National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 36 (September 19–25)
If it seems like you’ve heard this week’s stories before, that’s because you have–every single one of this week’s topics is a continuation from a previous week. In some instances, this is very frustrating, but in others, it’s reassuring; dumpster fires won’t change if nobody stands there with a hose.
Standard standing reminders still apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m mostly summarizing the news within my area of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a Joe Manchin!–but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. And, of course, for the things that are within my lane, I’m offering context that shouldn’t be considered legal advice. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!
Cleanup in Aisle 45:
This was a surprisingly active week for Election Rejection news, and the stories compose yet another very mixed bag. Here’s what happened:
- Election Rejection Collection. The Arizona audit results were officially released, and showed no signs of voter fraud in the state–in fact, they showed that Biden actually won the state by more votes than the original count suggested. But Republicans might have already known that, as a memo leaked this week showing that the Trump campaign already knew that several of its fraud claims were baseless as early as two weeks post-election. This is further supported by the fact that Trump is claiming the audit found evidence of fraud. Experts are saying that the point of all of this might not relate to the 2020 election at all–experts think the point of this circus is to lay groundwork for delegitimizing election results in 2022 and 2024. And frankly, since the Arizona audit is already being copied in Texas, despite the fact that a) the Arizona audit found no fraud and b) Texas voted for Trump in 2020, I think those experts might be right.
I’m still pretty disgusted by this week’s Biden Rebuilding news, and we should still be demanding that this administration do better. Here’s what I have for you:
- Distressing Deportations (cont). There are updates on last week’s story about deportation of Haitian refugees as well. The administration continues to defend its use of a Trump-era policy to deport people seeking asylum at the border, even after the practice was paused by a federal judge, and even though the process likely violates international law. At the time that I type this, all migrants have been cleared from the camp in Del Rio. The administration clearly cares about the optics of the situation, because they temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol while they are investigating photos of agents whipping migrants. And the Biden administration also announced that they are increasing the refugee cap to 125,000 people. But the U.S. envoy to Haiti resigned in protest nonetheless, because the fact remains that these deportations are deeply troubling, and attempts to paper them over with feel-good cosmetic changes really don’t alter that. For a crash-course in context, I urge you to consider: 1) Presenting for asylum is supposed to be done at the border, precisely as these folks were doing; 2) Haiti is an incredibly destabilized country and circumstances there are what thousands of displaced persons are trying to flee in the first place; and 3) though 125,000 refugees might seem like a lot, it’s only about 15,000 higher than President Obama’s final refugee cap in 2016, despite the fact that asylum and refugee need is at a twenty-year high–so in context, it’s actually quite low.
Your New Normal:
- Spectacular Senate Dysfunction. The biggest news is that true to form, and despite being warned about the many dangers, the Senate GOP went ahead and blocked the government funding bill that had passed in the House on schedule, which may or may not plunge us into a government shutdown in the middle of a pandemic. Democrats are now considering their options to avoid said shutdown, and the most likely is funding the government through budget reconciliation–but as I covered last week, that is supposed to be bundled with an infrastructure bill that still isn’t finished because Democrats keep fighting over it. So uh, all of this is fine, and normal, and definitely in the best interests of the country.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is, to repeat a familiar refrain, a mixed bag again. The CDC officially approved Pfizer boosters for older adults and immunocompromised individuals, which both the FDA and the CDC exploratory panel had recommended, and all frontline workers, which the FDA had recommended but the CDC panel hadn’t. The result is a confused and complicated booster rollout which only exists for Pfizer right now, although that will likely change over time. Meanwhile, studies are beginning to show that places where people voted for Trump are also places with the highest COVID infection rates and the lowest instances of vaccination, with one study noting that in counties where 70% of people voted for Trump, 47 out of every 100,000 people have died of COVID since late June. (The same study notes that in counties where fewer than 30% of people voted for him, that number was 10 out of every 100,000.) This is a pretty stark and disturbing series of findings, but it’s corroborated by news stories also published this week about which hospitals are enacting crisis standards of care and which morgues are running out of room. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be referring to the current GOP as “pro-life” anytime soon.
- Roe v. Why Are You Like This Reprise (again again). Speaking of forced birth politics, the fight against SB8 continues for another week. The major win this week is that the House successfully voted to enact federal reproductive rights protections. Though this is by no means a panacea, it’s an important first step for many of the different paths we need to be treading, and directed action is the way to get walking. So for now, I’ll take it.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. For making it through, you deserve this queer cover of ‘Jolene‘ and a more consistently improved government. I’ll be back next week with more restructured and improved news, and I hope you will be back as well–but in the meantime, feel free to ping the National News Roundup ask box, which is there for your constructive comments. Send me questions! Send me feedback! Send me a Tardis so that I can fix this timeline!