National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 12 (April 7–13)


Jeez, I leave the country for like five days and everything goes bananas — the news over the past week or two has been utterly wild. I’m including some news from the previous week, when the NNR was dark, to create further context. Sadly, none of it makes any of this make more sense.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not an indictment! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

For what feels like the zillionth week in a row, the Russia Investigation continues to be an incredible tug-of-war between Trump’s camp and Congressional Democrats. Here’s what has happened over the past week and a half or so:

This was a similarly weird week for Disregard of Governing Norms stories, unfortunately. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, and some of last as well. For making it through, you deserve this video of a cat letting its dog friend into the house and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully less confusing) 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 better immigration news!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 10 (March 24–30)


Over years of doing this Roundup, I’ve noticed certain trends — nothing as certain as death or tax cuts, because this administration is bananas, but the tea leaves do tend to have some patterns. Unfortunately, this week reflects a pattern further on the “I live in the desk fort now” spectrum than I would like: Whenever this administration has had a “major win” recently, something awful happens on a policy front. You will not enjoy the immigration updates this week, but I have room in my desk fort if you’d like to join me. We have cookies.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a whistleblower! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

After Mueller turned in his report, the Russia Investigation had many rounds about releasing the report but no knockouts on either side. Here’s what happened:

We also saw much of the same Disregard of Governing Norms stories as last week, although the specifics look a bit different. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough. For making it through, you deserve this bear in a hot tub and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully less confusing) 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 better immigration news!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 9 (March 17–23)


Okay, folks. The Mueller report dropped this week, which appropriately has taken a lot of our attention. But as we watch the news unfold on that, it’s important to remember that Nixon wasn’t ultimately indicted by his Special Investigator report, and his impeachment process took years. There’s not going to be one fell swoop on this administration either; we all have to keep chipping away at this mess together.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a House investigation! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

This was The Week When It Happened in the Russia Investigation, and I think we’re all pretty anxious to see what happens next. The important thing to keep in mind — and I’m talking to myself here as well as all of you — is that Mueller led the first of several separate credible investigations, which means we’re definitely not done no matter what comes next. Okay, here are the main things to know:

Against the backdrop above, the Disregard of Governing Norms stories almost seem like a distraction, but it’s important that we don’t get jaded about the Trump family’s bad behavior! 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’m sorry that most of it isn’t better. For making it through, you deserve this collection of stories about nice moments of human connection and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully less confusing) 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 springtime weather!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 8 (March 10–16)


This was a strange, stressful week for most of us, between New Zealand and key votes in Congress. About the best I can say is that it was a strange, stressful week for Trump too — a fact of which he was all too aware, if his tweet tantrum from this weekend was any indication. So at least there’s that.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a House investigation! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

There was a fair bit of activity on the Russia Investigation, though not as much as some previous weeks. Here are the main things to know:

This was also a surreally awesome week for Disregard of Governing Norms, because the Senate got over itself long enough to pass some things to reinstate order. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough! For making it through, you deserve this dog in a beekeeper suit and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully less confusing) 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 ice cream and chocolate spoons!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 7 (March 3–9)


The word I would use for this week is “discombobulating” — though admittedly that may just be me, since I’m drafting this while sick again. But regardless of your fever state, there was a lot happening, much of it contradicted itself, and Congress and the Trump Administration continued to play tug-of-war with a variety of topics. I’ll do my best to unpack and outline for y’all!

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a sentencing hearing! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

We’re finally seeing a slower week on the Russia Investigation, but there were still a couple of significant news stories. Here are the main things to know:

This was not a great week for Disregard of Governing Norms, particularly because Mitch McConnell dug in his heels on some major legislation. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough! For making it through, you deserve these photos from a bird photo booth and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more (and hopefully less confusing) 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 better system than Daylight Savings Time!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 6 (February 24 — March 2)


The news is slowly becoming the Constitutional Crisis Show, if the past few weeks have been any indication, and this week was no exception — it’s been a wild and disturbing ride. But we’re continuing to see promising investigation from the House, so we might see positive change on the horizon. (Very, very far on the horizon.) I’ll keep you posted!

