CHICAGO — Freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Mary Miller, who has embraced the far right elements of the party’s ideology, announced Saturday she will challenge five-term GOP U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in the June 28 primary after she gained the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. Miller had announced she would seek reelection but did not say where she would run until gaining Trump’s backing. Under a new Democratic-drawn redistricting map in which Illinois lost one House seat, Miller’s home in Oakland is just outside the new 15th Congressional District where Davis lives and is in the same dis...
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After The Washington Post uncovered a photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during desegregation history, CNN interviewed one of the Black people seeking to attend a nearby high school.
"On the first day of classes at North Little Rock High, a crew-cut sophomore named Jerral Wayne Jones found his spot among a phalanx of White boys who stood at the front entrance and blocked the path of six Black students attempting to desegregate the school," The Post reported. "The confrontation occurred 65 years ago, on Sept. 9, 1957, during the same month that a higher-profile integration effort was taking place at Little Rock Central High in the capital city a few miles away. The story of the Little Rock Nine, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched federal troops to escort the trailblazing Black students past the spitting hordes, is regarded as a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. It overshadowed the ugly events unfolding contemporaneously at Jones’s high school on the other side of the Arkansas River — an episode mostly lost to history, though not entirely."
Little Rock Nine member Ernest Green was interviewed by CNN's Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins on Black Friday.
"My view is that Jerry Jones has an opportunity to make that picture have a different ending by pursuing diversity and inclusion and involvement of the African-American community, people of color all throughout this country," Green said.
The story in The Post noted Jones has never hired a Black head coach.
"And I think that rather than talk to Jerry about what happened in 1957, let's go forward and see what we can do this year," Green said.
He added, "I think today, as head of the Dallas cowboys, he has an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on expanding opportunities in this country."
Watch below or at this link:
Ernest Green Little Rock Nine www.youtube.com
When the results of 2022 midterms came in on Election Night, one saw some patterns emerging. Democrats were performing much better than expected, and many of the Republicans who were defeating Democrats in statewide races in swing states tended to be traditional conservatives rather far-right hyper-MAGA conspiracy theorists.
Hyper-MAGA, ultra-Trumpian candidates, in fact, lost key gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, while many of the GOP governors who were reelected — Ohio’s Mike DeWine, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, New Hampshire’s Chris Sununu — were more traditional conservatives. One saw some ticket splitting in New Hampshire; Sununu was reelected by around 15 percent, while far-right MAGA conspiracy theorist Don Bolduc lost to incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hasan by 9 percent.
DeWine and Sununu are often slammed as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) by the MAGA crowd, but unlike Arizona’s Kari Lake, Michigan’s Tudor Dixon or Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano — Republican gubernatorial nominees who ran on ultra-MAGA platforms — they won. Conservative Washington Post opinion columnist Henry Olsen had a blunt comment in his November 22 column: “College-educated voters just aren’t into MAGA.”
But “weird” Republicans, The New Republic’s Graham Gallagher emphasizes in an article published on November 25, aren’t going away. In fact, they have achieved more and more prominence in the GOP and are making their presence felt in some right-wing think tanks such as the Claremont Institute.
“The ascendant weird right will likely struggle to sell its deeply anti-patriotic vision to many voters,” Gallagher explains. “In these segments of the mostly young, online-influenced American right, the optimistic vision espoused by Ronald Reagan’s ‘morning in America’ has been discarded. The elite educated right has moved even beyond the overt pessimism of Donald Trump’s ‘American carnage’ — now, disgust with equitable citizenship, personal liberty, and democratic self-governance is commonplace. Fed by an endless outrage cycle and a motivated and well-resourced donor class willing to pour money into increasingly reactionary think tanks like the avowedly anti-democratic Claremont Institute, right-wing thinkers and activists have begun to identify the foundational pillars of the United States itself with immorality and adopted a new fascination with medieval Catholicism and imported European extremisms.”
Gallagher points to “the right-wing embrace of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin” and former Rep. Allen West’s obsession with the Medieval Knights Templar as examples of how “bizarre” the “online weird right” can be. Others include beliefs that “real men don’t eat soybeans, seed oils are dangerous, meat substitutes will turn men into women and…. the best diet is all-meat.” And Gallagher cites some specific examples of how “weird” MAGA candidates could be in the 2022 midterms.
“Blake Masters and J.D. Vance — two Republican candidates for Senate funded in part by tech billionaire and new-right linchpin Peter Thiel — have embraced new-right ideas and actively courted the ‘weird right,’” Gallagher observes. “Vance has questioned whether women should leave violent marriages; Masters has praised domestic terrorist Theodore Kaczynski’s infamous manifesto, argued against legal access to contraception, and openly said that democracy is a smokescreen for the masses ‘stealing certain kinds of goods and redistributing them as they see fit.’ Americans on balance like democracy; legal contraception is almost universally popular; and Kaczynski’s unpopularity is so widely assumed that pollsters rarely ask about him. Masters, perhaps unsurprisingly, lost his bid to unseat Mark Kelly, and Vance badly underperformed in his blood-red home state.”
Among the revelations from the report, published Sunday as part of a series on “a relentless nationwide campaign” to expand sports betting: Kansas lawmakers slashed an already generous tax rate from 20% to 10%, and exempted some bets from being taxed at all, before passing the sports gambling package after midnight in the final hours of the legislative session.
