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How 3 major events in rapid succession shaped the surreal ending of the Trump era

January 22, 2021 in Blogs

By Heather Digby Parton

It seems like only yesterday that we were all making jokes about 2020 being the worst and reassuring ourselves that 2021 was bound to be better. Looking forward to the departure of the most divisive president in U.S. history we slid into the new year relieved and a little bit complacent, secure in the knowledge that the country was soon to be rid of him. Instead, this has been the most tumultuous January in modern memory.

Each week of the new year has been momentous. Specifically, every Wednesday of the new year has been historic.

We started with the January 6th insurrection, of course, in which then-President Donald Trump incited an angry mob of thousands to storm the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress to stop the constitutionally-mandated counting of the Electoral College votes for the next president, Joe Biden. That had never happened before, obviously. Until then, we never had a president so radical and so psychologically unbalanced that he would try to stop the peaceful transfer of power. But, of course, Trump was unlike any other and he persuaded tens of millions of people that they could believe him or they could believe their lying eyes and convinced them that the election had been stolen from them despite all evidence to the contrary.

That Wednesday is going to be one of those days that will be remembered like December 7th and 9/11. It will be commonly referred to as the January 6th insurrection or, more likely, just January 6th.

The nation was left reeling and in shock by what they saw unfold on their TVs, including the speech by a president who egged the mob on and then stood by and did nothing for hours, reportedly delighted by the mob violence. Members of Congress had been targeted by the murderous rioters and were left traumatized by the experience. It was so outrageous that on the very next Wednesday, the House of Representatives took the bold and unprecedented step of impeaching President Trump for a second time.

They had no choice. Five people died on January 6th and dozens were injured. The horrific pictures were beamed around the world leaving our allies shaken and our adversaries rubbing their hands together with glee. Despite the fact that Trump would be out of office in just one week, Congress had to take a stand and they did. Even …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Report reveals Republicans are quietly lobbying GOP Senators to convict and banish Trump

January 22, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Although Donald Trump’s presidency ended on Wednesday when President Joe Biden was sworn into office, it remains to be seen what role the former president will play in the Republican Party in the months ahead. Reporters Michael Warren and Jamie Gangel, in a CNN article published on Biden’s second full day as president, take a look at some Republicans who are discreetly lobbying for Trump’s repudiation.

Having been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for incitement to insurrection following the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building, Trump awaits an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate. Mitch McConnell, now Senate minority leader rather than majority leader, has indicated that he is open to possibly voting “guilty” — and according to Warren and Gangel, “dozens of influential Republicans around Washington” have been “quietly lobbying GOP members of Congress to impeach and convict Donald Trump.”

“The ongoing Republican whisper campaign, according to more than a dozen sources who spoke to CNN, is based on a shared belief that a successful conviction is critical for the future of the Republican Party,” Warren and Gangel explain. “Multiple sources describe this moment as a reckoning for the Party…. It would take 17 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats in order to convict. While the bar is high, some GOP sources think there is more of an appetite to punish the former president than is publicly apparent.”

Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman, believes that many Republicans in Congress would like to see Trump banished from the GOP but are afraid to say so publicly.

Dent told CNN, “There were ten House Republicans who voted for impeachment. There were probably over 150 who supported it.”

Meanwhile, an anonymous source described by Warren and Gangel as a “former senior Republican official,” believes that being convicted in a Senate trial could end Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP.

“Trump created a cult of personality that is hard to dismantle,” that Republican told CNN. “Conviction could do that.”

The conservative anti-Trump lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., according to Warren and Gangel, includes a “nine-point memo” listing some reasons why convicting Trump would be beneficial for the GOP.

A former senior Republican official is hoping that McConnell’s “institutional reverence for the Senate will overcome his natural political caution and will lead him to the conclusion that Trump is in the way of the party’s future.” But that same Republican also …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A National Review writer skewers Trump for leaving the GOP in ruins: 'Even his judges think he's a joke'

January 22, 2021 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson

Early Wednesday morning, then-President Donald Trump departed the White House aboard Marine One; hours later, Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Conservative columnist Kevin D. Williamson looks back on Trump’s presidency in a humorous yet scathing piece for the National Review, arguing that Trump inflicted considerable damage on the Republican Party during his four years in office.

“Donald Trump is, in fact, the first president since Herbert Hoover to lead his party to losing the presidency, the House and the Senate all in a single term,” Williamson explains. “Along with being the first president to be impeached twice and the first game-show host elected to the office, that’s Trump’s claim to the history books. Well, that and 400,000 dead Americans and the failed coup d’état business.”

