Thursday, July 30, 2015


A temporary restraining order issued in Los Angeles Superior Court now prevents the shady anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing any additional secret videos concerning StemExpress, which works with Planned Parenthood affiliates in California to provide fetal tissue to researchers.

I doubt this will slow CMP's video release plans for very long. CMP has released three videos so far; the group's David Dalieden says there'll be a total of twelve. I'm sure the restraining order won't hold for very long -- this court will lift the ban, or another court will, or videos that don't involve StemExpress will move up in the release schedule. (UPDATE: A fourth video was just released, not involving StemExpress.)

CMP has released videos at the rate of one a week, so the plan has been to release them into the fall. I'm struck by the timing: carefully planned to coincide with the months when the presidential campaign is heating up, but distant enough from the election that the whole stunt could be flushed down the memory hole if public reaction turned out to be as negative as the reaction to Todd Akin's rape remarks or Rush Limbaugh's smearing of Sandra Fluke.

As it happens, CMP has somewhat of a hit on its hands: Right-wingers are complaining about what they see as inadequate coverage in the mainstream media, but the story is firing up the right -- at a time when, Donald Trump notwithstanding, the still-likely GOP nominee is the extremely uninspiring Jeb Bush, who'll need something to goose base voters if he's to have any hope of winning the presidency.

And the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, has been defensive about the videos, even as she sticks up for Planned Parenthood as an organization. The organizers of this campaign knew years ago -- we all did -- that Clinton was the likely 2016 Democratic nominee, and that she's linked in most Americans' minds to feminism, and thus to reproductive rights. Getting her into a defensive crouch on this ("The videos coming out about Planned Parenthood are deeply troubling to say the least") is a pretty big win.

And the right is clearly going to build on all this, not just in Washington and on the presidential campaign trail, but in the states. (Here's Florida governor Rick Scott ordering inspections of Planned Parenthood facilities in his state.) That kind of thing is likely to keep happening in Republican-run states (especially if they're presidential swing states). So this story might have legs.

Was this the plan all along -- to target the presidential election? I'm struck not just by the timing of the video releases, but by the history of CMP, which has links to Operation Rescue and Live Action but is a relatively new group.

The first CMP video was released a couple of weeks ago -- and when it came out, we were told that the release was part of "a 30-month-long investigative journalism study." Count back thirty months from July 2015. You end up at January 2013 -- just about the time when conservative activists stung by their failure to unseat Barack Obama in the 2012 election might have finished licking their wounds and decided they were ready to start planning for another election cycle.

You can snicker all you want at Trump and the GOP candidate "clown car," but the right is very good at forcing what seems to be a minor issue, or even an irrelevancy, into the national debate -- remember ACORN and the Swiftboated John Kerry. I think this was intended as a hit on Hillary. And I think it might be working.


UPDATE, SATURDAY, 8/: Tying into this is Karoli Kuns's article about Groundswell, the secretive right-wing group formed -- yes -- in early 2013, with founders including Clarence Thomas's wife and Ted Cruz's chief of staff. Go read what Kuns writes about how Groundswell's work syncs up with CMP's. This is just one of Groundswell's interest areas. But, yes, this is an election-season hit.


Victor said...

HRC needs to stand her ground!
She hasn't been elected POTUS yet, and already she's "triangulating!"

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the party stood tall and proud for a woman's right to choose!

I like her, and will vote for her if she's our candidate, but I prefer candidates who don't wilt at the first Reich-Wing attempts at fake umbrage over some issue.

Not only do "Black Lives Matter," but women's lives matter, too!

Anonymous said...

Of course it's working. This crap always works because most of us have a reflex to get along, not a reflex to poke the next guy in the eye with a stick. Unfortunately, this tends to be a problem when one group of people who want power are willing to do damn near anything to take it. I think that's the main reason Bernie Sanders is unexpectedly doing so well. He's standing up to this crap. And here we thought Clinton might do that.

mlbxxxxxx said...

It's going to be interesting to see how Trump responds to the PP videos and what the impact is to him. If his history is any indication, he is a libertine and, no doubt, reflexively pro-choice. He also has a tendency towards not shaping his messages -- like most grossly rich guys, he doesn't really care what you think about what he thinks. To my knowledge, he hasn't really responded publicly to the videos to date.

My guess is he'll express concern about the tone of the videos; he'll also be concerned about whether PP is obeying the law. But I don't think he'll decry abortion, per se. And that may be the death knell for Trump, though I think he'll have a small share of the vote as long as he wants to throw money at a campaign. President Trump would not be a dependable ally in the fight to overturn Roe. I think that will become apparent soon and will stall any forward progress for Trump.

