Matt Keely

‘Chaos vibes’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocks GOP after Gaetz threatens McCarthy

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) poked fun at the Republican party on an eventful Tuesday where House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) opened an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden and Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) threatened to remove McCarthy as speaker.

Ocasio-Cortez took to X, retweeting a C-SPAN clip of Gaetz's threat against McCarthy. In the clip, Gaetz said that McCarthy needed to move faster than the "baby step" of opening the impeachment inquiry. He called for more progress or for McCarthy to step down as speaker.

"So let me get this straight: Republicans are threatening to remove their own Speaker, impeach the President, and shut down the government on September 30th - disrupting everyday people’s paychecks and general public operations. For what? I don’t think even they know. Chaos vibes," Ocasio-Cortez wrote.

Gaetz, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, has been pushing for Biden's impeachment over allegations the president’s son, Hunter Biden, used his father’s position as leverage in business deals. Despite a House investigation of the elder Biden poring over 12,000 pages of bank records, plus 2,000 suspicious activity reports, according to The Hill, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of the President.

Gaetz has been pressuring McCarthy on impeachment with a new rule allowing any House member to call a “motion to vacate.” Once such a motion is called, a vote happens to remove the speaker.

On Monday, Gaetz announced he would argue on the House floor in favor of booting McCarthy from the speakership; shortly after, news leaked that McCarthy would likely open an inquiry this week. Soon after the leak was reported, McCarthy did.

Despite McCarthy opening the inquiry, Gaetz went ahead with his planned speech Tuesday.

“I rise today to serve notice, Mr. Speaker, that you are out of compliance with the agreement that allowed you to assume this role,” Gaetz said. “The path forward for the House of Representatives is to either bring you into total, immediate compliance or remove you.”

Gaetz told his fellow Republicans to block a continuing resolution that would fund the government past the September 30 deadline, according to The New York Times. He said that if McCarthy were to call a vote on a continuing resolution, "it is going to be shot, chaser, continuing resolution, motion to vacate." He later told reporters that he would file a motion to vacate at the start of every legislative day, according to the Times. Even if the House voted to impeach Biden—which itself is unlikely, given the slim Republican majority and the fact that a number of Republicans are against it—the Senate is unlikely to convict. A number of Republican senators told The Hill that without evidence, articles of impeachment would likely be dismissed before reaching the trial stage. Representative Ken Buck (R-CO), a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a critic of past impeachment efforts, praised McCarthy for not holding a floor vote on opening the inquiry, instead sending it directly to the Oversight Committee. "The House should be focusing on spending instead," Buck said on MSNBC. "We have to make sure the government doesn't shut down. We have to get our job done. And I think taking this off the table and not having a distraction is a good move." While Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has pushed for impeachment, she is against Gaetz's threats of a motion to vacate, telling reporters Monday "I think that's the wrong thing to do."

'Obscene': Clean Up Alabama wants state to dump 'Marxist' American Library Association

The latest group to try to block books on queer topics from children, Clean Up Alabama, is trying to reform the state’s library system. One of its goals is for Alabama to “End our association, participation, and use of the far left marxist organization that is the American Library Association,” according to its website.

The group started earlier this year as Clean Up Prattville, according to LGBTQ Nation, focusing specifically on the Autauga-Prattville Public Library. Clean Up Alabama says on its website that “many Alabama libraries have been stocking their shelves with books intended to confuse the children of our communities about sexuality and expose them to material that is inappropriate for them.”

Clean Up Alabama says its mission is to remove “pornographic, obscene, and indecent books” from children’s sections of the libraries. One of its major goals is a withdrawal from the ALA—claiming on its site that the “ALA believes that children should be able to view pornography in the name of freedom of expression.”

