September 2012, Week 2


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Sat, 8 Sep 2012 15:20:57 -0400
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Tidbits, Reader Response & Announcements
September 8, 2012

* Re: Beyond November -Thoughts on Politics, Social
  Movements, and the 2012 Elections (Seymour Joseph)
* Re: Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves (Michael Munk,
  Richard Curtis)
* Get a Backbone - Bold Ideas that
  Democrats Need to Embrace - Open Letter from 20
  Leading Democrats (Claire Carsman)
* Re: Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis
  (Charles Ostman)
* Re: An Open Letter to Cosatu: from Jay Naidoo, First
  General Secretary of Cosatu (Stan Nadel)
* Re: What Motivates Rejection of (Climate) Science? (Ross
* Re: Widespread Vaccine Exemptions Are Messing With
  Herd Immunity (responses to Clara King
  responds in Tidbits - August 31) -- Bella Pace, S
  Llewelyn Jones, Mark R. Elsis
* Re: High Performing Charter Schools: Beating The Odds,
  Or Beating TheTest? (Ted Cloak)
* A soundtrack for labor day 2012 (Jim Williams)
* Lonmin-Marikana Mineworker Massacre:
  Context and Consequences - New York - September 11


* Re: Beyond November - Thoughts on Politics, Social
Movements, and the 2012 Elections

Well, Portside finally left me in a state of shock.
That column by Michael Hirsch and Jason Schulman nearly
gave me a heart attack. Is the Obama administration one
that is "not to praise but to damn"? Is it really
"scabrous"? And, finally, is Obama "the worst
Democratic president since Grover Cleveland"? I can
almost hear the Tea Partyers cheering.

Much of these nihilistic naysayers' criticism of the
Obama administration is correct. There have been a
number of shortcomings and promises unkept. But if
there was ever a time to utter that old cliche
"throwing the baby out with the bathwater," this was
it. There was not a word in the article about the
administration's incredible accomplishments, from the
Lilly Ledbetter equal pay act to the expansion of the
s- chip children's aid program to the Affordable Care
Act, and much more. I say incredible, considering the
vow by the Republicans to scuttle any initiative by the
administration. Bringing Obama down was their mantra
from day one, the welfare of the nation be damned.

Somebody once said that politics is the art of the
possible. The implication being that progress is made
one step at a time, and that with every candidate and
every election the voters' main consideration should be
which is the candidate most amenable to helping us
realize our needs and desires. And after we make that
decision, our job doesn't end at the ballot box.
Mobilization and movement must continue, and not rely
on the good graces of the candidates we elect.

Hirsch's and Shulman's article was particularly
egregious in the context of the crises our nation is
facing. I suppose Portside printed it in the name of
open dialogue. But considering what I said above, I'm
not sure it was such a good idea.

Seymour Joseph


* Re: Saving Obama, Saving Ourselves

I thought his sunny take on Obama disguised as a
lecture on American politics suggests he simply doesn't
consider Obama's foreign policy record as the disaster
that some of us do. Like

Dumb and Dumber Obama's "Smart Power" Foreign Policy
Not Smart at All By John Feffer, Tom Dispatch

    Barack Obama is a smart guy. So why has he spent
    the last four years executing such a dumb foreign
    policy? True, his reliance on "smart power" -- a
    euphemism for giving the Pentagon a stake in all
    things global -- has been a smart move politically
    at home. It has largely prevented the Republicans
    from playing the national security card in this
    election year. But "smart power" has been a
    disaster for the world at large and, ultimately,
    for the United States itself.

    Power was not always Obama's strong suit. When he
    ran for president in 2008, he appeared to friend
    and foe alike as Mr. Softy. He wanted out of the
    war in Iraq. He was no fan of nuclear weapons. He
    favored carrots over sticks when approaching
    America's adversaries.


Michael Munk


Lesser evil thinking has not moved American politics
anywhere but to the right for the last 40 years. At
what point will people like Hayden recognize that to
change politics we cannot continue to vote for the same
two-party duopoly? It is purely wishful thinking on
Hayden's part that electing Obama will do anything
other than continue the current collapse of our economy
and environment. We need better and unless and until
we are willing to fight Democrats in elections AND beat
them then nothing will change, nothing will ever get

Save ourselves by creating an electoral alternative!

