Nacho cheese stops Arkansas traffic. Your weekly non-Beltway politics stories.


Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1987, the Federal Communications Commission voted 4-0 to get rid of the Fairness Doctrine, which had required broadcasters to present controversial issues of public importance with opposing viewpoints.

Nacho cheese stops Arkansas traffic. Homelessness in Anchorage. Your weekly non-Beltway politics stories.

Millions of Americans lose Medicaid coverage. Nonpartisans outnumber partisans in Nevada for the first time. A sad story about a cow. Alaskan homelessness. And a delightfully pun-filled story about nacho cheese gumming up Arkansas traffic.

These are your weekly non-Beltway political stories.

The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than strictly inside-the-Beltway stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.

But we need your help to know what we’re missing! Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. (They don’t have to be from this week, and the submission link is right under this column.) Make sure to say whether we can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.

My colleague Amy Goldstein recently reported that nearly 4 million Americans in 38 states have recently been cut from Medicaid “since the end of a pandemic-era promise that people with the safety-net health coverage could keep it, requiring every state to begin a herculean undertaking of sorting out who still belonged on the rolls.”

Why? “Most of those people have been dropped from Medicaid for reasons unrelated to whether they actually are eligible for the coverage, according to KFF, a health-policy organization, which has been compiling this data. Three-fourths have been removed because of bureaucratic factors. Such ‘procedural’ cutoffs — prompted by renewal notices not arriving at the right addresses, beneficiaries not understanding the notices, or an assortment of state agencies’ mistakes and logjams — were a peril against which federal health officials had cautioned for many months as they coached states in advance on how best to carry out the unwinding,” Amy reported.

The politics: For millions of Americans, this is the only health insurance available. Losing it for reasons of paperwork, not eligibility, is government not running smoothly on a life-or-death issue.

Nevada: 551,000 registered Republicans; 602,000 registered Democrats; and 605,000 registered nonpartisans, per Jessica Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s the first time the unaffiliated outnumber each party.

Some of that is an automatic voter registration system. If you don’t fill out a party affiliation at the DMV, your tag is “nonpartisan.” But as Hill points out, the number has crept up for decades.

“In July 2003, nonpartisan voters made up about 15 percent of registered voters in the Silver State, with Republicans at 41 percent and Democrats at 40 percent. Twenty years later, nonpartisans now make up 31.86 percent, with Democrats at 31.69 percent and Republicans at 29.02 percent,” Hill reported.

The politics: How much longer will the U.S. have two major parties? They don’t really shape ideology, are less important for getting on the ballot and seem to only be good for getting voters to the polls.

Via reader Jill D. in Raleigh, N.C., comes this story about a dairy farmer distraught after someone shot dead his pregnant cow, “Lib.” You can read it here.

The politics: I’m less interested in the local politics of this than in — once again — emphasizing the importance of local news. They talk about real problems afflicting real people and speak more to their constituencies than the latest incendiary backbencher rhetoric. Support them.

Via a reader who asked to stay anonymous because Alaska is “a small town” comes a request to look at the homeless crisis in Anchorage. And sure enough, the Anchorage Daily News’s Michelle Theriault Boots has some interesting coverage.

“A plan backed by the mayor to buy homeless people in Anchorage one-way plane tickets out of town could be effective for some people — but it’s far from a universal fix and would not eliminate the need for winter shelter, providers say,” Theriault Boots reported. The idea is to get them to warmer climes in winter, potentially saving their lives.

The politics: It’s not just Anchorage. There are homeless across America, and policymakers are struggling to figure out how to respond to the phenomenon (sometimes by sweeping it out of sight). It’s a deeply political question.

The queso the traffic-snarling cheese spill

OK, in all honesty, this one isn’t really about politics, just fun. It’s about Rhett Brinkley and Stephanie Smittle getting a huge number of cheese puns into their Arkansas Times piece on how a truck carrying cans of nacho cheese spilled and snarled traffic on a highway.

I hope they didn’t ask their editors for permission, just presented them with the feta compli. Truly muensterful. Enjoy!

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

Economy adds 187,000 jobs in July, showing strong but moderating growth

“Combined with June’s revised jobs gain of 185,000, the past two months have marked the weakest level of job growth since December 2020, but the gains are still considered solid. May’s job gains were also revised downward notably in Friday’s report, adding to evidence that the labor market has cooled substantially since last year,” The Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley reports.

Navalny is sentenced to 19 years for ‘extremism’ as Kremlin crushes dissent

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny “who led the country’s biggest liberal pro-democracy anti-corruption opposition movement, was convicted on charges of creating an extremist community, incitement to extremism, financing extremism, rehabilitation of Nazism, involving minors in dangerous acts and creating a nongovernmental organization that infringes on citizens’ rights,” The Post’s Robyn Dixon reports.

Chris Christie visits Ukraine, highlighting GOP divide over U.S. role

“The former New Jersey governor [and long-shot GOP presidential candidate] arrived in Kyiv on Friday for what he billed as a fact-finding mission to assess the effectiveness of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, though Christie remained within the relatively safe confines of the Kyiv region and did not visit front-line positions where Western weapons are being used in a bid to oust the Russian invaders from occupied territory,” The Post’s Maeve Reston reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

5 things Trump’s Jan. 6 indictment week tells us about the 2024 election

“The first former president of the United States to be indicted has now been charged a third time. This historic event capped a week that tells us a few things about the 2024 presidential race, in which the former president remains the overwhelming GOP favorite,” The Post’s Aaron Blake reports.

