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Trump stunned his own staff by privately praising QAnon extremists: report

December 3, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

This weekend, President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at a GOP rally in Georgia, where he will be campaigning for two incumbent U.S. Senate candidates: Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue. But according to the Washington Post, some Georgia Republicans are worried that Trump might say or do something embarrassing that hurts the candidates. And a meeting in which Trump reportedly spoke favorably about the far-right and delusional QAnon movement is a prime example of why they are worried.

Post reporters Josh Dawsey, Amy Gardner and Cleve R. Wootson, Jr. explain that “over the summer,” Trump met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Todd C. Young of Indiana and other Republicans to discuss Georgia. Trump brought up Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right QAnon conspiracy theorist who had won a GOP congressional primary in Georgia (Greene went on to win the general election on November 3). According to Post sources, Trump mispronounced QAnon as “Q-an-uhn” and praised them as people who “basically believe in good government.”

The Post reporters note, “The room was silent again before Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, leaned forward to say he had never heard it described that way. Trump had similarly praised QAnon, which the FBI has identified as a potential domestic terrorist threat, during an August news conference.”

Adherents of the QAnon conspiracy fiction believe that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by an international cabal of pedophiles, child sex traffickers, Satanists and cannibals and that Trump was put in the White House to combat the cabal. The “Q” in QAnon refers to an anonymous figure named “Q,” who QAnon supporters believe is offering updates on Trump’s battle.

The outcome of the runoff Senate races in Georgia in January is vitally important to the GOP, as it will determine whether or not Republicans maintain their majority in the U.S. Senate. And according to Dawsey, Gardner and Wootson, GOP activists are hoping that Trump’s visit to Georgia will help Loeffler and Perdue rather than hurt them.

“President Trump’s planned trip to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for two Senate candidates embroiled in tight runoff races has put some Republicans on edge that he could do more harm than good by repeating false claims about the voting system, attacking GOP officials and further inflaming a simmering civil war within the state party,” the Post journalists note. “That war showed no …read more


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'They broke the law': DC attorney general rebuts Ivanka Trump's attack over inauguration case

December 3, 2020 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick

Ivanka Trump, along with the Trump Organization, has been under investigation for years for suspicions around the conduct of the president’s 2017 inaugural committee and its funding. This week, she found herself being deposed for reportedly more than five hours by the D.C. attorney general as the investigation continues, leading her to lash out and accuse the investigators of being politically motivated.

But Karl Racine, the attorney general in question, hit back, saying it is clear the Trump family and the inaugural committee broke the law.

At the heart of the investigation is the question of whether the Trump family use inaugural funds for extensive self-dealing. Because the committee, which raised an unprecedented amount of funds, spent much of its money on Trump properties, it could have been illegally funneling money to the family by charging egregiously high amounts for Trump Organization services.

“This week I spent 5+ hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. AG’s office where they questioned the rates charged by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration,” Ivanka said in a post on Twitter on Thursday. “I shared with them an email from 4 years ago where I sent instructions to the hotel to charge ‘a fair market rate’ (see below) which the hotel then did. This ‘inquiry’ is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars.”

In the email she shared, she said: “Just seeing this. why don’t you call and negotiate. It should be a fair market rate.”

However, despite her suggestion that this is some kind of vindication, it’s hardly proof of her innocence. She may have put this down in writing to cover up the fact that she was actually not seeking a fair market rate. The suggestion that negotiations occur over the phone could even indicate that she wanted more substantive discussions about the funds to happen without a paper trail.

Racine disputed the idea that his investigation was a “waste.”

“We filed suit after gathering evidence that the Presidential Inaugural Committee knowingly entered into a grossly overpriced contract with the Trump Hotel,” he said in reply to Ivanka Trump’s claims. “Any claim to the contrary is incorrect.”

He added: “DC law requires nonprofits to use funds for stated public purposes, and to avoid unreasonable, wasteful expenses. Our investigation revealed the Committee willfully used nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. It’s very simple: They broke the law. That’s why we sued.”

