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Tilting at Windmills

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April 8, 2011

GOP MESSAGING ON PLANNED PARENTHOOD GOES OFF THE RAILS.... Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was on the Senate floor this morning, talking about Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, some of his thoughts on the subject were, well, lies.

"Everybody goes to clinics, to doctors, to hospitals, so on," Kyl said. "Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

That's not even close to being accurate. Kyl was just making stuff up.

According to Planned Parenthood officials, more than 90 percent of the health care services provided by the organization is preventive in nature. Each year, it provides more than one million cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, and nearly four million exams, treatments, and tests involving sexually transmitted diseases. The federal funding received by the organization goes strictly toward these basic needs and others, such as birth control and annual exams. In fact, just three percent of its work is related to abortion.

Though some Republicans have attempted to move past the Planned Parenthood issue in order to reach a budget agreement, false information like that which Kyl is propagating has kept the debate from moving forward and made a budget deal almost impossible.

Right. Kyl, who appeared to be reading from prepared notes, just doesn't know what he's talking about, and he's willing to pop off on subjects he doesn't understand. If Kyl doesn't like abortions, it doesn't make any sense to block access to contraception for low-income families anyway.

But what's especially interesting about this isn't just GOP dishonesty -- a routine part of public life, I'm afraid -- but rather, Republicans' willingness to fight on Democrats' terms.

Right now, Dems have made all kinds of concessions and compromised with the GOP over the size of the spending cuts. Democrats are now arguing that the only thing standing between an agreement and a shutdown is the bizarre Republican culture-war agenda, and funding for health centers that serve women's needs.

Boehner is desperate to avoid this for a simple reason -- if it looks like Republicans shut down the government over women's health, the GOP will be excoriated, and it would be a public relations disaster.

But the Speaker's realization isn't reaching the rest of his party. Not only is Jon Kyl talking about Planned Parenthood on the Senate floor, but Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) issued a press release this afternoon, accusing the White House of shutting down the government to "keep Planned Parenthood running," and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), asked on MSNBC whether he's willing to "hold up this entire budget over defunding Planned Parenthood," replied, "Well, of course I am."

In other words, Republicans will tell you that this budget fight isn't just about Planned Parenthood, right after they finish telling you how preoccupied they are with Planned Parenthood.

Remember, this isn't about abortion -- the organization is already prohibited from using public funds to terminate pregnancies, and has been for many years. What we're talking about here is Republicans shutting down the government to prohibit working-class and low-income women from accessing contraception, family planning services, pap smears, cancer screenings, and tests for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Dems want Americans to know that's the GOP's principal focus right now, and oddly enough, Republicans are helping get that message out.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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So..it's almost 2:15 in the afternoon: can anyone tell me exactly what the hell is going on? It seems like both sides meet, have a press conference, then disappear into the ether.

Is there something actively coming together, or are the wheels coming off?

Posted by: delNorte on April 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Dems want Americans to know that's the GOP's principal focus right now...

The other interpretation, of course, is that the Dems want Americans to think that's the GOP's principal focus right now, when in fact both Dem and Republican leaders want people to take their eye off the real issue, which is the massive defunding of government efforts to stimulate the economy and provide some tiny bit of relief for the poor and the working class, to which both sets of leaders -- having pretty completely sold out to the financial sector -- are perfectly happy with.

Posted by: bleh on April 8, 2011 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Everybody goes to clinics, to doctors, to hospitals, so on," Kyl said. "Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don't have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked."

Well, first, Mr. Kyl, "Some people" are WOMEN. I know that's really hard to get your head around, that 1) women are people too, and that 2) women have health issues that aren't just about cholesterol and blood pressure.

I haven't visited Planned Parenthood much since I was a poor student and PP handled all my gynecological issues, such as pap smears, treatment of bladder and vaginal infections (Vagina, Mr. Kyl! I know that word scares you), birth control, breast exams.

