US Supreme Court Allows Elite Virginia High School’s New Admissions Rules Designed to Diversify the Student Body!

Supreme Court declines to block elite high school's new admissions policy

Dear Commons Community,

The US Supreme Court yesterday temporarily approved new admissions criteria at an elite public high school in Virginia that eliminated standardized tests, clearing the way for the use of a policy intended to diversify the student body in choosing the class that will enter in the fall.

The court’s ruling rejected a request for emergency relief from a group that objected to the new rules, saying they harmed Asian American students.  As reported by The New York Times.

The court’s brief order was unsigned and gave no reasons, which is typical when the court acts on emergency applications asking the justices to intervene while appeals are moving forward. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — said they would have reinstated a trial judge’s ruling blocking the new criteria. They, too, did not explain their thinking.

The school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va., known as T.J., changed its admissions requirements in 2020 in the wake of protests over the murder of George Floyd.

The school, among the best in the nation, is in Fairfax County, outside Washington, and accepts students from the county and from several surrounding counties and cities. Like admissions criteria at other elite public high schools across the country, the school’s policies have been at the center of fierce debates among politicians and parents about whether and how to diversify enrollment.

A related issue is already before the Supreme Court, which will hear challenges to admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in the fall. Those programs explicitly take account of race as one factor among many.

The high school’s new program, by contrast, uses race-neutral criteria. In addition to doing away with standardized tests, the program sets aside spots for the top 1.5 percent of students from each public middle school in the area, leaving about 100 openings for everyone else, including applicants from private schools and students who have been home-schooled.

Admissions administrators also consider “experience factors,” such as whether students are poor or are learning English or are attending a middle school that was “historically underrepresented” at the high school. The administrators are not told the race, sex or name of any applicant.

After the changes went into effect in 2021, the percentage of Asian American students dropped to 54 percent from 73 percent. The percentage of Black students grew to 7 percent from no more than 2 percent; the percentage of Hispanic students grew to 11 percent from 3 percent; and the percentage of white students grew to 22 percent from 18 percent.

Across all of Fairfax County’s public schools, about 37 percent of students are white, 27 percent are Hispanic, 20 percent are Asian and 10 percent are Black.

The changes were challenged by a group called Coalition for TJ, which includes some American parents of Asian American students and which is represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative legal organization that says it defends Americans from government overreach.

The group argued that the new admissions process amounted to race discrimination aimed at Asian American students.

Judge Claude M. Hilton of the Federal District Court in Alexandria ruled for the challengers, saying that the changes were “racially motivated.” The discussion of the planned changes, he wrote, was “infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception.”

“It is clear that Asian American students are disproportionately harmed by the board’s decision to overhaul T.J. admissions,” he wrote. “Currently and in the future, Asian American applicants are disproportionately deprived of a level playing field.”

Meet The Times’s Supreme Court Reporter

Adam Liptak, who has been covering the Supreme Court since 2008, started at The Times as a copy boy in 1984. He left to attend Yale Law School, became a practicing lawyer and worked in The Times’s corporate legal department before returning to the newsroom. Learn about how he approaches covering the court.

A divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., stayed Judge Hilton’s decision while an appeal from the school board moved forward. That had the practical effect of keeping the new procedures in place for a second admissions cycle.

In a concurring opinion, Judge Toby J. Heytens wrote that the high school’s new admissions program was lawful.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that it is constitutionally permissible to seek to increase racial (and other) diversity through race-neutral means,” he wrote. “Indeed, it has required public officials to consider such measures before turning to race conscious alternatives.”

Judge Heytens added that it would be impractical to switch back to the old criteria so late in the cycle, with admissions decisions for the fall due this month. “None of the current applicants was required to take the formerly mandated standardized tests, two-thirds of which are no longer commercially available,” he wrote.

Lawyers for the school board told the Supreme Court that a ruling for the challengers would threaten race-neutral means of achieving diversity that the court had at least tacitly endorsed. In Fisher v. University of Texas in 2016, for instance, the court rejected a challenge to an admissions program that included, among other elements, guaranteed admission to top students at every high school in the state.

The school board’s brief added that the percentage of Asian American students receiving offers of admission under the new program “substantially exceeded their share of the applicant pool,” adding that “Asian Americans were the only racial group that was substantially overrepresented compared to its share of the applicant pool.”

