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The White House decided to troll the New Hampshire state legislature about raptors

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

The White House asked the fourth-graders at Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, to name a red-tailed hawk that had started living at the White House. The kids, true to their name, decided on "Lincoln," presumably in reference to the school's name and also to the Sylvester Stallone character in the 1987 arm-wrestling classic Over the Top. The bird has a Twitter account and everything. Look at Lincoln in all his sepia-tinted glory:

Picture of Lincon the red-tailed White House hawk

Photo by DJ Patil via White House

But wait — why is the White House asking a random group of New Hampshire fourth-graders to name a goddamn bird? Well, the fourth-graders of Lincoln Akerman School happen to really love red-tailed hawks. And New Hampshire politicians decided to take that love and smash it into a thousand tragic pieces:'s Shari Small explains that the Lincoln Akerman students had, earlier this year, proposed House Bill 373, which would name the red-tailed hawk as the official "state raptor" of New Hampshire. The bill cleared the Environment and Agriculture committee, leading to a floor debate in which Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester) decided to make an extended joke about the red-tailed hawk and Planned Parenthood that also, in all likelihood, taught the children what abortion is:

"[The Red Tail Hawk] grasps [its prey] with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood."

Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown) took a softer tack, instead informing the children that their concerns were frivolous and unworthy of his and the legislature's time: "Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next."

The bill, along with the children's remaining faith in representative democracy, was killed. The vote was 133 to 160, because the other thing about having a 400-person legislative body is that sometimes a hundred-plus representatives just don't show up.

New Hampshire still lacks a state raptor, and a sustainable way of funding schools, and a government that isn't a minarchist nightmare. But at least White House senior adviser Brian Deese, Council on Environmental Quality director Christy Goldfuss, and presidential science adviser John Holdren — who co-wrote the blog post announcing Lincoln the Hawk's naming, a post that definitely needed three bylines — gave Lincoln Akerman's fourth-grade class one hawk-related victory.