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Republican Senator Says Climate Change Only Sucks If You’re in Africa

This is not clickbait.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ron Johnson believes the globe heating up is actually good, well, unless you’re in Africa.

“You’re concerned if you’re in the really hot region of Africa, but in terms of the United States, and most of Europe, we’re in pretty good shape,” the Wisconsin senator said.

Johnson’s broader point was supposedly about excess death mitigation. During his questioning, Johnson cited a Lancet study that found about 4.6 million worldwide cold-related excess deaths, and 500,000 heat-related ones—so a rapidly warming globe must be good for us.

(Well, good for some of us; he seemed pretty flippant about the notion of more Africans dying.)

Regardless, Johnson’s formulation sounds novel—if one were also a goldfish. There’s quite a few reasons why the logic underneath the notion doesn’t hold, and quite a few reasons why Johnson’s conclusion is ludicrous.

The amount of time people are in extreme cold versus extreme warmth during the calendar year differs. The levels of how much extreme cold or how much extreme warmth is needed to cause death are not equivalent. And the study Johnson cited could not account for other modifiers, including influenzas—which are often much more active and deadly during the winter.

Beyond the structural limitations of the study Johnson is studying, his broader point is illogical.

For one, the goal should be to minimize death in all cases—whether heat or cold-related. And his open-faced admission that places like Africa could be less suited for heat increases than the United States or Europe gets to a deeper issue: Climate change will not affect us equally. Sure, some high-income places may be more equipped to minimize heat-related harm in the short term, but many places will not be—and this says nothing of the long term. Even the study Johnson cited concedes that “in the long run, climate change is expected to increase mortality burden.”

Finally, Johnson’s notion is just as elementary in conceptualizing how the world works. He, as the general conservative mindset operates, has no engagement with broader conditions or systems. Science has exhibited again and again how climate warming will harm habitats, debilitate food systems, and dry out water infrastructure. That all is a recipe for mass death of humans, animals, and plants at an unimaginable scale. And the more that nature is harmed, the quicker those harms get even worse. It’s a snowball effect that transcends simple arithmetic of “temperature go up, death go down.”

All this is to say, if you’re looking for any guidance for how we should consider the risks of climate change, Ron Johnson is not your go-to source.

Montana Republicans Threaten to Expel the Only Trans Legislator

Republicans are holding a vote on “disciplinary consequences” for state Representative Zooey Zephyr.

Trans flag
ALLISON DINNER/AFP/Getty Images

The Montana House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on “disciplinary measures” against the state’s only transgender lawmaker, whom Republicans have silenced after she slammed their anti-trans legislation. That could mean censuring her or expelling her entirely.

Republicans have not allowed Zephyr to speak on the House floor since last week, when she spoke out against a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. She warned that taking away health care would increase suicide among trans and nonbinary kids. “I hope the next time there’s an invocation, when you bow your heads in prayer, you see the blood on your hands,” she said at the time.

Montana residents have rallied around Zephyr, demanding she be allowed to speak. Things came to a head on Monday, when a protest broke out in the gallery after Zephyr was silenced once more. Chants of “Let her speak!” rang out as security escorted people out, arresting seven protesters. Zephyr held her microphone up to amplify the chants.

Republican House leadership set a vote for Wednesday to either censure or expel Zephyr over her “conduct.” She will be allowed to speak for the first time in nearly a week.

The House GOP has tried to cast Zephyr’s actions as disruptive. They called her initial comments inappropriate and disrespectful, misgendering her in the process, and accused her of trying to start an insurrection on Monday. They also held a press conference Tuesday, during which they insisted Zephyr was not being silenced, and then canceled House proceedings for the day.

Democratic lawmakers have come to Zephyr’s support, with House Minority Leader  Kim Abbott slamming Republicans for “doubling down on their agenda of running roughshod over Montanans’ rights—to free expression, to peaceful protest, to equal justice under the law.” But Republicans have a supermajority in the chamber, and there isn’t much Democrats can do to stop them forging ahead with their agenda.

Zephyr’s situation is painfully reminiscent of Tennessee, where two Black Democratic lawmakers were expelled for joining protesters demanding gun control. Republicans there also compared the protests to the January 6 insurrection. Both lawmakers were ultimately reinstated.

“What you’re watching here, is you’re watching people who do not want to see democracy in action,” Zephyr said Monday after the protest.

Reader Poll: How Likely Is a Trump-DeSantis Unity Ticket?

A new report in a Murdoch-owned paper is hinting at the possibility.

Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump sit at a table with a banner reading "We're in this together" behind them.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Image

Reports in The New York Post’s Page Six, a Rupert Murdoch-owned paper, suggest that “Trumpworld insiders” are pressing twice-impeached former President Donald Trump to make Ron DeSantis his running mate … and apparently Trump is “listening” (which, for Trump, is indeed a lot!).

The reports come after earlier indications that neither of the extremists would want to run with each other.

“I think that would be a very unlikely alliance,” Trump said in March. DeSantis, for his part, said he’s “more of an executive guy.”

But a month later, as Trump continues his scorched-earth endorsement-collection campaign, leaving DeSantis embarrassed in the dust, conditions may have changed for the pair.

“Supporters say the VP offer [would] stop DeSantis from opposing [Trump] and offer a ‘youthful conservative vigor’ to the slot, which Biden doesn’t have,” the source told Page Six.

It’s an unlikely pairing. And an incredibly demonic thing to imagine.

MAGA’s New Culprit in Carlson’s Firing: RINO Globalist Paul Ryan!

The conspiracy theories are running rampant.

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images

First, it was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Now the far right is blaming Paul Ryan for Tucker Carlson’s sudden departure from Fox.

Ryan is one of eight members of Fox’s board of directors. While there has long been some latent far-right disdain for the former Republican House speaker, the new conspiracy theory around Carlson revolves around Ryan’s disinterest in disputing the 2020 election results.

Some on the right point to court documents revealed during the Dominion v. Fox defamation lawsuit as proof of Ryan’s offense.

Fox “should not be spreading conspiracy theories,” Ryan allegedly told Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch. Ryan believed that the theories were “baseless” and that Fox “should labor to dispel conspiracy theories if and when they pop up.”

Such beliefs apparently incriminate Ryan. Perhaps the most offensive thing he said? That Fox should “move on from Donald Trump and stop spouting election lies.”

And that explains pretty concisely why the far right is embracing the theory: because they themselves still believe the 2020 election was stolen. Never mind that Fox coughed up $787.5 million to Dominion to stop further inquiry into the network’s lies about the company.

The Ryan conspiracy theory has metastasized into tangential strains. For instance, just as Fox has been infiltrated by RINO-ideology, so apparently has the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library:

Or, more readily, the whole thing is about the conservative establishment getting behind Ron DeSantis (despite his having barely a handful of endorsements from Republican establishment elected officials, while Trump has now locked up over 60):

Again, the far right is assailing Ryan for the high crime of thinking that maybe Fox shouldn’t spread lies about the 2020 election. It could very well be that Ryan thought Carlson was bad for the network—though given that numerous hosts were spreading lies about the election, some even more than Carlson, Ryan would’ve had to clean out the whole house. And that’s assuming Ryan was somehow influential enough to do so at all. Whatever decisions were made by the higher-ups to let go of Carlson, it certainly took more than the complaints of one Paul Ryan.

Carlson Was Drunk With Power—and Murdoch Was Taking Notes

Tucker Carlson called a Fox News executive a slur. And that’s just where the story begins.

A billboard put up by progressive activist group MoveOn that reads “I Hate [Trump] Passionately - Tucker Carlson, January 4, 2021" and a photo of him looking confused.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Erstwhile television host Tucker Carlson may have gotten too big for his britches at Fox News, and the network is reportedly poised to punish him for it.

Carlson was abruptly fired Monday, prompting much speculation as to why. He had featured prominently in court documents released by Dominion Voting Systems that showed he knew he was spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election on his show. Documents also revealed Carlson privately (and regularly) bashed Fox executives.

He went so far as to refer to one executive as the c-word. When Fox News lawyers told him they had persuaded the court to redact the slur from the legal filings, Carlson was angry, the The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. He wanted everyone to know just how much he despised that executive, according to the Journal.

The Journal, citing anonymous sources, said that “reservations had been mounting” about Carlson. There was concern among top executives that if any of the redacted information about him in the Dominion filings became public, it would be damaging to the network. But there were also concerns that “the populist firebrand had come to believe himself bigger than the network—a cardinal sin in Fox Corp.”

Media Matters senior fellow Matt Gertz suggested that Carlson may have directed the slur at Irena Briganti, who leads Fox’s Communications Department, given other text messages in the court filings. Briganti is notoriously combative, and many former Fox employees have accused her of planting negative stories about them after they left the network. Multiple women who work at Fox told New York magazine in 2016 that they did not speak out about past sexual harassment because “they were terrified Briganti would find out and smear them in the press.”

