Outrage is mounting over a shocking Associated Press report published late last week revealing that at least 250 migrant infants, children and teenagers have been locked up for nearly a month without adequate food, water or sanitation at a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, near the city of El Paso. Lawyers who visited the facility described a scene of chaos and sickness, with children unable to shower or change into clean clothes for weeks on end. The AP report came the same week that the Trump administration argued in federal court that the government is not required to provide toothbrushes, soap or beds to children detained at the border, and as other reports found similarly squalid conditions at a number of immigration jails. We speak with Warren Binford, a lawyer who interviewed children detained at the Clint, Texas, facility.
In the nearly four months since I became the Kansas Reflector’s opinion editor, we’ve had a grand old time chuckling at the antics of Kansas politicians. I wrote about Derek Schmidt playing footsie with fascism, a modern-day medicine show promoting COVID-19 quackery, an anti-vaccine frat party at the Statehouse, and fears that critical race theory will turn your children into card-carrying members of the rainbow mafia. Everyone enjoyed themselves.
We’ve seen enough ridiculous antics now, though, that you and I should pause for a moment. We should ask ourselves an important question.
Why are otherwise reasonable Kansans — regular citizens and politicos alike — willing to act like this? Why have they taken leave of their senses? Why are formerly sober conservatives willing to don figurative dunce caps and frolic around the village square yelling “neener, neener, neener”?
You can call Derek Schmidt many things, but you can’t call him dumb. You can accuse Statehouse GOP leaders of ideological incoherence, but they know how to run their chambers. Anti-vaccine crusaders wrap themselves in conspiracy theories, but they attract crowds eager to believe. I may not agree with any of these folks’ policy positions, but I’m more than willing to acknowledge their intelligence.
So what’s up?
I suspect you know the answer. I do too. I’ve never taken the time to fully acknowledge it, however, and we need to do so as 2021 draws to a close.
Conservatives were wiped out at the federal level in 2020. Despite Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election, President Joe Biden was still sworn in Jan. 20. Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as well. Two years earlier, conservatives in Kansas experienced their own Waterloo, with Laura Kelly besting the hilariously awful Kris Kobach in a three-way match.
Usually, parties that suffer such sweeping defeats take time to ponder what went wrong. Their former leaders retreat into exile. Policy positions shift, and new faces come to the fore.
Why are otherwise reasonable Kansans — regular citizens and politicos alike — willing to act like this? Why have they taken leave of their senses? Why are formerly sober conservatives willing to don figurative dunce caps and frolic around the village square yelling ‘neener, neener, neener’?
– Clay Wirestone
In 2021, conservatives just decided to double down on racism and death. They didn’t say that outright, of course, but they understood that hatred of Black and brown people is still a potent weapon among white voters. Trump had taught them many lessons, but that was one of the most important. They also understood that Americans at some level prefer freedom to safety, violence to peace, plague to health. COVID-19 never had more enthusiastic boosters than Republicans once they understood that unpopular yet effective measures to slow the virus could be politicized. Just as school shooting after school shooting leads to little change in our nation’s gun laws, the emergence of threatening new COVID variants has lead to little change in public health policy.
Kansans have seen this play out in vivid detail during the past few months. Anti-vaccination rallies and hearings at the Statehouse have turned discussions over stopping a dangerous virus into a platform for patriotic filibusters. Conservative activists created a furor over “critical race theory” out of whole cloth, preying on the barely suppressed racism of white parents. We’re now supposed worry about how “a little white girl” might feel about learning of this country’s history. Never mind how a little Black girl might feel.
But none of these topics are important in themselves.
Few conservatives are eager to remind their supporters that the Trump administration poured money and resources into developing vaccines. Few were fighting critical race theory before this year. These issues are distractions, ways for those out of power to seek a way back in, less than a year after an attempted right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
For those not paying attention to politics — and if you don’t have the time, who can blame you — the topics might seem legitimately important. People of goodwill have been caught up in these movements. I’ve read their testimony on the Kansas Legislature’s website, and I hurt for them. These are decent Kansans being exploited by politicians. They have collected references and sources. They have rehearsed their speeches.
The sad reality? The politicians playing power games don’t give a damn about their concerns.
The same thing happened a little more than a decade ago. The Tea Party movement exploited fears about government spending to return the GOP to power in 2010. Legislators who earned golden tickets to Washington, D.C., heaped praise on activists, but they didn’t slow or stop government spending. That wasn’t the point (and no one in their right mind would propose cutting costly programs such as Medicare or Social Security).