“Moreover, the Asian American admissions rate under the plan was 19.48 percent, well within the historical 2004-2020 range of 16.8 percent to 25 percent,” the brief said. “Those facts alone foreclose the coalition’s claim that Asian Americans were disadvantaged in the admissions process.”

A small but important  judicial victory for affirmative action!



Emmanuel Macron Defeats Marine Le Pen in French Presidential Election!

French election: 'No one will be left by the wayside' - Macron's victory pledge to a divided nation | World News | Sky News

Dear Commons Community,

French President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected by a wide margin, according to projections based on early ballot counts, overcoming deep divisions among voters worried about inflation, the war in Ukraine and the impact of immigration on France’s national identity.

Mr. Macron garnered 58.8% of the estimated vote yesterday, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen won 41.2%, according to a projection from polling firm Ipsos.  As reported by The Wall Street Journal,

Mr. Macron, 44 years old, becomes the first French president to secure a second term in office since 2002, when then-President Jacques Chirac beat Ms. Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in a 64-point landslide. Since then, however, the country has fractured along economic, generational and geographical lines, with wealthier urban voters gravitating toward Mr. Macron and younger, working-class voters in France’s rural areas backing Ms. Le Pen.

Mr. Macron is now under pressure to unite millions of French who cast ballots for his rivals in the election’s first-round of voting, when more than 50% of the vote went to candidates on the far right and far left. At stake is Mr. Macron’s drive to consolidate years of pro-business overhauls to the French economy—from tax cuts to his loosening of rules on hiring and firing employees—that have fueled discontent among voters who haven’t prospered under his administration.

“I know that many of our compatriots voted today for me—not in support of the ideas I defend—but to block those of the far-right,” Mr. Macron told hundreds of supporters at the foot of a resplendent Eiffel Tower.

Small protests cropped up around France, with students and others in the southern city of Toulouse marching behind a banner that read: “Neither Le Pen, Nor Macron.” The U.S. Embassy in Paris warned the protests risked turning violent, advising U.S. citizens to steer clear of them.

Mr. Macron’s double-digit win was wider than expected. Still, Ms. Le Pen, 53 years old, managed to significantly narrow Mr. Macron’s margin of victory compared with the 2017 election, when Mr. Macron notched a 32-point landslide against her. Her score Sunday was the highest ever by a far-right candidate in a presidential election.

“A great wind of freedom could have blown over our country. The fate of the ballot box decided differently,” Ms. Le Pen said in a concession speech.

Mr. Macron acknowledged Sunday that the tide of public support for Ms. Le Pen’s ranks was on the rise. “I also know that many of our compatriots chose the far right. The anger and the disagreements that led them to vote for that project must also find an answer,” he said.

Mr. Macron is expected to swiftly form a government whose composition will provide voters with the first indication of whether he intends to stick with his self-proclaimed “Jupetarian” style of governance, which has at times involved lecturing the public on his overhauls and marginalizing the role of the National Assembly in lawmaking.

A heavy-handed approach won’t work in Mr. Macron’s second term, some analysts say, as he is likely to find it much harder to secure the commanding majority his party, La République en Marche, and its allies enjoyed during his first term. Mr. Macron is expected to select ministers from outside his party who can help bridge the political divide.

“Macron will need to lead a policy of social reconciliation,” said Pascal Perrineau, a political-science professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, more commonly known as Sciences Po.

At the top of Mr. Macron’s agenda is his plan to streamline France’s complex pension system and raise the country’s retirement age to 65 from 62. Mr. Macron says the move is necessary to fund lower taxes and boost government spending on the country’s vaunted public health system, which was severely stretched during the pandemic. Ms. Le Pen and other opponents say Mr. Macron’s push to make people work longer is unbearable for working-class French who started working much earlier in life.

During his campaign, Mr. Macron said he would build consensus through a series of nationwide debates on the country’s school system, hospitals and democratic institutions. He also said he would work more closely with local officials to improve public services across the country, including in rural areas.

“He’s the only one who can pacify the country,” said François Bianco, a 46-year-old financial consultant in Paris.

Supporters of the president who arrived at the Eiffel Tower to celebrate his election found a much more somber event than the blowout party that shook the Louvre in 2017.

“I am so relieved. We’ve avoided the worst,” said Valentin Fortunati, a 32-year-old engineer.