Once I could afford a private doctor, I stopped going to PP because I knew I would be taking up some money that would better go to someone poorer.
But you know, a few years ago, I went back there. My boyfriend had confessed that he'd cheated on me, and I wanted to get tested to make sure he didn't give me an STD. And we have the same private doctor, and I know she'd be completely professional about it, but I just didn't want to go in there and "confess" to this awful situation. So I went to PP and had a full battery of tests and was pronounced clean. (Oh, my boyfriend? He was a Republican. No joke. He declared that HE would not go be tested, because he'd never have sex with anyone "diseased". Cough. I'm sure, wherever he is, he is, like Mr. Kyl, for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, because HE would never need such a place. Because he's so clean. And male, of course.)

And, btw, I don't know about cholesterol, but of course at Planned Parenthood they checked my blood pressure. (Yes, Mr. Kyl, women have blood pressure too! Surprise!)

I'm going to go write a check to PP right now.

Posted by: alix on April 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

The problem the GOP has is that, for a good while now, they've equated Planned Parenthood with abortion in their base's mind.

It's impossible to instantly reprogram the believers to suddenly accept that Planned Parenthood does not equal abortion.

Posted by: Sasha on April 8, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK


Kyl is so f*cking stupid he should thank his parents for having a last name with only three letters or he never would have gotten out of Kindergarten.

The rest of the Republicans are just as
f*cking stupid, they just worked harder to memorize their names.


Since they're saying "NUTS!" to women, now we need an ACORN for middle and lower class women.

Here's my suggestion for an acronym - everytime a woman sees a Republican, she should yell out "NUTS!":

N-No one
U-Undermines
T-This
S-Sex!

And, after all, they ARE nuts!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 8, 2011 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats could not be in a better position politically if the government shuts down. What's even better is the ball is in Boehner's court, who probably doesn't have the negotiating authority. This is political suicide, and he might be forced to lead the charge.

I always thought this was the only way Obama would reach his dream of an actual bipartisan agreement, where both sides give something. The GOP has to be in a position of compromise, or suicide. And have them keep picking suicide if they want, but always have your hand extended for them the moment they ever decide compromise hurts less.

If a deal is struck, though, it's not a compromise unless the GOP has been forced to give something - and the Dems need to articulate what it is, exactly, we've accomplished beyond getting the GOP to agree to their own offer.

Posted by: Memekiller on April 8, 2011 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

If you don't like abortions, don't have one.

Posted by: daveb99 on April 8, 2011 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

"If a deal is struck, though, it's not a compromise unless the GOP has been forced to give something - and the Dems need to articulate what it is, exactly, we've accomplished beyond getting the GOP to agree to their own offer."

The only thing repubs can give up at this point are the riders (and they may not even have to concede all of them). They can't reduce the amount of cuts, only where they come from, and they aren't likely to do that.

So in the best-case scenario, we are stuck with $78 billion in spending cuts that will bring a lot of pain to a large segment of the populace and continued tax cuts to the wealthy. This will be the deal that the Democrats will have agreed to and will likely be blamed for.

Just like December, Dems have made concession after concession, and the repubs have held out until 11:59 p.m., then scooped up their huge pile of chips, and cashed out.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 8, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, Steve, for this important thread. Now, I fully understand why my wife was running amok through our house, this morning, screaming "Kyl is an Idiot". Then, she took to her computer and e-mailed both Senators Wyden and Merkeley, saying to both, "Enough compromising".

Posted by: berttheclock on April 8, 2011 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The have succeeded in the Acornification of Planned Parenthood . Another entity that only helps people being demonized and put out of business with willful lies and innuendo. These are some seriously vile human beings we are dealing with. Christian Values my ass .
More aggravating than anything else is the lack of pushback anywhere except the liberal blogs.
Even the "liberal" NPR is still framing it as an abortion issue.
Dirty Lying C**ksuckers all of them.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on April 8, 2011 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

That's what happens when you join a cult.

