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Marjorie Taylor Greene Wanted to Bring a Big White Balloon to the State of the Union

Greene wants to troll Biden for the Chinese spy balloon. She announced her plan just hours after Kevin McCarthy said there would be no “childish games.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene outside the Capitol
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene wants to bring a white balloon to the State of the Union Tuesday night, a move she unveiled just hours after her new best friend Kevin McCarthy said there would be no “childish games” from Republicans during the speech.

She didn’t end up bringing the balloon, which referred to the Chinese spy balloon that has caused plenty of political debate and political theater over the past week.

It’s a decent troll (and a broken clock is also right twice a day). But it’s not to everyone’s taste. Lauren Boebert, who made headlines with Greene for heckling Joe Biden throughout the entire previous State of the Union, was dismissive of her former ally when asked if she would be making a “symbolic protest” during the address.

Greene’s announcement of her helium-filled guest also came just a few hours after House Speaker McCarthy told reporters that “we have a code of ethics of how we should portray ourselves … We’re not going to be doing childish games, tearing up a speech,” referring to Nancy Pelosi’s iconic shredding of Donald Trump’s last State of the Union.

Greene allied herself closely to McCarthy during his grueling run for speakership, and she was rewarded with positions on several key House committees.

Greene’s balloon was not seen in the chamber later Tuesday night, as she heckled the president throughout his speech.

This post was updated.

“Expel Him”: George Santos’s Constituents Protest Outside Capitol to Call for His Removal

The constituents traveled to Washington, D.C., to say Santos should resign, or Republican leadership should kick him out.

George Santos walks outside as several reporters follow him
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Dozens of George Santos’s constituents traveled by bus from Long Island, New York, to the Capitol on Tuesday to call for Republican leadership to expel their not-necessarily duly elected congressman. The protesters, joined by New York Representatives Dan Goldman and Ritchie Torres, hoisted signs that read, “No taxation w/out honest representation!” and “NY-3 says: It’s time to FIRE the LIAR!”

The protestors, alongside advocacy organization Courage for America and local group Concerned Citizens of NY-03, took the approximately five hour journey to the Capitol to directly deliver a petition to Santos’s office that reportedly has over 1,000 signing constituents calling for Santos’s expulsion.”

“You have to be really psychologically impaired to throw that around like it’s nickels,” said Republican constituent Ben Marzouk, in reference to Santos’s lie about his mother dying during 9/11. “It’s not difficult to see and to do what’s right and wrong. [Speaker Kevin] McCarthy, do the right thing. Expel him. Have some respect, have some dignity, and do the right thing.”

Goldman suggested that House leadership has hesitated to push Santos to resign because “they are concerned that George Santos has information that may be damaging to them about their role in the fraud scheme.” Torres added to the idea, saying the only reason for Santos not to resign is  “to maintain leverage for a plea bargain in the event of criminal prosecution.”

Goldman and Torres’s suggestions aside, Santos resigning would shrink the GOP’s already slim majority in the House, one that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has worked desperately to obtain control over. So it is perhaps unsurprising that, after suggesting the House Ethics Committee was investigating Santos on Tuesday, McCarthy then assured us that it is not in fact doing so.

Santos’s actions have transcended simply being a buffoonish and pathological liar; already under local, federal, and even international investigations for his financial dealings, potential campaign finance violations, lying about his résumé, his fraudulent use of a checkbook owned by an older man in Brazil, and a scam in which Santos raised money off a homeless veteran’s dying service dog, Santos has now been accused of sexual harassment by a prospective staffer.

So, as McCarthy and the Republicans continue to avoid even subjecting Santos to a proper ethics inquiry, know that this is what they’re supporting.

Lauren Boebert Says She Prays That Joe Biden’s “Days Be Few” in Texas Sermon

The Colorado congresswoman referenced a biblical verse calling for the death of an enemy. Then she laughed.

Lauren Boebert speaks at a podium with several mics
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over the weekend, Representative Lauren Boebert visited the Storehouse Dallas Church in Texas, where the congregation opened up the stage for the Colorado congresswoman to preach to them. During her “sermon,” she professed her deepest hopes, the fundamental beliefs and wishes she imbues her faith into. In particular, she appeared to pray for the death of President Joe Biden.