Ms. Le Pen now faces questions about her future as leader of one of Europe’s most prominent anti-immigrant parties. Sunday marked Ms. Le Pen’s third defeat in presidential elections since her father, who was convicted of anti-Semitism, handed leadership of the National Front to her a decade ago. Her first loss to Mr. Macron came five years ago after she called for France to leave the euro, a stance that spooked many French households.

Ms. Le Pen dropped her opposition to the euro and focused on pocketbook issues, framing her 2022 campaign as a fight against inflation. She zeroed in on the impact the war in Ukraine was having on France’s economy, particularly the higher fuel prices that affect working-class commuters. She also rebranded her party as National Rally in an effort to turn the page on its far-right history, a strategy the party calls “de-demonization.” She toned down her rhetoric and opened up about her personal life, musing on her love of cats.

The changes weren’t enough to deliver victory.

“That’s eight times defeat has struck the Le Pen name,” said Eric Zemmour, the far-right former TV pundit, who failed to qualify for the runoff.

On Sunday, Ms. Le Pen said she planned to “continue with my commitments for France and the French.”

Mr. Macron built a comfortable lead in polls in early March as voters looked for a steady hand to lead the country in a time of war. Mr. Macron’s aides said the president was too busy with diplomacy, taking calls with President Biden and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to hit the campaign trail in earnest.

The Macron campaign started to fret, however, when his lead in the polls evaporated heading into the first round of voting on April 10. Mr. Macron finished with 27.9% of the first-round vote compared with Ms. Le Pen’s 23.2%.

Mr. Macron went on the attack, highlighting during the only national debate of the election a loan of 9.4 million euros, equivalent to $10.2 million, that Ms. Le Pen’s party took from a Russian-Czech bank with ties to the Kremlin in 2014. Mr. Macron said the loan, which the party is still paying off, made Ms. Le Pen beholden to the Kremlin.

He drew attention to her political program, which included plans to rewrite France’s constitution to give “national preference” to French citizens over immigrants—including documented ones—in seeking jobs, public housing and welfare benefits. Ms. Le Pen also proposed a ban on the Muslim head scarf in all public places, describing the garb as an instrument of Islamist ideology.

Mr. Macron said Ms. Le Pen risked fomenting a civil war in a country that has one of Europe’s largest Muslim minorities. France has been targeted with terrorist attacks by assailants who cited cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in French media as their motive.

Still, Ms. Le Pen’s campaign managed to broaden her appeal with voters who, two decades ago, considered it taboo to vote for her father, who was convicted of anti-Semitism in the 1980s for describing the Nazi gas chambers as a detail of history.

“I have nothing against Marine Le Pen, even if I wear a head scarf,” said Lilia Missoum, a mother of four children in the port of Le Havre, along the English Channel. She cast her vote for Mr. Macron, because she approved of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the subsidized paychecks her husband received during the crisis. Still, she says, Mr. Macron’s “door to immigration is too open.”

Parliamentary elections in June will represent a test for both Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen. In 2017, candidates across the country for Mr. Macron’s then-nascent party rode his coattails, securing a majority.

People who voted for Mr. Macron on Sunday only out of opposition to Ms. Le Pen, however, will be hard pressed to back his party in June, when other parties will have candidates on the ballot. Ms. Le Pen’s National Rally meanwhile has a history of struggling to win parliamentary seats.

Her party secured a handful of seats in the last parliamentary election, because opposing candidates in districts where National Rally has a strong following tend to drop out of the race, allowing more mainstream voters to coalesce around a single establishment candidate.

Both Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen will face stiff competition from the party of far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who nearly qualified for the presidential runoff after garnering 22% of the first-round vote on April 10. Establishment parties that fared poorly in the presidential election also are expected to field candidates across the country where their roots run deep.

Congratulations President Macron.


Video: Elizabeth Warren calls Kevin McCarthy a ‘liar’ and ‘traitor’ over Jan 6 tape!


Dear Commons Community,

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed Rep. Kevin McCarthy as a “liar and a traitor” over recordings that show the House Republican leader — despite his denials — placing responsibility on then-President Donald Trump for the Capitol riot and suggesting Trump should resign (see video above).

It’s unusually strong language to use against the House Republican leader, who is in line to become speaker if Republicans win control of the House in the November elections.

But Warren’s statement reflects a swell of Democratic criticism against McCarthy. They point to his recorded comments in January 2021 as proof that GOP lawmakers at the highest levels privately acknowledge Trump’s role in the insurrection at the Capitol yet continue to defend him in public.