He …read more


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How Christmas Was Celebrated (or Not) in the 13 Colonies

December 3, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

In colonial America, some settlers imported Christmas traditions from Europe, while others rejected the holiday due to its pagan roots.

While most Americans today probably can’t imagine the Christmas season without Santa Claus, Christmas trees, hanging stockings and giving gifts, most of those traditions didn’t get started until the 19th century. In the pre-Revolutionary War era, people living in the original 13 colonies disagreed fiercely over the question of how to celebrate Christmas—and even whether to celebrate it at all.

READ MORE: 25 Christmas Traditions and Their Origins

Roots of the Colonial Christmas Debate

English settlers who traveled to the New World brought the debate over Christmas with them. By the late 16th century, a group of Protestant reformers known as Puritans sought to purify the Church of England, and purge it of Roman Catholic traditions they saw as excessive.

This included Christmas, which had roots in the pagan Roman winter festival of Saturnalia, as well as the Norse festival of Yule. At the time, celebrations of Christmas in England lasted for nearly two weeks—from the day of Jesus Christ’s birth, December 25, to Twelfth Day, January 6—and consisted of rowdy celebrations including feasting, gambling, drinking, and masquerade balls.

READ MORE: Saturnalia

Christmas in Jamestown and Plymouth

Puritan settlers in Massachusetts armed with shotguns to protect their families from Native Americans, on Christmas, 1620.

Like those they left behind in England, the settlers who came to the New World were divided on whether and how to celebrate Christmas.

For the settlers who arrived in Virginia in 1607, Christmas was an important holiday. While celebrations may have been limited, given the harsh realities of life in the struggling new Jamestown settlement, they preserved it as a sacred occasion and a day of rest. By the 1620s and ‘30s, Christmas was established as a benchmark in the legislative calendar of the Virginia colony, according to Nancy Egloff, Jamestown Settlement historian. Laws on the books in 1631, for example, stated that churches were to be built in areas that needed them before the “feast of the nativitie of our Saviour Christ.”

By contrast, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony belonged to a Puritan sect known as Separatists. They treated their first Christmas in the New World as just one more working day. Governor William Bradford noted in his diary that the colonists began building the …read more


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Here's why Georgia officials are warning that pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell is a 'security risk'

December 3, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Right-wing attorney Sidney Powell’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election have been so outrageous and over-the-top that even President Donald Trump’s legal team has distanced itself from her. And according to Law & Crime reporter Aaron Keller, Georgia officials believed that her proposal for inspecting voting machines in that state posed a “security risk.”

Georgia is among the battleground states that President-elect Joe Biden won in the 2020 election, but Powell — like other pro-Trump attorneys — has been claiming, without credible evidence, that Trump was the real winner in the Peach State and that the election was fraudulent. In a lawsuit that she filed with Lin Wood, another far-right pro-Trump attorney, Powell wanted her team to conduct forensic inspections of Georgia’s voting machines. But during a federal court hearing held on Sunday in the Northern District of Georgia, Russell David Willard — an attorney representing Georgia officials — warned that what Powell, Wood and their team were proposing was downright dangerous.

Powell, during the hearing, told Batten that she wanted to inspect voting machines in ten Georgia counties. “The important part is, it’s not just the data that comes out of the machines that is crucial to the fraud case that is so rampant across the country — it is the fact that an algorithm we believe was uploaded to the Dominion machines that weighted the votes for Mr. Biden over the votes for President Trump at approximately 1.22 over .78.”

But Willard told Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., “You cannot allow, during the midst of an election cycle, a third party to come in and get the proverbial keys to the software kingdom.” According to William, “Powell’s minions” could “go in and image everything, download the software, and figure out for future elections a way to hack in so that their preferred candidate can win.”

“That is, in effect, what they are seeking here,” Willard told Batten. “They want to image, as they just said, not only the data on the machines, but also, the entire software package and the security protocols that are set up. That is something no federal court can possibly countenance.”

