Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Last Call For The Road To Gilead, Con't

Those who can afford it will get abortion as health care. Those who can't will have to either bear the child, or turn to other means. It's these other means that Texas and other red states will target next, including making crossing state lines to get an abortion illegal, as well as outlawing abortion pills.
While I figured Texas would be the state to do just that, it's Missouri that has beaten Texas to the punch.

An unusual new provision, introduced by state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R), would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident obtain an abortion out of state, using the novel legal strategy behind the restrictive law in Texas that since September has banned abortions in that state after six weeks of pregnancy.

Coleman has attached the measure as an amendment to several abortion-related bills that have made it through committee and are waiting to be heard on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Abortion rights advocates say the measure is unconstitutional because it would effectively allow states to enact laws beyond their jurisdictions, but the Republican-led Missouri legislature has been supportive of creative approaches to antiabortion legislation in the past. The measure could signal a new strategy by the antiabortion movement to extend its influence beyond the conservative states poised to tighten restrictions if the Supreme Court moves this summer to overturn its landmark precedent protecting abortion rights.

“If your neighboring state doesn’t have pro-life protections, it minimizes the ability to protect the unborn in your state,” said Coleman, who said she’s been trying to figure out how to crack down on out-of-state abortions since Planned Parenthood opened an abortion clinic on the Illinois-Missouri border in 2019.

A Supreme Court decision that undercuts Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion across the United States, probably would create a national landscape that encourages patients to cross state lines for abortions, with Democrat-led states moving to protect abortion rights as Republican-led states further limit them.

The trend has been apparent in Texas, where the majority of people seeking abortions since the state’s six-week abortion ban took effect in September have been able to obtain the procedure at clinics in neighboring states, or by ordering abortion pills in the mail, according to a report from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project. Demand for abortions has skyrocketed in Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico and other nearby states. Planned Parenthood clinics in states that border Texas reported that patient traffic increased by nearly 800 percent, and independent providers reported comparable increases.

Since Planned Parenthood opened its clinic on the Missouri-Illinois border in October 2019, 10,644 Missouri residents have received abortion care at the clinic, according to Planned Parenthood. By early 2021, the last remaining clinic in Missouri was typically providing between 10 and 20 abortions per month, according to preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Health.

Coleman said she hopes her amendment will thwart efforts by Missourians to cross state lines for abortions. The measure would target anyone even tangentially involved in an abortion performed on a Missouri resident, including the hotline staffers who make the appointments, the marketing representatives who advertise out-of-state clinics, and the Illinois and Kansas-based doctors who handle the procedure. Her amendment also would make it illegal to manufacture, transport, possess or distribute abortion pills in Missouri.

Olivia Cappello, the press officer for state media campaigns at Planned Parenthood, called the idea “wild” and “bonkers.” She called the proposal “the most extraordinary provision we have ever seen.”

If enacted, the measure almost certainly would face a swift legal challenge.
The swift legal challenge is also the point.  A broad Supreme Court ruling that would empower states to limit abortion out of existence for most women as I expect later this spring, would then face the question of Missouri's proposed law. It's possible that it'll be moot and the amendment defeated, but I don't hink it will be.
Even if the law is beaten in Missouri, it'll just come up elsewhere, and certainly within time for a brutal 2023 or 2024 court ruling. 

Eventually this will become the law of the land, long before the GOP gets another triple threat House, Senate and White House to make the law national and binding, and then that's ballgame.

To Gilead we go.

It's A Gas, Gas, Gas Con't

 With the American people overwhelmingly in favor of banning Russian oil imports, including 4 out of 5 Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans, big energy companies voluntarily agreeing to not purchase any more oil from Moscow,  and Congress about to put a veto-proof bill on banning Russian oil on Biden's desk this week, the White House is reading the room and announcing plans to ban all Russian energy imports today.

The U.S. and the U.K. will impose a ban on imports of Russian energy on Tuesday without the participation of European allies, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.S. ban will include Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal, according to two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The decision was made in consultation with European allies, who rely more heavily than the U.S. on Russian energy, another person said.

The U.K. move will be done in concert with the U.S. and the ban will be phased in over the coming months, according to the person, who requested anonymity speaking about policy that hasn’t yet been announced. The ban won’t apply to Russian gas, the person said.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden “will announce actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unjustified war on Ukraine,” though didn’t specify the measures. He’s due to speak at 10:45 a.m. in Washington.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the announcement owing to its sensitivity. Spokespeople for the White House National Security Council declined to immediately comment.
As I've been saying this was a foregone conclusion. The real fight will happen in the months ahead as Biden tries to escape the obvious trap set for him.

U.S. politicians could make the case that higher energy prices are a cost of defending freedom and democracy, upholding international law, resisting armed aggression. We’re not sending American sons and daughters into this war, they could say; instead, Americans’ sacrifice could be economic. We’ll pay more for gasoline — and perhaps other things, too — to help shoulder the burden of fighting Putin.

But that’s not the argument most U.S. politicians are emphasizing. Instead, they suggest there’s a free lunch to be had.

In recent days, Republicans (and some Democrats) have argued that the United States can apply sanctions to Russia’s energy sector while enduring virtually no economic pain at home, and without turning to unsavory alternative sources such as Venezuela. U.S. energy producers alone, they claim, can immediately ramp up supply to offset the shortfall. Big, Bad Government just needs to get out of industry’s way.

