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The Ron DeSantis Twitter Campaign Launch Was a Disaster

The Florida governor’s attempt to kick off his presidential candidacy from deep within Elon Musk’s collapsing empire went exactly as well as you’d expect.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Ron DeSantis’s presidential launch was supposed to be a rebranding moment. Faltering in the polls in recent weeks, the Florida governor had lost much of the heir-to-Trumpism sheen he had earned during his tenure in the Florida statehouse. If he once seemed like the future of the Republican Party, lately he’s just seemed, well, weird: Upon closer inspection—and put next to Donald Trump—he has been robotic, odd, and uncharismatic.

But DeSantis’s campaign launch on Wednesday was supposed to turn the page on all that. Rather than the usual pageantry—a rally in a hometown, flanked by family, broadcast on Fox News during prime time—DeSantis’s team decided to take a big risk. They would take the campaign to Donald Trump’s turf and launch it on Twitter, in a live interview with influencer David Sacks and Twitter CEO Elon Musk. DeSantis was coming for Trump’s core audience: the terminally online.

Well, you get what you pay for, I guess! Hundreds of thousands of users logged on to watch the campaign launch on Twitter Spaces only to overload the social network’s wheezing servers. Musk and Sacks could occasionally be heard mumbling in grainy audio. Mostly, though, there was just silence. It was glitchy, awkward, and strange—a metaphor for DeSantis’s own faltering presidential campaign. “You broke the internet,” Musk could be heard awkwardly mumbling at one point. It was a comment better directed at himself, given the current shambolic state of Twitter.

Thirty minutes after it was scheduled to start, the event finally got underway—with the expected array of awkward braying about “free speech” and dismissal of invocations of racism. DeSantis shrugged off a recent NAACP travel advisory: “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said. Musk similarly dismissed criticisms that Twitter had become overloaded with Nazis, racists, and freaks under his leadership.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a campaign kickoff? If so, it could hardly be described as a success. A few hundred thousand viewers is impressive, but DeSantis probably could’ve gotten significantly more if he had launched on, say, a Fox News prime-time show. He would, at the very least, have gotten some level of broadcast professionalism (and substantially less hold music): The glitchy, awkward, audio-only format of Twitter Spaces hardly helped assuage concerns that DeSantis lacks the charisma and human touch most successful presidential campaigns require.

Still, DeSantis ultimately got the extremely online event he wanted: one aimed at Musk fanboys and other online weirdos. But that doesn’t mean it was a success. Much like a recent rocket, this can only be described as a classic failure to launch.

Entire House Laughs at Marjorie Taylor Greene After She Asks for Decorum

The irony of the far-right congresswoman talking about decorum

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The entire House laughed in Marjorie Taylor Greene’s face on Wednesday when she called for decorum in the chamber.

Speaking during a House session, the far-right congresswoman said, “Members are reminded to abide by decorum of the House.” Democrats erupted into laughter.

Greene’s not really one to talk about decorum. She has spread conspiracy theories, made racist comments about co-workers, encouraged violence against Democrats, and essentially called for sedition.

A Texas Bill That Would Have Banned Chinese People From Owning Property Has Failed

The bill would have also targeted citizens of three other countries.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A bill that would have banned people from China and three other countries from owning property in Texas failed to reach the House floor, with its death a huge relief to the state’s Asian American community.

The bill would have prohibited citizens from China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia from owning agricultural and oil leases. It passed the Senate in April with the support of all Republicans and one Democrat, and Governor Greg Abbott said he would sign it despite the measure being widely slammed as racist and xenophobic.

But the House never granted the bill a hearing. Speaker Dade Phelan canceled a planned session, killing dozens of bills, including the property ownership measure. There are a few long-shot measures that lawmakers can take to force the bill through, such as tacking it on to another measure, but they are unlikely to work.

“While our community has succeeded in stopping this terrible bill, it does not undo the racist and xenophobic rhetoric lobbed by elected officials,” the nonprofit Asian Texans for Justice said in a statement. “We will continue to stand up against discrimination and racism against the Asian American community.”

The property ownership bill had sparked multiple similar measures, including within Texas. State Republican lawmakers came under fire in March for a bill that would ban students from the same four countries from all public colleges and universities in the state. That bill never made it out of committees.

Louisiana is also pushing a package of bills that would ban “foreign adversaries,” including Chinese companies and citizens, from buying land in the state. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law that would prohibit citizens of certain countries from buying homes and land in Florida. Chinese citizens are almost entirely banned, with few exceptions, while there are similar but slightly lighter restrictions on citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Russia, and North Korea. A group of Chinese citizens who live and work in Florida are suing the state over the law.

