Thursday, July 16, 2020

We are Sisyphus

Andrew Perez (JACOBIN) reports:

Senate Democrats’ political machine has spent more than $15 million to help more moderate Senate candidates defeat progressive primary challengers in the 2020 election cycle.
With the help of the party, its major donors, and the Senate Majority PAC (SMP) — a super PAC funded by labor unions, corporate interests, and Wall Street billionaires — candidates endorsed by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) have won contested primaries in four battleground states.
While the DSCC’s chair, Nevada senator Catherine Cortez Masto, said last year that the party would support progressive incumbent Massachusetts senator Ed Markey if he faced a primary challenger, he hasn’t seen any outside help yet from the DSCC or SMP in his tough battle with Rep. Joe Kennedy III.
Colorado was the most emblematic example of the party putting its thumb on the scale against progressives: There, former governor John Hickenlooper cruised to a primary victory over former Colorado House speaker Andrew Romanoff. In the final weeks of the race, SMP spent $1 million to boost Hickenlooper, after he spent his failed presidential campaign attacking key tenets of progressives’ legislative agenda, including Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.
At the time of the cash infusion, Hickenlooper was losing ground in the polls and engulfed in scandals: he had just been fined by Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission for violating state ethics law as governor, the local CBS station uncovered evidence of his gubernatorial office raking in cash from oil companies, and a video that was circulated showed Hickenlooper comparing his job as a politician to a slave on a slave ship, being whipped by a scheduler.
With the help of SMP and the endorsement of the DSCC, Hickenlooper held off the more progressive Romanoff to win a 17-point primary victory.

That's the reality.

People keep saying, "You have to learn to work with them, then you can take over the party."

Do you realize how many years, the left has been trying to take over the Democratic Party?

It never has.  It is not going to happen.  We are Sisyphus.  Every morning, we try to push the rock up the hill.  By the end of the day?  It has rolled back down.  We do the same thing every day, never learing from the experience.

That is what happens when we fool ourselves into thinking we can 'take back' our party.

It's not going to happen.  Corporations are not going to let it happen.  We need to be having serious conversations about what we can do now because pushing this rock up the hill is not helping.  If we can grasp that, maybe we can start to build a strong and independent political party that serves the American people.

"Iraq snapshot" (THE COMMON ILLS):
Wednesday, July 15, 2020.  Julian Assange remains persecuted, Toby Dodge insists one death in Iraq matters -- at least one, and much more.

Starting with this video from CONSORTIUM NEWS> 

That's the documentary film NOT IN OUR NAME: THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE OF JULIAN ASSANGE and then Reporters Sans Frontieres' Rebecca Vincent moderating a discussion with the filmmaker John Furse and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer.  

Julian continues to be persecuted and, yes, tortured.  He became a target of the US government when he released video regarding Iraq.  Monday April 5th, WIKILEAKS released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two REUTERS journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.

The video was news.  Publishing it was a public service.  The US government had repeatedly lied about what took place.  It had denied REUTERS requests -- official and unofficial -- for more information about the deaths of their reporters.  

This week, Dean Yates discussed that issue with Chris Hedges on Hedges' program ON CONTACT..

"In terms of the significance of this tape, Chris, I think it will be -- It's easily as significant as the photographs that came out of the Abu Ghraib detentions," Dean Yates tells Chris, "because it showed the world what the war in Iraq really looked like. It showed for the first time, it showed the American public what the war in Iraq really looked like."

Dean states that the video Julian published was as significant as the photos that emerged of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal -- torture of Iraqis overseen by -- and carried out by -- the US government.  

Dean Yates was the head of REUTERS' Baghdad beureau when the July 12, 2007 attack took place killing REUTERS journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh -- the attack carried out by the US government.  Last month, Paul Daley  (GUARDIAN) quoted Yates stating, "What he did was 100% an act of truth-telling, exposing to the world what the war in Iraq looks like and how the US military lied … The US knows how embarrassing Collateral Murder is, how shameful it is to the military – they know that there’s potential war crimes on that tape."  Whistle blower Chelsea Manning was serving in the US military.  She turned the material over Julian Assange.  She has been persecuted repeatedly -- the most recent attempts have been carried out to attempt to coerce her into testifying against Julian.

Julian Assange remains persecuted by the US government.  His crime is that of journalism.  In another article last month, Daley focuses on Dean Yates:

Yates, shaking his head, says: “The US assertions that Namir and Saeed were killed during a firefight was all lies. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I updated my story to take in the US military’s statement.”
[. . .]
Reuters staff had by now spoken to 14 witnesses in al-Amin. All of them said they were unaware of any firefight that might have prompted the helicopter strike.
 Yates recalls: “The words that kept forming on my lips were ‘cold-blooded murder’.”
The Iraqi staff at Reuters, meanwhile, were concerned that the bureau was too soft on the US military. “But I could only write what we could establish and the US military was insisting Saeed and Namir were killed during a clash,” Yates says.
The meeting that put him on a path of destructive, paralysing – eventually suicidal – guilt and blame “that basically f**ked me up for the next 10 years”, leaving him in a state of “moral injury”, happened at US military headquarters in the Green Zone on 25 July.

