Connect with us

Published

on


But Wood — who only moved to South Carolina from Georgia this year — is drawing unusually large crowds as he campaigns on the baseless claim that the election was stolen from Trump, and that GOP officials need to keep fighting to prove it. It’s a belief that runs deep among the party base, a reality brought into sharp focus this week when House Republicans removed Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership post because she said Trump and his followers were lying about a stolen election.

Against that backdrop, Wood has sought to condemn McKissick for conceding that Biden is the president.

“Vote for McKissick if you have conceded the election,” Wood wrote Thursday to his 848,000 subscribers on the Telegram social media app, where he showed a video clip of McKissick acknowledging the reality of the Electoral College results.

“Unlike McKissick, President Trump has never conceded the election. Neither have I,” Wood wrote. “I plan to keep fighting to expose the TRUTH: Donald J. Trump won a landslide election and is our President. I pray the SCGOP delegates will choose wisely.”

The contest is roiling one of the best-organized Republican parties in the nation and one of the most important — South Carolina hosts the first presidential primary in the South.

Wood has reached well beyond Trump’s disproved claims that the election was stolen from the former president. He is fostering wild conspiracy theories positing that Biden is actually dead — replaced by body doubles — and that Trump is still president and planning to reveal himself in a phoenix-like fashion to punish his enemies.

And like Trump, Wood is already accusing McKissick of election fraud — without any evidence — even before the first ballots are cast Saturday.

“This has just made the internal cancer worse,” said Joel Sawyer, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP.

“What’s going to happen Saturday is that McKissick is going to win, and Lin Wood is going to say it was fraud and scream and holler conspiracy theories,” Sawyer said. “The problem in South Carolina is many of the people at the county level, the delegate level, have been echoing the former president’s fact-free claims of election fraud, but those very people are now going to have to turn around and defend the legitimacy of this election. But they don’t have a lot of moral authority to dispute fact-free claims of election fraud.”

McKissick supporters have distributed flyers mentioning all of the Democrats Wood financially supported in the past, and disseminated videos on social media about the many controversies swirling around the attorney, ranging from being sued by former coworkers to promulgating QAnon to being investigated for potential voter fraud in Georgia.

McKissick’s devotion to Trump is hardly in doubt: He canceled the 2020 GOP primary in the state, depriving former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford — who sought to challenge Trump — of an opportunity to have his message heard. McKissick also presided over big successes for the party in the 2020 elections.

But Wood, who was involved in many of the failed lawsuits to overturn the November election results, contends McKissick was insufficiently supportive of Trump and the “Stop the Steal” movement after the election.

On Friday, Trump issued an endorsement of McKissick, the second time the former president has publicly backed the chair since Wood entered the race, and the third time in total. Yet Wood has consistently tried to cast doubt on whether McKissick was really endorsed by Trump.

Two days earlier, at a “Pints & Politics” forum hosted by the Post and Courier newspaper, McKissick performed a delicate balancing act when asked if Biden was the legitimate president.

“In terms of the Electoral College, yes. He won the Electoral College,” McKissick said, noting Biden was “certified” as the winner.

Those arguments, however, have fallen flat with the wing of the party that is QAnon-infused and deeply enthralled with Trump. The result is a race that stands out even by South Carolina’s sharp-elbowed standards.

Wood has gone so far as to make dark insinuations that McKissick isn’t doing enough to stop “the real pandemic” of pedophilia, and suggested he needs to resign over unspecified “nefarious activities” with GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham. Wood has also called the coronavirus pandemic a “plandemic,” suggesting it was part of an organized plot.

“The GOP races, and especially the chair races, in South Carolina have always been circuses,” said Luke Byars, a former party executive director. “But this is a first for a lot of us who have been around for a lot of crazy talk in the party. I don’t think anyone has come to this level.”

Byars and other party insiders say that Wood is harnessing the roughly 25 percent of the party and delegates who seem to want a change after every election and often gravitate toward any challenger pledging to be more conservative than the establishment — even though the South Carolina establishment is among the most conservative in the nation.

The state party convention will be different this year due to the coronavirus. It will still be held in the capital city of Columbia, but Covid protocols and distancing rules made it too difficult to secure a large enough indoor venue to host all 870 delegates who will cast the votes to elect the next chair, according to party officials.

The result is that delegate votes will be cast on hand-marked paper ballots and will occur in satellite meetings in individual counties or in regional meetings. The election results will then be transmitted to party headquarters. The process will be livestreamed.

