Five Facts, One Conclusion, One Opinion, One Prediction

Fact: Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has barred the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, or the necessity of saving the life of the mother.

Fact: Senator Ted Cruz and many of his colleagues are threatening to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Fact: Any federal funds Planned Parenthood clinics receive are used to pay for care including birth control (except abortion), pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Republicans, by announcing their intent to strip federal funds for Planned Parenthood, are announcing their intent to deny funding for birth control, pap smears, cancer screening and early treatment, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

Fact: Two states’ Attorneys General, Indiana and Massachusetts, have already cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in investigations prompted by the release of secretly recorded, deceptively edited anti-abortion propaganda produced by a fraudulently chartered nonprofit entity.

Conclusion: Republicans, willing to defund birth control, cancer screening, and testing and treatment for STIs to score political points on the basis of baseless and inflammatory claims made by people who have likely broken multiple laws, are neither the party of small government nor the party of law and order.

Opinion: Individuals, not the state, should be free to make their own decisions about their health and their lives, especially when it comes to the decision whether or when to bear children.

Prediction: On-the-brink-of-being-indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will hold a press conference about Planned Parenthood and use the words “baby parts,” but will not hold a press conference and use the words “I committed felony securities fraud.”

"Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges!"

“Look! Over there! False allegations about someone else who is not me and who has not been indicted on felony charges! Pay no attention to meeeeee!”




Posted in politics, Texas | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

$6K in Six Days to Fund Molly Ivins Documentary

Molly Ivins screenshot

Molly Ivins died eight years ago. Why should you care? And why should you even consider kickstarting a documentary about her life and work?

Eminently quotable, and made to be memed, Molly’s folksy writing and wry speeches, deceptively simple, were built on a foundation of the strongest journalistic standards, academic training, and decades of research, observation, and experience.

She did not aggregate or curate. Molly was a capital-W writer, an artist, a creator. She used her prodigious talent to expose the wealthy and powerful in defense of the least among us.

Let me reconsider, actually, saying she wasn’t a curator. She was, but not in the sense that she filled the Texas Observer with listicles.

She was a curator of good people, bringing them together around the table for beer, chili, and the kind of conversation that mends the torn parts of your soul. She connected her friends to the people they didn’t even know they needed to know.

When Molly Ivins passed away, she left it all on the field. Essays she published decades ago resonate still, and remind us of our obligation to call out injustice.

We owe it to her, and to ourselves, to remember. To document what she did and what she stood for, and to take the baton she offered us every time she spoke out. To give credit and pay homage to a woman who inspired so many of the journalists, writers, and bloggers carrying that baton today.

I challenge you to watch this sizzle reel without laughing out loud.

And I urge you then to donate to get this documentary made. Just a bit, or a little bit more. Six more days to get this project to $100,000, and just a little over $6,000 to go.

She’s a voice for those who didn’t have a voice. We still need that voice. Desperately. Let’s make this happen, and keep raising hell in her memory and for our future.

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Invitation-Only Democracy

Well, well, well.

Invited testimony only during the hearing next week that Senator Charles Schwertner has called, no doubt at the urging of Governor Abbott:

[T]o examine the business practices and regulatory structure of Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas, and to investigate whether state or federal laws are being broken by Planned Parenthood and/or its affiliates in Texas in regards to the donation and/or sale of fetal tissue. The committee will consider recommendations to strengthen regulations on abortion providers, including further restrictions on the sale of fetal tissue by these entities.

A pox on the person who asked me what else the legislature could possibly do post-HB 2 and HB 3994 that could make conditions any worse.

The good news? (1) They can’t keep witness lists secret. (2) No one needs an invitation to show up at the capitol.

Anyone free next Wednesday?

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Today on Burnt Orange Report: GOP Lawsuit Abuse

You know how Republicans in Texas get all in a lather about lawsuit abuse, frivolous lawsuits, and lawyers finding a way to press cases that everyone knows are losers just to suit their ulterior motives?

Well, in testimony during the legislative session, experts advised them that HB 3994 would provoke a constitutional challenge that would be just such a lawsuit, with the bill coming straight to Texas taxpayers.

They didn’t care and passed it anyway, because their voter turn-out strategy is grounded in a fetus fetish. Gov. Abbot signed it (while safely behind closed doors, far from the prying eyes or bullhorns of the #HereForJaneTX movement).

I’m waiting for Texans for Lawsuit Reform and all the other rich guys who work so diligently to strip away consumer protections from the common folk so they can grow their businesses (and vast fortunes) without regard to safety to call on the Texas GOP to stop passing bills to restrict abortion that are designed to draw the state into expensive litigation.

I am not holding my breath.

Here’s a little more about that in my piece up on Burnt Orange Report today.

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Bernie Sanders’ 50 Years of Civil Rights Activism

At one point, during the interlude (confrontation? interruption? those words feel judgmental) at Netroots Nation 2015 when Tia Oso and other activists tried to engage Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders, Sanders got frustrated.

“Black lives of course matter, but I have spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and if you don’t want me to be here that’s OK.”

His comment, which is being interpreted as him being frustrated and somewhat short-tempered, is a great example of why many black activists are frustrated and somewhat short-tempered (to say the least).

