If you haven’t ordered your free Covid tests yet, you might want to hurry. US residents are still allowed to order free tests online until 11:59 p.m. PT on May 31. After that, the federal program will be officially terminated. According to the Covid.gov website, every US household is eligible for up to four at-home testing kits, as long as their last order was before December 15.
Since the World Health Organization officially declared an end to the Covid public health crisis on May 11, a slew of pandemic-era resources and protections have ended.
Now, anyone looking to purchase once-free Covid tests will have to discuss the cost with their personal insurer, regardless of whether it is a laboratory or at-home test. Those without insurance can reportedly receive free tests via outreach programs.
Last week, Florida Gov. Ronald Dion DeSantis announced his run for president of the United States. In the avalanche of background coverage, one point hasn’t been discussed much: DeSantis’ middle name. “Dion”?
According to reporting from NBC News, it’s a tribute to the early rockstar, and Bronx-born heartthrob, Dion DiMucci. When Henry J. Gomez interviewed fraternity brothers of DeSantis’ father, Ronald (they call him a “jokester”), one said that the elder DeSantis was “into music.” The potential president got his middle name, according to the report, as “a tribute” to Dion.
I reached out to Dion to ask if he had any comment on his (middle) namesake’s run. A spokesperson told me that the artist “predictably” is “not going to engage” beyond the following: “Ron DeSantis’ father has great taste in Rock ‘n’ Roll. God bless America.”
There you go. Tepid. But respectful. We’re doing the work over here to cover the 2024 presidential primary.
If you’re wondering why there’s a God bless on the end there, it might be worth knowing that DiMucci had a Christian rock phase. After helping birth “Rock ‘n’ Roll”—at least the commercialized, teeny-bop-friendly version that soared in the 1950s—Dion’s career wandered. In the 1960s, he did have solo hits after his success with the Belmonts. But the British invasion, and the cataclysms of 1968, saw his style tossed aside. In the 1970s, he had a very underappreciated troubadour thing going. In 1976, Dion released Born to Be With You—a baroque pop record disliked by critics—with the infamous Phil Specter producing. That decade he also put out Sweetheart (with Phil Everly on backing vocals on a song!) and, again, no luck. Eventually, DiMucci found God. In 1983, he released, “I Put My Idols Away.” Here are the lyrics to the title track:
I was raised on New York rock and roll
I took control
I was cool
Made the rounds
Made the record hops
I hit the top
Played the fool
From above I truly heard a friend
Truly now you must be born again
If Dylan could go Christian, why not Dion? It seems this didn’t lead to much in terms of politics, except for avoidance of such earthly matters. In 2020, Der Spiegel interviewed Dion and he rebuffed an election question like this:
SPIEGEL: Sam Cooke once sang: “A Change Is Gonna Come.” Translated into today: Do you believe in a change in the US presidential election?
DiMucci: I know nothing about politics. That’s why I don’t want to comment on Trump. Some like him, others hate him. I believe in God more than politicians and stay out of it.
In 1989, Lou Reed—who loved Dion’s voice—inducted him into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That same year, Reed appeared on a track on Dion’s album Yo Frankie. (Produced by Dave Edmunds, of Rockpile.) It had special guests Paul Simon and Bryan Adams. And it got a positive review in Rolling Stone. Dion had his return to secular music.
It’s unclear at what stage of Dion’s career Ronald DeSantis loved enough to name his son partially after DiMucci. But consider this an important point in an ongoing confirmation of something one side of my family has noted: DeSantis would be the first Italian American president in the history of the United States.
Last night, in a Twitter Spaces marred by glitches, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that he was running for president. Within hours, former President Trump took to Instagram with a seemingly AI-generated video so absurd that I had to double-check that it was in fact posted by @realdonaldtrump.
The video, laced with homophobic and anti-Semitic innuendo, sees Elon Musk, Ron DeSantis, George Soros, Klaus Schwab, Dick Cheney, Adolph Hitler, the devil, and the FBI in a fictional Twitter Space. In the video, DeSantis attempts to announce his presidential run but is interrupted by a babbling Soros, a coughing Cheney, a yelling Hitler, and an FBI representative who publicly wonders, “OK, so how are we gonna take out Trump, you guys?”
After DeSantis manages to spit out the words, “I’m running for fucking president, okay?” Trump’s voice—also seemingly AI-generated, despite coming from his own Instagram account—jumps in to make his 2024 presidential pitch: “The devil, I’m gonna kick your ass very soon. Hitler, you’re already dead. Dick Cheney, sounds like you’ll be joining Hitler very soon. Klaus Schwab and George Soros, I’m putting both your asses in jail. And Ron DeSanctimonious can kiss my big beautiful 2024 presidential ass.”
