Seth Meyers calls out the bogus charts, the constant interruptions, and the ridiculous lying from Republicans at the Planned Parenthood hearing this week. (Not a huge fan of Seth Meyers, but he nails it in this segment.)
Ted Cruz’s crusade to defund Planned Parenthood ended with an embarrassing procedural vote on the Senate floor Monday, which led to a meltdown of epic proportions. Cruz spent nearly an hour lecturing his fellow senators on why they have failed him and God, making some pretty bold accusations along the way.
Cruz speculated that Republican leadership, including Mitch McConnell and outgoing Speaker John Boehner, are in league with the Democrats. He says they are eager to compromise, taking half of the Republican votes with them, virtually giving a “blank check” to Barack Obama.
If you allow that to sink in you’ll realize just how ridiculous it is. The Republicans are eager to compromise? From 19 January 2009 until today, the Republican caucuses in both chambers have done nothing but obstruct, with prejudice, every step the President has tried to take to reverse the damage George W. Bush did to our country in eight years of unfettered spending and lawless war.
“Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate, and as a consequence, he can’t get anything done legislatively,” Paul told Fox News Radio. “He is pretty much done for and stifled and it’s really because of personal relationships, or lack of personal relationships, and it is a problem.”
It is a problem. It’s a problem for Ted Cruz and the ongoing implosion of the Republican Party. Here you have a senator — a contender for the party’s nomination for president — openly disrespecting the leadership of the party on C-SPAN. Cruz displayed a complete inability to lead when he couldn’t muster 11 votes for a roll call on a procedural motion to amendment to the clean CR the Senate is expected to vote on Wednesday morning to keep the government functioning.
This man wants to be President of the United States? Cruz has proven that he would disregard the counsel of his aides, his ambassadors, his czars and his chiefs of staff if he had the slightest inkling that it would displease God. He belongs in front of a camera in a church on Sunday morning, not Congress on a Monday.
Cruz, in essence, has become less than a joke. He’s become the cliché punchline everyone’s already heard a hundred times.
Here’s video of the best minute and a half of the Cruz meltdown for your viewing pleasure.
A number of states have launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after the release of the Center for Medical Progress’s blatantly deceptive videos, including Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and South Dakota, and so far every state has completely vindicated the women’s health organization of any and all wrongdoing.
Today Missouri joins this growing list of states, as Attorney General Chris Koster’s office announces they have found absolutely no evidence Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal tissue.
An investigation in Missouri found no evidence that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic mishandled fetal tissue or engaged in unlawful activity, Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said on Monday.
Koster’s office had launched an investigation after an anti-abortion group released videos over the summer alleging that Planned Parenthood in other states illegally sold fetal tissue.
“The evidence reviewed by my investigators supports Planned Parenthood’s representation that fetal tissue is handled in accordance with Missouri law,” Koster said in a news release. “We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue.”
How much more money will the Republican Party waste on “investigations” prompted by a bogus religious right smear attack?
At last week’s GOP debate, Carly Fiorina received a hefty boost in the polls after she passionately described a gruesome scene caught on film: a fully developed fetus laid out on a table, alive, as doctors plan to harvest it’s brain.
The problem is — that footage does not exist, so a PAC supporting her has created it.
In what became one of the most talked about moments of the republican debate, which sky-rocketed her to second place in the polls, Fiorina narrated this scene:
“As regards [to] Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’”
She then passionately called for the people to stand with her against the unspeakable horror she described:
“This is about the character of our nation, and if we won’t stand up and force president Obama to veto this bill , shame on us!”
The problem is, this boost was based on a lie, as this video simply does not exist. In the entire 12 hours of heavily edited footage released by the “Center for Medical Progress,” an anti-abortion group, there is no such video, what-so-ever.
Unfortunately for Fiorina, even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace called her out:
“Do you acknowledge what every fact checker has found…that it was only described on the video…there is no actual footage that you just mentioned?”
Frantic not to lose the new momentum after being called out by the very network catering to her potential voters — the PAC supporting her campaign created it.
The PAC cobbled together Fiorina’s lying debate moment, bits of an unrelated interview from one of the CMP videos, along with a video from the Grantham Collection and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform — an anti-abortion group who will not disclose the circumstances or even what country or when the video was taken, as well as footage of a stillborn baby (which The Nation noted was used without permission of the parent). The footage depicted in the one minute long ad is most certainly not, however, from Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood reached out to the PAC on Wednesday, stating that the“fraudulent video is beneath a serious candidate for the presidency, and you should take it down immediately.”