Staying with the topic of Iraq, Mina Aldroubie (THE NATIONAL) offers:

A "fatal blow" will have been dealt to Iraqi government control if Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi does not catch those who ordered the killing of scholar Husham Al Hashimi, experts said.
The Iraqi political and security expert was shot dead at point-blank range by unknown assailants as he parked his car outside his house on July 7.
Mr Al Kadhimi pledged to hold a transparent investigation into the killing and said no one was above the law.
A week has passed and the government has not announced any developments.
Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert and friend of Al Hashimi, said failure to bring to justice those responsible for his assassination would be a challenge to the state’s authority. 

That death was important.  So are other deaths.  I'm so sick of the Toby Dodges who speak up for the friends but not others.

The September 8, 2011 murder of journalist Hamdi al-Mahdi.   That didn't matter?  

No one's ever been held responsible for that murder.  Hamdi was a journalist who reported on the protests.  That alone made him a target of the government.

Toby's up in arms over the death of his friend.  Who bothers to remember the murder of Hamdi?

From the September 8, 2011 snapshot:

In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered.  In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis. 
Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home.  Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did.  And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree.  Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories?  (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.)  So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual),  Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:
Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

A picture of the new democracy in Iraq, indeed.  And now one of the four is dead.  But back to that roundup, from the February 28th snapshot:
Over the weekend, a number of journalists were detained during and after their coverage of the mass demonstrations that took place in central Baghdad's al-Tahrir Square. Simone Vecchiator (International Press Institute) notes:
["]During a news conference held on Sunday, four journalists -- Hussam Saraie of Al-Sabah Al-Jadid newspaper, Ali Abdul Sada of the Al-Mada daily, Ali al-Mussawi of Sabah newspaper and Hadi al-Mehdi of Demozee radio -- reported being handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened by security forces. They also claimed they were held in custody for nine hours and forced to sign a document, the contents of which were not revealed to them. 
Aswat al Iraq news agency reported that the journalists will file a court case against the executive authority in response to the alleged violations of their civil rights.
This episode is the latest in a series of repressive measures adopted by security forces in order to stifle media reports about the current political and social
NPR's Kelly McEvers interviewed Hadi for Morning Edition after he had been released and she noted he had been "beaten in the leg, eyes, and head." He explained that he was accused of attempting to "topple" Nouri al-Maliki's government -- accused by the soldiers under Nouri al-Maliki, the soldiers who beat him.  Excerpt:
Hadi al-Mahdi: I replied, I told the guy who was investigating me, I'm pretty sure that your brother is unemployed and the street in your area is unpaved and you know that this political regime is a very corrupt one.
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was later put in a room with what he says were about 200 detainees, some of them journalists and intellectuals, many of them young protesters.
Hadi al-Mahdi: I started hearing voices of other people.  So, for instance, one guy was crying, another was saying, "Where's my brother?" And a third one was saying, "For the sake of God, help me."
Kelly McEvers: Mahdi was shown lists of names and asked to reveal people's addresses.  He was forced to sign documents while blindfolded.  Eventually he was released.  Mahdi says the experience was worse than the times he was detained under Saddam Hussein.  He says the regime that's taken Sadam's place is no improvement on the past. This, he says, should serve as a cautionary tale for other Arab countries trying to oust dictators. 
Hadi al-Mahdi: They toppled the regime, but they brought the worst -- they brought a bunch of thieves, thugs, killers and corrupt people, stealers.
Madhi had filed a complained with the courts against the Iraqi security forces, noting that they had now warrant and that they kidnapped him in broad daylight and that they beat him.  Mohamed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Hadi al-Mehdi was inside his apartment on Abu Nawas street in central Baghdad when gunmen shot him twice with silencer-equipped pistols, said the ministry official, who did not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to media."  Mazin Yahya (AP) notes that in addition to calling for improvements in the basic services (electricity, water and sanitation), on his radio program, Hadi al-Mehdi also used Facebook to get the word out on the Friday protests in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.
Al Mada notes that Hadi has been killed on the eve of tomorrow's protest.  The youth activists took the month of Ramadan off and announced that they would return to downtown Baghdad on September 9th (tomorrow).  And tomorrow they'll now be minus at least one.  Al Mada quotes Hadi writing shortly before he died on his Facebook page about the demonstration, noting that it would herald the emergence of real democracy in the new Iraq, an Iraq with no sectarian grudges, just hearts filled with tolerance and love, hearts saying no to corruption, looting, unemployment, hearts demaning a better Iraq and a government for the people because Iraqis deserve the best and they deserve pride and dignity.  The Great Iraqi Revolution notes, "The funeral of the martyred jouranlist Hady Mahdy, who was killed earlier today will process from his Karrad home where he was assassinated to Tahrir Square. The funeral procession will commence at around 9 A.M."
Reporters Without Borders roundly condemns the well-known journalist Hadi Al-Mahdi's murder in Baghdad today, on the eve of nationwide protests that he supported. His body was found at around 7 p.m. in his home in the central district of Al-Karada. He had been shot twice in the head. There can be no doubt that his murder was politically motivated.
Offering its sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to quickly investigate this murder and to assign all the necessary resources to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice. This crime cannot go unpunished.
Aged 44, a Shiite and married to a Kurd, Mahdi hosted a talk show called "To whoever listens" on Radio Demozy (104,01 FM). His irreverence, his well-observed criticism that spared no one, neither the prime minister nor his detractors, and his readiness to tackle subjects ranging from corruption to the deplorable state of the Iraqi educational system made it one of the most popular talk shows in Baghdad.
It was clear from the messages that Mahdi had sent to relatives that he knew he was in danger. He had received many warnings and had told friends two days ago that something terrible could happen ( But he was determined to tough it out, regardless of the risks.
After covering a demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square on 25 February, he and three fellow journalists were arrested, threatened and beaten.
Shortly after graduating from Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts in 1989, Mahdi fled to Syria and then to Sweden and did not return until 2007, after nearly a decade in exile. He began hosting "To whoever listens" for Radio Demozy, an independent station, a year later. (A New York Times profile of Mahdi)
He was the seventh Iraqi journalist to be murdered since the start of 2011 and the 12th since the United States announced the withdrawal of its combat troops in August 2010.
Mahdi's murder comes exactly a month after the Iraqi parliament adopted a law on the protection of journalists on 9 August.
Nouri al-Maliki's forces beat Hadi.  They are under Nouri's command.  Nouri demonized the protesters all along.  He has repeated the slurs in the last weeks that the September 9th protests are organized by Ba'ahtists, are out to topple him, are out to turn Iraq into a lawless state and much more.  Did Little Saddam aka Nouri al-Maliki, thug of the occupation, order his forces to murder Hadi? 