The video is a preview of a 2024 Republican primary that will see DeSantis and Trump rolling around in the muck, using whatever memes are at their disposal to score internet points and, hopefully, votes. If there was ever a time when presidential races were dignified and respectful, well, that’s long in the rearview. Welcome to 2024. Welcome to hell.
Amid high-wire negotiations over the nation’s debt ceiling and the increasing likelihood of a US default, House Republicans on Tuesday took a moment to turn their attention to a used chapstick belonging to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. That chapstick—which, according to Politico, was a cherry-flavored souvenir from Florida Congressman Aaron Bean’s campaign—was to be auctioned off to benefit the House Republican electoral committee. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene secured the prize by pledging $100,000 from her own campaign coffers.
NEW: During GOP conference today, House Rs did about a 15-min fundraising auction for chapstick used by Speaker McCarthy.
The winner: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), whose winning bid was $100,000, her Spox confirms to me.
“They doing this insane chapstick shit while the country teeters on default,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted as confusion abounded. The stunt prompted hygiene concerns, as well as questions from this writer over what could compel someone to debase themselves by voluntarily becoming the new owner of used chapstick. That was all by design, of course. The winning bid—which, perhaps most importantly, also buys Greene a dinner meeting between McCarthy and Greene’s own supporters—came as the latest evidence of the intense bond between these two high-profile Republicans.
But look one step further out from the weirdness, and you’ll see that the stunt as a fairly mundane window into how fundraising in the swamp tends to work: Donors give to politicians, who then bolster their own power and influence by passing that money along to other political candidates. Greene’s standing among Republicans grows; so-called establishment candidates in swing districts happily accept chapstick-stained dollars, despite everything hideous there is to know about the QAnon-supporting congresswoman from Georgia. The wheels of power keep turning.
My colleague Jeremy Schulman, who would like to clarify that he did not edit his own name into this post, said it best: This story is less about the gross chapstick than it is about a lame inside joke involving the most extreme lawmaker in the United States transferring wads of cash to the most spineless. So, totally normal stuff.
The NAACP is the latest organization to warn Black people and members of marginalized communities against traveling to Florida amid the relentless right-wing bills signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The travel advisory, issued on Saturday, condemned Florida as “openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+” people and urged people to fight the state’s attack on democratic institutions.
“Under its current Governor, the State of Florida has engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans, accurate Black history, voting rights, members of the LGBTQ+community, immigrants, women’s reproductive rights, and free speech, while simultaneously embracing a culture of fear, bullying, and intimidation by public officials,” the NAACP said in a statement.
“Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the State of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other minorities.”
The announcement is a direct response to DeSantis’ war on so-called “anti-woke ideology,” which has seen the governor attacking diversity and equity efforts at seemingly every opportunity, including most recently, DEI initiatives at Florida’s state colleges and universities. In issuing its formal travel advisory, the NAACP joined other advocacy groups, including Equality Florida and The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to warn against visiting the state.
In the past month alone, DeSantis, who’s expected to officially announce his presidential run this week, has signed off on a flurry of bills attacking everything from abortion rights to health care for trans people. As I’ve previously reported, DeSantis has made it no secret that he plans to make Florida his blueprint for America if he secures the presidency. Should he succeed, perhaps we’ll see more countries issuing travel advisories against the United States, as they did under Donald Trump and the scourge of mass shootings that continue to take place in the US.
This morning, Andrew Yang announced that Krist Novoselic of Nirvana joined Forward—his political party that is “not left,” “not right,” but “FORWARD” (and pretty hard to take seriously).
Yang is famous for running unsuccessfully for president and for mayor of New York City. He has staked his claim on the technocratic, centrist dream that problems can be solved by, as his hat said, “Math.”
Krist Novoselic is famous for being the bassist in Nirvana. (He also played with the band Flipper in the 2000s, an underrated no-wave rock outfit.) There are other things Novoselic has done—including political activism as an independent after breaking away from the Democrat party, and some not-great comments on “law and order”—but if you had to say one thing he’s known for, it’d be: That guy is the bassist in Nirvana.
And yet, in the announcement, written by Yang (at least according to the byline), amid a lot of mentions that Novoselic is very tall, is this: “Krist co-founded Nirvana with Kurt Cobain—he’s the tall, good-looking one playing guitar near the back.” (My emphasis added.) Hmm. Guitar? I don’t think you get on a Discogs list of “The Greatest Rock Bassists of All Time” made by anavrin3 playing guitar. You do it by playing bass.
