Monday, July 17, 2023

Last Call For The Road To Gilead, Con't

An Iowa state judge has blocked GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds' six-week abortion ban, meaning Iowans can continue to receive abortion services for pregnancies up to 20 weeks.
An Iowa judge on Monday temporarily blocked the state’s new ban on most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, just days after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the measure into law.

That means abortion is once again legal in Iowa up to 20 weeks of pregnancy while the courts assess the new law’s constitutionality.

The new law prohibits almost all abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, which is usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many women know they are pregnant.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the measure in a rare, all-day special session last week, prompting a legal challenge by the ACLU of Iowa, Planned Parenthood North Central States and the Emma Goldman Clinic. Judge Joseph Seidlin held a hearing on the matter Friday, but said he would take the issue under advisement — just as Reynolds signed the bill into law about a mile away.

Abortion providers said they scrambled last week to fit in as many appointments as possible before the governor put pen to paper, preemptively making hundreds of calls to prepare patients for the uncertainty and keeping clinics open late.

Reynolds swiftly put out a statement underscoring her intention to fight the issue all the way to the state Supreme Court.

“The abortion industry’s attempt to thwart the will of Iowans and the voices of their elected representatives continues today,” she said.

The ruling Monday does specify that while the law is temporarily paused, the state’s Board of Medicine should proceed with creating rules for enforcement, as the law specifies. That way the guidance for health care providers would be well defined if the law were to be in effect in the future.

There are limited circumstances under the law that would allow for abortion after the point in a pregnancy where cardiac activity is detected: rape, if reported to law enforcement or a health provider within 45 days; incest, if reported within 145 days; if the fetus has a fetal abnormality “incompatible with life;” or if the pregnancy is endangering the life of the pregnant woman.

Seidlin specified that his ruling today hinges on the “undue burden” test, which is an intermediate level of scrutiny that requires laws do not create a significant obstacle to abortion.

The state Supreme Court, in its latest rulings on the issue, said that undue burden remains in effect “with an invitation to litigate the issue further,” Seidlin wrote. “This, perhaps, is the litigation that accepts the invitation.”

Using that standard, abortion advocates are likely right to say the new law violates Iowans’ constitutional rights, Seidlin said, which led him to grant the temporary block.

Lawyers for the state argued — and will likely continue to argue — that the law should be analyzed using rational basis review, the lowest level of scrutiny to judge legal challenges.

“We are deeply relieved that the court granted this relief so essential health care in Iowa can continue,” said Abbey Hardy-Fairbanks, medical director of the Iowa City-based Emma Goldman Clinic, in a statement. “We are also acutely aware that the relief is only pending further litigation and the future of abortion in Iowa remains tenuous and threatened.”
It the "undue burden vs. ration basis" argument that's the key. Banning abortion before most women find out they are pregnant is kind of one of those burdens, and it's why Iowa Republicans have lost the battle on abortion bans before, but Reynolds keeps trying.
The problem is one of these six-week bans that has been blocked is going to reach SCOTUS, and then we're going to see just how much a state can limit abortions, if not completely outlaw them.

After that point, things get really dicey.

Ukraine Grain In The Membrane

Russia says it will let the UN-brokered grain export deal for Ukraine through Black Sea ports expire in retaliation for a Ukraine security forces attack last week on the main land bridge to Crimea.
The announcement appeared to be the most serious blow yet to a year-old agreement that had been a rare example of fruitful talks between the warring nations, and had helped to alleviate part of the global fallout from Russia’s full-scale invasion. Ukraine is a major producer of grain and other foodstuffs, and the United Nations had warned that some countries in the Middle East and Africa faced famine if Kyiv could not export its goods via the Black Sea.

A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told journalists on Monday that the agreement was “suspended,” but added that the decision was not connected to the attack hours earlier on the Kerch Strait Bridge linking Russia to occupied Crimea. Russian officials blamed Ukraine for the bridge attack, but Kyiv has not taken responsibility.

Speaking about the grain agreement, Mr. Peskov said: “As soon as the Russian part is fulfilled, the Russian side will immediately return to the implementation of that deal.”

Russia has repeatedly complained about the agreement, which it considers one-sided in Ukraine’s favor. Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a statement that emphasized its objections, including what it described as continued Ukrainian “provocations and attacks against Russian civilian and military facilities” in the Black Sea area, and said that the United Nations and Ukraine’s Western allies had not addressed Russian demands.

“Only upon receipt of concrete results, and not promises and assurances, will Russia be ready to consider restoring the ‘deal,’” the statement said.

The deal, known as the Black Sea Grain Initiative and brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, had been set to expire on Monday.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he would speak to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia about the agreement and signaled hope that he would agree to rejoin it.

“Despite the statement today, I believe the president of the Russian Federation, my friend Putin, wants the continuation of this humanitarian bridge,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul.

Last week, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, sent a letter containing proposals for Mr. Putin in an effort to meet Russia’s conditions for extending the deal. U.N. and Turkish negotiators spent the weekend awaiting a response from Moscow as the clock ticked down. Grain exports from Ukraine’s ports had dwindled almost to zero in the days before the deal expired.

The deal successfully eased shortages that resulted from blockades in the first months of the war, which caused global wheat prices to soar. It allowed Ukraine to restart the export of millions of tons of grain that had languished for months, and it has been renewed multiple times, most recently in May.