“Joe Biden’s president. We don’t know what to do, Lord!” Boebert said. “It’s all right, we pray for our presidents. You know, it says, ‘Let his days be few and another take his office.’”

The audience laughed.

“That’s why I filed articles of impeachment for Joe Biden,” Boebert added. “Unfortunately, he does have a really great insurance policy named Kamala Harris,” she finished with a chuckle.

The implication was not just about Biden’s days in office being few.

Boebert said a similar line last June, and specified the noted Bible verse she was referencing, Psalm 109:8, which reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” The following line of the verse reads, “Let his children be fatherless, And his wife a widow.” The surrounding lines call for “evil to oppose” the enemy, for the enemy’s descendants to “be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.”

Boebert appears to have now unapologetically, and repeatedly, prayed for Biden’s death.

Meanwhile, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene—who, along with Boebert, helped incite a riot on the Capitol, was a special event guest alongside self-proclaimed Nazi and Hitler-lover Nick Fuentes, and has spread conspiracies about Parkland and Sandy Hook—presided over the House on Monday.

The pair’s prominence in the party and freedom to continue behaving so egregiously without any consequence from their own ranks lies in stark contrast to Republicans’ shameless removal of Representative Ilhan Omar from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last week.

Report: Chinese Balloon Flew Directly Over Florida During the Trump Administration

Even Fox News is admitting that there have been Chinese balloons before.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

A new report confirms even more details about the Chinese spy balloons that floated in U.S. airspace during the Trump administration, despite Republicans’ vehement protestations to the contrary.

An Air Force intelligence report from April found that a Chinese spy balloon had circled the globe in 2019, passing by Hawaii and flying directly over Florida during its journey, CNN reported Monday.

The report directly contradicts multiple Republican claims that there had been no such incidents during Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump himself and several of his former security and intelligence advisers also insisted there had been no balloon incidents, which is apparently now an actual national security phrase and not a mishap at a traveling circus.

The Department of Defense said in a statement Saturday that at least three suspected Chinese spy balloons had crossed the United States during Trump’s time in office, citing an anonymous senior official.

The Air Force report, which confirms there had been a spy balloon, did not specify when the 2019 balloon passed over Florida. But Trump was at one of his Florida properties 39 days that year, according to a Washington Post analysis, so there is a small chance it could have passed right over his head.

The latest balloon has unleashed one of the weirdest timelines of late, which is no small feat. It has sparked a wave of political fighting, as well as a social media trend of conservative politicians performatively aiming guns at the sky.

The balloon appeared over the U.S. just days before Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to touch down for his first visit to Beijing. China says the balloon was for weather research and had simply been blown off course—a claim the U.S. rejected.

Blinken’s trip was supposed to ease tensions between the U.S. and China. But now they seem to be inflating.

Florida School District Bans Entire Court of Thorns and Roses Series in New Book Ban

The school district banned 23 books, including other bestsellers. Here’s the full list.

Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

A Florida school district that covers 48 schools serving over 50,000 students on Tuesday released a fresh list of books to be banned from all school and classroom libraries.

St. John’s County Superintendent Tim Forson reviewed books that were objected to by parents and community members, determining unilaterally that some of the titles must be removed from the school libraries.

“I own this,” Forson said in a school board meeting Tuesday.

Here are the 23 books being banned:

  • A Court of Mist and Fury—Sarah J. Maas
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses—Sarah J. Maas
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin—Sarah J. Maas
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue—George Matthew Johnson
  • Blanket—Craig Thompson
  • Boy Toy—Barry Lyga
  • Call Me by Your Name—Andre Aciman
  • Damsel—Elana K. Arnold
  • Forever—Judy Blume
  • Fun Home—Alison Bechdel
  • Handmaid’s Tale (graphic novel)—Margaret Atwood, adapted Renee Nault
  • House of Earth and Blood—Sarah J. Maas
  • I Am Jazz—Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jenning
  • I Never—Laura Hooper
  • Infandous—Elana K. Arnold
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl—Jesse Andrews
  • PUSHSapphire
  • The Haters—Jesse Andrews
  • The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini
  • The Nowhere Girls—Amy Reed
  • Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You—Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne
  • Water for Elephants—Sarah Gruen
  • When Aidan Became a Brother—Kyle Lukoff

Forson noted that some other titles are to be “quarantined” away from libraries and media centers as well, until a final decision is made. Meanwhile, titles like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey are still subject to review, per the district’s list of books with objections.

