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A Florida School Has Banned the Poem Read at Biden’s Inauguration

Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” is restricted after just one parent complained about it.

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Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks during Joe Biden’s inauguration.

A Florida school has banned the poem read at Joe Biden’s inauguration after a parent complained it contained “indirect hate messages,” part of a disturbing state-wide trend of blocking discussions about race and gender.

A parent of two students at the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes challenged Amanda Gorman’s The Hill We Climb and four other books in March, arguing they were not age-appropriate. Bob Graham covers grades kindergarten through eight.

Daily Salinas said that The Hill We Climb, The ABCs of Black History, Cuban Kids, Countries in the News Cuba, and Love to Langston contained references to critical race theory, gender ideology, “indirect hate messages,” and “indoctrination,” especially of socialism. She requested they be removed from the school entirely, according to documents shared by the Florida Freedom to Read Project.

The school decided in April to restrict four of the titles, including Gorman’s, to middle school students only, the Miami Herald reported Monday. Salinas told the Herald she was not satisfied with the decision because “I don’t see how these books support the curriculum.” But she insisted that she “is not for eliminating or censoring any books.”

This is just the latest book ban in Florida since Ron DeSantis was reelected governor in November. At least 175 books have been banned as of March, according to PEN America. The nonprofit sued one Florida school district last week over the book bans.

“The government should not foster censorship by proxy, allowing one person to decide what ideas are out of bounds for all,” said Nadine Farid Johnson, counsel and managing director of PEN America Washington, in a statement regarding the lawsuit.

The Bob Graham ban has come to light after an elementary school in Pinellas County banned the movie Ruby Bridges in March. School officials in the same county also banned high school students from reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison earlier this year. And in October, the Wakulla County school district decided to remove the graphic novel Little Rock Nine from its libraries. All of these bans were enacted after just one parent complained.

Florida is increasingly restricting what can be taught in schools at all levels. DeSantis has declared war on “wokeism” and recently signed into law a measure defunding diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. He backed the Stop Woke Act, which restricts teaching about race in colleges, announced plans to mandate Western civilization courses, and supported the expansion of “Don’t Say Gay.” His administration was also in close contact with the College Board as it gutted the A.P. African American Studies course.

Marjorie Taylor Greene Just Spent $100,000 on Kevin McCarthy’s Used Chapstick

Republicans want to cut spending, unless it’s for creepy things like this.

Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ted Cruz
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene won big on Tuesday—and no, it wasn’t for new concessions on the debt ceiling.

It was for Kevin McCarthy’s used Chapstick.

During House Republicans’ private weekly meeting, they paused discussing the looming federal debt default to auction off McCarthy’s lip balm, Politico reported. Specifically, it was a cherry-flavored, Representative Aaron Bean campaign–branded Chapstick. Greene placed the winning bid of $100,000.

Greene beat out several other contenders, but she reportedly only began bidding after the House speaker agreed to have dinner with the auction winner and any guests of their choice (including donors). Her payment will go to the House Republicans’ campaign arm.

Democrats were rightfully livid, pointing out that Greene was throwing cash around while her party fights to cut spending for childcare, health care, food aid, and veterans’ benefits. Robert Garcia said the move was “gross but on brand” for Greene, while Summer Lee called it a “blatant slap in the face to Americans.”

Nydia Velazquez said the auction demonstrated “GOP priorities in a nutshell,” while Ilhan Omar—a frequent target of Greene’s xenophobia and Islamophobia—didn’t even bother to dress her outrage up in formal language.

The GOP is holding the country hostage as the party refuses to raise the debt ceiling, a very standard congressional procedure, even as the United States hurtles toward defaulting on its debt. Should the U.S. fail to pay its bills, there will be potentially catastrophic consequences for both the domestic and global economy.

At least Greene will be able to put the chapstick to good use. Her lips must be chapped from all the kissing up she does to McCarthy and Donald Trump.

Not The Onion: Rick Scott Issues Travel Advisory for Socialists Visiting Florida

Republicans’ response to the NAACP travel advisory proves they’re a complete joke.

Florida Senator Rick Scott
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Rick Scott warned socialists and Communists not to come to Florida, saying that the state is “openly hostile” toward them.

