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Nebraska Democratic Lawmaker Under Ethics Investigation for Having a Trans Son

The complaint alleges that state Senator Megan Hunt has a “conflict of interest” while discussing anti-trans legislation.

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Nebraska state Representative Megan Hunt

Democrats are literally just trying to advocate for people’s basic civil rights. But from Tennessee to Montana, Republican lawmakers have twisted ethics and decorum rules to attack them for doing so. The latest? A Nebraska Democratic lawmaker is under an ethics investigation for having a transgender child.

State Senator Megan Hunt is now under attack for having a “conflict of interest” because she has a transgender son.

The investigation comes from a complaint from Omaha lawyer David Begley, who claims that Hunt is financially implicated in the fate of a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for anyone under the age of 19. Bagely writes that Hunt and her son would have a “more than average chance of obtaining Medicare coverage if the bill fails.” For her part, Hunt has said she has already tried four times to receive care for her son, to no avail; Nebraska’s Medicaid policy does not currently cover gender-affirming care anyhow.

Of course, the complaint is ridiculous. Every bill that lawmakers address is one they are implicated in; after all, they are also members of the society those bills would impact and change.

Senator Wendy DeBoer put it quite simply. “Every time we have a tax bill, I’m a taxpayer. So I may be involved in that every time. We have a bill that involves families, well, I have a family. So I may be involved,” she told Nebraska Public Media. “Every time we have a bill on basically anything in here, I’m involved because I care about my state. I care about the people in my state, and I’m involved with them, just like Senator Hunt is.”

While some Republicans have supported Hunt against the ethics complaint, the senator says that is not enough.

What’s happening in Nebraska is a parallel of what we saw unfold in Tennessee and Montana earlier this month. Tennessee Republicans expelled two Black Democrats for standing in solidarity with thousands of people protesting against gun violence after a school shooting. Montana Republicans censured the state’s first and only transgender legislator for speaking out against vicious attacks on transgender lives, barring her from the House floor for the rest of the legislative session.

By the way, Begley, the complainant and self-purported former Democrat, once told then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg that he should “just tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs.” He has also called for arming teachers and making gun ownership even more widespread in a country where there are more mass shootings than days in a year. Just a few weeks ago, he called Nebraska Democrats “Jacobins” and part of the “cults” of “Net Zero Carbon” and “Transgenderism.”

How in the World Did the Pentagon Leaker Get Top Security Clearance?

The more reports come out, the more we learn about the (racist and violent) red flags.

Overhead shot of the Pentagon building
Brenner/Bloomberg/Getty Images
The Pentagon building in Arlington, Virginia

New court documents in the case against an air national guardsman suspected of leaking classified intelligence documents reveal he had a history of racist and violent behavior. So how did the 21-year-old get top secret security clearance?

Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s intelligence wing, was arrested earlier this month for allegedly leaking documents that include information on Russian and Ukrainian strategies in the ongoing war, as well as intelligence on Canada, China, Israel, South Korea, the Indo-Pacific military theater, and the Middle East. He is believed to have posted them on a Discord server in early March.

In a memo released late Wednesday, ahead of a detention hearing, the Department of Justice revealed that Teixeira had a “troubling” history of making racist and violent comments. He was suspended from high school in March 2018 when a classmate overheard him talking about weapons, “including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats,” the documents said.

The documents also show that later that year, Teixeira applied for a gun license but was denied because local police were concerned over the comments that got him suspended. The military conducted a full background check on Teixeira when he joined, and yet apparently these details raised no red flags when he was granted a high-level top secret security clearance known as TS-SCI (Top Secret—Sensitive Compartmented Information).

The Discord server where Teixeira shared the documents was created for a group he led. The other members were mostly young men and teenagers who had bonded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic over their shared interest in guns, racist memes, and video games.

The Washington Post reported that a video of Teixeira shows him at a shooting range. He shouts a series of racial and antisemitic slurs before firing repeatedly at a target. Even the name of the Discord server, Thug Shaker Central, is a racist reference. Group members were encouraged to “to hurl epithets and crude jokes,” according to the Post.

Teixeira’s arrest has raised questions about how the junior airman was able to access such highly classified information. As more details about his background emerge, the bigger question seems to be why he was able to access any classified information at all.

Jerry Springer Loved to Show Trans People Humiliated

Trans people reflect on the death of the former talk show host.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Image

The death of talk show host Jerry Springer has brought back painful memories for many transgender people, amid a rapidly rising tide of anti-trans legislation in Republican-led states.

Springer died Thursday at the age of 79, a family spokesperson told TMZ. The former politician and comedian hosted the controversial talk show Jerry Springer for almost three decades, during which the show became known for featuring violence, nudity, and profanity.

The show was particularly notorious for its exploitative treatment of trans women, especially trans women of color—which is ironic, considering that his family has asked fans to commit an act of kindness to honor him, rather than send flowers. Jerry Springer regularly featured segments that dehumanized trans women, referred to them by slurs, and portrayed them as deceptive.

Trans women, as well as allies, spoke out on Twitter after Springer’s death was announced about how much he and his treatment of trans people affected their sense of self worth. They pointed out that his show was often some of the only trans representation they saw in popular culture when they were younger.

Springer’s show was canceled in 2018, but it faced regular criticisms for transphobia before that. He was vocal in his support for the LGBTQ community, but on the show, things looked a little different.

Although Springer had pushed back on the accusations of transphobia, his show and its audience always mocked trans people when they appeared as guests, including in the offensively named segment “Trannies Twerk It Out.” Presenting one community as a joke stood in stark contrast to the rest of his show, online magazine Queerty pointed out.

“The laughter, the pointing, the hooting and hollering—how can this be perceived as supporting the transgender community?” Queerty editor Dan Tracer wrote in 2015.

Springer’s death comes amid a wave of state-level anti-trans legislation that only seems to be picking up speed. The Republican-led measures range from banning trans people from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender to banning gender-affirming care for minors and even letting state officials take trans teens away from guardians who give them such care.

Just Wednesday, Montana House Republicans voted to censure Zooey Zephyr, the state’s only trans lawmaker, after she gave a fiery speech warning them that banning gender-affirming care would increase suicide among trans minors.

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.

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

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.