Is this just an elision? Does Andrew Yang mean playing “bass guitar” in the back?
Well, either way, I guess Yang’s claim that Krist Novoselic is the guy playing guitar is fitting in one way. It’s like his claim the Forward is a political party. Technically true. But also: “A denial, a denial, a denial.”
Global Investment Summit. Bill Gates speaks during the Global Investment Summit at the Science Museum, London. Picture date: Tuesday October 19, 2021. See PA story POLITICS Investment. Photo credit should read: Leon Neal/PA Wire URN:63159638 (Press Association via AP Images)Leon Neal/AP Images
The specifics of Bill Gates’ relationship with Jeffrey Epstein have been an open question since details about their ties were revealed in 2019. In 2022, Gates’ ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, revealed that her then-husband’s relationship with the child predator financier even contributed to their divorce.
On Sunday, the Wall Street Journalshed new light on their dynamic, revealing that Epstein once threatened to reveal Gates’ affair with a Russian bridge player named Mila Antonova.
According to the report, Gates met Antonova in 2010. Three years later, Epstein paid for Antonova’s coding school tuition. Then, four years after that he emailed Gates asking for reimbursement for Antonova’s tuition after Gates declined to put money into a multibillion-dollar charitable fund that Epstein was trying to create at JP Morgan. The implication of the request for reimbursement was that if Gates didn’t maintain a relationship with Epstein, the registered sex offender would reveal the affair.
Antonova explained to the Journal that Epstein paid for her tuition after declining to invest in a bridge business that she was attempting to start. When she couldn’t raise enough money, she decided to go to a coding boot camp instead and reached out to people she knew to ask for loans.
“Epstein agreed to pay and he paid directly to the school. Nothing was exchanged. I don’t know why he did that,” she told the paper. “When I asked, he said something like, he was wealthy and wanted to help people when he could.”
A Gates spokesperson told the Journal, “Mr. Gates met with Epstein solely for philanthropic purposes. Having failed repeatedly to draw Mr. Gates beyond these matters, Epstein tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship to threaten Mr. Gates.”
It sure seems like Ron DeSantis really doesn’t want to talk about abortion, despite his sterling record of restricting it. Just six weeks after passing one of the toughest bans in the country, DeSantis barely brought it up during a speech Saturday evening at the annual gala of the Florida Family Policy Council, an anti-abortion group.
“We believe that everybody counts, everybody’s special, and our Heartbeat Protection Act shows that we say what we mean and we mean what we say,” DeSantis said of his new abortion restrictions, before quickly returning to his usual talking points about his coronavirus and transphobic policies, according to the New York Times.
Beyond the gala, DeSantis hasn’t spoken much about abortion publicly, only including it once in his regular 45-minute stump speech listing his accomplishments, according to the Times.
As the Florida governor reportedly nears announcing his run for president, he may be caught between the hardened base of GOP supporters who want to end abortion and the public at large, which consistently and overwhelmingly supports abortion rights in public polling.
After DeSantis introduced his latest restrictions, his would-be opponent, Donald Trump, attacked him on it, saying in an interview with The Messenger that “many people within the pro-life movement” think the Florida ban “was too harsh.”
After initially pooh-poohing progressives’ push to use the 14th Amendment to go past the debt ceiling, President Joe Biden said on Sunday that he believes he has “the authority” to use it—although he’s not sure the ensuing legal challenge would resolve itself before the United States defaulted on its debt. “The question is,” he told reporters at a press conference at the Group of 7 summit in Japan, “could it be done and invoked in time?”
According to Treasury Department officials, it’s only a matter of weeks before the federal government can’t pay its bills on time, leading to a default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that early June is the “hard deadline” for the debt ceiling—potentially as soon as June 1. As Republicans drew lines in the sand on things like cutting domestic public spending and adding work requirements for government assistance programs, frustrated progressives have tried to push Biden to consider using the 14th Amendment to avoid capitulating to the right’s demands and keep borrowing past the debt limit.
Work requirements frequently create gaps in government welfare programs by helping lock people into a cycle of poverty. People find themselves out of work and needing assistance, are unable to get it, and lack the stability they need to get their next job. Studies show that work requirements don’t increase employment either, suggesting that people don’t have jobs because they might not simply be available, not because they’re lazy. The added administrative work in any requirements adds practice hurdles for struggling people who are already short on time, which writer Annie Lowry has called the “time tax.” Poor children are often collateral damage in these requirements.
Many progressive lawmakers see the 14th Amendment as a way around these issues. Biden had signaled that he would be open to this but on Friday, Politico reported that the Biden administration had been communicating that it had deep reservations about pursuing the constitutional route. However, based on his comments in Japan, he may be warming to it again.