Keller notes that Powell told Batten the Dominion Voting Systems program used in Georgia was also used in Venezuela to help leftist Huge Chavez steal elections in that South American country. But Dominion, in response to Powell’s claims, has countered that …read more


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What the myth of Sisyphus reveals about daily life under in COVID times

December 3, 2020 in Blogs

By The Conversation

by Thaddeus Metz, University of Johannesburg

Albert Camus was a 20th century French Algerian thinker who won the Nobel Prize for his literary works. These days it is his novel The Plague that has naturally been receiving attention. In this essay I instead consider what Camus’ philosophical classic, The Myth of Sisyphus, reveals about the status of our lives with COVID-19.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus addresses a cluster of philosophical questions about how to appraise our lives, including whether life is worth living, how life is absurd, and what could make life meaningful. Camus answers these questions by reflecting on the image of Sisyphus, a mythic figure from ancient Greece.

Sisyphus had treated some of the gods disrespectfully, and so Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, punished him by having him roll a heavy stone up a large hill for eternity. Every time Sisyphus got the rock to the top of the hill, it would roll back to the bottom, at which point Sisyphus would roll the rock back to the top, only to see it fall back down again, ad infinitum.

It is a classic image of an absurd and meaningless life. “Are our lives like that?” Camus and many philosophers after him have asked.

Well, many are now, if they weren’t before.

Life with coronavirus

I have sprayed disinfectant on my kitchen surfaces. My sink, refrigerator, stove, and dishwasher are apparently free of 99.9% of all known germs. After having put the disinfectant away, I use my kitchen as normal.

I later realise that the bottle of disinfectant itself was not disinfected. Plastic evidently retains coronavirus for up to three days, and I bought the bottle from the shop – and who knows who touched it there? – only yesterday.

I disinfect the entire kitchen again, now including the bottle of disinfectant.

I have told my children about the importance of social distancing, but allow the teenager to go and play catch with one friend at the park. After all, they need to be two metres away from each other to play.

Two other friends in the meantime text him, and then soon join him at the park. A thunderstorm unexpectedly comes, and, being considerate, he invites them all to his place nearby, while I’m out foraging for food. I arrive home to find four teenagers huddled together looking …read more


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‘The grift is on, baby’: Ex-GOP chair slams Trump’s post-election donors as ‘suckers’

December 3, 2020 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although President-elect Joe Biden enjoyed a decisive victory over President Donald Trump in the 2020 election — winning 306 electoral votes and defeating Trump by more than 6 million in the popular vote — the outgoing president continues to receive millions of dollars in donations. And former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, during an MSNBC appearance on December 2, slammed Trump’s post-election donors as “suckers.”

Claiming, with zero evidence, that he is the real winner of the 2020 presidential election and that he was the victim of widespread voter fraud, Trump has brought in a whopping $170 million for his so-called Election Defense Fund. And according to CNN’s Brianna Keilar, 75% of those donations are being shared with a new leadership PAC called the Save America PAC — which Keilar has denounced as a “slush fund.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut,” Steele told host Joy Reid that Trump’s post-election donors are “suckers” if they honestly believe their donations will keep Trump in the White House after January 20.

Steele, a Never Trumper, told Reid, “The great little dirty part of this is Donald Trump, right now, Joy, is raising money at a faster rate to, sort of, steal the election than he did when he was trying to win the election. And that’s what people need to understand, alright? He’s raising more money now than he did when he was actually running for the job that he’s now trying to say that they stole from him. So, look, the grift is on, baby. It is just on. You need to understand it.”

In 2009, Steele became the first African-American to chair the RNC — and he remained in that position until 2011. Steele, who is conservative but not an extremist, supported GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. But he has been a vehement critic of Trump and has been active in the Lincoln Project, a right-wing anti-Trump group.

Steele told Reid that if Trump’s supporters want to donate money to him, that’s up to them — but they need to realize what their donations are actually being used for.

“It ain’t going into his recount,” Steele told Reid. “It’s going into his PAC. And that PAC money — and this is important — allows him to go out and do political stuff unrelated to the recount. If you all want to give him the money, …read more