Cup of Joe – 9/3/21

“The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation,” the New York Times reports.

“The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent.”

“The majority opinion was unsigned and consisted of a single long paragraph. It said the abortion providers who had challenged the law in an emergency application to the court had not made their case in the face of ‘complex and novel’ procedural questions. The majority stressed that it was not ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law and did not mean to limit ‘procedurally proper challenges’ to it.”

President Biden condemned the Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas’ ban on most abortions to remain in place as “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights,” pledging to launch a “whole-of-government” effort to protect access to safe and legal abortion in the state, Axios reports.

Jonathan Bernstein: “Those of us who believe that Roe v. Wade was correct when it gave women a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 are obviously unhappy with the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’ decision to de facto overturn it — or, as Dahlia Lithwick put it in Slate Wednesday evening, Roe was ‘overruled this week, or nullified, or merely paused for a few million people.’”

“But well beyond that: Procedure matters, and the ad hoc, unjustified procedure in this case — procedure that produced a sharp and compelling dissent from Chief Justice John Roberts, who may eventually join a majority to destroy or overturn Roe — may have done as much to undermine the rule of law as anything we’ve seen in these last years of threats to constitutional government.”

“It simply can’t be the case that state governments can eliminate established constitutional rights by structuring laws so that they must go into effect, thus robbing people of those rights, without the courts having any option of stopping them. That’s what Texas and a handful of judges have done in this case, and it’s wrong and it’s lawless even if Roe was incorrectly decided.”

“The new Texas abortion ban is refocusing both parties’ attention on races for state office over the next year, setting the stage for a clash over abortion rights at the ballot box,” Politico reports.

“On Wednesday, outraged Democrats sought to drag the issue of abortion rights into elections across the country, particularly in two key, blue-state governor’s races this fall: California and Virginia.”

NBC News: Texas law could flip script on abortion politics, with Democrats eyeing gains.

Chief Justice John Roberts — no liberal himself — joined the court’s three liberals to say he would have blocked the law from being implemented. He described the statute’s enforcement plan as “not only unusual, but unprecedented” and said it deserved more judicial scrutiny.

That’s an understatement. The enforcement mechanism allows anyone — even those who do not live in Texas — to file a lawsuit against anyone even remotely involved in helping an abortion take place. Individuals who are sued could owe the person who brought the lawsuit at least $10,000 bounty for each abortion they were involved in assisting.

As Charlie Sykes writes, “It creates an incentive for this sort of vigilante litigation.” You don’t have be a defender of Roe v. Wade to see this as terribly reckless and even dystopian. Encouraging neighbors, co-workers and even strangers to spy on each other to enforce an unpopular law is simply terrible public policy.

So while the court’s ruling is a short-term win for the pro-life forces, it’s hard to see how this won’t backfire badly — perhaps in time for the 2022 midterm elections.

“In the past decade, Texas attracted almost 4 million people and a cavalcade of employers thanks to low taxes, lax regulation and thriving cities,” Bloomberg reports.

“But a defiant attitude toward Covid restrictions, new limits on voting access and now the nation’s strictest abortion law could undermine its appeal for future moves.”

“Senate Republicans are pressing President Joe Biden to account for how many Americans, green card holders and special immigrant visa applicants remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. completed its withdrawal earlier this week,” Politico reports.

“Led by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), a group of 26 Republicans wrote Biden on Thursday morning requesting information by next week about who remains in Afghanistan after the frenzied evacuation effort at the end of August.”

CBS News has figures that shows that some Afghan refugees are being settled in five states: “These figures, which have not been previously reported, provide more detail on the whereabouts of a portion of the approximately 124,000 people the Biden administration said it airlifted from Kabul in the past few weeks.”

Washington Post: For Afghan evacuees arriving to U.S., a tenuous legal status and little financial support.

