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Feinstein’s Absence Helped Republicans Overturn a Biden Rule on Truck Pollution

The Democrats control the Senate. This shouldn’t be happening.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Every single Senate Republican and Joe Manchin voted explicitly to make our air dirtier—and Dianne Feinstein helped them do it.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 50–49, Senate Republicans and Manchin passed a resolution to nullify an Environmental Protection Agency rule that seeks to reduce toxic air pollution from heavy-duty vehicles.

The EPA estimates the rule will prevent up to 2,900 deaths, 6,700 hospital and emergency room visits, and 18,000 cases of childhood asthma. Beyond the vitality benefits, the rule has material ones too: 78,000 fewer lost days of work, 1.1 million fewer lost school days for kids, $29 billion in annual net benefits.

And because of Feinstein’s absence, and Manchin’s continued cowardice, corporate-wedded Republicans were able to advance the bill to cancel all those benefits.

To be clear, Republicans are entirely at fault for so doggedly pursuing deregulation, day in and day out. In the wake of Norfolk Southern’s toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, we are reminded that this is the same political movement that has had senators like J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley and figureheads like Tucker Carlson appropriating populist bona fides to pretend they care about protecting everyday people from corporate malfeasance and environmental degradation. But when it comes down to it, it’s all smog and mirrors.

But the point of an opposition party is indeed to serve as the opposition. And with Feinstein’s absence, and Manchin’s insistence on showing himself to be just as captured by corporate greed as the next conservative, Democrats are not, in fact, serving as meaningful opposition to a corrupt political movement.

Democrats can’t confirm judges—which, as should be apparent by now, is crucial for instilling any lasting power to protect the basic civil liberties and rights of millions of people against right-wing assaults. Now Democrats can’t even protect low-bar environmental protection rules from being assailed by industry-captured Republicans. What next?

Sure, the resolution may not survive a White House veto, but consider what this kind of dynamic signifies more broadly.

As Alex Pareene wrote in TNR, “I​​f you don’t want to run on big ideas, you should be obligated to run on making shit work, and that should require a commitment to actually making shit work. It is incumbent on those who reject revolution to make the current system not require it.”

If this current system is to even be perceived as superficially functional, Feinstein must either return to Washington yesterday or exit the Senate yesterday. Judges must be confirmed, and regulations meant to protect people must not only be legislatively affirmed but become proud rallying calls for Democrats to boast of to voters.

Democrats, the opposition to Republicans, must prove themselves to be exactly that, not just rhetorically but substantively. The system either works or it doesn’t—and if it doesn’t, don’t blame people for wanting to upend it.

Watch Tucker Carlson Admit That His Fox Show Was a Total Scam

Carlson has put out his first public statement since he was fired from Fox News—and it’s a doozy.

Janos Kummer/Getty Images

Erstwhile television host Tucker Carlson made his first public statement since being fired from Fox News, and he essentially admitted that his show was pointless to begin with.

Carlson was abruptly let go Monday, catching most people off guard. He has been radio silent on social media in the aftermath of his departure from Fox—until now. Carlson posted a video message to Twitter Wednesday evening saying that in his time offline, he has discovered how “unbelievably stupid most of the debates you see on television are.”

“They’re completely irrelevant. They mean nothing,” he said. “Trust me, as someone who’s participated.”

Carlson was Fox’s most popular host, and he made a name for himself by spouting falsehoods, conspiracy theories, and a range of racist, sexist, and homophobic ideologies. Court documents from the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit showed that he knew the things he said on air weren’t true, but he continued to say them anyway.

Carlson also issued what sounded like a warning Wednesday, saying that people who tell the truth prevail. “At the same time, the liars who’ve been trying to silence them shrink, and they become weaker,” said the man who was found by a court to have lied on air. “See you soon.”

He did not indicate what he’ll do next, but it looks like we haven’t seen the end of Carlson yet.

MTG Brings up Taxes During the Ice Age as Proof Climate Change Isn’t Real

Marjorie Taylor Greene is at it again with the mental gymnastics.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene
Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson says global warming is actually good, unless you’re in Africa. Now fellow Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene is advancing an even more nuanced and incisive take: that people during the Ice Age were not coughing up their hard-earned money to stop climate change, so why should we?

