Schadenfreude in Houston

January 26, 2016

A Houston grand jury convened last year to investigate Planned Parenthood for selling aborted human fetuses for profit concluded its investigation yesterday by indicting David Daleiden, the antiabortion zealot who created the Center for Medical Progress and Sandra Merritt his associate who assisted him in an undercover scheme to videotape Planned Parenthood officials allegedly agreeing to sell fetuses for profit, which is prohibited by law.

The videos were heavily edited.
The grand jury did not indict Planned Parenthood or any of its officials, which is consistent with the organization’s claim that it never sold fetuses for profit. Instead, they donated them to organizations for scientific research charging a minimal fee to cover their costs. The organization has since stopped collecting that fee.

The New York Times is reporting,

The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.

The LA Times is reporting,

He also was indicted on a misdemeanor count that is related to soliciting the purchase of human organs, according to a statement from Harris County Dist. Atty. Devon Anderson (a Republican, I might add, who was appointed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry).

Schadenfreude: a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people. : enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others. German, from Schaden damage + Freude joy.

How sweet it is.

Republican threats to shutdown the federal government is gangster activity

October 6, 2015

The Freedom Caucus, or Shutdown Caucus, which I prefer to call it, is an organization composed of approximately 40 radical right wing Republicans serving in the House of Representatives who regularly threaten to shut down the federal government unless their demands are met. This extreme tactic can cause serious harm. For example, Wikipedia reports:

The United States federal government shutdown of 2013 ran from October 1 to October 16, 2013. The primary issue of dispute between the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate was the Republicans’ desire to delay or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), signed into law in 2010. A bill to end the shutdown and fund federal agencies through January 15, 2014, passed the Senate and the House and was signed into law on October 17, 2013. Standard & Poor’s, the financial ratings agency, stated on October 16 that the shutdown “to date has taken $24 billion out of the economy,” and “shaved at least 0.6 percent off annualized fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth.”

Threatening to shutdown the government in order to get what you want is a form of extortion. This time they believe themselves to be on a mission from God to defund Planned Parenthood (PP), which provides health care and family planning for women who cannot afford to pay for the services. PP also performs abortions of first trimester pregnancies as permitted by law. I use the term ‘mission from God’ because these Republican extremists oppose lawful abortion on religious grounds and they are determined to impose their belief on everyone who disagrees with them.

We are a democracy. Elected officials have a duty to abide by the law regardless if they disagree with it. Likewise, an elected official should never seek to forcibly impose his ideas on a majority of his colleagues who disagree with him. Yet that is exactly what the members of the shutdown caucus have been attempting to do. Even more egregious, they have lied and continue to lie by claiming that PP: (1) receives federal money to pay for abortions and (2) sells aborted fetuses for profit, despite an absence of any credible evidence that supports their claims. I use the word ‘credible’ because the evidence upon which they rely (i.e., videos produced by an anti-abortion group) does not support their claims. In short, they have been exposed as liars. Nevertheless, they have refused to backdown.

This is straight-up gangster activity. We have a word for it in the criminal law. We call it extortion.

But for Speaker John Boehner’s unexpected decision to resign on October 30th that threw the Republican leadership into disaray, the House would not have passed the CR last week. That would have precipitated a government shutdown that would have commenced last Thursday. During this 90 day lull in the Republican War against Planned Parenthood, the Republicans will choose a new Speaker to replace John Boehner.  Since the Democrats are unlikely to defund Planned Parenthood, despite the threat, I believe we are looking at a government shutdown when the 90 day period ends.

Happy Holidays!

Republicans continue lying deliberately about Planned Parenthood

September 30, 2015

Yesterday, Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, spent over five hours testifying about the organization before the House Oversight Committee. In an extremely dishonest and amateurish effort to win the Gotcha Game, Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz from Utah confronted her with the following chart. Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post describes what happened.

As his time ran out, he put up a chart showing the rate of abortions increasing at the clinics while the number of “life-saving procedures” performed decreased, and demanded that she explain. Nobody seemed to know where the chart came from, and Richards said it was inaccurate. Her attorney finally leaned over and cleared it up.

“My lawyer’s informing me the source is Americans United for Life, which is an anti-abortion group,” said Richards. “So you might want to check your source.”

Zachary Ross of MSNBC explains what’s wrong with the chart, which appears to indicate that the PP performed far more abortions than cancer screening and prevention services in 2013, which is contrary to her testimony.

But look at the actual numbers in the graph. They show that in 2006, Planned Parenthood performed 2,007,371 anti-cancer services and 289,750 abortions. By 2013, the gap had closed slightly, but the group still performed many more anti-cancer services than abortions, 935,573 to 327,000.

Why does it seem otherwise? Because the “graph” has no y axis, which allows its creators to simply plot the results wherever they choose in order to create a compelling visual effect. That’s how 327,000 is made to look like a much larger number than 935,573.

This is yet another example of intentional deception by Chaffetz to go with Carly Fiorina’s lie about the so-called ‘Planned Parenthood video’ that she claimed proved the PP was performing abortions to harvest fetal brains for profit. According to Dr. Jen Gunter, the video is not from PP, given the procedures followed.  It’s likely more than 15 years old and it shows a premature stillborn birth, not an abortion.

The Republicans are willing to play games with women’s health and lie through their teeth to destroy Planned Parenthood. They are also planning to shut the government down on December 13th for as long as it takes to force the Democrats to defund PP.

They are insane and very dangerous. Fortunately, they also are stupid.

The chart is from PBS. Right-click on it above to view the complete image (or click the link).

(H/T to Malisha for providing the link to Dr. Jen Gunter’s website)

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