by Alex Symington…….
I have been following the congressional inquisition of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, President Cecile Richards and it is everything I would expect from the Republican inquisitors. The glee with which Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) attacks Richards for making a decent annual salary would be comical except for its ugly misogynistic tone. This undisguised open disdain for a woman making a respectable income was not overlooked by Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
Cummings started by pointing out Cecile Richards’ salary is commensurate with her job as president of a nation wide healthcare provider. The PPFA has 59 independent local affiliates that operate approximately 700 health centers throughout the United States. The radical right is accusing Planned Parenthood of illegal activity and as such should not receive any federal money and their best case scenario would the permanent closing of the PPFA. Remember, this is the “family values” and “sanctity of life” people that want to eliminate, what is for some women, their only source of healthcare.
At one point Chaffetz presented a simplistic chart/graph consisting of two diagonal lines intersecting with one arrow pointing up and one pointing down showing the “rate of abortions rising” and conversely “cancer screenings decreasing”. As Chaffetz was badgering Richards, she informed him that the chart was made by “Americans United for Life”, an anti-abortion organization and she advised him “he should check his sources”. Ouch. Talk about a self-hoisted petard… This incident was especially damning and begs the questions, “Is Representative Chaffetz not above providing false “evidence” and acting with deceit at his own hearing?” OR “Is Representative Chaffetz simply an ill prepared moron?”
To further illustrate Chaffetz’s and the at large Republican selective outrage at Richards and Planned Parenthood’s alleged criminal activity, Cummings recited a list of financial institutions and a pharmaceutical company that receive federal money and have, not only broken the law, but have been convicted and heavily fined. Where was the Republican outrage and call for withholding federal dollars from these companies?
Cummings started by saying, “Ms. Richards, I find it extremely hypocritical that Republicans criticize the salaries of PPFA officials when you have violated no laws, especially when these same Republicans completely ignore the CEOs of huge companies that are actually breaking the law!” I repeat, the radical right’s selective outrage is Kabuki Theater at its best.
Cummings continued his well researched dressing-down with, “Earlier this year Citigroup, JP Morgan and other banks plead guilty to manipulating currency markets and interest rates. They were fined more than five billion dollars for their actions, yet Citigroup CEOs still received thirteen million dollars last year and JP Morgan CEOs received twenty million!”
Here’s the kicker. “These banks get extensive federal support in the form of borrowing through the federal reserve discount window and access to deposit insurance through the FDIC.” Cummings then asked Ms. Richards the rhetorical question, “Did you know if house Republicans made any effort to strip the banks of their federal support?” Richards did not.
There’s more: “Johnson and Johnson was fined more than two billion dollars for illegally marketing drugs and paying kickbacks to doctors and nursing homes, but the CEO [still] received twenty-five million dollars. Did the house Republicans open an investigation into this company? Nope. AND they never sought to deny funding through Medicaid or to block their NIH grant.”
The phrase, “War on Women” may sound dramatic, but it is accurate. This whole witch hunt began with the release of surreptitiously obtained and heavily edited videos of PPFA officials talking about fetal tissue being sold and how the “baby parts business” was part of PPFA’s income stream. Since these manipulated and misleading videos have surfaced the radical right has pounced on this as an excuse to defund and shut down, PPFA. These same people have been gunning for PPFA for decades and thought they had finally reached pay dirt. By the way and FYI because of the Hyde amendment the PPFA receives no federal money for abortions except in the case of incest, rape or threat to the mother’s life and abortion accounts for only 3% of all services offered by the PPFA.
A New York Times article by Jackie Calmes states that an independent forensic study of the video(s) has found evidence of editing and other manipulation. According to the investigation, the reviewers could not determine “the extent to which C.M.P.’s [Center for Medical Progress…gotta love these euphemistic titles] undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document. “However, the manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries” unless C.M.P. provides investigators with its original material, and that material is independently authenticated as unaltered. There is a link below to video of some of what was edited out, putting into context what was said and the role of the PPFA.
This is just one more case of the radical right wing posse lying through their teeth to further their agenda of returning us to the dark ages when women died for lack of quality health care. I have a wife and daughter, I have a niece and many wonderful women in my life and the idea of making their lives more dangerous or difficult in the name of some gaseous ideology makes me furious. These same dangerous extremists want to make defunding the PPFA a factor in passing the budget and are once again threatening to shut the government down if they don’t get their way. Aren’t we tired of this rule by intimidation? This should be a wake-up call to the American voter that the radical right is incapable of responsible leadership and in truth holds the average American in contempt.
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