Insurrection and Christian Nationalism (with constitutional attorney Andrew Seidel)

This has CC and is very informative. OT, I have another doctor appointment this morning. See you all when I get back. Hugs

Jared and Ivanka made up to $640 million in the White House

https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-investigations/jared-and-ivanka-made-up-to-640-million-in-the-white-house/

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump reported between $172 million and $640 million in outside income while working in the White House, according to an analysis of financial disclosures by CREW. It is impossible to tell the exact amount as the income is sometimes reported in broad ranges and cover four months of income before Ivanka Trump officially joined her father’s administration and nearly one month before Jared Kushner joined.

Both Kushner and Trump announced they would not take a salary while working for the government in an attempt to shut down nepotism concerns. While their supporters marked this as a public sacrifice, the massive amount of money they made on the side undercuts that argument, as government salaries would have been less than 1% of their income.

One major factor in their outside profits came from Ivanka Trump’s ownership stake in the Trump Hotel in DC, just blocks from the White House and the locus of influence peddling in the Trump administration. Before business slowed down due to the pandemic, the couple paid a combined 23 visits to the hotel. All told, Ivanka made more than $13 million from the hotel since 2017, dropping from about $4 million a year between 2017 and 2019 to about $1.5 million last year, at least in part due to the pandemic. On top of the drop in revenue, there’s an unexplained drop in the value of her ownership. Having previously claimed it to be worth between $5 million and $25 million, in her final disclosure she listed it as only worth $100,000 to $250,000. She did not report selling any of her ownership share in the hotel.

The hotel was far from Ivanka Trump’s only controversial source of income while working in the White House. In 2018, Ivanka announced she was shutting down her namesake brand, and she later filed a disclosure with the government that “[a]ll operations of the business ceased on July 31, 2018.” But we discovered that she still made up to $1 million from it in 2019 despite the fact that she claimed it no longer existed.

While after four years it’s still a little hard to tell what, exactly, Ivanka actually did in the White House, her tenure was still marked by repeated scandals revolving around potential conflicts of interest with her businesses. While dealing with foreign governments can raise obvious questions for the children of presidents, getting financial or other benefits from foreign governments while working as a senior staffer in your father’s administration should be an obvious non-starter. But when it comes to Ivanka’s time in the administration, getting foreign trademarks to use after leaving the White House may have been her biggest accomplishment.

Just a month before her father was elected president, Russia renewed two trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s business. This would be the start of a pattern. In 2017, Ivanka’s business won preliminary approval for three Chinese trademarks on the same day that she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. In May 2018, Ivanka’s business was awarded “registration” approval from the Chinese government for five trademark applications, with an additional one getting “first trial approval.” The same week, President Trump announced he would try to save jobs at ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications giant closely tied to the government. A month later, Ivanka’s business got registration approval for three more Chinese trademarks, on the same day her father announced he’d lift sanctions against ZTE.

Ivanka’s business applied for Japanese trademarks the day after her father won the presidency. They were approved around the time of Mike Pence’s visit to Japan where he met with then-Prime Minister Abe. Ivanka also met with Abe, along with her father, about a week after her company applied for the trademarks. She won approval for additional Japanese trademarks in 2017.

In what would become the defining scandal of her time in office, in October 2018 Ivanka’s brand won 16 new trademarks from the Chinese government, including for voting machines. These approvals came about three months after Ivanka announced that her brand was shutting down, and mark the largest number of new Chinese trademarks she received in a single month during the Trump presidency. Six months after the company officially shut down, it received a new trademark to sell the Ivanka brand in Canada. In all, CREW found at least 28 foreign trademarks approved for Ivanka Trump while in the White House.

While most of her work in the White House was fairly nebulous, we do know that she worked on the Trump administration’s implementation of the Opportunity Zones program in 2018, apparently violating conflict of interest law in the process. At the same time that Ivanka was working on Opportunity Zones, Jared owned a significant financial stake in a company called Cadre which offers investment vehicles under the Opportunity Zones program. When Trump and Kushner entered the administration, Kushner’s stake in Cadre was valued between $5 million and $25 million. The value would rise to $25 million to $50 million. Kushner originally failed to disclose his ownership in Cadre. Despite the fact that the top White House ethics official determined at one point that it was “reasonably necessary” for him to divest from Cadre in order to do his job at the White House, he never did.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump should never have been allowed to work in the White House. The Department of Justice reversed decades of precedent to grant President Trump’s wish to have his children work in the White House. While taking on enormous responsibilities that they were unqualified to carry out, and debasing their positions with constant ethics scandals, they likely made hundreds of millions of dollars from questionable sources. All that was waived off by the same nepotism that got them their jobs. Some “sacrifice.”

