It's Such A Perfect Day (For You To Start Supporting Your Beloved Wonkette!)
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Every once in a while, I get so sick of asking you for money, that I don't.
That's what happened last month, when I just fuckin couldn't do it again. Well, it's my JOB, and I am NOT A SHIRKER, except sometimes when I AM.
Look at me, not shirking this month.
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As you may have heard, media is doing layoffs again — Vox, Washington Post — and more are going out of business completely. And if I were physically capable of doing layoffs, your Wonkette would be too, but you love too much SER and Robyn and Dok and Evan and (part-time) Liz and the weekly freelance gang. So the only person I can lay off is me.
Last year, for the first time since I bought Wonkette 11 years ago (next month!), our annual revenues went down — and by just about my entire salary. I've cut some easy stuff from our expenses but I'm not doing pay- or benefit-cuts for any of the staff but me. We are now out of "sold my house" money. And "Mom sold her house and gave each of her kids $10,000" money. And "sued my old landlord" money. Man, the universe really has been "soft landing," hasn't it! Thanks universe! You're mostly real cool!
I know that in your kindness you will want Wonkette to start taking ads again. I'm no longer against it, and if any of our friends wanted to pay for a static, non-tracking, simple image ad, well, you sure could hit me up. With money, in my face. But all those other ads break the website, shove malware onto your browser and use up all your monthly "internet," and most importantly they don't pay jack shit.
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\u201cPerfect day\u201d— Rebecca Schoenkopf, @firstname.lastname@example.org (@Rebecca Schoenkopf, @email@example.com) 1672014649
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The Stupid, It Burns ... Books!
No, the Right has not stopped its war on communism we mean libraries.
The far Right's war on students' right to read a goddamn book if they want to read a goddamn book — as well as grownups reading grownup books, as if that's somehow allowed either — continues across the country, with ever-more surreal battles being pursued in the name of protecting kids from things kids want to read. Put on your helmet and body armor, because the anti-book crazies are still going ballistic.
LAST WEEK! North Dakota GOP To Jail Librarians For Disgusting Sex Books, Including Images Of 'Gender Identity'
Kentucky: Librarian Wins Small Claims Case Over LGBTQ Book
In a fairly open-and-shut (you know, like a book!) case in Jefferson County District Court last week in Louisville, Kentucky, a small claims court judge tossed a case brought by a local bigot who had sued a high school librarian over her decision to include books on LGBTQ+ topics in the library. The man, Kurt Wallace, had sought "damages" of $2,300 because Waggener High School librarian Kristen Heckel had kept the award-winning memoir/essay collectionAll Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson in the library despite Wallace's attempts to make it and other LGBTQ books go away.
Heckel still had to take the day off from school to attend the hearing, a situation for which Judge Jennifer Leibson was apologetic. As Louisville Public Media explains, court records showed that Johnson
began sending letters to Heckel in the spring of 2022 objecting to the library’s purchase of "All Boys Aren’t Blue" and other titles Wallace claimed were “obscene” or “pornographic.” He also claimed the books were intended for “grooming” minors for sexual exploitation, a common unfounded and homophobic talking point among some right-wing activists.
We have to say that LPM reporter Jess Clark appears to have relished the chance to describe the courtroom drama, such as it was, noting that Judge Leibson began by explaining the purpose of small claims court, and what kinds of cases are and aren't allowed there.
Then she called up Wallace. The middle-aged man in dress slacks made his way to the stand dragging a carry-on-sized suitcase behind him, presumably filled with evidence he intended to present. He also carried a large leather-bound Bible and a posterboard scrawled with red marker but illegible from a distance.
He never had a chance to read it. Leibson dismissed the case.
“Mr. Wallace, your case is one of those cases,” Leibson said. “You cannot recover in small claims on this kind of judgment.” She had explained earlier that small claims court is only meant to decide cases in which a plaintiff had incurred actual costs as the result of a defendant’s action.
Wallace tried to argue with Leibson, demanding that she identify the statute that gave her the authority to dismiss his very valid claim, but she asked him to leave the courtroom, possibly before he insisted that her ruling was invalid because there was gold fringe on her flag. He returned a bit later and "sat in the public viewing area with his Bible in his lap."
Leibson apologized to Heckel for having to put up with the nonsense, and added "I admire your courage. … I wish you had been my librarian when I was a kid.”
Honestly, we were hoping maybe Heckel would have sued Wallace for making her miss work, but she probably got paid for being there, since school district attorneys went along to defend her if that had been needed. [Louisville Public Media]
Pennsylvania: First They Came For The Inspirational Poster Featuring Elie Wiesel
In the Central Bucks School District in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a librarian at Central Bucks South High School says the school's principal told him to remove posters featuring a quote by Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, because the posters supposedly violated a new policy banning educators from "advocacy activities."