McCarthy, R-Calif., denied a New York Times report last week that detailed phone conversations with House Republican leadership shortly after the riot that he thought Trump should resign. He called it “totally false.” But in an audio first posted Thursday by the newspaper and aired on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, McCarthy is heard discussing the possibility of urging Trump to leave office amid the Democratic push to impeach him.

Asked Sunday about her reaction, Warren, D-Mass., called the circumstances “outrageous.”

“Kevin McCarthy is a liar and a traitor,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“That is really the illness that pervades the Republican leadership right now, that they say one thing to the American public and something else in private,” Warren said. “They understand that it is wrong what happened, an attempt to overthrow our government and that the Republicans instead want to continue to try to figure out how to make 2020 election different instead of spending their energy on how it is that we go forward in order to build an economy, in order to make this country work better for the people who sent us to Washington.”

“Shame on Kevin McCarthy,” she said.

There was no immediate response Sunday from McCarthy’s office to a request for comment.

The crowd that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, marched there from a rally near the White House where Trump had implored them to fight to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election, saying falsely the election was stolen. Trump has denied responsibility for the violence.

McCarthy has been a person of interest for the House committee investigating the storming of the Capitol. The committee requested an interview with McCarthy in mid-January, seeking information on his communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly heated.

McCarthy issued a statement at the time saying he would refuse to cooperate because he saw the investigation as not legitimate and accused the panel of “abuse of power.”

Trump and McCarthy had a strained relationship after the Capitol attack, but made amends after the GOP leader flew to the former president’s resort in Florida to smooth things over.

Their alliance renewed, McCarthy is now relying on Trump to help Republicans win the House majority in this November’s midterm elections.

Warren is calling it like it is!


Video: Disgraceful New York Yankee Fans Pelt Opposing Players With Garbage!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Yankee fans pelted Cleveland Guardians outfielders with bottles, cans and garbage yesterday as the Yankees pulled off a last-minute 5-4 win.

Rather than celebrate the victory, Yankee players rushed to the right-field bleachers (see video above)  in a bid to calm down fans who were raining trash on the Cleveland team.

One piece of garbage even hit an umpire trying to intervene.

Tensions were already simmering when Yankee Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a double to tie the score in the ninth inning, ESPN reported. Guardian left fielder Steven Kwan was injured when he slammed into the wall trying to grab the ball.

That’s when Guardian center fielder Myles Straw climbed the chain-link fence at the bleachers to confront at least one hectoring fan face-to-face while the others berated him.

“Brutal,” Straw said after the game. “Worst fan base on the planet.”

Yankee pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres soon drove in the winning run. As Straw and Cleveland right fielder Oscar Mercado tried to chase down the ball they were pelted with garbage.

“I didn’t know what was going on, but that can’t happen,” Kiner-Falefa told reporters later. “I love the atmosphere, I love the fans, I love everything about them, but we win with class.”

Cleveland manager Terry Francona said after the game: “I don’t think people can throw stuff at our players on the field. That’s never going to be okay.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone agreed. “Obviously, there’s no place for throwing stuff on the field in that situation,” he said. “Obviously we certainly don’t want to put anybody in danger. Love the intensity, but can’t be throwing stuff out on the field.”

I am a life-long Yankee fan born and raised in the shadow of Yankee Stadium.  The Yankees have class!  The fans yesterday in right field brought shame to the team and the rest of its fan base.

Disgraceful behavior!



Donald Trump’s Newest Problem: Elon Musk!

Speculation grows that Elon Musk will reinstate Trump following Twitter  purchase | indy100

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times has an article this morning analyzing Elon Musk’s plan for a Twitter takeover as seriously adding to the problems facing Donald Trump’s Truth Social network.

Truth Social is slow and clunky. Its audience participation remains low. Two top executives have left, and Truth Social’s very reason for being appears under threat. Here is an excerpt from the article.

Musk’s plan for a potential hostile takeover of Twitter is the latest challenge for Trump Media & Technology Group’s flagship Truth Social app, which Mr. Trump has positioned as Twitter’s freewheeling conservative counterpart. 

Mr. Musk said Thursday that he had obtained $46.5 billion in financing for his takeover bid and has suggested he would loosen Twitter moderation policies that he has chafed under — and that famously led the service to bar Mr. Trump for inciting violence over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Although Mr. Musk has not said if he would allow Mr. Trump to return to the platform if his bid succeeded, his ideas for easing Twitter’s rules would further sap the appeal of Mr. Trump’s beleaguered start-up as it faces a regulatory investigation that could decide its future.