All of these measures are painfully reminiscent of measures that have been implemented over the centuries to keep people of color out of the United States, ranging from the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to former President Donald Trump’s travel ban that targeted North Koreans, Iranians, and several other Muslim-majority countries. Foreigners and their work are often subjected to racial and political scapegoating when people blame them for a host of issues in American society.

The Texas measures may have died, but the hostility toward immigrants is alive and well.

GOP Lawmaker Erases Maxwell Frost’s Valid Point on Student Debt From the Record

Representative Virginia Foxx, a top recipient of cash from student loan companies and for-profit colleges, acted offended by Frost’s comments on student debt relief.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images Jemal Countess/Getty Images for People's Rally to Cancel Student Debt

Maxwell Frost deconstructed a central conservative talking point against relieving millions of people from student debt—and apparently offended an absurdly bought-out Republican representative while doing so.

“If we legislated using the logic that you bring to this issue today, women and Black folks wouldn’t have the right to vote because it would be unfair to those who never got to vote before them,” said Frost on the House floor Wednesday, speaking against a resolution to repeal President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan. “If we legislated using your logic, that because there was an injustice, we can’t fix it because it’s unfair to those who never had it fixed, means we would never progress on any issue in this country.”

“Why do you bring that bigoted logic to this issue as it relates to students, but not any other issue?”

The “bigoted logic” remarks prompted Republican Representative Virginia Foxx, whom Frost was addressing, to apparently become offended.

“I demand his words be taken down,” Foxx said with a frown.

Frost agreed on his own part to withdraw the “offending words” and proceed onward.

“If we used this logic on every single issue, we would never have progress on anything,” he said. “And the truth of the matter is that young people and people don’t have student debt because we live beyond our means. We have student debt because we’ve been denied the means to live.”

Foxx’s bristling at Frost’s remarks are unsurprising. In numerous election cycles, the almost two-decade North Carolina representative has been the leading recipient of donations from the for-profit education industry and from student loan companies, according to OpenSecrets.

Recall, these figures are out of 435 House members.

In total, Foxx has received over $665,000 from the for-profit education industry and another $86,000 from student loan companies.

The cozy relationship began in 2006—her first reelection cycle—when she was one of the leading House recipients of cash from student loan companies, raking in over $10,000 from the industry. From 2014 through 2022, she remained in the top 10 recipients from the industry; in 2016 and 2018, she was the leading recipient.

And in the for-profit education industry, the figures are even more staggering. From 2016 to 2022, Foxx was the number one recipient of cash from the industry, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars each cycle. In 2014, she was the number-two leading recipient; in 2012, the seventh-leading one.

For-profit schools are infamous for defrauding students and charging them exorbitant amounts of money, making false promises of what kind of education they offer, and deceptively targeting marginalized communities and veterans.

All this cash has left Foxx a longtime proponent of leaving students with crippling debt—impairing the economic and social prosperity they could gain by not being held down by such a burden.

“I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that,” Foxx once said on a radio show, further complaining that students want success “dumped in their lap.”


Florida Man Known for Threatening Teachers and Gay Kids Thinks He Can Be President

Ron DeSantis has officially declared his run for president

Ron DeSantis makes a weird face (he's trying to smile)
Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

A 44-year-old Florida native known for attacking LGBTQ people and local schools has formally launched his candidacy to become the Republican nominee for president of the United States.

Ron DeSantis comes to the race with a résumé some may even call too polished for the Republican Party.

He led the passage of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. He forced the College Board to strip down its A.P. African American studies curriculum. He gave advice on how to torture Guantánamo Bay detainees. He pushed for a six-week abortion ban. He delicensed businesses for hosting drag shows. He made it legal for people to carry concealed loaded guns without any permits, training, or background checks. He voted to roll back regulations that could have stopped the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. He pushed a bill banning anyone from having an undocumented person in their car or home. He directed the personal data collection of anyone seeking gender-affirming treatment on college campuses and the banning of such treatment for anyone under 18. He quietly packed the Florida Board of Medicine and New College Board of Trustees with campaign donors and friends who are already reshaping health care and education for the worse.

And now, after filing his paperwork Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis has finally launched his bid to try to beat Donald Trump, the first-rate corrupt, racist, and hateful archetype he has looked up to for so long.

And of course, he plans to kick off his run during a Twitter Spaces conversation Wednesday evening with another renowned racist elite, Elon Musk.

Other than Trump, DeSantis joins an increasingly crowded field that includes former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, multimillionaire executive and contrarian-by-hobby Vivek Ramaswamy, and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

DeSantis enters a Republican primary that will likely become one of a few things. It could soon be a race to the bottom, in which candidates try to out-racist and out-hate each other in order to appear as far right as possible (a high standard, given Trump’s presence). It could become a race to see who can become the consensus “Never Trump” candidate in the hope that all of the opposition, plus perhaps some number of Trump voters, can be enough to tank the leading Republican. Or this may just be a race to see who can outmaneuver the others in being the most Trump-friendly, in the hopes that they will either replace Trump (and even earn his blessing) if he is taken down by one of his many criminal investigations, or just become his running mate.

