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Year 4, Week 48 (December 13-19)


Somehow, election news still isn’t over, and not just because of the Georgia election’s unprecedented early voting. I’ve outlined the latest hysterics below, which might be funny if they weren’t so unsettling. We need to continue to keep an eye on this, y’all.

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 vaccine vial!–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 Corners:

Here we go again with yet another round of Election Rejection, as Trump refuses to wind down and the GOP refuses to deal with it. Again. Still. Here’s what I have for you:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms.Here’s what I have for you:   


Your “Normal” Weird:


Your New Normal:


The Bad:


The Good:


So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this otter enjoying an ice snack and 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 mail after the holiday!

Year 4, Week 47 (December 6-12)

The electoral college voted today, and I can’t get over how uneventful that event was–at the time that I type this, there are no faithless electors and I haven’t heard any reports of violence. Of course, we were hacked by Russia and the attorney general resigned, so there was still plenty of sensational news from the day. But the electoral college, at least, was functional.

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 an electoral college!–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 Corners:

Here we go again with yet another round of Election Rejection, as Trump refuses to wind down and the GOP refuses to deal with it.  Here’s what I have for you:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms. Here’s what I have for you: 


Your “Normal” Weird:


Your New Normal:


The Bad:


The Good:


So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve a puppy for Chanukah and 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 news of your Zoom plans!

Year 4, Week 46 (November 29–December 5)

Another week of Trump temper tantrum is behind us, and I’m running out of ways to summarize the same exact news week over and over.  I would apologize for boring y’all, but at least stale stories would suggest there isn’t new bad news. Mostly.

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 dubious election lawsuit!–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 Corners:

Here we go again with yet another round of Election Rejection, as Trump refuses to wind down and the GOP refuses to deal with it.  Here’s what I have for you:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms. Here’s what I have for you: 


Your “Normal” Weird:


Your New Normal:


The Bad:


The Good:


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 Star Wars version of Carol of the Bells and 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 holiday chocolate!

Year 4, Week 45 (November 22-28)


This week saw an improbable amount of news, given the holiday in the middle–several things snuck in under the turkey radar while most people weren’t paying attention.  (The National News Roundup was paying attention.  You’re on notice, SCOTUS.)

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 an ill-advised partial recount!–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 Corners:

Here we go again with another round of Election Rejection, but it’s tentatively looking like Trump is running out of steam.  Here’s what I have for you:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms. Here’s what I have for you: 


Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Unexpected Political Updates.   There were a handful of other noteworthy political stories this past week as well. In “I can’t believe this happened, even though it needed to” news, Senator Diane Feinstein announced that she is stepping down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after alienating half her party with her handling of the Comey Barrett hearing.  Along a similar vein, the Washington Post reports that the NRA straight-up told the IRS about its executives misappropriating funds in 2019–great news in the long run, but you don’t often see a nonprofit just admit its executives were stealing money.  It will be very interesting to see what, if anything, happens in the wake of both of these stories.

Your New Normal*:

*Increasingly, I struggle with where to put news about the Biden administration, because much of it isn’t clear-cut enough to be considered ‘good,’ but it isn’t Trump or pandemic levels of bad.  And yet it’s not weird, because, well, it’s an overt bid to make things “normal” again.  I don’t believe a return to our previous political reality is achievable, but I’m creating a new section to highlight Biden’s choices and reflect that agenda.


The Bad:

  • SCOTUS Sea Change.   Very early in the morning leading into Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court released an anonymous 5-4 opinion stating that the governor of New York was being prevented from limiting in-person religious gatherings in COVID red zones.  This would be concerning enough, given the rapid rise of COVID-related deaths, but as an attorney I really want to stress that this opinion was rife with inconsistencies, bizarre arguments, and legal irregularities that appear to usher in a scary new age for SCOTUS cases.  Among the irregularities to note: 1) They granted an injunction, which is designed to be an emergency remedy when harm is imminent, for religious groups that were no longer in red zones; 2) The decision overturned decisions that were issued only a few months before, which is an incredibly fast window to overturn precedent; 3) There were six different opinions written for this decision, which is an unusually high number of separate opinions even for a court known for routinely writing concurrences and dissents; 5) The decision was written anonymously despite the fact that there were six different opinions written and the other five were all signed, leaving only a few justices as the possible author of the per curium opinion.  (I’ve seen legal scholars speculate that Amy Comey Barrett probably wrote this opinion, and I think they’re likely correct.)  I would disagree with this opinion even if it illustrated none of these irregularities, but the fact that they are there suggests that court processes may be breaking down at the highest level right now in this country. We need to be watching the court’s activity over the next couple of months very, very carefully, especially given the court’s pending case about census apportionment, and we should brace ourselves now for potential fallout.  