This is a fantasy — one born either of confusion about how energy markets work or a cynical desire to set up Biden.

For starters, it usually takes 10 to 12 months for a change in oil prices to lead to an actual change in oil production in the United States, according to John Kemp, senior market analyst at Thomson Reuters. That’s because there are many time-consuming steps involved, regardless of the regulatory environment: contracting a new rig, moving the rig onto the drilling site, recruiting workers and so on.

Already, U.S. oil producers have responded to the recent run-up in oil prices by taking steps to increase production. In January, there were 502 rigs drilling in this country for crude, according to energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. Today, there are 540. Unfortunately, any additional barrels that become available from these added rigs are months away.

The chief executive of the biggest U.S. shale oil operator recently told the Financial Times that domestic industry would be unable to replace lost crude supplies from Russia this year. In addition to all the usual factors, pandemic-related supply-chain constraints are slowing down development. Plus, investors burned in recent boom-bust cycles are pressuring shale operators to be more conservative about expansion this time around.

Republicans are ignoring all this. They’ve started arguing — with relatively little pushback — that if we can’t immediately replace lost Russian supply, it’ll be because of Biden’s supposed war on fossil fuels.

Despite his tough campaign rhetoric, though, Biden has been relatively gentle on the fossil fuel industry. Much to the dismay of climate hawks, his climate agenda is based almost exclusively on carrots, not sticks. As recently as January, he was outpacing Donald Trump in authorizing new drilling permits on public lands.

Republicans point to Biden’s decision to “shut down” the Keystone XL pipeline — but it was only 8 percent built when Biden revoked a U.S.-side permit for construction last year. Even if construction had continued, additional supply via this pipeline would still be years away.

“There’s no evidence that the regulatory environment is what has held the U.S. oil and gas sector back, and by extension, no indication that making the regulatory environment more permissive would generate additional production in the near term,” says Kemp.

It’s not clear what exactly Republicans think Biden could do to accelerate U.S. energy production in the short term, other than perhaps give a big pep talk.


Republicans are well aware, but they're going to spend the next 8 months lying about it anyway and not only will the voters let them get away with it, they will almost certainly be awarded control of Congress as a prize. 

Meanwhile, energy companies will continue to have record-shattering profits for a long time to come. They're the real bad guys, and you won't see oil below $100 again anytime in years, but it'll be Biden's fault forever.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Putin's invasion of Ukraine has provided all the political cover that Republicans need in order to sweep the raging racism, antisemitism, and bigotry of GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Green and Paul Gosar under the congressional rug.

It’s not yet clear when Kevin McCarthy will have his promised conversation with two divisive House conservatives who spoke at a white nationalist event — and whenever he does, the talk likely won’t amount to much.

The House minority leader called it “appalling” that Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) would speak at a conference organized by far-right fringe figure Nick Fuentes, who before introducing Greene asked for a “round of applause for Russia.” McCarthy also said that he’d speak with the two about their decision to ally with the fringe group, though a long list of other huge events soon drowned out the furor.

There was Russia’s war on Ukraine, a State of the Union address and Texas primary elections where McCarthy’s candidate of choice in one race handily trounced Greene’s. McCarthy reiterated later last week that he still plans to speak with the two members, whose divisive rhetoric has already repeatedly bogged down a GOP that wants to spend its time unifying against President Joe Biden — not splintering over a far-right activist.

But Greene and Gosar have little to lose. They were already stripped of their committees by Democrats last year, leaving McCarthy with few options to punish them even if he chose to. And some House Republicans argued that their leader has more pressing considerations.

“Dealing with dumb, stupid things people do in Congress should probably go down — and go pretty far down — on the list when you’ve got peacekeeping tanks rolling into a country that was not in conflict, when you’ve got record inflation, when you’ve got all of these things,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.).

“When Kevin figures out the time to deal with that, I’m sure he will,” Armstrong added. “But he’s got significantly more important things for the American people to focus on at this point right now.”

McCarthy’s office confirmed to POLITICO that he hasn’t yet spoken to the two but still plans to.

At the end of last week, multiple House Republicans shrugged off questions about the timing of McCarthy’s meeting with Greene and Gosar. It was not because they didn’t detest the duo’s decision to associate with Fuentes, who attended 2017’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., has called for the U.S. to remain majority-white and compared Jews killed in concentration camps to cookies in an oven.

On the other hand, some have privately wondered if Democrats’ move to boot Greene and Gosar from committees was designed to create future headaches for Republicans by taking away their major recourse to punish two of their biggest conservative gadflies. A few Republicans privately even credit Speaker Nancy Pelosi — without evidence she acted that purposefully — for a smart political maneuver against Greene and Gosar.
As much as I would like to believe that this was Nancy Pelosi outsmarting another dumbass Republican House caucus leader as she's done continually for the last decade plus, the reality is that Republicans in Congress, Republican voters, and the media no longer care about Gosar and Greene. They were always going to get away with it, and be handily reelected in November.

Worse, the ineffective McCarthy will almost certainly be replaced by Republicans in 2023, and if Republicans retake the House -- a pretty safe bet, frankly -- McCarthy will be jettisoned for someone like, well, Greene or Gosar.

Republican voters want someone who will make House Democrats and their voters suffer every day of House GOP control, and they will light up the phone lines and social media making sure McCarthy's replacement is just as vindictive as Trump.

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