Williamson not only slams Trump in his column, but also, the Republicans who gave him their unquestioning support for four years.

“While we’re at it, maybe turning your party over to Generalissimo Walter Mitty, his hideous scheming spawn, and the studio audience from ‘Hee-Haw’ was not just absolutely aces as a political strategy,” Williamson tells Trump’s GOP supporters. “Think on it, Cletus. I know this whole thing still sounds like your idea of a good time — how’s that working out for you?”

According to Williamson, it isn’t working out well at all.

“On the day Donald Trump was sworn in as president, Republicans controlled not only the White House, but both houses of Congress,” Williamson explains. “They were in a historically strong position elsewhere as well, controlling both legislative chambers in 32 states. They pissed that away like they were midnight drunks karaoke-warbling that old Chumbawumba song. In 2021, they control approximately squat. The House is run by Nancy Pelosi. The Senate is run, as a practical matter, by Kamala Harris. And Joe Biden won the presidency.”

Williamson goes on to say that Republicans who underestimated Biden’s ability to win a presidential election did so at their own peril.

“You Trumpish Republicans sneered that Joe Biden was too corrupt and too senescent to win a presidential campaign, that he was one part mafioso and one part turnip,” Williamson writes. “That turnip kicked your dumb asses from Delaware to D.C. So, you …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Arrested 'Oath Keeper' was 'preparing for literal war': prosecutor

January 22, 2021 in Blogs

By Raw Story

Federal prosecutors on Friday made shocking allegations against Donovan Ray Crowl, a former U.S. Marine and member of the right-wing paramilitary group the “Oath Keepers” who was arrested for being part of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Crowl, 50, is one of three members of the right-wing group who’ve been charged with conspiring to disrupt the congressional session to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, an apparent leader of the Oath Keepers, and Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old Army veteran, have also been charged with conspiracy. All three have since been ordered held without bail,” The Daily Beast reported Friday.

The Beast quoted a Virginia prosecutor’s comments during Crowl’s detention hearing.

“The plan was never for peaceful protest,” the prosecutor said. “The Oath Keepers arrived in D.C. prepared for violence.”

“[Crowl's] been preparing for literal war because that’s what his organization told him to do,” the prosecutor argued.

The DOJ affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant against Crowl includes multiple pictures from the riots that prosecutors allege show Crowl. One of the photos included was actually posted by a “self-proclaimed commanding officer of the Ohio State Regular Militia. An interview Crowl gave to The New Yorker was also cited.


  • Affidavit in support of criminal complaint and arrest warrant in the case of United States vs. Donovan Ray Crowl. Screengrab.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mitch McConnell slammed for his own effort to virtually 'overturn the Senate election'

January 22, 2021 in Blogs

By Common Dreams

In an early effort to keep the GOP in a position to cripple President Joe Biden’s agenda, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening to block a must-pass organizing resolution that establishes the rules for the new session and sets committee assignments if Democrats don’t agree to hamstring themselves by promising to leave the 60-vote legislative filibuster in place.

Senate Democrats—who won narrow control of the chamber with a pair of runoff victories in Georgia earlier this month—have thus far refused to accept McConnell’s demand, but the Kentucky Republican’s stonewalling of the organizing resolution is already causing problems for the new Biden administration and delaying legislative work as the pandemic rages and mass layoffs continue nationwide.

“The longer the standoff over the organizing package persists, the weirder the Senate will become,” Politico reported Thursday. “New senators have not been added to committees and the ratios have not changed, leaving the GOP in the majority on some panels. That’s already complicating the ability of the Senate to confirm some of President Joe Biden’s nominees.”

In a floor speech Thursday, McConnell signaled that he does not intend to drop his demand any time soon, calling the legislative filibuster “a crucial part of the Senate.”

Rejecting McConnell’s “extraneous provisions,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is pushing for an organizing resolution that sets the same rules that governed the 50-50 Senate in 2001.

Given that the organizing resolution is itself subject to the filibuster, McConnell is effectively using the archaic 60-vote requirement—which progressives have taken to calling a “Jim Crow relic“—to protect it from future elimination by the new Democratic majority. Scrapping the filibuster would require just 51 votes, meaning Democrats would need the support of their entire Senate caucus and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris.

