Republicans Fail at Hearings — Again

 
richards-testimony

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards.

Dear Republican Members of Congress,

Consider this an intervention. You guys do not understand how to hold a decent hearing. Hillary Clinton danced away from your Benghazi questions like Mohammed Ali. Your threats to hold more hearings on Planned Parenthood and Benghazi are about as frightening as President Obama’s warnings to Vladimir Putin that “doubling down on Assad would be a mistake.” Within hours of Obama’s feeble bleat, Russian planes were dropping bombs on the Syrian resistance (not, it should be noted, on ISIS). Vladimir Putin’s Russia, once described by John McCain as a “gas station pretending to be a country,” is now running circles around Mr. Obama – rushing to fill the power void left by American abdication in the Middle East.

Speaking of running circles, that’s pretty much what Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards managed to do at the much-heralded hearing this week. The committee’s chairman announced that the devastating videos produced by the Center for Medical Progress would not be shown during the hearing due to a court order in California. So, instead of the topic of the hour – truly heart-rending footage of aborted babies being picked over for their livers and hearts, to cite just one example – the hearing featured charts showing how much money Planned Parenthood spent on various services over the past year. Riveting.

The videos are the reason the hearing was held at all. It is the videos that have galvanized abortion opponents, moved the debate, and put pressure on Congress to once again attempt to defund the organization. If, due to legal wrangling, the videos cannot be shown now, then why not hold off the hearings until they can be shown? The videos are the story. Full stop.

While Ms. Richards spouted platitudes and evasions, a congressman from Arizona tried to say that Planned Parenthood focuses on abortions because it’s profitable for them, but he filled his statement/question with jargon like “unit price” and “profit center” and “narrow focus” and one doubts that the point got across. Meanwhile, Ms. Richards spoke of cancer screenings, and contraceptives, and preventing STDs.

Other Republican members, determined to use their five minutes to get five seconds on the evening news or a viral video on Facebook, behaved like talk radio hosts – interrupting the witness, shouting, and demanding yes or no answers. This is not good government. It isn’t even good theater. You look like bullies.

To repeat: Without the videos, there should have been no hearing. Further, individual members should relinquish – or at least radically scale back – their role in questioning witnesses. A solid investigative technique is to let a lawyer ask most of the questions. A keen lawyer doesn’t showboat or bellow. He or she is well-versed in the topic at hand, listens to the witness’s answers, and follows up. The Watergate Committee used lawyers most of the time. Sam Dash was the majority (Democrat) counsel. Fred Thompson asked questions for the minority.

Look, you landed a couple of punches, I won’t deny it. It’s now on the record that Ms. Richards earns nearly $600,000 per year, another in the long list of non-profit chiefs who make tidy sums (check out the salary of Rensselaer Polytechnic president Shirley Ann Jackson).

But there were so many questions you could have asked. Yes, it’s scandalous that PP sells fetal body parts and tries to disguise it (as the videos make clear). Ms. Richards kept saying that donating “tissue” was one of the “services” that PP performs for its patients. How is that a service for the woman? Does she share in the money, or does she get the psychic benefit of “finding cures” while PP gets the cash? Speaking of finding cures, does PP support using body parts of condemned criminals for medical research? Just wondering. Unborn babies, of course, are innocent.

You might also have asked Ms. Richards what PP’s policy is if a woman requests an abortion at 20 weeks because the baby has a cleft lip, or is the “wrong” race, or the “wrong” sex. You might have asked her whether patients ever request funerals or burials for their fully formed fetuses. You might have asked if anyone weeps at the clinics she oversees, and if so, why?

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    In other words, it’s a day of the week ending in “day.”

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    What does a court order in California have to do with a hearing in Washington DC? Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • #2
  3. Commodore BTC Member
    Commodore BTC
    @CommodoreBTC

    Chaffetz owes his chairmanship to Boehner and is his instrument.

    He’s just filling a seat, drawing a paycheck, and waiting for Orrin Hatch to retire.

