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Teacher Who Criticized “Rainbowland” Song Ban Is Being Fired

Cancel Culture? The Wisconsin teacher is being fired for complaining about the district banning kids from singing the Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus song.

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus sing on stage
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

A Wisconsin first-grade teacher is being fired for speaking out against her school district for banning her kids from singing a song about rainbows and togetherness.

On Wednesday, the Waukesha School District voted 9-0 to fire Heyer Elementary teacher Melissa Tempel, who was first put on leave in April and has been in limbo ever since.

The drama first began in March, after Tempel’s students were barred from singing “Rainbowland”—a Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton hit collaboration about hope, positivity, and love—at their first-grade concert. Administrators cited a district-wide policy on items “that may be considered political, controversial, or divisive,” as grounds to ban the song from being sung at the concert.

The administrators applied the policy to a song whose lyrics go like this:

All the hurt and the hate going on here (It needs to stop here)

We are rainbows, me and you

Every color, every hue

Let’s shine through (through)

Together, we can

Start livin’ in a rainbowland

Tempel tweeted about the ban, which brought massive public attention to the Waukesha School District. Shortly thereafter, Tempel was placed on administrative leave, with very little information made available to the public. Administrators have cited her initial public complaints about the ban as against school policy, which apparently prevents teachers from saying anything about administrators mysteriously censoring kids from singing about love and hope.

“I am deeply concerned that Ms. Tempel was removed from her classroom for standing up for them and what she knows is right,” a parent from Tempel’s class said at the time.

The issue all stems from Waukesha’s Board Policy 2240, “Controversial Issues in the Classroom,” which set guidelines for when the district would “permit” a so-called “controversial issue” to be introduced in the classroom. Along with the innocent Cyrus and Parton song, the policy has also been applied to bar students, teachers, and even classroom walls from donning rainbow designs, because of their association with the LGBTQ community. The over-policing has stirred up concern among parents and teachers alike who have found the policy to be repressive.

Officials may have set off claims for a First Amendment case. Tempel had previously said she would pursue such a claim against the district, after Superintendent Dr. Jim Sebert first recommended her termination back in May.

“I cannot allow others to be intimidated into silence,” she said at the time. “These are matters of public concern that the Waukesha Community has a right to know about and I stand by my decision to share the impact of Policy 2240 with the public. I will rest easy every night knowing that I did what was right for children.”

Rupert Murdoch Has a New Favorite Republican Candidate for 2024

The Fox News emperor is fed up with Ron DeSantis and has set his sights elsewhere.

Rupert Murdoch close-up
Rupert Murdoch

Despite initially crowning Ron DeSantis as the next Republican presidential nominee, Fox News emperor Rupert Murdoch has started to sour on the Florida governor. In fact, he may have already moved on to someone new.

In a weird twist, Murdoch reportedly backs Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin for 2024, according to a New York Times report published Wednesday. Youngkin, meanwhile, has publicly said he has no intention of running.

When DeSantis first unveiled his campaign two months ago, Fox News led the charge in painting him as the successor to Donald Trump. It would make sense why Fox News had gone off Trump, considering that spreading his lies about the 2020 election has already cost them nearly $800 million in lawsuits—with more on the way.

But DeSantis hasn’t really taken off. Although he’s technically the runner-up to Trump, the two candidates are miles apart in terms of actual poll numbers. Murdoch has begun to voice doubts in private conversations that DeSantis can pull off a win, Rolling Stone reported Tuesday.

Coverage of DeSantis on Fox News and in the newspapers that Murdoch owns has shifted. Where there were once softball questions, now there is Maria Bartiromo straight up asking DeSantis, “What’s going on with your campaign?”

“They are transactional and can smell a loser a mile away,” a Fox insider anonymously told Rolling Stone, referring to the Murdoch family and other Fox executives.

Youngkin, however, is perhaps exactly what people like Murdoch hoped DeSantis would be.

Both men are just as conservative as Trump. In some ways, they’re even further right. But where DeSantis is awkward and robotic, Youngkin won the gubernatorial race in a Democratic leaning state. He is less cringey and flagrant in his embrace of the right-wing agenda, such as fighting “wokeness” and opposing abortion and LGBTQ rights. But he’s still dangerous.

But Youngkin said in April that he is “wholly focused on the Commonwealth of Virginia.” So the Murdochs may be stuck with DeSantis after all.

