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Forum Post: Working Families Party Betrayal

Posted 3 months ago on June 22, 2014, 3:40 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5775)
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Working Families Party Betrayal

Sunday, 22 June 2014 11:49
By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report | Op-Ed

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24526-working-families-party-betrayal

As the Democrats bear steadily rightward, their so-called “progressive” camp followers do likewise. In New York, the Working Families Party endorses businessman’s champion Andrew Cuomo and, in Chicago, an SEIU local donates $25,000 of the members’ money to corporate mayor Rahm Emanuel. From compromise to collapse, the left-liberals and union careerists are on the road to oblivion.

Supposedly progressive politics in New York offer a cautionary tale for leftists across the country. The Empire State has a Democrat-in-name-only governor, Andrew Cuomo, and a mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, who gets more credit for being progressive than he deserves. New York also boasts a party, Working Families, whose name implies integrity it doesn’t possess.

Andrew Cuomo came to office and made beating up on public employee unions his first priority. He forced state workers to take pay cuts allegedly in exchange for job security but then laid off some of them anyway. Cuomo stood by while corrupt Democrats in the state senate cynically switched sides and gave Republicans the majority in that chamber and deprived the people of representation they had voted for.

The governor’s strategy of currying favor with the right wing continues unabated. When de Blasio proposed modest protections for public schools vis a vis charters, Cuomo delivered a very public smack down, and gave the charters more funding and political protection than they have anywhere else in the nation.

Nonetheless, de Blasio was among the cheerleaders at the Working Families convention urging an endorsement of Cuomo’s re-election campaign. In a video appearance Cuomo said that he would fight the “ultra conservatives in the Republican Party.” His combative spirit didn’t last very long. Just a few days after Working Families took a dive on his behalf, Cuomo thumbed his nose by announcing more tax breaks for big business and singing the praises of his Republican friends. “The lack of partisanship in Albany is something that I am very proud of. Democrats, Republicans we're New Yorkers first and that's how I govern and I'm not going back.” He also backtracked on a promise to help raise the minimum wage across the state. “I oppose municipalities being able to set their own wage. I did and I do.”

The Working Families party and the unions who fund it certainly hope that voters are stupid. They first claimed that they wouldn’t endorse Cuomo but after having done the deed changed their stump speech to claim that the stab in the back was an act of political shrewdness. Pundits outdid one another claiming that the betrayal was proof of progressive power when it was in fact just the opposite.

The pathetic showing is evident not only in New York but across the country. In Chicago, SEIU Local 73 made a $25,000 contribution to mayor Rahm Emanuel, champion of pushing the neo-liberal agenda in one of the country’s major cities. Emanuel’s lay-offs of teachers and other public employees and attempts to cut pensions apparently aren’t serious issues for SEIU. In New York or Illinois or anywhere else in the country, working people have few champions in the smoked-filled rooms of politics.

Black Agenda Report coined the phrase “black misleadership class” to describe the politicians and movers and shakers who promote their own interest at the expense of the masses of people. Labor unions are also part of a misleadership class that does much the same thing. It is true that the attacks on public employees and the de-industrialization of America devastated big labor. It is also true that they often snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The card check process would have made it easier for workers to unionize but it was never a priority of the Obama administration or Democrats in Congress. You certainly wouldn’t know that it failed by looking at labor union efforts to reinstall Democrats time after time. The Working Families Party in New York State exemplifies a much larger problem.

Unions provide good jobs to left leaning people who, like the black misleaders, then become part of a self-interested group with pretensions of fighting for those outside. They then become even more powerless because they have no intention of putting up a political fight. Despite the assaults on working people by the triumph of finance capital and ever-rightward shifting politics, big labor and their allies could do more.

The Working Families Party in New York could have declined to endorse Cuomo. There was no down side to letting him swing in the wind. The WFP might have exacted concessions but we’ll never know because they threw in the towel and handed victory to their enemy.

