Wingnut Week In Review: The Sting

Terrance Heath

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.

The Sting

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. 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.

Still Trumped

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.

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.

Here’s the rest of the best of the worst in wingnuttery this week:

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