• It’s Not 2016

    This is a continuing investigation from the Mother Jones newsroom to determine whether it is the year 2016.

    Good morning. Despite disturbing recent reports that, for some, grievances from the Democratic primary for president from six years ago are the central vehicle to understand our modern political problems, we can confirm: It is not 2016. The year is 2022. You don’t have to tweet about Susan Sarandon.

    Yep, I’ll double-check. One moment…

    Sorry, unfortunately, it’s still not 2016.

    Apologies for any confusion about that. Just want to be clear. I checked. It’s not 2016.

    Hmm. Let me phrase it like this…

    According to a Mother Jones investigation, we can reveal it is not the year 2016.

    Our analysis found that is in fact the year 2022. While the primary debates of that year still feature prominently in the minds of some, experts agree: It’s not the best way to understand our current moment. It will turn your mind into mush-mush to narrow your view of American political history into a never-ending crusade about a single primary.

    Damn it.

    Hey, everybody, it’s not 2016!!

    I promise.

    I swear.

    Oh Jesus fucking Christ.

    If you notice signs that it seems like it is 2016 but think it is not, please let us know as we continue this investigation.

  • San Antonio’s Migrant Tragedy Shows There’s No Limit to GOP Opportunism

    Makeshift memorial at the site where officials found dozens of people dead in an abandoned semitrailer.Eric Gay/AP

    On Monday, at least 46 bodies were found inside a tractor-trailer near the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and another 16 people were hospitalized in what authorities have characterized as the deadliest migrant-smuggling operation in US history. By Wednesday, the death toll had reached 51. “They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” San Antonio’s Fire Chief Charles Hood said about the victims, who were migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. Three people were taken into custody in connection with the incident and Homeland Security Investigations is leading the probe into the case.

    “Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy,” President Biden said in a statement about the migrant deaths, “and my administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.” 

    But that hasn’t stopped Republican politicians and anti-immigration demagogues from seizing on the dreadful event to blame the loss of lives on President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, which they describe, inaccurately, as “open borders.” It was, in fact, another inevitable consequence of the deadly and ineffective legacy of decades of both Republican and Democrat policies of “prevention through deterrence” and militarized borders. Nonetheless, Stephen Miller, Donald Trump’s former senior adviser and a heartless anti-immigrant crusader who fostered the infamous zero-tolerance policy that separated families at the border, attributed the “incomprehensible tragedy” to “vile, monstrous and utterly depraved” open border policies that, according to his twisted reasoning, are somehow “pro-smuggling, pro-cartel.” It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: this line of reasoning makes no sense.

    As Mother Jones has previously reported, strict border policies such as the Trump-era Title 42 health order sealing the border for most migrants and asylum seekers forced people to take increasingly dangerous and riskier routes and have fueled smuggling activities. Albeit belatedly, the Biden administration has tried to end the harmful policy implemented by Trump at the outset of the pandemic, but court challenges have forced the government to keep it in place. According to Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, 2022 already has been the deadliest year at the border:

    Still, the chorus of Republicans exploiting this event included a number of those whose very policies and anti-immigrant stance have contributed to a deadlier border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, for instance, who has repeatedly targeted immigrants, including by busing them to Washington, DC, in various stunts that backfired, and who funded a failed operation to “secure” the border, said, “These deaths are on Biden.” Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, no friend of immigrants who has introduced legislation to transfer migrants from Texas to places “where Democrat elites host their cocktail parties,” asked, “How many more people have to die before Dems give a damn?”

    Not to be outdone, Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida tweeted “There is nothing compassionate about Biden’s open border policies that encourage human trafficking.” Fox News also focused on compassion as if the network’s programming didn’t rely on the dehumanization of immigrants on a regular basis. The Border Patrol Union, whose president recently spread conspiracy theories surrounding the racist idea of “great replacement,” also jumped on the outraged bandwagon.

     

    “Loud anti-immigrants who peddle false info about the border share responsibility for this tragedy,” Monika Langarica, a staff attorney with UCLA’s Center for Immigration Law and Policy, wrote. “So do the Republican states that brought the case that blocked the end of Title 42, which has closed safe pathways to the asylum system, and funneled people into deadly non-choices.” 

    To be clear: closed borders are causing people to die. That has been the case for decades as violence and death as a means to prevent migration have been factored into policies that have largely failed to manage migration flows in the long run, but have succeeded in producing casualties. As long as anti-immigrant hardliners and different administrations continue to advocate for tough-on-border policies and further militarization, the same outcome will repeat itself. As Jean Guerrero wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “The border has become a mass grave and a testament to the decades-long inhumanity and irrationality of US border and immigration policies.” 

  • It Looks Like Two More Years of Lauren Boebert in Congress

    Tom Williams/Congressional Quarterly/Zuma

    Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Colorado’s gun-toting representative, is likely to serve another term after winning her district’s Republican primary last night.

    Boebert handily defeated challenger Don Coram, a moderate Republican with friends on both sides of the aisle in the state House but nowhere near Boebert’s name recognition. Her win comes despite seemingly endless controversy. Earlier this year, former employees of Boebert’s Rifle, Colorado, restaurant told me that the congresswoman routinely failed to pay them on time. Colorado is set to investigate her over misuse of campaign funds. Her latest faux pas came this weekend when she declared, “I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.”

    But none of that is likely to keep Boebert out of Congress. Thanks to redistricting, her district leans even more strongly Republican this year than it did in 2020. Boebert will face off against Democrat Adam Frisch in the general election.

  • Don’t Boo, Work for a Fortune 500 Company

    ZUMA

    On Friday, with the fall of Roe official, a parade of companies emerged with similar announcements: we hear you, we see you, and we will fund your abortion travel and assistance. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, JP Morgan Chase, Disney, and others all introduced these policies either after the leak of the decision or in recent days.