Forson’s decision comes in the face of a recently passed Florida law that mandates that books in public schools be subject to review by a “specialist.” The bans more broadly follow an ongoing slew of Florida politicians attacking educators’ and students’ liberties—an assault spearheaded by Florida governor and aspiring fascist Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis has pushed through the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which prevents classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity through third grade; lobbied for the Stop Woke Act, which restricts teaching on race in colleges; announced plans to mandate Western civilization courses and defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on state college campuses; and barred the inclusion of an Advanced Placement African American history course in Florida schools.

The Florida High School Athletics Association, under DeSantis’s reign, is also recommending requiring student athletes to give their schools detailed information about their periods.

The Most Interesting Guests at Biden’s State of the Union Address

Members of Congress use guests at the State of the Union to send a message. This year, here’s where their priorities are.

Kris Connor/Getty Images

Joe Biden will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, reflecting on a mixed bag of a year.

His Democrats delivered historic wins in the 2022 midterms, and the economy is improving, but Biden’s approval ratings are still low.

Here is a list of notable guests who will attend the president’s speech.

Tyre Nichols’s parents

The parents of Tyre Nichols, a young Black man who was brutally beaten to death by police officers in Tennessee, will attend the speech. RowVaughn Wells and Rodney Wells were invited by Steven Horsford, the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Five officers have been arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including second-degree murder. Two other officers were fired in connection with the incident.

Nichols’s death has reinvigorated calls for police reform, but it’s unclear if that is possible given how divided Congress is.

Brandon Tsay

Brandon Tsay, 26, disarmed the Monterey Park shooter before he could open fire on a second ballroom dance hall. He was invited to attend the State of the Union by California Representative Judy Chu. According to Chu, Biden also invited Tsay just an hour after she did.

Huu Can Tran had just attacked a ballroom in Monterey Park, California, on January 21—killing 10 people and wounding several more, one of whom would later die from gunshot wounds—when he arrived at Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio. Tsay’s family owns the ballroom, and he helps run the ticket office. Tsay struggled with Tran and was able to wrest the older man’s gun away from him.

Roya Rahmani

Also in attendance Tuesday night will be Roya Rahmani, who served as Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2018 to 2021. The first female Afghan ambassador to the U.S., Rahmani served until July 2021, one month before the Taliban swept back to power in her home country.

Since taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban continues to tighten its grip on the country’s society, including in a huge crackdown on women’s right to education and work.

Rahmani was invited by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul, who said he hoped her presence would “send a signal to the women of Afghanistan that they have not been forgotten.”

Michael Brown Sr.

Missouri Representative Cori Bush invited Michael Brown Sr., whose son was killed by police in 2014, to the State of the Union.

Michael Brown Jr. was 18 years old when he was stopped outside a 7-Eleven in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri. Officer Darren Wilson said Brown attacked him, while Brown’s friend, who was there, said Wilson initiated the scuffle. Wilson ended up shooting Brown dead.

Brown’s death, and later a grand jury’s refusal to indict Wilson, sparked widespread unrest in Ferguson. The killing helped spur the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The police killing of Michael Brown in 2014 is what propelled me and many others into lives dedicated to building a world where Mike would still be here with us,” Bush told Politico. “A world where Tyre Nichols and the thousands of other Black people killed by police could live long, healthy lives full of joy.”

Amanda Zurawski

First Lady Jill Biden has invited Amanda Zurawski, a woman from Austin, Texas, who nearly died when her state’s abortion ban forced her to wait for treatment for pregnancy complications.

