TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas lawmakers, following a trend in Republican-controlled statehouses nationwide, gave initial approval Wednesday to bills that would strip the executive and judicial branches of some authority over elections and make it more difficult to cast a ballot by mail. One of the measures would bar the Governor and courts from altering election laws. The other limits who is permitted to return a mail-in ballot on behalf of another person and makes it a felony for an individual to return more than five mail-in ballots. The changes were approved on a 28-12 vote, despite reports from Se...
Marjorie Taylor Greene hopes to boost influence over GOP with help from scandal-plagued Tom DeLay deputy
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has hired an aggressive new chief of staff with a scandal-plagued background to boost her national profile.
The conspiracy-mongering Georgia Republican coaxed disgraced former House majority leader Tom Delay's one-time chief of staff, Ed Buckham, out of retirement as she looks to announce a round of endorsements for 2022 candidates, reported the Washington Examiner.
"I need some helpers in there," Greene said.
Executives from the Russian energy company Naftasib funneled nearly $3.4 million in the late 1990s to corporations linked to fraudster lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the U.S. Family Network that was operated by Buckham, who was never charged in the scheme.
"[Buckham is] a strong conservative, definitely believes in the America First agenda, has had more experience in the swamp, so to speak, probably than most people working on the Hill right now, and I need that wisdom and experience on my team to achieve what I'm looking to do, and so this is a serious hire," Greene said. "It's the first of more to come, and I'm not afraid of the controversy."
"What I am more interested in doing is bringing on a chief of staff that will help me achieve the things that I think need to be done for our country," Greene added, "and that is forcing the Republican Party to be the Republican Party they say they are on television and on the campaign trail, but actually doing it in action in the conference."
Buckham has been away from Capitol Hill for years, although he was a candidate in 2016 for chief of the House Freedom Caucus.
"I wouldn't come back for just any member, and I'm excited to get started," Buckham said. "I see Marjorie Taylor Greene as an absolute game changer, and that's why I'm coming back to the Hill to join her team. Congresswoman Greene is fighting to secure our border and make our country safe, stop the mountain of debt burying future generations, and to end the genocide of abortion in America. MTG truly wants to change Washington and put America First."
Digital rights advocates on Wednesday shrugged off reports that Facebook is planning to change its name by accusing the company of attempting to divert attention from its failure to address problems plaguing the platform and calling for meaningful regulation of—and in some cases, breaking up—the social media giant.
"Like Big Tobacco and Big Oil rebranded to deflect attention for their crimes, Facebook thinks that a rebrand can help them change the subject."
According to The Verge, Facebook will be rebranded next week "to reflect its focus on building the metaverse," a shared digital environment enhanced by virtual and augmented reality. The new name remains a secret.
Earlier this year, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg told The Verge that the metaverse "is going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet."
Critics were quick to deride the potential name change, which comes on the heels of whistleblower testimony accusing the company of threatening children and democracy, as well as a "How to Stop Facebook" campaign launched last week by a coalition of over 40 advocacy groups.
"Just to be clear Facebook, our problem with you is not your name," tweeted the progressive political action committee MeidasTouch.
In a statement, the Real Facebook Oversight Board (RFOB) said, "Like Big Tobacco and Big Oil rebranded to deflect attention for their crimes, Facebook thinks that a rebrand can help them change the subject."
Some observers responded to the news of the possible rebrand with tongue-in-cheek tweets:
Others wondered how a name change would help reduce the dissemination of misinformation and hate speech on Facebook.
"When are you going to profiting off hate?" tweeted the NAACP. "Our advice: Keep the name, change the policy!"
"It's easy to dismiss this as a joke or think Nick Clegg has snapped a tether," RFOB said, referring to the company's vice president for global affairs and communications, "but this is a sign Facebook will go to any length to distract from their failure to keep hate off of their platforms."
"Whatever they call themselves, the issue remains," the group added. "Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp, under any parent brand or name, need real and independent regulation and oversight now."
Still others renewed calls for more aggressive measures against the social media giant.
"Now would be a great time to break up Facebook," tweeted the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a compromise voting rights bill—the Freedom to Vote Act—sparking a deluge of criticism from Democrats and progressive groups who said it was the latest evidence of the need to get rid of, or at least reform, the filibuster.
"No Senate rule should stand in the way of the freedom to vote."
"Like clockwork, you can always count on Senate Republicans to filibuster any attempt to make our democracy functional," said Meagan Hatcher-Mays, director of democracy policy for the Indivisible Project, in a statement.
The failed procedural vote had been expected. Democrats needed 60 votes to advance the measure, but the motion received just 49; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote to no to be able to bring it up for a later vote.
Supporters of the measure say it would provide a much-needed counter to the wave of voter suppression measures in at least 19 states. Among other provisions, the Freedom to Vote Act would ban partisan gerrymandering in congressional redistricting, make Election Day a national holiday, and enact an automatic voter registration system.
According to Stand Up America executive director Christina Harvey, "Manchin has exhausted every possible means of passing this bill on a bipartisan basis, and the American public has patiently waited while he has attempted to win support from an immovable Republican caucus."
"There is no compromise voting rights bill that will appease Senate Republicans, and today's filibuster made that clear," she said. "Senator Manchin tried. It didn't work. Now, we're out of time. The only way to pass comprehensive voting rights legislation and safeguard our freedom to vote is to end the Jim Crow filibuster."
Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn similarly decried the filibuster as a tool "long used to stymie civil rights legislation [that] must not be abused again to defend the new Jim Crow laws being passed across the country to make it harder to vote today—particularly in Black and Brown communities."
"We appreciate Sen. Manchin's continued outreach to his colleagues across the aisle," Hobert Flynn added, "but it has become abundantly clear that no amount of negotiating will get 10 Senate Republicans to support a comprehensive voting rights package by the time we need this to pass. No Senate rule should stand in the way of the freedom to vote, and senators must act with urgency to pass this bill."
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also said that action is needed in the face of "Republican-led legislatures chip[ping] away at the bedrock of our democracy."
"We applaud Senate Democrats who voted for urgently needed solutions to an unprecedented attack on voting rights. But the next step is clear," she said in a statement. "The Senate must reform, if not end, the archaic filibuster, and pass federal legislation to protect voting rights. It is the only way forward—and inaction is simply not an option."
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