“Florida is openly hostile towards Socialists, Communists, and those that enable them. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by Socialists and others who work in the Biden Administration,” the former governor and current Florida senator warns.

Read as written, Scott is not only expressing open hostility to millions of Americans sympathetic to socialist and Communist ideals and nations. He also explicitly notes he “devalues” the “challenges faced by Socialists and others who work in the Biden administration.” Would those challenges include the looming debt ceiling crisis? Or climate change, which threatens to drown Florida? Or that millions in this country lack good and affordable health care (perhaps something that could be solved by—*gasp*—the government)? Funnily enough, the answer as to whether Scott and Republicans devalue and dismiss those challenges would be a resounding “yes.”

Scott’s useless and juvenile “advisory” comes in the wake of the NAACP issuing an earnest travel advisory for people of color and LGBTQ people visiting Florida. The organization’s advisory was in direct response to a state that, under Ron DeSantis’s reign, has relentlessly targeted immigrants, LGBTQ people, women, those afraid of being killed in a mass shooting, people exercising their right to vote, teachers, students, and libraries.

Meanwhile, Scott’s advisory against socialists mimics the House wasting our time and money to pass a bill in February “denouncing the horrors of socialism.” That time, though, 109 Democrats joined the farcical exercise in proving that they too are drunk on capitalist Kool-Aid.

It’s bad enough that Scott is making a mockery of the NAACP—an organization his colleague Ted Cruz has also criticized for apparently not honoring its original mission of advancing civil rights. It’s another thing that apparently both Scott and Cruz can’t understand, or more likely are excited about, how Florida is actively demolishing people’s civil rights. All the more comical, given that Cruz based much of his complaint on the notion that Democrats are the real racists because of people like George Wallace—whose rhetoric is indistinguishable from Scott’s in his new advisory against socialism.

And it’s the cherry on top that, as TNR has written previously, in “a country ailed by the callousness of capitalism—as people are subject to a continual stream of mass shootings, ruthless police brutality, and having to resort to GoFundMe in order to pay for rent and hospital bills—members of Congress spent their workday instead denouncing socialism.”

Ted Cruz, Using His Goldfish Brain, Attacks the NAACP for Florida Travel Advisory

On second thought, that’s an insult to goldfish.

Senator Ted Cruz
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Texas Senator Ted Cruz

It’s amazing that the most powerful people in the United States get to also be remarkably lazy and incredibly dull. And Ted Cruz is the cream of the crooked crop.

Over the weekend, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for Florida, stating that the state is “openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” The advisory came, according to the historic organization, in response to Ron DeSantis’s “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”

Senator Cruz, ever the galled-fellow, called the move “utterly dishonest.”

American historian Kevin Kruse responded, pointing out that despite Cruz’s (and other Republicans’) insistent invocation of Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights leader’s political legacy simply doesn’t align with conservatives’ views on race in America.

Cruz retorted by repeating what Kruse had already said, that George Wallace was a Democrat, as if that was some exculpatory evidence that conservatives are the real torchbearers of King’s legacy, and the left, actually, are the real racists.

Of course, Cruz either still somehow doesn’t know or, more likely, willfully ignores basic history to whip up outrage among any impressionable followers. Wallace was among the slate of twentieth-century Democrats who deployed the “Southern strategy”: increasing support among white voters by whipping up racist sentiment against African Americans.

Sounds familiar to exactly what Cruz is doing by attacking the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for its bold act of expressing concern for Black people, huh?

After all, Wallace’s speeches, which railed against “hippies,” civil rights “agitators,” “lazy” welfare recipients, atheists, “pointy-headed intellectuals,” “anarchists and Communists,” antiwar “radicals and rabble-rousers,” and beatniks are something you might readily hear on any number of programs hosted by Cruz’s media circle, from Ben Shapiro and Michael Knowles, to Cruz’s own armchair-and-cigars podcast (one he hosts almost daily, when he instead could be serving the people who elected him).