    Doesn’t want to rock any boats.

    Also, it sounds like powerful people have dirt on Chaffetz. That could explain his softball hearing. If he is compromised, he needs to step down.

    • #3
  4. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Excellent post Mona. My wife and I drove from TX to OH yesterday and today and we listened to Fox News for too many hours and I must have yelled this at the radio every time this story came up. So frustrating to hear these congressmen just talk and talk and talk and never get any where.

    • #4
  5. Marley's Ghost Coolidge
    Marley's Ghost
    @MarleysGhost

    Mona,

    They don’t care.  This issue coming out now is a annoyance to them.  They didn’t want the hearings and haven’t the intestinal fortitude or convictions to press the issue strategically and intelligently in order to capitalize on the exposure of this terrible, terrible crime against humanity.

    What a pity that human life is held so cheaply by those whom we elect to represent us before the law.

    • #5
  6. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    Given the choice between effective strategy and empty bluster, we chose bluster.  It’s not the first time and I don’t expect it to be the last.

    • #6
  7. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Commodore BTC: Also, it sounds like powerful people have dirt on Chaffetz. That could explain his softball hearing. If he is compromised, he needs to step down.

    Republicans perpetually misunderestimate the lengths the Left will go to. Dennis Prager talked about it today. They think they’re involved in a gentlemen’s dispute while the Left is breaking bar stools over their heads in a barroom brawl.

    I’d call Republicans names for this idiocy, but I’ve already been redacted once this month.

    • #7
  8. John Paul Member
    John Paul
    @JohnPaul

    “Without the videos, there should have been no hearing.” Disappointing. Do they even prepare actual lines of questioning? Do they have staff? So bad.

    • #8
  9. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Mona,

    This is what happens when you don’t argue from principle. They were arguing the issue narrowly about the funding. They let this woman float the lie that she didn’t know that babies were surviving the procedure and being killed on the table.

    If you are against late term abortion, and the vast majority of Americans are against it, then drive the point home. Once you have won the high ground the withdrawal of funding becomes obvious. Criminal penalties need to follow.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    She:What does a court order in California have to do with a hearing in Washington DC?Inquiring minds would like to know.

    Keep in mind, this is the same crowd that keeps telling us we should be happy that Boehner accomplished as much as he did, and that there really isn’t anything else the Republicans could have done to stop Obama.

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I’m not sure what the point of hearings would have been in the first place.  Hearings should be for the purpose of informing the legislative process, but Republicans have outsourced the legislative process to Obama.  The only power they retain for themselves is whether to slow him down by a few days or to accede with alacrity.

    • #11
  12. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Here’s the thing:

    All that Democrat outrage yesterday and this morning because those nasty, mean, misogynistic Republican bullies beat up Cecile Richards and humiliated and embarrassed her by making her state her exorbitant salary publicly?

    Totally phony, manufactured, and utterly pointless.

    Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., is, at least putatively, a 510(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as such, must file an IRS 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, every year.

    In it, they must enumerate, among other things, every dollar they received, and every dollar they spent, who’s on their board, and what their key, and highly compensated, employees are paid.

    All of that information is public, and is required by law to be so.

    So anyone who wants to take a troll through Planned Parenthood’s finances doesn’t need to spend taxpayer money, hold a congressional hearing, or even find a witness to bully, in order to do so.  The 2012 990 is available on Planned Parenthood’s website.  More recent ones can probably be found on Guidestar by someone who has an account there.

    Like most of you, I thought the hearings had to do with the videos, and the practices exposed therein (and even if you subscribe to the idea that there was a little/some/a lot of editing of the videos, it seems to me the evidence they present is pretty hard to refute).

    And if this isn’t what the hearings are about, then I’m not at all sure why they are being held at all.

    Until I read Mona’s post, I had no idea that the committee hasn’t watched the videos, or at least, that even if individual congressmen and women have watched them, the videos are not part of the hearing.

    That’s almost unbelievable.

    I say ‘almost’ because I am mindful of who we’re dealing with here.

