By Doug Porter
The Republicans appear to have settled on their wedge issue for 2016. You know, the thing that drives fear and/or disgust in a certain class of voters so they’ll ignore all those pesky economic policies they’re likely to get screwed by.
In 2008 a loosely organized entity named ACORN fit the bill. Manufactured imagery of brown people doing something wrong was perfect for an election where the leading candidate was a person of color. Most people still don’t realize the charges brought against the community organizing group turned out to have been false.
The Donald has been busy co-opting the GOP’s immigration issues and Gays have kicking ass in the courts (both legal and popular opinion). Black people have been fighting back lately and there just aren’t enough Muslims to go around. And besides, the lone wolf mostly male libertarians constituting the party’s future are scared to death of female empowerment.
So the purveyors of wedge issues have settled on women for this election cycle. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination happens to be a woman. As long as the GOP leadership can keep the yahoos out in the sticks from making inappropriate rape comments, they think they’ve got a winner.
Now we’re seeing selectively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood pawning off fetus parts for profit. Our local daily, the San Diego Union-Tribune, has covered this story from nearly a dozen angles in the past two weeks.
It doesn’t matter if the facts don’t match the narrative or that the group behind this effort has iffy connections. Too many lazy reporters and too many click-addicted (and not just at the UT) are giving this story oxygen.
Today’s coverage in the UT is about Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards denying the charges being made:
Planned Parenthood has come under congressional scrutiny after the release of two surreptitiously recorded videos that showed officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs. Three congressional committees are making inquiries.
Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said Sunday the group has done nothing illegal and is the target of a political smear campaign.
“I stand behind the health care that we provide at Planned Parenthood. Women trust Planned Parenthood,” Richards said. “And I look forward to anyone who wants to look into our policies and procedures.”
The selective editing of the videos referenced in this coverage is never mentioned. How convenient.
The charges have been made. Pompous politicos are running towards TV cameras promising an endless series of investigations. Social conservatives are spamming corporations offering matches to employee charitable contributions to non-profits, lest any of the money end up in the coffers of Planned Parenthood.
The lie is being told. The stenographer class in the media are wringing their hands, ginning up the controversy and generally ignoring the context.
This Isn’t About Abortion
This is about finding ways to defund Planned Parenthood.
The Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid, two programs funding women’s healthcare, are already prohibited from using funds for abortions.
The other big lie being retold is that Obamacare (Which the Senate just failed to overturn for the 56th time this past weekend) provides services for women. Here, the right wingers get to layer a lie on top of another lie. The Affordable Healthcare Act, while it does set standards for care, is about access to health insurance.
As Amanda Marcotte at Raw Story points out:
You still need a doctor to prescribe it. A lot of women, especially low income women on Medicaid, struggle to find a doctor that will take them on as patients, provide actual comprehensive sexual health care, or take their insurance. But Planned Parenthood is happy to help! A lot of their federal funding doesn’t come to them directly, but through Medicaid. Planned Parenthood has a role within the reformed health care system, but there are no ready replacements for the kind of services they provide.
Planned Parenthood is, above all, a women’s health organization. Women who want to control their destiny–as opposed to being loyal servants of the manclass–represent a threat. So, by attacking the institution that empowers them, the GOP’s social conservatives hope to keep women in their place. And it’s not like we haven’t seen this routine before–the government almost shut down in 2011 over Planned Parenthood funding.
Dick Polman’s National Interest column at Newsworks makes this point quite clearly:
And the war is now being stoked anew. This time, an anti-abortion group claims that Planned Parenthood illegally sells the tissue from aborted fetuses. The group has no actual evidence, of course, but the allegation has naturally inspired the Republicans to launch Capitol Hill hearings.
They can’t figure out how to finance our critical highway and bridge repairs, and theyre hung up on a bill to help women war veterans, but hey, they always make time to go after Planned Parenthood. PP gets roughly $500 million a year in federal money – for things like Pap tests, sexually-transmitted infection screenings, and contraception (these are 97 percent of what PP does) – and it serves three million women, a large percentage of whom are poor. With a brief like that, no wonder Republicans view PP as a juicy target…
…Right on cue, Senator Rand Paul – who badly needs to win votes on the Republican right, and get back in play in this Summer of The Donald – said he’d craft an amendment “to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding.” Ted Cruz said he wants the money gone. And another senator, Thom Tillis, tried earlier this week to attach anti-PP language to a crucially needed Senate measure aimed at helping wounded women war veterans. But thanks to Tillis’ move, the bill to help those vets is being held up. Gee, I always thought that Republicans supported the troops.
The Hypocrisy of Congress
This “outrage” act on the part of these Congresscritters is just total BS. They knew about this video before it was “released” and said nothing.
From the RH Reality Check blog:
Several GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce and House Judiciary committees—all of whom are also members of the House “Pro-life” Caucus and all of whom expressed outrage at the video—immediately announced hearings and investigations. Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), for example, said: “The chilling video released today is yet another tragic and heart-breaking reminder of Planned Parenthood’s legendary disregard for the sanctity of innocent human life. The trafficking of the little hearts, livers and heads of these precious unborn children resulted in significant financial benefit for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country.”