But Moscow has argued that while the deal has benefited Ukraine, Western sanctions have restricted the sale of Russia’s agricultural products. In an effort to address Russia’s demands, Mr. Guterres sent Mr. Putin proposals that he said would “remove hurdles affecting financial transactions” through Russia’s agricultural bank while allowing the Ukrainian grain shipments to continue.

In addition to its hope for smoother financial transactions, Russia has sought guarantees that would facilitate exports of its own grain and fertilizers, and the reopening of an ammonia pipeline that crosses Ukraine.

Ukraine has exported 32.8 million tons of grain and other food since the initiative began, according to U.N. data. Under the agreement, ships are permitted to pass by Russian naval vessels that in effect have blockaded Ukraine’s ports since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022. The ships are inspected off the coast of Istanbul, in part to ensure they are not carrying weapons.

Wheat prices were up by more than 3% in the Chicago commodities market after the announcement. Grain prices are nowhere near where they were in Spring of 2022 when the Russian invasion of Ukraine triggered a massive rise in wheat and grain prices worldwide, but if this agreement is suspended for too long things could get very bad, very quickly.

We'll see what happens with Turkey mediating.

No Labels, Yes Spoilers

I believe Joe F'ckin Lieberman even less than I trusted him 15 years ago when I started this blog, so when the old bastard says his No Labels group isn't going to be a third-party spoiler that throws the election to Trump, I believe him precisely as far as he can throw me.

The third-party No Labels group will stay out of the 2024 U.S. presidential race if polling shows its candidate would play a "spoiler" role by helping to elect either the Democratic or Republican nominee, co-chairman Joe Lieberman said on Sunday.

The group will on Monday release what it calls a "common sense" agenda of policies meant to help unite the country behind a cooperative moderate alternative to the partisanship that characterizes contemporary U.S. politics.

Lieberman, a former U.S. senator and unsuccessful vice presidential candidate, said No Labels hopes to offer a legitimate "third choice" candidate.

"We're not in this to be spoilers," Lieberman told ABC's "This Week" program. He spoke a day before the group was due to release its agenda in New Hampshire, an early primary state.

"If the polling next year shows, after the two parties have chosen their nominees, that in fact we will help elect one or another candidate, we're not going to get involved," he said.

Others involved in No Labels include businessman John Hope Bryant, civil rights leader Benjamin Chavis Jr., Republican former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, and Republican former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was due to speak at Monday's No Labels event in New Hampshire, feeding speculation that he could be weighing a third-party candidacy.

Opinion polls suggest the November 2024 election will again pit Democratic President Joe Biden against Republican former President Donald Trump. Both have disapproval ratings above the 50% mark.
Bullshit they won't get involved. I guarantee you their candidate, almost certainly a ticket like Manchin and a blue state GOP governor like Larry Hogan, will stay on the ballot in swing states with the express intent of helping Trump get into office in 2024.
There aren't very many swing voters in America these days, but remember, in 2020 Biden came within 44,000 votes of an Electoral College tie, which would have been resolved by the House in Trump's favor. If roughly half of the swing voters who voted for Biden that year would be willing to ditch him for a No Labels-y candidate, then the group could easily throw the election to Trump.

I write this at a moment when No Labels has just released a policy document that -- it kills me to say this -- is not laughable or easily dismissed. I'm not saying that I agree with it. But it's easy to imagine swing voters nodding in agreement.

The document is equal parts reasonableness, neoliberal boilerplate, and GOP-donor-friendly deficit hawkery. (Obviously, there's quite a bit of overlap in the last two categories.) To moderate voters, much of this will be appealing:
On the issue of abortion, No Labels avoids taking a stand on what point in a pregnancy abortion should be allowed, but rather argues that the issue needs to be reframed with “empathy and respect” to reflect the mixed results of public polling.

“Most American do not support a total ban on abortion and most Americans do not support unlimited access to abortion at the later stages of pregnancy,” the document reads....

The group seeks a similar middle ground on transgender debates. The group argues that most Americans support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination, while they also “don’t want sexuality and gender issues taught to young children in elementary schools and do want fairness in women’s sports.”
We should create a path to citizenship for Dreamers ... but we should also stop letting so many undocumented immigrants stay in the country. We should improve math and reading scores and make sure no child goes hungry ... oh, and charter schools are awesome. We should have universal background checks and not allow gun purchases by those under 21 ... but we need to respect an individual right to own firearms.

This will all seem reasonable to many voters, but probably not many Republican voters. For them, absolutism on guns, immigration, abortion, and trans people, to name just four issues, is an ingrained part of personal identity. By contrast, moderate Democratic voters (and voters who lean Democratic when the Republican opponent is Trump) aren't really invested in liberal ideas. So, yes, the No Labels candidate will absolutely appeal to more 2020 Biden voters than 2020 Trump voters.
No Labels doesn't have to win a state. They just have to make sure Biden can't get to 270. All they'd need is fewer than 50,000 votes in states like Arizona, Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and if they flip any of those to Trump, it's over.

And yet, No Labels knows this and is going ahead with it. No, they won't drop out of the race. They will absolutely stay in it as long as they have the money, and they'll have millions on tap for that. And Never Trump Republicans will vote for Trump just like they did in 2020 and 2022.

It's all a ratfucking. Any group that has both Joe F'ckin's in them is bad, bad news.

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