“People are not affecting climate change. You’re going to tell me that back in the Ice Age, how much taxes did people pay and how many changes did governments make to melt the ice?” Greene began. “The climate is going to continue to change. And there is no reason to just open up our borders and allow everyone in and continue to funnel over $50 billion or however many billions of dollars or trillions of dollars to foreign countries all over the world simply because they don’t like the climate change.”

Of course, people were not paying taxes, or using money (at least in the contemporary sense), during the Ice Age millions of years ago. So, not much opportunity for collective action or investment toward environmental protection. But they also wouldn’t have needed to do so in the same way we must: There was no bloated fossil fuel industry at the time, wreaking havoc on their environment and accelerating unnatural climate changes.

And to Greene’s tirade about “open borders”: America plays a large role in ratcheting up climate change, and therefore ratcheting up climate change consequences, like more climate refugees. Beyond America always purporting to be a beacon of hope for people everywhere, it is also liable to people in developing countries, where the consequences of climate change are happening in real time.

Greene’s suggestion that America ought not funnel money toward other countries “simply because they don’t like climate change” is off-kilter for a few reasons. For one, it’s not clear where Green’s $50 billion figure comes from. America’s formal financial commitment for climate aid is now back to $1 billion, after the Trump administration zeroed it all out.

Moreover, Greene doesn’t follow her own line of testimony to its logical conclusion: If it’s bad for the United States to send money elsewhere because those countries “don’t like” climate change, and she is so concerned with “America First,” and droughts and wildfires and severe flooding and power outages are crippling America as we speak, we should be throwing money at every domestic climate change–stabilizing and mitigating operation we can.

But such straightforward reasoning might be a stretch too far for someone concerned with the taxpayers of the Ice Age.

OK, the South Korean President Singing “American Pie” at the White House Is Pretty Impressive

“I had no damn idea you could sing,” Biden said after the rendition.

Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg/Getty Images
South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol sings during a state dinner with Joe Biden at the White House on April 26.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol stole the show at the White House state dinner when he sang “American Pie” for the guests.

Yoon is visiting Washington to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the ceasefire that ended the Korean War. He and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, also discussed the threat from North Korea, which has been ramping up nuclear testing over the past year. (Also, fun fact: Since no peace treaty was ever signed, the Korean peninsula is technically still at war.)

At the celebratory dinner Wednesday night, Broadway stars performed a variety of songs, including Don McLean’s “American Pie.” After an interpreter revealed the song was one of Yoon’s favorites from school, Biden asked him to sing it. And he brought the (White) house down.

“I had no damn idea you could sing,” Biden said, presenting Yoon with an autographed guitar from McLean. “The next state dinner we’re gonna have, you’re looking at the entertainment.”

Republicans Just Barely Pass Their Radical and Useless Debt Bill

Congrats to Kevin McCarthy for selling his soul for this bill.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republicans have passed their debt bill that in fact does nothing fiscally responsible and, more immediately, will probably not pass the Senate and definitely will not pass Biden’s desk.

On Wednesday, after much ado and push-and-pull, the bill just barely passed at 217–215, with four Republicans voting against.

Last week, Republicans introduced their “plan,” that, at its core, would further indebt America and millions of people within.

The bill’s main priorities include instating work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, reducing funding for the Internal Revenue Service, repealing green energy programs, and blocking Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.

Republicans have filed a provision to make Medicaid recipients fulfill certain income and work requirements; if they don’t, Republicans want to kick them off their health insurance plans.

They also inserted a provision for work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Adults without children would have to fulfill work requirements up to the age of 56, overturning current law that has the threshold at age 49.

Republicans also voted to cut funding from the IRS after Biden buttressed it. A Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the IRS program would reduce the deficit by $120 billion over the next decade (ergo, if Republicans got their way, they would add to the deficit).

Finally, the Republican proposal aims to repeal an array of already-passed Inflation Reduction Act provisions, like tax credits for electric vehicles, and block Biden’s plan to relieve 43 million people from crippling student debt.

And since the bill was first introduced last week, it has somehow gotten worse.

After last-minute negotiations with fellow Republicans, McCarthy and leadership agreed to more restrictive changes. The final bill tightens rules for social welfare programs even further and repeals more elements of the IRA (on energy-efficient construction codes, loans for energy infrastructure projects, neighborhood transportation access, climate pollution, and the status of our National Parks).

What is remarkable is that Republicans are looking to screw over Americans either way. If, somehow, this bill passed, millions of Americans would have the boot of the government on their necks in the form of Social Service austerity and bloated student debt. It would also make America even more susceptible to climate disaster by virtue of prolonging our already delayed energy transition.