Christian Textbooks Are Already Rewriting the Obama and Trump Presidencies

About a third of all private Christian K-12 schools in the country — roughly 2,400 of them — use textbooks published by Abeka, BJU Press, or Accelerated Christian Education.

As you might guess, those textbooks whitewash U.S. history, teach fake science, and present conservative Christian views of the world as fact rather than opinion.

That’s especially troubling when you see how they’re covering recent politics.

 

 

HuffPost reporter Rebecca Klein looked at textbooks from Abeka and BJU Press, and their coverage of politics reads just like a post from a right-wing website.

One passage in an 11th-grade U.S. history textbook from Abeka states, “Although many false philosophies were popular in America before 2000, the new millennium heralded a dramatic acceptance of immoral ideology on a national scale. … Three such philosophies are globalism, environmentalism, and postmodernism.”

“Believing religion — particularly Christianity — to be divisive, globalists discourage its influence on public life,” it continues.

Here’s another passage from an Abeka history book concerning the Obama era:

“Many Americans’ views about race relations had improved at the time that Obama was inaugurated. Unfortunately, Americans’ views of race relations declined after Obama came into office. Race riots in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, greatly escalated racial tensions and worsened strife between minorities and local police. President Obama’s attempts to resolve these problems often seemed to make the situation worse.”

There’s no mention of why people were rioting in those cities or any mention of the role of law enforcement.

And here’s a similar passage from a BJU Press book:

“Despite President Obama’s call for racial harmony, his eight-year term of office saw an intensification of racial discord. Several controversial shootings of black men led to protests, some of which were violent and destructive with black communities bearing the brunt of most of the destruction. Groups such as Black Lives Matter sharpened the divide between police and citizens, and black and white, with divisive rhetoric. Mixed messages from the Obama administration, the Department of Justice in particular, seemed to increase the racial discord.”

Why were those shootings controversial? WHO KNOWS! But Black Lives Matter is the problem.

You expect this kind of thoughtless, nuance-free analysis from conservative bloggers, right-wing TV hosts, or whatever the hell Eric Metaxas is these days. But when something is in a textbook, students often treat it as fact. These beliefs were readily seen during last week’s attack at the Capitol, and it’s clear that indoctrinating children in this brand of Christian Nationalism is the goal of these publishers.

Christians have no hope of being part of the solution when their own schools are brainwashing kids with this garbage. Even Donald Trump is treated like a savior and fighter for Christians and not someone who rode a wave of disinformation into power thanks to a political party with no regard for truth or decency. He’s described in one textbook as someone “whose determination and bombastic mannerisms gave Republicans the fighter they wanted,” as if his racism, insult-comic-humor, and ignorance weren’t also appealing to those voters.

How do you undo this much damage when these kids get older?

There’s really no way to fix any of this either. There’s a reason public schools reject these books — they’re not reliable — but there’s nothing stopping Christian schools from using them. Unless parents or responsible administrators decide they want their kids to get educated instead of brainwashed, these publishers will continue rewriting history to serve their own purposes.

New Report Warns of Christian Nationalism Spreading to States Across the Country

New Report Warns of Christian Nationalism Spreading to States Across the Country

American Atheists has just released its third annual “State of the Secular States” report on how every state (and Puerto Rico and D.C.) are affected by laws concerning “separation of religion and government and religious equality.” With most states focused on COVID, that means paying special attention to bills dealing with religious exemptions and non-discrimination laws. 2021 also means paying attention to extreme legislation designed specifically to get in front of the Supreme Court’s conservative super-majority.

The full report functions as a benevolent cheat sheet, giving you details about which states let child welfare groups discriminate for religious reasons, require religious displays (like “In God We Trust”) in public buildings, permit “faith healing” as an excuse when a child is killed, etc.

 

 

“2020 was an unprecedented year for state legislatures. Beset by pandemic closures, budget shortfalls, and the politics of the election, few managed to pass many substantive bills,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy at American Atheists and author of the report. “However, 2021 will be different. The momentous Supreme Court rulings from last term, which attack church/state separation and promote a discriminatory vision of religious freedom, will shape state legislation in the coming year. Christian nationalists now have more time to introduce anti-equality legislation and take advantage of these harmful decisions.

“For years, advocates of private education and religious schools have sought to get their hands on public education dollars. Because of the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza, public schools are now left undefended. Expect to see a widespread effort to transfer taxpayer dollars away from public schools and toward private, often religious, schools,” said Gill. “These schools are free to discriminate, and they serve a smaller number of comparatively wealthy students.”

Do yourself a favor and at least check out how your state is doing. And if there’s work to be done, get in touch with your AA affiliate or other like-minded group and see if there’s way to push for legislation to build up that wall of separation.