Robert Kennedy’s death in particular marked the end of the period, going back to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, in which the Democratic Party presented itself as the party of quasi-social democratic reform, promoting economic measures that would improve the living standards of the working class as a whole, white, black and immigrant, while setting certain limits on the domination of big business. This period—between the inauguration of Roosevelt and the assassination of Robert Kennedy—was only 35 years, far shorter than the 50 years that have transpired since.
It is ironic that an individual who began his career as a Catholic anticommunist, the privileged son of a multi-millionaire sympathizer of the Nazis, should come to stand on the left wing of the Democratic Party and make an appeal to the working class. Robert Kennedy's career personified the contradictions of the Cold War liberalism of the Democratic Party, a fatal effort to marry a “progressive” liberal agenda with anti-communism and imperialist militarism.
His political activity encompassed the anticommunist witch-hunt, where he worked side-by-side with Senator Joseph McCarthy, to his work as US attorney general in the early 1960s, where he both aided the civil rights movement and authorized FBI wiretapping of Dr. King, to his role as a US senator from New York, supporting the social reforms of the Johnson administration while increasingly coming into opposition with its war policies in Vietnam.
There is little doubt that Kennedy was profoundly affected by his brother’s killing and that he privately believed the assassination was carried out by elements in the national security apparatus that he himself had once served. But he was also a man of his class, acutely sensitive to the deep and potentially explosive social divisions in American society. His reformism, like that of Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, was aimed not at overcoming capitalism, but saving it, even if that meant imposing modest sacrifices on the ruling elite for its own good.
This reformist stage of American political development effectively ended with the second Kennedy assassination. That this was a significant turning point in history was reflected in the outpouring of mourning. While the killing of Robert Kennedy did not have as much of a shock effect as the assassination of his older brother—in the case of Robert Kennedy there was a greater element of despair and withdrawal—millions of people lined the route between New York City and Washington as a train brought his casket for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
R.F.K. was so long ago and our country has veered so rightward ever since. I am sure I have shared my story about my friend JoAnn who was in grad school in California. R.F.K. came to her university and she took photos. I think for the university paper but it might have been for a commercial newspaper. Anyway, she was astounded by how lax the security was. And she was not at all surprised a little bit later when he was shot to death.
I am glad R.F.K. Jr. is calling for a real investigation into his father’s death. That takes bravery. There are some idiots, Amanda Marcotte to name but one, who love to ridicule (and ridiculed those who do not buy the Warren Commission lies on J.F.K.’s murder). I am glad he is calling for real answers to his father’s death. The country is owed real answers and, certainly, so is his own son.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
AP can't get it right this morning. It's Wednesday, Hayder al-Abadi has done his weekly speech as prime minister of Iraq. In the speech, he announces that a body no one's heard of before, one he appointed from his own Cabinet has found 'irregularities' -- no details on what they are -- that will require calling off the votes of the displaced outside of Iraq and the displaced inside Iraq.
This would be the same Hayder, remember, who may be the outgoing prime minister because he did not win the elections last month. Hayder did not come in first, that was the Moqtada al-Sadr's alliance. Moqtada is the Shi'ite cleric and movement leader who was vastly underestimated by gas bags. Hayder did not come in second, that was the party of the militias. Hayder came in third. Distant third.
And now he's saying the election results are being tabled -- for the displaced.
Oh, and it gets worse.
Hayder's announced there will be recounts.
Why is that worse?
Because it's not allowed.
Ibrahim Saleh (ANADOLU AGENCY) reports:
So the loser, Hayder, who thought he'd win campaigning on his alleged defeat of ISIS doesn't like the results and thinks that's all it takes.
He doesn't have to follow the Constitution, he doesn't have to listen to the courts, he can just do whatever he wants, create his own commission and what he decides goes?
That's how it works now?
Let's drop back to note the hysterical reaction to Moqtada's win.
For example, Danny Sjursen (NATIONAL INTEREST) insists:
Sadr has since re-branded himself as an enemy of corruption and a cross-sectarian proponent of governance reform. Nonetheless, to my men and most U.S. troopers, he’ll always be the fiercely anti-American thug who sent his impoverished, hopeless fighters out into the streets to kill soldiers and marines.
So sorry, Danny, but you don't get to vote in the Iraqi elections. Yes, you invaded their country, yes, US weapons were used on the Iraqi people, but that doesn't mean you get to decide for them.
And, Danny, I'll take your hysterics a little more seriously after you call out the 2009 deal that released the leader of the League of Righteousness from US custody -- despite the fact that he did have US blood on his hands. You've never called that out. You've never even acknowledged it.
For any late to the party on that reality, let's drop back to the June 9, 2009 snapshot:
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
Still waiting for honest discussions on that reality.
In the meantime, US troops don't get to decide who runs Iraq -- whether the US government sent them there or not. Guess that wasn't covered in basic training?
Didn't turn out quite the way you wanted
How were you to know
Boom town broke down
What a let down
Where did the mountain go?
-- "Chalice Borealis," written by Carole King and Rick Sorensen, first appears on Carole's SPEEDING TIME
The turn out for the latest election was low -- historically low.
Why might that be?
Maybe because Barack Obama nixed Nouri al-Maliki's plans for a third term and installed Hayder al-Abadi as prime minister. And -- or -- maybe because Nouri lost the election in 2010 and Ayad Allawi should have been named prime minister-designate. Instead, Nouri refused to allow the process to move forward. He dug his heels in. For eight months, Iraq was at a standstill. The political stalemate ended because Barack okayed The Erbil Agreement, a legal contract brokered by the US government which was signed off on by all party leaders -- but not by the Iraqi voters. This contract gave Nouri a second term in exchange for concessions to various parties. Nouri used the contract to get a second term, then stalled on honoring his side of the contract until his attorney announced that the contract wasn't valid.
Nouri, of course, was installed by the US in 2006. A nobody, a nothing. But he did have a CIA profile which found him to be highly paranoid and the US government felt that this could be worked, they could use it to control him.
Golly gee, after 2006's result, 2010's result and 2014's result, why do you suppose Iraqis might not feel the need to turn out and vote?
But Moqtada's supporters did.
Why was that a surprise?
He's demonstrated repeatedly over the years that he can get his followers to turn out. And to turn out in public, mind you, where they might be attacked. Getting them to turn out at the polls was so much easier.
The US government has been sputtering over Moqtada's win for weeks now.
And it's not even like Moqtada's going to be prime minister. He can't be. He didn't run for Parliament and the prime minister has to be an elected Member of Parliament.
But it's been non-stop hand wringing over Moqtada.
So now Hayder al-Nobody thinks he can disregard Iraq's Constitution and Iraq's judiciary. And you don't think that further destroys the average Iraqi's faith in democratic institutions?
Hayder's whining about the new electronic voting machines. We might manage to care if we weren't raising issues about that in March, long before the elections. If he's only concerned after he loses, then he's really not concerned about the machines, he's just got sour grapes over losing.
It's almost a month since elections. And yet again Iraqis have to wait because the process is not honored, the rules are not respected.
This is not how you grow democracy.
And at a time when the Islamic State is still active in Iraq, you need a peaceful and reasonable transfer of power. The longer this draws out, the more questions there will be for leadership. The more attacks by the Islamic State, the more this inability to follow the process becomes an issue.
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