There was nothing shrewd or brilliant about the Cuomo endorsement. It is just the latest pathetic effort which shows the decline of the Democratic Party and of progressives who claim they want to fight back. There are so many misleaders and so little time.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5775) 3 months ago

Iraqis Are Not "Abstractions"

Sunday, 22 June 2014 11:26
By Ray McGovern, Consortium News | Op-Ed

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24524-iraqis-are-not-abstractions

US policymakers have long behaved like spoiled, destructive children treating Iraq as if it were some meaningless plaything. The game has been about who “wins” or “loses” in Washington, not who lives or dies in Iraq.

When I saw the Washington Post’s banner headline, “U.S. sees risk in Iraq airstrikes,” I thought, “doesn’t that say it all.” The Post apparently didn’t deem it newsworthy to publish a story headlined: “Iraqis see risk in U.S. airstrikes.” Then, in an accompanying article, authors Gregg Jaffe and Kevin Maurer observed nonchalantly that “Iraq and the Iraqi people remain something of an abstraction,” a point that drove me to distraction.

Further putting me in a bad mood, the story’s first paragraph about the latest bloody debacle in Iraq declared: “The sudden collapse of Iraqi forces in the face of lightly armed insurgents has catalyzed an emotional debate within the U.S. military about a war that, just a few years ago, seemed on the brink of going down in history as a success.”

Fresh in my mind was Robert Parry’s article that same day (June 19) exposing the myth of the “successful surge” in Iraq. That, in turn, had prompted me to re-read my own retrospective on the celebrated “surge” of 2007, reconstructing the play-by-play on its genesis and how, with the help of media cheerleaders, that myth enabled President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to ride off into the sunset on Jan. 20, 2009, to all appearances not having lost the war in Iraq.

In the wake of recent events, the corporate-owned-and-operated media appears determined to apply its most imaginative legerdemain to convince us of this past “success” while moving to the blame-game mode of faulting President Barack Obama for the current mess.

The mainstream U.S. media still shies away from pointing fingers at war criminals Bush/Cheney et al, whose “decent interval” for getting out of office without a “defeat” on their record was purchased with much blood, both American and Iraqi.

The hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed or wounded during the politically motivated “surge” and in the carnage both before and afterwards can remain, for folks like the neocons at the Post, “something of an abstraction.” And the media can avoid mention of the 1,000 U.S. troops killed in 2007 protecting what often amounted to sectarian Shia militias ethnically cleansing Baghdad of much of its Sunni population — as well as defending the Bush/Cheney legacy.

Yet, for the Post’s Jaffe and Maurer, U.S. troops – unlike Iraqis – are no “abstraction.” And so the writers indulge in the selective grieving over the cost of war. They quote a U.S. Army officer to whom they grant “anonymity so he could discuss his feelings” about the war: “My sadness is not for the Iraqis, but for the wasted effort so many of us gave and bought at so high a price.”

American lives, apparently, are the ones that matter.

Remembering Tal Afar

Even before reading the Post’s article, I had been getting more and more angry hearing reports that Tal Afar was “changing hands” again. Does Tal Afar ring any bells with you? This ancient city of a quarter-million people, strategically located in northwestern Iraq near the Syrian border, may jog your memory mostly for the many times it has “changed hands” over the past decade or so.

And here it goes again, you think to yourself. Last weekend it fell to jihadist insurgents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; on Friday, Iraqi armed forces won back most of Tal Afar, but a battle raged nearby for control of the huge Baiji oil refinery and the airport.

But I remember Tal Afar chiefly for the killing/wounding of an Iraqi family there by U.S. troops on Jan. 18, 2004. It was a small massacre, as massacres go in Iraq. However, for some reason – perhaps the Post’s casual reference to Iraqis being an “abstraction” – I cannot get out of my head the desperate words of Linda, Willy Loman’s wife in “Death of a Salesman”:

“He’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.”

In January 2005, photographer Chris Hondros was embedded with U.S. troops in Tal Afar, then the scene of frequent clashes between U.S. forces and insurgents. As the curfew was coming into force just after dusk, a red car rushed past the patrol, ignoring warning shots. Fearing a suicide attack, the soldiers opened fire.