Zurawski and her husband Josh Zurawksi first told their story in one of Beto O’Rourke’s final campaign ads for Texas governor. The pair had been trying to get pregnant for more than a year before they finally succeeded. But when she was 18 weeks pregnant, Amanda was diagnosed with an “incompetent cervix,” a condition that causes almost a quarter of second-trimester miscarriages. Her cervix was opening too early and putting the pregnancy at risk.

Texas, however, has banned abortions in all cases except when the pregnant person’s life is at risk. Her doctors were not allowed to terminate Zurawski’s pregnancy and instead had to tell her to come back when she developed a life-threatening infection. Over the next three days, Zurawski developed a bacterial infection that sent her body into sepsis. Doctors were finally able to induce the miscarriage, but she still has mental and physical health complications as a result.

The couple is clear that they blame Texas politicians for the law, not the doctors who feared the repercussions of breaking it.

Mary Kay Henry

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, will attend the State of the Union as a guest of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Jeffries’s invitation comes after Biden, who promised to be “the most pro-union president” in history, dealt a major blow to unions by calling on Congress in December to block a rail workers’ strike.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also hoping to make a statement about labor Tuesday night: he invited Pedro Gamboa Bermudez, a baggage handler at New York’s JFK Airport. Bermudez co-founded the SEIU chapter at JFK and helped negotiate the first collective bargaining agreement for the airport workers.

Michael Weinstock

A former firefighter who did rescue work at ground zero during 9/11 will attend the State of the Union—as the guest of George Santos, whose mother famously did not die in the terrorist attack.

Santos, who represents New York, has come under fire and investigation for apparently fabricating the bulk of his background and credentials. In addition to saying his mother survived 9/11 (she was not even in the country), he also seems to have lied about his grandparents fleeing the Holocaust and four of his employees being killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

But Michael Weinstock explained he accepted the invitation because he wants to raise awareness about the health of 9/11 responders. He suffers from a neurological condition as a result of his time as an emergency worker.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to stay focused enough on the issue of 9/11 responders receiving the health care that they need without being sullied by George Santos,” he said.

Sheriff Jeff Smith

New York Representative Elise Stefanik will bring Jeff Smith, a sheriff for one of the counties she represents, to the State of the Union.

Stefanik, who has remained one of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters in Congress, said she had decided to bring Smith to make a point about rising crime in the United States, which she blames on “Joe Biden’s failed policies.”

The nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice has said that the rise in crime during 2020 and 2021 was due in part to the proliferation of guns—which Republicans such as Stefanik routinely refuse to restrict—and the extreme socioeconomic instability brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Data for 2022 is limited but indicated that violent crime did go down that year.

This post has been updated.

Neo-Nazi Leader and Accomplice Arrested for Plot to “Completely Destroy” Baltimore

The pair planned to conduct sniper attacks on electrical substations in the majority-Black city.

Screenshot via DOJ

A neo-Nazi leader and his accomplice have been arrested for allegedly conspiring to attack electrical substations, with the ultimate goal to “completely destroy” the city of Baltimore, Maryland, law enforcement officials said Monday.

The two suspects, Brandon Clint Russell of Florida and Sarah Beth Clendaniel of Maryland, were arrested last week for their ploy to conduct “sniper attacks” on substations in order to disable power in the majority-Black city.

Authorities found the plot was “racially or ethnically motivated.” Baltimore has the fifth highest population of Black people in the country, with some 61 percent of residents being Black.

Russell had previously founded a neo-Nazi group in Florida called “Atomwaffen,” which was known to authorities for targeting minorities, Jews, LGBTQ people, the government, journalists, and infrastructure. In 2017, as police investigated his roommate murdering their two other roommates, Russell was discovered to be harboring neo-Nazi paraphernalia, a photo of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, explosives, and more. In an interview at the time, he admitted to being a Nazi and that he had manufactured the recovered explosives.

Meanwhile, Clendaniel allegedly had what resembled a manifesto on her computer that references the Unabomber and Hitler. “I would sacrifice **everything** for my people to just have a chance for our cause to succeed,” the document said.

The pair were intensely devoted toward carrying out the attacks, according to the case’s affidavit. “Putting holes in transformers … is the greatest thing somebody can do,” Russell messaged an FBI informant.