They also sent a breakdown of the video, clip-by-clip, to The Nation:
:00 < Intro montage of media footage noting that the video Fiorina described at the debate does not exist :15 < image from debate :16 < Fiorina speaking at debate :22 < image from discredited Grantham Collection (which is likely not even a fetus, and is not at Planned Parenthood) with audio stripped and replaced with Fiorina voiceover from the debate :30 < Fiorina speaking at the debate :34 < same image from discredited Grantham Collection with audio stripped and replaced with voiceover from audio conversation with Novogenix Lab, taken from an unrelated Center for Medical Progress video :37 < image of a stillborn (used without that family’s permission), taken from an unrelated Center for Medical Progress video with audio stripped and replaced with voiceover from a Planned Parenthood staff member, taken from another unrelated Center for Medical Progress video :41 < former Stem Express worker Holly O’Donnell being interviewed, taken from a Center for Medical Progress video :45 < Fiorina speaking at debate :53 < image from debate Close: montage of marketing content”
Despite the fact that the campaign ad is a produced fictional horror movie, completely pieced together to create something that does not exist, it seems unlikely that those who refuse to acknowledge facts about Planned Parenthood will be swayed either way — and it will be Fiorina’s own gender who suffers for it.
Video (video shows graphic content)
An anti-abortion group has, over the past month, released five videos that it argues show Planned Parenthood profits from procuring fetal tissue for medical researchers.
A new Planned Parenthood report, released Thursday, now suggests those videos are doctored — and the evidence is pretty compelling.
Planned Parenthood hired a forensic research firm to analyze about 12 hours of footage that the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) secretly taped when it had actors pose as employees of a fetal tissue procurement company.
“This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation, but we did identify cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle,” the report from Fusion GPS, the firm that Planned Parenthood hired, concludes.
CMP took no steps to hide the fact that it edited its shorter, more widely viewed clips of undercover meetings with Planned Parenthood. The group interspersed news clips and overlaid text on top of the video; there’s clear evidence of production work.
But the group held that these “full footage” tapes were complete, unbiased presentations of its Planned Parenthood meetings. If CMP also edited these “full” tapes — ones that it told viewers were complete footage — then the group is guilty of deceiving the public the exact same way it deceived Planned Parenthood.
Time stamps reveal missing chunks of video
The Center for Medical Progress has, since early July, released two types of videos. Planned Parenthood has long argued that the short ones — about 10 to 15 minutes long — are highly edited.
There are also longer videos, which range from one to five hours, that CMP edited down to make the shorter pieces. CMP has described these videos as “full footage,” creating the impression that they show a complete interaction with the Planned Parenthood employees.
THE GROUP IS GUILTY OF DECEIVING THE PUBLIC IN THE SAME WAY IT DECEIVED PLANNED PARENTHOOD
The GPS Fusion report argues this isn’t the case: The authors cite moments in the video that suggest the supposedly full videos were also doctored.
One of the most compelling examples is a few minutes into a five-hour video from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. If you look at the timestamp in the lower left-hand corner, it jumps forward by nearly a half-hour (from about 7:46 to 8:18) in just a few seconds. You can watch it happen here, if you fast-forward to about eight minutes and 55 seconds into this video.
Well there’s a surprise. Despite an orchestrated smear campaign and by fundamentalist organizations and virtually every Republican running for President, The Department of Health and Human Services have found no violations of fetal tissue laws when it comes to tissue obtained from nonprofits. In a letter obtained by Politico, assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, Jim Esquea, wrote to Senators Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt, Esqua saying:
“Currently, we know of no violation of these laws in connection with the research done at our agencies…. Furthermore … we have confirmed that HHS researchers working with fetal tissue obtained the tissue from non-profit organizations that provided assurances to us that they are in compliance with all applicable legal requirements.”
According to the Huffington Post there have also been probes in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, and South Dakota, all of which have found absolutely no wrong doing by Planned Parenthood affiliates and have been, “in full compliance with the law.”
Of course this won’t stop GOP candidates from shamelessly using it as an issue to shore up the evangelical vote, despite the fact that there is no issue, and never has been one in the first place.
As colleague Jason Easley reported, the Republican Senate threw the attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) against the wall Monday, and it didn’t stick. Pounding their bibles and relying on purely misleading and highly edited junk videos, far right anti-abortion activists, their elected congressional sycophants and whatever billionaires responsible for funding the series of sneak-videos, came up on the short end of a test vote to pull around $500 million from PPFA clinics throughout the nation, and by extension, the world. The final tally was 53-46 in favor of derailing Democratic stalling; 60 votes were required.
The most valuable resource that unearths the truth of the matter is to be found here at FactCheck.org’s highly researched revelations of the so-called PPFA misdeeds. The supposedly most damning video under the FactCheck heading of “Unspinning the Planned Parenthood video” is exposed as a sham. The site demonstrates with irrefutable clarity, that the manufactured clinic discussions are rife with innuendo, half-truths and outright misrepresentations. It’s digital dung!