Trump Supporter Sues Fox for Destroying His Life With January 6 Conspiracy

Ray Epps is suing the network for defamation.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

Fox already shelled out $787.5 million in a defamation lawsuit to avoid further interrogation into its ranks—and now it’s being sued for defamation once again.

Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who has been bizarrely propped up by conspiracy theorists as being the leader of an FBI plot to incite the January 6 insurrection, filed a lawsuit against Fox on Wednesday, accusing the company and former host Tucker Carlson of defamation.

Figureheads on the right—including Carlson—have long been propagating the unfounded notion that the January 6 attack was essentially an “op” put on by federal agencies. Epps has been a central victim to the conspiracy.

The two-time Trump voter did take part in demonstrations in the nation’s capital on January 5 and 6. He was even seen on camera urging a crowd to march and enter the Capitol with him, though he apparently never got inside. At other points, he was seen urging for calm as things turned violent. Not the kind of behavior of someone looking to cleanly incite and entrap rioters.

Nevertheless, Epps has become a target in the years since. On numerous occasions, Carlson whipped up the focus on Epps, directing the ire of his millions of viewers to the Arizona man.

“Fox’s lies about Epps reached hundreds of millions of people and caused enormous harm to Epps,” the lawsuit reads, accusing Fox of running a “years-long campaign spreading falsehoods” about Epps that “destroyed” his life.

Epps is described as a formerly “avid and loyal Fox viewer and fan of Mr. Carlson’s,” whose presence at the January 6 attack at all was inspired “by the lies broadcast by Fox asserting the election had been stolen.”

The conspiracy theory has become popular among Republican lawmakers, some of whom even cited it in a House judiciary hearing just hours before the lawsuit was announced.

The new lawsuit follows Fox’s whopping $787.5 million settlement with Dominion Voting Systems, after the network was sued for its lies surrounding the 2020 election and voting systems like Dominion’s. It also comes after the network also reached a $12 million settlement with former producer Abby Grossberg, who accused Fox of hosting a workplace environment rife with discrimination and rampant sexism, and of coercing her into providing false testimony in the Dominion case.

Meanwhile, the network still faces a gargantuan $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit from Smartmatic USA, another voting systems company that alleges Fox made “over 100 false statements and implications about the company.”

“Dominion’s litigation exposed some of the misconduct and damage caused by Fox’s disinformation campaign. Smartmatic will expose the rest,” Smartmatic attorney J. Erik Connolly said in April. “Smartmatic remains committed to clearing its name, recouping the significant damage done to the company, and holding Fox accountable for undermining democracy.”

FBI Director Brags About Recruitment in States Where Republicans Attack Him

Christopher Wray cited numbers at the Republicans challenging him.

Graeme Jennings - Pool/Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray had a simple response for Republicans who insisted that Americans think the bureau has become far too politicized: applicants for FBI jobs from their states are up. A lot.

Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, where he faced repeated questions from angry Republicans about whether the FBI targets the GOP, specifically former President Donald Trump. Wray, of course, denied their accusations, which prompted several lawmakers to insist that his stance is why no one trusts the FBI anymore.

People trusted the FBI more when J. Edgar Hoover was running the place than when you are,” Florida Representative Matt Gaetz charged. “And the reason is because you don’t give straight answers.”

“It appears as though you’re whitewashing the conduct of corrupt people,” Gaetz said, referring to Republicans’ repeated and as yet fully-unproven claims that the Biden family has accepted bribes.

“Respectfully, congressman, in your home state of Florida, the number of people applying to come work for us … is up over 100 percent since I started,” Wray replied.

“We’re deeply proud of them, and they deserve better than you,” Gaetz snapped at the Trump appointed-FBI director.

Later, Texas Representative Wesley Hunt cited an NBC poll that found only 37 percent of Americans have a positive view of the FBI. “I think I know why,” Hunt said. “Here’s what the American people know and believe about the FBI today, sir. If you are a Trump, you will be prosecuted. If you are a Biden, you will be protected. And the American people that I represent are sick and tired of this double standard.”

“I worry less about NBC polls or polls by any other news outlet,” Wray said. “But I will tell you that the number of people in Texas applying to work for us since I’ve been in this job has gone up 93 percent. In fact, we have more applicants from the state of Texas annually in the last several years than any other state in the country.”

“That makes sense, because Texas is the greatest state in the country,” said Hunt.

“I think that speaks very well of the view of Texans about the FBI,” Wray concluded.