“It’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely—solely—on their partisan terms,” Biden said in Hiroshima. “They have to move, as well.”
The Washington Post reported that, when asked what would happen if the United States were to default on its national debt, the president shook his head and walked away.
As we were all reminded during an especially horrendous town hall last week, Donald Trump is not a shy man. His thoughts, much like his policies, tend to flow unvarnished, regardless of how misogynistic, delusional, and contradictory they might be.
But there’s one topic the former president has never seemed to want to offer a real stance on: abortion. That sidestepping strategy carried him in 2016—and it appears as though Trump believes it will work once again, even as political observers and rivals push him to attach a number to his extremist views.
Take a look at how the frontrunner of the Republican Party attempted to thread the needle on one of the most important issues of the presidential election over just the last week:
As my colleague Abigail Weinberg noted during CNN’s town hall featuring the former president last week, Trump repeatedly deflected questions on a national abortion ban. Even some in the audience seemed confused. “He didn’t actually answer me,” a registered nurse at the event said after asking Trump how he planned to appeal to women concerned after the fall of Roe. “Deals are being made,” Trump said instead. “Deals are going to be made.”
A small level of specificity came days later while attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing,” Trump told The Messenger. “But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
When asked how he personally felt about a six-week ban, however, Trump was characteristically noncommittal. The interview didn’t sit well with DeSantis, who quickly called out Trump for refusing to commit to the issue. “I signed the bill,” DeSantis hit back. “I was proud to do it. [Trump] won’t answer whether he would sign it or not.”
Perhaps sensing an emerging weakness, Trump let loose with the following:
Many things can be evinced from these chaotic remarks: Trump is an idiot in the English language, and he still posts with abandon. But perhaps the most important point is that for Trump, an abortion debate doesn’t even exist. His policies, if you can call it that, have always been reactionary, designed in his brain to please whoever happens to be in the room. As Trump suggested this morning, he doesn’t care about the matter of “6 weeks, 10 weeks, 15 weeks, or whatever.” He correctly asserts that he was a critical player in removing the constitutional right to an abortion—and that should speak for itself.
You could be forgiven for hoping that Trump’s elusiveness the first time around was a sign that maybe he’d be somewhat of a moderate on the issue. But as later evidenced, ambiguity ultimately meant that Trump never cared, and still doesn’t care, about a woman’s right to an abortion.
Former President Trump is a twice-impeached sexual abuser, who possesses a unique ability to make people laugh—unfortunately or fortunately, to use his verbiage. He made that clear at a CNN town hall last week, when he had an audience of mostly Republicans laughing hysterically over the charming subject of an alleged rape.
However odious his behavior, Trump’s charisma—or, as the kids call it, “rizz”—is a boon to his presidential prospects. Rizz, like BDE, is not a learnable trait. Either you have it or you don’t. And Trump’s most formidable challenger for the Republican nomination, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, certainly does not.*
A new article in the New York Times analyzed DeSantis’ lackluster start to the presidential race. It said that the Florida governor is choosing to continue using his gubernatorial power to do bad shit rather than ignore his constituents and hit the campaign trail. How noble! But the subtext is that DeSantis is just not an agreeable or pleasant person to be around, and that’s going to hurt him.
The article repeatedly mentions DeSantis’ difficulty making eye contact. We hear from a freshman Republican congressman from Florida who was “a bit insulted” by DeSantis’ failure to return his call. We are told that DeSantis spends donor events fiddling with his phone. He has reportedly responded to criticism and become much more engaged lately—but can it really be that easy to suddenly adopt basic interpersonal communication skills at 44 years of age?
And even if DeSantis can overcome his awkwardness and learn to make small talk, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to hide his general weirdness once he steps more clearly into the national spotlight. This is a man who reportedly eats pudding with his fingers. He was widely ridiculed for the white rubber boots he wore while surveying damage from Hurricane Ian, and while the pile-on was petty, it pointed to a dunkability and rizzlessness** that don’t lend themselves to a future president. But we’ll just have to wait and see.
*Editor’s note: The etymology for rizz is here. You might as well go ahead and learn it—as it migrates from Twitch to social media writ large to a colleague using it and you going “oh Jesus.” It seems to involve mostly “seduction” but can be used more widely. I thought of the unfortunate slang of my generation: “swag.”
**See above. If you’re old, and think this is a new word. Don’t worry. It’s just rizz again. In a new form.
Our namesake, a mother, Mary Harris Jones.Zinn Education Project
First, liberals canceled Christmas. Then, Thanksgiving. Now, they’re throwing Mother’s Day out with the trash.