The Good:


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 Canterbury Park corgi races and 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 uninterrupted sleep!

Year 4, Week 44 (November 15-21)

Advocacy!

I have been doing these roundups every week for nearly four straight years now. I like to think that makes me something of a scholar of Trump era news cycles. And it is with this caveat in place that I inform you that, even by our modern standards, the news this week was bananas. Of course, most of it was also still corrupt and terrible. The news was rotted bananas, y’all.

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 golf course!–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 Corners:

Unsurprisingly, we all saw yet another week of Election Rejection, and the second verse began worse than the first.  Here’s what I have for you:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms.Here’s what I have for you:   


Your “Normal” Weird:


The Bad:


The Good:


So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this goat hug queue and 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 your favorite Brussel sprout recipe!

Year 4, Week 43 (November 8-14)


It’s impressive how quickly the news seems to find new routines–only a week after we got tentative election results, pretty much every day now follows a script. I don’t much care for the script, mind, because it involves blatant autocracy and a dangerous pandemic. But one has to respect the quick adjustment.

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 hand count!–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 Corners:

Folks, I think it’s fair to say we officially have a new Constitutional Crisis Corner after the last week and a half, and thanks Trump, I hate it.  Everybody say hello to Election Rejection, the constitutional crisis we all knew was coming:


That said, we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms.Here’s what I have for you: 


Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Affordable Care Act Arguments.   The Supreme Court heard arguments about the Affordable Care Act this week, shortly after both a pivotal election and a new justice’s appointment to the bench.  The oral arguments appeared to suggest that the court is considering removing the insurance mandate and retaining the rest of the law, which would make legal sense given previous precedent on the matter but suggests that new appointments are not necessarily creating drastic changes on this issue.  Nonetheless, it’s 2020 and politics are pretty wild, so we can’t fully predict what is about to happen (and during a pandemic, this case could impact a lot of people).  We’ll want to keep an eye on this.

The Bad:


The Good:


So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this tiny gator chasing a laser pointer and 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 more sunlight in my living room!

Year 4, Week 42 (November 1-7)


Well readers, I was banking on a rapid news cycle to justify the return to our normal schedule, and I sure wasn’t disappointed! Thankfully, most of this week’s news was gentler than last week’s horrorshow, but don’t let that lull you back to sleep–we’re not out of the woods just yet.

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 landscaping company!–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 mostly saw some disturbing Presidential election things that landed in this section, but we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms.Here’s what I have for you:  


Your “Normal” Weird:


The Bad:


The Good:

  • Promising Biden Beginnings. Despite not taking office until January at the earliest, President-Elect Biden is already moving forward on several key issues. As I mentioned above, he announced a COVID-19 task force today, and speaking as a health law professional I am very reassured by its members. He also signaled he will issue executive orders to undo damage on several critical issues upon assuming office, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, undoing the Muslim ban, and revoking the global gag rule. Not everything can be undone by executive action, but given his extensive political experience I do trust President-Elect Biden to know exactly what can be remedied quickly.

So that’s what I have for this week, and I think we can agree that it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this compilation of election memes and 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 photos of your pets again!

Year 4, Week 41 (October 25-31)


I’m gonna level with you all: I really hate this mad tea party ride we’re all trapped on for the week. We do have some relatively firm facts, which I will certainly report on, and I feel very confident that there was a lot of voter suppression and racism this year. Beyond that? We’re stuck reading tea leaves as I write this, even the day after a major election. And that’s hard to sit with, but I’m here if I can be a support, and I think we all deserve to have the good news first this week.

