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The end of pieties
by Rich Lowry
May 03, 2016 | 50 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When the Americans defeated the British at Yorktown, the surrendering British forces supposedly played "The World Turned Upside Down." The song should be on the soundtrack at Donald Trump rallies. The mogul is marching toward the Republican nomination by trampling every single assumption about presidential politics, especially on the GOP side. Surely no campaign has ever before had a divisive internal fight over whether the candidate should be presidential or not. But that has reportedly been one of the points of contention between new Trump hand Paul Manafort and old Trump hand Corey Lewandowski, the contestants in a high-stakes episode of "Consultant Apprentice." Trump is operating on the rather insulting assumption that he can't act presidential – i.e., with too much dignity – while also attempting to appeal to his Republican voters, and so far he has been proved right. It's just one of the ways in which he has seemed to understand the party he is seeking to take over better than its longtime loyalists. It was once thought that a Republican presidential candidate had to pay constant obeisance to Ronald Reagan and hew closely to certain rhetorical tropes and policy truisms. It turns out that the Republican Party – or at least a sizable element of it -- isn't that conservative, and even what were once thought to be the party's most rigidly ideological guardians in talk radio aren't really sticklers for conservative doctrine. It was once thought that any serious presidential candidate had to have political experience and be a committed member of the party he or she sought to lead, or at the very least not openly threaten it. Trump the novice, who re-registered as a Republican only in 2012, has appended the not-so-subtle warning "or else" to his candidacy from the beginning. It was once thought that you had to organize a campaign operation, run TV ads and raise money. Trump has barely done any of them. It was once thought that you had to know something and demonstrate it in every setting, or risk seeming amateurish and not up for the job. Trump has blown through this norm. It was once thought that you had to act with some decorum, display respect for others and yourself, and avoid vulgarity and public displays of anger. Trump has made it his business to do the opposite and, even after reining himself in a little, is still the most outlandish presidential candidate in memory. We have destroyed manners and chivalry over recent decades – with popular and celebrity culture leading the way – and the left has tried to replace them with political correctness. As a celebrity comfortable in the realms of Howard Stern and the WWE, Trump has little loyalty to the old standards at the same time he (rightly) rejects political correctness. This is a license for unconstrained boorishness. And it has played well in the party of evangelicals, of social conservatism and of disdain for Hollywood and for elite libertinism. Trump has barely made a pretense of religiosity, and been incredibly overt in his vindictiveness and braggadocio. Clearly, what a certain segment of conservatives didn't like about Mitt Romney wasn't his pedigree as a Northeastern moderate – which he shares with Trump – so much as his decorousness. Peggy Noonan wrote a book on Reagan called "When Character Was King." The follow-up for our era could be called "When Character Became a Sign of Weakness." The old pieties don't have the hold they once did, but Trump's celebrity and unsurpassed media skills have also allowed him to get away with things that more conventional candidates never could. At least with Republican voters. Everyone else is another question. If Trump wins the nomination, he has to hope that swing voters are as enamored of belittling nicknames and brash put-downs ("if Hillary were a man ..."), and that the traditional rules of how a president acts and represents the country no longer apply. He will need the world to be turned upside down. (Daily Corinthian columnist Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.)
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Are fantasy sports considered gambling?