1. No candidate can escape the specter of Jan. 6.
2. Trump may be losing control of the clock.
3. Ron DeSantis is running out of ideas.
4. Trump’s woes have not helped President Biden.
5. Republicans won’t desert (or vouch for) Trump.

More coverage of the Trump indictment to digest along with your lunch:

Myanmar’s military said it bombed ‘terrorists.’ It killed children.

At least 157 people were killed, according to two local groups, during the bombing in central Myanmar on April 11 — the single deadliest attack by the military since it took control from a civilian government in 2021, The Post’s Rebecca Tan and Cape Diamond report.

“The military acknowledged responsibility for the airstrike hours after it happened, announcing on state television that it had killed members of the rebel People’s Defense Force, whom the military called ‘terrorists,’ active in the northern Sagaing region where resistance groups have a stronghold.

“But records documenting the deaths and injuries from the attack that were provided exclusively to The Washington Post by a network of local medics, along with more than 100 photos and videos obtained from multiple people, show that at least 25 children were among the dead, including babies as young as 10 months. Survivors said most of the people killed were civilians from Pa Zi Gyi and nearby villages.”

Tim Scott’s Senate record doesn’t match his tough talk on China

“Since taking the top Republican slot on the powerful Senate Banking Committee this year, [GOP presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott] has been one of the biggest roadblocks to new rules restricting U.S.-China trade — everything from TikTok bans to reviews of high-tech investment,” Gavin Bade reports for Politico.

“GOP national security hawks in Washington say that work doesn’t match the rhetoric in Scott’s recent presidential campaign ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the long-shot candidate slams “Joe Biden’s weakness” and promises to “keep China out of our homeland, and out of our data.”

Trump documents case judge made multiple errors in earlier trial

“Florida-based U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon closed jury selection for the trial of an Alabama man — accused by federal prosecutors of running a website with images of child sex abuse — to the defendant’s family and the general public, a trial transcript obtained by Reuters showed. A defendant’s right to a public trial is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment,” Reuters’s Sarah N. Lynch and Jacqueline Thomsen report.

“Cannon, a 42-year-old former federal prosecutor appointed by Trump to the bench in 2020 late in his presidency, also neglected to swear in the prospective jury pool — an obligatory procedure in which people who may serve on the panel pledge to tell the truth during the selection process. This error forced Cannon to re-start jury selection before the trial ended abruptly with defendant William Spearman pleading guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors.”

Play it again, Joe. Biden bets that repeating himself is smart politics.

“Biden has his zingers (“This is not your father’s Republican Party”). He’s got patriotism (“This is the United States of America, dammit”). He’s got a geometry-based explanation on how to grow the economy (“from the middle out and the bottom up”). Move over, Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Biden has his own greatest hits and he’s keeping them on repeat,” the AP’s Josh Boak reports.

“The repetition is a strategic choice — one with a scientific basis in a society that is loaded with distractions. People need to see his TV ads and speeches dozens of times before they truly absorb them, his campaign believes. The president has built a multi-decade political career on repeating the same stories in order to explain the principles behind his policies.”

Hunter tried to sell family name but Joe Biden never talked business, says ex-associate

“The vice president’s appearance at a dinner at Cafe Milano in Washington with Hunter Biden, his business associates and a Russian billionaire. His handshake with a Chinese businessman in the lobby of a Beijing hotel. His appearance on speakerphone while Hunter Biden had dinner in Paris with executives from a French energy company.

“These are a few of the ways Hunter Biden used his relationship with his powerful and influential father, Joe Biden, while the younger Biden was working to grow his business portfolio, according to testimony by Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s former business partner,” The Post’s Jacqueline Alemany reports.

“But the 141-page transcript also includes multiple occasions in which Archer, who founded Rosemont Seneca Partners with Hunter Biden, testified in definitive terms that Hunter Biden was not able to influence his father’s actions or policy decisions and that “nothing of material” was ever discussed with Joe Biden during his frequent communications with his son.”

Breaking down the charges Trump faces, visualized

“Trump is facing a total of 78 charges across three criminal cases. They include 44 federal charges and 34 state charges, all of them felonies, in three jurisdictions. Trump has denied wrongdoing in each case,” Derek Hawkins and Nick Mourtoupalas report.

Health care’s intertwined colossus

The American Prospect takes a close look at UnitedHealth “and the business model that has eaten the health care system.”

“We think of United as an insurance company, but it has never really been exactly that. It began as a health management company, and it is now also the largest employer of physicians in the country, with 70,000 doctors across 2,200 locations. Underneath its corporate umbrella are pharmacies, primary care clinics, surgical centers, urgent care centers, home health agencies, hospice agencies, mental health agencies, a pharmacy benefit manager, an IT division, and plenty more. United has so many subsidiaries that 25 percent of its total revenues come from itself.”

Florida ‘effectively’ bans Advanced Placement Psychology course

“Florida officials told school superintendents Thursday that they may offer the [Advanced Placement Psychology class] but only if material concerning sexual orientation and gender identity is removed, said William J. “Bill” Montford III, chief executive at the Florida Association of District School Superintendents, who was on the call. He said districts were encouraged to teach a modified version of the class,” The Post’s Laura Meckler reports.

“The College Board, which runs the AP program, responded that the class will not be compliant with college requirements if these topics are removed and that schools that do so cannot call the class ‘Advanced Placement.’”

President Biden today heads from his house in Rehoboth Beach, Del., to his home in Wilmington, Del., for the weekend. He has no public events on his schedule.

Hip-hop’s 50th birthday is coming up. Test your knowledge.

Can you guess which songs these hip-hop artists surprisingly enjoy?

Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

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