Saturday, May 04, 2019

Saturday Stuff

As noted here, the U.S. Senate recently failed to pass a 2/3rds vote to overturn Generalissimo Trump’s veto of a bill to end our support of Saudi Arabia’s slaughter in Yemen.

The 2/3rds margin was needed to prevent a filibuster. And if that isn’t an argument for destroying the filibuster once and for all, I don’t know what is.

As noted from here:
Seven Republicans broke with the White House and joined all Senate Democrats to override the veto, which ultimately failed on a 53-45 vote. The measure needed 67 votes to override the veto. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla) did not vote.

The resolution passed the Senate in March and the House in April. The Senate also passed the measure in the previous Congress after it gained momentum in the aftermath of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Some lawmakers viewed the resolution as a way to punish the Saudi government for Khashoggi’s murder.

"The United States should not be supporting a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime," (Independent Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie) Sanders said on the Senate floor. "This war is clearly unconstitutional. I hear many of my Republican friends claim that they are strict constitutionalists. Well, if you are a strict constitutionalist, voting to override Trump's veto should be a no-brainer because this war has not been authorized by Congress."

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) emphasized prior to the vote that Congress had "the opportunity to override the veto in pursuit of justice, prudence and upholding the constitutionally mandated separation of powers," while (Dem U.S. CT Senator Chris) Murphy blasted the government of Saudi Arabia.

"The Saudis' behavior has gotten more outrageous, has crossed more human rights lines, has compromised the safety of more American citizens, and yet no response from the United States Congress," Murphy said.

And as noted from here
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged his colleagues to reject the override vote. Republican critics of the resolution have argued that it fails to address threats posed by Iran.

"Abandoning our Saudi partners and Yemini partners is hardly the way to give them the confidence to take the hard diplomatice (sic) steps that are necessary," McConnell said on the Senate floor prior to the vote. "An abrupt withdrawal would be good news for Iran, the Houthi rebels they support and for al-Qaida as well."

I know it’s not exactly headline news to point out that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao is a liar. However, it’s a little dicey to try and explain an admittedly complicated situation like this (even for your humble narrator, admittedly not the sharpest knife in the proverbial drawer) and explain HOW and WHY he is lying, but I’ll endeavor to do so.

To begin, influence peddling, along with ample amounts of money and patronage positions, be they elected or appointed (and I’ll admit that it gets harder to tell the difference every day), is what makes Washington, D.C. (and the Beltway corporate/political/media establishment) run. And yes, I know that isn’t exactly “man bites dog” stuff.

Here is what is going on: Ro Khanna (who continues to stand tall as far as I’m concerned) introduced a U.S. House resolution to end our involvement in this slaughter. So the Saudis sent their lobbyists to work, saying that we had to support them in their incursion against the Houthi rebels in Yemen (and that includes working on team “D” as well as team “R,” I hasten to add).

Oh, and why are the rebels rebelling, as it were? Well, because they opposed the Saudi-installed ruler in that country. So the Saudis of course attacked, trying to bomb the country into the Stone Age to bend them to their will. And the “boogeyman” that the lobbyists used to keep the pols in line was to say that the Saudis were trying to keep Iran out of Yemen.

Well, there are a couple of problems with that explanation (as noted here)…
While political and military leaders in Iran have vocally supported the Houthi rebellion against Yemen’s government, critics challenge the extent to which the rebels rely on financial or military support from Iranian operatives as alleged by Saudi Arabia.

The Atlantic Council, which typically takes a relatively hawkish line on foreign policy, noted in a 2017 report that more “recent evidence from interviews with Houthis suggests that Iran does not enjoy command and control over them,” citing several instances in which Houthi leaders ignored demands from Iran. The think tank added that while Houthis “generally admitted to some limited Iranian backing,” alleged flights connecting the two countries to bring weapons and advisers to the region “never materialized as the war broke out in earnest, putting the airport out of action.”

Also (as noted here)…
Hodeidah, Yemen (CNN) – Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States, a CNN investigation has found.

The weapons have also made their way into the hands of Iranian-backed rebels battling the coalition for control of the country, exposing some of America's sensitive military technology to Tehran and potentially endangering the lives of US troops in other conflict zones.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, its main partner in the war, have used the US-manufactured weapons as a form of currency to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes, bolster chosen armed actors, and influence the complex political landscape, according to local commanders on the ground and analysts who spoke to CNN.

By handing off this military equipment to third parties, the Saudi-led coalition is breaking the terms of its arms sales with the US, according to the Department of Defense. After CNN presented its findings, a US defense official confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into the issue.

The revelations raise fresh questions about whether the US has lost control over a key ally presiding over one of the most horrific wars of the past decade, and whether Saudi Arabia is responsible enough to be allowed to continue buying the sophisticated arms and fighting hardware. Previous CNN investigations established that US-made weapons were used in a series of deadly Saudi coalition attacks that killed dozens of civilians, many of them children.

Isn’t that just the limit? Our “dear friends” the Saudis, who we’re supposed to support in lockstep, are violating arms agreements with us by giving our weapons to terrorists who apparently have for-real links to Iran. So if anyone is doing their best to involve Iran in these horrors, it’s the Saudis themselves! Oh, and by the way, as the story tells us, this also endangers our military!

This whole story makes me angry. Angry at representatives of our government for totally abdicating anything approximating diplomacy or an attempt to act like adults and use whatever “soft power” we still have to get the primary combatants in all of this to the table and try to end this insanity (and once again, the reason Trump gutted the State Department almost as soon as he parked his ample butt in the executive chair in An Oval Office, on Putin’s orders of course, is because THAT is the way we can genuinely make a difference in these ordeals, and Putin knew that of course). Angry at our media (with notable exceptions at times) for utterly failing to try and explain this admittedly difficult story and not letting themselves be spoon fed by politicians about it as per usual. Angry at the faith community overall for not making more noise about this. Angry at other world leaders for not showing us up to be utterly clueless on this matter, though, to be fair, the world still looks to us for leadership on this stuff, though we have ceded a lot of that I realize by sloth and stupidity…this is a chance to reclaim a bit of that, though were failing of course because of the aforementioned graft and influence peddling from amenable (or so we think) foreign actors to keep our politicians in line. Angry at voters who elect politicians who are so easily compromised. And angry at myself for not saying more about this using my admittedly small online soapbox.

I agree with Mike Lee on virtually nothing, but he (and Bernie Sanders of course, along with Chris Murphy and the other Senate Dems) are to be applauded for trying to end our involvement in this almost Biblical degree of carnage (and I grudgingly have to give credit to the seven Republican senators who have tried to end our involvement also, though I’m sure all of them as well as Lee will gladly stab us in the back some other way tomorrow and from that time going forward).

This bill to end our participation in this utter disaster must be brought to a vote once more. And we must all do more to make our voices heard to end our involvement once and for all (all of which puts me in the mood to hear this tune)…

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