    At first blush, it could seem comforting. But as with many corporate acts of activism before it, a closer inspection gives way to the sinking feeling that something is deeply warped; that this pantomime of corporate responsibility has been spit out of a shiny branding machine and processed in a scrambled effort that neatly smooths over cracks of hypocrisy, complicated human resources questions, and the alarming consequences of turning to business while the government in power sits on its hands.

    In the case of Starbucks—where a promise to cover abortion in health care plans and cover abortion travel expenses could not be promised to employees at unionized stores—it’s devolved into explicitly anti-union tactics. “What we can say for sure, is that Starbucks will always bargain in good faith,” Sara Kelly, acting executive vice president of Starbucks, explained.

    Though I don’t doubt Kelly’s sincerity in mourning Roe, the certitude with which she promises Starbucks will bargain in good faith does not track with the company’s increasingly brazen, union-busting efforts.

    Imagine the worker at a newly unionized location, who may one day be in a position to seek to terminate a pregnancy, receiving this news. Doesn’t it suddenly seem attractive, downright reasonable, to jump to a non-unionized Starbucks? Here, Starbucks’ refusal to guarantee abortion assistance to unionized workers boils down to an anti-union carrot stick intended to exert what the company wants most of all: control.

    The potential exclusion of unionized workers misses a critical point in our post-Roe landscape: that society’s most vulnerable—those who benefit from labor protections offered by unions—will be most affected by the loss of Roe, and would thus benefit the most from any reimbursement plan. And if helping them does not fit a company’s other interests. Well, oh well.

    None of this is to say that companies should decline to take action. Nor is it to dismiss the fact that some seeking abortions may truly benefit from employer-backed abortion assistance. But intense scrutiny must be paid when capitalist forces are stepping in where the state has failed, especially when we’re living through the backlash to progress in real-time; when the same streaming giants that celebrate gay pride allegedly retaliate against their trans workers; when Meta offers travel assistance for abortions while silencing internal discussion of the extremist ruling that prompted that very assistance; when companies that staunchly oppose classifying most of its workforce as “employees” will include abortion in healthcare plans; when so many of these corporate giants have had outsized roles in bankrolling state abortion bans around the country.

    But the problems extend far beyond hypocrisy. Serious questions over what corporate-sponsored abortion support will look like in practice have also emerged, particularly in regards to employee privacy. After all, employer-backed abortion assistance will not be anonymous; funds and reimbursement will presumably be directed into an account attached to an identity. CEOs could promise privacy now, but what happens to abortion data when companies change hands? Will it be monetized? What’s missing in many of these corporate announcements is what steps are being taken in order to protect healthcare records from outside forces, whether that be the newly emboldened anti-abortion movement, everyday hackers, or law enforcement officials in states increasingly weaponizing digital trails in order to prosecute abortions and miscarriages. Now, zoom out once more and you’ll see that this entire ad-hoc system requires the worker to place a herculean level of trust in their bosses—the very people, who, no matter how benevolent, cannot be trusted, during an experience where many are often unable to trust their most intimate personal relations.

    The impulse to get on the right side of history may be well-intentioned. Yet, capitalism subbing in for the constitutional right to an abortion smacks of opportunism; corporate America knows it will profit from fundamentally good social policy. After all, corporate knows that it feels good for a worker to believe that they work for the right type of company, one willing to stand up to at least some of the neverending supply of cruelty we’ve witnessed over the past few years. Companies might be breeding armies of asshole managers, but, hey, at least the narcissist on top did something after the fall of Roe.

    For so many, Roe afforded women the same basic rights to personhood as men. But with corporate-funded abortions, pregnant people will be forced to surrender their autonomy to another person, their boss. That’s never going to be freedom.

  • Half of Americans Say Trump Tried to Stay In Office Illegally and Should Be Charged

    Trump speaks at the Road to Majority conference, in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month.Mark Humphrey/AP

    Are the blockbuster revelations from the January 6 Committee hearings cutting through? Changing hearts and minds?

    A new CBS News/YouGov poll released today found that, from what they’ve seen so far, half of the country thinks former President Donald Trump tried to stay in power “through illegal means”, and nearly half think he should be charged with crimes as a result.

    Game. Set. Match. Right? Book him! Not so fast. As with all public opinion in the United States, the consensus evaporates as soon as you look at party affiliation. According to the poll, 70 percent of Republicans still say Biden didn’t legitimately win the 2020 election, and that Trump didn’t plan to seize power illegally. Half of Republicans view the insurrection as “patriotic”—a number that has remained relatively unchanged since the attack, according to the pollsters.

    And democracy lovers, brace yourselves. There’s another disturbing finding in the poll today: The majority of Americans now think it’s at least “somewhat likely” that election officials will refuse to certify results in the future for political reasons.

    The new poll also contained some grim news for President Biden: The lowest ever approval rating of his presidency, at 41 percent.

    It has been difficult to gauge the overall impact of the hearings as they happen. Lots of people seem to be paying at least some attention and ratings have been good. But a poll released earlier this week by Quinnipiac showed that the number of Americans who believe that Trump committed a crime in his attempts to steal the 2020 election remained “essentially unchanged” from an April poll asking the same question; 46 percent say he did commit a crime, and 47 percent saying he did not.

    Read more detailed results from today’s CBS News poll here.

  • After The End of Roe, These States Are Announcing They’ve Triggered Abortion Bans

    Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt poses for a photo with the bill he signed in April, making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.Sue Ogrocki/AP

    Now that the Supreme Court has officially overturned Roe v. Wade, near-total abortion bans are springing into effect across the nation in the form of “trigger laws.” 