Karen Freberg, a professor of strategic communications at the University of Louisville, said Truth Social might have missed its chance.

“Had Truth Social had everything up and running, it could have brought people in and had potential time to grow the platform,” she said. “What’s happening with Twitter is that it’s gotten the media attention and spotlight, and Elon Musk is now utilizing his influence.”

Trump Media declined to comment on Mr. Musk’s Twitter bid. Liz Harrington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, pointed to a recent interview with Americano Media in which the former president said he “probably wouldn’t rejoin Twitter if he could.”

Trump Media and Truth Social were facing significant challenges even without a competitor that could become more alluring to its prospective user base.”

The article goes on to mention serious problems that Truth Media and Truth Social are facing regarding funding investments that could be jeopardized by Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

Interesting read!



Marjorie Taylor Greene hostile in testimony at a hearing over her eligibility to run for Congress!

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks during a hearing, Friday, April 22, 2022, in Atlanta. Greene is appearing at a hearing Friday in Atlanta in a challenge filed by voters who say she shouldn't be allowed to seek reelection because she helped facilitate the attack on the Capitol that disrupted certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory.(AP Photo/John Bazemore, Pool)

Dear Commons Community,

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, yesterday repeated false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election as she defended her actions surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, in an extraordinary hearing that asked whether she should be labeled an “insurrectionist” and barred from office under the Constitution.

While under oath at an administrative law hearing in Atlanta, Ms. Greene insisted that “a tremendous amount of fraudulent activity” had robbed former President Donald J. Trump of his re-election, an assertion that has been soundly refuted by multiple courts, Republican-led recounts and Mr. Trump’s own attorney general, William P. Barr.

But despite her exhortations on social media to “#FightForTrump,” she said she had possessed no knowledge that protesters intended to invade the Capitol on Jan. 6, or disrupt the congressional joint session called to count the electoral votes and confirm Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. She said she did not recall meeting with any of the instigators.

And Ms. Greene said neither she nor members of her staff had offered anyone tours of the Capitol complex before Jan. 6, 2021, nor had they provided anyone with a map of the complex, refuting tales of a conspiracy promoted by some Democrats that she had helped the rioters plan their attack.  As reported by The New York Times.

“I was asking people to come for a peaceful march, which is what everyone is entitled to do under their First Amendment,” Ms. Greene testified. “I was not asking them to actively engage in violence.”

The contentious hearing unfolded after a group of constituents from her Northwest Georgia district, supported by liberal lawyers, filed suit to block Ms. Greene, a vigorously right-wing lawmaker, from appearing on the ballot for re-election. They charged that she had exhorted rioters to take up arms to block the certification of Mr. Biden’s election, and helped organize the assembly behind the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, that turned into a violent mob.

The legal case appeared to be on shaky ground as the administrative law judge, Charles R. Beaudrot, repeatedly sided with Ms. Greene’s lawyer, the prominent conservative election attorney James Bopp Jr., who maintained that much of the questioning violated his client’s right of free speech. Judge Beaudrot will make a recommendation on whether to bar Ms. Greene from the ballot, but the final decision will fall to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger — the same official who resisted pressure from Mr. Trump to change the presidential election results in the state, and who faces a Trump-backed challenger, Representative Jody Hice, in the coming Republican primary.

But the proceeding afforded lawyers pressing the case against Ms. Greene to maintain their pressure and keep attention on her role on Jan. 6, and compel her to answer for it. The proceedings were broadcast on C-SPAN, live-streamed on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and revealed a House Republican that was often peevish and sometimes on the defensive.

“This is a solemn occasion,” Ron Fein, the lead lawyer bringing the case against Ms. Greene with the group Free Speech for People, told Judge Beaudrot. “This is not politics. This is not theater. This is a serious case that the voters who we represent have brought in order to offer proof that their United States representative seeking re-election, Marjorie Taylor Greene, having taken the oath to support the Constitution, then broke that oath and engaged in insurrection.”

Mr. Bopp dismissed the case as precisely the opposite, asserting that the law was on the side of his client, who, far from engaging in insurrection, had been a victim during the riot — scared, confused, and fearing for her life as Mr. Trump’s supporters swarmed through the Capitol, where she was present just to do her job.