If I'm as right about this guess RE: Trump/abortion as I have been to date, he will declare himself pro-life at the debate next week and promise a pro-life litmus test for all SCOTUS nominees. I guess what I'm saying is, he has been a surprise to this point and maybe he'll surprise on the abortion issue as well. If he finds a way through the abortion minefield, he may actually have a shot at the nomination.

tony in san diego said...

She needs to be completely and scornfully dismissive of all of this. All the Democrats, seated and running, need to trust that the truth will set them free.

Steve M. said...

He's now claiming to be "pro-life" (YouTube from CNN here). Exceptions he gives are rape and incest (which he can get away with) and health of the mother -- which could get him in trouble on the right, because the right sees that as a huge loophole. But someone might explain to him that he can get away with saying "life of the mother," in which case he'll start saying that.

Nanute said...

"I think this was intended as a hit on Hillary. And I think it might be working" Apparently, Hillary thinks so too.

Professor Chaos said...

HRC, like her husband, will never stand strong for any progressive group or ideal. Always pursuing the mythical "centrist" voting bloc.

aimai said...

I am not laughing and I don't think this is a joke. But can we please, please, please--and I'm looking at you Professor Chaos--stop acting like HRC is responsible for the fact that there are a shitload of regressive voters in this country. Its impossible for a woman HRC's age not to be 100 percent behind women's rights and Planned Parenthood. She always has been and she always will be. She's *also* faced with the problem of how to win the election. She may make good calculations as to tactics or she may make bad ones but fuck you for accusing her for "never standing strong for any progressive group or ideal." She is *incredibly* well known internationally as a champion of women's rights, and in this country too. Who she pursues as a voter in order to get into the presidency tells you nothing about her ideals or her willingness to fight for them. You've got to make it into the presidency in order to be president. Grandstanding to please one constituency or another, if it leads you to be unable to actually get into power to help them, gets you nowhere.

Never Ben Better said...

^^^^^ What aimai said!

petrilli said...

I have to say that I think it's reasonable for Planned Parenthood supporters to flush Clinton out on this. Right now, I'm confident that Obama would veto any bill to unfund. I'm pretty sure Clinton would do the same under most circumstances. Not 100% sure. ACORN no longer exists now in part because of Democrats who voted to block doing business with it, no doubt for political, not ideological reasons. IMO, Clinton is absolutely not above doing the same. Clinton needs to unambiguously get behind not just choice, but Planned Parenthood right now. It's all hands on deck. That means Hillary too. Planned parenthood IS choice. And Like ACORN, it may not survive into the next presidency.

aimai said...

Oh for fuck's sake--PP supporters ARE HRC supporters. Who the fuck do you think funds PP except older white women who are democrats? All of this is happening under Obama--its up to him and the Dems in DC to fight this. HRC is nothing but the TARGET of this attack, not the focus of political organizing. Did you not grasp what SteveM just wrote? You really plan to help the RNC ratfuck the potential Democratic Nominee as not pro-woman enough? SM damned Head at how stupid supposed democratic voters are if this is the way they are planning on handling themselves through this next election cycle.

petrilli said...

Yeah, I understand what the post is about and I don't give a shit if the target is PP or Hillary. Yes, the Planned Parenthood hatchet job plan's been in the works a long time and is timed to damage her. I get that. And I made clear that I expect Obama to defend PP while he's in office. Something he failed to do for ACORN during his first term. Now it's gone; and that fact has had real consequences. You have faith that Clinton will put her ass on the line for Planned Parenthood during her first term and risk being called a baby killer. Bravo for you, I don't. I think she would run away if she could get away with it. Like she's running now. I hope she stops running and starts fighting clear and out loud for what you claim she believes.

aimai said...

Why would Clinton care if, in her first term, she was "called a baby killer?" She's been called a whole lot worse and she's still fighting. You are an idiot if you think that what happens before the election tells you anything about what happens after the election. Obama's mistakes are Obama's mistakes. HRC has been aware of the reach and power of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy for a long, long, time. I don' tthink she'll make Obama's mistake on that topic.

petrilli said...

"Its impossible for a woman HRC's age not to be 100 percent behind women's rights and Planned Parenthood."
You're an idiot if you believe that. Lots of women Clinton's age don't support women's rights (as we understand them) and especially Planned Parenthood. You're sooo sure you know that Hillary will do the right thing on this issue when elected. You don't know. Clinton's selling a pig in a poke on this issue and too many others for my comfort. And when I'm finally forced to vote for her at the end of this bullshit 'fest, I'll probably be buying one too. Thanks for replying. I enjoy reading your posts, even in this thread.

God (in general) said...

Who cares? What America DOES NOT need another Clinton in the oval office! We need bernie Sanders! NO MORE BILLIONAIRES OR THEIR REPRESENTATIVES IN OFFICE! #FEELTHEBERN