The final vote came two days after a lobbying event that promised “something for everyone.” There, the New York Times documented how Rep. John Barker, an Abilene Republican who helped orchestrate the sports gambling package, reveled in 30-year-old Irish whiskey while Sen. Jeff Pittman, a Leavenworth Democrat, secured an extra bag of pricey Honduras cigars. At the party, Pittman called it a “terrible” bill, but he voted in favor it anyway.
After the law took effect in September, Kansans wagered $350 million in the first two months — yielding just $271,000 in tax revenue.
Max Kautsch, president of the Kansas Coalition for Open Government, said the New York Times report “drives home the need for greater transparency in the legislative process.”
“Kansans should be disappointed to learn this holiday season that our leaders in Topeka are more interested in giving unprecedented tax breaks to the gambling industry than in meeting their fiduciary duties to be good stewards of public funds,” Kautsch said.
The sports gambling package exemplifies transparency concerns with the last-minute avalanche of bills the Legislature passes in the closing days of the session, often with unvetted policy provisions inserted under pressure from dark interests.
Kansas Reflector previously reported on this practice, which is designed to avoid public scrutiny.
“Perhaps if Rep. Barker and his allies feared that their constituents would learn about these acts against the public interest in real time,” Kautsch said, “rather than months later as the result of a nationwide investigative report that chose to kick off an article totaling thousands upon thousands of words with an anecdote about whiskey and cigars in the Kansas Statehouse, they would think twice before leaving us with lumps of coal each legislative session.”
The flyer for an April 26 lobbying event invited all 165 legislators and special guests to enjoy prime rib, seafood, desserts, wine, craft beer, fine cigars, classic cars, single malt scotch and single barrel bourbon.
Twenty-one lobbyists sponsored the event, titled Cigars, Cars and Bars, at M&D Classic Car Storage, a few blocks north of the Statehouse on Kansas Avenue.
A New York Times reporter and photographer found Barker with Redbreast Irish whiskey and a Don Tomas cigar from Honduras.
“They keep a special bottle for me up there — they know I like it,” Barker told the Times. “I’m in my element when I have a whiskey and a cigar.”
John Federico, a powerful lobbyist who cosponsored the gathering, told the Times it was a social event and not a lobbying event.
Kansas law provides ample wiggle room for lobbyists and lawmakers — and makes it virtually impossible for journalists or the public to document the influence of such an event.
When every lawmaker is invited, lobbyists don’t need to itemize the costs on expense reports with the state ethics commission. Rules that restrict gifts to lawmakers provide exemptions for food and beverage.
And while Kansas law forbids gifts that cost more than $40, the cost of a gift can be split evenly among cosponsors to push it below the legal limit. A group of 10 lobbyists, for example, could provide a $300 gift — such as an expensive bottle of whiskey — to a legislator without violating the law.
Additionally, if the cost of a lobbying expense is less than $2 for a legislator, it doesn’t have to be reported. For an event with 165 legislators and 21 sponsors, the threshold would be $6,930.
Hitting the jackpot
The gambling industry’s fingerprints were on nearly every page of the 50-page sports gambling bill, the New York Times reported.
Barker and other legislative leaders agreed to cut in half the planned 20% tax rate — already substantially lower than the tax rate in other states. The bill also allows gambling companies to deduct “free bets” and other promotions from their taxable income.
None of the $271,000 in taxes the state collected on the first $350 million in bets will be used to fight gambling addiction.
Instead, lawmakers agreed to set aside most of the revenue for the construction of a sports facility. The questionable idea to lure the Kansas City Chiefs across state lines came from real estate developers who own 400 acres of land near the NASCAR racetrack, Sporting Kansas City soccer stadium and Hollywood Casino on the west edge of Kansas City.
The sports gambling package ensured casinos would get a cut of the action and expanded where sports betting is allowed, including at the racetrack and soccer stadium.
Barker wasn’t shy about inserting provisions that benefited lobbyists, including Federico, whose clients include Sporting Kansas City.
“John’s a good guy,” Barker told the Times. “I made sure they had something in our bill.”
Hollywood Casino funneled more than $60,000 in donations to campaign accounts, the Times found. Another $150,000 came from other casinos, lawyers and lobbyists.
Donors used networks of shell companies to skirt campaign finance laws that limit the amount of money a single candidate can receive, the New York Times reported.
Cover of darkness
The cigars at the April 26 “social event” were so expensive, legislators could only take three.
Pittman dispatched an aide to secure more.
“I have a little scam going on here,” Pittman joked to a New York Times reporter.
He acknowledged problems with the gambling package.
“The fact is, we’re not making that much money,” Pittman said. “It looks terrible.”
Two days later, Pittman’s “yes” vote helped the Senate pass the bill with the minimum number of votes required.
“Kansans are already betting on sports,” Pittman said during the Senate debate. “Many do it on illegal platforms that take money out of the state. Sports betting is not for everyone. This is just another avenue for avid players.”
Lawmakers were forced to consider votes on a wide array of legislation in the final two days of the session, including bills that had undergone rapid transformation. The official explanations provided to lawmakers seldom reveal the true effect of these last-minute, late-night deals, let alone the influence behind them.
The final hours of the session also included votes on the state budget, a $1.1 billion investment in the state pension system and a law that would have banned any state or local government official from imposing a mask mandate in response to an infectious disease outbreak.
During the debate on sports gambling, opponents raised concerns about gambling addiction, the paltry amount of state tax revenue generated and the decision to set aside most of that cash for a special fund to attract the Kansas City Chiefs to Kansas.
“We will destroy people’s lives,” said Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson. “We don’t know their names right now. We don’t know what they look like. But we do know that will happen.”
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.