The informant had been in contact with Russell since at least June 2022. Russell had allegedly been urging the informant to carry out attacks against infrastructure in service of violent extremist ends, for example, encouraging the informant to read a white supremacist publication that shared instructions on attacking critical infrastructure.

Last month, Clendaniel allegedly told the informant she was expecting to die of a terminal illness in her kidneys in the coming months and asked the informant to purchase a rifle for her, as she had unsuccessfully tried to in the past. She allegedly said she wanted to “accomplish something worthwhile” before dying, and if she were to get the rifle “within the next couple of weeks,” she would be enabled to “accomplish as much as possible before June, at the latest.”

Days later, Clendaniel told the informant of numerous potential targets, one of which was “literally like a life artery,” that, if destroyed, would “definitely cut out a lot of shit.”

On or about January 29, Clendaniel allegedly texted the informant that it “would really be ideal, for us both to have 30 round mags. Especially for what we’re doing.”

“Please get us each like, 4 of them. For what I’m hoping to do, we will need them,” she added. “If we can pull off what I’m hoping … this would be legendary. This is MAJOR tier, and definitely doable.”

During a voice conversation later that day, Clendaniel said that if they destroyed the “cores” of all five of their targets, they “would probably permanently completely lay this city to waste.”

The pair face a maximum possible prison sentence of 20 years if convicted on their charge of conspiring to destroy an energy facility.

“Driven by their ideology of racially motivated hatred, the defendants had allegedly schemed to attack local power grid facilities,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew G. Olsen.

The pair had allegedly been corresponding since at least 2018, while they both were incarcerated in separate facilities. Along with devising plans to destroy Baltimore and foment chaos, the two had sent text messages about having kids together, as well as “warfare” and “illegal things.” Russell once messaged Clendaniel that “going to prison was worth it because I might not have met you otherwise.”

The arrests follow nationwide attacks on power stations over the past year, many of which are feared to be tied to terrorists and white supremacist groups attempting to foment chaos.

In February 2022, three men pleaded guilty to plotting to attack substations with firearms; the trio was alleged white supremacists who had for years strategized how to incite civil unrest, a potential race war, and subsequently the second Great Depression.

The Chinese Balloon Inflated America’s Dumbest Political Mannerisms

The Defense Department said similar balloons flew over the United States numerous times in the Trump years. You wouldn’t know that from the media coverage.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

While the Chinese balloon floated overhead this past week, the right found yet another way to focus on anything but their nonexistent productive political project.

First it was that the balloon, an unprecedented incursion on American soil, should be shot down immediately; any delay by the Biden administration to take down something the size of three buses was unacceptable (shoot first, ask questions later—an apparent ritual of the conservative brain).

Concurrently, some Republicans posted photos proudly pointing their firearms to the air, signaling their hunger to just shoot the darn thing down themselves!

The message was stirring enough that sheriff’s departments had to plead their residents not to be dumb enough to shoot in the air, and let gravity do the rest.

Fox News host Jesse Watters found a way to bring Covid—a virus that apparently matters when you can ding China on it, but doesn’t matter when it means asking someone to wear a mask or get a vaccine—into play. Watters suggested the balloon might be a bioweapon.

After the United States military shot down the balloon on Saturday, the Defense Department revealed similar balloons flew over the U.S. numerous times during the Trump administration.

But Republicans conveniently ignored that information. When asked about that report, Senator Tom Cotton instead blamed Obama, while Marco Rubio claimed the flight paths were different, so this time is definitely worse.

The reports came after former Trump secretary of state and presidential hopeful Mike Pompeo said he “can nearly guarantee” that the balloon would not have been flying “if we were still there,” and former Army lieutenant general and Trump administration official Keith Kellogg suggested a step-by-step procedure the Trump administration would have apparently used in a similar situation.

Despite any predictable absurd right-wing responses to the balloon, there’s more to consider. Even if the balloons were surveilling the country, such an operation does not present the kind of immediate risks to Americans that should prompt an all-out whip-up of nationalistic fervor. Interstate relations are fragile enough; an overblown frenzy is the last thing we need when dealing with other states—especially when we ourselves have such an outsized presence throughout the rest of the world.