Briganti is also known for compiling dossiers of damaging information on individual Fox employees—and she might have one on Carlson. Rolling Stone reported Wednesday that Fox has assembled an “oppo file” on Carlson that they are prepared to publish should he try to attack the network.

The file reportedly includes internal complaints about workplace conduct, insulting comments made about executives and colleagues, and allegations that Carlson created a toxic work environment, according to Rolling Stone, which cited anonymous sources. If it’s true, then the file’s contents mirror allegations made about Carlson by Abby Grossberg, a former producer on his show.

Grossberg is suing Fox, where she worked for four years, alleging that company lawyers coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit. The move, she argued, was due to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy” and gender-based discrimination, citing multiple examples from Carlson’s team in particular. She also said that there were constant “lies and deceit” at Fox because the network prioritized ratings above all else.

What Was Missing From Joe Biden’s 2024 Announcement

Biden somehow avoided any mention of some of the most important issues among his base.

Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg/Getty Images

What is Joe Biden doing?

On Tuesday, the president officially declared his bid to run for reelection in 2024. In his announcement video, Biden showcased his signature optimism and persistent cause to win the “battle for the soul of America.” Yet nowhere in the three-minute video did Biden even mention the words “abortion,” “climate,” “environment,” “gun,” “immigrant,” “justice,” “labor,” “union,” or “worker.”

The video announcement paid a great deal of focus to themes of freedom and democracy and the threats “MAGA extremists” pose in eroding them: cutting Social Security and cutting taxes for the wealthy, “dictating what health care decisions women can make,” “banning books and telling people who they can love,” doing it all “while making it more difficult for you to be able to vote.”

“This is not a time to be complacent,” Biden urged, asking voters to consider a key question: whether they will have more freedom and rights, or fewer.

Biden’s ad in a broad sense focused on the abstractions: his belief that “we’re good and decent people” in a “country that believes in honesty and respect, and treating each other with dignity.”

But in so doing, Biden spent 184 seconds avoiding any mention of the most popular issues not only among his base but across political lines.

State after state is advancing restrictive abortion bans and pushing attacks on LGBTQ people. The majority of Americans—regardless of party—say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. But Biden’s only invocations of the issues were subdued: MAGA extremists are looking to dictate “what health care decisions women can make” or tell people “who they can love.”

Amid an appalling wave of gun violence across the country—from shootings of kids accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell or driving up the wrong driveway to mass shootings at schools and banks—Biden did not mention the word “gun” once.

In the aftermath of a border detention facility fire killing 40 migrants, Biden did not mention the word “migrant,” or “immigrant,” not even to hand-wave about America being a “beacon” for people fleeing oppression or searching for a better life.

Nothing about “justice” either, as police killings continue, as do protests of the construction of a bloated police facility in Atlanta (protests where masses of people have been arrested indiscriminately on no just cause and one protester was killed in cold blood).

After first billing himself the “most pro-union president in American history,” and then imposing a contract on railroad workers, Biden did not mention the words “labor,” “union,” or “worker.”

And on a ticking clock with no regard for second chances, after Biden rubbed his foot into the faces of the millions of young people who got him into office and approved the controversial Willow pipeline project, the president could not even muster the gumption to say “climate,” “environment,” or even “nature.”

Of course, it’s just an ad. On the other hand, it’s also the ad—the long-awaited confirmation that Biden is running again, and that he should earn our support lest we lose to the dangerous Republicans. Amid Biden’s lurch to the right—with no apparent electoral benefit—every display of priority matters. So if his announcement is to be graded on any scale of genuine concern for the broader slate of Democratic-mobilizing issues, or for the life-changing problems for millions of people, it fell remarkably short.

Ex-Fox Producer Reveals Just How Little Tucker Carlson Cared About Facts on January 6

Abby Grossberg had to report to the former Fox News host—and now she’s airing all the network’s dirty laundry.

Tucker Carlson laughs while doing an interview with someone seated beside him
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Former Fox News producer Abby Grossberg revealed Tuesday that erstwhile network star Tucker Carlson was determined to push a conspiracy theory that the FBI had instigated the January 6 riot—regardless of facts.

Grossberg is suing Fox, where she worked for four years, alleging that company lawyers coerced her into giving misleading testimony in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit. The move, she argued, was due to a culture of “poisonous and entrenched patriarchy” and gender-based discrimination. She also said that there were constant “lies and deceit” at Fox because the network prioritized ratings above all else.