Here’s what you will never know about PPFA if Republicans are your only source of information. By the organization’s own statistical measure, PPFA has been around over 97 years. It’s the go-to national source for poorer women and a growing number of men. The majority of those served qualify under federal poverty guidelines. That is to say that PPFA takes care of more poor people than any other similar organization. 80% of patients meet or succeed 150% of federal poverty level.
Nearly 3 million women and men visit one of PPFA’s 700 clinics annually. Support partners see another 725,000 mostly needy in 10 developing countries. In the United States, male clientele has increased by 83% between 2002-2012. Over 50 million people visit the PPFA Website per year.
Services do indeed include abortion, in addition to birth control (including the morning after pill), general health care, HIV testing, LGBT services, men’s health care, pregnancy testing and services, STD testing, treatment and vaccines and women’s health care.
A service not generally included is federally funded abortions. ThinkProgress points out that Federal sources tap into Title X money and Medicaid. Medicaid can only fund emergency procedures in the case of rape, incest and a threat to the mother’s life. As for Title X, if the organization is involved in family planning, no fed dollars. That’s it, and has been for almost 40 years!!! The Department of Health and Human Services verifies the process.
Former Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl claimed on the Senate floor a few years ago, that “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does” is providing abortion services. Even after that absurd number was shot down by Factcheck, he came back with a retort that was almost as ridiculous: “This remark was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions.”
So, how many abortions are actually performed in-clinic by PPFA, including the abortion “pill?” It depends on who responds to that question. PPFA says roughly 3% and nobody has disproved that percentage; The actual number of abortions included in the PPFA annual report for fiscal year, 2014 was 327,653, roughly the same as the prior fiscal year. The percentage funded by the feds would be comparatively miniscule. PPFA received 41% of its revenue from the feds according to the Washington Post. The dollar total was $528.4 million. Roughly $600 million comes from other sources to round out the budget.
Where do potential voters stand on the issue? A recent Gallup Poll might give an early hint given we’re still about a year-and-a -half shy of the presidential election. The issue is a big deal to 19% of those polled. Republicans characterize themselves as pro-life by a 69-27 margin, Democrats reverse to pro-choice, 67-28 and Independents split the difference; 46% pro-choice and 45% pro-life.
Here are some non-hypocritical numbers to consider. Three in ten American women will have had an abortion by age 45. Republican estimates stand at 50 million abortions since Roe V. Wade in ’73. All other factors, notwithstanding, women are having abortions. Nearly every woman has used contraception in her child-bearing lifetime. The most ineffective is the so-called rhythm method. One out of four times, it doesn’t work in the first year. Most other contraceptives have a 1 out of 15 failure rate. The number of women that have used contraception exceeds 99%. So, for every evangelical purporting to follow every syllable of the good book, a sizable percentage of them are lying. Every statistic you wish to examine indicates that responsible and continuous use of contraceptives would have a profound impact on the number of abortions.
How wearisome it is to believe almost nothing out of the mouths of Republicans. And we have to listen to 16 of them for at least the early months of the upcoming race for that party’s presidential nominee.
A series of undercover videos from an anti-abortion group claims that Planned Parenthood is selling the body parts of aborted fetuses for profit. The videos have Fox News invoking the Third Reich and Congressional Republicans voting to strip Planned Parenthood of public funding, again. Here’s what you need to know.
Republicans know how bad a government shutdown over abortion would be, but Ted Cruz and Erick Erickson DGAF
The big news in conservative media land over the past couple of weeks has been a series of undercover “sting” videos released by a shady antiabortion rights activist group claiming to show that Planned Parenthood sells tissues procured from aborted fetuses. As is nearly always the case with videos such as these, they’re edited to make them look far worse than they actually are. Planned Parenthood maintains that any money it receives for procuring those tissues – which have long been used in medical research – is just reimbursement for the costs associated with the procedures. None of the videos that have been released actually show Planned Parenthood doing anything illegal, but they do show representatives of the organization speaking somewhat cavalierly about a grim topic. Many of the people promoting these videos are hoping that the emotional reaction they elicit will stoke a public and political backlash against the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health services.
Conservatives in the media and some hard-line Republicans in Congress believe they’ve come up with a plan for dealing with Planned Parenthood: shut down the government again.
“Shut down the government. Now,” demands Erick Erickson. “The budget and appropriations fights are forthcoming,” he writes. “If Barack Obama is willing to risk a government shutdown because he demands our tax dollars continue funding an organization that kills our children and sells their organs, we should have that fight.” This line of reasoning appeals to legislators like Sen. Ted Cruz – auteur of the last shutdown crisis – who is agitating for Planned Parenthood funding to be stripped as part of the upcoming appropriations battle. “I would support any and all legislative efforts to defund Planned Parenthood,” Cruz says. He has sympathetic ears among some of the more conservative members of the House.