Apparently, Franks was not “chilled” enough by the video to do anything about it when he first saw it at least a month earlier than it was released to the public, as he later admitted to Roll Call. At least one other lawmaker is on record as having seen the video well before its release. Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) also admitted to Roll Call having seen the video at least a month earlier. When pressed by Roll Call as to why he did nothing about these explosive charges in the intervening time, Murphy cut off the reporter, saying: “This interview never happened.”
Ah, but it had.
Accusing the Accusers
The wire service coverage repackaged by today’s Union-Tribune closes with a quote from Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards:
She also called those who released the video “nothing but militant anti-abortion extremists.”
Contrast this with coverage from the (not liberal) Weekly Standard:
The president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, dismissed recent videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors preparing to harvest and sell parts of aborted babies. Richards claimed this morning in interview with George Stephanopoulos that the videos had been edited, and besides, she said, “the folks behind this, in fact, are part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches.”
“This has been a three-year, well-funded effort by the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement in this country to try to entrap doctors and of course highly doctored videos, which show absolutely doctors repeatedly said, it’s all been edited out, Planned Parenthood does not at all profit from fetal tissue donation, which is an important element of health care research in this country.
Richards continued, “I think what’s not told is, of course, these are highly selectively edited, the folks behind this, in fact, are part of the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement that has been behind the bombing of clinics, the murder of doctors in their homes, and in their churches. And that’s what actually needs to be looked at.”
A Dark History
Ms. Richards is correct about looking into the background of The Center for Medical Progress (CMP)*
From The Nation:
David Daleiden, the founder of CMP and the main promoter of the video, has emerged as the face of the group and the target of scrutiny; his previous anti-choice activity included a stint working for the credibility-challenged group Live Action, which promoted the video. But the group’s more intriguing connections are hidden in a short filing with the state of California, which shows that CMP is led not by well-meaning bioethics geeks but by some familiar characters in the anti-choice movement.
A “initial registration form” for CMP (viewable here), filed with the Office of the California attorney general in 2013, lists three board members: David Daleiden, Albin Rhomberg, and Troy Newman.
Newman, who is listed as the group’s secretary, is the president of Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that ran the multi-decade harassment campaign of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, a campaign that only ended when Scott Roeder, who was an active part of Operation Rescue activities in Wichita, murdered Tiller in his church in 2009.
The connections between groups large and small, extremist and more extremist are there for all to see in this infographic (Which, unfortunately, you’ll need a larger screen to view).
The CMP’s misrepresentations and covert recordings are now the subject of an investigation by California Attorney General Kamala Harris. In response to a request by House Democrats, Attorney General Loretta Lynch is reviewing the circumstances surrounding CMD’s actions.
CMP says there are more videos coming. A hacker group claims to have lifted emails and passwords from Planned Parenthood, saying:
“Trying to mold an atrocious monstrosity into socially acceptable behaviors is repulsive,” said E. “Obviously what [Planned Parenthood] does is a very ominous practice. It’ll be interesting to see what surfaces when [Planned Parenthood] is stripped naked and exposed to the public.”
The right wing thinks they’ve found their wedge issue for 2016. It’s war. And women’s bodies are the cannon fodder.
A host of progressive organizations have petitions for people to sign in support of Planned Parenthood. In fact, there are too many groups sending out desperate sounding emails. My advice is, if your interested in supporting Planned Parenthood, skip the middleman (or woman).
*Not to be confused with the similarly named group affiliated with the Manhattan Institute.
On to some other news….
The End of Bill Cosby
This ought to do the trick. All 35 of Cosby’s accusers posed for the cover of New York Magazine.
Not the End of the Balboa Park Saga
The Balboa Park Heritage Association is calling on people to attend the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 28th at 2pm.
On the agenda will be what the council hopes will be their final word on the travesty that was the failed Balboa Park Celebrations, Inc, the group that blew through nearly $3 million before dissolving into a heap.
Apparently the Grand Jury’s Formal Report and Recommendation that “no crime was committed” is to be the final word, despite the fact that document also called for a public hearing before the full City Council.
From the email calling for action:
In a May 20, 2015 E Mail, your senior staff member, Jennifer Kearnes, wrote to Jeff McDonald of the San Diego Union Tribune to explain why you did not favor a full public hearing on this issue as explicitly recommended by the County Grand Jury.
Ms. Kearnes asserted your decision was justified because:
- Council President Lightner supports the decision to not hold a full Council hearing on this issue because the underling audit by the Office of City Auditor “,,,was a financial audit and not a performance audit”;
- “The Audit Committee action on this issue was to send it to the Environmental Committee and not to the full Council”;
- “No crime was committed”; and
- “Five of nine Council members heard the item in committees and none recommended that to go to the full Council.”
Each of these four factual assertions is false….
…The public and this Council should insist on a robust, genuinely open and transparent inquiry to be led by the Office of City Auditor. Independent and qualified legal counsel should immediately be retained to evaluate the possible assertion of claims against BPCI Directors and Officers and the underlying liability insurance polices.
BPCI represents a shameful and preventable failure in governance and oversight. Please don’t compound this series of shameful errors by closing the door on the truth today.
If the Heritage Association can get the time to testify before the council, they’ll offer proof of the four false assertions. That’s a mighty big IF.
On This Day: 1940 – Bugs Bunny made his official debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon “A Wild Hare.” 1976 – Tina Turner filed for a divorce from Ike. 1999 – The space shuttle Discovery completed a five-day mission commanded by Air Force Col. Eileen Collins. It was the first shuttle mission to be commanded by a woman.
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