Inside the car was an ethnic Turkoman family of eight. The parents, Camille and Hussein Hassan, were killed; the five children in the back wounded before the soldiers realized that it was a civilian car. They carried the traumatized children to the pavement and started binding their wounds.

Hondros’s photographs of the incident revealed not only the tragedy inflicted upon so many civilians in Iraq, but also highlighted the life-or-death decisions soldiers face under duress. Especially haunting was the picture of the youngest girl, Samar Hassan, crying and spattered with the blood of her parents. The blood on the pavement, her hands, and her face makes this photo an instantly disturbing image.

The U.S. military, which had been hugely successful in keeping such troubling photos out of the public eye, was outraged. Hondros’s embedded assignment was terminated. But the image of Samar Hassan made it through.

Interviewed by the New York Times six years later, she explained: “My brother was sick, and we were taking him to the hospital … [and] this happened … We just heard bullets. My mother and father were killed, just like that.”

Moral Injury

Linda Loman, I am convinced, was absolutely correct in insisting, “Attention Must be Paid,” and so I framed my remarks at the Veterans For Peace press conference at the National Press Club on June 19 around that photo of Samar Hassan and, by some unusual luck, the story was carried in the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes on Friday.

If the photo of Samar Hassan does not stir us with compassion and determination to do whatever we can do to prevent such tragedies in the future, we have been hardened beyond human. Attention must also be paid, I suggested at the press conference, to the legs of the U.S. soldier with the flashlight, standing beside Samar.

Those legs are attached to one of the soldiers we sent off to “serve” in a war of aggression in Iraq. Some of our soldiers may occasionally be trigger-happy, but they are not monsters. Nor are they immune to the kind of moral injury that comes from being part of such killing, such blood, such pain. Those legs were part of a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division out of Ft. Lewis, Washington.

Four years ago, the Stars and Stripes labeled Fort Lewis – now Fort Lewis-McChord – “the most troubled base in the military” due to its inability to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or address mental health problems. Fort Lewis-McChord consistently has had one of the highest suicide rates of army bases across the country. I find myself wondering if those legs are still part of a relatively normally functioning body and soul.

So, if another U.S. “surge” is needed, let it be a surge of compassion. And any finger-pointing has to include us, unless we wish to give up any pretense that America is still a democracy.

It is we who allow our soldiers to be put in such circumstances. Camille Hassan is our sister; Hussein Hassan our brother; Samar and her brothers and sisters our children. For those of us who really believe this to be true, let us be challenged by the words of Rabbi Abraham Heschel, who spoke out so strongly against the war in Vietnam:

“Indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself. … Few are guilty, but all are responsible.”

As our policymakers plan next steps in Iraq, let us do all we can to prevent the Iraqi people from remaining “something of an abstraction.”

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 1 points by silosam (10) 3 months ago

In our quest for hegemony, the indifference we show to the suffering of so many people saddens me.To remain silent is to be complicit.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5775) 3 months ago

Pundits and Partisans Are Up to Old Tricks in Iraq

Sunday, 22 June 2014 12:02
By Eric Alterman, Moyers & Company | Op-Ed

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24527-pundits-and-partisans-are-up-to-old-tricks-in-iraq

In a column entitled “Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq,” terrorism expert Peter Bergen writes about the origins of ISIS, “the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Bergen notes that, “One of George W. Bush’s most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship. If this wasn’t so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein’s men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war.”

There was no al Qaeda-Iraq connection until the war; our invasion made it so. We have known this for nearly a decade, well before the murderous ISIS even appeared. In a September 2006 New York Times article headlined “Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terrorism Threat,” reporter Mark Mazetti informed readers of a classified National Intelligence Estimate representing the consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ the analysis cited the Iraq war as a reason for the diffusion of jihad ideology: “The Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,’ said one American intelligence official.”

The Bush Administration fought to quash its conclusions during the two years that the report was in the works. Mazetti reported, “Previous drafts described actions by the United States government that were determined to have stoked the jihad movement, like the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.” Apparently, these were dropped from the final document, though the reference to jihadists using their training for the purpose of “exacerbating domestic conflicts or fomenting radical ideologies” as in say, Syria, remained.