This plan isn’t quite so appealing to the Republican leadership in Congress. Republicans went into the 2014 elections promising voters that they’d be effective stewards of power and competent agents of governance. They haven’t lived up to those promises yet (a partial shutdown was narrowly averted just two months into their reign) and picking a fight over government funding, even when it’s related to a controversial issue like abortion, promises to make them look even worse. They shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act – which was quite unpopular at the time – and they paid for it in the polls. So while the GOP leadership is certainly sympathetic to the complaints of the base over Planned Parenthood, they’re not willing to resort to extreme measures and risk serious political blowback.
This is now a familiar dynamic of the relationship between Republicans in Congress and activist conservatives. When it comes time to make new appropriations and keep the government’s lights on, hard-line conservatives in the media and elsewhere insist that Republicans go nuclear and threaten a government shutdown in pursuit of their preferred policy outcome, whether it be defunding Obamacare, defunding President Obama’s executive actions on deportations, or stripping Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. And they make these demands even though the chances winning these fights are slim to nonexistent – Democrats still retain filibuster authority in the Senate, and even if legislation were to get through, Obama would veto it.
Twice now, on Obamacare and immigration, the Republicans have either completely caved or partially caved to these demands. Both times it blew up in their faces. At this point they are painfully aware that government shutdowns don’t work as a matter of policy or politics. So if they believe they have a political advantage when it comes to Planned Parenthood, then really it makes more sense to not pursue a shutdown strategy that would strip that advantage away.
But once again the Republicans in Congress find themselves in a position in which the simple act of governing is made difficult by the extreme positions of their influential hard-right flank. The Republican leadership opposes abortions rights and does not support Planned Parenthood, but if they’re not willing to drive off the edge of the political cliff to cut funding to the group, then in the eyes of people like Erick Erickson they’re no better than pro-choice Democrats. “Friends,” he writes, “if Republicans in Congress will not stop giving tax payer dollars to the American Joseph Mengele, we should show the party violence in the polling booth.” Reactions like these scare Republicans in Congress. The question is whether they will (once again) be pressured into another shutdown fight they won’t win.
The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.
The United States is still a democratic republic, formally, but what that actually means in practice is increasingly in doubt — and the Hobby Lobby ruling, deeply disingenuous and sharply at odds with centuries of Anglo-American law, exemplifies how that formal reality is increasingly mocked in practice. It is a practice best described as neo-feudalism, taking power away from ordinary citizens, in all their pluralistic, idiosyncratic diversity, and handing it over to corporations and religious dictators in both the public and the private realm. The Supreme Court’s actions are not taking place in a vacuum — though they are filling one: As Tea Party Republicans in the House increasingly bring democratic self-government to a halt, contracting the power of we the people to act as a cohesive self-governing whole, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority shifts ever more everyday power into the hands of private dictatorships.
Hobby Lobby handed for-profit corporations religious rights for the first time in history — a radical break with all previous precedent, and yet a part of a recent pattern, as Norm Ornstein rightly pointed out:
[F]or the majority on the Roberts Court, through a series of rulings that favor corporations over labor or other interests, it is clear that corporations are king, superior to individual Americans—with all the special treatment in taxes and protection from legal liability that are unavailable to us individuals, and now all the extra benefits that come with individual citizenship. Call it the new Crony Capitalism.
The expansion of corporate power in Hobby Lobby has gotten too little attention, and I’ll return to discuss this further below. But the advancement of theocracy — religious dictatorship — is even less clearly seen through the fog of right-wing propaganda about “religious liberty.”
First, however, an important highlight of a neglected aspect of the Hobby Lobby case, the fact that Hobby Lobby’s self-professed belief appeared out of nowhere just in time for them to file suit, as Stephanie Mencimer noted in March:
The company admits in its complaint that until it considered filing the suit in 2012, its generous health insurance plan actually covered Plan B and Ella (though not IUDs). The burden of this coverage was apparently so insignificant that God, and Hobby Lobby executives, never noticed it until the mandate became a political issue.
In short, Hobby Lobby’s “deeply held beliefs” claims are transparently bogus — as well as being scientifically invalid, since none of the methods involved are abortifacients, as Hobby Lobby claims. These would not matter if they only guided individual private conduct; that’s precisely what religious freedom actually means. You’re free to be a religious hypocrite, because letting someone else judge your sincerity can lead too easily to real religious tyranny. But when you’re already in a position to tyrannize others — as Hobby Lobby is — that’s a whole different ballgame. The tyrant’s freedom is everyone else’s slavery.