In an interview Tuesday with MSNBC, she revealed just how far Carlson in particular went for that priority.

“When the January 6 tapes were coming out, Tucker was very set on finding an FBI person who was implanted in the crowd and spinning this conspiracy that they were ultimately the ones responsible for the Capitol attack. Not Fox News,” Grossberg told Nicolle Wallace.

Even though a lawyer for the Proud Boys told Grossberg—twice—in no uncertain terms that “there is no conspiracy,” Carlson forged ahead. He insisted that federal agents embedded among the rioters and ultimately prompted the attack on the Capitol, and Grossberg was asked to find a guest for the show who would be OK with the conspiracy theory.

Others on the right have also run with the conspiracy, but Carlson launched it to a wider audience. After one of his segments, Poynter noted that “there is no credible evidence behind this theory, and Carlson’s piece doesn’t present any.” Yet in March, when former President Donald Trump predicted that he would be indicted and urged his followers to protest in New York, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene implied that a demonstration would do no good for similar reasons.

“How many Feds/Fed assets are in place to turn protest against the political arrest of Pres Trump into violence?” she tweeted.

Carlson, of course, knew better. Court documents published during the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit against Fox showed that hosts including Carlson knew the election conspiracies were false and that Trump’s lawyers weren’t credible, but they spread the conspiracies and invited the lawyers on air anyway.

Washington State Bans AR-15 Sales: “No Reason Other Than Mass Murder”

It becomes the tenth state in the country to ban the sale of assault weapons.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee
John Moore/Getty Images

Washington has just banned the sale of AR-15s and dozens of other semiautomatic rifles.

The monumental change came Tuesday, as Governor Jay Inslee signed a trio of gun safety bills amid a spate of disastrous gun violence sweeping the nation.

“These weapons of war, assault weapons, have no reason other than mass murder,” Inslee said while signing the bills. “Their only purpose is to kill humans as rapidly as possible in large numbers.”

Inslee also signed a bill that enacts a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, and another that will open the door to holding gunmakers and sellers liable for negligent sales. In sum, the bills embody yet another state government with a Democratic trifecta genuinely responding to concerns surrounding rampant gun violence. Michigan has been pursuing a slate of gun safety regulations, including the recent passage of universal background checks and safe storage laws.

Washington’s gun safety provisions follow horrific instances of gun violence on both micro and macro scales. In recent weeks, numerous individuals have been shot, even fatally, for the offense of accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell or driving up the wrong driveway. And these came amid larger back-to-back mass shootings that have shocked thousands of people in the South. A school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, left three children and three adults dead; a shooting at a Louisville, Kentucky, bank left five people dead and another eight injured.

There have been at least 173 mass shootings in America just this year—that is an average of about 1.5 mass shootings a day.

In the meantime, Republicans have spent most of their time either shutting down even modest gun reform or stumbling over themselves to still somehow pledge fealty to the NRA. (Essentially every rumored and declared candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination attended the NRA’s convention less than two weeks ago.)

“Just because they don’t solve all the problems does not mean the state of Washington does not take action,” Inslee said while signing the bills Tuesday. “Inaction against gun violence is unacceptable.”

Democratic Senator Calls for Clarence Thomas to Resign: “He Cannot Judge Right From Wrong”

The calls for the Supreme Court justice to step down are growing.

Senator Ed Markey speaks at a podium
Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Just Majority

On Monday, Senator Ed Markey joined the growing calls for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to resign.*

“I will say what needs to be said: Clarence Thomas should resign from the Supreme Court of the United States. His reputation is unsalvageable,” the Massachusetts senator said. “It is evident that he cannot judge right from wrong, so why should he be judging the country’s most important cases on the highest court?”

Markey made the comments while flanked by Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren in Boston, during the kickoff of a 20-stop tour focused on advocating for tighter ethical restrictions on the Supreme Court.

The tour follows a stream of revelations about the secret and extremely lavish gifts Thomas has received for decades from billionaire GOP megadonor Harlan Crow. The undisclosed offerings from the Nazi memorabilia–collecting billionaire included luxurious island-hopping excursions on superyachts and even a secret deal in which Crow bought Thomas family property and proceeded to upgrade it while Thomas’s mother still lived in it.

The trio’s kickoff also came a day before revelations that Justice Neil Gorsuch successfully sold a 40-acre property that he had been trying to sell for two years to an undisclosed buyer; the buyer of the nearly $2 million Colorado ranch was the CEO of a law firm that has since had 22 cases with business before the court.