Librarian Matt Pecic said Wednesday he'd been told to remove the posters because they featured a quote from Wiesel's 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech:
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Well sure, we can see why speaking up for the oppressed would be a terrible thing. The truly neutral action, as mandated by district policy, would be to allow the tormentors to do as they like, because who are you to decide they're wrong?
Pecic told public station WHYY that if the posters weren't removed, there would be "consequences" from the district's Human Resources office. He said he felt "powerless" to refuse.
“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” he said.
“It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with,” Pecic added.
Pecic added that his daugher, a ninth-grader in the district, had emailed him the quote.
“This is where I get choked up … She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you,’” Pecic said. He describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”
Or at least that's how things may have worked before fascists started terrorizing teachers and librarians.
The Central Bucks District has been the center of a discrimination lawsuit brought by the ACLU, which argues rightwing members of the school board have created a "hostile environment" for LGBTQ+ students in the district. The district is currently considering whether to remove as many as five books from district libraries, four of which have LGBTQ+ themes, under a new policy that makes books easier to ban. Parents are upset that the books will turn their kids gay, like teachers and librarians are always trying to do.
There's a semi-happy ending to the Wiesel quote story, at least: After the story blew up on social media, the principal reversed the decision and Pecic will be putting the posters back up.
So happy International Holocaust Remembrance Day, everyone. [WHYY, tip of the Wonkette Cat Ears to alert reader "MVario"]
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Civil Rights Lawyer Ben Crump Might Take Ron DeSantis To AP 'Sue Your Ass' Class Over Black History Course
Lawsuits: As American as apple pie!
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is getting significant pushback for his administration's rejection last week of an Advanced Placement course in African American studies. Yesterday, African American state lawmakers, educators, and others rallied in the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee to call for the AP course to be offered in Florida high schools. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump said at the rally that if DeSantis refuses to make the class available, Crump will sue the state on the behalf of three high school honors students from Leon County who want to take the course.
“If the governor allows the College Board to present AP African American studies in classrooms across the state of Florida, then we will feel no need to file this historic lawsuit,” Crump told reporters at the Capitol. “However, if he rejects the free flow of ideas and suppresses African American studies, then we’re prepared to take this controversy all the way to the United States Supreme Court.”
It's just the latest effort to fight back against DeSantis's ongoing agenda of using culture war issues to build rightwing support nationwide as he plans a likely 2024 presidential run. DeSantis has claimed that the AP course, currently being taught as a pilot before being rolled out nationwide, is tainted by unnecessary political elements like queer theory, because no Black people have ever been LGBTQ as long as you exclude Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Bayard Rustin, and others who were not Martin Luther King, the only Black leader DeSantis pretends to admire.
DeSantis and his Education Department also cried bitterly about how the AP course was full of "critical race theory" because it might suggest that slavery, Jim Crow, and systematic racism were part of a deliberate attempt by white people to deny rights and economic freedom to people of color, which could make white children feel sad. Instead, under Florida law, we're pretty sure Black history is limited to half of one sentence from King's "Dream" speech, as well as a brief list of Black entertainers, athletes, Supreme Court justices who were not Thurgood Marshall, and the opening credits of "The Cosby Show."
Ron DeSantis's Drunk Black History
Florida Will Shrink Black History Until It's Small Enough To Drown In Ron DeSantis's Bathtub
Ron DeSantis Cancels 'Un-American' African American Studies AP Classes, F*ck You Is Why
The College Board, which creates Advanced Placement classes and tests that can be applied to college credits, as well as the SATs and other standardized tests, issued a press release Tuesday saying it will release its "official" framework for the African American studies course on February 1, the first day of Black History Month. That framework, the College Board said, would incorporate feedback gathered throughout the 2022-2023 pilot period of the class, which has been in development for a decade.
The press release didn't specify that Florida's objections were the reason for the updates to the framework; if anything, it sounds like the sort of routine boilerplate you'd get in any announcement of a coming plan:
This framework, under development since March 2022, replaces the preliminary pilot course framework under discussion to date [...]
Before a new AP course is made broadly available, it is piloted in a small number of high schools to gather feedback from high schools and colleges. The official course framework incorporates this feedback and defines what students will encounter on the AP Exam for college credit and placement.
Not a word about any changes to meet DeSantis's demands to strip out all the woke indoctrination stuff. Considering how much time and work and committee planning goes into developing a class that's going to be available nationwide, it's pretty freaking unlikely the College Board would even attempt a radical pruning of the course in roughly a week. It's really not like one teacher rewriting a lesson plan at the last minute, or any document the Trump administration ever slapped together.