At least, that’s how Fox News sees it.
In a recent article, the right-wing site accused “the left” of “trying to erase mothers.” Among the apparent culprits are trans people. “A mother is a woman who by birth or adoption lovingly devotes herself to her child or children,” the article declares. So far, fine—if a bit heavy on the notion that motherhood must involve unyielding devotion. Then, things go off the rails: “Talk about demeaning cultural appropriation, slurs like ‘chest feeders’ or ‘birthing person’ don’t create equality, they just erase unique contributions because no biological man can do what we women do, nurture life within ourselves and nurture life day in and day out in a way that is uniquely feminine.”
It’s unclear to me what the use of gender-neutral language has to do with cultural appropriation. But I find the equation of womanhood with “nurturing life within ourselves” to be particularly offensive. By the writer’s own definition, a woman who adopts a child is a mother. But one sentence later, she suggests that motherhood boils down to our reproductive capabilities—leaving us to wonder where women who are biologically incapable of having children fall into this paradigm. I also reject the notion that nurturing life necessarily falls under any gendered umbrella.
The writer takes particular offense with a “thuggish” Time article that has the audacity to suggest that, amid attacks on abortion rights, motherhood should be desired, not forced. Mother’s Day, according to this notion, is “a day designed to honor a choice for LIFE.” But the key word there isn’t the one in all-caps. It’s “choice.”
Fox News doesn’t mention this on the author page, but the writer isn’t a journalist. It’s Kristi S. Hamrick, who does publicity work for the anti-abortion Students for Life, among other organizations. Previously, she worked for the Family Research Council, a group that promotes “family values” like being against gay marriage. (She hosted their show “Straight Talk with FRC,” she writes in her bio.)
Miracles happen. Roe v Wade can fall. Long shots win the Kentucky derby. Free speech can be restored to social media. Life is beautiful. #Hopehttps://t.co/yMslMznwth
If we want to honor mothers, we might start by bolstering our safety nets for mothers and children. As my colleague Abby Vesoulis reported last year, states with strict anti-abortion laws also tend to have more food insecurity, lower child wellness, and less guaranteed parental leave than other states. “It’s like they want us to have [kids],” one single mother told Abby, “but they are not giving us anything to raise them.”
Motherhood does not need to be predicated on suffering, despite what everything from Fox News to Genesis might have us believe. This Mother’s Day, consider a world where mothers get the help they need—from the family, the community, and, yes, the government—to make the job of childrearing a little bit easier. But that might be too great a stretch of the imagination for a publication that’s flabbergasted by the notion of making sure kids don’t go hungry at school.
This is the guy who is going to talk about politics on Twitter. His name is Tucker Carlson.Chip Somodevilla/Getty
On Tuesday, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson announced that he would be sharing his political views on Twitter—just like the rest of us idiots.
Carlson, who was let go by Fox News a few weeks ago, said he would relaunch his show “soon” on the social media website now run by Elon Musk. It has been reported that he’s violating his noncompete clause to do so, at a cost of $25 million. That’s a hefty fee to tweet. (Carlson also has a blue check, but it’s not clear whether he’s paying Musk’s monthly fee for it.) Axios reported Tucker’s lawyers will argue his contract was breached.
Personally—just between this journalist and a guy who talks at the camera about journalists—I’d have kept the $25 million. In my experience, Twitter consists mostly of other journalists and anime avatars yelling at you about Marvel movies they think are cinema (read: 17-year-olds). It’s not a fun, or interesting, crowd.
It is also not terribly user-friendly for Tucker’s usual demographic: old people. Unless there’s a New Deal–style program to teach the elderly to use the app, I don’t think his show will do as well as it did on Fox. Plus, he’s no longer vying for TV numbers, where a few million is great. Instead, he’s competing against a guy with more than 100 million subscribers whose thing is very nicely bribing people.
Tucker is, as his platform demands, framing his move as a battle for speech. In a front-facing video with an odd aspect ratio, he says Twitter is the “only” big platform that still allows full expression. This is part of a larger dissertation on the gaze of the journalist. There’s not much to it:
Tucker sort of fiddles around with lowercasing and capitalizing the word “Truth”—squeezing and stress testing it like an undergraduate wading his way, poorly, through Richard Rorty. I found this relatable. But also, you’re supposed to grow out of it. Every decent journalist knows there are shades and difficulties in conveying the facts. (Janet Malcolm said it stronger, and better, in the New Yorker decades ago.) The fact (sorry) is that most journalists try to say true things. It’s hard.
