Last night, Republicans blocked my amendment to the #FY19NDAA that would stop the U.S. from refueling Saudi-led coalition jets bombing civilians in Yemen. They argued that our alliance with the Saudi monarchy meant we needed to overlook their war crimes in Yemen. I disagree. pic.twitter.com/jfTNfct1PF
Go here to see the vote. Unfortunately, it looks like nine Democrats also “blocked” Ro’s amendment, but I’m glad that my Rep. Joe Courtney voted with Ro. Tulsi Gabbard and Beto O’Rourke also voted with Ro.
While 44 U.S. Senators on Tuesday were applauded by peace groups for voting in favor of a resolution that would have allowed Congress to begin reclaiming its war-making authority and ended the U.S. military’s backing of Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen, it was ultimately not enough to overcome entrenched opposition from the 45 Republicans and 10 Democrats who voted against it.
Introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the resolution (SJ Res. 54) would have ended the tacit military support—including targeting assistance, refueling, and intelligence sharing—of the Saudi’s campaign to wage war on Yemen, a nation currently embroiled in a civil war and experiencing one of the worst humanitarian crises on the planet.
The final tally was 55-44 against the resolution, with only Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) not casting a vote. While five Republicans voted for the measure, the 10 Democrats senators who joined with the Republican majority to block it were: Coons (D-DE); Cortez Masto (D-NV); Donnelly (D-IN); Heitkamp (D-ND); Jones (D-AL); Manchin (D-WV); Menendez (D-NJ); Nelson (D-FL); Reed (D-RI); and Whitehouse (D-RI).
Anti-war groups, while disappointed with the outcome, celebrated the vote and heralded it as an important step in terms of getting congressional lawmakers to final assert themselves against an executive branch that has been allowed to wage war with nearly no restraint over the last 17 years.
“Because of the leadership put forth by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee, and Chris Murphy — and the tireless advocacy of hundreds of thousands of Americans — the U.S. Senate was today finally forced to confront America’s unauthorized role in Yemen’s deadly civil war,” Kate Kizer, policy director for Win Without War, in a statement.
“We commend the 44 Senators who agreed that U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition is unconstitutional, counterproductive, and doesn’t serve U.S. national security interests,” she added. “Today’s vote should serve as a sober reminder to Saudi Arabia that it must immediately move to resolve this conflict diplomatically, and that American support for its war in Yemen is not unlimited.”
Prior to the vote Bernie Sanders spoke on the chamber floor to outline his position and to note the 15th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War:
Afterwards he tweeted his disappointment with the final tally:
I'm deeply disappointed that Congress again abdicated its constitutional duty to authorize war. Over and over, Congress has sat back and failed to ask the hard questions as administrations have misled us into conflicts, including Vietnam and Iraq, with disastrous consequences.
In 1981, the playwright Zdena Tominová, on an extended visit to the West from her home in communist Czechoslovakia, traveled to Dublin to give a lecture. A critic of her country’s political regime, she was the spokesperson for Charter 77, one of the first dissident organizations to turn human rights into an international rallying cry.
Tominová, however, surprised the crowd. She explained that, growing up as a beneficiary of the state’s communist policies, she felt grateful for the ideals of her youth and their politics of material equality. “All of a sudden,” she remembered of the leveling of classes she witnessed as a child, “I was not underprivileged and could do everything.” This was striking, coming from a woman who’d seen the suppression of the Prague Spring reforms in 1968 and who’d had her head pounded into the pavement for her membership in Charter 77.
But even when government officials urged her to flee the country to avoid imprisonment, Tominová remained true to her generation’s socialism. “I think that, if this world has a future, it is as a socialist society,” she told her Irish audience, “which I understand to mean a society where nobody has priorities just because he happens to come from a rich family.” And this socialism was not just a local ideal: “The world of social justice for all people has to come about.” Tominová made it clear that socialism should not be used as an alibi for the deprivation of human rights. But by the same token, for her nation and for the world, the emergence of a human-rights framework should not serve as an excuse to abandon the fight against inequality.
Today, Tominová’s speech looks ironic: Her human-rights ideals became common sense, but the socialist ones cratered. Data show that texts were overwhelmingly more likely to use the word “socialism” than “human rights” until the late 20th century. The terms’ relative popularity switched right around the end of the Cold War in 1989. As the notion of human rights spread, people found it easier to identify with strangers across borders. Yet at the same time, the liberalization of markets, the reliance on free trade, and the mission of governance to institutionalize both created vast gulfs of inequality. Human rights became our highest moral language even as the rich seized ever more power and wealth.
Some 40 years on, we should reassess how the human-rights movement fits into the growth of this new political economy and redefine our sense of justice to counter the triumph of free-market ideology and the explosion of inequality. We should also ask how we can revive Tominová’s vision, which combined human rights with a broader sense of social welfare without abandoning one for the other.