Regardless of how it takes shape, the ensuing Republican primary will confirm what most of the country already knows: Whoever comes out alive should be as far away from power as possible.

Democratic Congressman Drags GOP: At Least Gas Stoves Are Safe if Country Defaults

The Republican Party is holding a hearing on gas stoves, as we hurtle toward a national debt default.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Representative Jared Moskowitz

Democratic Representative Jared Moskowitz roasted his Republican colleagues for prioritizing small culture wars over major social issues.

As the country hurtles toward a national default, the House Oversight and Accountability subcommittee held a hearing Wednesday on … gas stoves. The Energy Department’s Consumer Product Safety Commission had announced in December that it was considering health regulations on gas stoves for the first time ever, following a report that gas ranges were responsible for almost 13 percent of childhood asthma cases.

Health officials have been adamant that the regulations would not ban gas stoves, but Republicans are steamed over the idea of regulations and insist that such policies would infringe on their freedoms.

“I got it, I get the bravado. We can pry your gas stoves from your cold, dead hands,” Moskowitz deadpanned during the hearing. “I have a six-burner, double-oven range. It sits on legs. I mean, I miss her, right now, as we’re talking about it.”

“I want to apologize on behalf of the Democratic Party that we have decided to put kids—kids’ safety in their neighborhoods, from getting gunned down in movie theaters or grocery stores or school churches or synagogues—we as Democrats have clearly lost our way,” he said.

Moskowitz also sarcastically pointed out that even if the United States defaults on its debt, which it is just weeks away from doing thanks to Republican stonewalling, at least gas stoves will still be there.

The U.S. is on track to have a record-high number of mass shootings in 2023. Meanwhile, the country’s economy teeters on the brink, as Republicans apparently refuse to negotiate on the debt ceiling. How useful will those gas stoves be when no one can afford the gas to power them?

Kevin McCarthy’s Go-To Line When Asked Any Questions About Debt Default

The House speaker repeated it over and over again when faced with questions during a press conference.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Republicans are refusing to raise the debt ceiling—something they did three times under twice-impeached criminally indicted and liable-for-sexual-abuse former President Donald Trump—unless Democrats agree to cut programs that millions of Americans benefit from.

And Kevin McCarthy—leader of the party threatening it all—pumps his arms, kicks the ground, and insists: “It’s not my fault.”

In total, McCarthy said the phrase “not my fault” five times during a 13-minute press conference on Wednesday.

In exchange for preventing the nation’s economy from hitting a disastrous default, Republicans want to instate work requirements for Medicaid and food stamps, reduce newly introduced funding for the IRS that has already led to massively faster call times for Americans, repeal green energy programs (that have given most of their new jobs to Republican districts), and block Biden from relieving 43 million Americans from crippling student debt.

In simple terms: Republicans want to make working people’s lives harder, rich people’s lives easier, and the planet’s survival less likely—all under the guise of “fiscal responsibility.”

And conservatives refuse to entertain any other methods of pursuing that “responsibility,” like taxing the rich at a fairer rate, closing rampant loopholes that elites relentlessly exploit, or even slightly decreasing America’s monstrous military budget.

Altogether, Republican intransigence threatens to lead America to default, which risks a catastrophic recession.

Montana’s New Anti-Drag Law Is So Vaguely Worded It Could Target Dolly Parton

The radical drag ban has officially been signed into law.

Dolly Parton
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Governor Greg Gianforte has signed an extreme and vaguely worded bill that aims to ban drag performances in front of minors but actually goes much further than that.

The new law, which Gianforte signed on Monday, defines drag performers as “a male or female performer who adopts a flamboyant or parodic feminine persona with glamorous or exaggerated costumes and makeup.” When it was first introduced, journalist and transgender rights activist Erin Reed pointed out that the measure could affect glam rock, wrestling, and even performances by Dolly Parton. Queen Dolly herself has said she has exaggerated her appearance to be “flashy” and “flamboyant.”

The ban categorizes any business that serves alcohol and hosts a drag show as a “sexually oriented business.” The law bans these businesses from allowing minors to enter during a “sexually oriented performance,” and it also prohibits any kind of “sexually oriented activity” in a public space when a minor is present. Businesses could face a fine of up to $10,000 and even lose their liquor license if they repeatedly violate the law.

The law is also the first to specifically ban drag story hours, an event where drag queens read stories to children, which are not at all sexual in nature. Public schools or publicly funded institutions such as museums and libraries are prohibited from hosting drag performances. The institution would be fined $5,000 for hosting a show, and the staff member who approved it could lose their teaching or librarian certification.