At the beginning of 2005, Mazetti notes, another official US government body, the National Intelligence Council, “released a study concluding that Iraq had become the primary training ground for the next generation of terrorists, and that veterans of the Iraq war might ultimately overtake Al Qaeda’s current leadership in the constellation of the global jihad leadership.”

On the one hand, it is impressive how well our intelligence agencies were able to predict the likely outcome of the Bush Administration’s foolhardy obsession with invading Iraq. On the other, it is beyond depressing how little these assessments have come to matter in the discussion and debate over US foreign policy.

As we know, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and the other architects of the war did everything possible to intimidate, and when necessary, discredit those in the intelligence agencies who warned of the predictable consequences of war. Cheney and his deputies made repeated trips to Langley to challenge professional intelligence work and used pliant members of the media — including Robert Novak of The Washington Post and Judith Miller of The New York Times, among many, many others — to undermine the integrity of people like Joseph P. Wilson and Valerie Plame lest the truth about the administration’s lies come out. Rather incredibly, they even went so far as to ignore the incredibly detailed planning documents, created over a period of a year at a cost of $5 million by the State Department, that had a chance of providing Iraq with a stable postwar environment. Instead, they insisted on creating an occupation that generated nothing but chaos, mass murder and the terrorist victories of today.

One of the many horrific results was the decision to support Nouri al-Maliki as a potential leader of the nation. Maliki’s sectarian attacks on Sunni Muslims on behalf of his Shiite allies are the immediate cause of the current murderous situation. And his placement in that job, as Fareed Zakaria aptly notes, “was the product of a series of momentous decisions made by the Bush administration. Having invaded Iraq with a small force — what the expert Tom Ricks called ‘the worst war plan in American history’ — the administration needed to find local allies.”

One could go on and on (and on and on and on) about the awful judgment — the arrogance, the corruption, the ideological obsession and the purposeful ignorance — by the Bush Administration that led to the current catastrophe. As Ezra Klein recently noted, “All this cost us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.” And this is to say nothing of the destruction of our civil liberties and poisoning of our political discourse at home and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died, the millions of refugees created, the hatred inspired in the world toward the United States.

But to focus exclusively on the administration begs an obvious question. How did they get away with it? Where were the watchdogs of the press?

Much has been written on this topic. No one denies that the truth was available at the time. Not all of it, of course, but enough to know that certain catastrophe lay down the road the administration chose to travel at 100 miles per hour. Top journalists, like those who ran the Times and The Washington Post, chose to ignore the reporting they read in their own papers.

As the Post itself later reported, its veteran intelligence reporter Walter Pincus authored a compelling story that undermined the Bush administration’s claim to have proof that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. It only made the paper at all because Bob Woodward, who was researching a book, talked his editors into it. And even then, it ran on page A17, where it was immediately forgotten.

As former Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks later explained, “Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?” The New York Times ran similarly regretful stories and its editors noted to its readers that the paper had been “perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper.” (Bill Moyers’ documentary special “Buying the War: How Big Media Failed Us tells the story, and in conjunction with that Moyers report, you can find an Interactive Timeline as well as post-March 2003 coverage of Iraq.)

Many in the mainstream media came clean, relatively speaking, about the cause of their mistakes when it turned out that they had been conduits for the Bush administration lies that led to catastrophe. But what they haven’t done, apparently, is change their ways.

As my “Altercation” colleague Reed Richardson notes, the very same people who sold us the war are today trying to resell us the same damaged goods: “On MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ this past Monday, there was Paul Bremer, the man who summarily disbanded the Iraqi Army in 2003 in one of the biggest strategic blunders of the war, happily holding court and advocating for ‘boots on the ground.’” Not to be outdone, POLITICO had the temerity to quote Doug Feith blithely lecturing Obama about how to execute foreign policy. Don’t forget the throwback stylings of torture apologist Marc Thiessen either, who was writing speeches for Rumsfeld during the run-up to the Iraq War. On Monday, he, too, weighed in with an op-ed in the Washington Post unironically entitled “Obama’s Iraq Disaster.”