“McConnell is threatening to filibuster the organizing resolution which allows Democrats to assume the committee chair positions,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) tweeted Thursday. “It’s an absolutely unprecedented, wacky, counterproductive request. We won the Senate. We get the gavels.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told CNN Thursday that “Mitch McConnell was fine with getting rid of the filibuster to a United States Supreme Court nominee for a lifetime appointment, but he’s not okay getting rid of the filibuster for unemployment relief for families that are out of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Chocolate’s Sweet History: From Elite Treat to Food for the Masses

January 22, 2021 in History

By Christopher Klein

Originally consumed as a bitter drink, it was prized as both an aphrodisiac and an energy booster.

Mankind’s love affair with chocolate stretches back more than five millennia. Produced from the seeds of tropical cacao trees native to the rainforests of Central and South America, chocolate was long considered the “food of the gods,” and later, a delicacy for the elite. But for most of its history, it was actually consumed as a bitter beverage rather than the sweet, edible treat it has become worldwide.

What Is the Birthplace of Chocolate?

Mayan cacao drink

Archaeologists have discovered the earliest traces of cacao in pottery used by the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe culture 5,300 years ago in the upper Amazon region of Ecuador. Chocolate played an important political, spiritual and economic role in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, which ground roasted cacao beans into a paste that they mixed with water, vanilla, chili peppers and other spices to brew a frothy chocolate drink.

Ancient Mesoamericans believed chocolate was an energy booster and aphrodisiac with mystical and medicinal qualities. The Mayans, who considered cacao a gift from the gods, used chocolate for sacred ceremonies and funeral offerings. Wealthy Mayans drank foaming chocolate drinks, while commoners consumed chocolate in a cold porridge-like dish.

As people of the Aztec empire spread across Mesoamerica in the 1400s, they too began to prize cacao. Since they couldn’t grow it in the dry highlands of central Mexico, they traded with the Mayans for the beans, which they even used as currency. (In the 1500s, Aztecs could purchase a turkey hen or a hare for 100 beans.) By one account, the 16th-century Aztec ruler Moctezuma II drank 50 cups of chocolate a day out of a golden goblet to increase his libido.

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Spaniards Introduce Chocolate to Europe’s Elite

Chocolate arrived in Europe during the 1500s, likely brought by both Spanish friars and conquistadors who had traveled to the Americas. Although the Spanish sweetened the bitter drink with cane sugar and cinnamon, one thing remained unchanged: Chocolate reigned as a delectable symbol of luxury, wealth and power—an expensive import sipped by royal lips, and affordable only to Spanish elites.

Chocolate’s popularity eventually spread to other European courts, where aristocrats consumed it as a magic elixir with health benefits. To slake their growing thirst …read more

Source: HISTORY

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How Cesar Chavez Joined Larry Itliong to Demand Farm Workers' Rights

January 22, 2021 in History

By Adam Janos

Itliong may not be as well-known a name as Chavez, but his role among Filipino-American workers was as critical in the 1965-70 Delano grape strike—if not more.

In the late 1960s, grapes grabbed national attention—and not in a good way.

Newly organized farm workers, fronted by Mexican-American civil-rights activist Cesar Chavez, asked Americans to boycott the popular California fruit because of the paltry pay and poor work conditions agricultural laborers were forced to endure. Using nonviolent tactics like marches and hunger strikes, grape pickers made their plight a part of the national civil-rights conversation.

It took time, but their efforts paid off: In 1970, after five years of the so-called Delano grape strike, farm workers won a contract promising better pay and benefits. A few years later, their efforts led to the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, which established collective-bargaining power for farmworkers statewide.

Cesar Chavez (TV-PG; 3:59)

But while Chavez has been honored with a national monument, a postage stamp and three state holidays, he wasn’t the only catalyst for change. Or even the leading one. Rather, it was Larry Itliong, a Filipino-American organizer, who led a group of Filipino-American grape workers to first strike in September 1965.

“The Filipinos were far more radical” than the Mexican-American farm workers, says Matt Garcia, a professor of history at Dartmouth College and the author of From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement. “They were focused like a laser, and decided that they were going to force the issue.”

Who Started the Delano Grape Strike?

The farm workers of Central California’s San Joaquin Valley largely hailed from two groups: Mexican-Americans and Filipino-Americans. But while they performed the same jobs in the same fields, they had arrived into California’s agricultural industry via very different routes.

The first big wave of Filipino migration to the U.S. came between the two world wars. According to the book Little Manila is in the Heart by Dawn Mabalon, more than 31,000 Filipinos came to California between 1920 and 1929, many in search of agricultural work. Most came from rural areas of the Philippines, having sold off farm animals, crops and small parcels of land in order fund the 7,000-plus-mile journey across the Pacific.

As a group, they were more than 90 percent male. And because anti-miscegenation laws forbade interracial marriage in California, …read more

Source: HISTORY