“The U.S. left behind the majority of Afghan interpreters and others who applied for visas to flee Afghanistan, despite frantic efforts to evacuate those at risk of Taliban retribution in the final weeks of the airlift,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The U.S. still doesn’t have reliable data on who was evacuated, nor for what type of visas they may qualify, the official said, but initial assessments suggested most visa applicants didn’t make it through the crush at the airport.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “President Joe Biden gave a speech on Tuesday following the final withdrawals from Afghanistan that got the most important thing right and lots of less important things… well, not quite right.”

“What he got right, as he has been doing for the last three weeks, was to frame the events in terms of a binary choice: staying or leaving. That put him on the popular side of a question — polling still suggests that a solid majority of Americans still supports ending the conflict.”

“It also put him on the right side of the media’s and the public’s attention span. The odds are strong that with the U.S. mission in Afghanistan over, and no more dramatic pictures coming from the Kabul airport, news organizations will rapidly shift to other stories, in part because most news consumers will be more interested in events at home than events abroad that don’t directly involve Americans. It’s possible that Taliban atrocities or Afghanistan-based terrorist attacks could change that, but the odds are that ‘we got out’ will soon defeat ‘but it went badly’ in the realm of public opinion.”

“As the United States-backed government in Afghanistan fell to the Taliban and US troops raced to leave the country, White supremacist and anti-government extremists have expressed admiration for what the Taliban accomplished, a worrying development for US officials who have been grappling with the threat of domestic violent extremism,” CNN reports.

“That praise has also been coupled with a wave of anti-refugee sentiment from far-right groups, as the US and others rushed to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan by the Biden administration’s August 31 deadline.”

New York Times: “The collective U-turn reflects Republicans’ eagerness to attack Mr. Biden and ensure that he pays a political price for the way he ended the war.”

“With Mr. Trump reversing himself as the withdrawal grew chaotic and, in its endgame, deadly, it also offers new evidence of how allegiance to the former president has come to override compunctions about policy flip-flops or political hypocrisy.”

Nathan Gonzales: “Within hours of 13 American servicemembers being killed in a terrorist attack outside Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, multiple Republicans called for President Joe Biden to resign. That wasn’t terribly surprising considering former President Donald Trump, his son and others were calling on Biden to resign before the deadly attack.”

“But the broader point remains: The idea of a rally ’round the flag effect is functionally over for the undetermined future.”

“The CDC is asking unvaccinated people to not travel this Labor Day weekend, citing the surge in COVID-19 cases largely driven by the Delta variant,” Axios  reports.

“Numbers released Wednesday show Liberty University’s confirmed COVID-19 case count has more than tripled since it reached a record high last week,” the Lynchburg News & Advance reports.

Pharmacies and state governments in the United States have thrown away at least 15.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since March 1, according to government data obtained by NBC News — a far larger number than previously known and still probably an undercount.

“The number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators in Arkansas climbed again Tuesday, as the state’s top health official said he was worried about a further surge in cases from the coming Labor Day weekend,” the Associated Press reports.

“The Department of Health said the number of coronavirus patients on ventilators rose by 27 to 388, the second day in a row the state has reached a new high.”

“The special counsel who investigated Russia’s 2016 election interference, Robert Mueller, scrutinized ‘a member of the news media suspected of participating in the conspiracy’ to hack Democrats and make their emails public,” the New York Times reports.

“The deputy attorney general at the time, Rod Rosenstein, who was overseeing the Russia investigation, approved a subpoena in 2018 for the unnamed person’s phone and email records. He also approved seeking a voluntary interview with that person and then issuing a subpoena to force the person to testify before a grand jury.”

Democratic Chairman of the January 6 Select Committee Bennie Thompson announced that Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) will become the panel’s vice chair, the latest sign that the Democrat-run committee is attempting to strike a bipartisan tone as it prepares to wade into politically contested waters, CNN reports.

“The Justice Department on Wednesday secured its 50th guilty plea in the January 6 insurrection, a key milestone as it nears its 600th arrest in the massive investigation,” CNN reports.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) seemed to at least partly confirm a Washington Post story that he is involved in a freelance operation to extract American citizens from Afghanistan, Tulsa World reports.

