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'Could doom the GOP to minority status': ​WSJ slams Arizona Republicans' recent 'meltdown'

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Under the direction of far-right Kelli Ward, the Arizona GOP has passed resolutions censuring three Arizona Republicans — Gov. Doug Ducey, Cindy McCain and former Sen. Jeff Flake — for failing to live up their Trumpian standards. And the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board slammed the resolution in a blistering editorial published over the weekend.

As the WSJ’s editorial board sees it, this type of purity test can only marginalize the Republican Party in the months ahead.

“The resolutions have little practical effect,” the editorial board explains, “but they symbolize the party divisions that could doom the GOP to minority status nationwide for years. Ms. Ward, who has run twice for Senate and lost, was endorsed for party chair this past week by Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, now decamped to Mar-a-Lago, is contemplating revenge against everyone in the GOP he blames for his defeat.”

Ward is angry with McCain, widow of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, and Flake because both of them endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. Ducey, unlike McCain and Flake, favored Trump. But when Biden won the election, Ducey acknowledged him as president-elect and refused to join Trump in contesting the election results in Arizona — one of the states Biden won. Ducey, much to the chagrin of Trump and Ward, certified Arizona’s election results.

“Sensible parties that lose elections try to reunite in opposition even while they debate policy differences and examine why they lost,” the WSJ editorial board emphasizes. “They don’t excommunicate people who could help rebuild a majority. Mr. Flake and Ms. McCain found Mr. Trump’s behavior as president unacceptable, but they were hardly alone. Mr. Trump didn’t lose because Republicans betrayed him. He lost because he alienated too many voters in Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona who liked his policies but disliked his tumultuous leadership.”

The Arizona GOP has suffered three major disappoints in statewide races in recent years, including losing two U.S. Senate seats. Once a GOP stronghold closely identified with the conservatism of Sen. Barry Goldwater and his successor, John McCain, Arizona now has two centrist Democratic U.S. senators — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Mark Kelly — and Trump’s loss to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ex-Mueller prosecutor reveals gaps in the pardons for Trump's allies that could come back to bite them

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

As expected, former President Donald Trump pardoned a long list of cronies during his final weeks in office, including Paul Manafort, his former 2016 campaign manager, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Andrew Weissmann, who served as a lead prosecutor for then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office from 2017-2019, offers a legal analysis and critique of Trump’s “abuse of the pardon power” in an article for Just Security.

And according to Weissmann, Trump hasn’t necessarily saved Manafort and Bannon from all legal exposure.

“In issuing his pardons, Trump, true to form, followed no process,” Weissmann explains. “He did not seek to identify those most worthy of the use of the clemency process. Instead, his abuse of this constitutional power has led many to deplore the expansive executive authority, although it can be a means of meting out justice when wielded impartially and even-handedly to the most deserving after due consideration of the interests of numerous parties.”

Some of Trump’s pardons, Weissmann notes, were “exceedingly broad” — for example, the pardon of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“Flynn’s pardon on Nov. 25, 2020 covers most any crime one can imagine, clearly seeking to leave no room for now holding Flynn to account for his past felonious conduct,” Weissmann observes. “But oddly, not all of Trump’s pardons followed the Flynn model. Indeed, many are narrowly drawn.

Weissmann cites Trump’s Manafort pardon as an example of one that is “narrowly drawn.” In Manafort’s case, Weissmann writes, the “pardon is solely for the crimes of conviction: eight in the Eastern District of Virginia and two in the District of Columbia.” And according to Weissmann, “That leaves numerous crimes as to which Manafort can still be prosecuted, as in Virginia, there were ten hung counts.”

“In Washington,” Weissmann adds, “the situation is even more wide open. In that district, Manafort pleaded to a superseding information containing two conspiracy charges, while the entire underlying indictment — containing numerous crimes, from money laundering to witness tampering to violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act — now remains open to prosecution, as there was no conviction for those charges.”

Another pardon Weissmann considers “narrowly drawn” is Trump’s pardon of Bannon. In Weissmann’s view, Bannon still has legal exposure despite the pardon Trump issued on his last full day in office.