by Sid Salter
May 03, 2016 | 45 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STARKVILLE – Is everyone who plays fantasy sports a gambler? Of course not, just as not everyone who plays poker or blackjack is a gambler. But are fantasy sports considered gambling by a substantial portion of the people who play it? Absolutely. Ask Joe Asher, operator of Nevada sports book operator William Hill U.S., who told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2015: “You put up of something of value, cash, to win something of value, cash. It’s the classic definition of gambling.” A bill that would make playing fantasy sports legal in Mississippi is now awaiting Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature. Earlier in the 2016 session, the bill was amended to include authorization of a lottery in Mississippi – something that has been bouncing around Mississippi’s political landscape for the last 25 years or so. In most years, longsuffering State Rep. Alyce Clarke, D-Jackson, has carried the legislative torch for a Mississippi lottery, but it was Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, who tacked on the lottery amendment to the fantasy sports legislation. But the lottery was stripped out of the fantasy sports bill late in the session. Once again, the unintended coalition rose up to knock the lottery down. The unintended coalition is comprised of the existing casinos companies, their business friends, the political power structure loyal to both groups and the state’s churches. For good or ill, proponents project that a state lottery could bring in $160 million a year in new tax revenues to Mississippi. Mississippi is one of only six states without a lottery and our citizens pour across state lines to patronize the game in surrounding states. Another thing that Mississippi casino owners and operators did after getting a foothold in Mississippi in the early 1990s was to take a lesson from local option liquor and beer elections in the state on how to beat back competition. In booze elections, the unintended coalition is usually the “dry” county’s churches and the same county’s bootleggers. The second thing those casino companies did was to hire very effective, very powerful, and very influential lobbyists to protect their virtual monopoly on legal gambling in Mississippi. Those lobbyists spin a compelling narrative against the lottery proposals that goes like this – that it’s really bad for the state to get in the business of luring citizens to play the lottery and that a lottery would “cannibalize” existing casinos gross receipts. Mississippi’s churches — consistently — say Mississippi already has too much gambling and doesn’t need any more. Those sincere religious voices point out that while the casinos are isolated, lottery ticket sales would be in every community in Mississippi. Whether one agrees or not, who can’t respect that? But in terms of state and local tax revenue, Mississippi missed the boat or at least the dockside establishment. In comparison with other states that have commercial casinos, Mississippi has the second-lowest state gaming tax rate in the country behind only Nevada. Mississippi levies a 12 percent tax rate on gross casino gaming revenues, of which 8 percent goes to the state and 4 percent to local governments. Louisiana levies 21.5 percent — plus another 4 percent local tax. With over a million fewer gamblers visiting fewer casinos, Louisiana took in $440.9 million in FY 2015 gaming revenues while Mississippi with more gamblers and more casinos only collected $250.2 million in gaming revenues. No wonder the casinos like Mississippi. We’re easy pickings and the profit margins for them are much higher when the state collects less of their take. Other state with casinos have lotteries – and many of those have racinos and other forms of legal gambling as well. The lack of protectionism for the casinos in those states don’t seem to have injured their casino industries. And while protecting the casinos in Mississippi, taxpayers have seen gaming revenues steadily decline from $382.3 million in FY 2008 to the present $250.2 million in FY 2015. And competition continues to grow in the South. Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, chairman of the Senate Judiciary A Committee and the author of the fantasy sports legislation, is one who offers the “fantasy sports isn’t gambling” argument – calling fantasy sports a “game of skill, not a game of chance.” I’m not opposed to fantasy sports. It’s another way that a fool and their money can soon be parted in my book, but to each his own. Live and let live. I just hope that the 2017 Legislature will figure out a better way to tax fantasy sports – now a $70 billion industry - than they did casino gaming 25 years ago. (Daily Corinthian columnist Sid Salter is syndicated across the state. Contact him at 601-507-8004 or sidsalter@sidsalter.com.)
