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Trump is setting himself up for a coup by packing Cabinet with ex-generals, military expert warns



Donald Trump is populating his Cabinet with retired generals, which one international affairs expert says violates democratic norms and puts him at risk of being toppled in a military coup.

Steve Saideman, a political scientist at Ottawa’s Carleton University and an author who has extensively studied civil-military relations in democratic societies, said he’s concerned that Trump seems to be ending civilian control of the U.S. military — which he says is a necessary condition of democratic governance.

“Civilian control of the military is both means and end,” Saideman wrote on the blog Political Violence @ A Glance. “It is not just about concentrations of power, but of subservience of the folks with the guns to the people elected to run the country. This is not about the founders of the U.S. or about what makes the U.S. special, but what is essential for modern democracy.”

He’s concerned that Trump had appointed retired Gen. James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense, who would require a congressional waiver to serve just three years after his retirement, in addition to naming two other retired generals, Michael Flynn and John Kelly, as his National Security Advisor and Secretary of Homeland Security.

“The limit on officers serving immediately after retirement is not an accident but a good policy that should not be tossed away simply because Trump admires generals (sort of),” wrote Saideman, a former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and desk officer on the U.S. Joint Staff’s Directorate of Strategic Plans and Policy. “In a time where authoritarian politics (threats towards journalists and protesters, etc.) are (increasingly) popular, we should put the U.S. military, active and retired, further away from the controls of the U.S. government, not closer.”

He disagrees with those who argue that self-imposed checks by the U.S. military would prevent current or former officers from seizing power or disobeying civilian orders — because he believes Trump’s presidency presents a unique and serious threat to national security.


“Trump’s inherent flaws, including his appeals to white supremacy, his inability to concentrate for the length of an intel briefing, and – most importantly – his lack of respect for and adherence to the various norms that make the institutions operate, make civilian control of the military more, not less, important,” Saideman argued.

He worries that Trump could be such an awful and conflicted president that the military camarilla he established around himself will see no choice but to take over the executive branch.

“Coups happen for a variety of reasons, but most often those engaged in a coup claim that the government is corrupt and/or incompetent,” Saideman warned. “Here is where I could insert a picture of Trump. Trump’s recent call with Taiwan’s President – perhaps to facilitate his own business interests – is an abuse of power that could be used to justify a coup.”

Event absent the threat of a military coup, Saideman said civilian control of the military is necessary to preserve American democratic institutions.

“Simply put, when many of the norms and institutions are under attack, we need to be more, not less, careful about the role of the military in our society,” he wrote. “It is, of course, not so much about coups, but about controlling the military so that it does what civilians want.”

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2020 Election

Who are all these white men running for president — and why?



The country’s last presidential election was wide open, with incumbent president Barack Obama termed out of office and his vice president, Joe Biden, opting not to run as his replacement. While the vacancy looked like an opportunity for the 16 Republican men (and one woman) who ran in 2016, Democrats essentially cleared the field for Hillary Clinton, the first woman to win the party’s presidential nomination. Her only two challengers were white men; one who eventually became a star at the center of his own political movement and the other who was shortly reduced to strumming his guitar shirtless for attention.

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Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race



Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.

Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)



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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits



President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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