5 Culture War Fights Republicans Want to Cram Into the Defense Bill

America’s defense priorities are already frivolous. Republicans are somehow making it worse.

Kevin McCarthy bangs a gavel
Win McNamee/Getty Images

According to conservatives, the problem with the military is not the endless war, the relentless global policing, the innocent lives wrapped up in struggles of territory and greed, nor even the trillions that back it all. The problem is the military is just too woke.

Republicans have submitted hundreds of amendments to the national defense authorization bill, hoping to pass their extreme priorities into law.

It’s not yet clear when we’ll have the final list of amendments to be voted on, as Republicans are pushing the House Rules committee for more to be added for consideration.

Still, here are some of the most radical amendments Republicans have been focusing on:

Banning Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

One amendment, introduced by Representatives Greg Steube and Claudia Tenney, would prohibit “the use of Federal funds for any DEI activity in the Armed Forces, National Academies, and Department of Defense (DOD).”

Apparently, it’s okay for the Supreme Court to carve out an affirmative action exception for the military, but it’s not okay to have a conversation about those recipients being treated decently.

Limiting Service Members’ Access to Abortion

Another amendment, backed by scores of Republicans, would prohibit “the Secretary of Defense from paying for or reimbursing expenses relating to abortion services.” That would overturn current Defense Department policy that
helps military members who are seeking abortion, but are stationed in a state where it is banned, with their travel expenses.  

What better way to affirm that soldiers are pawns for the American empire than by insistently eroding their bodily autonomy in whatever way you can?

Banning Books

Representatives Lauren Boebert, Eli Crane, Josh Brecheen, and Mary Miller wanted to ensure the whole of the far-right agenda got representation, introducing an amendment to prohibit “Department of Defense Education Activity schools from purchasing and having pornographic and radical gender ideology books in their libraries.”

Surely, a very real problem that merits even seconds on the floor of the United States Congress, as it grapples with the billions it dedicates towards policing the world.

Prohibiting Funds for Climate Change

Several other amendments focused on climate, calling to prohibit federal funds to support green energy efforts, and another outright prohibiting the Defense Department “from carrying out Biden’s climate change executive orders.”

After all, why would we even consider defining “public service” to mean serving the public who is drowning in floods, collapsing in the heat, and choking in the smog?

Restrictions on Military Aid for Ukraine, but not Saudi Arabia or Israel

And of course, Republicans found a way to target military aid for Ukraine in a way they certainly did not with Israel or Saudi Arabia.

Representative Wesley Hunt introduced an amendment to stop any funding for Ukraine “unless an equal amount is made available to the Secretary of Homeland Security for the construction of physical barriers along the southern border.” (Funny, given a separate, to-be-voted on amendment from Representative Brecheen and Representative Dale Strong “to use, transfer or donate excess border wall construction materials.”)

Meanwhile, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene introduced a slew of Ukraine-related amendments, including ones to outright ban funding for Ukraine until a “diplomatic solution” is reached, and striking $300 million of funding. She also submitted one calling for the U.S. to withdraw from NATO.

While Republicans were eager to terminate aid to a nation fighting off invasion, they were just as eager to protect another occupying nation. An amendment introduced by Representatives Scott Perry, Bob Good, and Crane would bar “funding to any organization or any country that has labeled Israel as an “apartheid” state.” A United Nations investigator accused Israel of apartheid last year.

There are plenty of issues with America’s defense spending priorities, namely, that it has always been so bloated, and so used for ill ends. And despite this historical and ongoing legacy, and despite where those trillions of dollars could go instead, the military budget has generally maintained an upward trend. Nevertheless, Republicans are introducing amendments that ignore any of those broader issues, instead projecting their radical domestic agenda onto the military.

KKK Flyers Are Popping Up All Over Kentucky

And the state’s Republican attorney general has nothing to say about it.

Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The Ku Klux Klan has been posting flyers all over Kentucky since March, a frightening sign of how emboldened the far right is becoming.

Kentucky’s Republican attorney general Daniel Cameron, who is also his party’s nominee for governor, has not yet publicly commented on the flyers. Cameron did not respond to The New Republic’s request for comment.