And I guess the other rule is that you try not to sell out or suck up to powerful people. Maybe consider that, too.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) signed a bill banning Chinese nationals from buying land in Florida. He hopes the bill will go toward “counteracting” the “malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party in Florida,” according to a recent press release.
“Today, it’s clear that we don’t want CCP in the Sunshine State,” said DeSantis at a press conference on Monday. “We want to maintain this as a free state of Florida.”
SB 264 was among several bills signed by DeSantis targeting “communist China.” The new law will prohibit Chinese nationals from buying land unless they are American citizens or permanent residents. The bill also imposes certain restrictions for Chinese citizens—and others, including Russians and Venezuelans—with nontourist visas when it comes to buying land near a military base.
“We believe that national security is of paramount importance,” wrote the Florida Asian American Justice Alliance in a release after the House State Affairs committee passed the bill in April. “However, the legislative overreach…is both unconstitutional and deeply discriminatory to the AAPI community, equating all Chinese citizens without a Green Card to agents of the Chinese Community Party.” There is concern the law will further facilitate the discrimination of Chinese people and other immigrants, especially those seeking homeownership.
DeSantis also signed off on two other bills: one restricting government desktops or servers from downloading TikTok, an app owned by a Chinese company; and another prohibiting Florida colleges and universities from engaging in a partnership with schools overseas without governmental approval. These bills are set to go into effect on July 1.
With 40,000 new buildings built each year in New York, the move is being widely celebrated by East Coast climate advocates who see this as a major step to reaching New York state’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Buildings are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in both New York City and New York state, where they are responsible for one-third of emissions collectively.
As I reported in February, New York City passed a bill in December 2021 to phase out fossil fuels in new construction statewide starting in 2024, giving the rest of the state a preview of the complex battles involved in the process.
The new statewide law will not affect current buildings with natural gas appliances. The NY HEAT Act—which looked to retrofit existing buildings and put a price cap of 6 percent of income on electricity bills for low- and middle-income families—did not make it into the budget. Advocates hope there’s still a chance to pass it in this upcoming legislative session.
Update, May 9: On Tuesday, a federal jury found Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in E. Jean Carroll’s civil lawsuit. The former president has been ordered to pay Carroll $5 million.
Is Donald Trump a rapist?
The question is at the center of E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit against the former president, in which the writer and former advice columnist accuses him of sexual assault and defamation. Carroll, who in 2019 came forward with allegations that Trump attacked her inside a dressing room in the 1990s, is seeking unspecified damages.
But is anyone actually paying attention? I can’t help but feel as though the concrete things said and done in the courtroom have failed to truly puncture the public consciousness.
It makes sense, on some level. Though Carroll’s allegations are the most serious among the sexual assault claims that have been made against Trump, the public has endured years of similar stories pointing to his endless misdeeds—even these specific misdeeds. Still, I’ve still been taken aback by what has felt like a collective apathy toward the catastrophic description of a woman’s trauma.
It’s true that news outlets, including this magazine, have reported on the trial with dutiful rigor. But within the public discourse, there’s been far less chatter as the drama continues to unfold—as Carroll, deftly and movingly, testifies. Measure public awareness of E. Jean Carroll v. Donald Trump against the obsessive coverage of Trump’s four-mile hike downtown to get arrested last month, and sexual assault charges against the former president finally getting a day in court, feels strangely small. Put it up against the impeachment proceedings, and there’s no contest. Perhaps it’s because this isn’t a criminal trial; Trump, no matter the verdict, will not be a convicted rapist nor will he face real punishment beyond a potential monetary one.
Still, to pass over Carroll’s poignant testimony, along with Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina’s snarling cross-examination tactics, would be to miss several critical indictments far beyond the matter of Trump’s guilt. Here’s one telling snapshot, from my colleague Russ Choma, in which Carroll pushes back against Tacopina as he browbeats her:
When Tacopina tried to challenge Carroll about why she did not scream when Trump was allegedly raping her violently, Carroll ultimately delivered a strong rebuke.
“I’m not a screamer, I was in too much of a panic, I was fighting,” she responded to his initial query.
Tacopina pressed further—and Carroll pushed back. “You can’t beat up on me for not screaming,” she said, firmly.
“I’m not beating you up!” Tacopina said, appearing flustered.
“Women who don’t come forward—one of the reasons they don’t come forward is because they all get asked, ‘Why didn’t you scream?’” Carroll said, her voice rising. “Some women scream, some women don’t. It keeps them silent.”
“You’d better have a good excuse as to why you didn’t scream; if you don’t scream, you weren’t raped,” Carroll continued, mocking his line of questioning. “I’m telling you, he raped me, whether I screamed or not!”
