Wingnut Week In Review: The Sting
This week, wingnuts attacked Planned Parenthood, with deceptively edited video that would make James O’Keefe proud, got “trumped” again by presidential candidate and xenophobe Donald Trump, and freaked out over the Iran anti-nuke deal.
Remember those heady days (for conservatives) of the George W. Bush administration, in late 2004, when Bush was on the cusp of winning a second term? A Bush aide, now believed to have been Karl Rove, dismissed New York Times reporter Ron Suskind as a member of the “reality-based community,” and informed Suskind of the new “New World Order”: …“we create our own reality”? While the rest of us were basing our opinions on observed reality, right-wingers would shape reality to suit their agenda. Remember?
Well, they’re at it again.
This week the conservative group the Center for Medical Progress — which seems to barely exist, except on paper — released a video that purported to show Planned Parenthood personnel discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions.
Except that Planned Parenthood isn’t selling fetal tissue. Nobody is. As Kevin Drum writes, the practice of donating fetal tissue is a fairly common practice, and one that’s crucial to a lot of medical research. (Namely, stem cell research, which conservatives are against.) It’s also perfectly legal, as long as it’s done with the consent of the donor. Costs typically refer to shipping and other related costs, I recently needed stamps from the Rite Aid near me and to my surprise the prices have skyrocketed. Nobody’s selling anything at any kind of profit.
The unedited video and unedited transcript, also released by CMP, undermines the group’s claims. Instead, the unedited video and transcript reveal three deceptive edits.
- CMP claims that the edited video shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola discussing the sale of fetal tissue over a glass of red wine. But the unedited video, featuring 150 minutes of additional footage, clearly shows Nucatola saying “nobody should be selling tissue: ”Nothing, no affiliate should be doing anything that’s not like, reasonable and customary. This is not- nobody should be “selling” tissue. That’s just not the goal here."
- The edited video then jumps eight minutes ahead, according to the timestamps on the video, to an exchange that sounds like Nucatola is discussing the cost of the tissue. But the unedited video shows that Nucatola is actually talking about reimbursement for other costs during the donation process, which depends on a number of things; like whether its going to be shipped or picked up. In the unedited video, Nucatola makes it clear that none of the affiliates are “selling” anything for profit: “I think for affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a non-profit, they just don’t want to – they want to break even. And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that. Really their bottom line is, they just, they want to break even. Every penny they save is just pennies they give to another patient. To provide a service the patient wouldn’t get otherwise. ”
- In the unedited transcript, Nucatola consistently refers to “tissue donation,” not a “sale.” In fact, the word “sale” doesn’t even appear in the unedited transcript.
The people Nucatola is talking to in the video are actors, who presented themselves as representatives of a “fetal procurement company.”
None of this stopped the video from landing on the front page of the Washington Post. Now, of course, right-wingers in Congress are calling for a full-scale investigation of Planned Parenthood. House Republicans even pulled a bill for a commemorative coin for breast cancer, because it would have raised money for the Susan G. Komen foundation, which gives grants to Planned Parenthood. GOP presidential candidates are chiming in on calls for an investigation into a practice that isn’t happening.
The whole video is basically wingnuts creating their own reality, editing video to make their worst fantasies about Planned Parenthood seem true. In a sense, Rove was right. Creating your own reality is, after all, another definition of lying. This one is already halfway around the world, while the truth is still putting its pants on. The amazing part is that so far they’ve managed to get a lot of people to buy in on it, despite releasing an unedited video and transcript that refutes their own claims.
It’s official. Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has gone through the looking glass, and taken the Republican party with it. Every week that he stays in the race, Trump looks and sounds more and more like a carnival barker, and the GOP primary resembles nothing so much as a three-ring circus.
Last week, it didn’t seem possible, but this week the nightmare has deepened for the Republicans. It turns out, the more immigrant bashing and xenophobia Trump spouts, the more the Republican base loves him. The longer this goes on, the more the GOP looks like Dr. Frankenstein, in a desperate race to catch up to the monster he created. For the GOP created Donald Trump’s candidacy, when it spent years priming the party’s base to respond to both the content and style of Trump’s rhetoric.
- New polls show Trump gaining favorability with Republican primary voters.
- Trump is now in a statistical tie with Jeb Bush. Trump has 17 percent of the vote, while Bush has about 14 percent: a difference that’s within the poll’s margin of error.
- Trump proclaimed, “The Hispanics love me.” But a Noticias/Univision poll of Hispanic voters shows that they most certainly do not: “If the Republican primaries and caucuses were held today, Trump would receive just 7% of Hispanic Republicans’ votes, way less than Jeb Bush’s 38% , Marco Rubio’s 22% , and Ted Cruz’s 12%.”
- In fact, Latinos like Trump even less than they liked Mitt Romney.
- Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord illustrated the Trump phenomenon when he tried to explain to Republican CNN contributor Ann Navarro that she isn’t a Latina.
- Even anti-immigrant gasbag Tom Tancredo told the Denver Post that Trump “needs to a little bit more artful” when talking about immigration. In other words, “tone it down.”
- Fox News producer Jesse Watters welcomed a Trump presidency, saying that Trump, “is not going to let illegal aliens come to the country and murder our women.”
- Trump’s campaign tweeted out an image of an American flag superimposed over Trump’s face , without realizing that the stock photo used included an image of Nazi “Waffen SS” soldiers. Trump’s campaign blamed a “young intern” for the mistake.
- Former Texas governor Rick Perry posted a message to his campaign website concerning Trump: “I have a message for my fellow Republicans and the independents who will be voting in the primary process: what Mr. Trump is offering is not conservatism, it is Trump-ism – a toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense.” A “toxic mix of demagoguery and nonsense”? Sounds like conservatism to me….