    Oklahoma—which didn’t even wait for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe—has already banned abortion. Immediate abortion bans have also come into effect in Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Dakota, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  The trigger laws in Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas will take 30 days to come into effect. If you have an abortion scheduled in one of these states, you still have a very limited amount of time to undergo the procedure.

    @motherjonesmag

    Welp. #BBPlayDate #ShowYourJOWO #supremecourt #politics #reproductiverights

    ♬ Le Calin – 斌杨Remix

    Meanwhile, trigger laws in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming require an extra step to come into effect—typically certification by an attorney general—which could take place at any second.

    Oklahoma also has a trigger law pending certification on the books, which could soon overlap the six-week civil ban already in effect.

    Here’s what has been announced by state officials so far.

    Arkansas

    Arkansas requires the attorney general to take actions to certify that abortion law has changed to enact the trigger law. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced in a press release she will do so at a ceremony this afternoon.

    Idaho

    Idaho’s abortion ban will come into effect in 30 days. 

    Kentucky

    Kentucky’s trigger law has come into effect.

    Louisiana

    Louisiana’s trigger law has come into effect. 

    Mississippi

    Mississippi requires the attorney general to take actions to certify that abortion law has changed to enact the trigger law. At the time of publication, no announcement has been made.

    Missouri

    Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has already certified the ban in his state, enshrining it into law.

    North Dakota

    North Dakota’s abortion ban will come into effect soon. First, the attorney general has to reaffirm to the legislative council that a ban is now constitutional. Then the legislative council has to certify that recommendation. At the time of publication, no announcement has been made.

    Oklahoma

    Oklahoma passed a law banning abortion after six weeks before the Dobbs decision was handed down. An additional ban requires certification from the Attorney General. Shortly after Roe was overturned, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor wrote that he wanted “to thank the Supreme Court for returning decision-making power to the people,” calling today a day for “celebration and thanksgiving.” However, at the time of publication, no announcement has been made.

    Tennessee

    Tennessee’s abortion ban will come into effect in 30 days. 

    Texas

    Texas’s abortion ban will come into effect in 30 days. 

    South Dakota

    South Dakota’s abortion ban has come into effect. 

    Utah

    Utah’s abortion ban comes into effect when the legislative counsel certifies the legislature’s ability to ban abortion. At the time of publication, no announcement has been made.

    Wyoming

    Wyoming’s abortion ban requires the certification of the attorney general and then the governor. After certification, the ban will come into effect in five days.

    This is a breaking news post, and things are changing rapidly. We’ll update with more information as it becomes available. 

  • Ivanka Trump Wanted Dad to Pursue Every Unhinged Challenge to the Election as Possible

    Tom Williams/Zuma

    Ivanka Trump’s piss poor relationship with the truth—one of the most enduring storylines of the Trump era—has once again come into focus after the New York Times got a glimpse of the former first daughter, a month after the November presidential election, privately telling a film crew that her father should “continue to fight” the election results “until every legal remedy is exhausted.”

    In the same interview, Ivanka was also reportedly recorded questioning the “sanctity of our elections”—a more polished version of the same unhinged, baseless claims about a stolen election that flowed through the former president’s inner circle.

    The remarks, as they seem to always do, fly in the face of Ivanka’s testimony before the January 6 committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol, during which she told investigators that she had accepted Bill Barr’s assessment that no fraud had taken place during the election. They also contradict the narrative that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, knew that Dad was a loser before it became official, and eagerly absconded to Miami while Trump marinaded in increasingly desperate conspiracy theories.

    Ivanka’s coup-friendly remarks are now in the hands of the committee after it subpoenaed Alex Holder, the British filmmaker who had sought to create a “legacy project” for the Trump presidency. To that end, it does seem as though Holder successfully captured one prominent theme of the Trump White House: Ivanka’s ruthless self-interest.

  • Uvalde Police Response Was an “Abject Failure,” Texas Public Safety Director Says

    Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw points to a photo of the Robb Elementary School door during a Texas state Senate hearing Tuesday.Bob Daemmrich/Zuma

    One month after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, damning new details about the police response continue to emerge. Based on reporting from the Texas Tribune and testimony from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw in a hearing before the state Senate, we now know that police armed with rifles were at the scene just three minutes after the shooter entered the building. Police never attempted to open the door to the classroom where the shooter had been “barricaded”—at least until the final moments before killing him, more than an hour after officers first arrived on the scene. In fact, it’s yet to be settled whether the door was even locked.

    As details continue to be contested and new information emerges, it’s clear that a tragic confluence of factors—from faulty door locks to a disjointed police response—allowed the shooter’s rampage to continue for 77 minutes. Here’s a list of some of the things that went wrong, based on what we know so far.

    • An apparently faulty lock on a school door allowed the shooter to enter the building with ease. While it was previously reported that a teacher had propped the door open, officials have since explained that the teacher shut the door when she saw the gunman approaching the school. As McCraw pointed out during his testimony today, even if the door had been locked, the shooter would have been able to enter the school by shooting through an adjacent glass panel, reaching inside, and pulling the door open.
    • The classroom apparently could only be locked from the outside, and there is no indication that the door was ever locked. The Texas Tribune reports that the shooter easily entered and exited the classroom at least three times. Surveillance footage does not show police attempting to open the door to the classroom. Even if the door had been locked, police appear to have had the means to open it: Just eight minutes after the shooter entered the building, an officer reported that police had a Halligan bar, a firefighting tool used to break down doors, according to AP. Instead of trying the door, Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo waited to obtain a master key he might not have even needed.
    • Arredondo did not bring his police radio into the school. Furthermore, police radios tended not to function inside the school, according to Arredondo.
    • Some of the diagrams of the school that the police were using were incorrect, according to McCraw.
    • Officers had access to ballistic shields 58 minutes before authorities stormed the classroom. The only thing preventing them from entering the classroom, according to McCraw, was Chief Arredondo. 