Trump’s Bannon pardon, according to Weissman, “applies to the pending ‘offenses charged,’ and not the underlying …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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It's time to treat Republican officials like children

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By John Stoehr

I think children understand justice better than most members of the Republican Party. I think they would understand better than pretty much any grownup that something serious is missing from the debate over the former president’s crimes, his pending trial in the U.S. Senate, and the complicity of some of his fellow Republicans.

Right now, most of us insist that truth is a necessary precondition to unity. In other words, if all the Republicans who said, or implied, that Joe Biden stole the election concede the truth—which is that Donald Trump lost fair and square—then we can have unity. That’s not enough. We can’t see it, though. We’re too focused on insisting the Republicans tell the truth. Fact is, lying is an injury. It’s going to take more than accepting the truth to restore trust in the Republicans. It’s going to take an apology.

The republic can’t endure without the truth. It can’t endure without justice either. But the Republicans want peace without it. They want unity without it. They want you to trust them without having done the work to restore your trust.

Look, when my 9-year-old hurts a friend’s feelings, she knows there are three steps toward reconciliation. One, accept the truth. She hurt a friend. Yes, she didn’t mean to. But she did. Now she needs to accept the fact of her friend’s hurt feelings. She needs to accept that—if she values their friendship. If she does not, well, then we need to talk.

Two, ask for forgiveness. In asking, my daughter is demonstrating understanding and acceptance of the truth. Her friend’s feelings are real. They are legitimate. And she is accountable for her actions. Her friend may not forgive her. Their friendship might not survive. But that’s not in my daughter’s power. What is is accepting responsibility.

Three, say sorry. In saying sorry, my daughter is affirming that her interests are equal to their friendship, but at the same time, her interests do not supersede their mutual interest. Friendship isn’t about what one person can do for another, but what we can do for each other, and most importantly, what we can do together in unity. In saying sorry, she is recognizing the reality of a third entity worthy of respect: me, you and us.

This, apparently, needs to be said for the benefit of some Republicans who continue to insist, or imply childishly, that Trump was wronged …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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White House press secretary shuts down Fox News' bogus attack on Biden

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

When Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary under President Joe Biden, held a briefing on Monday, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy accused Biden of having a double standard when it comes to travel restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And Psaki quickly laid out the flaws in Doocy’s argument.

Doocy told Psaki that when former President Donald Trump imposed travel restrictions on people entering the U.S. from China in 2020, Biden “called it xenophobic and fear-mongering.” But now, Doocy added, “President Biden is putting travel restrictions on people coming in from other countries.”

Psaki told Doocy, “I don’t think that’s quite a fair articulation. The president has been clear that he felt the Muslim ban was xenophobic; he overturned the Muslim ban. He also, though, has supported…. travel restrictions in order to keep the American people safe, to ensure that we are keeping the pandemic under control. That’s been part of his policy.”

The White House press secretary added, “But he was critical of the former president for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions, and he conveyed at the time — and more recently — the importance of having a multi-faceted approach: mask-wearing, vaccine distribution, funding in order to get 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in the first 100 days. Not just travel restrictions.”

Politifact has addressed Biden’s use of the words “fear-mongering” and “xenophobic” in connection with Trump’s travel policy last year. Despite the fact that it has become conventional wisdom in right-wing media that Biden attacked travels bans as xenophobic, the fact checker determined such claims are “mostly false.” On Jan. 31, Biden said, “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, and fear-mongering to lead the way instead of science.” And on March 18, 2020, Biden tweeted:

According to Politifact, “Biden has not directly said that the restrictions were xenophobic. Around the time the Trump administration announced the travel restriction, Biden said that Trump had a ‘record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering.’ Biden used the phrase ‘xenophobic’ in reply to a Trump tweet about limiting entry to travelers from …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Joe Biden is already facing the first test of his commitment to diplomacy in Iran

January 25, 2021 in Blogs

By Ariel Gold

President Biden’s commitment to re-entering the Iran nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA—is already facing backlash from a motley crew of warhawks both domestic and foreign. Right now, opponents of re-entering the deal are centering their vitriol on one of the nation’s foremost experts on both the Middle East and diplomacy: Robert Malley, who Biden might tap to be the next Iran envoy.

