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Trump Refuses Call to Lower Flags in Honor of Victims of the Mass Shooting in Maryland Newsroom: Report

July 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The White House has previously lowered flags in response to other mass shootings.


President Donald Trump refused to order flags to be lowered in honor of the victims of the mass shooting that killed five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, last week, despite an official request from Mayor Gavin Buckley, the paper reported Monday.

As the paper noted, Trump has ordered the American flag to fly at half-mast in response to other mass shootings. After 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, he issued the following statement:

As a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence perpetrated on February 14, 2018, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, February 19, 2018.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, you know? … Is there a cutoff for tragedy?” the Annapolis mayor told the Gazette of the White House's refusal. “This was an attack on the press. It was an attack on freedom of speech. It’s just as important as any other tragedy.”

Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state flags lowered in response to the killings.

Trump has already faced criticism for his tepid response to the attacks. Many observers noted that the president himself frequently stokes anger at the media, diminishing his ability to offer a full-throated defense of the free press. 

And indeed, when he finally made remarks concerning the attack, he made no mention of the important place an unrestrained media plays in furthering democratic values.

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'Pretty Much!': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Mockingly Posts Fox News Chart About Her

July 2, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

The propaganda network accidentally helped viewers understand her platform.


Democratic U.S. Congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used Twitter on Monday to take a swipe at Fox News while firming up support with her base.

The 28-year old who last week unseated a 10-term New York Democratic icon retweeted a Fox News graphic that first appeared on Sean Hannity's show last Wednesday, detailing her platform – or what Hannity says is her platform.

Hannity framed these positions as somehow bad, and “the future” of the Democratic Party.

Media Matters for America Senior Researcher Andrew Lawrence tweeted out the video and the graphic, later saying: “Honestly, find me one thing on that list that isn't a winning issue.”

On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez weighed in, mocking Fox News while confirming most of Hannity's claims.

“Pretty much!” she tweeted.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Here's Why a Trump Pardon Won't Save Michael Cohen from What's Coming

July 2, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“I don’t view this as a call for help to the president.”


Michael Cohen's impactful interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos this weekend has many asking: Is President Donald Trump's former lawyer and fixer trying signal that he needs a pardon?

In the interview, Cohen said that as the investigations into his conduct continue, “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will… I put family and country first.”

Given that many believe the investigation of Cohen will cover wrongdoing by Trump as well, this statement appears to be a repudiation of his previous loyalty to the president, who Cohen used to say he would take a bullet for.

So could this new posture be a signal to the president that he's planning on flipping, and therefore a subtle request for a presidential pardon? Not so, argued MSNBC's Mimi Rocah among others.

“I don't think a pardon here is going to save Michael Cohen, because there's state exposure, there's civil exposure,” she said Monday on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House.” “We already saw the attorney general file a civil suit against Donald Trump, and that's moving quickly. So I don't view this as a call for help from the president.”

Hugh Hewitt, the conservative radio host, later agreed on MSNBC's “Meet the Press,” though for different reasons.

“There is no upside to a pardon,” Hewitt said.

The blowback Trump would get for the pardon would be devastating, Hewitt said — most especially from Republican senators. Since, Hewitt argued, Democrats are bound to impeach the president if they take back the House in the midterm elections, it would be exceptionally dangerous for Trump to take such brazen steps to thwart his investigators. It would only take a minority of Republican senators turning against the president to vote for his removal if an impeachment case goes to trial.

Watch the MSNBC clip below:

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A Vietnam "Solution" to the Afghanistan War?

July 2, 2018 in Economics

By John Mueller

John Mueller

It was in 2010 that United States President Barack Obama
told an interviewer that he could easily
imagine a situation in which “we ended up staying in Afghanistan
for another five years, another eight years, another ten years. And
we would do it not with clear intentions but rather just out of an
inertia.”

Last year, well into that decade of inertial guidance, President
Donald Trump, although noting that his “original instinct was
to pull out,” authorized an increase of a few thousand
American troops to the war in Afghanistan. It was, he said , “a plan for victory.”
However, he then defined “victory” as something more
akin to a stalemate—preventing the Taliban from taking over
and then perhaps negotiating “a political
settlement.”

Earlier this month, a brief three-day ceasefire took place, and
Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has said he is willing to negotiate with the
Taliban at any time and in any place. However, the Taliban has repeatedly said it wants to talk with the
United States directly and that an American military withdrawal has
to be a primary, up-front part of the deal.

There is, as it happens, a precedent for this condition.

It happened in the January 1973 agreement in Vietnam between the
United States and the Communists that settled the war there for a
while. It contained several elements that can be applied to the
present, essentially stalemated, situation in Afghanistan. These
situations are parallel as Afghan forces are incapable of being
able to seize, hold, and then coherently govern areas controlled by
the Taliban. Furthermore, substantial elements in the Taliban
recognize that a takeover of government strongholds, in particular,
the heavily-populated capital area of Kabul, is likely
impossible.

To begin with, however,
the United States needs to realize that it would have to negotiate
alone at least at the start and that a military withdrawal must, as
in Vietnam, be a key up-front component of any
agreement.

These elements include 1) a cease-fire in place, 2) withdrawal
of U.S. military forces, 3) continued resupply of the central
regime by the United States, and 4) an exchange of prisoners. For
instance, the Taliban has for years been particularly interested in getting the release of some aging
prisoners in Guantanamo. The United States might still retain a
considerable presence in the country, but any transfers of funds or
munitions would be handled by civilians and any training, or
private contractors would handle other military contributions.

As noted, the Taliban, while probably open to talks, wants only
to negotiate with the United States, not with …read more

Source: OP-EDS