Posted by: SW on April 8, 2011 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I've now read two accounts that GOP is now asking for more than the $38 billion to get rid of the riders - one up on TPM quoting Reid about the GOP backing off a number they agreed to - moving the goal posts again.

This is where to let the GOP pull the triger on this. Dems have the high ground, there's no question they've capitulated - twice. Only the most in-the-pocket shill can claim the GOP doesn't want a shutdown at this point, and the EPA/family planning riders are the only thing left on the table, the most embarassing reason imaginable.

It's take it or leave it time, and if the GOP shuts her down, it'll be a bloodbath - but not for our side.

Posted by: Memekiller on April 8, 2011 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

What every g*dd*m reporter should be asking these clowns is why they voted to fund Planned Parenhood from 2000-2007. They controlled the House and the Presidency, but voted for the status quo then. Now we're supposed to believe this is all important to them? Worth shutting down the government during a recession????? Pfttttt.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on April 8, 2011 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans agenda includes INTRUSIVE government with corporations and military control as per KOCH BROS fascist thinking. Republicans do not care about AMERICA, DEMOCRACY, US CONSTITUTION
(the politicians swore to uphold)and AMERICANS but their GREED and power.

Posted by: ML Johnston on April 8, 2011 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

By the time the Republicans are done with it, Planned Parenthood will be as reviled nationally as Acorn and Al Quaeda. If anyone thinks the Democrats can turn this messaging around they're sadly mistaken.

Posted by: SaintZak on April 8, 2011 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I'm male and have used PP services, in fact a casual poll of my friends at happy hour the other night revealedthat pretty much everyone, male or female did in their twenties. It's kind of an unwritten rule (that should be written) before you become sexually involved with someone, get tested. People I know with multiple partners got tested quarterly. PP was cheap, convenient and, perhaps most importantly, didn't leave a paper trail of multiple tests on you permanent record. A friend had a child a few years back out of wedlock. He didn't use PP, but his regular physician, and when he went to get life insurance to ensure his child was financially taken care of, his rates were increased because of the pattern of testing. As long as being responsible is punished, PP will serve a valuable role for young people's sexual (and therefore overall) health. Now, luckily, we are all older, wealthier, still alive and mostly in long term relationships, so our need for PP's services has gone away. But After our conversation, we remember. Next week's happy hour has been cancelled, with the money we would spend going to PP. It really is the least we can do.

Posted by: Northzax on April 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

This is where to let the GOP pull the triger on this.

Any more capitulation by Democrats at this point makes them look like the ones holding the government hostage. Like they were the ones willing to go further but were holding out.

NO OTHER OFFERS.

Time to make the GOP own this clusterf*ck or else Democrats will end up owning it.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on April 8, 2011 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Shit or get off the pot, Boehner. Are you going to unload this pile of crap on America or aren't you?

Posted by: Memekiller on April 8, 2011 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Um, actually, PP was the first to diagnose my high blood pressure. I was working in a high-stress, low-paying job right after law school, and using PP because I had no health benefits. So, screw you, Kyl.

Posted by: beekabeck on April 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

I have thought all along that Boehner has been in government long enough to know the damage a shutdown would cause. He is supposed to be a leader and the one to stress this fact to his caucus, his brain is addled with the chants from the tea bags to 'shut it down' he should stand up and be the leader he is supposed to be. Boehner is looking like a weak kneed idiot who will cry at any moment.

Posted by: j on April 8, 2011 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday, this was all about abortion. Now, today it's not all about abortion.

Posted by: Neo on April 8, 2011 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Dems want Americans to know that's the GOP's principal focus right now, and oddly enough, Republicans are helping get that message out".

Rubbish.

The democratic leadership "wants" only to extend towards the GOP a damnably false acknowledgment that it is an honorable opposition. The White House lacks the guts to shame it for what it is: the party of rule or ruin.

Mr. Obama couldn't shout "fire" if his rank-and-files lives depended on it.