The moment put nearly every broken facet of American politics on full display: sensationalizing and politicizing Republicans; a media apparatus ready to dedicate more concentrated attention on a balloon than to, well, anything from climate catastrophe to meaningful policy implementation; and the broader American security state that helps propel such irrational responses at all.

Earthquake Kills More Than 2,300 People in Turkey, Syria, as Death Toll Quickly Rises

This was the worst earthquake the two countries have seen in nearly a century.

Residents search for victims and survivors amid the rubble of collapsed buildings following an earthquake in the village of Besnia near the town of Harim, in Syria’s rebel-held northwestern Idlib province on the border with Turkey, on February 6.

The United States prepared Monday to send aid to Turkey and Syria in the wake of the worst earthquake the two countries have seen in almost a century.

The 7.8-magnitude quake occurred in the early morning near the border between the two countries, leveling swathes of towns and killing more than 2,300 people. The tremor, which was felt as far away as Greenland, was followed by more than 50 aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude earthquake that rattled ongoing search and rescue operations.

We stand ready to provide any and all needed assistance,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “President Biden has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess U.S. response options to help those most affected.”

Thousands of people are injured, and emergency responders are rushing to rescue people trapped under the rubble of buildings. Officials are unsure how many people are caught in the debris. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at least 5,300 people had been injured and more than 2,800 buildings had collapsed. He warned that he had no clue how much the death toll would rise as rescue efforts continued.

Rescuers search for victims and survivors amid the rubble of a building that collapsed in Adana, Turkey, on February 6.
Can Erok/AFP/Getty Images

To make matters worse, the region is being buffeted by biting winter weather, hindering rescue attempts and also endangering people who are now without shelter.

Many of the Turkish cities that were affected were filled with Syrian refugees who had fled the civil war in their home country. In Syria, where the war has taken a heavy toll on infrastructure, officials had to cut off natural gas and power supplies throughout the affected region. An earthquake expert at Turkey’s Academy of Sciences urged Syrian officials to check the region’s dams for cracks, which could lead to devastating flooding.

“Truthfully the situation is disastrous,” Raed Saleh, the head of Syria’s civil defense group the White Helmets, told NPR. “The hospitals are all completely full.”

“We can’t estimate the damages or know how many people have been killed.”

Other countries, including Ukraine, as well as NATO, have also sent condolences and offers of aid to Turkey and Syria.

Ron DeSantis Is Now Attacking the Orlando Philharmonic Because It Once Hosted a Drag Show

In an administrative complaint, the Florida governor accused the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation of putting on a “sexually explicit show.”

Ron DeSantis speaks at a podium
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stripped the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation of its liquor license Friday for allowing children to attend a Christmas drag show.

DeSantis, who has been cracking down on LGBTQ rights, filed an administrative complaint through the state department of business and professional regulation accusing the Philharmonic’s foundation of putting on a “sexually explicit” show where minors would be present.

The governor had previously warned any venues that hosted the touring show A Drag Queen Christmas that his administration would seek legal action against them. He has also mentioned the possibility of having child protective services investigate parents who take their children to drag shows.

Civil rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo pointed out that DeSantis couched the administrative complaint in language about morality, at one point saying that businesses that host drag shows are a “nuisance,” which is defined as something that “becomes manifestly injurious to the morals or manners of the people.” By framing drag shows as a morality law issue, Caraballo said, DeSantis strips the performances of free speech protections.

DeSantis has gone to all-out war with anything he deems “woke,” and with LGBTQ rights in particular. He enacted the state’s now infamous Don’t Say Gay law, banned transgender women from playing women’s sports, and vowed to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion programs on college campuses. He also unconstitutionally forced out Andrew Warren, a state attorney who said he would not unilaterally criminalize cases involving personal medical issues, such as abortion or trans health care.

DeSantis is also part of a larger trend of Republicans demonizing drag queens and trans people, accusing them of being pedophiles as a way to fearmonger about the LGBTQ community. Drag shows, Medicaid funding for gender-affirmative care, and even children’s hospitals have all come under attack.