- It’s gotten so bad that we may have developed a new breed of “Donald Trump Truthers.” Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R, Florida)suggested that Trump was a Democratic plant sent to foul up an otherwise peaceful GOP primary.
- Artist Fernando Sosa has immortalized Trump as a silicon “Trump For Your Rump” erotic accoutrement.
Irate About Iran
President Obama celebrated another legacy-making accomplishment this week, with the announcement of a nuclear deal with Iran that, in the words of nuclear nonproliferation expert Aaron Stein, “makes the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon in the next 25 years extremely remote.” Max Fisher summed up Stein’s analysis:
Stein walked me through how the Iran nuclear deal works, what it does, and his assessment of it. That assessment was very positive, he told me: The deal “exceeds in all areas.” Under this agreement, if Iran tries to build a bomb, “the likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent.” As a result, “it makes the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon in the next 25 years extremely remote.”
The following video explains it in about three minutes, but essentially, the stops any development of nuclear weapons until 2040, giving us 25 years to figure out diplomatic solutions to remaining issues. Iran has an incentive to cooperate, as breaking the agreement will result in crushing sanctions that would effectively cut off its economy from the rest of the world.
The Iran deal also robs our right-wing hawks and hardliners of a convenient enemy, and chance to go to war in the Middle East again. It also, according to some analyses, signals the death of the “shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later” Bush Doctrine. That, as you may imagine, ticked them off. Republican reaction could be summed up in just 30 words.
Republicans fall into two camps when it comes to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Some are against it, while others want to read it before announcing their opposition.
Whether they read it or not, wingnuts went off.
- Former vice president Dick Cheney said that the agreement preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons brings us “ closer to use — actual use of nuclear weapons than we’ve been at any time since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.”
- Fox News host Sean Hannity said the Iran deal is “the equivalent of giving Adolf Hitler weapons of mass destruction.”
- Philanderer and televangelist Jim Bakker blamed the Iran agreement for California’s drought and the appearance of blood moons, and called it a sign of the Second Coming.
- Sen. Mark Kirk (R, Illinois) said that President Obama “wants to get nukes to Iran.” That’s why he brokered a deal preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
- The best alternative to the Iran deal that presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham could offer was one that he opposed in 2013.
Here’s the rest of the best of the worst in wingnuttery this week:
- When gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez shot at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee — killing five people — Fox News rushed to link the shooting to an ISIS tweet three hour later. (The FBI found nothing to tie Abdulazeez to international terrorist organizations.)
- Fox News hosts Geraldo Rivera and Erick Erickson nearly came to blows when Rivera criticized Bill O’Reilly’s exploitation of Kate Steinle’s murder.
- San Francisco supervisor Scott Weiner said to Fox News reporter Jesse Watters, there to exploit Steinle’s murder, what the rest of us have long thought about Fox.
- Bill O’Reilly compared Salon.Com to Stormfront — the racist, white supremacist online forum — for criticizing his exploitation of the Steinle murder.
- TLC is officially canceling “19 Kids and Counting” in wake of revelations that Josh Duggar was investigated for and admitted to multiple incidents of sexually molesting under age girls (including a few of his sisters) in 2004.
- In the Senate, 45 Republicans couldn’t find it in their hearts to protect children. Protect LGBT children from bullying, that is.
- The county commission in Dent County, Missouri, voted to lower US flags “below half-staff” for a one year period of "mourning, following the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, but backtracked on the vote following “an overwhelming backlash” from county residents. The vote violated US flag protocol, which dictates that the flag can only be flown at half-staff to honor veterans or fallen soldiers, to memorialize government leaders, to observe designated holidays or when ordered by the governor or the president.
- Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones tried to portray himself as neutral on same-sex marriage, but then called it “space-cult, suicide cult exterminism craziness,” and a trans-humanist cult conspiracy to make us all “asexual humanoids.”
- Fox News hosts Steve Doocey and Kevin Jackson accused Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set a Watchman of trying to “fit a politically correct narrative of today.” The novel, an early draft of Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird, was written in 1957, and left unpublished until this year. Atticus Finch, the hero of Mockingbird, is portrayed as a segregation-supporting racist in Watchman, which is set several decades later.
- Confederate flag-waving protestors greeted President Obama upon his arrival in Oklahoma. Protestors claimed their display was about heritage rather than racism. Oklahoma did not exist as state during the Civil war, thus never seceded from the Union.
- Talk show host Steve Deace longed for the “good old days” when Americans were too poor to be gay.
- Rep. Scott Garrett (R, New Jersey) told Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R, Texas) in a closed door House Financial Services meeting, that he will not pay dues to the Republicans’ campaign arm, because of its history of recruiting openly gay candidates.
- At the launch of a new anti-gay coalition in Texas, Dr. Steven Hotze, president of the Conservative Republicans of Texas PAC, warned, because of same sex marriage schools would be mandated to teach students “to accept, to affirm and even to celebrate those who participate in anal sex, or anal sodomy.”
- Texas Judge James R. DePiazza is so opposed to same-sex marriages that he wants every couple he marries to sign an agreement acknowledging his views. Couples also agree not to mention same-sex weddings to DePiazza “before, during, or after” the ceremony, and to refrain from taking photos until he leaves.
- Oklahoma’s Republican party compared food stamp recipients to animals, in a Facebook post that erroneously stated that food stamp distribution was at an all time high. State party chairman Randy Brogdon apologized saying that the post was “misinterpreted,” and was merely an analogy.
- Rep. Robert Pittenger (R, North Carolina) told the audience at the “Celebrate America” revival meeting in Washington, DC, that the “primary mission” of members of Congress, is to serve as “emissaries for Christ.”