Husham al-Hashimi's murder is awful.  I'm not denying that.  But when Toby Dodge blusters as he does, he not only renders all the other murders unimportant, he encourages others to do so as well.

Hadi gave his life for freedom in Iraq.  It's a real shame that so many have rushed to forget him.

Toby knows who Hadi was.  To make a point in a Twitter discussion last December, Toby Tweeted:

In September 2011, a high profile activist in the protest movement, Hadi al-Mahdi, a journalist and theatre director, was murdered on the eve of another big demonstration he helped organize

It that the only time to remember Hadi?  When you need to make a political point?  

Protests continue in Iraq.  Sunday, Fazel Hawramy (RUDAW) reported:

Security forces fired upon a group of demonstrators in southern Baghdad on Sunday lunchtime, killing two and wounding over a dozen, according to a protest spokesperson.

Thousands of people travelled from several southern Iraqi provinces to Baghdad in the early hours of Sunday morning, protesting an end to monthly, government-allocated compensation as part of an economic reform package announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

“They fired on us upon direct orders from Kadhimi and killed two of us,” protester spokesperson Sheikh Amer Shalan Rafawi told Rudaw.

Peaceful protestors standing outside Baghdad geen zone in protest to PM policies forced to evacuate after a violent crackdown by security. No european or American media. These are #IraqProtests too but pro-US occupation activists are on holiday! #Iraq
1:32 PM · Jul 12, 2020

This attack took place after Mustafa al-Kadhimis public promise that he would bring those who attacked protesters to justice.  Bring them to justice?  He can't even prevent them from being attacked today and, in fact, he may be the one ordering the attacks.  His response to Sunday?  To deny that anyone was shot at, that anyone was killed.

Protests continue.  Amsiiiraq Tweets:

Baghdad: Medical school graduates have demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Health building; To protest the government’s neglect, and to demand their appointment, amid the deteriorating health sector in Iraq.
Quote Tweet
هيئة علماء المسلمين في العراق
الهيئة نت| بغداد: خريجو المجموعة الطبية يتظاهرون أمام مبنى وزارة الصحة؛ احتجاجًا على إهمال الحكومة لهم، وللمطالبة بتعيينهم، وسط تدهور القطاع الصحي في العراق. للاشتراك في قناة الهيئة على تطبيق (تيليغرام):
4:22 PM · Jul 13, 2020

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