    McCraw summed up the tragedy like this:

    Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize this subject. The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and room 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children. The officers had weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none. The officers had training. The subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds. That’s how long the children waited and the teachers waited…to be rescued. And while they waited, the on-scene commander waited for a radio and rifles. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed. The post-Columbine doctrine is clear and compelling and unambiguous: Stop the killing, the stop the dying. You can’t do the latter unless you do the former.

    “There is compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure,” he said, “and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre.”

    This article first appeared in the Mother Jones Daily, our newsletter that cuts through the noise to help you make sense of the most important stories of the day. Sign up for free here!

  • Mike Pence Is Still a Mealymouthed Trump Stooge

    Justin Sullivan/Getty

    One of the more curious themes to emerge from the January 6 hearings is the notion that Mike Pence is an American hero, one who honorably rebuffed Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure him into using non-existent powers to subvert Joe Biden’s unequivocal victory. Others have pushed back against this characterization of Pence’s behavior, including Bret Stephens, who ponders today:

    Where was Pence in November when Trump started lying about the election the moment their defeat became clear? Where was he when the president enlisted the likes of Sidney Powell and John Eastman to peddle insane conspiracy theories about voting machines and preposterous interpretations of the Electoral Count Act? Where was he on invoking the 25th Amendment after the assault on the Capitol, or at least on supporting impeachment? Pence was a worm who, for a few hours on Jan. 6, turned into a glowworm.

    I’m firmly in the camp that Pence is not a good boy. But for anyone who finds themselves in the former—whether it be out of sincere gratitude that Pence resisted Trump’s coup fever dreams or apparent acceptance for men doing the absolute minimum—let his recent media appearances guide you to more reasonable waters. Let’s roll the tape.

    Referring to the January 6 insurrection, the former vice president appeared on Fox News Digital Monday and characterized the current hearings as a Democratic political plot intended to “use that tragic day to distract attention from their failed agenda or to demean the intentions of 74 million Americans who rallied behind our cause.” Pence also flirted with Trump’s election lies, claiming that he had been concerned over the “voting irregularities” that supposedly arose in the election. As for his relationship with Trump, Pence said that they’re essentially simpatico. “In the aftermath of that tragic day, we sat down, and we talked through it,” Pence said of the man who allegedly expressed approval of rioters calling for him to be hanged.

    But perhaps the most damning moment, one that succinctly captures Pence as the mealymouthed Trump stooge he’s always been came when Pence, during a separate Fox Business interview with Larry Kudlow, asserted that Biden tells lies more than any president he’s ever witnessed.

    “Have you ever seen a president who refuses to accept blame and I want to add to that, commits so many falsehoods?” Kudlow asked, referring to Biden. “On any given day, he’s out there saying stuff that just ain’t true. You ever seen anything like that?”

    “Never in my lifetime,” Pence said with a straight face. “There’s never been a time in my life where a president was more disconnected from the American people.”

    Taken together, Pence’s recent media appearances, which, of course, come amid more chatter of his own potential presidential run, seem to make the pretty compelling case that he’s far from the stand-up conservative some are so eager to lavish praise on these days.

  • Yellowstone Turned 150 This Year. Now It’s Being Inundated With Floodwater.

    Yellowstone National Park was forced to close all entrances to visitors this week, after heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused massive flooding to sweep through the area, ripping through roads, bridges, and homes. More than 10,000 people were ordered to evacuate the nation’s oldest national park. As of yesterday, there have been no major injuries or deaths reported, officials said.

    The damage, however, is extensive and could take years to repair. “Because initial damage assessments are ongoing, the [National Park Service] does not yet have an estimate on when Yellowstone will fully reopen nor are preliminary costs for repairs and recovery available,” NPS said in a statement. Yellowstone had just celebrated its 150th anniversary in March, the Associated Press notes, and was nearing its busiest season when the floods hit.

    While an official reopening date has not been set, officials said three out of the five park entrances are “targeted for reopening as early as next week.”

    Here are some of the most dramatic videos and photos from the disaster:

    Flooding at the North Entrance Road

    Jacob W. Frank/National Park Service via AP

    National Park Service

    Flooding in Livingston, Montana, on June 14

    William Campbell/Getty

    @kryptekeeper

    Bison walking up road during yellowstone flood.#yellowstonenationalpark #yellowstoneple#yellowstonepark💜

    ♬ original sound – KrypteKeeper

    Resident Knute Thompson looks on as volunteers clean out his flooded basement in Red Lodge, Montana

    Rick Bowmer/AP

  • 90 Percent of Florida, the Only State to Not Order Vaccines for Young Kids, Is At “High” Covid Risk

    Joe Raedle/Getty

    Florida, a state famous for its oranges, is now in the orange. According to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most counties in the Sunshine State are seeing “high” Covid community levels, a metric based on hospital capacity, hospital admissions, and new case numbers. With an average of about 10,618 new cases reported per day in the state and climbing hospitalization rates this week, more than 90 percent of Floridians fall into the “high” risk category, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

    Here’s the graphic of Covid community levels by county in Florida:

    Covid Community Level by county in Florida, according to the CDC. Counties with “low” risk appear in green, “medium” risk in yellow, and “high” in orange.

    CDC

    And here is the rest of the country: 

    Covid Community Levels of all counties in the United States.