Sanders, qualifying what I’m willing to say is a sincere belief on his part that black lives do matter, managed to frame the issue around what his own experience has been.

A critical element of this movement and this moment is centering black experience—learning to make it the focus, working to prioritize it, trusting in it without giving it the stamp of white experience for legitimacy.

I’m sorry that we don’t seem to have any candidates on the left who understand that.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Who’s Really Making Money Off Abortion

A deceptively edited video has been making the rounds this week, attempting to convince people that Planned Parenthood clinics are compromising medical ethics and breaking the laws. Often, attacks against Planned Parenthood focus on accusations that the organization is willing to break the law to make money.

This always makes me laugh. Planned Parenthood clinics are some of the most heavily regulated, regularly audited businesses in the country. Their tax filings are public information, and no end of state agencies, not to mention the public, have access to their financial records.

What business in this country does not generate income offering a service? It is pretty much the American way. You offer a service or a product. People want it and are willing to pay for it, or they don’t, and you stay open or shut down based on that exchange.

People come to the clinic to get a service, they pay, the service is provided, and the people providing use the proceeds to keep the business open for the next person who needs it.

Salaries are paid to doctors, receptionists, nurses, security guards, cleaning crews, and administrative staff. Supplies are purchased. Insurance and utility companies get their fees. Construction companies and security firms get paid as well, since clinics have to protect themselves from attacks of all kinds.

So yes, you can say that Planned Parenthood clinics make money from providing abortion. But it is pretty easy to figure out where the money goes, and it is hardly a profit.

But you know who else makes money when Planned Parenthood provides abortion? Makes money that cannot be as easily accounted for, and isn’t subjected to anything close to the same levels of regulation and oversight?

The propaganda industry that has sprung up to harass Planned Parenthood.

Organizations like The Center for Medical Progress, and Live Action.

I’d like to get a look at the tax filings of the nonprofit which put out this most recent deceptive video, The Center for Medical Progress, but their tax forms do not yet show up in the IRS database, and they do not make them available on Guidestar, Charity Navigator, or their own website. (You can find Planned Parenthood filings on Guidestar, Charity Navigator, and the IRS site, in case you are curious.)

David Daleiden, who seems to have founded it [more info on him and the CMP here], used to be involved with Live Action, so we’ll check in on them. Live Action has registered as a nonprofit in Virginia. Live Action makes money because Planned Parenthood provides a medical service to clients who actively and affirmatively want that service.

Live Action provides no such service. They film people, secretly, and then edit the film to fit their agenda. They fly here and there, speaking. I’m sure they stay busy.

In 2013, per their IRS 990 (a tax form all 501(c)(3) organizations must file, including Planned Parenthood) they earned $1,747,163 in contributions. That’s a 578% increase over the funds they raised in 2010. How many businesses do you know that do not provide a service to customers but see a 578% increase in revenue over 4 years?

Kind of makes you want to get into the propaganda business, doesn’t it?

I’d like to talk about the money Operation Rescue makes as a propaganda organization that does not provide a service or product, but I cannot, because Operation Rescue has chosen not to operate as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Their revenue is hidden.

They claim they opt out of operating as a nonprofit organization because their politics are too hard-hitting. A more practical reason they prefer to operate with less scrutiny is that the organization has had to form, dissolve, and re-form over time as its leadership has violated laws and been subject to civil lawsuits and large judgments that bankrupted them.

Various politicians eager to win points with the religious right are now calling for investigations based on the deceptive video that’s been making the rounds.

There is already an uncut version of the video available, by the way, which reveals that absolutely nothing illegal or unethical is being done.

No need to spend any taxpayer funds or government employees’ time on an investigation, but you know it can’t be that simple. Why?

There’s also an industry of “experts” who will now be called to speak as part of this investigation. Their travel will be paid for, and their time will be compensated, even though there is actual video evidence that directly refutes the claims they will be making.

Would you like a job that paid you to jet around the country testifying under oath about rumors and innuendos that can be easily dismissed with actual evidence? Did you know there’s a cottage industry of people making money spreading lies about abortion?

If not for Planned Parenthood, Live Action, Operation Rescue, and a whole cadre of people would have to find another way to make a living. So you tell me—who’s really making money off abortion?

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Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Roundup July 6, 2015

The Texas Progressive Alliance congratulates the USWNT on its awesome FIFA Women’s World Cup win as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff reports that thousands more Texas state employees are now eligible for spousal benefits thanks to the SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos observes that it should be obvious the state’s government has become a gathering place for crooks, crony capitalists, religious fanatics, homophobes, racists and misogynists. Texas Governor Cruel.

SocraticGadfly takes a look at American exceptionalism, and the subject of counterfactual history, to produce some musings about the Fourth of July and American independence.

There are two things that will probably keep Sen. Bernie Sanders from acquiring the Democratic nomination for the US presidency, writes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs in the first of two posts on the topic. Clue: one of them isn’t money, and the other isn’t the questionable intelligence of the average American voter.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Lunch Tray updates us on her “pink slime” legal case and her use of Texas’ shield law.

Eric Berger explains why some rocket launches fail.

Elizabeth Rose has no trouble reconciling her Christian faith with same sex marriage.

Cody Pogue finds no good reason to oppose same sex marriage.

Two Houston Tomorrow interns share their bus-riding experiences.

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