Richard Curtis, PhD Political Science and Philosophy
Instructor Seattle Central Community College


* Get a Backbone - Bold Ideas that Democrats Need to
Embrace - Open Letter from 20 Leading Democrats

If Obama truly "moves forward" and starts standing up
to the ultra-Right (which has become the Republican
Party) he might just win and do the things he needs to

Claire Carsman


* Re: Barclays makes a £500m betting on food crisis

There is evil, and then there is real evil, in the true
sense of the word.

Banksters who actually speculate on profits to be made
of food shortages . . . starvation for profit, as an
"investment opportunity".

That's about as evil as it gets.

And people wonder why the major banking consortia are
so despised.

Gee, I wonder why that might be???

Charles Ostman
Sebastopol, CA


* Re: An Open Letter to Cosatu: from Jay Naidoo, First
General Secretary of Cosatu

Thank you for posting this, it helps clarify what is
going on in SA.

Stan Nadel


* Re: What Motivates Rejection of (Climate) Science?

What does it mean to support a free market economy?
Does it simply mean that one does not wish to be
limited in any way from doing what and how one wishes?
And climate change suggests the need for limits?

Ross Spears


* Re: Widespread Vaccine Exemptions Are Messing With
Herd Immunity (Clara King responds in Tidbits - August

I am disappointed that Portside would publish such
dangerous and erroneous statements as stated in Clara
King's reply to the article on Herd Immunity.

Most vaccines have well documented efficacy against
disease of well over 90 percent. The autism connection
has been rebuked by many studies. There is no doubt
about herd immunity...one cannot catch a contagious
disease without a diseased contact. Immunizations have
played a large part in our expanded life expectancy.
Immunization has eliminated smallpox, has almost
eliminated polio as a disease and has greatly improved
the quality if life for all of us.

Bella Pace


How wrong can you be with regard to vaccinations and
autism - did you not know the authors of this lie have
been found lacking in veracity?

Jeeze! Stop with the lies!

S Llewelyn Jones


I second what Clara has stated.

Mark R. Elsis


* Re: High Performing Charter Schools: Beating The
Odds, Or Beating The Test?

This story is about a particular entrepreneur and a
particular set of charter schools in a particular
state. Why, then, the overboard title attacking charter
schools, or high performing charter schools, in

Ted Cloak Albuquerque, New Mexico


* a soundtrack for labor day 2012

Here is a long clip from Dick Flacks' radio show on
labor songs, old and new. Takes a while to download.
It cuts off unexpectedly at the end. You'll need to
download a free I- Tunes player if you don't have it

Jim Williams

    Friends: You can listen to this past week's Culture
    of Protest on line - it's a good way to get into
    the spirit of labor day 2012 - new and classic
    labor movement songs - with surprises!

    Happy labor day...

    Dick Flacks


* Lonmin-Marikana Mineworker Massacre: Context and
Consequences - New York - September 11

A conversation with Mazibuko Jara; Editor, Amandla!
South Africa's New Progressive Magazine Standing for
Social Justice

Tuesday September 11, 2012

Room 5307 from 6.30 - 8.30 pm

Discussants: * Ruthie Gilmore, Associate Director, The
Center for Place, Culture and Politics * Harmony
Goldberg, Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center

Mazibuko Jara will discuss the current political
situation in South Africa in the aftermath of the
Lonmin-Marikana mineworker massacre and its broader
context, including the internal ANC battles in the lead
up to its conference in December, and what this means
for working class struggles and efforts to build the

Mazibuko Jara is editor of Amandla (
http://www.amandlapublishers.co.za) and one of the
leaders of the Democratic Left Front in South Africa.
The DLF was formed in January 2011, bringing together
40 South African social movements into a broad
political front of anti-capitalist solidarity and
united action. It mobilises for an eco- socialist
programme from below. He has a long history of
grassroots activist work with the HIV/AIDS movement,
the cooperative movement and community-based
development organisations. Jara was part of the
National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality which
fought for the constitutional right to LGBT equality.
He was formerly media officer of the South African
Communist Party but has fallen out of favour with the
SACP leadership. Jara was also the first chairperson of
the Treatment Action Campaign that challenged big
pharma and an AIDS denialist government to win ARV
treatment.He has extensive global experience working
with alliances and coalitions that are critical of
corporate-led finance- dominated modes of globalisation
and which articulate alternatives that are consistent
with the principles of social justice and ecological

Free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored with the Brecht Forum.


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