The flyers first started to gain statewide attention in May, when residents of Louisville posted about it on social media. At least two different flyers were left in neighborhoods in and around the city. One warned “race traitors, mixed breeds, communist, homosexuals, and all other walks of Godless degeneracy” that the “Klan is back.” Another flyer referred to multiracial people as “mongrels” and listed Bible quotes to push anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

Things picked up in June, when residents near Lexington reported that another chapter of the KKK had distributed flyers advertising themselves as a sort of neighborhood watch. The flyers encouraged people to report “crime and drug dealers” to the KKK. Lexington NAACP President Whit Whitaker expressed concerns that the Klan intended to use these reports to attack Black people.

Two alleged Klansmen were handing out KKK recruitment cards in Corbin when they crossed paths with an LGBTQ rights rally that was protesting Kentucky’s now-blocked anti-transgender laws. The pair began shouting abuse at the crowd, and one even held up a gun.

The most recent incidents were just last week, when people in Fern Creek and Ashland found KKK flyers spread around their neighborhoods. The flyers in Ashland specifically said the group was seeking to recruit “white-American” citizens who are Christian and at least 18 years old.

The flyers are a clear sign of how brazen far-right groups have become. The Proud Boys have also begun distributing flyers around Kentucky. And it’s no surprise that such extremist organizations feel that they can come out into the open.

Former President Donald Trump vigorously embraced stances against LGBTQ people and people of color, specifically Latin American immigrants and Muslims. He famously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a 2020 presidential debate. Members of far-right groups felt Trump had personally called on them to go to Washington on January 6 and stop the 2020 election results from being certified.

And the vast majority of Republican leaders have done nothing to push back. Ron DeSantis—who is currently in second place for the GOP presidential nomination, after Trump—has openly embraced anti-LGBTQ bigotry in policies and in his campaigning.

Dem Congressman Exposes GOP’s Favorite “FBI Weaponization” Talking Point

"It is not the fault of the FBI that Donald Trump surrounded himself with criminals,” Ted Lieu said.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

California Representative Ted Lieu thoroughly debunked the Republican talking point that the FBI has been weaponized against them by pointing out the obvious: The Trump administration was already packed with “criminals.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. He faced repeated questions from Republicans about whether the FBI targets the GOP, specifically former President Donald Trump. Wray, of course, denied their accusations.

But Lieu offered the most striking defense of the bureau when he listed how many members of Trump’s inner circle had been convicted. Lieu asked Wray about Roger Stone, Elliott Broidy, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and George Papadopoulos, all of whom were found guilty of various crimes in federal court.

Lieu pointed out that all of the advisers were prosecuted by Trump appointees: Bill Barr, Matthew Whitaker, and Jeff Sessions. Wray, who was already leading the FBI at the time, is also a Trump appointee.

“What these facts show is we don’t have a two-tiered system of justice,” said Lieu, referring to a favorite Republican talking point regarding Trump’s federal indictment. “We have one Department of Justice that goes after criminals regardless of party ideology.”

“It is not the fault of the FBI that Donald Trump surrounded himself with criminals.”

Lawyer Who Helped Overturn Affirmative Action Venmoed Clarence Thomas Aide

The Supreme Court justice aide received payments for a “Christmas Party” from several top lawyers with cases before the court, according to a new report.

Clarence Thomas
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’s a big club and still, you most certainly are not in it.

An array of high-rolling lawyers with cases before the Supreme Court paid money to one of Justice Clarence Thomas’s top aides through Venmo. The Guardian reports that these lawyers have done everything from successfully arguing against affirmative action, to leading the charge to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to, well, protect the environment.

These top lawyers appeared to be paying for exclusive access to a Christmas party hosted by the justice, according to the payment descriptions on Venmo. The former aide, Rajan Vasisht, received seven payments in November and December of 2019, The Guardian reports; each Venmo payment was listed with descriptors like “CT Christmas Party,” or “Thomas Christmas party.”

The payments could have well been for anything; none of the implicated parties responded to The Guardian’s questions or request for comments.

One of the lawyers paying the Thomas aide was Patrick Strawbridge, a partner at Consovoy McCarthy, who successfully helped overturn affirmative action. Another was Kate Todd, former White House deputy counsel under twice-impeached, twice-indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump. Yet another party-going lawyer was Elbert Lin, West Virginia’s former solicitor general, who was very influential in a Supreme Court case that limited the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s just a taste of who attended.

So while scores of communities in Vermont and New York succumb to catastrophic flooding, while Texans and Floridians pant and collapse in the sweltering heat, you can trust that the lawyers responsible for such conditions will still be happily toasting champagne glasses and noshing on their hors d’oeuvres.