    CDC

    The report comes at a particularly bad time for Florida. This week, the Florida Department of Health announced it would not be preordering vaccines for children under five years old, making it the only state in the country to do so. “States do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies,” the department said in a statement, according to Politico. “It is also no surprise we chose not to participate in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when the Department does not recommend it for all children.” (It’s worth noting that Florida’s recommendations against vaccination for healthy children, including those older than five, have received harsh criticism from health experts and pediatricians.)

    “There’s not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to, you know, get Covid jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at a news conference Thursday. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources in that regard.” In response, Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kobie Christian said DeSantis was “using children’s safety as a political prop,” CNN reported.

    The CDC is expected to follow the Food and Drug Administration and recommend the vaccine for children under five years old (and older than six months) on Saturday.

    On Friday, after reports of Florida’s decision circulated, Florida’s Department of Health issued another statement clarifying that vaccines can be ordered by health care providers and will be available “as early as next week” at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Publix, a Florida grocery store chain. “Florida’s decision to not participate in the cumbersome vaccine pre-ordering process never prohibited vaccine supply from being ordered or from being available in Florida,” it reads.

  • I’ll Say It: Netflix’s “Is It Cake?” Is a Fucking Delight

    "Is It Cake?" contestant Andrew Fuller, alongside host Mikey DayNetflix

    When it comes to reality television, my bar is pretty low. Love Island? Great. Dancing With the Stars? Fantastic. Antiques Roadshow? Mesmerizing. Too Hot to Handle? Gold. Almost nothing is too stupid for me to enjoy. So if I have time after a long day of doing journalist stuff to settle in for some television, chances are, it’s going to be trashy.

    I understand, however, that these shows aren’t for everyone. And for the most part, I keep my love of reality TV to myself. It’s sort of like cheap wine: While I will happily dip into an opened, week-old bottle of Two Buck Chuck alone on a Tuesday night, I most certainly wouldn’t bring that to, say, a dinner party with friends. Other people have standards.

    But there is one show that I’ve found myself talking about to anyone who will listen: The gripping—and surprisingly wholesome—Netflix baking competition Is It Cake? (Warning: spoilers ahead.)

    Honestly, I didn’t expect much from this show. At its most basic level, Is It Cake?, which premiered in March, is a contest between nine bakers to make hyper-realistic cakes that look like things that are not cake: designer bags, bowling pins, shoes, luggage, steak, sea shells, etcetera. If a panel of celebrity judges can’t pick the cakes out of a lineup of real objects, the bakers win some cash—and increase their odds of winning the Grand Prize of $50,000.

    If you’ve spent any time on social media during the pandemic, the show’s premise may sound familiar. As Slate‘s Cleo Levin wrote shortly after Is It Cake? aired, it’s basically a rip-off of an internet trend: “[T]he show’s source material is a meme, developed from the mega-viral series of realistic cake videos of the last couple years.” In short, someone saw one of those viral videos and thought, Let’s make it into a Netflix show. It’s absurd.

    @netflix

    Spoiler: it’s all cake! #isitcake #netflix

    ♬ original sound – Netflix

    The writers of the show, to some extent, seem to be aware of this. Is It Cake? knows it’s a show about items made out of cake—and leans into the ridiculousness. This is best exemplified by the self-deprecating humor of the show’s host, comedian Mikey Day, “one of the white guys on SNL,” as he puts it, whose primary job responsibilities include making (at times, cringey) jokes and slicing open cakes with a really big knife. “That’s right,” he says in one of the episodes. “They gave an idiot a machete.”

    But what makes Is It Cake? great isn’t the cake art or the cake jokes or even the tension of who is going to win. It’s the cast members themselves, who, even as they compete, root for each other. In the first episode, for instance, after fooling the judges with a taco cake, TikTok-er Jonny Manganello is given the opportunity to win $5,000 if he can distinguish between a sack of cash and a cake that looks a heck of a lot like a sack of cash. He guesses correctly, and his competitors burst into applause. “You guys are so nice!” he says. In episode five, Day holds a brief “graduation ceremony,” complete with a cap and tassel for 18-year-old Justin Ellen, who missed his high school graduation to appear on the show. And when finalist Hemu Basu is asked which of the eliminated bakers she would like to bring back into the competition to assist with a final cake, she chooses Dessiree Salaverria, because “[Salaverria] wanted one more chance to show her skill to her daughter.” Then, there’s Andrew Fuller aka “Sugar Freakshow” who becomes emotional after securing a spot in the finale: “I’m always, like, the weirdo and the oddball who people don’t take seriously,” he says, his eyes filled with tears. “And I’m just not used to being the one that people consider the best. And it’s crazy ’cause these are incredibly talented people and I just feel incredibly honored…I love you guys.” Is It Cake? may be the most wholesome reality television show I’ve seen since the Queer Eye reboot aired in 2018.

    Perhaps it’s unsurprising that a show like Is It Cake? would resonate with audiences—it ranked in Netflix’s top 10 most popular shows in English for four weeks—at a time of so much conflict and uncertainty (see: Covid, Ukraine, abortion rights, gun violence, the economy, [insert latest crisis here]). When normalcy has dissolved, a bizarre show about cake just…makes sense. Or maybe, after the last two bitter years, we all just needed something sweet. Either way, I’m pleased to report, Is It Cake? has been renewed for another season.

  • Stop Spreading Those Deeply Misogynistic Rumors About Lauren Boebert

    Rod Lamkey/CNP/Zuma

    The political action committee that helped bring down Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) has released a series of salacious and likely false accusations against Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.)—and online liberals are eating it right up. But if the Cawthorn allegations, which centered around an explicit video, were fueled by homophobia, then the Boebert allegations are being fueled by a no less pernicious force: misogyny.