So here we stand in December 2021. Conservatives believe the road back to power runs through anti-mandate and anti-CRT rhetoric. They could be right.
If they earn that power, though, what will they do with it? What laws will be passed and what policies enacted?
What price will we all pay for their ridiculous antics?
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
An accused Capitol rioter and his wife are now facing child endangerment charges after they allegedly hid from the FBI in an unheated travel trailer in the Nevada foothills.
Josiah Kenyon, 34, is accused of assaulting police with several objects — including a table leg with a protruding nail — during the Jan. 6 insurrection. According to the Department of Justice, Kenyon wore a Jack Skellington costume, based on a character from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, to the Capitol.
But Kenyon's apprehension last week was almost as unusual as his Jan. 6 costume, according to a report from Reno's ABC affiliate.
"Two Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies, members of the HOPES team assigned to help the homeless, found a woman and two children living in a small, unheated travel trailer on the foothills of Peavine Mountain," the station reports. "They came offering help, but encountered a woman, who according to their report, was evasive, and reluctant to give her name or her husband’s. She was reportedly suspicious at first that they might be policemen, who the woman said were — unlike sheriff’s deputies — 'unconstitutional.'"
At that point, Josiah Kenyon pulled up in a camouflaged and modified Ford Crown Victoria. After Josiah Kenyon explained that his family would be moving on soon, the deputies left — but later decided "on reflection" to run a check on his license plate.
After the deputies discovered that Kenyon was wanted by the FBI, "A traffic stop was set up and Kenyon was arrested on the federal charges, along with his wife, Elizabeth, for child endangerment," according to the station.
And there's more: "Deputies reportedly found an AR-15 rifle, a Glock handgun, ammunition and other weaponry inside the camouflaged car. The children were safe, but while being supervised spoke in the same sovereign citizen, anti-government rhetoric as their parents. It’s unclear how long they’d been living off the grid, on the run."
Watch the report here.
Quite a setup that Jan. 6 rioter Josiah Kenyon had here: https://www.kolotv.com/2021/12/07/search-january-6th-suspect-ends-peavine-mountain/\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/liyULbnCdr— Ryan J. Reilly (@Ryan J. Reilly) 1639015747
Seth Meyers on Wednesday night took aim at Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz — and other "sycophants in the Trump cult" — who've been floating an "insane" plan to install the former president as House speaker if they win back the majority in 2022.
"Their only goal is power, and they're laser-focused on getting ready for the next coup, after nearly pulling off the last one," the Late Night host said of the GOP. "Yesterday a group of Republicans including Matt Gaetz even went so far as to suggest that if they win back power in 2022, they would spend most of their time trying to prove the unhinged conspiracy theory that the Jan. 6 insurrection was actually staged by the FBI. Gaetz added that they would focus on that rather than on working with Democrats to pass legislation."
Meyers then played a clip from the Tuesday news conference in which Gaetz said, "The notion that Republicans are going to take control of the House and we're going to hold hands in the warm spring rain with the Democrats and legislate is ludicrous."
"All right, no one thinks you're going to legislate," Meyers said. "But what was that about holding hands in the warm spring rain? Is that a Four Seasons lyric? Is he in the touring company of The Jersey Boys? Because that would explain the hair."
After singing a few bars from the Four Seasons' "Oh, What a Night," Meyers played another clip of Gaetz saying he wants to install Trump as speaker — which somehow led to a tangent in which the host imitated the former president asking Amazon's Alexa why Melania isn't talking to him. Alexa's response: "Because she hates you!"
"The point is these people's depravity truly knows no bounds," Meyers concluded. "Trump let a deadly pandemic ravage the country leading to mass suffering. He stoked a violent coup to overturn an election, and he personally came into contact with more than 500 people after testing positive for COVID and hiding it. And yet his sycophants in the Trump cult are still willing to do anything to get him back into power."
"Trump could take a dump on the Constitution, and they'd say it was just a little schmeered," Meyers said, referring back to an earlier portion of his "A Closer Look" segment about Fox News reporting on a "cream cheese shortage."
Watch below (the Gaetz stuff begins at the 7:25 mark).
Republicans Want to Make Trump Speaker of the House if They Win in 2022: A Closer Look www.youtube.com