READ MORE: Texas County to Consider Shutting Down Library After Judge Orders Books With LGBTQ and Racial Content Returned to Shelves

While the ALA does fight for readers to be able to access whatever books they want, the books Clean Up Alabama wants banned are not “pornographic.” The Clean Up Prattville site includes a list of books the organization objects to, along with excerpts from the books. For example, Looking for Alaska by John Green is on the list. One of the offending excerpts follows:

…I’m in the middle of a sentence about analogies or something and like a hawk he reaches down and he honks my boob. HONK. A much-too-firm, two- to three-second HONK. And the first thing I thought was Okay, how do I extricate this claw from my boob before it leaves permanent marks?…”

Nick and Charlie by Heartstopper author Alice Oseman—about a young gay couple—is also on the list. The included excerpt has a scene where the titular characters have sex, but this is the most explicit it gets:

I can’t think about anything else when he’s running his hands so gently through my hair, across my back, over my hips. I ask if we should take our clothes of and he’s saying yes before I’ve even finished ay sentence, and then he’s pulling my T-shirt off and laughing when I can’t undo his shirt buttons, he’s undoing my belt, I’m reaching into his bedside drawer for a condom, we’re kissing again, we’re rolling over obviously you can see where this is going.

Though there’s a petition on Clean Up Alabama’s site calling for the ALA withdrawal, the Alabama Political Reporter reports the group wants to change the state’s anti-obscenity law to remove an exemption for libraries. If the group gets its way, librarians could face a year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 for providing books deemed “harmful” to minors.

Clean Up Alabama has allies among some state Republicans. Representatives Susan Dubose, Rick Rehm and Bill Lamb have supported the group’s efforts to withdraw from the ALA, according to the Political Reporter. Representatives Ernie Yarbrough, Mack Butler and House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen also have supported the group. Governor Kay Ivey sent the Alabama Public Library Service a letter echoing Clean Up America’s complaints, though the letter does not directly refer to the group, according to the Political Reporter.

On September 5, Clean Up Prattville proposed to the city council that the group take control of the public library via a service contract. The proposal was rejected in a 4-3 vote, according to The local library director, Andrew Foster, told that the group’s campaign started over one book, The Pronoun Book, a book directed at children up to 3 years old explaining what pronouns are.

“There was an incident where a family checked out a book called the ‘Pronoun Book’, took it home before realizing it was an inclusive pronoun book, that it wasn’t just binary, he and she, but instead had some other representations in the book,” he told the outlet.

Tennessee House Speaker silences one expelled Democrat, pushes another

Tensions flared in the Tennessee House between the Republican majority and the two formerly expelled Black Democrat representatives during the last two days of a special session.

The special session had been called in order to address gun control following the March 27 shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville. Three 9-year-olds were killed, as were three adults.

Republican Governor Bill Lee wanted what some have called a “red flag law,” blocking those showing signs of violent behavior from having access to guns. Tennessee House Republicans, however, balked, according to the Associated Press. Instead, the House voted to add more money for a program offering free gun safes, among other minor changes to the existing laws, the AP reported.

Democratic Representatives Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, the two Tennessee House members temporarily expelled earlier this year, lobbied hard for more expansive protections.

READ MORE: ‘Uppity’: Before Being Expelled Black Tennessee Democrat Accuses White Republican of Thinly Veiled Racism (Video)

On Monday, Speaker Cameron Sexton ruled Jones out of order twice during debates. The first time was when Jones called proposals allowing private schools to set their own gun policies “asinine” and “reprehensible,” according to CNN. The second time, Sexton said Jones was off topic when he called for mental health professionals to be put into schools rather than a proposal to allow local law enforcement to assign officers to schools.

Following the rulings, the House voted along party lines to silence him for the rest of the day, according to CNN. After the vote, all 20 Democrats walked out in protest. In a video shared to X, Jones said the move was retaliation for proposing a no-confidence vote against Sexton. In another tweet, Jones said that Sexton told him Tuesday if he again went “off topic”, he’d be silenced for three days.

On Tuesday, when the special session ended, Jones and Pearson followed Sexton holding signs reading “Protect Kids Not Guns.” In video posted by The Recount, Sexton appears to push Pearson away with his shoulder. Protesters in the gallery chanted “vote them out” as the floor cleared.

Jones and Pearson came to national prominence in April when Tennessee House Republicans voted to expel them from the chamber. Democratic Representative Gloria Johnson also faced a vote of expulsion, but that did not pass; Johnson is white.

The expulsion came after the three Democrats joined a protest in the well of the Tennessee House over inaction on gun control legislation following the Covenant School shooting. Both were quickly reinstated by commissioners in their districts, according to the AP. Earlier this month, both Jones and Pearson handily won their elections.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announces cancer diagnosis

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise announced his cancer diagnosis Tuesday morning.

