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Florida Republican Calls to “Crush” Pride Month for Being “Anti-Christian”

Anthony Sabatini is outdoing the rest of his party with the bigotry.

Rainbow heart
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A Florida Republican politician suggested that Pride images are “anti-Christian” hate symbols and called for the government to immediately “crush” Pride Month.

Anthony Sabatini, who currently serves as the chair of the Lake County Republican Party, slammed Pride Month as “anti-American” and proposed ways the state government could effectively end LGBTQ pride celebrations.

“There’s a great reset going on. And I say, well, if you look around, really, I think the great reset is a gay reset. I mean, if you look at Pride Month, that’s pretty much, like, the whole program,” Sabatini, who is running for Congress, said at an event. It is not clear when the event took place, but video of his speech was posted to Twitter on Friday by liberal activist Lauren Windsor.

“We have to end Pride Month, okay?” Sabatini continued to applause from the audience. “We have to crush Pride Month. It has to go away.”

“It’s time to crush Pride Month and the businesses that promote that toxic anti-American garbage.”

Sabatini suggested the Florida government should pass a law banning all counties, school boards, city commissions, and even businesses from promoting Pride Month in any way. He pointed to the city of Mount Dora, which marked Pride by hanging rainbow banners along the streets.

“First we need to crush Pride Month” by banning people from spending state or local funds on it, Sabatini said. “We need to bend our civil rights laws to make it actionable legally for when they do do that because it’s an anti-Christian hate symbol.”

Republicans across the country are steadily making the U.S. more hostile to LGBTQ people, and Florida is leading the charge. State lawmakers have passed laws expanding “Don’t Say Gay,” banning discussions of personal pronouns in schools, and prohibiting transgender people from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender on any public property. Meanwhile, Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this month shared what is possibly the most bigoted ad ever for his presidential campaign.

And it’s not just at the state level. The Supreme Court ruled in June that businesses can refuse to serve LGBTQ people, which has already spurred more discrimination. And on Friday, the House of Representatives passed a defense budget that bans the Department of Defense from flying Pride flags or reimbursing travel costs for service members who seek gender-affirming care.

Here Are the Democrats Who Helped Pass the “War on Woke” Defense Bill

Four Democrats joined Republicans to pass the radical bill targeting abortion, LGBTQ rights, and more.

Capitol building
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House of Representatives on Friday passed a defense budget that was loaded with Republican amendments aimed at furthering their culture wars.

The House voted 219–210 for the newly extreme bill, which now bans the Department of Defense from flying Pride flags, funding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and reimbursing travel costs for service members who need to get an abortion.

Four Democrats broke ranks to vote with Republicans. Here are the Democrats who voted for the defense budget in all its bigoted glory.

  • Donald Davis of North Carolina
  • Jared Golden of Maine
  • Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington
  • Gabe Vasquez of New Mexico

This is not the first time that some of these members have sided with Republicans. Golden and Perez voted in May to repeal President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program and to end the federal student loan repayment freeze. Davis also voted Thursday to include the Pride flag ban amendment in the defense budget.

Two Democrats Help Republicans Pass Vile Ban on Pride Flags in Military

Even three Republicans voted against the measure, and yet…

Pride flag
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Two Democrats—one poised to be the party’s next anointed Kyrsten Sinema—helped Republicans codify Donald Trump’s policy banning the Defense Department from displaying Pride flags.

The amendment to the national defense bill came from Republican Representative Ralph Norman, as part of the stream of culture war issues the party took up before they voted to shove another nearly trillion more dollars into the military industrial complex.

In a 218–213 vote late Thursday, the House approved the amendment that would ban members of the armed forces or civilian employees from displaying any flag other than the American, or other limited approved flags like state or military service ones, or flags of another country that is “an ally or partner of the United States.” The amendment was widely interpreted as one targeting Pride flags in particular.