    Several news sites in recent days have breathlessly amplified claims that Boebert had two abortions while working as a paid escort, a small news cycle that’s prompting loud accusations of hypocrisy from the blue-wave Twitter crowd. To be sure, these outlets have published unverified claims from a politically motivated organization as if they were facts, all in pretty clear violation of good journalistic practice. These claims come from a heavily redacted set of anonymous text messages sent to a member of the American Muckrakers PAC, without corroboration. And, as Will Sommer of the Daily Beast points out, one of the photos that the source characterized as being of Boebert is actually of another woman entirely—not exactly the mark of a trustworthy tipster.

    Last month, I published a feature on Boebert, for which I interviewed many people who personally knew her. I had to sift through a lot of unverifiable information before deciding what to publish online. There was really no need for rumor-mongering about Boebert; the truth was dramatic enough. We know that Boebert was present on the night that a man exposed himself to two teenage girls at a bowling alley—then went on to marry him. We know that she denied responsibility for selling tainted pork sliders that had sickened 80 people at a local rodeo. And we know, as I reported, that she consistently failed to pay employees at her restaurant, Shooters Grill.

    A lot of the criticism of Boebert is warranted, but she doesn’t deserve to be the victim of sexist tropes. After my story on Boebert was published, many self-professed liberals used misogynistic language to describe her. One commenter called her a “batshit crazy woman.” A Twitter user replied to the article link with the word “Skank!!!” A recent Reddit thread related to a follow-up post contained some comments too obscene to post here.

    In promoting the explicit video of Cawthorn and pushing unverified abortion allegations against Boebert, the American Muckrakers claim that they’re demonstrating political hypocrisy. Cawthorn, the PAC’s co-founder said, deserved to be outed as having dressed in drag and made homoerotic jokes with his friends because he “holds himself to be above everybody.” But the group’s attempt at exposing hypocrisy really came off as a cynical play on voters’ homophobia. Sure, one could call Boebert a hypocrite for allegedly having abortions despite publicly opposing them. But accusing Boebert of having done sex work and gotten abortions involves an obvious layer of contempt, of shaming a woman for things that she shouldn’t have to be ashamed of—especially when there’s no shortage of actually shameful things to talk about. 

    Keep in mind that Boebert once referred to her colleague Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as the “jihad squad.” If the public outcry over her explicitly hateful comments wasn’t enough to get her to tone it down, I doubt the label of “hypocrite” will do the trick.

  • Is It Unethical for Nicholas Kristof to Do an Ad for His Cider as a Substack Post About the Ethics of His Cider?

    Andrew Selsky/AP

    Asking questions about the ethics of something you’re already doing can be a useful evasion. Still, it’s a dodge. Just own it.

    But let me ask for your feedback. I’m curious.

    Is this an ad?

    When I say this, I am asking: Is this post from erstwhile New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s Substack “asking for feedback on an ethics question” actually just an ad for his new cider? Is it a bizarre way to avoid admitting the normal fact he wants people to buy his alcohol? Is it a wild attempt to unnecessarily preempt blowback? 

    Thoughts?

    In case it helps inform your opinion, we got here because in 2021, Kristof attempted to run for governor of Oregon. He quit the Times, writing in his final column it was “fair to question my judgment.” From there, he launched his campaign as an encapsulation of the deaths of despair thesis. Kristof bemoaned that he’d fled to a better life while his friends were caught in the collapse of the working class. He harped on rising deaths caused by drugs and alcohol. 

    This made it surprising, and ironic, when he said he was going back to Oregon both as a political candidate and to make an alcoholic drink. As Olivia Nuzzi noted in a story for New York magazine, Kristof was starting a cider business. His explanation of this contradiction was that, basically, alcoholism doesn’t work like that. Can’t really be from cider.

    (Many disagreed!)

    In the end, this “controversy” did not change Kirstof’s ability to garner votes.

    That’s because Kristof did not meet the residency requirements, according to the state Supreme Court, and was dropped from the ballot.

    Out at the Times and out of the race, Kristof’s been doing a bit of Substacking, where he has remained consistent when it comes to his fear that drug use these days is acute and particularly harmful.

    But he needs feedback, you see, because he’s also stayed at the cider game. And he has a question: Am I being bad?

    As he writes in explaining his question, he’s seen “how the wine industry had created good jobs, while spawning related jobs in tourism, retailing, restaurants and B&Bs.” He’s noted how “a glass of good cider and wine can promote social networks and reduce social isolation, which is another crisis I’ve written about often.”

    In fact, Kristof has a potential comparison: “I wonder if alcohol isn’t something like motor vehicles: a powerful tool that causes death but also makes life more joyful for most.” (Hmm, do cars work like that?)

    So I repeat: Why ask this now—months after the article and the dunk tweets about his hypocrisy? Well, as Kristof writes (with added bolding for emphasis from me):

    All this has been on our mind because we just launched our new Kristof Farms cider a week ago, after it won a “best in class” among 151 ciders at Glintcap, the biggest international cider competition. We’re proud of this cider, and we think it adds sparkle to life.

    That’s why I’m trying to think through these issues. My take is that a good cider or wine can, on balance, make life better and that they are worth producing and taking pride in, and have real economic development benefits. But I’m genuinely interested in how other people see this. What’s your take?

    Oh, what’s my take? No, no. I’m just asking questions, too.

    Specifically: Why did you try to shoehorn in an ad for your cider as some weird journalism ethics question? Why not just post “new cider (and career) just dropped” like any other journalist would?

  • Is Rudy Giuliani Drunk…Right Now?

    Matias J. Ocner/TNS/ZUMA

    The claim that Rudy Giuliani had been “inebriated” when he, as Donald Trump’s conspiratorial hype man, pushed the former president to prematurely declare victory over Joe Biden is indeed a distraction. But a day after the American public learned of Giuliani’s apparent condition on election night, the question arises: Is Giuliani wasted…right now?