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Court reverses 40 years of law on rape sentences
by Jeff Amy
May 03, 2016 | 64 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSON — Even the Mississippi Supreme Court gets to change its mind. And it did so in April, ruling that judges can sentence people convicted of rape to life in prison, even if the jury didn't recommend a life sentence. In that 5-3 ruling, the court overturned 40 years of its own decisions that had previously found only a jury could sentence a rape defendant to life in prison. The ruling came in an appeal by Charles Bester, who pleaded guilty to rape and robbery charges in Jones County in 1992. He was sentenced to life by a judge after the plea, but appealed in 2012, saying the court had erred. Bester lost his case before the circuit judge and Court of Appeals. He might have felt hopeful when the high court agreed to review the appeal. But it turns out a majority of justices used the case to announce two dozen previous decisions were wrong and the court had been misreading Mississippi's criminal code since 1975. "We think it pernicious, i.e., harmful, for this court to continue to exceed its constitutional authority by judicially amending (the law) and limiting a judge's sentencing authority as established by the Legislature," wrote Associate Justice Ann H. Lamar, acknowledging the court was overturning decades of precedent. She was joined in the decision by presiding justices Jess H. Dickinson and Michael K. Randolph, as well as associate justices Josiah D. Coleman and Dawn Beam. Lamar wrote that life imprisonment was included in language that said a judge could sentence a defendant "for any term as the court, in its discretion, may determine." She noted the Legislature structured other laws governing sentencing in ways that limit a judge's authority. For example, a jury can agree to sentence a convicted kidnapper to life in prison, but if a jury can't agree to a life sentence, a judge can sentence the kidnapper to a term between one and 30 years in prison. It's a tough-on-crime ruling in an election year — four of the court's nine seats are up this year. Kitchens, Beam and Justice Jimmy Maxwell — are seeking election. Lamar is retiring. Three dissenters, though, said the majority had it all wrong. Associate Justices Jim Kitchens and Leslie King, in separate dissents that were both joined by Chief Justice Bill Waller, wrote that Lamar was misinterpreting the law. Both Kitchens and King said that "term," in the context of this law, meant a sentence for a set number of years and not an indefinite life sentence. "This court consistently has distinguished 'life imprisonment' from 'term' for nearly forty years," Kitchens wrote, citing 23 separate cases over that period. He wrote that federal courts follow a similar approach, allowing only a jury to impose a life sentence. Just as importantly, the dissenters said that even if the court had been wrong 40 years ago, the majority was throwing decades of precedent into the trash far too lightly. King wrote that the court shouldn't have acted on its own to discard precedent, especially because the state hadn't sought a change: "Such action on the part of this court is surely to be an unpleasant shock to the criminal defense bar of this state." Kitchens, if anything, was harsher. "As troubled as this court may be by the statute's perceived unconstitutional lenience in sentencing rapists and armed robbers, today the court itself acts unconstitutionally by overruling an interpretation of the statute that has been as consistently ratified by the Legislature as it has been consistently applied by this court," he wrote. Bester remains imprisoned in the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. (Daily Corinthian columnist Jeff Amy is a writer for the Associated Press based in Jackson.)
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Deciding games pushed back
by H. Lee Smith II
May 02, 2016 | 54 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Alcorn Central is in the third round. Corinth and Kossuth will go at it again today to extend their seasons in the Mississippi High School Activities Association'sBaseball Playoffs. On Monday, weather washed out play for the second time in the second round for the local entries. Corinth (18-6) is in thedriver's set as it travels to Cleveland (22-7) today in 4A play, while Kossuth (24-7) hosts South Pontotoc (8-21) in Game 3 of its 3A series. Both games are scheduled for a 5 p.m. first pitch. If Cleveland evens the series, the Warriors and Wildcats would turn right around and play the deciding game. Alcorn Central (19-9) moved its series up one day with North Pontotoc. The Bears won the Thursday opener 7-2, then dispatched of the Division 4 top seed with a 12-2 win on Saturday. Central has won seven straight games. The Bears got off to a 5-1 