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    On the other hand, maybe they should hold a hearing to find out who is responsible for not showing the videos and why.

    • #13
  14. Gromrus Member
    Gromrus
    @Gromrus

    When the New England Journal of Medicine comes to the defense of Planned Parenthood as it did in the Sept 3, 2015 issue (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1510281 ), one sees  how effective the videos of the Center for Medical Progress have been.  “Planned Parenthood At Risk” reads as a rehearsal of talking points to shore up the faithful rather than a dispassionate consideration of data. If the editorial staff of the NEJM sense how crucial the videos were, why didn’t House Republicans?

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Gromrus:When the New England Journal of Medicine comes to the defense of Planned Parenthood as it did in the Sept 3, 2015 issue (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe1510281 ), one sees how effective the videos of the Center for Medical Progress have been. “Planned Parenthood At Risk” reads as a rehearsal of talking points to shore up the faithful rather than a dispassionate consideration of data. If the editorial staff of the NEJM sense how crucial the videos were, why didn’t House Republicans?

    Maybe the House Republicans did sense it.

    One party is in favor of big, intrusive government and campaigns in favor of it.

    The other party is in favor of big, intrusive government and campaigns against it.

    • #15
  16. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Here’s my plan, and it attacks the “same pants/different pocket” argument, wherein it is claimed that giving PP money for cancer screenings doesn’t free up money for them to do abortions.  Of course it does.  Money is fungible.  You can sequester it on paper, but in real life it’s all sitting in one owner’s accounts.

    Introduce legislation that only funds PP by any means, so long as they break off the abortion business into a whole different company, with a new tax id number, a new board of trustees/directors, new CEO and separate employees.  In other words, create a whole unrelated business with no connection to PP.   Disallow PP from contributing to it so long as PP accepts government payments of any kind.

    Should be no problem because government funding of abortion is illegal.

    As soon as PP objects, they will reveal that they are certainly using government money to fund abortions.

    Have the President of PP admit that the lights that are on during an abortion is  paid for with government money.  All the roof expenses are.  All the stationary is. All the equipment is.  There is so much crossover of assets used for both abortions and their other services that it is impossible to conclude that the government is not funding abortion as PP is currently constituted.

    That will box PP into insisting they need the government money to do the abortions.  There is no “out” for them at that point.

    And Mona is right –  that’s why professional cross examiners like myself should ask the questions.

    • #16
  17. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    I bet if we go to PP website there is a way to donate. Why are we funding something via taxation that we can donate to?

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Tommy De Seno:That will box PP into insisting they need the government money to do the abortions. There is no “out” for them at that point.

    This is a worthwhile idea and I can get behind it.

    However, I keep wondering why we need government funding for this agency at all now that we have ObamaCare?  Can’t people just use their ObamaCare insurance to buy the services they need from non-subsidized health care providers?

    • #18
  19. Michael Sanregret Member
    Michael Sanregret
    @TheQuestion

    Putting aside the evil that Planned Parenthood does, $600,000/year doesn’t seem like an unreasonable salary to pay someone who manages an organization that size.  I don’t see why conservatives would have a problem with someone’s salary in and of itself, and progressives never apply their principles fairly, so they’re not going to be bothered by Ms. Richard’s salary.  I don’t see how highlighting that issue accomplishes anything.

    • #19
  20. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    That was an enormously depressing read.

    • #20
  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Tommy De Seno:…

    Introduce legislation that only funds PP by any means, so long as they break off the abortion business into a whole different company, with a new tax id number, a new board of trustees/directors, new CEO and separate employees. In other words, create a whole unrelated business with no connection to PP. Disallow PP from contributing to it so long as PP accepts government payments of any kind.

    Should be no problem because government funding of abortion is illegal.

    As soon as PP objects, they will reveal that they are certainly using government money to fund abortions.

    Have the President of PP admit that the lights that are on during an abortion is paid for with government money. All the roof expenses are. All the stationary is. All the equipment is. There is so much crossover of assets used for both abortions and their other services that it is impossible to conclude that the government is not funding abortion as PP is currently constituted.