Along with calling for Thomas’s resignation, Markey joined Warren and Pressley in calling for broader reform to the courts.

Markey assailed the court as being “broken,” with justices flouting financial restrictions and ethical standards while the court inflicts “painful real-world consequences” upon people. He listed an array of cases as evidence of how people’s “most fundamentally held freedoms are under siege.”

Dobbs, which overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to an abortion, has brought consequences “splattered across the national news and suffered in private, in doctors’ offices, and in kitchen tables all across the country.”

New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Breun, which overruled New York’s law that required people to have a license to carry concealed weapons in public places had the court ignoring “the suffering of families who have lost lives from the unrepentant score of gun violence in our nation.”

Limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in West Virginia v. EPA “tied the hands of regulators who are attempting to take lifesaving measures to shield our children from the most devastating and fatal effects of climate change.”

“But when something is broken, we don’t just agonize, we organize,” Markey insisted.

The Massachusetts lawmakers all proposed expanding the size of the court—which has been done seven times in the past—and enacting a much stronger ethics regime on the court.

“No one should have to wonder whether the justice who heard their case ignored the law because his wife had a stake in the outcome, or his friend who takes him on half-million-dollar vacations wanted him to rule a certain way,” Warren said.

Markey is among only a few lawmakers who have called for Thomas’s resignation, but the broader calls for a more fair Supreme Court are certainly not a minority opinion. Earlier this month, Senator Richard Blumenthal called for the Supreme Court justice to step down, as have a few representatives in the House. Nearly two-thirds of Americans no longer have confidence in the Supreme Court as it stands now, according to a poll conducted earlier this month.

The figures reflect the lawmaker’s point of how a demonstrably unethical court is issuing life-changing opinions on everything from abortion access to the health of America’s environment.

Pressley called for “justice for the most marginalized,” in a nod to the millions impacted by the rogue court’s decision-making.

“Angela Y. Davis said, I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change. Instead, I’m changing the things I can no longer accept.”

* This post originally misstated that Markey was the first senator to call for Thomas’s resignation.

Nikki Haley Has the Gall to Pretend She’s a Moderate on Abortion

The 2024 Republican hopeful says she wants a “national consensus” on abortion. Her record says otherwise.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley had the nerve to pretend she’s a moderate on abortion issues, in a speech given Tuesday at an organization pushing a national ban on the procedure.

Haley spoke at the national headquarters of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, the anti-abortion organization that aggressively turned on Donald Trump after he said abortion rights should be decided by individual states instead of federally banned.

During her speech, Haley said that a federal ban was unlikely to work, so the next president should try to find a “national consensus” instead. She listed several points that she felt appealed to both sides of the aisle.

Most of the points Haley included are either not real or only occur in extreme circumstances. Fetuses are rarely “born alive” during an abortion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health experts have warned that bills requiring care be given to fetuses “born alive” could negatively affect care for babies born prematurely or with fatal abnormalities by preventing doctors from helping relieve any pain those babies might be in, or punishing medical professionals who let families hold such newborns before they die.

Republicans like Haley often argue that abortions are conducted up until the moment of birth. That does not happen. Abortions that occur in the second trimester are most often for wanted pregnancies that develop complications, rendering them unviable and possibly a threat to the pregnant person’s life. (Less than 1 percent of abortions take place in the third trimester, for similar reasons.)

Haley also tried to appear moderate on certain points that are only issues because of what her fellow Republicans are doing. She said people who get abortions shouldn’t be jailed, as was suggested in a few Republican-backed state-level bills deemed so extreme that they failed. She also said there should be wider access to contraception, even as Republicans have repeatedly voted against expanding availability.

Haley has generally adopted a waffly stance on abortion since announcing her campaign. Abortion wins elections, and Haley can’t afford to alienate anyone, so she’s trying to find a middle lane that will win over both sides. But during her speech Tuesday, she essentially admitted that she can’t be trusted on abortion when she brought up her own record.

Haley voted for multiple bills while she was a state senator in South Carolina that restricted abortion access or gave rights to fetuses. As governor, she signed a ban on abortion at 20 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. She claimed the time limit was to prevent fetuses from feeling pain, even though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that fetuses don’t feel pain until at least 24 weeks of gestation.

If Haley were really interested in a “national consensus” on abortion, she could look at the numbers. Almost two-thirds of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center.

But it’s clear she doesn’t care all that much. You can take her word for it.