start, then found themselves at 6-6 after back-to-back losses to division champion Mooreville. “We were a little inconsistent at times early in the season, but we talk all the time about peaking at the right time and everything started to fall into place,” said third-year AC Head Coach Jarrad Robinson. The Bears finished third in Division 1-3A, but knocked off rival Kossuth in extra innings in the regular-season finale. Central has swept consecutive series against higher-seeded teams in reaching the third round for the first time since 2012. “We’ve been able to build some confidence beating two good programs in the playoffs,” said Robinson. Mooreville is in the other half of the North bracket, and will face the Water Valley-Nettleton — also pushed back to today— winner in the Thursday-Friday-Monday series. Alcorn Central awaits the South Pontotoc-Kossuth winner. “An extra day or two shouldn’t affect us too much,” Robinson said of the layoff. “We will have everyone healthy, rested and ready to go on Thursday.” Saturday’s Games Central 12, North Pontotoc 2 WP: Colton Howell (8-0). Multiple Hits: Connor Lewis 2, Saylor Gray 2. 2B: Lewis 2, Dylan Nelson. Records: Central 19-9, North Pontotoc 22-7-1 Corinth 6, Cleveland 2 Cleveland 000 011 0 — 2 8 1 Corinth 103 011 x — 6 9 1 WP: Quade Reaves (9-1). LP: Linkous. Multiple Hits: (Cl) Childers 2. (Co) Kerrigan Maness 2, Josh Casey 2. 2B: (Co) Maness 2. Records: Cleveland 22-7, Corinth 18-6 Kossuth 14, South Pontotoc 2 Game 1 S.Pontotoc 000 200 — 2 2 1 Kossuth 240 35 — 14 10 2 WP: Hunter Swindle (9-1). LP: Jonathan Weeks (2-6). Multiple Hits: (K) Nik Wilcher 2, Jacob Wilcher 2, Cole Tomlin 2. (SP) None. 2B: (K) N. Wilcher, J. Wilcher, Tomlin. HR: (K) J. Wilcher, Connar Boyer. S. Pontotoc 6, Kossuth 5 Game 2 Kossuth 000 000 5 — 5 5 3 S.Pontotoc 203 001 x — 6 13 3 WP: Dayton Butler (3-4). LP: Nik Wilcher (5-3). S: Colton Priest (2). Multiple Hits: (K) N. Wilcher 2. (SP) Alan Hall 4, Weeks 3, Dillon Holloway 2. 2B: (SP) Holloway. Records: Kossuth 24-7, South Pontotoc 8-21 Thursday’s Game Central 7, North Pontotoc 2 Central 310 200 0 — 7 9 1 N. Pontotoc 000 020 0 — 2 4 2 WP: Justin Pickle (5-4). LP: Braxton Seale. Multiple Hits: (NP) Kolten Berryhill 2. (C) Gavin Ingle 3, Tate Perriman 2. 2B: (C) Pickle. (NP) Berryhill.
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Warriors still hopeful to get Curry back

by The Associated Press
May 02, 2016 | 51 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry was expected back on the court for more light shooting Monday to test his sprained right knee, still with the hope he could be ready to return for Golden State's Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday at Portland. Coach Steve Kerr said Monday that the reigning MVP wouldn't be available for Tuesday night's Game 2 with the Warriors up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series after a 118-106 win Sunday in the opener. "I'll just say he's doubtful just so we give everybody something to chew on," Kerr joked. "He's not playing tomorrow, but he's doubtful." Curry only briefly showed his face during the team's shooting time Monday. Golden State didn't hold a formal practice but instead watched film and shot around. He didn't take any shots during the portion the media could watch. "We have a huge break between 2 and 3. Hopefully we can get our MVP back," center Andrew Bogut said. The superstar point guard sprained the MCL in his knee during a Game 4 first-round victory at Houston on April 24 when he slipped on a wet spot just before halftime. Curry also dealt with an ankle injury during the first round and had just returned from that when he got hurt again. In the first seven quarters without him since the knee injury, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 80 points. With Golden State scheduled to take Wednesday off from practice, Curry's first chance to scrimmage in a 5-on-5 scenario would likely be Thursday — and that step would be paramount to determining if he is ready to come back this weekend, Kerr said. Curry will likely have his minutes limited initially to avoid re-injury. "Thursday, we will definitely get up and down and hopefully he'll be able to take part, but we don't know yet," Kerr said. "We had the same situation in Houston. We wanted to get him back. We got two days of work in and you could see that he was rusty, but he still makes an impact just being out on the floor. I don't know how it'll play out here. It's not like if we're 2-2 or something we're not going to bring him back. We can't let the series score determine whether we bring him back, it's really based on his health and his rhythm. So we'll do our best to help him get that rhythm in practice and then try to put him in the best position once he is back to make an impact, maybe without having to be Superman."
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