H.J.Res. 37: Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.

Passed House (Senate next):
Last Action: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 248 – 177, 1 Present (Roll no. 83).
Explanation: This resolution passed in the House on February 13, 2019 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.

Inoreader – How the ‘Sunset Route’ Railroad Helped Diversify California

This straight shot to California—fair-weather, year-round—made starting a life there relatively painless, but really, anything was better than the alternative. The number of black Southerners and their descendants in California today reflect this common interest in leaving the shadow of slavery and segregation behind. “The growth of the black population in Los Angeles doubled from 1940 to 1950, and many new residents made their way via the rail lines,” DuCros says. Many of these migrants, who had traveled via the Sunset Route, settled in the central area of the city, which was close to the rail station and jobs. While some of these Southerners were seeking a new lifestyle and planned to find work once they arrived, some of them arrived in California through their work. “The Pullman porters were employed on the railroads and were often the Great Migration pioneers in the families moving westward because they had seen California on their routes,” DuCros notes.

Source: Inoreader – How the ‘Sunset Route’ Railroad Helped Diversify California

Paleofuture Fox News Bans Ad For Documentary About American Nazi Rally in 1939 | Kotaku Far Cry New

Paleofuture Fox News Bans Ad For Documentary About American Nazi Rally in 1939 | Kotaku Far Cry New Dawn: The Kotaku Review | Foxtrot Alpha These Ancient Warships Built For World War II Are Still in Service 74 Years Later | Lifehacker We Reject the Side Hustle | The Takeout Why it matters that the LDS Church opposes…

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Immigrant Rights Advocates Know There’s No Compromising With the Trump Administration 


After engineering the longest government shutdown in history over his fixation on a border wall, it appeared that Donald Trump would back down from the idea and sign a bipartisan agreement that doesn’t fund a concrete barrier but includes $1.375 billion for border fencing as well as an increase in funding for…

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Why They Hate Ilhan Omar

Because she is, inter alia, not willing to pretend that war criminals aren’t war criminals during congressional hearings:

America loves a feel-good story. How else to explain our government’s appetite for redemption arcs? Elliott Abrams was once convicted of lying to Congress and on Wednesday, he got to testify before Congress again, this time in his capacity as our special envoy to Venezuela. But not everyone was happy to see him. Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, questioned the former Assistant Secretary of State about his old misdeeds. “In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush,” Omar began, before asking Abrams why the committee should believe anything he had to say.

A spluttering Abrams complained that Omar did not give him a chance to respond, but the congresswoman continued. “You dismissed as ‘communist propaganda’ reports about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops,” she said. “You later said the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ … Do you think that massacre was a ‘fabulous achievement?”

“From the day that President Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day,” Abrams responded, “El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.” But Omar, as the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday, was not moved by Abrams’ answer. “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement? That happened under our watch.” Abrams told the congresswoman that her question was “ridiculous” and he “would not respond to it.”

Omar is right, of course. In 1993, a lengthy New York Times report detailed the dedication with which members of the Reagan administration defended their material support for El Salvador’s military, even though they knew some atrocity had occurred. The U.S. government’s role in the steady destabilization of El Salvador is not only directly pertinent to the question of Abrams’ suitability for his role, it is the subtext to a familiar piece of agitprop. Trump loves to stoke fear about immigrants, including many Salvadorans, who cross the southern border. Not only are the vast majority peaceful, they’re fleeing a violent political climate that we helped create.

Good for her and more please. Needless to say asking damning-because-they’re true substantive questions of this Beltway untouchable led to many fainting-couch retreats by Max Boot et al. about which:

I’m sure there is a more inbred, morally compromised, and intellectually bankrupt group of people than the 21st Century US national security community to be found somewhere in the history of democratic politics but examples escape me this evening.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 14, 2019

Look the man may have contributed to the deaths of a few thousand innocent people but he was a heck of a good colleague to me, a fellow important person, on a personal level, which is absolutely the important metric by which to evaluate a policymaker.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) February 14, 2019


LGM Review of Books: Geoffrey B. Robinson, The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66

I wonder if even one in ten thousand adults over 30 know this happened?

Of all the horrifying violence that defines the twentieth century, possibly no event gets less public attention than what happened in Indonesia after the military, led by Suharto and with support from western governments, overthrew the government of Sukarno in 1965 and then engaged in an orgy of mass and organized killing over the subsequent six months. During that time, probably about 500,000 suspected leftists were rounded up and slaughtered and about another million were placed in prison, sometimes for up to thirty years. One of the worst acts of violence, arguably genocide, in the post-World War II era, it is nearly forgotten about on an international scale.