Posted by: JW on April 8, 2011 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Conceding the fact that Obama gave up the debate over the wisdom of destimulating the economy before he even came to the table - he chose to give up that battle before it was fought - they did smartly outmaneuver the GOP in this case. Theyd did it by doing something I had been hoping to see for years - going into the negotiations assuming bad faith and that the GOP would want a shut down, rather than going in expecting them to compromise in good faith.

Once you recognize that fact, Reid and Obama were able to successfully end up in a position where the GOP would be committing political suicide by doing so - yet be compelled by the extremists to do so anyway.

The base would only see a win for Boehner if he forced something down the Dems throats, but it's looking like Obama may have done the impossible - shoved a deal down the GOP's throats. Sure, we gave them everything they asked for. Then gave them everything they asked for again - but if the GOP cuts a deal, it will clearly be because they had no choice, not because they wanted to, and that, in and of itself, is no small task.

The downside is that the "deal" we forced on them is little more than making them keep their word on their second offer, abandon their third, and remove the barrel from their own temples. Which also means a lot of people won't be out of work and we won't destroy the economy, but politically we walk away with very little.

Who knows? Maybe by the end of his term, Obama can even get the GOP to make a deal where they don't walk away with more than they come to the table asking for.

Posted by: Memekiller on April 8, 2011 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

memekiller: Obama may have done the impossible - shoved a deal down the GOP's throats. Sure, we gave them everything they asked for. Then gave them everything they asked for again...

I thought Glenn Beck was gone!

How did we "shove a deal down the GOP's throats" if we "gave them everything they asked for AGAIN"?!?

Oh, doan t'row me in dat BRIAR patch Br'er Fox!

Posted by: bleh on April 8, 2011 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to leave a message for Boehner, but I am not willing to leave my personal information on his site. I could not get through to his office due to "high call volume." I hope that the messages people are leaving not only disparage Boehner, himself, but his staff, as well. They are all complicit in the terrorism of the American people through the impending shutdown of the government.
I spit on his grave!

Posted by: st john on April 8, 2011 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I was going to leave a message for Boehner, but I am not willing to leave my personal information on his site. I could not get through to his office due to "high call volume." I hope that the messages people are leaving not only disparage Boehner, himself, but his staff, as well. They are all complicit in the terrorism of the American people through the impending shutdown of the government.
I spit on his grave!

Posted by: Boehner Disgust on April 8, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I suppose if PP doesn't get their government money they are going to quit checking blood pressure. Are there other government supported organizations which do that. It seems as if PP isn't really a very good organization if that is true.

This argument of how woman are going to be killed because of the small amount given to PP isn't going to fly because the American people know that we are in trouble and have to start cutting things somewhere. The President has no power to get this done - his weakness is growing.

Posted by: orwell on April 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Planned Parenthood could probably benefit from a name change. I had no idea you could go there to get breast exams and cervical cancer screenings, which don't have anything to do with "parenthood." Like it or not, they are associated with abortion and perhaps a re-education of the public is in order as to what the organization does. That could start with changing the name.

Posted by: Thinking out loud on April 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Makes my head hurt.....so if it is not about the riders according to the Speaker....then why are his fellow Republicans coming out telling them to stop making this about the riders?

Posted by: Jon on April 8, 2011 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Makes my head hurt so much I posted this in the wrong place.

Posted by: Jon on April 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

You are too kind, Steve Benen, to say that Kyle doesn't know what he's talking about. Let's be honest: he lied to the American people from the floor of the United States Senate.

Posted by: karen marie on April 8, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Kyl, who appeared to be reading from prepared notes, just doesn't know what he's talking about ..."

Why do you ALWAYS let Republicans off the hook by pretending that their deliberate, vicious, despicable LIES are merely the result of ignorance?

I know that "ironic mockery" is your shtick.