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a resolution! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

For a thing that everybody claims is winding down, we sure do keep seeing more and more activity on Mueller’s Russia Investigation and its many investigative cousins. Unsurprisingly, this section is yet again one of the busiest sections of the NNR — but for us, more activity generally means more better, and this week is no exception! Here are the main things to know:

This was also not a great week for Disregard of Governing Norms, because we started to see all kinds of weirdness. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

  • HR 8 Advances. A bill designed to allow more time for background checks when people attempt to purchase guns made its way through the House this week, advancing with a 240 to 190 vote. It’s unclear whether this bill will survive the Senate, but it’s the most sweeping gun control legislation in more than two decades, and it’s nice to see movement on this issue of any kind after the couple of years we’ve had.

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough! For making it through, you deserve this video of Star Wars otters 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 seven more gallons of caffeine!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 5 (February 17–23)


This week’s news was more of a sine wave than we’ve been seeing of late — there was some good news mixed in among the bad, along with a whole lot of weird. I’ll keep folks up to date on all the twists and turns!

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a report! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corner

Just like last week, there was a flurry of activity on the Russia Investigation — it’s by far the busiest section of the CCC, possibly because it’s supposedly winding down. Here are the main things to know:

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that Threats to the First Amendment deserves its own section, at least for this week. Here’s what is happening:

The majority of this week’s Disregard of Governing Norms is aftermath from the shutdown, which thankfully is proving immediate and promising. Here’s what I have for you:

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Cov Cath Further Chaos.* Remember that kid from Covington Catholic who was in the news a bunch a week or two ago for standing in the way of the Indigenous People’s March? Yeah, he’s suing the Washington Post to the tune of $250 million dollars in damages for writing about him, claiming that they ‘defamed’ him when they reported on it. Needless to say, that’s going to be nearly impossible to prove — how does a sixteen-year-old kid even show damage to his livelihood, let alone $250M in said damage? It’s worth noting that the complaint accuses the Post of having bias against Donald Trump and uses that to seek further damages, nicely illustrating another reason why a free press remains important.
  • Tariff Delays. Trump went ahead and delayed his own deadline for whether he’s increasing tariffs on China this week, claiming that they’ve made good progress without them. But he likely wants a good result in his summit with North Korea this week, and given that Kim Jong-un is traveling there by way of China to make a point, he could be hoping this paves the way for negotiation. Or he could have some kind of deal in the works that would be hindered by increased tariffs. Or he could have changed his mind because it’s Tuesday. It’s Trump, so it’s kind of hard to say.

The Bad:

  • Jussie Smollet’s Strange Saga. Actor Jussie Smolett was arrested on Wednesday based on claims by the Chicago Police Department that he staged the attack against him that he reported last month. So now Smolett’s waiting on bond of $100,000 to face his charge of felony disorderly conduct (side note: it’s really strange to me that Illinois makes disorderly conduct a felony in the first place). Predictably, conservative pundits and politicians have drawn as much attention to this news as possible, and most news outlets are treating the charge as credible. Some media press venues, however, are claiming that an FBI source says CPD may have ‘overstated’ their case, and that CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson “went too far” by claiming to have determined Smolett’s connection to the threatening letter he received. Given the twists this case has already taken and the spotted history of the Chicago Police Department, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the last of this story in the Roundup.
  • Oscars So Green. The 2019 Oscars managed to be even more politically-charged than usual, starting with its complete lack of host following news of intended host Kevin Hart’s history of racist tweets. The hostless ceremony announced its winners perfectly well, it turns out, but where those awards went was more of a mixed bag. When Green Book won best picture, negative reactions to the choice poured in immediately — most notably from Spike Lee, who tried to leave the ceremony following the announcement. Oscar detractors had lambasted Green Book as another example of Hollywood’s love for “racial reconciliation” films that receive awards for their white directors. It wasn’t all bad news, though; Hannah Beachler and Ruth E. Carter became the first black women in over thirty years to win non-acting-role Oscars for their work on Black Panther. Domee Shi, the first woman to helm a Pixar short, shared the Best Animated Short award with producer Becky Neiman-Cobb for Bao. Clapbacks featured as well: Trevor Noah pranked the audience beautifully in Xhosa, Spike Lee hoped for the USA to “regain our humanity,” and the creator of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag stuck to her guns.