But the idea that political party names (Republican, Democrat) don’t correspond to the ideologies beneath them and can change throughout time is simply too complicated for Cruz’s mental capacity, or, more likely, too historically true for his offensive pursuit to proselytize a made-up view of America. It seems impossible for Cruz—who has pathetically bowed down to a serial criminal and sexual abuser who has insulted Cruz’s own wife—to imagine that members of a political party could actually criticize and separate themselves from detestable figures who claim to be part of the same party.

For what it’s worth, note that the NAACP’s advisory was certainly not a dismissal of Florida. “The NAACP proudly fights against the malicious attacks in Florida, against Black Americans. I encourage my fellow Floridians to join in this fight to protect ourselves and our democracy,” said Leon Russell, chair of the NAACP Board of Directors.

MTG and Her Boyfriend Like to Attack Strip Clubs. A New Video Proves They’re Hypocrites.

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and her boyfriend are back at it again with the bald-faced hypocrisy, this time attacking strippers.

In the latest episode of her podcast, MTG Battleground, which aired Monday night, Greene and her boyfriend, Brian Glenn, discussed how some strip clubs had drive-thru performances during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Glenn, who works for the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network, said the move was “ridiculous.”

“This is one of the things that Covid should’ve shut down and kept shut down, is strip clubs,” Greene says, as they both laugh. “The very fact that Covid forced the strippers out in public … that is appalling to me.”

But in an old news video, Glenn did a segment on male strippers that definitely brought the dancers out in public. He opens the segment by saying you could consider the dancers “therapists.” It’s not clear when the segment was filmed, but the microphone that he holds during the video bears the logo for the local Dallas-Fort Worth Fox news station. Glenn worked for that station from 2013 to 2015.

During the news segment, Glenn wears a vest over a cutoff flannel shirt and chaps over jeans. Two male dancers teach him how to strip his clothes off in time to music.

Glenn seemed to think strippers were just fine in that video. But now, he and Greene are laughing about how Covid should have put an entire industry out of work.

These two clips began circulating online just a day after Greene, who has gone out of her way to viciously attack drag queens, tweeted that she was “literally lol’ing” at an old video of Glenn wearing drag on the local Dallas news.

Once again, it appears that physical actions of wearing drag or sex-related work are not the issue. The problem for Greene and other Republicans like her are the people doing them.

Trump Was Warned About Keeping Classified Docs—and Prosecutors Have the Notes Proving It

Donald Trump’s legal troubles keep piling up.

Donald Trump
Brian Lawless/PA Images/Getty Images

Donald Trump allegedly knew he was supposed to return every single classified document after he was subpoenaed for them, but he kept hundreds of papers anyway.

Federal prosecutors have about 50 pages of notes from Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran, who apparently warned the former president about complying with the subpoena, The Guardian reported Monday. These notes could be significant in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Corcoran found about 40 classified documents in the estate storage room last June and told the Department of Justice that that was all there was to be found. The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago two months later and seized 101 additional classified documents.

The notes reveal that Trump and his valet Walt Nauta knew exactly where and when Corcoran was planning to search for the documents at Mar-a-Lago. The Justice Department is paying particular attention to Nauta, according to The Guardian, who had previously testified that Trump asked him to move boxes out of the storage room both before and after the subpoena was issued.

The Guardian suggested that it is possible prosecutors are investigating whether Nauta knew exactly what was in the boxes he was moving. According to Corcoran’s notes, Nauta had offered to help him look through the boxes in the storage room, which Corcoran declined. But he took breaks during the multiday search, leaving the storage room unattended multiple times.

The grand jury hearing evidence in the case was able to see the notes after a judge ruled in March that some of Trump’s attorney-client privileges could be “pierced.” Prosecutors for Smith’s team found that Trump intentionally misled his own lawyers, including Corcoran, about keeping classified materials when he left office.

U.S. Judge Beryl Howell ordered Corcoran to comply with a grand jury subpoena for testimony on six different lines of inquiry. She also ordered him to hand over records of Trump’s alleged “criminal scheme,” including handwritten notes, invoices, and transcriptions of personal audio recordings.

In addition to Smith’s investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents and role in January 6, the former president is also under investigation in Georgia for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and he has been indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records for paying hush money to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump was found civilly liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll—and on Monday, she sued him for defamation again over comments he made about her during a CNN town hall.