But there are times when ironic mockery is inappropriate, and what is called for is outspoken, no-holds-barred, uncompromising, plain-spoken condemnation of deliberate evil.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 8, 2011 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

"YOU LIE!" That says it all. This morning on NPR/KPCC, they were talking about abortion during an entire segment and never once mentioned Planned Parenthood's primary function, which is women's health. When I called to say that, the female who answered the phone said that they would address this issue in the next segment, which they did. But, the point is that during the prior segment, women's health was never mentioned as a function of PP. I am feeling a total meltdown of my usual balanced demeanor, which is probably apparent on my previous posts on this and other threads. That there is no push back of any significance from the primary actors in this scenario is beyond acceptable. We, the People of the USA, are being threatened to our core with a government shutdown, and no one is coming out publicly calling it terrorism. That is what it is. If you threaten to take away basic rights and services that are life sustaining to me, I call that terrorism. That people in positions of power and authority cannot or will not acknowledge this, is bordering on direct threats to life and health. One example is the reduction of heating oil subsidies to the poor. How much could this cost, in relation to the cost of a few missiles or bombers? I hold John Boehner and his staff personally reponsibility for any harm that comes to anyone as a result of this shutdown, or reduction in necessary services to the least in our society. Desperate people do desperate things. If they do not recognize this, they are truly ignorant and sociopathic.

Am I furious? You Betcha!

Posted by: st john on April 8, 2011 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you SecularAnimist...the word is LIAR. Not confused, reading off his notes, not studying the issue, it's LIAR. They want women back in the nineteenth century. That is after they go to work, pay taxes, take care of the kids, clean the house and STFU.

Posted by: SYSPROG on April 8, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I'm writing this, but if CNN is any indication, Democrats have been winning the message war since early this morning.

From a purely political perspective, giving in on spending but standing firm on Planned Parenthood has REALLY made Republicans look unreasonable.

And at the risk of suddenly sounding optimistic, damaging the Republican brand in this way may reap larger rewards as we move into battles over the debt ceiling and 2012 budget later this year.

Might not. But it might.

Posted by: beep52 on April 8, 2011 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

And, where are the women on this? I don't watch The View, but have they spoken about this? Have they let it rip? Are they all in accord or do the "conservative" members still side with their oppressors? When will the women of the GOP face reality and talk to their husbands/partners? What does Michell Obama have to say to her husband? What about the First Daughters? I am mostly hearing from men.

Posted by: st john on April 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Jon Kyl: "If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."

That's not even close to being accurate. Kyl was just making stuff up.

Ya think? This will be the lead headline on Fox News. Keep'em fat, dumb and confused.

Posted by: max on April 8, 2011 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Probably already said (and thought):

If you want to hear lies, you go to Jon Kyl, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Jon Kyl does

Posted by: Trollop on April 8, 2011 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

"they go to work, pay taxes, take care of the kids, clean the house and STFU." SYSPROG at 4:26 PM

Sure, we go to work, pay taxes, take care of the kids, and clean the house. We already do that. But not all women in this nation are cowed by men in authority and we will NEVER STFU. Susan B. Anthony isn't on a coin for nuthin'.

Posted by: Skip on April 8, 2011 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

One thing the male Repugs haven't figured out is that an awful lot of women have used PP over the years and mostly not for abortions. For many of us of all political stripes, it was the first place we went to for birth control. The best photograph I saw of this debate was the one of the female house repugs looking like they wanted to run and hide when they were avoiding talking about the issue. They know what most American women think about birth control even if their menfolk are utterly clueless.

Posted by: ceilidth on April 8, 2011 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

If not for Planned Parenthood my wife may have never found out she has a condition that causes misscarrages.
When we went to double check the pregnancy test, we were given 5 fliers on adoption and alternitives to abortion, most of them religious. The nurse herself was anti abortion and nearly pleaded with us to keep the baby (we we're to excited about being parents for that to even cross our minds even though we are both pro choice). They just want to remove all services to poor families to further their eugenics policies.

Posted by: anonarchist on April 10, 2011 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK
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