The Good:

  • North Carolina News. In a turn of events that probably shocked even North Carolina, their election board threw out the House results contested for fraud and ordered a new election this week. The decision came in part because the candidate accused of ballot-harvesting, Mark Harris, said he wanted a new election after several instances of potential perjury during the proceedings. (Harris claims that he was suffering from a stroke which made him give misinformation.) Though there’s no guarantee that the next election will be a clean one, the fact that we’re getting one does seem like progress.
  • Recent Court Resilience. The Supreme Court issued a benchmark decision this week when it concluded that rules against excessive fines apply to state police as well as the federal government under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments when they engage in civil asset forfeiture. (Civil asset forfeiture is the practice by police of seizing assets that they claim were involved in a crime.) As several articles covering the case note, this practice is rife with abuses because it can be used as a revenue stream and because it’s often not subject to significant oversight. The decision to apply federal law to states is a major win on this issue that may significantly curtail abuses, and the case is even more unusual because it was unanimously decided. That said, the facts of this case were particularly egregious — Indiana state police confiscated a man’s $40,000 value SUV, which he purchased with life insurance policy money, because he was convicted of selling a small amount of heroin which carried a maximum $10,000 fine. So it’s possible we’ll see a distinguishing case on this soon.

So that’s what I have for this week, and it’s more than enough! For making it through, you deserve frogs wearing tiny hats 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 hours in the day!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 4 (February 10–16)


[Note: The National News Roundup ongoing audio link has officially graduated to A Real Life Podcast with an RSS feed!

Check out the whole feed, or click here to hear Year 3, Week 3 specifically.]


This week has been quite a trial — most of it actually isn’t that awful, but the bits that are truly pack a punch. Also, the CCC is basically an entire zero-star novel. You who are about to read this week’s news, I salute you! And offer cookies.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a dietary supplement! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corner

There’s only one major story this week regarding Disregard of Governing Norms, but it’s a bit like saying the sinking Titanic was “only one ship,” so that’s not much comfort. Bear with me because this will be long and important, which in this administration are never two great tastes that go great together.

Ho boy, you deserve a cookie just for reading all of that! And I’m sad to report that your CCC slog is not done, because just like last week there was a flurry of activity on the Russia Investigation as well. Here are the things to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, and I promise I edited for length! For making it through, you deserve this doggy music video 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 a snow plower for our driveway!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 3 (February 3–9)


This week was an explosion of activity, especially on Friday (which figures, cause I always send stories to my most excellent volunteer researcher on Thursday evenings). There’s a lot to catch up on this time, and I’m happy to walk you through it all! Though I make no guarantees that you will enjoy it as much as SNL did — it is the news, after all.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a sarcastic clap! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

With a week until the continuing resolution that ended the shutdown expires, the big Will They Won’t They of Disregard of Governing Norms is whether we’ll actually manage to get another deal in place before Friday. As I type this on Sunday, I’m honestly not sure what is going to happen this week, because reports are still all over the place. Here’s what I have for you:

After a few weeks of quiet, it was pretty jarring to suddenly have an explosion of news on the Russia Investigation. Here are the things to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, which definitely was more than enough! For making it through, you deserve this video of elephant orthopedics 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 tweets about calling your Senators!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 2 (January 27 — February 2)


I missed the Superb Owl’s great flight over everyone’s televisions yesterday to draft, which I’m a touch sad about. But it turns out even the Superbowl involved the news this week (which, by the way, is definitely the most 2019 thing I’m going to type today). So I like to think I was at everybody’s Superbowl parties in spirit, reminding people to resist and stealing too many nachos.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week’s news contains some detailed analysis that’s outside my expertise — I’m a lawyer, not a Senator! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

Now that the shutdown is over, this was a fairly quiet week regarding Disregard of Governing Norms, but there is still some aftermath from the month of partial shutdown to wade through. Here is the latest:

It was also a fairly quiet week on the Russia Investigation front, but there were still some significant developments. Here are the main things to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, which definitely was more than enough! For making it through, you deserve this video of otter pups 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 Superb Owls!