And if the bill doesn’t advance any further, as it probably will not, Republicans increase the risk that America will default, which would lead to catastrophic consequences, including interrupting federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and even federal salaries. The default would also upend global financial stability.

“We are focused on painting for the American people what is going to happen if they default,” House Minority Whip Katherine Clark told TNR. “The costs are going to be borne by everyday Americans in skyrocketing costs.”

Pablo Manríquez contributed reporting to this story.

Montana Republicans Punish Transgender Lawmaker for Having the Nerve to Call Them Out

Zooey Zephyr has become a target after criticizing Republicans’ anti-trans legislation.


In Montana, Republicans are continuing their vicious quest to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

On Wednesday, the Montana House voted 68–32, on a party-line vote, to censure Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first and only transgender legislator.

For the rest of the 2023 session, Zephyr will be barred from entering the House floor or even gallery. She will instead be forced to participate remotely. She will be able to vote on bills but will not be able to speak about them.

This cannot be overemphasized: Zephyr is being removed for the simple act of advocating for her life, and for the lives of many other trans Montanans.

“If you use decorum to silence people who hold you accountable, then all you are doing is using decorum as a tool for oppression,” Zephyr said on the floor of a House filled with members seeking to dehumanize her and so many others.

Indeed, the practice echoes what just happened in Tennessee, as Republicans expelled two Black Democratic members for breaching “decorum” after they stood in solidarity with thousands of parents, teachers, and students protesting gun violence in the wake of a school shooting that left three children and three adults dead.

Republicans have actively silenced Zephyr since last week, after she spoke out against a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Among her remarks was a warning that such a bill would increase the risk of 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.

Instead of even remotely heeding such a warning—about the risk of more kids dying—Republicans voted unanimously to silence the messenger. To repeat: Instead of even feigning concern about children taking their own lives, Republicans are silencing the person warning them about what will happen because of their actions.

While Republicans carry on their callous censorial campaign, Montana residents have come out in full force to support Zephyr, rallying behind her and demanding she be allowed to speak just as everyone else is.

Even Nikki Haley Is Dunking on Ron DeSantis for His Feud With Disney

The Florida governor is not having a good week.

M. Scott Brauer/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Even Nikki Haley thinks that Ron DeSantis’s rapidly escalating feud with Disney is ridiculous.

Disney sued DeSantis Wednesday, alleging that he and his administration carried out a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” in retaliation for the company opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law.

“If Disney would like to move their hundreds of thousands of jobs to South Carolina and bring the billions of dollars with them, I’ll let them know I’ll be happy to meet them in South Carolina and introduce them to the governor and the legislature that would welcome it,” Haley said on Fox News after the news broke.

The official Twitter account for her presidential campaign also posted about DeSantis’s weird feud, a sign that Haley could be poised to make this a major issue.

Haley has not been a main contender for the Republican 2024 nomination. That was actually supposed to be DeSantis, but his campaign seems to be flopping before it has even been officially announced.

Disney Tells Ron DeSantis: Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes

A new Disney lawsuit goes after DeSantis for all his attacks on the company.

Ron DeSantis
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

When you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes. Ron DeSantis is learning this the hard way in his feud with Disney, which escalated Wednesday when the company sued him for “government retaliation.”

The Florida governor has been in the weirdest back-and-forth with Disney World since 2022, after the company’s then chairman condemned DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law. DeSantis retaliated by stripping the park of its autonomous governing powers and installing a leadership board of allies.

Disney sued DeSantis Wednesday, alleging that he and his administration carried out a “relentless campaign to weaponize government power” against the company’s free speech rights—and they have the receipts. Court documents cite extensively from DeSantis’s own memoir, which he is currently promoting ahead of his widely anticipated presidential run.

The legal filings also include myriad quotes from DeSantis allies blatantly stating that the bill dissolving Disney’s autonomous district was in direct response to the company opposing the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The lawsuit came just minutes after the DeSantis-appointed board voted to nullify two agreements that gave Disney control over its Florida resort complex.

It’s clear why DeSantis has waged war on Disney: Regardless of whether he runs for president, he is trying to establish himself as an “anti-woke” champion. But in doing so, he’s ignoring what his constituents actually want and need. All this for a presidential run that’s barely taking off.

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

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.