He maintained that the entire Free Speech for People effort was designed to deny Georgia voters their rights, because the plaintiffs could not defeat Ms. Greene at the ballot box.

“This is not a candidate debate. This is not a place for political hyperbole. This is not a place for political smear. It’s a court of law,” Mr. Bopp said.

At the heart of the case against Ms. Greene is the plaintiffs’ claim that the congresswoman is disqualified from seeking re-election because her support of the rioters who attacked the Capitol made her an “insurrectionist” under the Constitution, and therefore barred her under the little-known third section of the 14th Amendment, which was adopted during the Reconstruction years to punish members of the Confederacy.

That section declares that “no person shall” hold “any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath” to “support the Constitution,” had then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

The U.S.Congress could do without the likes of Greene but I don’t think she will be denied a spot on the ballot!


Florida’s Governor DeSantis Signs Disney Bill Declaring a Republican Brawl with Business!

Cathryn Bell's tweet - "Ron DeSantis bans math books & battles Mickey Mouse under the guise of “protecting kids” He is nothing but a disgusting fascist, #Florida needs to vote him out

Dear Commons Community,

Governor Ron DeSantis yesterday revoked Disney’s special tax and self-governing privileges in Florida, culminating an extraordinary clash between one of the Republican Party’s leading figures and a powerful company with deep historical ties to his state.

The move, which reverses a 55-year arrangement effectively allowing the company to self-govern its theme park complex, came after a weekslong battle with Disney that became a symbol of the country’s broader cultural fights over education, sexuality and identity.

The Florida standoff largely centered on an education law recently signed by Mr. DeSantis. That law, called the “Parental Rights in Education” measure — or, by its critics, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in some elementary school grades. After internal demands to speak out, Disney, Florida’s largest private employer, had criticized the measure and paused political donations.

As reported by The New York Times and the Associated Press.

The law would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, as the 55-year-old Disney government is known, as well as a handful of other similar districts by June 2023. The measure does allow for the districts to be reestablished, leaving an avenue to renegotiate its future.

The move could have huge tax implications for Disney, whose series of theme parks have transformed Orlando into one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, and serves to further sour the relationship between the Republican-led government and a major political player in the state.

For DeSantis, the attack on Disney is his latest salvo in a culture war waged over policies involving race, gender and the coronavirus, battles that have made him one of the most popular GOP politicians in the country and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.

The dispute with the company began with Disney’s criticism of a new law barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as instruction that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans then lashed out at Disney, and have defended the law as reasonable.

At the bill signing ceremony yesterday, DeSantis said Disney lied about the content of the education law but that he viewed the company’s vow to fight the law as unacceptable.

“You’re a corporation based in Burbank, California, and you’re gonna marshal your economic might to attack the parents of my state. We view that as a provocation, and we’re going to fight back against that,” DeSantis said.

As it became increasingly clear this week that the measure would be enacted, some Floridians expressed growing concerns around the tax implications, though it is not yet certain what those may ultimately be.

While the new law ostensibly takes away big perks for Disney, like issuing its own building permits, Democrats warn that it leaves Central Florida’s Orange and Osceola counties holding the bag for some $163 million in annual taxes. Others, including Mr. Randolph, warned that local property owners could see significant property tax hikes.

Disney had been paying taxes to itself, using the money to pay for things like the police and fire services. Now, Orange County says it will have to take on the costs for municipal services to theme parks that Disney had paid for through Reedy Creek, the special taxing district the legislature eliminated.

“It’s obvious that it is political retribution that is at play here,” Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, told reporters. “We are trying to understand what the legislature is trying to do in this case, but I believe they have not adequately contemplated the ramifications of what they have proposed at this point.”

Republicans are supposed to be friendly to corporate America.  Not in Florida!


Audio: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy would have urged then-President Donald Trump to resign!


Dear Commons Community,

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told fellow GOP lawmakers shortly after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection that he would urge then-President Donald Trump to resign, according to audio (listen above) posted by The New York Times and aired on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show.  As reported by the Associated Press.

In the recording of a Jan. 10 House Republican Leadership call posted by the Times last night, McCarthy is heard discussing the Democratic effort to remove Trump from office and saying he would tell Trump, “I think it will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign.”