A Norman aide noted that while the Pentagon hasn’t flown a Pride flag, the goal of the amendments is to get ahead of the trend of more and more agencies displaying Pride flags, even simply on social media accounts. Acts as extreme as the Navy having a rainbow Twitter banner during Pride month this year were enough to light the fire underneath 218 House members to put the foot down on letting anyone imagine that military members might be gay.

The amendment codifies a Trump-era (and Biden-upheld) policy that bans Pride flags from military bases. Such an amendment even got three Republican dissenters in Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick, Mike Lawler, and Marcus Molinaro.

Still, two Democrats decided the bigoted ban was one worth adding to the defense bill: Michigan’s Elissa Slotkin and North Carolina’s Don Davis.

Davis may be triangulating as he anticipates unfavorable gerrymandering from state Republicans. Nevertheless a weak excuse, as it is politically inept for Democrats to legitimize such causes as anything more than paltry culture war. Relatedly, Davis also joined eight Democrats—including those who voted against student debt relief—in approving Republican Chip Roy’s amendment to ban funds from going towards teaching critical race theory.

Such urgent priorities these Democrats bravely gave credence to.

Slotkin, for her part, said her vote was “to ban hateful flags from flying on military bases, particularly the Confederate flag,” arguing that the most sound way to ban “hateful flags” was by pursuing a near-universal flag ban.

Slotkin may very well have believed her vote to be more about banning hateful symbols at the relatively smaller expense of banning Pride flags. Even if that was the case—and considering that the entire Democratic caucus otherwise voted against the amendment—the vote adds to a broader record of the Democrats’ heir-apparent Michigan Senate candidate dissenting against other caucus-wide causes.

Previously, Slotkin has opposed student debt assistance on a vote supported by 93 percent of the caucus, voted against 85 percent of her caucus on whether the United States should simply study the impact of its sanctions on other countries, voted to overturn locally enacted criminal justice and voting rights reforms in Washington, D.C., and even voted against 94 percent of her caucus to bar security clearance from anyone who has used cannabis.

Slotkin also does not openly support Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, or abolishing the death penalty. And now, she has signed on to a Republican-led bill that bans members of the armed service from displaying a Pride flag.

Michigan is part of Democrats’ growing midwestern blue wall—a region where the party has shown, over and over again, how strong commitments to progressive causes can actually manifest into meaningful change for millions of people. But Slotkin is proving over and over again her incongruence with that possibility.

This article has been updated.

Republicans Successfully Weaponize the Defense Bill for Their Culture Wars

Republicans have successfully used the defense bill to target abortion, diversity, and LGBTQ people.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy bangs the gavel in the Capitol
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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

House Republicans voted Friday to add hundreds of amendments to the defense bill, successfully using the budget as a tool in their culture wars.

The House of Representatives voted 219–210 for the amended bill, completely along party lines. The measure now goes to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where the GOP’s ideological amendments have little chance of passing.

The Republicans’ extreme changes include banning the Department of Defense from spending federal funds on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, which military officials consider critical not only for recruiting fresh talent, but also for combating extremism in the ranks.

The GOP has also blocked the military from reimbursing travel expenses for service members who have to travel for an abortion. Another amendment prohibits the Defense Department from reimbursing travel costs for people who travel for gender-affirming care.

The DOD would be barred from flying Pride flags, and using federal funds to support green energy initiatives.

The radical, bigoted bill has little chance of making it through the Democratic-controlled Senate. But it’s a clear sign of the lengths that Republicans will go to wage war on things they disagree with (instead of, you know, actual issues).

Arizona Republican Says He “Misspoke” During Rant About “Colored People”

Representative Eli Crane’s comment immediately sparked outrage in the chamber.

Representative Eli Crane
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Representative Eli Crane

Arizona Republican Eli Crane gave a nod to the times of segregation on the floor of the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

“My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or black people or anybody can serve. OK? That has nothing to do with any of that stuff,” Crane began, prompting shock throughout the floor.