Georgia GOP Chair: If the Earth Really Is Round, Why Are There So Many Globes Everywhere?

Kandiss Taylor, a former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, is a flat-Earther convinced that globes are part of a bigger conspiracy.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

“Everywhere there’s globes…and that’s what they do to brainwash… For me, if it is not a conspiracy, if it is, you know, ‘real,’ why are you pushing so hard? Everywhere I go, every store, you buy a globe, there’s globes everywhere—every movie, every TV show, news media, why?”

This is what Kandiss Taylor, former Republican Georgia gubernatorial candidate, and current GOP Chair in Georgia’s 1st District, said on her program called “JESUS. GUNS. AND BABIES.”

Taylor’s comments came during a broader conversation focused on the flat-Earth conspiracy theory; the conversation featured “Flat Earth Dave,” who manages a website with the same moniker.

Last year, Taylor boosted conspiracy theories and lies describing state GOP leaders as secret communists and Democrats as satanic pedophiles. And, of course, she was a big believer in the lie that twice impeached criminally indicted and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election.

She herself refused to concede her loss in the Republican primary, despite only receiving some 3 percent of the vote. She also promised to demolish the Georgia Guidestones, a mysterious granite monument of 16-foot-tall stones known as “America’s Stonehenge,” if elected. Curiously, months later, a large explosion destroyed significant parts of the granite monument.

Republicans Want to Take Back Money for Green Jobs—Even From Their Own Districts

Republicans are so focused on the Inflation Reduction Act during the debt ceiling debate that they don’t mind hurting their own constituents.

Kevin McCarthy walks as a gaggle of reporters surrounds him
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republicans are behaving so wildly off-base, so clearly uninterested in actually getting something done, even billionaire conservative media mogul Logan Roy would come out and say it: you are not serious people.

While America careens towards a debt crisis manufactured by Republican intransigence, Republicans are concurrently threatening to rob even their own voters of thousands of jobs and billions in investment. In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans have set their sights on scrapping the Inflation Reduction Act.

But of all the major renewable energy, battery, and electric vehicle projects (worth tens of billions) announced after the passage of the IRA, two-thirds are in districts with Republican officials, according to a Politico analysis from January. Every single Republican in Congress voted against the IRA, maintaining their opposition to the act while also trying to boast of the benefits to their voters. Now, with the debt ceiling debacle, they’re looking to get rid of those benefits entirely.

What cannot be understated is how divorced from reality Republicans’ pouting is. They are going as far as to demand the government repeal already-passed infrastructure programs that are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide, while diversifying and strengthening the nation’s energy sector.

As of March 31, the Inflation Reduction Act has spurred the creation of over 142,000 jobs, and $242.81 billion dollars invested into the American economy. Republicans position themselves as job creators and America-builders, but instead they are throwing a tantrum that, if successful, would leave thousands of hard-working people out of a job, and leave America all the more meek to competitors like China and reliant on foreign energy supply.

“’Let me kill over 100,000 manufacturing jobs – mostly in red states – or I’ll force America to default on bills we racked up and trigger a recession,’ is the opposite of a compelling message,” Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, summarized in a memo last month.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy maintains that repealing provisions like tax credits for clean energy projects would “end the green giveaways for companies that distort the market and waste taxpayers’ money.” Meanwhile, he and other Republicans are not only trying to whittle away the IRA, but manipulate the already biased toward fossil fuels market even further. They’ve advanced provisions like mandating the administration approve of new fossil fuel projects and conduct more sales for federal land drilling. Republicans are also trying to accomplish “permitting reform” which, for them, means making it easier to skimp out on environmental regulation and push through fossil fuel projects easier. And of course, they are still concerned with keeping fossil fuel subsidies—even while big oil companies have reaped in massive profits while jacking up gas prices for everyone else.

Most fanatical is the assumption undergirding Republicans’ targeting of the clean energy projects: that cutting them would lead to meaningful savings. Besides the hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars that clean energy initiatives have already brought to America, it also sets precedent for what it truly means to “save,” and what we are trying to “save.”

America, and the world, is facing a massive wildlife crisis; our food and water supplies are becoming more and more threatened with drought and deforestation; the air we breathe is making the spans of our lives shorter. On the count of fiscal, social, and existential responsibility, Republicans are failing. Big-time.

