We’re at T minus one week, give or take, and all I have to show for it is an empty bottle of Tums. If you’re feeling the stress too, feel free to reach out–this is rough, and I want to support you. We’re already doing it for the antacid industry; we might as well do it for each other!
Standard standing reminders 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 debate!–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!
Constitutional Crisis Corner:
We’re back to a mix of COVID and election news in Disregard of Governing Norms, which are two garbage tastes that don’t taste great together. Here’s what I have for you:
- Guess Who’s Coming to COVID. Five–count ’em, five–members of the Pence staff working on the Coronavirus Task Force now have tested positive for COVID-19, including Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short. Though infection can happen to any of us, the Pence team was famous for refusing to wear masks even though they were literally in charge of telling us all to wear masks, so this seems fair to file under the “disregard of governing norms” folder. Meanwhile, Pence is continuing to travel despite repeated exposure to five different COVID-positive people. I think this Twitter user speaks for us all when she notes, “If that doesn’t sum up this administration I don’t know what does.”
- Surprise, It was Iran! Probably. Voters in three states received threatening emails this week telling them to “vote for Trump or else!” from the email address “info @ officialproudboys.com,” but investigation showed that the emails had originated overseas. Eventually, the Department of Homeland Security said that Iran was responsible, and that Russia was likely interfering as well. Both Russia and Iran deny these charges, which in the before times I would say is a likely lie, but since our own President lies fifty times per day I no longer believe we have any stones to throw here.
Your “Normal” Weird:
- Other Election Oddities (Again). The final debate came and went on Thursday, and Trump did in fact show up even though his microphone could be muted. (Everyone was pretty well-behaved, although Trump did say of COVID, “I take full responsibility, it’s not my fault.”) Meanwhile, people are still worried about the U.S. Postal Service, which will be responsible for delivering millions of ballots but is still having issues even though the June changes have been recalled. Perhaps because of this, early voting numbers are historically high, but reports of in-person voter intimidation are coming in as well. We can probably expect things to amp up even more in the coming week.
- State of the COVID-19. This section is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, because I keep having to type the same things over and over–you can probably guess the entire paragraph by now, but let’s go through it anyway. Congress keeps failing to reach a COVID relief deal, mostly because an increasingly-zombified and distracted Mitch McConnell is too focused on Amy Comey Barrett to bother with good-faith negotiation, but Nancy Pelosi keeps saying there will be a deal anyway. (This is your obligatory reminder that Mitch McConnell is up for re-election in his home state of Kentucky, and his opponent could use your support.) Meanwhile, we have record-breaking infection numbers yet again, with 85,000 infections on Friday marking the highest daily instance of new cases since the pandemic began in March. The CDC has expanded its definition of “close contact” accordingly. Though there is evidence to suggest that Trump rallies have kicked off infection spikes, we’re not alone in this struggle, as Europe is seeing a surge as well. We can probably expect things to continue to get worse as we head into winter and outdoor gatherings become impracticable, which makes it particularly frightening that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows just straight-up abdicated responsibility for controlling the pandemic, saying, “We’re not going to.”
- SCOTUS Hearing Updates. This story somehow got even more disturbing in the past week. On October 22, Democrats refused to show up to the committee vote as a last-ditch attempt to pause the process. The 12 Republican members unanimously voted to move forward, and the matter proceeded to the Senate floor. (If that last piece of news enrages you, by the way, you are not alone, and I believe it should. Five of those GOP members are currently up for re-election, and several of the races are quite close right now; their opponents could use support. Just sayin’. ) Then after a couple of days of floor debate, the Senate GOP moved to limit debate on Sunday and teed up a final vote this evening–and shock of shocks, everybody but Susan Collins voted along party lines. So now Amy Comey Barrett is on the court in time to hear arguments about the Affordable Care Act in a couple of weeks, but don’t worry, Joe Biden has promised to study the damage by commission if he’s elected President! So that will definitely be an effective form of damage control. Oh wait, my mistake; late-breaking sources inform me that this is a terrible form of damage control that will probably get people killed. Be prepared to call your reps and do a lot of yelling, y’all.
- Black Lives Still Matter. This was another bad week for racial justice. An officer in Illinois opened fire on a car apparently without provocation, killing Black teen Marcellis Stinnette and hospitalizing driver Tafara Williams. The grand jury on the Breonna Taylor case was in the news again for confirming that no homicide charges were even offered, while the charged officer gave an interview saying the case “wasn’t a race thing.” And to cap everything off, Jared Kushner went on television to claim Black Americans just need to try harder in order to be successful. So, y’know, real banner week all around.
- MAGA2020!. This one is less “good news” and more “it has been a terrible week and here is your schadenfreude,” but this week was truly painful and we all can have little a schadenfreude, as a treat. A Dutch ethical hacker who had successfully broken into Trump’s Twitter account in 2016 went ahead and did so again this week, taking screenshots to prove it, and his claim has been treated as credible by Dutch authorities. This repeat performance was feasible because Trump’s password–and I truly cannot believe I am not making this up–was ‘MAGA2020!’ and he disabled two-step authentication. So, uh, that happened.
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 cat and window cleaner friendship and this autumn elephant holiday, as well as an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully better) 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 Tums value pack!