    Hints of an inebriated state abound. There’s the misspelling of “outright” and Bill Stepien, the former Trump campaign manager. The continued push of the false claim that Trump won. And perhaps most egregiously, the choice of Diet Pepsi over Diet Coke as one’s preferred diet soda. Taken together, it’s giving vintage Trump tweet with a fresh hint of melting Giuliani.

    But his denial of being drunk only underscores this key takeaway from my colleague Dan Friedman. Giuliani may have taken the time to shoot down the headline-generating drunk claim—garnering yikes and laughs—but his statement conveniently forgets to address the January 6 committee’s most damning allegation. That he, as Trump’s personal lawyer, pushed the then-president into falsely declaring victory, ultimately helping to lay the foundation for the violence at the Capitol.

  • The Supreme Court Just Shot Down Bond Hearings for Detained Immigrants

    A detainee sits at the Otay Mesa Detention Center in California.Gregory Bull/AP

    The Supreme Court on Monday issued two decisions on immigration-related cases that, while less high-profile than the pending “Remain in Mexico” case, could have far-reaching implications for detained immigrants. 

    In a blow to the rights of detained immigrants, the Supreme Court ruled in Johnson v. Arteaga-Martinez that federal law doesn’t require the government to grant bond hearings to them after six months of detention to prove that they are at risk of flight or pose a danger to the community. “On its face, the statute says nothing about bond hearings before immigration judges or burdens of proof, nor does it provide any other indication that such procedures are required,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the 8–1 opinion, in which Justice Stephen Breyer concurred in part and dissented in part. 

    In this case, Antonio Arteaga-Martinez, a citizen of Mexico who faced deportation proceedings and sought relief based on a fear of persecution or torture in his home country, was detained in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security for four months. After that period, he filed a petition for habeas corpus with a district court in Pennsylvania challenging his continued detention without a bond hearing. The district court had sided with Arteaga-Martinez, ordering the government to grant him a bond hearing before an immigration judge. The government appealed, but the appeals court affirmed the prior decision. At the bond hearing, an immigration judge authorized his release under supervision pending a decision on his deportation case. The Supreme Court reversed the rulings from the lower courts, finding that immigrants detained for longer than six months aren’t entitled to bond hearings. 

    Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court should overrule a precedent under another case known as Zadvydas v. Davis that prevents the government from detaining immigrants indefinitely. Mary Yanik, director of the Tulane Law School’s immigrant rights clinic, said on Twitter that such a reversal “would be a radical departure” from existing protections and result in no constitutional rights for people facing deportation. 

    The justices also ruled on a related case, Garland v. Gonzalez, which consolidated two class-action suits brought on behalf of immigrants in similar circumstances as Arteaga-Martinez. In a 6–3 vote, the Justices also decided that immigrants trying to challenge their detention can’t seek relief from lower courts on a classwide basis. Instead, they have to individually petition the courts, which effectively makes it harder for immigrants to challenge immigration policies. “Injunctive relief on behalf of an entire class of aliens is not allowed because it is not limited to remedying the unlawful ‘application’ of the relevant statutes to ‘an individual alien,” Justice Alito wrote for the majority.

    The ruling, Justice Sotomayor wrote in a partial dissent, “risks depriving many vulnerable noncitizens of any meaningful opportunity to protect their  rights.”

  • Herschel Walker Has Many Flaws, But He Is Not a Cop

    Robin Rayne/Zuma

    Herschel Walker talks a big game. As I’ve written before, the former college football star, who is now challenging Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) for a Georgia Senate seat, claims to have considered committing murder, repeatedly played Russian roulette, and suffered from dissociative identity disorder-related blackouts that allowed him to forget allegedly pointing a gun at his ex-wife. 

    Another one for the list: Walker has claimed to have a history in law enforcement. He doesn’t—even if his resume does sound like the making of a fine police officer. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today, Walker said on at least three occasions that he had worked in law enforcement—and he once even claimed to be an FBI agent.

    Pressed by AJC, Walker’s campaign said that he was an honorary deputy at Georgia’s Cobb County Police Department, which, a former DeKalb County district attorney said, is “like a junior ranger badge.”

    As for being in the FBI, well, Walker spent a week at an FBI training school in Quantico, Virginia, in 1989. He never graduated college, a prerequisite for joining the FBI.

    Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse: a cop running for Senate, or a non-cop pretending to be one.

  • Colorado to Investigate Lauren Boebert for Alleged Misuse of Campaign Funds

    Rod Lamkey/Pool/CNP/Zuma

    Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has come under investigation from several state agencies over her alleged misuse of campaign funds, the New York Times reported today.

    Boebert allegedly used campaign funds to reimburse herself for $22,259 in mileage—a sum strikingly similar to the $20,000 she paid in tax liens for her previous failure to pay unemployment premiums on her restaurant, Shooters Grill. The allegations were brought to the Colorado attorney general’s office by the American Muckrakers PAC, which recently tanked Madison Cawthorn’s congressional run.

    “Had Representative Boebert paid her restaurant staff properly and also paid the unemployment premiums to the State of Colorado, an investigation never would have been necessary,” David B. Wheeler, one of the PAC’s founders, told the Times.

    As I reported last month, five former Shooters employees told me that Boebert did not pay them on time. Several said that they were paid in cash without taxes deducted. 

    In April, I spoke with Scott McInnis, who represented Boebert’s district from 1993 to 2005 and now serves as Mesa County Commissioner. At the time, McInnis shrugged off the allegations that Boebert had misused campaign funds. “I remember when they made a big wahoo out of the mileage she submitted for reimbursement or something. I just chuckled,” he told me, adding that the district is so big that a representative could easily rack up thousands of miles driving to campaign events.