Nebraska Governor Signs Radical Bill Banning Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care

A fun one-two punch of losing bodily autonomy.

Sean Rayford/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen signed a bill Monday banning abortion after 12 weeks and gender-affirming care for minors, a one-two punch of losing human rights.

The bill passed the state legislature last week. The chamber had failed last month to pass a six-week abortion ban after two typically anti-abortion senators voted “present.” Republicans then successfully passed the 12-week ban by folding it into an anti-trans bill.

The measure is “the most significant win for the social conservative agenda in over a generation in Nebraska. I think that’s something we need to clap and shout about,” Pillen said at the signing ceremony.

The measure will ban abortion after 12 weeks. Exceptions would only be made for rape, incest, or to save the pregnant person’s life. The bill would also prohibit people under 18 from receiving puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and genital or nongenital surgeries. Genital surgeries are not performed in Nebraska, but Republicans have banned them anyway.

The state’s chief medical officer—who is simply an ear, nose, and throat specialist appointed by the Republican governor—would be able to set rules and regulations that would allow gender-affirming medications in certain situations. The bill’s supporters say this is a compromise, but critics worry this authority could be used to create a blanket ban instead of more flexibility.

State Democrats, led by Senators Machaela Cavanaugh and Megan Hunt, had tried to block the anti-trans bill by filibustering every single measure that came up during the legislative session. One side effect of the filibuster was blocking the six-week abortion ban. But their efforts were finally defeated.

The ACLU of Nebraska said it was considering legal action to block the law. “The governor’s decision to sign these sweeping restrictions into law betrays a total disregard for Nebraskans’ freedom, health and well-being,” interim executive director Mindy Rush Chipman said in a statement. “Remember that more than 1,000 local medical professionals warned senators that LB 574 would put lives at risk—officials should have listened.”

“Every option is on the table to undo these regressive measures, including seeking justice through the courts.”

The College Student Who Tracked Celebrities’ Private Jets Is Now Tracking Ron DeSantis

The new Twitter account was created just days after DeSantis signed a law blocking his travel records from the public.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Scott Olson/Getty Images

The college student known for tracking Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter has now set his sights on Ron DeSantis, days after the Florida governor signed a bill blocking public access to his travel records.

Jack Sweeney ran the account called @ElonJet, which tracked the location of the billionaire’s private plane using public information. At one point, Sweeney ran more than 30 accounts tracking celebrities’ private jets. All of those accounts, as well as Sweeney’s personal profile, were suspended in December.

Sweeney has since gotten back online and begun to rebuild his empire. He still tracks Musk’s jet, posting public data with a 24-hour delay to abide by Twitter’s updated privacy policy that prohibits sharing someone’s live location. And on May 19, Sweeney posted the first tweet on @DeSantisJet.

The account tracks a jet owned by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, again with a 24-hour delay. Sweeney tweeted on the account Monday that although that plane is used for official state-related travel, there is no guarantee that DeSantis is necessarily on it.

As others have noted DeSantis also gets rides on political donors planes for personal matters. If we become aware of these flights, it will also be shared here,” Sweeney added.

Sweeney told The New Republic he decided to set up @DeSantisJet because of the increasing attention on and interest in the Florida governor, who is expected to formally announce his 2024 presidential candidacy this week.

When his accounts were suspended in December, Sweeney told BuzzFeed News he felt it was “important to hold people accountable, no matter what side they’re on.”

The account’s first tweet came one week after DeSantis signed a bill blocking reporters from accessing information about how and where DeSantis and other government officials travel, as well as who they travel with. Under the new law, the first of its kind, details about whether DeSantis used a state plane or a private plane will be retracted. The measure will also keep secret visitor logs to the governor’s mansion and his office.

DeSantis has a bit of an ivory tower in Florida, as his Republican Party controls both chambers of the state legislature. The state GOP has pushed bills that shield DeSantis from media scrutiny and target people who could potentially write negative things about him. It hasn’t worked out well in the grander scheme, as he continues to get slammed for being awkward or overly aggressive in front of the national press.

This post has been updated.