A month ago, hundreds of teenagers ran for their lives from the hallways and classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff had been shot to death.
On Wednesday, driven by the conviction that they should never have to run from guns again, they walked.
So did their peers. In New York City, in Chicago, in Atlanta and Santa Monica; at Columbine High School and in Newtown, Conn.; and in many more cities and towns, students left school by the hundreds and the thousands at 10 a.m., sometimes in defiance of school authorities, who seemed divided and even flummoxed about how to handle their emptying classrooms.
The first major coordinated action of the student-led movement for gun control marshaled the same elements that had defined it ever since the Parkland shooting: eloquent young voices, equipped with symbolism and social media savvy, riding a resolve as yet untouched by cynicism.
“We have grown up watching more tragedies occur and continuously asking: Why?” said Kaylee Tyner, a 16-year-old junior at Columbine High School outside Denver, where 13 people were killed in 1999, inaugurating, in the public consciousness, the era of school shootings. “Why does this keep happening?”
Wreathed in symbolism, the walkouts generally lasted for 17 minutes, one for each of the Parkland victims. Two more nationwide protests are set to take place on March 24 and on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
"I'm here to fight for my life because we're scared. We never know if we're going to come back home from school." – High School Student Cindy Marquez pic.twitter.com/Ef4n3uYVdv
More news/video/tweets/etc. in the comments, including:
*Sanders urges Defense Secretary James Mattis to crack down on ‘exorbitant’ salaries of defense contractor CEOs *Lead Kills Way More Americans Than We Ever Imagined *Sacred Native American Monument Shrunk for Oil *Trump Chooses ‘Insufferable Wall Street Hack’ Larry Kudlow as Top Economic Adviser *Pipeline news, Water Protector updates & More
As the Trump administration continues to expand the U.S. military’s role in fueling the Saudi-led coalition’s deadly assault on Yemen—which has killed at least 10,000 civilians and sparked “the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis”—a coalition of senators led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced a bipartisan joint resolution on Wednesday that calls for the removal of American armed forces from the country.
“The bill will force the first-ever vote in the Senate to withdraw U.S. armed forces from an unauthorized war,” Sanders, who will be joined by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) in introducing the resolution, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The U.S. has been heavily supporting Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen for years, supplying the kingdom with weaponry and military intelligence. Last August, the Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that American troops are on the ground in Yemen.
While American complicity in the Yemen crisis is rarely discussed on Capitol Hill, the House of Representatives last November overwhelmingly approved a resolution declaring that U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen is not authorized.
With their legislation—titled the Yemen War Powers Resolution—Sanders, Lee, and Murphy are looking to take concrete steps toward ending U.S. complicity in Yemen’s suffering, which Murphy has called “a stain on the conscience of our nation.”
“By continuing to blindly back Saudi Arabia’s starvation campaign, on top of fueling Yemen’s suffering, the U.S. is creating more enemies and fueling the very extremism the War on Terror is supposed to be eradicating,” said Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy at Peace Action, in a statement on Wednesday. “Congress knows this, but Saudi Arabia’s legions of lobbyists on Capitol Hill have convinced some members of Congress to bury their heads in the sand.”
Happy Saturday friends! Some things I learned today: For Now, Trump to Keep Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies Okay, good. Now keep it that way!! Vox Media’s editorial employees are seeking to unionize https://twitter.com/gaywonk/status/931554114001100800 More good. Can we get some more ‘good’? Michigan students pass call to probe Israel investments The student government at the University of Michigan passed a resolution recommending the university’s governing body investigate its investments in Boeing, Hewlett Packard and United Technologies, companies that profit from Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. The victory follows years of attempts by student activists to pass such a measure. Uh …Continue reading →
I’ve written previously about the Kushner family’s attempts to shore up their precarious finances by extorting fees from low-income tenants and selling green-cards to Chinese investors. As Bloomberg reported in August, the Kushners are desperately seeking cash to save their heavily-mortgaged Manhattan skyscraper as balloon payments come due over the next two years. Last week, Kushner took an unannounced trip to KSA: President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner returned home Saturday from an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia — his third trip to the country this year. Kushner left Washington, D.C., via commercial airline on Wednesday for the trip, which was not announced to …Continue reading →
Calls for a US backed military coup in Venezuela have emanated from the Trump White House. Meanwhile, NPR has given coup advocates a platform to advocate for a coup, positioning it as “humanitarian intervention”. It’s worth discussing the history of coups the US has been associated with. Last week, new documents revealed that the UK government had repeatedly asked the US to foment a coup in Iran in 1952. This is from the NSArchive project at GWU: 1953 Iran Coup: New U.S. Documents Confirm British Approached U.S. in Late 1952 About Ousting Mosaddeq State Department Temporarily Declined, in Part Because U.S. Was …Continue reading →