At this point, Carroll began to cry.
Tacopina asked whether she needed a moment. “No, you go on,” she said icily. “I don’t need an excuse for not screaming.”
Such scenes, alternatingly maddening and captivating, feel ripped from a bygone era. Tacopina’s questions are shining examples of what not to ask a rape victim. That they are taking place in a high-profile civil suit only five years after #MeToo erupted into a global movement is perhaps the clearest evidence that accounts of sexual assault still are not taken seriously.
That Carroll’s time on the stand hasn’t reached every inch of the public discourse reveals how we treat trauma when it fails to be about punishment. It has not enticed a weary audience that has become convinced that stories of Trump’s hideous behavior, relentless and overwhelming, don’t matter. Maybe they’re even boring now. It seems there is only one question people seem to care about: Is Trump finally going to jail?
In the case of Carroll’s trial, countless factors could have contributed to such nihilism. For one, there’s her age. At 79, she is long past the point when women say they begin to feel invisible and overlooked. (In a cruel twist, Carroll’s age, according to her skeptics, underscores how much time has passed since her alleged encounter with Trump, and is therefore suspicious.)
And then there’s the lack of video or audio recordings from inside the courtroom, denying Carroll’s remarks the fuel to hit social media virality, which has become an unfortunate barometer of newsworthiness. So, we’re left to read in order to keep abreast of the trial, and reading Carroll’s description of profound suffering is no easy task; it’s somewhat understandable why one would skip over such difficult material. But then, what is lost when we fail to pay attention to those who are willing to come forward? The question is all the more urgent when allegations relate to Donald Trump, a man who, thus far, has escaped accountability for endless sins.
“I regretted it about 100 times,” Carroll said on Wednesday when asked about her decision to go public, “but in the end being able to get my day in court…I’m crying, but I got to tell my story in court.” Carroll testified in another moment: “His hand, his finger went into my vagina, which was extremely painful. It was a horrible feeling. He put his hand inside me and curved his finger. As I sit here today, I can still feel it. Then he inserted his penis.”
Imagine that those words emerged not today but in October 2016. Would they have carried the same electoral threat that the Access Hollywood tape did? There’s a reason Carroll’s lawyers fought to play the recording as evidence for jurors. But nearly seven years after unabating scandals and now a likely Biden-Trump rematch, it’s somewhat incredible to recall how much “grab them by the pussy” once shocked us. Trump and his henchmen no longer surprise us. But why aren’t we horrified?
On Tuesday, a man boarded an uptown F train in Manhattan and started yelling.
“He started screaming in an aggressive manner,” a witness told the New York Post. “He said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail.”
That sounds to me like someone who needs help. A reasonable response to such a passenger might be to alert the conductor, or switch train cars, or simply look down at your phone and do nothing. Instead, a 24-year-old subway rider placed the man, identified as Jordan Neely, in a chokehold and held him there until he died.
Police questioned the unidentified 24-year-old but have not charged him with a crime.
A witness who recorded a video of the incident told the New York Times that Neely had not assaulted anyone. But that hasn’t stopped the Post from employing rhetorical gymnastics to suggest that Neely’s death is his own fault. The Post paints the 24-year-old as a hero, proclaiming, “Dramatic new video shows a straphanger taking matters into his own hands, pinning down an unhinged man in a deadly incident.” The key word, “deadly,” is tacked onto the sentence as an afterthought. The article refers to Neely as a “vagrant,” while his attacker is merely a “straphanger.” (The Post has long used the term as a way to describe the innocent subway rider harmed by a stranger.)
The New York Times’ coverage is only slightly better. While the Times avoids words like “vagrant” and “unhinged,” it plays up fears of increased crime rates on the subway and suggests that an upped police presence—rather than a rise in ridership after the height of the pandemic—is responsible for bringing crime back down.
It’s easy to blame Neely for causing a scene, and even easier to blame his attacker for placing him in the chokehold that apparently led to his death. But pointing out Neely’s lengthy arrest record, for example, is not the flex that the New York Daily News might think it is. New York’s mental health and criminal justice systems clearly failed Neely, who once made a living as a Michael Jackson impersonator and who testified in the murder trial of the man who killed his mother. And our culture failed the attacker, too, by creating the notion that unarmed homeless people—especially those who are mentally ill and Black—are inherently dangerous.
After 30 years of life, Neely will forever be reduced to an aggressive, “unhinged vagrant” in the eyes of Post readers. He deserved better from everyone.
