Poll: Majority of Republicans think Obama is a Muslim
Imagine that someone hated you (or your company) and wanted to make you look bad. So, he pretended to be a friend or colleague, went to your events, repeatedly asked you to meetings or lunch, gained your trust, and then spent two years recording private conversations. Could he find stuff that would make you sound like a heartless monster? If you’re like me, the answer is a resounding yes. In fact, there’s no way it would take years.
Like me, you probably can think of five things you said in the last week that you would cringe to hear on the evening news. But would a selectively edited patchwork of your worst (or most easily misinterpreted) moments accurately reflect who you are? Almost certainly not.
The scraps of conversation with Planned Parenthood employees that were recorded and released by fundamentalist Christian David Daleiden and his front organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), sounded shockingly nasty. But as details of the smear campaign emerge, we probably should be surprised that they didn’t sound worse.
Here are nine facts that put what you heard in context:
42 Splices – According to forensic analysis by Fusion GPS, the first five videos released by Daleiden and CMP, contained 42 splices where sentences were cut and patched to create the appearance of a seamless conversation. By design, these edits changed the meaning of individual sentences as well as the overall conversation. In one example, a Planned Parenthood staffer’s comment about lab protocols was edited to sound like she was talking about abortion procedures. Her words got echoed repeatedly by mainstream media who falsely assumed they knew what she was talking about.
Contradictory Evidence Omitted – In a Colorado interview, a Planned Parenthood employee said 13 times that all fetal tissue donations must be reviewed by attorneys and follow all laws. All 13 times were omitted.
Edits in “Unedited Videos” – The “unedited” videos released along with shorter excerpts were themselves edited, rendering them useless as evidence in legal cases or regulatory hearings.
Thousands of Hours of Recordings – To shock audiences and create the appearance of callous wrongdoing, abortion foes selectively released less than one percent of their recordings, compiling even smaller fragments to create viral videos. By Daleiden’s own report, CMP agents recorded “thousands of hours,” from which they selected the ten or twenty hours of (moderately edited) recordings to obtain a few minutes of (heavily spliced) inflammatory sentences.
Expensive Taxpayer-funded Investigations Find No Wrongdoing – A growing list of government committees in states including Massachusetts, Indiana, South Dakota, Georgia and Pennsylvania have now cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing, and in California and Texas lawmakers have also called for investigation of fraud by the Center for Medical Progress.
Yuck Factor – Rather than seeking to expose wrongdoing, the campaign appears optimized to trigger a frenzy of disgust among religious conservatives, activating them for the upcoming campaign cycle. Research suggests that, in contrast to liberals (who base moral judgments primarily on questions of fairness and harm), many conservatives fail to differentiate between physical disgust and morality. Conservative campaigns leverage this fact. Homophobes wielded the “yuck factor” effectively for decades to block gay rights and are deploying the same strategy against reproductive rights. Repeated reference to fetal remains functions as a powerful arousal trigger for the Religious Right.
Gallows Humor – Because black humor is a way people deal with stress, CMP was virtually guaranteed to catch shocking “callous, inappropriate” comments if they recorded long enough. Gruesome humor is particularly common among soldiers, doctors, EMT’s, medical researchers, farmworkers, nurses and others who work around bodily fluids and death. One friend commented that her nurse colleagues will joke rudely about their patients at one moment and then will be crying for the same patients an hour later.
Letting Down – From a psychological standpoint, things we say and do in private (or among trusted, like-minded friends) are particularly vulnerable to being distorted by people with ill intent. That is because we rely on the other person to interpret any given statement within their experience of us. For example, after my bike is stolen, I can safely rant among friends about capital punishment for bike thieves only because my friends and family already carry the rest of the context: they know I oppose capital punishment. A Planned Parenthood employee joking about wanting a Lamborghini relies on the same unspoken understanding.
Not About Abortion – The CMP smear campaign was designed not to reduce abortion but rather to control who has sex, by heightening the threat of pregnancy and STI’s among young women. Secondarily, it was timed to feed Tea Party Republicans fodder for election campaigns . Since public dollars pay for no abortions, defunding Planned Parenthood would eliminate only their preventive care services, including birth control, with the ironic effect of driving up need and demand for abortion. It is part of a broader anti-birth-control campaign aimed at protecting biblical (Iron Age) family structures and gender roles.
