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Thumbs up to Rock Island County and Illinois Republican officials for yanking party support from conspiracy theorist Bill Fawell.

Fawell holds the GOP line and faces incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos in Illinois' 17th Congressional District. Bustos would be a tough dragon to slay for any Republican, especially with how this mid-term cycle is shaping up.

But, Fawell, the GOP's sacrificial lamb, represent's the party's conspiracy-theorist wing, which has long festered at its fringes until now. Fawell's campaign Facebook page is littered with absurd, racially charged posts, such as alleging Israeli involvement in the 9/11 attacks and claims that a school shooting in Sandy Hook was some kind of "false flag."

The national GOP is in a battle for its soul. Hard-liners, bigots and zealots are sowing confusion and misinformation in an attempt to seize control. It's imperative that the GOP — which not too long ago framed itself as the party of reason —  fight back. In Illinois, the GOP has a self-described Nazi on the ballot in a congressional race near Chicago. 

In both cases, Illinois's GOP has rebuked its flag bearers. In this moment, even such an obvious move has real value. If only Iowa's GOP had the same guts when it came to Iowa's walking black eye, U.S. Rep. Steve King. 

Thumbs down to President Donald Trump for targeting black athletes — again — in his non-stop effort to inflame a culture war.

In the past week, the president has labeled NBA star LeBron James "dumb" and returned to his favorite watering hole, blasting NFL players for protesting police violence.

Trump is an equal-opportunity slinger of insults, sure. But African Americans are hugely over-represented in instances where he questions someone's intelligence. 

It's a dog whistle, one plucked from some of the darkest chapters in American history. 

Thumbs up to Davenport Community School District for taking seriously its racially disproportionate punishment system.

District leaders this week began an in-depth review of disciplinary policies, which for years have seen black students given the harshest penalties at substantially higher rates than white students. It's far too early to know if the district's efforts are enough. But the time already spent combing over the data suggests district officials legitimately aspire to fixing a historic injustice.

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