National News Roundup: Year 5, Week 43 (November 7–13)
The news this week contains a lot of doubling down on all sides, and I honestly can’t decide whether that’s good or bad. But whatever it is, I’m here to summarize it for you, and I’m also here if anybody needs anything.
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 Hatch Act!–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:
There’s a huge amount of Election Rejection to report this week, and it’s all over the map. Here’s what happened this week:
- Insurrection Updates. Basically everybody doubled down on the ongoing January 6 fights this week. In the court case about whether Trump’s documents must be turned over, the obviously-annoyed district court judge issued an opinion stating that Trump et al had to fork everything over. But that decision was immediately appealed, and the circuit court panel issued a stay on releasing the documents while the appeal is pending. Meanwhile, the House January 6 panel, increasingly done with all the obstruction nonsense being shoveled their way, continued to just make it rain subpoenas. Former Trump aide Steve Bannon was officially indicted for contempt of Congress as well, and turned himself in earlier today. Also on the criminal side, the first person to plead guilty to assaulting a police officer on Jan 6 was sentenced to 41 months of incarceration. More information was also released about Mike Pence’s precarious situation that day, which Trump immediately downplayed with characteristic surrealist garbage. And speaking of Trump, a recent report noted that 13 of his officials committed Hatch Act violations by campaigning for him while serving as federal officials, though it’s unclear whether there will be any consequences for it. All told, there’s a lot to watch right now.
This was also a strange week for Biden Rebuilding news, as the reconciliation and infrastructure situation has had several twists and turns. Here’s what I have for you:
- Biden Bill Updates. As I mentioned last week, a deal was brokered for potentially voting on the Building Back Better Act sometime in the next few weeks, but after the initial procedural vote there hasn’t been much movement–the party is still gridlocked, and Manchin is now citing our massive and unprecedented pandemic inflation problem as his new reason he won’t vote for it. There has been movement on the infrastructure bill that the House passed last Friday night, though; Biden signed it into law today and disgruntled and violent Republicans continue to fling death threats at the thirteen GOP members that voted yea. Of course, implementation of the bill will be its own process, especially with Biden struggling to address related supply chain issues and several provisions of the bill potentially tied to the reconciliation package. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to follow up with your congresspeople to make sure the vote on the Building Back Better Act does happen soon.
Your New Normal:
- The Political Role of Violence. This week, we’re seeing a lot of news about political discourse including threats of violence. In addition to the death threats addressed to bipartisan GOP voters that I referenced above, Rep Paul Gosar was in the news for tweeting a video that depicted him murdering fellow congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Nancy Pelosi is calling for an investigation, House Democrats are calling for a censure, and AOC took it as an opportunity to talk about workplace violence.) Meanwhile, the Kyle Rittenhouse trial over the past week highlights the role political contexts play in protest-related violence. While we’re discussing the Rittenhouse trial, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the prosecutor, the judge and the defense on that case have all displayed an appalling lack of professionalism that I believe is probably motivated by its own political context.
- State of the COVID-19. For a second week, the biggest COVID news is the implementation of the pediatric vaccine, which began this week and has vaccinated over a million children as I type this. Nonetheless, protective vaccines remain extremely partisan in this country, and we saw a lot of stories that reflect this. On the vaccine mandate front, the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion on Friday which affirms a district court decision, published less than a week before, to pause the OSHA vaccine mandate for work environments. (Given the flurry of decisions here, I really do want to stress the fact that this mandate creates exemptions for medical and religious reasons and almost certainly is constitutional under existing law, no matter what garbage decisions are issued otherwise.) In Oklahoma, the head of the National Guard elected to ignore the vaccine mandate ordered by the Pentagon for armed service members. In Florida, the governor has called a special legislative session purely to challenge vaccine and mask mandates. Meanwhile, infection rates are rising again and several states are identifying a new substrain of Delta.
- Tiktok Hand Signals. A missing teen was rescued this week because she made, and an onlooker recognized, an aid-seeking hand gesture popularized on Tiktok from the window of a moving car. The gesture is designed to signal a need for help relating to intimate partner violence or risk of abuse, and it hopefully will remain a useful tool for people who need 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 these catfrens being fed as well as 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 pictures of your pet!