National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 13 (April 14–20)


This week was full of dark, strange freaky funhouse mirror news — and the Mueller report’s release took it to a whole new level. There’s a lot of abyss to look into this week, but we’ll get through it 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 redacted 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 Corners:

Okay, this was a big week for the Russia Investigation both before and after the Mueller report was released (albeit in redacted form). Here’s what I have for you:

Ironically, it was a fairly quiet week for Disregard of Governing Norms, simply because all eyes were on the Russia investigation. But we did see a bit of tax return balderdash. 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 review of the Mueller report on GoodReads 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 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 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 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!

National News Roundup: Year 3, Week 1 (January 20–26)


Well, folks, we’re officially past the halfway point of Trump’s first term (assuming he serves a whole one, though I suspect everybody reading this hopes he does not). And true to the last two years, this past week was a wild roller coaster ride; I think more than a few of us were a little green by the time it ended. But at least we got some good news as we cruised to a stop.

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 Presidential candidate! — 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:

Half the news this week involves Disregard of Governing Norms, though at least we got some positive shutdown news in the end. (I’m separating the shutdown news into two sections, by the way, in the hopes that it will make the whole thing less confusing.) Here are the main things to know from this week:

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

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • Let Them Eat Loans. Commerce secretary and jackass billionaire Wilbur Ross was in the news this week for saying that he “d[oesn’t] quite understand” why furloughed federal workers seeking assistance from food banks didn’t just take out loans to make ends meet. To be fair, I don’t quite understand why his agency is charging 9% on the emergency loans they made available, so I guess that makes us even.
  • 2020 Campaign Ring. As we move forward into 2019, it’s unsurprising that Democrat candidates are beginning to throw their hats into the ring for 2020 — in addition to Senator Elizabeth Warren and Hawaii rep Tulsi Gabbard, who declared their intent to run last week, we’ve now also got Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and San Antonio mayor Julián Castro stepping forward. (Perhaps more surprisingly, former Starbucks CEO and fellow billionaire jackass Howard Schultz has started to mutter about running as well on an independent ticket, because what this country needs is definitely a split vote.) At any rate, all six join candidates who announced prior to 2019, of course, and several major outlets are keeping track of all the current contenders as well as those likely to add their names. All told, it’s going to be a pretty crowded ring, but there will be an unprecedented four women running this election. (Hilariously, the Hill reports that Trump is already trailing several of them in polls.)

The Bad:

The Good:

  • LA Teacher’s Strike Successfully Concludes. The LA teacher’s union strike successfully concluded this week, winning terms such as classroom size caps and nurses at every school. The superintendent noted that though “40 years of under-investment [can’t be fixed] in a week,” the strike settlement represented a good start. Between this and the air traffic controllers’ impact on the government shutdown, this week had some powerful messages about the value of organizing.
  • Trans Rights Twitch Stream. Last weekend, UK Youtuber Hbomberguy began a spontaneous twitch stream of Donkey Kong 64 to support Mermaids, a trans rights organization that under funding threat due to moral panic caused by ‘faulty’ reporting. Incredibly, the stream went on for 57 straight hours, during which time it raised over $340,000 and drew cameo calls from everybody from Lindsay Ellis to Chelsea Manning to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. As Hbomberguy himself noted on the twitch stream, the sheer success of the event highlights how many people believe trans rights are human rights — which is particularly welcome timing given the news above.

So that’s what I have for this week, which definitely was more than enough! For making it through, you deserve these portraits of an artist’s hamster 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 an extra few hours in the day!

National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 52 (January 13–19)


This was a really weird week even by our ordinary standards, but it was also rage inducing; MLK Day under this administration is a special Bad Place and the shutdown has hit the one-month mark. (I don’t mind admitting that I may have yelled things several times while drafting. I regret nothing, although my dog may feel otherwise.)

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 shutdown! — 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 nearing the point of a full month of shutdown, which means Disregard of Governing Norms was out in full force again this week. Here are the main things to know:

This was another very strange week for the Russia Investigation, so there’s still a lot to process. Here are the main bits 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 a porcupine getting a boost in the snow 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 an extra few hours in the day!