It’s unclear whether McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker if Republicans gain control during the fall midterm elections, followed through on his thinking or was merely spit-balling ideas shared privately with his colleagues in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol assault.

In the same conversation, McCarthy told his colleagues he doubted Trump would take the advice to step aside.

“That would be my recommendation,” McCarthy is heard saying in response to question from Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who would emerge as a staunch Trump critic. “I don’t think he will take it, but I don’t know.””

Earlier yesterday, after the Times published its initial story describing the conversation, McCarthy released a statement calling it “totally false and wrong.” His spokesman, Mark Bednar, had told the paper, “McCarthy never said he’d call Trump to say he should resign.”

Bednar did not immediately respond to questions late last night after the audio’s release. Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the tape.

The audio threatens to badly damage the relationship between McCarthy and Trump, who remains the most popular figure in the Republican Party, despite his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection and his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election. And it could threaten McCarthy’s standing with House Republicans aligned with Trump, whose support he will need for votes to become House speaker next year.

The audio depicts a very different McCarthy than the one who has been leading House Republicans over the last year and a half and who has remained allied with Trump even after delivering a speech on the House floor shortly after Jan. 6, during which he called the attack on the Capitol “un-American.” At the time, McCarthy called the assault among the saddest days of his career and told his fellow Republicans that Trump “bears responsibility” for the violence.

Even after the violence, though, McCarthy joined half of the House Republicans in voting to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory.

Since then, the California Republican has distanced himself from any criticism of Trump and has avoided directly linking him to what happened. Within weeks of the siege at the Capitol McCarthy said he did not think Trump provoked the attack, as other prominent Republicans said at the time.

Instead, McCarthy has cozied up to Trump, visiting him at the former president’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago as he relies on the former president’s brand for campaign support this fall.

McCarthy indicated during an interview with The Associated Press this week in California that Trump will motivate voters to turn out for the party in this fall’s midterm elections.

“He’ll motivate, get a lot of people out,” McCarthy said at a GOP event in Fresno.

The Times report yesterday was adapted from an upcoming book, “ This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.

In the audio, Cheney, who eventually lost her No. 3 leadership position after voting in favor of Trump’s impeachment, can be heard asking McCarthy about a 25th Amendment resolution calling for Trump’s ouster and whether Trump might resign.

“I’ve had a few discussions. My gut tells me no. I’m seriously thinking of having that conversation with him tonight,” McCarthy is heard saying. “What I think I’m gonna do is I’m gonna call him.”

“I think it will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign,” he later adds. “I mean, that would be my take but I don’t think he would take it. But I don’t know.”

McCarthy, 57, has been strategically charting his own delicate course as he positions himself to try to take over as speaker if Republicans retake the House. He has begun to build out his leadership team and last summer tasked several groups of Republican lawmakers with drafting proposals on the party’s core legislative priorities in hopes of making a fast start in 2023.

But even as he inches closer to leading the chamber, McCarthy is well aware of the downside of power in recent months as hard-right members of the conference have created headaches with inflammatory actions and statements.

There was little immediate reaction last night from fellow Republicans who could determine his future.

To be sure, no other Republican leader in the House has amassed the standing to challenge McCarthy for the leadership position.

McCarthy has recruited the class of newcomers bolstering GOP ranks and raised millions to bolster Republican campaigns. He has drawn his closest rivals into the fold even as he works to shore up the votes that would be needed to become speaker.

An outside group aligned with McCarthy has led fundraising ahead of the midterm elections, and rank-and-file Republicans working to regain the House majority are unlikely to be critical of the leader ahead of November.

Still, McCarthy has also been a person of interest for the House committee investigating the storming of the Capitol on Jan 6. The select committee, which Cheney vice-chairs, requested an interview with McCarthy in mid-January, hoping to learn more about his conversations with Trump “before, during and after” the riot.

They had also sought information about McCarthy’s communications with former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in the days before the attack. Hours after the request was made, McCarthy issued a statement saying he would refuse to cooperate because he saw the investigation as not legitimate and accused the panel of “abuse of power.”

The committee has been especially focused on McCarthy’s communications with Trump and White House staff in the week after the violence, including a conversation with Trump that was reportedly heated.

Without his cooperation, it remains unclear whether the panel will be able to gain testimony from McCarthy or any other congressional allies of Trump. While the committee has considered subpoenaing fellow lawmakers, they have so far avoided doing so as it would be an extraordinary move and could run up against legal and political challenges.