On January 21, conservative journalist Eli Lake penned an opinion piece in Bloomberg News arguing that President Biden should not appoint Malley because Malley ignores Iran’s human rights abuses and “regional terror”. Republican Senator Tom Cotton retweeted Lake’s piece with the heading: “Malley has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime & animus towards Israel. The ayatollahs wouldn’t believe their luck if he is selected.” Pro regime-change Iranians such as Mariam Memarsadeghi, conservative American journalists like Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, and the far-right Zionist Organization of America are opposing Malley. Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed opposition to Malley getting the appointment and Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a close advisor to the prime minister, said that if the U.S. reenters the JCPOA, Israel may take military action against Iran. A petition opposing Malley has even started on Change.org.

What makes Malley such a threat to these opponents of talks with Iran?

Malley is the polar opposite of Trump’s Special Representative to Iran Elliot Abrams, whose only interest was squeezing the economy and whipping up conflict in the hopes of regime change. Malley, on the other hand, has called U.S. Middle East policy “a litany of failed enterprises” requiring “self-reflection” and is a true believer in diplomacy.

Under the Clinton and Obama administrations, Malley helped organize the 2000 Camp David Summit as Special Assistant to President Clinton; acted as Obama’s White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region; and was the lead negotiator on the White House staff for the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. When Obama left office, Malley became president of the International Crisis Group, a group formed in 1995 to prevent wars.

During the Trump years, Malley was a fierce critic of Trump’s Iran policy. In an Atlantic piece …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the US Civil War Influenced Music

January 25, 2021 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

For soldiers on both sides, music was a vital source of inspiration and comfort.

Though music had become ubiquitous in American life even before the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Conflicted Legacy of the First Vice President of Color

January 25, 2021 in History

By Becky Little

Vice President Charles Curtis, a member of the Kaw Nation who served under Herbert Hoover, supported assimilation policies.

While the election of Kamala Harris to vice president is historic, she isn’t the first person of color to hold the position. The first was actually Charles Curtis, who took office nearly a century ago.

READ MORE: 7 Firsts in US Presidential Election History

Curtis was a member of the Kaw Nation who served as Herbert Hoover’s vice president from 1929 to 1933, and he has a complicated historical legacy. Curtis supported women’s voting rights, child labor laws and the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act. At the same time, he promoted assimilationist policies that harmed many Native Americans. One of his most significant impacts on U.S. policy is the Curtis Act of 1898, which weakened Native governments and helped break up Indigenous reservations.

LISTEN NOW: The Complicated Political Legacy of VP Charles Curtis

Growing Up in Kansas

Vice President Charles Curtis and President Herbert Hoover, 1929.

Curtis was born in Topeka in 1860, one year before the Kansas Territory became the 34th state. Around age three, his mother died and his father joined the Union Army to fight in the Civil War. He lived at various times with his non-Native paternal grandparents and his Native maternal grandparents, Louis and Julie Pappan Gonville, who lived on the Kaw reservation in Kansas. As a young boy, he became known for winning races as a horse jockey.

Around 1873, when Louis and Julie were moving with the Kaw Nation to the Indian Territory in the current state of Oklahoma, Curtis planned to go with them. But his grandmother dissuaded him from joining them.

“His grandmother basically just says, ‘You’re bound for more important things,’” says Kent Blansett, a professor of Indigenous studies and history at the University of Kansas who is a Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Shawnee and Potawatomi descendant from the Blanket, Panther and Smith families. Blansett notes that Curtis’ grandmother wasn’t telling Curtis to turn away from his people, but to help his people by taking another path.

Curtis followed his grandmother’s advice and stayed in Topeka, becoming a lawyer and a politician. His Native heritage, something white politicians and journalists often referred to disparagingly, was public knowledge during his entire political career. In 1884, he won an elected seat as the Shawnee County attorney. Eight years later, he won a …read more

Source: HISTORY