You know how in D&D, Barbarians can do that thing where they rage super hard for like a billion years, and then when the immediate battle ends and they finally get to stop and catch their breath, they have to sleep off like seven levels of exhaustion? …yeah, I’m not saying the 46th inauguration is what made my household buy that ten-gallon coffee maker, but I’m not not saying that, either. (Don’t feel too bad if your adrenaline has dried up and you’re starting to crash; you’re in good company. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
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 Independence Mall!–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:
As predicted, we are indeed still dealing with a bevy of Election Rejection news this week. Here’s what I have for you:
- Freedom from Free Elections. We have seen a rash of new proposed state legislation designed to limit people’s ability to vote, which is a novel and terrible form of election rejection we should probably be tracking. It’s disturbing to realize that 28 states–more than half the country–have responded to 2020 by trying to make voting harder, but it’s certainly very traditional. Of particular horrific note is a bill in Arizona which would allow the legislature to simply throw out election results they didn’t like, which, uh, kind of defeats the entire point of free elections. That said, I also think it’s worth tracking a bill in Georgia requiring two different copies of ID for absentee voting, since it appears to be a direct response to the recent special elections.
- I Guess We Talk About Jewish Space Lasers Here? Speaking of Georgia, it was a real banner week for their resident QAnon Congressperson, largely because people spent a lot of time arguing that she shouldn’t get to sit in Congress after supporting death threats to the current Speaker, particularly when there was a credible threat to the Speaker’s life only a few weeks ago. QAnon Congressperson was also in the news this week for, among other things, calling Cori Bush and the Black Lives Matter movement terrorists and saying fires in California were caused by Jewish space lasers. (I feel like this is a good time to remind people that Violent QAnon Lady comes from a state that created its own KKK movement and also hosted the most famous lynching of a Jewish person in American history, so, y’know, probably not a coincidence that those fictional lasers were Jewish.) At the time that I type this, House Democrats are planning to bring the issue to the House floor if the GOP minority leader doesn’t remove her from several committees, so we’ll see what happens from here.
- Impeachment Update. Impeachment news continues despite the pause in the Senate, and the main news of the week is that Trump is the world’s worst client. By halfway through the week he was down two impeachment lawyers, and by the time that I type this he’s down all five. Apparently, lawyers don’t like it when you try to claim that election fraud is an actual defense to attempted insurrection–go figure. Meanwhile, House rep Joaquin Castro was selected to manage the impeachment trial, but the Senate is reportedly considering other means of censure due to concern that they might not have the votes to convict.
Thankfully, we also have settled into a new category over here, which I’m tentatively calling Biden Rebuilding for want of a better name. Here are the things that have happened this week in an attempt to set the country back to rights:
- Executive Order Roll Call. Just like last week, there were a lot of additional executive orders this week, as Biden continues to roll out attempts to fix what Trump has broken. The first set was a set of racial equity orders, which included the end of private federal prison contracts and increased provisions against housing discrimination. Then came another round of climate change orders, mostly pertaining to halting oil and gas leases and conserving federal land and water. FInally, he issued a set of healthcare-related orders, including reopening ACA enrollment and ending the antiabortion global gag rule.
- Family Reunification. I want to pay particular attention to how we’re mopping up in the aftermath of the Zero Tolerance policy, because it was a true moral low among 45 moral lows. The policy was officially rescinded by our Acting Attorney General this week, and First Doctor Jill Biden will be personally working on the task force for reunification. Experts are appropriately advocating for further supports than simple reunification, as family separation is a major traumatic event that will require its own recovery, and it’s thought that President Biden may announce more task force details in the near future.
Your New Normal:
- Electoral Dysfunction Again. After a week of back-and-forth about the proposed stimulus bill, it’s frankly still unclear what is happening on Capitol Hill. Now that the Senate rules standoff has ended, we might see a stimulus vote soon, but it’s kind of anybody’s guess whether President Biden will keep courting GOP votes or the Dems will just use budget reconciliation to move the bill forward without them. Things are particularly uncertain because stimulus promises helped to secure the Georgia special elections, a fact which both new senators have been careful to preserve, and coordinating with the GOP may jeopardize those promises. We’ll want to keep an eye on this in the coming week.
- Reddit vs Robin Hood. By now, I’m sure many of us have heard about the ongoing retail trading rebellion happening around Game Stop stocks, which were being short squeezed by hedge funds and then rocketed in value thanks to the efforts of subredditers. This was followed by some very selective market restrictions, including Robin Hood specifically freezing some day trading. I mention all of this because it has also started to gain the attention of legislators, and Senator Warren in particular has a plan for this nonsense. We may see some legislation arise in response to this, and frankly, I would not cry too hard if this is what revives Dodd-Frank.
- State of the COVID-19. COVID news is, to put it charitably, all over the place this week. There was some really bad news: The highly-contagious South African and Brazilian strains have now both been detected in the U.S.; we learned more about the previous administration’s misappropriation of COVID funds; the polar vortex is reminding us that winter storms create new challenges for a refrigeration-sensitive vaccine; it’s increasingly obvious that Black Americans are not receiving the vaccine at rates congruent with their increased infection risk–or indeed, even at the rate consistent with their percentage within the overall population; and the CDC predicts we may see 514K deaths by the end of the month. But there is some promising news as well: Overall cases have notably dropped nationally in the last week, for the first time all pandemic; the Biden administration believes they may be able to get 300 million Americans vaccinated by the end of the summer, as they have purchased an additional 200M doses; and two more vaccine trials have shown promising results, with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine requiring only a single administration.
- Bad Court Calls. We saw some bad federal court calls this week, and I think we can expect a lot of that in the near future–though two branches of our government are righting themselves, the courts remain a total mess. In Texas, a federal judge has already blocked President Biden’s order pausing immigration deportation, arguing that a one hundred day pause to sort out the previous administration’s horrorshow constituted a “threat of injury to Texas.” (The injunction, thankfully, is only valid for two weeks.) And on the SCOTUS end, emoluments cases that had been winding through the courts since 2017 were dismissed because SCOTUS declared them moot now that Trump is no longer President. The SCOTUS decision is at least somewhat understandable, but hopefully will prompt legislative action on this issue.
- Probable Actual Trump Charges. In news that makes me happy in my schadenfreude place, a judge in New York has ordered the Trump Organization to hand over documents to the New York Attorney General as part of the latter’s ongoing fraud case. It’s the latest of several orders in the ongoing case, but has the unique distinction of being the first order since Trump has stepped down. In other words, it’s the first order where there’s no immunity argument to speak of, and I’m here for this development.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m excited for the political trajectory we’re on. In the interest of engaged readership, however, you still deserve dessert links! I hope you enjoy these mastermind ferrets along with our unquestionably better 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 your favorite coffee flavors!