


-  Review -- Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the Farm

From Duane Campbell:

You may find this review of Frank Bardacke's book, Trampling
Out the Vintage : Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the Farm
Worker Union of value for Portside - labor.

Trampling out the Vintage?

    A  dissident's view of the rise and the fall of the
    United Farm Workers union.

By Duane Campbell

Frank Bardacke's Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and
the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. (2011, Verso). is
the view of a well- informed observer  who  worked in the
lettuce fields near Salinas for six seasons, then spent
another 25 years  teaching English to  farm workers  in the
Watsonville, Cal. area. His views on the growth and decline
of the United Farm Workers union - some of which I do not
share-  offer  important points of history and reflection
for unionists today, particularly those working with the
Occupy Wall Street movement.

Trampling Out the Vintage, provides several insights not
previously developed in well informed books on the UFW
including  important  differences between grape workers and
workers in row crops such as lettuce; the length of time
workers were in the UFW, the more settled family nature of
grape workers, the strength of each  type of ranch
committees,  the leadership of ranch crews  ( and thus the
potential differences in creating democratic
accountability), and the differing histories of worker
militancy in  different  crops.  The author correctly argues
that each of these led to somewhat different organizing
environment in building the  union. He also details problems
of administrative mismanagement in the hiring halls in the
grape areas and alleged  mismanagement of organizing within
the union sponsored health care insurance and clinic systems

Based upon his own experiences and the histories of workers
in the Salinas valley, Bardacke  makes the case  that farm
workers- not Cesar Chavez - created the union.  They built
their union on a long history of previous collective work
stoppages and strikes.  The union was created on the ground
in Delano,  Salinas, Watsonville, and surrounding towns- not
in the union headquarters of  La Paz.  The author reveals
his strong viewpoint in the  title apparently referring  to
Chavez "Trampling out the Vintage" where a union had  been

Read more:



-  Chicago-Midwest ANC Centenary Coordinating Committee

The kickoff for the African Nation Congress (ANC)
Centenary will be held on Sunday, January 8, 2012 at Trinity
United Church of Christ (TUCC) located at 400 W. 95th St.
in Chicago from 3-5 pm.

To celebrate this important and historic event there will be
a panel discussion on the Relationship Between The Civil
Rights Movement and The Anti-Apartheid Struggle.

The panelists include: myself as moderator, Dr. Rachel
Rubin, UIC, Attorney Stan Willis, Prof. Johann Buis, Wheaton
College and Nicole Lee, Executive Director of TRANSAFRICA.

On Friday, January 6th at 7:00 pm Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright
will lecture on the role of the Church in Africa. Rev.
Wright's lecture is part of the Kickoff and we are honored
to have him as part of the celebration.

We look forward to your presence at both events at TUCC.
Please see attached.

In Solidarity,

Prof. Harold Rogers

Join the Chicago-Midwest ANC Centenary Coordinating
Committee by adding your organizations name or your name.
For more information on this or any of our planned
activities, please email: [log in to unmask]


-  Re: Ron Paul is Not an Alternative - He is Not Anti-War,
He is a Union-Busting Racist - Dissenting Views to Portside

Some of these statements are true.  Ron Paul has a racist
past, and he is certainly antiu-uniuon.

On the other hand, he is the ONLY candidate who opposes bank
bailouts, the ONLY candidate who opposes foreign wars and
plans to cut defense spending, the ONLY candidate who
op poises foreign and military aid to Israel

He is an alternative, no matter what you say

David Makofsky


I will suspend judgement on Dr. Ron Paul's newsletters.  I
don't know if he wrote then or he didn't. Lacking facts, one
is left with speculation.  I will note the newsletters bore
his name, and were sent out over his name.

Since persons who described themselves as "conservatives", a
term that like Humphey Dumpty's statements, "Words mean what
I say they mean.", always claim to believe in a mantra of
"personal responsibility."

If they believe what they say, what conclusion can one come
to regarding Dr. Paul's responsibility? This might be a
point to ponder for a person who professes to hate
government, yet wants to become it's head.

David Reno


The sad fact, though, is that without going to much trouble,
Ron Paul is running to the left of Mr. O on many important
issues, like the endless wars, the imperialism, the bailouts
and immunities for banksters, the national surveillance-
security-and- police state, the Drug War and its prison-
industrial complex, and others.  Thus for many leftist,
liberal and independent voters, if Ron Paul emerges in any
form as a candidate, Republican or independent, lesser-
evillism is not necessarily going to produce a vote for Mr.
O this time around.

Gordon Fitch


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