How Iowa could have lost three Supreme Court justices in 2016

Remember how awful you felt on November 9, 2016, as you started to grasp what we were up against following the most devastating Iowa election in decades?

Would you believe the results could have been even worse?

Imagine Governor Terry Branstad appointing three right-wingers to the Iowa Supreme Court. It could have happened if conservative groups had targeted Chief Justice Mark Cady, Justice Brent Appel, and Justice Daryl Hecht with the resources and fervor they had applied against three justices in 2010.

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IA-Gov: Planned Parenthood emerges as key theme for Hubbell

The first television commercial promoting Fred Hubbell for governor begins running today “as part of a statewide six figure TV and digital buy.” I’m not aware of any Iowa candidate advertising so extensively so far in advance of the following year’s primary. (Jack Hatch launched his gubernatorial campaign’s first ad nearly ten months before the 2014 primary, but that spot ran for just four days, and only on Des Moines broadcast networks.)

Opening campaign commercials are often biographical. Notably, Hubbell chose to introduce himself to Iowa television viewers by emphasizing his commitment to Planned Parenthood rather than his extensive business career. It’s the latest sign that his early internal polling showed a strongly positive response when Democrats learned about Hubbell’s support for a leading women’s health care provider.

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Blum, Young, King back 20-week abortion ban with few exceptions

Republican U.S. Representatives Rod Blum (IA-01), David Young (IA-03), and Steve King (IA-04) all voted today for a bill to make it a federal crime “for any person to perform or attempt to perform an abortion if the probable post-fertilization age of the fetus is 20 weeks or more.” The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act contains only two exceptions: for termination “(1) that is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman, or (2) when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.” Women or girls must have reported the crime to law enforcement in order to obtain an abortion after 20 weeks.

All but two House Republicans supported the bill (roll call). Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-02) opposed it, as did all but three of his fellow House Democrats. Loebsack has never backed any version of this legislation. King tries to ban abortion at every opportunity and has co-sponsored more extreme “heartbeat” or “personhood” bills. He spoke on the House floor in support of the current legislation last night.

Iowa’s new 20-week abortion ban has fewer exceptions than the bill House Republicans just approved. Women pregnant due to rape or incest have no recourse. The only allowable terminations after 20 weeks may occur if “the pregnant woman has a condition which the physician deems a medical emergency,” or if “the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of an unborn child.”

Neither the proposed federal ban nor Iowa’s law permit abortions after 20 weeks due to severe fetal anomalies, including those incompatible with life outside the womb. Iowa women are now required to continue pregnancies, potentially risking their own health or fertility, even if a 20-week ultrasound reveals a non-survivable medical problem. The same path would be forced on women nationwide if the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act became law. However, that won’t happen anytime soon, as the bill lacks enough support to clear the 60-vote threshold in the Senate.

I enclose below a statement from King and will update as needed, if Iowa’s other U.S. House members comment on today’s vote.

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What you can do to stop senators from taking health care away from millions

The U.S. Senate is fast-tracking a vote on its “health care” bill–more aptly described as a trillion-dollar tax giveaway for the rich, paid for by spending cuts that will cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. Older people and those with low incomes, especially people on Medicaid, are at greatest risk of losing access to health care.

Senate leaders are sticking to the plan of having no public hearings on the revised American Health Care Act, no committee markup, and no amendment process. An all-male group of thirteen Republican senators–not including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley or Joni Ernst–are drafting its terms in secret. (UPDATE/CORRECTION: Ernst has been added to the informal working group.) Other Republican senators have only been briefed on progress. Leaders will send the unpublished bill to the Congressional Budget Office, planning to bring the legislation straight to the Senate floor this month, possibly with only 24-48 hours for the public to learn about its provisions before senators vote.

Calls to U.S. Senate and House offices have recently returned to “normal” levels from before President Donald Trump was inaugurated. That needs to change immediately.

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The importance of direct action and organizing the Roast and Ride protest

Elizabeth Dinschel, state leader of Action Iowa, makes the case for public protests and for good communication between activists and law enforcement. -promoted by desmoinesdem
Passive resistance is not the “high road.”  The world never changed because of a Facebook post or a counter event.  The world has, however, changed because of the brave, nonviolent direct actions taken by leaders such as John Lewis, Malcolm X, the Dalai Lama, Marsha P. Jackson, the organizers of the Arab Spring, the Orange Revolution, and many more nonviolent revolutions in Central and South America.

In America, however, we are being conditioned to believe that direct action is somehow rude or impedes on the free speech of other Americans. This is patently false and is a direct result of people enjoying their privilege. If a person cannot understand how civil disobedience could change the narrative of history or politics it is because they are treated with respect in public or can afford things such as food, healthcare, or housing. Are you uncomfortable?  Good, because that is what direct action is.

Direct action forces politicians to hear the messaging of people and groups they do not typically communicate with or, maybe, do not even care about.

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