Geoffrey B. Robinson, a historian at UCLA, has dedicated his career to changing that. His recent book is an encyclopedic exploration into this event, why it happened, who supported it, and what its impact on the nation has been. Robinson approaches this topic like an attorney. Because there is not a fully agreed upon story about why this massacre happened, who was behind the attack on a group of generals that began it, which nations supported it, or much of anything else about it, Robinson carefully lays out all the evidence for the reader to see, debunking more dubious theories and demonstrating which are the most likely, all the while being quite careful to not overstate his case.

Sukarno was the foundational political figure of early Indonesia, a huge, sprawling, and diverse nation that had suffered badly from Dutch and Japanese colonialism. Sukarno’s coalition was unstable, a combination of the military, the nation’s various groups in a majority but not exclusively Muslim nation, and communists. By 1965, Sukarno was moving to the left and building ties with China. The PKI, which was the Indonesian Communist Party, was growing and acquiring power, angering the military. Wanting land reform, the PKI made both the military and conservative Muslims nervous. On September 30, 1965, a small group of communists in the military, probably operating on their own, captured and executed six Indonesian generals. Claiming they were defending Sukarno, the 30 September Movement was poorly planned and fell apart pretty quickly. This opened the door for pro-western generals led by Suharto to strike back. They took effective power from Sukarno, eventually evicting him entirely. They then proceeded to engage in a mass genocide against the 2 million PKI members in the nation, a deeply disturbing and awful episode of violence.

Robinson attempts to answer many critical questions about this. First, did the U.S. and other western powers support it? Largely, the answer is clearly yes. The Johnson administration was already deeply involved in Vietnam and was supportive of any anti-communist movement. As far as back as the Eisenhower administration the U.S. had made it clear that it would support a right-wing coup in Indonesia. The CIA knew what was happening and was entirely supportive. In case, it wasn’t clear earlier in the text, Robinson states “the United States and its allies aided and abetted crimes against humanity, possibly including genocide” (295).

Robinson also explores how the violence was carefully planned and not the spontaneous outburst that the regime claimed. The killing did not happen everywhere at once. Rather, it started in Java in October 1965 and then spread to various other islands. It is clear that the military directly led much of it, especially in Java, where the PKI was strongest. In other areas, conservative Muslims rose up and used this as an excuse to eliminate the communists they felt were destroying traditional values. But in all areas, violence became a method to solve social and economic tensions, the violence took similar forms everywhere, and local militia groups also played a strong role in every example. The differences in timing mostly had to do with the ability of the military to raise up those militias, as well as differences between military commanders in various regions. The entire operation was planned, coordinated, and used similar forms of violence and mass incarceration that could only be planned by the military.

Robinson also notes how much Suharto and the Indonesian military had learned from the prisons and torture techniques of the Dutch and Japanese occupiers who had inflicted so much damage on the nation. He argues that the army used routine torture and sexual violence throughout the terror in learned ways. Moreover, that colonial history created a hard left-right fault line in domestic politics that led to very different historical narratives in constant tension. Robinson also indicts the Cold War writ large, noting that it “encouraged mass violence both because of its deeply polarizing political logic and language, and because it engendered alack of empathy for victims of violnce who were understood to be Communists” (295). More broadly, Robinson uses this example to think hard about how mass violence is created, playing down factors such as long-term cultural or religious enmity and instead emphasizing the role of agents in organizing and facilitating such agendas, whether it be right-wing organizations such as the Indonesian military or Communist movements.

Finally, Robinson explores just how poorly Indonesia itself has dealt with this history. Suharto’s New Order government managed to stay in power for three decades, really only ever feeling any pressure in the late 70s when an Amnesty International campaign and the Carter administration forced Indonesia to release most of its remaining political prisoners. When the period finally did end, the nation avoided any sort of national reckoning and that continues today. A few documentaries have been able to be released and there are people making demands on the state. But in the end, there is still a lot of hostility within communities that engaged in political violence themselves and against those that have delved too deeply–even, say, trying to find the mass grave where your parents are buried–are denied access, threatened, and deported. Even today, local groups are still remembering the lessons that Suharto’s army taught them, preventing any real healing.

The Killing Season is a very powerful book. I strongly recommend it to all of you, so long as you can bear reading some pretty depressing stuff.


Did the Holocaust Happen? – LA Progressive

American conservatives sometimes use the Holocaust to spread inappropriate partisan messages. On Holocaust Remembrance Day two weeks ago, the Harris County (Texas) Republican Party posted a Facebook message with a yellow star-shaped badge and these words: “Leftism kills. In memory of the 6 million Jews lost to Nazi hatred in the name of National Socialism. We will never forget.” The Texas Republicans explained that they were connecting the name of the National Socialist Party with “leftism”, even though the extreme right-wing Nazis killed every socialist they could get their hands on.

Source: Did the Holocaust Happen? – LA Progressive