Crane’s comments came as he offered an amendment to the nation’s annual defense spending cornucopia that he said would ban the consideration of “race, gender, religion, or political affiliations, or any other ideological concepts as the sole basis for recruitment, training education, promotion, or retention decisions.”

The amendment was just one of many GOP-pushed amendments dealing with culture war issues, rather than, for instance, reappropriating the destructive and wasteful military spending towards anything that actually serves people.

The comments prompted Representative Joyce Beatty, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask for the words to be struck down from the record. “I find it offensive, and very inappropriate,” Beaty said. “I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as ‘colored people.’”

Crane injected, requesting to amend his comments to “people of color,” but Beatty insisted the words be removed, which they were by unanimous consent.

“In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the color of one’s skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke,” Crane said afterward. “Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal.”

Language is always evolving, and the connotations words hold are grounded in the histories surrounding them. “Colored people” is associated heavily with the times of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow: times during which the term referred to Black people as property, and then as categories to be avoided or held separately from white society.

Consequently, the term is a relic of the ills in America’s past—and not a term one may use if they’re interested in staying away from that past.

Meanwhile, also this week, Crane’s Senate Republican colleague Tommy Tuberville insistently refused to acknowledge that white nationalism is racist.

Hypocrite Nancy Mace Backs Abortion Measure She Called “Asshole” Amendment

The Republican representative revealed her true colors.

Representative Nancy Mace
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Representative Nancy Mace

Representative Nancy Mace voted to use the defense budget to limit abortion access, despite previously branding the amendment as an “asshole move.”

Republicans have packed the new NDAA with amendments targeting some of their favorite culture wars, including banning the military from funding diversity, equity, and inclusion programs; banning Pride flags; and barring the Department of Defense from reimbursing travel costs for service members who have to travel for an abortion.

Mace has repeatedly urged her party to take a more centrist stance on abortion, warning that the GOP’s extreme restrictions on the procedure could cost them elections. But she has yet to take her own advice, and Thursday night was no exception.

“We should not be taking this vote, man. Fuck,” she told her staff in an elevator in reference to the anti-abortion amendment, Politico reported. “It’s an asshole move, an asshole amendment.”

Hours later, though, she fell in line with her party and voted to include the amendment in the defense budget.

But Mace tried to have it both ways, telling Politico, “I’m all for having these conversations and debates, but doing so as part of a bill which could jeopardize our national security is wrong. Traditionally the NDAA is bipartisan legislation. This year’s bill could be historically partisan.”

The amendment will definitely alienate House Democrats, whose support is needed to pass the bill. The change is also unlikely to survive the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Mace’s vote is a clear sign of how desperate Republican leadership is to crack down on abortion access. But it’s an even clearer sign of how untrustworthy Mace is.

The South Carolina representative has repeatedly urged her party to move towards the center, and not just on abortion. She talks a good talk, but she has yet to actually walk the walk. If anything, she walks just as far to the right as the colleagues she has been warning.

Trump Super PAC Paid Melania Six Figures to Speak at Their Own House: Report

The payment was not visible in the super PAC’s initial federal reports.

Donald and Melania Trump dressed up
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When it comes to Donald Trump, it’s all just one, giant grift.

A new report from The New York Times published Thursday reveals that the top super PAC affiliated with the former president paid Melania Trump $155,000 for a “speaking engagement” at their own residence in Mar-a-Lago.

In other words, Trump effectively got his biggest supporters to pay his wife six figures to speak at his fundraising event at his house.

The payment to Melania—made in December 2021 by Donald Trump’s super PAC at the time, Make America Great Again, Again (which has since shuttered)—was not listed on the super PAC’s list of expenditures made public last year. Instead, the hefty remittance to his wife was initially disclosed as two payments (of $125,000 and $30,000) to the “Designer’s Management Agency,” where Melania is a client.

In a personal financial disclosure filed Thursday, Trump made clear that the super PAC’s $155,000 December 2, 2021 expenditure went to his wife. That payment lines up with a private fundraising dinner for the super PAC, held at the Trumps’ residence at Mar-a-Lago. One seat at that event cost $125,000.