The Republican representative from Louisiana tweeted that he has multiple myeloma, which he calls "a very treatable blood cancer." Scalise said he had blood work done "after a few days of not feeling like myself this past week." He started treatment, which he said should last "several months."

"I expect to work through this period and intend to return to Washington, continuing my work as Majority Leader and serving the people of Louisiana’s First Congressional District," Scalise wrote. "I am incredibly grateful we were able to detect this early and that this cancer is treatable. I am thankful for my excellent medical team, and with the help of God, support of my family, friends, colleagues, and constituents, I will tackle this with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges."

Scalise has been in the House since 2008, but this is his first term as House Majority Leader. Previously he was the whip under then-Leader Kevin McCarthy. After Republicans gained control of the House in the 2022 election, McCarthy became Speaker, and Scalise moved into his role.

In 2017, Scalise was shot and wounded during a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game, a yearly tradition where teams of Republicans and Democrats play against each other. Scalise was one of four shot by James Hodgkinson, who was "fueled by rage against Republican legislators," according to Virginia's then-Attorney General Mark Herring. Though Scalise was in critical condition after the shooting, following surgery, he made a quick recovery.

Multiple myeloma affects plasma cells, and can cause a thickening of the blood. It can also lead to tumors in soft tissue or bone marrow. The disease is treatable, but incurable. The onset of the cancer is generally around the age of 60; Scalise is 57.

Though the life expectancy of someone with multiple myeloma is six years in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute, there have been many advances in treatment. The American Cancer Society says that the existing mortality rate is based on data at least five years old. The current five-year survival rate is 54% in the U.S., according to the NCI.

Symptoms of multiple myeloma include bone pain, anemia and impaired kidney function. Headache and fatigue are also common due to the blood thickening or anemia. The cause is unknown.

'Unconstitutionally vague' Texas drag ban challenged by ACLU

The Texas drag ban is the subject of a new lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Texas on Wednesday. The ban is due to take effect next month.

Senate Bill 12 was passed by the state Senate and House on May 29, and signed into law by Republican Governor Greg Abbott on June 18. The law bans “sexually oriented performances” on public property or in the presence of anyone under 18 years old. However, the bill’s definition of “sexually oriented performances” includes “the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics.” Those who violate the law could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined as much as $10,000.

An earlier draft of the bill contained language directly referring to drag, including explicitly banning “state funding to municipal libraries that host drag story hours or otherwise host events where persons presenting as the opposite sex read books to children for entertainment,” according to KUT-FM.

Read More: Drag Queen Story Hour Interrupted by Neo-Nazis Seen in Terrifying Video

Though the explicit anti-drag language was removed, the suit says the law “unconstitutionally singles out drag performances as a disfavored form of expression.”

“In its zeal to target drag, the Legislature also passed a bill so yawning in scope that it criminalizes and restricts an enormous swath of constitutionally protected activity, including theater, ballet, comedy, and even cheerleading,” the lawsuit reads.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of two LGBTQ non-profit organizations, The Woodlands Pride, Inc. and Abilene Pride Alliance; two drag entertainment production companies, Extragrams, LLC and 360 Queen Entertainment LLC; and a drag queen, Brigitte Bandit. The suit names Interim Attorney General Angela Colmenero, as well as a number of local officials. Governor Abbott is not named.

The law is similar to other drag bans that have passed in other states, which have also faced similar legal challenges. However, critics say the Texas drag ban goes even further, potentially banning artwork depicting the nude form, according to the Austin American-Statesman. For example, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, in which the titular goddess is depicted nude upon a clamshell, could hypothetically be challenged.

A federal judge ruled Tennessee’s drag ban violated the First Amendment, calling the ordinance “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.” In Florida, another federal judge blocked a similar law, saying it would likely run counter to the right to freedom of speech.

Travis County Attorney Delia Garza, one of the named defendants, told KUT-FM she appreciated the lawsuit, and hopes it will “bring some clarity to a law that has constitutional concerns.”

“I continue to hope that in the name of true public safety, our state leaders will one day focus on actual public safety threats, like gun violence, instead of legislation like SB12 which will have little to no effect on the day to day operations of a community and its public safety needs,” Garza continued.

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