Well, the news is still terrible, but at least it’s also Fat Bear Week until tomorrow, and look at all these good bears going for gold! (Honestly, no shade if you want to pause here and go vote for your favorite; we all need to take news breaks now and then.)
Standard standing reminders still apply: I guess after six years I’m conceding that I’m a journalist, but I summarize news within my areas of expertise. NNR summaries often contain some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise–I’m a lawyer, not a ballot measure!–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:
I’m clearing some space in Election Rejection this week to begin discussing Election Day, which at this point is only a month away. Here’s what I have for you:
- Original Flavor Election Rejection. With primaries over and Election Day four weeks away, we should probably talk about just how many official GOP candidates are 2020 election deniers. (Spoiler: It’s 299 of them.) Though not all of these candidates are favored, by any means, obviously this has a number of potential implications for midterm elections, especially for the gubernatorial and Senate races. We’ll need to keep an eye on this, and now’s also a great time to familiarize yourself with candidates and ballot measures in your area if you haven’t already done so.
- Insurrection Update: FBI Tour of Mar-A-Lago. The big news from Mar-A-Lago this week is that the Justice Department still thinks they are missing classified White House documents in Trump’s possession. This revelation has also put more scrutiny on Trump’s lawyers, making more people notice him ordering them to lie during past interactions with the National Archives. Meanwhile, Trump is busy asking the Supreme Court to get involved in the special master mess, because he wants to undo the Eleventh Circuit’s smack down of the investigation pause from last week. As soon as that request was on the table, the appeals court agreed to expedite their final decision on the case, presumably because they don’t want to see what SCOTUS would do with the injunction. So it’s likely we’ll see a lot of updates in the next few weeks.
On the Biden Rebuilding front, there’s a lot going on, though some of it was shunted to the Good. Here’s what has happened:
- Response to Russia.* Biden had to field a lot of interrelated foreign affairs news this week. As the war in Ukraine continues to accelerate, with Ukraine exploding the Crimean bridge that connects Russia to the region, Biden expressed concern about the rising risk of a Russian nuclear attack on Ukraine. In the meantime, Russia responded through OPEC+ by moving to dramatically reduce oil output, which will in turn make gas prices climb again. This will likely help fund their invasion, but it seems clear that there were retributive motives at play as well. It’s a tricky thing for Biden to navigate as we head into the midterms.
Your New Normal:
- Contagion Corner. The depressing COVID news this week is that once again, the majority of Americans are failing to get their booster shots–it’s estimated that only four percent of eligible Americans have gotten the bivalent vaccine since it was released last month. Needless to say, this doesn’t bode well for a potential winter case surge, especially if we also see a new variant. About the best I can say is that scientists also believe that COVID is getting closer to the flu as it evolves. This makes it more treatable and predictable, especially with drugs like Paxlovid, although recent studies suggest that Paxlovid is underutilized too.
- Political Determinants of Health. This week really highlights the increasing trend of health access depending on local politicians. On the reproductive justice front, Arizona courts just paused the enforcement of their new (old?) near-total abortion ban, which was revived by a federal judge a few weeks ago. Meanwhile, Oklahoma passed a law that predicated dispersal of federal medical funds, some of which were earmarked for cancer patients, on local hospitals ceasing all gender-affirming care to minors. In other words–and I want to be extremely clear about the medical consensus on this matter–the state will not fund life-saving measures until their hospitals stop providing other life-saving measures to kids. If, like me, that sentence makes you want to throw things out your window, I recommend donating to the Oklahoma ACLU, which has already signaled it is likely to sue.
- Recent Weed Resilience. Joe Biden took the noteworthy step this week of pardoning those with federal marijuana possession convictions. Though this likely won’t directly help that many people, proportionally speaking, he did signal that it was the first of many steps his administration plans to implement. The move will likely also impact the many marijuana-related referenda at play in next month’s election, which hopefully will spur meaningful change at the state level. Suffice to say, though this cannot be the end of the conversation, it’s a decent first step.
So that’s what I have for this week, and I’m sorry, there are no news refunds. Nonetheless, for making it through, you deserve this party blep and a more functional 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 warm socks because it’s getting cold!