The latest chapter of Our Corrupt Supreme Court comes in an already bursting-at-the-seams book of malfeasance.

Beyond the Venmo payments, 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 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.

Justice John Roberts’s 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 that all—normalized corruption, to more outward displays of it—doesn’t even include other issues, like Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh being alleged sexual abusers.

Did Republicans Just Open the Door for Biden to Win Iowa?

An extreme abortion ban, passed in the dead of night, could tip things in Biden’s favor.


Iowa Republicans passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks, an extreme move that could tip the state for Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election.

State lawmakers passed the bill in the dead of night Tuesday, pushing it through the Senate with a vote of 32–17 after a day of massive protests in the state Capitol. The measure now heads to the desk of Governor Kim Reynolds, who will likely sign it, despite the widespread opposition.

Iowa currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks, and the majority of state residents—61 percent—support access to the procedure. A six-week abortion ban would target people before they even know they are pregnant, and make Iowa one of the most extreme anti-abortion states in the country.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds had signed a six-week abortion ban in 2018, but that measure was struck down the following year in the courts. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Reynolds asked the courts to reinstate the 2018 ban, but the state Supreme Court was deadlocked on the issue, leaving the 20-week law in place.

So last week, Reynolds summoned the state legislature back for a special session with “the sole and single purpose” of passing a six-week ban. The bill includes an exception for rape only if the rape is “reported within forty-five days of the incident to a law enforcement agency or to a public or private health agency.”

Huge crowds packed the state Capitol building on Tuesday to protest against the bill. Many suspect that Reynolds is vying for a vice presidential nod—and one constituent called her out while testifying against the measure for using the abortion ban to “score political points.”

But as Iowa Republicans celebrate taking away bodily autonomy from their constituents, they may have rung their own death knell. Biden won 44.9 percent of Iowa votes in 2020, compared to Donald Trump’s 53.1 percent. But the new abortion bill could tip the scale in the other direction.

The GOP may not want to admit it, but abortion wins elections. An overwhelming majority of Americans—62 percent, to be exact—still think abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. What’s more, people consistently vote in favor of increasing abortion rights protections. Come 2024, Republicans may learn that the hard way.

Trump Just Lost a Huge Fight in the E. Jean Carroll Case: Immunity

The Justice Department is refusing to back Donald Trump on this one.

E. Jean Carroll
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
E. Jean Carroll

Donald Trump just lost another big fight in his ongoing legal troubles.

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it no longer considers Trump immune in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him.

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her about $5 million in damages. But Carroll also has a second, pending defamation case against Trump, which dates back to 2019 and includes comments he made about her while in office. The Justice Department had previously said Trump was acting in his role as president when he made the comments, meaning he was immune from legal action.

But now, “the Department of Justice is declining to certify … that defendant Donald J. Trump was acting within the scope of his office and employment as President of the United States when he made the statements that form the basis of the defamation claims in plaintiff’s Amended Complaint in this action,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton said Tuesday.

This means that if Trump is found guilty of defamation, he will be responsible for any potential damages awarded to Carroll. She is seeking $10 million in damages in her second defamation case against him.

Boyton cited a recent legal challenge over whether the initial certification of immunity was valid. The case moved between New York and Washington, D.C., and produced no clear result. In a letter to presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan and Trump’s legal team, Boynton explained that the Department “lacks adequate evidence to conclude” that Trump was motivated by a “purpose to serve the United States Government” when he denied assaulting Carroll and made the allegedly defamatory statements about her.

Carroll’s lawyer Robbie Kaplan (no relation to the judge) hailed the Justice Department’s decision. “We have always believed that Donald Trump made his defamatory statements about our client in June 2019 out of personal animus, ill will, and spite, and not as President of the United States,” she said in a statement. “Now that one of the last obstacles has been removed, we look forward to trial in E. Jean Carroll’s original case in January 2024.”

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She initially sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media. Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her case was the first to make it to a courtroom.

Trump continues to vehemently deny all of the allegations and launched fresh vitriol at Carroll during a disastrous CNN town hall in May. She amended her second lawsuit to include those comments.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly tried to thwart Carroll’s various lawsuits, asking multiple times that the 2019 defamation suit be thrown out, and even begging for a new trial altogether.

Meanwhile, he is facing two criminal indictments, and a third that may be coming later this summer.

Safe to say this situation has just gone from bad to worse.