    But local news outlets suggest that the 38,712 miles Boebert purports to have traveled is an outrageous sum, even in Colorado’s huge 3rd District. As the Times reports, Boebert’s campaign later said that the mileage reimbursement included other expenses, like hotel rooms. It also claims that she paid off the tax liens before the reimbursements reacher her account.

  • Jared and Ivanka Knew Trump Was a Loser. But Don’t Believe This Rehab Job.

    Patrick Semansky/AP

    As the congressional committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol prepares to kick off its primetime hearing, a curious report has emerged on the front pages of the New York Times. Taken at face value, it offers a behind-the-scenes look at how Jared and Ivanka dealt with Donald Trump’s increasingly delusional claim that he had defeated Joe Biden and secured a second term. 

    “We’re moving to Miami,” Kushner told his wife from their $18,000-a-month mansion, deciding that they’d hit eject even if Trump refused to accept defeat. The Times goes on:

    No matter how vociferously Mr. Trump claimed otherwise, neither Mr. Kushner nor Ivanka Trump believed then or later that the election had been stolen, according to people close to them. While the president spent the hours and days after the polls closed complaining about imagined fraud in battleground states and plotting a strategy to hold on to power, his daughter and son-in-law were already washing their hands of the Trump presidency.

    Their decision to move on opened a vacuum around the president that was filled by conspiracy theorists like Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell, who relayed to Mr. Trump farcically false stories of dead voters, stuffed ballot boxes, corrupted voting machines and foreign plots. Concluding that the president would not listen even to family members urging him to accept the results, Mr. Kushner told Mr. Trump that he would not be involved if Mr. Giuliani were in charge, according to people he confided in, effectively ceding the field to those who would try to overturn the election.

    I’m no investigative journalist. Far from it! But to believe this account, at least entirely, is to ignore one of the most persistent storylines of the Trump era. We’ve seen this play out time and time again: flattering stories, somehow leaked to the press, depicting Jared and Ivanka as the least-awful members of MAGA-world. It’s hardly a coincidence that this latest one, which could help shield the couple from any accusation that they played a role in fomenting violence at the Capitol, is emerging just as the January 6 committee is presenting them as the hearings’ star attraction

    But alright, let’s assume that this account is true, that Jared and Ivanka, knowing that Dad was a loser before the race was officially called, decided to exit fast. It certainly wouldn’t be a leap to read that they spent the final days of the Trump White House checked out and overwhelmingly focused on their own reputations. But opening Trump’s orbit to clearly unhinged characters, and eventually, the January 6 insurrection, is incredibly damning on its own—and once again shreds the notion that Javanka quietly operated as some kind of moderating force against Donald Trump. That image was manufactured by Ivanka herself. But how on earth is the media still doing the couple’s dirty laundry?

    I’ll leave you with the only good reason to actually click on the Times report today: That Kushner, whose parents reportedly bribed his way into Harvard, turned to a James Patterson-led MasterClass to write his forthcoming book on Trump’s legacy.

  • Uvalde Community Calls for Gun Control in Heartbreaking Hearing

    Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grader and survivor of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, appears on a screen during a House hearing on gun violence.Jason Andrew/The New York Times/AP/Pool

    Just two weeks after a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school, Uvalde community members—including a doctor, a student survivor, and the parents of a child who died—have come together to plead for Congress to take action on gun control.

    Dr. Roy Guerrero, an Uvalde pediatrician, tried to convey the horror of the day to the House Oversight Committee.

    “What I did find was something no prayer would ever relieve: two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart, that the only clue to their identities was the blood-spattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them,” he said.

    Guerrero said that he became a pediatrician because he admired children’s resilience and willingness to accept change. “Adults are stubborn,” he said. “Why else would there have been such little progress made in Congress to stop gun violence? Innocent children all over the country today are dead because laws and policy allow people to buy weapons before they’re legally old enough to even buy a pack of beer.”

    Guerrero criticized one other habit of adults: their affinity for nostalgia. “Once the blood is rinsed away from the bodies of our loved ones and scrubbed off the floors of the schools and supermarkets and churches,” he said, “the carnage from each scene is erased for our collective conscience, and we return again to nostalgia, to the rose-tinted view of our Second Amendment as a perfect instrument of American life, no matter how many lives are lost.”

    Miah Cerrillo, a student who survived the massacre, was the next to testify at the hearing via video. Cerrillo made headlines when she described covering herself in her classmate’s blood and playing dead. In her video appearance today, she described the gunman shooting her teacher in the head. Asked if she felt safe at school, Miah shook her head and said, “Because I don’t want it to happen again.”

    Miah’s father, Miguel Cerrillo, appeared at the hearing and choked back tears as he described how the shooting affected his daughter. “She is not the same little girl that I used to play with, run with, and do everything, because she was Daddy’s little girl,” he said. “I wish something would change, not only for our kids, but every single kid in the world, because schools are not safe anymore.”

    Kimberly and Felix Rubio, the parents of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, who died in the attack, appeared to remember their daughter, who wanted to go to college on a softball scholarship, major in math, and attend law school.

    “We understand that for some reason—to some people, to people with money, to people who fund political campaigns—that guns are more important than children,” Kimberly said. She proposed a list of demands: a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, red flag laws, stronger background checks, and an increase in the age to purchase assault rifles in Texas from 18 to 21.

    As her husband wiped tears from his eyes, Kimberly concluded, “Somewhere out there, there is a mom listening to our testimony, thinking, ‘I can’t even imagine their pain,’ not knowing that our reality will one day be hers, unless we act now.”