Don’t be deceived: The religious conservatives behind the Planned Parenthood smear campaign have shown repeatedly that they are willing to harm women and families and even drive up abortions in order to control the sexuality of females and youth. This isn’t about their hatred of Planned Parenthood, the healthcare nonprofit, it is about their hatred of planned parenthood, with two small “p’s.” It’s about their hatred of the changes in society that allow young people to create the lives and families of their choosing, free from the biological constraints that for most of human history have made pregnancy the price of sex.
Speaking of young people, online youth collective, Ultraviolet, has done a little selective splicing of their own. They just released a video in which Sean Hannity interviews Deleiden about Mike Huckabee’s sale of fetal squish. It is not to be missed.
Originally published at ValerieTarico.com
Twelve days ago the State Supreme Court found that the Legislature is in “ongoing violation of its constitutional obligation to amply provide for public education.” It imposed a $100,000-a-day fine until a funding plan for this obligation has been satisfied. That adds up to about $3 million a month, which may seem like a lot, but is small potatoes in the big picture of the state’s $38 billion operating budget. If anything, the court let the Legislature off easy. A more effective remedy would have been to garnish the salaries of the legislators themselves. That would have gotten their attention!
Legislative leaders think they can just muddle through and do a minimal amount to meet the paramount duty for the education of all children. This is what they want to believe, so that they do not have to grapple with our tax system, which is the underlying reason for the perpetual underfunding of state services, including — but not solely — K-12 education. They want to manage the fiscal crisis. We need to vanquish it.
Our state government underfunds all over the place. Case managers for foster kids have a case load that is 30 percent higher than national standards, meaning they don’t have the time to devote to abused, neglected and disregarded foster children. College tuition, now running at close to $12,000 a year at the University of Washington, is almost double what it was ten years ago, even with the slight decreases put into place this summer.
How much will it cost to fully fund McCleary and the voter-approved but Legislature-delayed Initiative 1351? About $3.5 billion a year more than what the Legislature is funding now. What if we decrease higher education tuition by 75 percent, resulting in tuition levels of $1,500 for community college, $2,500 for the regional universities, and $3,500 for the research universities? That’s another $1.5 billion.
You can’t just muddle through that $5 billion. Economic growth won’t get us there, because our tax system is not tethered to growth in income. But it would also be incredibly easy to get this money, if we had the political leadership willing to do so.
How can that be? Look to Amazonia on South Lake Union or across I-405 to Redmond, or to the tony neighborhoods of Hunts Point and Medina. Note the new buildings, new cars, new remodels, new houses, and realize that is just the tip of the iceberg of new income and wealth in our state. The beneficiaries, indeed the takers, of this wealth, gain it thanks to our public legal system, public transportation infrastructure, public-owned utilities, public schools, public safety and public higher education. And yet, because we don’t tax income at all, we leave the biggest building blocks for education on the table. All of this income stays with the house. In staying with the house, it just makes worse the aggregation of income, privilege, power, and wealth to the top 1 percent, while undermining and under financing public services.
Legislative leaders turn a blind eye to the wealthy when considering how to fund McCleary. As a result, the Legislature violates the state’s paramount constitutional duty. These leaders are afraid of even mentioning a tax on income, yet that is the only solution for full funding of McCleary and for putting a brake on the accelerating accumulation of outsized income at the very top.
How much revenue would a progressive income tax provide for public services? First exempt $50,000 of income. Then put in place effective tax rates of 2 percent for a $100,000 household, 3.5 percent for a $200,000 household, 5 percent for a $500,000 household, 6.25 percent for a million dollar household, and 8.125 percent for a $2 million household. That would raise $7.5 billion.
Now let’s do the math:
$7.5 billion in new revenue,
Minus $3 billion for K-12 education,
Minus $1.5 billion for higher education tuition,
Minus $500 million for early childhood education.
That leaves $2.5 billion on the table. With that, we could take a bite out of our regressive tax system by dropping the sales tax by 1.5 cents. That would cost about $1.5 billion. And that leaves $1 billion a year for other public services and a reserve.
The expenditures for McCleary are certain and definitive. You can’t get around them. So let’s not try. Instead, it is time for a progressive income tax. We can’t afford to wait.
Original published at the Everett Herald