State Rep. Zooey Zephyr sits in a hallway outside the main chamber of the House, from which she has been barred for the rest of the session.Brittany Peterson/AP
Last week, the Republican-controlled Montana House of Representatives voted to bar Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the state’s first transgender woman lawmaker, from the floor for the rest of the session. Her offense? Telling GOP lawmakers that they had “blood on their hands” for supporting a bill banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Zephyr’s expulsion from the floor is the latest example of a Republican-run state legislature wielding its supermajority to silence democratically elected lawmakers under the guise of “decorum.”
Montana Republicans say that Zephyr isn’t being exiled, because she will still be able to vote remotely. But the American Civil Liberties Union disagrees—and is helping Zephyr sue.
The lawsuit aims to allow Zephyr to return to the House floor, arguing that the House leadership has denied Zephyr’s constituents their right to representation in state government.
“The effort by House leadership to silence me and my constituents is a disturbing and terrifying affront to democracy itself,” Zephyr said in a statement. “The Montana State House is the people’s House, not Speaker Regier’s, and I’m determined to defend the right of the people to have their voices heard.”
On Wednesday evening, Tucker Carlson broke his silence on his surprise firing from Fox News.
After saying he’d taken a moment to step back, Carlson lamented that both political parties had cohered around a set ideology endorsed by cable news. But now, after his dismissal, he foretold an end. “This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue,” Carlson said in a video he posted on Twitter. “The people in charge know this. That’s why they’re hysterical and aggressive…but it won’t work when honest people say what’s true.”
That is funny to hear because I’ve spent the last few days poring over hours of Tucker Carlson videos from the archives, listening to what he has previously considered “true.” And, as you can see in five very clear chapters of footage, his truth has often involved promoting Nazi conspiracy theories; broadcasting racist and self-serving propaganda; spewing hate about trans people and children; and pushing the Big Lie. (You can read more about that last part here from our DC Bureau Chief David Corn.)
Tucker’s announcement implied he would continue broadcasting in some form. “The undeniably big topics, the ones that will define our future, get virtually no discussion at all. War, civil liberties, emerging science, demographic change,” Carlson said in his Wednesday night rejoinder, in what looks like the studio he built in Maine, which residents voted to approve. “When was the last time you heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues?”
And on that I can agree: There’s not much “legitimate debate” here at all.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters about the Republican debt-ceiling plan.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/ZUMA
Are House Republicans, if you’ll pardon the expression, peeing in their own Jacuzzi?
I raise this question because some of the spending cuts the House GOP and its quasi-leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, are demanding in exchange for raising the debt ceiling—a deal the Democrats have vowed to reject—are destined to hit Republican-led states hardest.
That’s likely true of the social programs such as food stamps that GOP members aim to further restrict. But it’s definitely the case for the host of clean-energy incentives (see page 2) of the Inflation Reduction Act Republicans just put on the chopping block. These federal perks have been flowing in spades to red states, notably Georgia, as Oliver Milman, a reporter for our Climate Desk partner the Guardian, pointed out in February.
“Once known for its peaches and peanuts,” Milman wrote, Georgia “is rapidly becoming a crucible of US clean energy technology,” drawing billions in new solar, electric vehicle, and battery manufacturing subsidies, putting it at “the forefront of a swathe of southern states that are becoming a so-called ‘battery belt’ in the economic transition away from fossil fuels.”
Jack Conness, a transportation analyst at the University of Washington, helpfully put together a wonderful database depicting the jackpot that the IRA and the Chips and Science Act (CHIPS) represent for Republican-led local economies.
By his tally, Tennessee, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oklahoma have attracted more than $4 billion apiece in IRA investments to date. Ohio has brought in more than $6 billion, Arizona more than $7 billion, South Carolina more than $9 billion, and Georgia more than $13 billion. (Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Kentucky, in thrall to the coal industry and dead last in national wind and solar development, has barely taken advantage.) Conness’ database includes a map with locations of the announced IRA investments.
For the winners, these federal investments are reviving manufacturing and creating scads of good jobs—Arizona, the Carolinas, Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma, and the perennially purple states of Nevada and Michigan project thousands each. Nationwide, by Conness’ count, IRA and CHIPS have resulted in $213 billion in investment to date—and almost 76,000 new jobs.
House Republicans could—and should—be out there bragging about their economic revivals. Instead, they decided to lock themselves in a room with a bunch of bitter men and women, trying to figure out how best to shoot themselves and their constituents in the foot over a bill that is destined to go nowhere and might even lead to a economic crisis that hurts all Americans. It’s a bill that, much like this entire debt-ceiling circus, has been a colossal waste of America’s time when what we really need to do is electrify everything—fast.