Said Mullin: “Am I helping get Americans out of Afghanistan yes. Am I missing, no. Did I go dark for a little, yes because it wasn’t safe to be communicating.”

“Democrats are hustling to finalize their gigantic social spending plan during the dog days of summer recess, wary they will blow their target date to finish as Congress faces a crush of deadlines later this month,” Politico reports.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered committee leaders to battle it out with their Senate counterparts to resolve all major disputes this week on what will be included in the up-to-$3.5 trillion bill. But wide gulfs remain between the House and Senate on central pieces of the package, including expanding Medicare, shoring up Obamacare, raising taxes and curbing carbon emissions.”

“States that ended enhanced federal unemployment benefits early have so far seen about the same job growth as states that continued offering the pandemic-related extra aid,” according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

“Economists who have conducted their own analyses of the government data say the rates of job growth in states that ended and states that maintained the benefits are, from a statistical perspective, about the same.”

Associated Press: “Far right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend a rally later this month at the U.S. Capitol that is designed to demand ‘justice’ for the hundreds of people who have been charged in connection with January’s insurrection.”

“As a result, U.S. Capitol Police have been discussing in recent weeks whether the large perimeter fence that was erected outside the Capitol after January’s riot will need to be put back up… The officials have been discussing security plans that involve reconstructing the fence as well as another plan that does not involve a fence.”

“Two Trump Organization employees are expected to testify before a grand jury this week as Manhattan prosecutors seek to advance their criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business affairs,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Matthew Calamari Jr., the Trump Organization’s corporate director of security and the son of the company’s chief operating officer, was served a subpoena for his testimony this week… Prosecutors have examined an apartment Mr. Calamari received from the Trump Organization and how he reported that apartment on his taxes.”

“Jeffrey McConney, a senior finance official at the Trump Organization, is also expected to go before the grand jury again this week.”

Marshall Project: “Since last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, there’s a popular refrain echoing through urban police precincts, rural sheriff’s offices, and city halls everywhere in between: officers are fleeing America’s police forces in big numbers.”

“According to federal data, those worries are unfounded. Last year, as the overall U.S. economy shed 6% of workers, local police departments lost just under 1% of employees after a decade of steady expansion… That’s about 4,000 people out of nearly half a million employees in municipal police departments and sheriff’s offices nationwide.”

“State and federal law enforcement departments actually saw a slight increase in the number of employees.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that “there isn’t going to be an impeachment” of President Joe Biden over the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, CNN reports.

Said McConnell: “I think the way these behaviors get adjusted in this country is at the ballot box. The President is not going to be removed from office with a Democratic House and a narrowly Democratic Senate. That’s not going to happen.”

“I think Mitch McConnell is a disaster… All he wants to do is survive and be good to China, because he has a lot of business in China with his family. Mitch McConnell should not be the leader, he’s done a terrible job.” — Former President Donald Trump, in an interview.

Steve Bannon has used his popular podcast to urge thousands of Trump supporters to take over the Republican Party at the local level, exerting more partisan influence on how elections are run, ProPublica reports.

“After Bannon’s endorsement, the ‘precinct strategy’ rocketed across far-right media. Viral posts promoting the plan racked up millions of views on pro-Trump websites, talk radio, fringe social networks and message boards, and programs aligned with the QAnon conspiracy theory.”

“Suddenly, people who had never before showed interest in party politics started calling the local GOP headquarters or crowding into county conventions, eager to enlist as precinct officers. They showed up in states Trump won and in states he lost, in deep-red rural areas, in swing-voting suburbs and in populous cities.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler warned that Democrats “could face consequences at the ballot box if they don’t support nixing the legislative filibuster to pass a sweeping pro-union bill and other Democratic priorities,” The Hill reports.

Said Schuler: “Workers want to hold elected officials accountable on an agenda that they voted for. Right now that agenda is being blocked by arcane rules in the Senate. We believe that voters will take that into consideration for the next election.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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