“The Make America Great Again, Again super PAC also spent more than $350,000 at Mar-a-Lago in 2021 and 2022,” the Times notes.

This is not the first time that Trump has used his presidency and political campaigns to make his own family richer. CREW has tracked more than 3,700 conflicts of interest when it comes to the Trump family—like events held at Trump properties, publicly promoting the Trump Organization as president, to boosting his own pocket with countless visits to Trump hotels and golf courses.

The House Ethics Committee Is Coming for Matt Gaetz

A revived investigation into the congressman’s alleged sexual misconduct is ramping back up.

Matt Gaetz is back in hot water.

CNN reports that House Ethics Committee investigators have started to reach out to witnesses amid a recently revived investigation into allegations that the Florida Republican engaged in sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, and other misconduct.

When the investigation was first opened in 2021, the committee was looking into whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws, in connection with an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old. He was also being investigated for employing campaign funds for personal use, accepting a bribe, and sharing inappropriate images or videos on the floor of the House.

Gaetz told CNN that the inquiry is “not something I’m worried about, I’m focused on the work.”

“It’s also funny that the one guy who doesn’t take the corrupt lobbyist and PAC money seems to be under the most Ethics investigation,” ignoring that there are, in fact, scores of other representatives who also do not take PAC money.

The investigation was first delayed as the Department of Justice underwent its own federal criminal investigation into the same allegations, concluding without bringing any charges.

Now, the committee is making contact with witnesses for what appears to be the first known time since it first re-upped the investigation. Within these recent contacts, the committee has reportedly focused on potential lobbying violations. A source noted to CNN that those questions are not necessarily the only ones being asked to the full slate of witnesses, however.

Of note is that the House ethics investigation has resumed under Republican leadership, as the committee is now chaired by Representative Michael Guest of Mississippi.

While Gaetz has often clashed with party leadership, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told CNN he doesn’t “know anything about” the investigation. He declined further questions and referred them to the committee. McCarthy has no influence over the committee’s investigation; any involvement would violate rules.

Though Gaetz himself has held that he did no wrong, at least three people have testified under oath that Gaetz asked twice-impeached and twice-indicted former President Donald Trump for a preemptive presidential pardon regarding the Justice Department’s investigation into the slate of allegations.

Summer Lee Bats Away Pentagon’s Limp Excuses for Huge Viagra Budget

“Do you know how many bridges in my district of Pittsburgh could be repaired with that amount?” the progressive representative asked.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images
Representative Summer Lee

While Congress prepares to vote on yet another massive American defense package, different members have different priorities. Republicans, not satisfied with the progress on imposing their radical agenda, are looking to cram it into the defense bill as well. Progressives like Summer Lee, however, are going after the real issue at hand: how much trillions of dollars we spend not only on the war machine, but the most frivolous purchases within it, too.

“How much on average does the military spend on Viagra each year?” the Pittsburgh Representative asked John Tenaglia, a principal director at the Department of Defense, during a hearing on Wednesday.

“I don’t have that figure,” Tenaglia responded.

“About $41.6 million,” Lee responded. “Do you know how many bridges in my district of Pittsburgh could be repaired with that amount?” Lee continued, noting that the city’s Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed recently, would cost about $25.3 million to rebuild—a fraction of how much the Department of Defense has apparently spent on the erectile dysfunction pill.

“How much did the Department of Defense spend on snow crab and Alaska king crab in 2018?” Lee persisted. Tenaglia did not know the amount. “According to Open The Books, it was 2.3 million. Do you know how much the Pittsburgh City Council spends each year serving the county’s unhoused population? Only 1.2 million, but they’re certainly not being served Alaska king crabs.”