Wood has already raised concerns about the process. McKissick allies privately acknowledge it will probably benefit the incumbent because Wood’s strength is public speaking and riling up a crowd. Satellite meetings remove all the excitement and fireworks that might work to Wood’s advantage.

“Having a convention is like smoking a cigarette in a barn full of hay,” said one McKissick ally, quoting former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, describing how passions can suddenly catch fire in a giant room crowded with political activists.

“It’s an inside baseball game, and Drew has been playing ball inside the GOP for some time,” said Sanford, the former governor.

As for Wood’s candidacy and the conspiracy theories he is spreading in pursuit of the chair position, Sanford said that it’s “a reminder of the fact that Trumpism, sadly, isn’t dead. We’re going to have these conversations for a long time.”

GOP strategist Wes Donehue said he thought “Wood’s candidacy is an immediate nothing-burger, but in the long term, everyone better pay attention. The base is pissed and questioning anyone and everyone who has been around for more than a couple years.”

One top ally of McKissick expressed a similar concern, saying “there’s always been passion in our party and very conservative members. But it’s like some people lost their minds, and we’re worried it’s contagious.”

Former state GOP Chair Katon Dawson, who has seen his share of intraparty knife fights, said he’s not concerned about Wood’s bid. He said Wood can’t win because he’s too new to the state.

“You don’t just show up in South Carolina, buy a plantation and become Republican chairman,” Dawson said. “Lin Wood couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”

Dawson said he’s more worried about Trump not announcing his presidential election plans until it’s too late in the 2024 cycle for others to organize effectively. If Trump decides not to run, but doesn’t communicate that early enough, it could make it harder for other Republicans to build solid campaigns in the state and beyond, Dawson said.

But Sawyer, the former executive director of the party, said party leaders need to pay attention to the conspiracy theories promulgated by Wood — and Trump — or the GOP could lose another presidential election.

“The Republican Party is going to have to decide where the bottom is in all of these conspiracy theories,” he said.

Comments

Politics

Guinea declares end to latest Ebola outbreak

Published

on

By



“I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Based on the lessons learned from the 2014–16 outbreak and through rapid, coordinated response efforts, community engagement, effective public health measures and the equitable use of vaccines, Guinea managed to control the outbreak and prevent its spread beyond its borders.” The U.N. said it will continue to provide post-illness care.

The CDC welcomed the news in a statement.

“I commend the government and first responders in Guinea for ending the country’s Ebola outbreak,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Our heartfelt sympathies are with the people who lost loved ones to this disease. CDC remains committed to supporting survivor programs and helping strengthen global preparedness and response capacities that can prevent or extinguish future Ebola outbreaks.”

Continue Reading

Politics

Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency amid low turnout

Published

on

By



In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2.a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Continue Reading

Politics

Apathy greets Iran presidential vote dominated by hard-liner

Published

on

By



“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders and the lower participation in Western democracies. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord. Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also blocked from running, said on social media he’d boycott the vote.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Khamenei cast the first vote from Tehran, urging the public to “go ahead, choose and vote.”

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, voted from a mosque in southern Tehran. The cleric acknowledged in comments afterward that some may be “so upset that they don’t want to vote.”

“I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots,” Raisi said.

But few appeared to heed the call. There are more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran, a nation of over 80 million people. However, the state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has estimated a turnout will be just 44%, which would be the lowest since the revolution. Officials gave no turnout figures Friday, though results could come Saturday.

Fears about a low turnout have some warning Iran may be turning away from being an Islamic Republic — a government with elected civilian leadership overseen by a supreme leader from its Shiite clergy — to a country more tightly governed by its supreme leader, who already has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

“This is not acceptable,” said former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who sought to change the theocracy from the inside during eight years in office. “How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?”

For his part, Khamenei warned of “foreign plots” seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday. A flyer handed out on the streets of Tehran by hard-liners echoed that and bore the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. A polling station was set up by Soleimani’s grave on Friday.

Some voters appeared to echo that call.

“We cannot leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners and let them decide for us and create conditions that will be absolutely harmful for us,” said Tehran voter Shahla Pazouki.

Also hurting a moderate like Hemmati is the public anger aimed at Rouhani over the collapse of the deal, despite ongoing talks in Vienna to revive it. Iran’s already-ailing economy has suffered since, with double-digit inflation and mass unemployment.

“It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about voting. “Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again remain disappointed.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Right Wing Uncut by TSD