This week, a bunch of Republican Congressmen made fools of themselves during their own hearing to bring down Planned Parenthood.
The GOP war on Planned Parenthood continued to follow the pattern of its anti-ACORN campaign this week, as what began with deceptively edited, fraudulent videos finally resulted in a hearing on Capitol Hill. Actually, there was a hearing on Planned Parenthood nearly a month ago. Republicans didn’t bother to invite Planned Parenthood to their hearing on Planned Parenthood.
It’s hard to imagine a bigger sham than a Planned Parenthood hearing without Planned Parenthood. Or at least it was until this week, when Republican Congressmen went out of their way to behave like sexist jerks, while attempting to grill Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a House Oversight Committee Hearing. If there was ever a sham hearing on Capitol Hill, this one was it. It was farcical from beginning to end.
- Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) opened the hearing suggesting that Planned Parenthood killed his parents, both of whom died of cancer. How? Apparently, Planned Parenthood offed Chaffetz’s parents simply by existing and receiving government funding.
- Chaffetz interrupted Richards 19 times in five minutes, as she tried to answer his questions. Why invite her if he’s not going to let her speak.
- Chaffetz wasn’t the only one. Other Republican congressmen on the committee repeatedly interrupted Richards too.
- Next, Chaffetz attacked Richards for making a decent salary, only to have Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) lay into him for “beating up on a woman … for making a good salary.”
- Actually, Richards makes an average salary, and she’d make even more if she was a man, but she isn’t paid nearly enough for having to endure questioning by the likes of Chaffetz.
- Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pointed out that Richards salary was being questioned, though Planned Parenthood hasn’t done anything illegal. Meanwhile, the salaries of CEO’s whose corporations are guilty of serious wrongdoing are never questioned.
- Chaffetz used a misleading chart to make 327,000 look like a bigger number than 935,573. Richards put him in his place. Naturally, Chaffetz defended the chart because the numbers were accurate, even if the arrows went the wrong way.
- Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc) exemplified the entire tone of the hearing when he told Richards that Planned Parenthood’s services were unnecessary, because “as a guy” he could go to just about any clinic.
- Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) demanded to know why Planned Parenthood received more funding that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Richards had to explain to him that the Boys and Girls Clubs, which receives grants from the Justice Department, is not a health care provider. She could have also reminded him that she doesn’t decide how much funding the Boys and Girls Clubs get. Congress does.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) give the whole proceedings a layer of sleaze, when he apparently winked at Richards during the hearing.
Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC) winks at Planned Parenthood Pres Cecile Richards during today’s Hse Oversight Cmte he… https://t.co/BRh6EeMuec
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorpNBC) September 29, 2015
When Francis Met Kim
When Pope Francis visited the U.S. last week, conservatives hoped he would speak out against same-sex marriage and publicly come out in support of Kim Davis’ version of “religious freedom.” Nothing like that happened. So, they just made it up.
It started shortly after the pontiff wrapped up his visit, and left the U.S., with a rumor that the Pope met privately with Kim Davis, and offered her his support. The story first appeared in the conservative Catholic magazine, Inside the Vatican. Reporter Robert Moynihan wasn’t actually at the meeting, but he tells Davis version of the story.
“The Pope spoke in English,” she told me. “There was no interpreter. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ Pope Francis said to me. I said, ‘Thank you, Holy Father.’ I had asked a monsignor earlier what was the proper way to greet the Pope, and whether it would be appropriate for me to embrace him, and I had been told it would be okay to hug him. So I hugged him, and he hugged me back. It was an extraordinary moment. ‘Stay strong,’ he said to me. Then he gave me a rosary as a gift, and he gave one also to my husband, Joe. I broke into tears. I was deeply moved.”
Moynihan also strongly suggested that when Francis spoke to journalists on the topic of religious freedom, “he had in his mind not a theoretical issue of conscience, but a specific person, someone he had met and embraced.”
At first, the only other source on the story were Davis’ Liberty Foundation lawyers, who released photos of the rosary beads they said the Pope gave to Davis and her husband. The Vatican would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting occurred. Then Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told the New York Times that he “did not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no other comments to add.”
Nonetheless, right-wingers declared victory. Davis’ lawyers told the media that Francis held a secret meeting with Davis. GOP presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee declared on Facebook that Davis’ papal visit was a turning point in the fight against “judicial tyranny.” In an interview after the meeting, Davis said, “Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing and agreeing, you know, it kind of validates everything.”
But something seemed odd about the whole story. After all, Pope Francis didn’t specifically mention same-sex marriage during his visit, nor did he offer his explicit support to Davis or her cause. Why would me meet secretly with Davis, and why would such a meeting imply his support for Davis? Does the same apply to his meetings with LGBT people?
- The Pope met with a transgender man from Spain in January. Francis met with Diego Neria Lejarraga and his fiancee at the Vatican, but U.S. media either ignored or downplayed that visit.
- The day before he met with Davis, the Pope met privately with a same sex couple; Yayo Grassi and his partner of 19 years, Iwan Bagus. Grassi is a longtime friend and former student of Francis’, from Argentina.
Could Pope Francis have been “punk’d” into meeting Davis, so right-wingers could make hay of it after he decamped back to the Vatican? Esquire’s Charles Pierce thought so. Suspecting that there are “more than a few members of the Church’s permanent bureaucracy” who are “not happy that this gentleman got elected Pope, and who are not happy with what he’s done and said since he was,” Pierce proffered a theory as to what happened.
So, if you’re one of these people, and you’re looking to ratfck the pope’s visit to the United States, and to his agenda in general, you’d be looking to put him in a box. So, how would you do that?
Here’s what I’d do. I’d arrange for the pope to meet Davis, but not as an American culture war celebrity, but as a devout Christian whose faith is under vague assault. (I would not mention the three marriages or the fact that she took an oath before god to do her job. I mean, why burden the poor old fella with details, right?) I’d shuffle her through the process and she gets some vague words of encouragement from the pope, who otherwise doesn’t know her from any other hick who gets sent his way. I’d sit on the news for the entire rest of the pope’s trip, even enlisting Davis’s publicity-hungry legal team in that effort.
The next step would be to leak word to a reporter, who would ask the Pope a general question about “religious liberty.” Once the Pope was safely back in the Vatican, leaking the news to a conservative Catholic publication would seal the deal.
It looks like Pierce nailed it. The Vatican directly contradicted the Liberty Counsel’s version of the meeting.
Pope Francis’ encounter with Kim Davis last week in Washington, which was interpreted by many as a subtle intervention in the United States’ same-sex marriage debate, was part of a series of meetings with dozens of guests and did not amount to an endorsement of her views, the Vatican said on Friday.
“The pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said in a statement released on Friday morning.
There was no private meeting with Davis, she was one of “several dozen persons” who were shuffled in to meet the Pope on his way out of town. The pontiff barely knew who Davis was when he met her, and that brief meeting was not an endorsement of Davis or her views.
And that’s what really happened when Francis met Kim.