But hey, it said it would replace the pilot version that DeSantis rejected, so members of his administration got busy proclaiming victory. DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin exulted on Twitter that "Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis' principled stand for education over identity politics, the College Board will be revising the course for the entire nation," which again, is almost certainly not what happened, we will bet cash money on that.
The Florida Department of Education also issued a statement thanking the College Board for wholesale revisions that were definitely not mentioned by the College Board statement either:
We are glad the College Board has recognized that the originally submitted course curriculum is problematic, and we are encouraged to see the College Board express a willingness to amend. AP courses are standardized nationwide, and as a result of Florida’s strong stance against identity politics and indoctrination, students across the country will consequentially have access to an historically accurate, unbiased course.
As Governor DeSantis said, African American History is American History, and we will not allow any organization to use an academic course as a gateway for indoctrination and a political agenda. We look forward to reviewing the College Board’s changes and expect the removal of content on Critical Race Theory, Black Queer Studies, Intersectionality and other topics that violate our laws.
We are of course ready to say we were wrong if the final version of the AP framework released next week perfectly fits Florida's demands, although we think it's far more likely that DeSantis and crew will 1) reject it yet again as too dangerous for Florida teens or B) find two or three tiny changes, greatly overstate their significance, and claim victory.
In any case, California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker have issued their own statements urging the College Board not to make the cuts demanded by DeSantis, which is, as we say, a far more likely outcome anyway. (AND MAKE IT GAYER, says Pritzker.) No doubt DeSantis will blame any non-revisions to the course framework on those two dangerous libs.
[Politico / WFLA / The Hill / Tallahassee Democrat / NBC News / Image: Screenshot, WPBF-TV on Youtube.]
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Beware, Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer Coming To Preschool Your Four-Year-Olds!
What sort of monster helps parents and kids?
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her first post-pandemic State of the State speech live tonight (at 7 p.m. Eastern), and is expected to announce a plan to get all the state's four-year-olds into pre-kindergarten if parents want it, and why wouldn't they? (Because it'll teach about socialist ideas like "sharing" and "thinking about others' feelings," that's why.)
The plan will build on the state's existing Great Start Readiness Program, which is itself kind of modeled on the federal Head Start program but is available to more kids, because Head Start is limited to families with incomes at or below the federal poverty line, while Great Start is for kids whose parents make up to 250 percent of the poverty line. Once it's fully implemented over the next four years, Whitmer's plan for pre-K would make it available to all 110,000 4-year-olds in the state and would save families roughly $10,000 a year in childcare expenses, according to Whitmer's office.
In a statement to the AP, Whitmer said, "Every parent knows an early start is critical to their child’s future," which just goes to show how mad with power she's gone, acting like she knows what parents want. Well what about parents who want their children to not succeed, Mz Fancy Education Governor?
The AP noted that the announcement didn't provide an estimated cost for the program, but also pointed out that Michigan is projected to have a surplus of $9.2 billion by the fall, when the program begins rolling out, with "$4.1 billion in the school aid fund." And with Democrats controlling both houses of the Michigan Legislature following the 2022 midterm elections, it seems fairly unlikely they'll be giving multi-millionaires a tax cut.
Universal pre-K was one of the ideas in Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan that ended up being scrapped because Joe Manchin thought poor people should be reminded more forcefully that they're a burden, so it's good to see states implementing it. Might even make people in other states wonder why blue states have better opportunities for families with children.
Other Democratic legislative priorities announced at the start of the legislative session are still being shaped in the Lege, like a state Senate bill that moved out of committee yesterday to increase the state's Earned Income Tax Credit. When enacted, the state EITC will go from a six percent to a 30 percent match of the federal credit. Even better, the increased credit will be retroactive to 2022 taxes. And here's a surprise:
House Republicans also appear to be on board with the increased tax credit. State Rep. Bill G. Schuette of Midland said in a statement that he is “pleased” Senate Democrats amended the bill to be retroactive to the 2022 tax year.
Whitmer didn’t specifically address the Senate Democrat’s plan in her statement, but she said boosting the tax credit would “deliver an average combined refund of $3,000 to over 700,000 working families across Michigan.”
In addition, the Lege is also working on repealing a tax on retirees that was put in place by former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, presumably under the presumption that retired folks owe it to corporations to pay for tax cuts.
The AP reports that at an event Tuesday in Lansing, Whitmer said there's still "a lot of discussion and negotiation" needed to repeal the retiree tax.
And just to make us get all emotional like we libs do, the story also notes that as Whitmer listened to Michigan residents talk about the ways inflation has affected them, "Salina Montes, a mother of a 1-year-old, broke down in tears as she described having to stay home because she can't afford daycare," and for Crom's sake maybe we should be doing better as a nation for people like Ms. Montes and her kids instead of the investor class, don't you think?
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