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 polling place!–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!   


The Good:


Constitutional Crisis Corner:

  We did see some disturbing Presidential election things that landed in this section, but we also saw more Original Flavor Disregard of Governing Norms this week. Here’s what I have for you:  

  • Trump Tax Redux. In the wake of the election, surprise, we’re back to this again! Current news is that Deutsche Bank is now trying to sever ties with 45 after the election, apparently because they are tired of the liability he creates. This is particularly noteworthy because several of his giant loans from them become due in the next few years. And just in case we forgot, the New York Times would also like to remind us that Trump has not, in fact, paid income tax most years (despite his recent claims otherwise). As Deutsche Bank appears to be sensing, all of these things are likely to carry consequences for Trump if he’s kicked out of the Oval Office in January.

Your “Normal” Weird:


The Bad:


The Potentially Very Bad:


What We Can Do:


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 soothing Townsend video and the world’s largest devil’s toothpaste experiment, 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!

Tiny Troubleshooting Manual: Safely Voting in the 2020 General Elections Edition

Hi folks! Welcome to the follow-up installment of the Tiny Troubleshooting Manual, a series I made up in 2018 and we still need in 2020. I do a lot of social troubleshooting in my day-to-day work as an advocate, and though my ordinary bag is social determinants of health, civic engagement is more important now than ever! Obviously I cannot fix all forms of voter suppression or all issues created by the pandemic, but I wanted to take the time to address some of the more common fixable problems people encounter while voting.

(Note: This guide is not intended to be legal advice; rather, it is a resource compilation designed to point people towards appropriate entities for assistance.)

If your trouble is…

  1. Needing to identify your polling place or nearest voting drop box: You can check that by going to 866 Our Vote’s election protection website at 866ourvote.org and clicking on your state or by going to Headcount.org.
  2. Needing to check if you’re registered to vote: You can check that at vote.org or by selecting your state on the 866 Our Vote election protection website.
  3. Needing a mask, PPE, or other health-related accommodation to stand in line: Some programs, like the Election Defender program I’m volunteering with this year, will provide masks, hand sanitizers, and other pandemic-related supports to people on the line at polling locations. Look for people wearing gold outside of your polling location.
  4. People are engaging in illegal voter intimidation or electioneering outside of your polling place: This is another issue that the Election Defender program has sent volunteers to address. Look for people wearing gold outside of your polling location. Poll workers can also assist with these issues if they’re made aware that they are happening.
  5. Needing info on who and what’s on your ballot: You can get good, detailed information on your specific ballot at BallotReady.org or at HeadCount.org.
  6. A technical issue at your polling place: Call the Election Protection Hotline run by 866 Our Vote (which, conveniently, is 1-866-OUR-VOTE) to document the issue and see if it can be addressed today in real time. You may also be able to work with staff at your polling location to get it addressed.
  7. Needing time off from work to vote: Thirty different states require an hour or more of leave time be provided on request on Election Day; you can learn more about your state’s rights at WorkplaceFairness.org and get assistance in exercising your rights by contacting the Voting Rights branch of your local ACLU or 866 Our Vote.
  8. Needing an absentee or mail-in ballot: You may have missed the boat on this, but  866 Our Vote will have information on your state’s deadline if you click on your specific state. Many states have more expansive remote voting programs this year due to the pandemic, and most drop box locations are accepting ballots today. DO NOT MAIL IN YOUR BALLOT TODAY if you still have one; please drop it off at an official election drop box, which you can confirm online at 866 Our Vote’s site.
  9. Something else went wrong with your registration: Check whether your state will permit same-day registration; fourteen states and the District of Columbia do!
  10. Election protection information generally: Check out the resources at 866 Our Vote’s site. You may be noting a trend here–they are an excellent resource!

If you have an additional question, feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me directly! I’ll try to keep this a living document or at least point people in the right direction. 

Year 4, Week 40 (October 18-24)



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:



Your “Normal” Weird:



The Bad:



The Good:

  • 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!