Lee also cited a 2016 House investigation that found the F-35 program raking up “hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs due to mismanagement and negatively affected military readiness,” noting that the entire program is estimated to cost $1.7 trillion—”enough to completely eradicate student loan debt.” She continued, citing the Government Accountability Office finding that just between May 2018 and October 2022, about  million F-35 parts valued at $85 million were “lost.”

After decades of reckless and boundless military spending, it’s high time Americans begin to understand how high the costs really are. Representative Lee joins a rising progressive caucus communicating the real stakes that the establishment keeps away from the public.

Republicans Move to Gut Climate Funding Amid Heatwaves, Floods, and Smog Storms

Ted Cruz and his Republican colleagues want to defund efforts to stop climate change, even as their constituents suffer.

Senator Ted Cruz
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Senator Ted Cruz

Millions of Americans have been enveloped in throat-scratching smog, have lost their homes and livelihoods in catastrophic floods, and have been facing extreme heat bubbles that have left people collapsing and even dying. Meanwhile, Republicans are working even harder to defund efforts to stop climate change.

While most of the conservative political establishment has proven wholly disinterested in even pretending to care about climate change—at the behest of their big fossil fuel and transportation corporate donors—Senator Ted Cruz and his Senate Commerce Committee GOP colleagues are leading a new charge to roll back climate funding in Biden’s proposed 2024 budget.

Fox reports that the Republican senators are pushing a memo to reject funding provisions focused on “equity” and “environmental justice” at agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Equity and environmental justice are the kinds of goals you may imagine an admirable comic book superhero pursuing (and there are indeed examples!), not something that elected American officials should be railing against.

But perhaps that helps clarify who society’s villains are.

NOAA’s goals, for instance, like building a “climate-ready nation” that can support underserved coastal communities—and ensure that people of all stripes are taken care of—was apparently too much for Cruz. The out-of-touch senator called such basic objectives “ancillary progressive causes,” revealing his disdain for millions of Americans.

The Republican-led memo also railed against NASA’s DEI office and its Earth Science program’s interest in helping the aviation community reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 (a bare minimum goal for pretty much every industry if we still want to have a healthy planet for our children).

“NASA should not become a plaything for anti-fossil fuel environmentalists,” the senator aka corporate puppet wrote in the memo. “The Committee would like to see funding for these missions targeted at worthy scientific enterprise and not the advancement of political agendas,” he added, while advancing Republicans’ own corporate-friendly political agenda.

Cruz’s committee also attacked funding requests to support agricultural practices that decrease emissions. In other words, they’re standing in the way of the government supporting farmers and ranchers in decreasing their impact on the very same environment their livelihoods depend upon.

And the Republicans also couldn’t stand the idea of investing into affordable, more environmentally-friendly housing, or sustainable clean water or transit systems, saying that the goals apparently have “virtually nothing to do with NSF’s statutory responsibilities.”

The NSF was established by Congress seven decades ago to promote the progress of science; advance the nation’s health, prosperity, and welfare; and secure the national defense. All goals directly related to climate resiliency and environmental protection. But no surprise Cruz cares little about any of that.

As of writing, there are over 113 million Americans—more than a third of the country—under extreme heat alerts. A heat wave in Florida has had the ocean reaching the hottest level on record, with some waters clocking in at hot tub-like temperatures.

Over the past month, before the planet reached the hottest week recorded ever, at least 25 Texans have died in the sweltering heat (all constituents of Ted Cruz, who is fighting tooth and nail to turn the heat up more). That death toll is likely just the beginning of the damage we may experience in the weeks to come.

The drastic heat comes while thousands of homes and businesses have been swept away by disastrous flooding in Vermont and New York—with rainfall coming in at a faster rate than even Hurricane Irene.

All of which has followed an ominous smog storm induced by climate change-aggravated wildfires. The omnipresent smog cloud, which enveloped most of America, seemed to be a foreboding warning of all the aforementioned disasters—and what else might be next.

But rest assured, amid all this, Ted Cruz and his Republican colleagues are doing everything they can to make it all worse.