National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 51 (January 6–12)


Another week of shutdown, which by now is the U.S. longest government shutdown in modern history, and between that and an intense week of Russia investigation developments, it feels like the entire country is holding its breath. But any doctor can tell you that it’s not good for people to hold their breath indefinitely, and countries are no different. We’re starting to see real consequences, so here’s hoping we see some kind of shutdown solution soon.

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 Russia 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:

With the ongoing shutdown, we’re of course seeing one big, long Disregard of Governing Norms this week — but there are a lot of subtleties to unpack. Here are the main things to know from this past week:

This was an incredibly wild week for the Russia Investigation and there’s definitely a lot to process. Here are the main bits to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

The Good:

  • Recent Court Resilience. There was a lot of good court-related news in the past few days. First a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from expanding exemptions to employers who don’t want to cover hormonal medications. Though this first decision only applied to thirteen states, the decision was expanded by another federal judge to cover the entire nation the following day. And continuing the access to justice theme, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association has joined the shutdown lawsuit party, suing the federal government for depriving its workers of pay without due process.

So that’s what I have for this week, and ho boy did it feel like a lot! For making it through, you deserve this raccoon at a ballgame 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 an extra few hours in the day!

National News Roundup: Year 2, Week 38 (October 7–13)


https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GbMK990VX2ozUiUowUStGy2keTymx0AE

The news was a peanut butter and tuna fish sandwich this week — definitely strange and kind of gross, but minimal toxic waste involved. After the rough few weeks we’ve just had, it’s nice to catch our collective breath for a moment! But that doesn’t mean anybody likes eating tuna fish with peanut butter.

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 Federal Reserve! — 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 saw a couple of instances of Casual Disregard of Governing Norms this week, and both of them were pretty weird. Here are the main things to know:

This week’s news about the Russia Investigation was more about things that might impact it than the Russia investigation itself, for the simple reason that not much happened on the actual investigation. But here are a couple of tangentially related things to know:

Your “Normal” Weird:

The Bad:

  • Census Citizenship Suspicions Confirmed. The guy who wants to add a citizenship question to the census — and is currently being sued over it — suddenly remembers speaking with Steve Bannon as well as Kris Kobach on the topic as of this week. Unsurprisingly, the thing that jogged his memory was evidence in that same lawsuit, which of course contradicts the story he told Congress (because lying to Congress is all the rage these days). Obviously, the evidence produced helps the plaintiffs’ prove that he was trying to chill immigrant participation, particularly when the content of the email from Kris Kobach is reviewed — so I suppose that’s a silver lining of sorts in this otherwise gross story.
  • Immigration Updates. Since we pretty much never have immigration updates that are anything good, all I’ve got for you is varying degrees of garbage on the immigration front. The worst is yet another Groundhog’s Day attempt to reinstate family separation at the border, this time specifically for asylum seekers who have literally broken no laws, because the sequel is always worse than the first one. But we also saw the official publication of rules punishing immigrant access to public benefits, kicking off a sixty-day comment period (which you may recall I said a few weeks ago is my cue to start yelling everywhere about it). For more information on what you can do and why this is a cruel policy designed to hurt people, Protecting Immigrant Families has you covered; I strongly suggest reading what they have to say and leaving a comment before December 10 if you can!
  • Trans Student Discrimination. A Virginia school decided this week that a trans student wasn’t allowed in either bathroom during an active shooter drill this week, leaving her outside while everyone else participated. This raises all kinds of questions — is this student is allowed to pee at school? — but it’s particularly galling when you note that the lockdown was in the bathrooms. So I guess this school’s plan in the event of an actual shooting was to let this student be the bait? (For Pete’s sake, during deadly shootings people hide in closets. It’s not like schools only let students seek shelter there if the kids can prove they’re coats.)

The Good:

So that’s what I have for this week, in all its weird and mostly gross glory. For making it through the news, you deserve this video of two guys letting bear cubs out of a dumpster and an eventual better government. I’ll be back next week with more 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 peanut butter treats for Megabit! (He’s a dog. He likes peanut butter, probably even with tuna fish.)