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5775) 3 months ago

Among the most egregious examples of this tendency has been rehabilitation of neoconservative thinker Robert Kagan and his frequent writing partner, the pundit and policy entrepreneur William Kristol. Back in April 2002, the two argued that “the road that leads to real security and peace” is “the road that runs through Baghdad.” In an article entitled “What to Do About Iraq,” they added that not only was it silly to believe that “American ground forces in significant number are likely to be required for success in Iraq” but also that they found it “almost impossible to imagine any outcome for the world both plausible and worse than the disease of Saddam with weapons of mass destruction. A fractured Iraq? An unsettled Kurdish situation? A difficult transition in Baghdad? These may be problems, but they are far preferable to leaving Saddam in power with his nukes, VX, and anthrax.”

Both men made this argument over and over, and especially in Kristol’s case, often in McCarthyite terms designed to cast aspersions on the motives and patriotism of their opponents and those in the media. For his spectacular wrongness Kristol has been punished by being given columns in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Time magazine, not to mention a regular slot on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” (These appointments came in addition to a $250,000 award from the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation; an occasion that inspired this collection of a just a few of his greatest hits.)

Recently, Kristol could be heard on ABC’s idiotically named “Powerhouse Roundtable” explaining that the problem in Iraq today was caused not by the lousy decisions for which he argued so vociferously but “by our ridiculous and total withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.” (Surprise, surprise, he did not mention that our 2011 withdrawal from Iraq was the product of the 2008 “Status of Forces” agreement negotiated by none other than President George W. Bush.)

Similarly, last month, Kagan was given 12,700 words for a cover essay in the (still hawkish) New Republic entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” which he used to make many of the same sorts of unsupported assertions that underlay his original misguided advice. As a result, he found himself not only celebrated in a profile in The New York Times that all but glossed over his past record, but also called in for consultations by the current President of the United States.

One often reads analyses these days that grant the no-longer ignorable fact that American conservatives, especially those in control of the Republican Party, have become so obsessed by right-wing ideology and beholden to corporate cash that they have entirely lost touch both with reality and with the views of most Americans. As the famed Brookings Institution analyst Thomas Mann recently wrote in the Atlantic Monthly, “Republicans have become a radical insurgency — ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition.”

This tendency was the focus of the coverage of the shocking defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in his local primary by a man with no political experience and little money, who attributed his victory to “God act[ing] through people on my behalf,” and warns that unless more Americans heed the lessons of Jesus — as he interprets them — a new Hitler could rise again “quite easily.” These right-wing extremists have repeatedly demonstrated their contempt for the views of most Americans whether it be on economic issues, environmental issues, issues of personal, religious and sexual freedom or immigration, to name just a few, and Americans are moving away from them as a result.

This is no less true, it turns out, with regard to the proposed adventurism in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East by those who sold us the first false bill of goods back in 2003. A strong majority of Americans now agree that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was not worth the trillions of dollars and lives lost. Barely one in six want to go back in. There is also strong opposition to military intervention in neighboring Syria. And yet not only do the same armchair warriors continue in their demands for more blood and treasure to be sacrificed on the altar of their ideological obsession with no regard whatever for Americans’ desire to do the exact opposite, they remain revered by the same mainstream media that allowed them to get away with it the first time.

The conservative foreign policy establishment, it needs to be said, is no less out to touch with reality — and democracy — than the tea party fanatics who control the Republican domestic agenda (and are fueled by the cash of the Koch Brothers and other billionaires who stand to profit from their victories). That so many in the media pretend otherwise, after all this time, all this death and all this money wasted, demonstrates not only contempt for their audience but utter disdain for knowledge itself.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (28495) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 months ago

Those ASSHOLES !!!

God I hate bait and switch BULLSHIT !!!

PEOPLE - money OUT of politics = NOW

[-] 1 points by flip (6816) 3 months ago

nice job leo

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (28495) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 months ago

TWEET

DKAtoday @DKAtoday · now

Working Families ( progressive? ) party - pulls a bait and switch - http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24526-working-families-party-betrayal … People - money OUT of politics NOW