“We have white [cisgender] individuals that have zero experience within the drag community providing a legally binding definition of what drag art is,” drag performer Anita Shadow told the Montana Free Press. “I think I speak for the community when I say that is hurtful, degrading, and it’s a misunderstanding.”

Several legal organizations have already spoken out against the law, arguing that it violates the First Amendment. Montana-based nonprofit law firm Upper Seven Law has already pledged to challenge the drag ban in court.

The Human Rights Campaign warned that the law will “further alienate members of Montana’s LGBTQ+ community.” “It’s a sad state of affairs when extremist politicians enact new laws that hurt their constituents instead of helping them,” legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement.

Montana is now the third state to ban drag performances, after Tennessee in March and Florida earlier this month. The Tennessee law was blocked by a judge for violating free speech rights, but Pride groups in Florida are already canceling events in light of the new legislation.

John Roberts Would Like You to Pretty Please Stop Heckling Supreme Court Justices

The chief justice says you don’t need to be worried about the Supreme Court’s ethics. They’ll handle it themselves.

Chief Justice John Roberts
Alex Wong/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts complained about justices being heckled and said that the Supreme Court—of which nearly half its members have been found to be embroiled in suspicious activity—does not need to be held accountable by other branches of government.

Roberts shared the comments at the American Law Institute’s one hundredth anniversary dinner.

“I want to assure people that I am committed to making certain that we as a court adhere to the highest standards of conduct,” Roberts told the audience. “We are continuing to look at things we can do to give practical effect to that commitment. And I am confident there are ways to do that that are consistent with our status as an independent branch of government under the Constitution’s separation of powers.”

He gave no concrete examples of how the corrupt court will hold itself accountable.

Roberts also reminisced on the days of his mentor, conservative Court of Appeals Judge Henry Friendly, contrasting them to today. “There’s much in the legal arena that he would find abhorrent: [a] judge heckled and shouted down at a law school, protesters outside the homes of justices, to the extent that marshall protection is needed 24/7.”

The chief justice said that in the 18 years he has served on the highest court in America, “the hardest decision he had to make” was not related to the First Amendment, or the death penalty, or the separation of powers—but whether to erect fences and barricades around the Supreme Court.

While those fences were going up, Roberts said, he kept hearing the words of former secretary of state and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes at the opening of the Supreme Court building. “The republic endures, and this is the symbol of its faith,” Roberts quoted.

That invocation is what makes Roberts’s comments so troubling. Trust in the Supreme Court is at its lowest in 50 years. The “republic” was very nearly upended two years ago, on January 6, and arguably has been numerous other times, for instance in 2000, at the hands of the legal system. The court has also been implicated in many other signals of an undemocratic society, like, for instance, overturning abortion rights.

Meanwhile, longtime Justice Clarence Thomas has received secret and lavish gifts for decades from the Nazi memorabilia–collecting billionaire and GOP donor Harlan Crow, including luxurious island-hopping excursions on superyachts, tuition payments for his grandnephew’s private schooling, 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.

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.

Roberts’s own wife has allegedly been paid more than $10 million by an array of high-class law firms—at least one of which has argued before her husband in the Supreme Court.

And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of other issues, like Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh being alleged sexual abusers.

Indeed, if the court is a symbol of the republic, the republic is failing. And yet Roberts’s main concern is not with legitimizing the Supreme Court but with the people heckling justices for not doing so.

Fox News Is Now Praising Statutory Rape on Air

Fox host Greg Gutfeld celebrated a high school teacher who was arrested for having sex with her student.

Fox host Greg Gutfeld laughs
Steven Ferdman/Getty Images
Fox host Greg Gutfeld

Fox News host Greg Gutfeld praised statutory rape on air, saying that he would have loved for an older woman to have sex with him when he was a teenager.

During his show Monday, Gutfeld talked about a 38-year-old teacher in California who was arrested for allegedly having sex with her 16-year-old student. The age of consent in California is 18. Gutfeld began loudly praising the alleged assault, while the rest of his co-hosts sat in uncomfortable silence.

“Come on! Sixteen years old—I would have died for that!” Gutfeld shouted.

“A 16-year-old boy! Sixteen-year-old boy with like a hot teacher. I mean, what was the Van Halen song? ‘Hot for Teacher?’ That was written about this!”

His co-host Katherine Timpf then incredulously said, “You’re disgusting!”

Gutfeld’s actions are exactly why so many people don’t come forward about sexual assault. If they do, they are often mocked and—particularly if they’re male—told they should be into it. This case is particularly egregious because teachers are in positions of authority over their students, making it easier for them to exploit younger people.

In a sick twist, Gutfeld has previously referred to LGBTQ people and drag queens as “groomers.” He admitted that part of the reason why he uses the slur is because he’s tired of being called a racist and a bigot.

But now, here he is on air, praising someone accused of actual grooming.