    That will box PP into insisting they need the government money to do the abortions. There is no “out” for them at that point.

    And Mona is right – that’s why professional cross examiners like myself should ask the questions.

    Good point. And use Hillsdale College’s loss before the Supreme Court as an example. Even “indirect” funding is still government funding.

    • #21
  22. Jojo Member
    Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    After a while, you do have to assume it’s not just incompetence.

    • #22
  23. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    BrentB67:I bet if we go to PP website there is a way to donate. Why are we funding something via taxation that we can donate to?

    This is exactly correct. $500,000,000 (million) dollars per year of tax payer money is given to Planned Parenthood. It is for women’s health they say. WHAT? We have an entire medical system in this country that provides for women’s health…and men’s health…for everyone’s health. If certain leftists (and they are politically involved completely with the Democratic Party) wish to have a separate organization to provide only women with health services of any kind, then let them pay for it privately. That is the bottom line which is totally under congressional control. They do not need any court approval for the showing of videos. They just need to de-fund it. If Obama wishes to veto the entire budget because funding for planned parenthood is not a part, then let him do it.

    • #23
  24. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    cdor: This is exactly correct. $500,000,000 (million) dollars per year of tax payer money is given to Planned Parenthood. It is for women’s health they say.

    Wait a minute.  Which is it?   Is it an organization for parents or is it an organization for women?

    The government wouldn’t fund false advertising, would it?

    • #24
  25. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    cdor:

    BrentB67:I bet if we go to PP website there is a way to donate. Why are we funding something via taxation that we can donate to?

    This is exactly correct. $500,000,000 (million) dollars per year of tax payer money is given to Planned Parenthood. It is for women’s health they say. WHAT? We have an entire medical system in this country that provides for women’s health…and men’s health…for everyone’s health. If certain leftists (and they are politically involved completely with the Democratic Party) wish to have a separate organization to provide only women with health services of any kind, then let them pay for it privately. That is the bottom line which is totally under congressional control. They do not need any court approval for the showing of videos. They just need to de-fund it. If Obama wishes to veto the entire budget because funding for planned parenthood is not a part, then let him do it.

    Do you think there are other private, profit or non-profit, enterprise the government helps fund similar to PP?

    • #25
  26. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    BrentB67:

    cdor:

    BrentB67:I bet if we go to PP website there is a way to donate. Why are we funding something via taxation that we can donate to?

    This is exactly correct. $500,000,000 (million) dollars per year of tax payer money is given to Planned Parenthood. It is for women’s health they say. WHAT? We have an entire medical system in this country that provides for women’s health…and men’s health…for everyone’s health. If certain leftists (and they are politically involved completely with the Democratic Party) wish to have a separate organization to provide only women with health services of any kind, then let them pay for it privately. That is the bottom line which is totally under congressional control. They do not need any court approval for the showing of videos. They just need to de-fund it. If Obama wishes to veto the entire budget because funding for planned parenthood is not a part, then let him do it.

    Do you think there are other private, profit or non-profit, enterprise the government helps fund similar to PP?

    Most definitely: The Center for Studies of Small Government Efficiencies, a conservative think tank. Oh, then again, maybe not.

    • #26
  27. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    BrentB67:I bet if we go to PP website there is a way to donate. Why are we funding something via taxation that we can donate to?

    There are thousands of ‘charitable’ (to one or another degree, or more, or less) organizations that receive taxpayer money and also collect donations.  I don’t know if Planned Parenthood is even the biggest ‘nonprofit’ to which the government funnels taxpayer money.

    Of course, most of these are tinpot little outfits like my community symphony orchestra, which receives most of its money from generous local patrons, but also picks up a couple thousand dollars a year in program stream funding via the State of PA and the National Endowment for the Arts.

    Perodically, outrage erupts over these sorts of grants to the ‘Arts,’ as well.  Mapplethorpe and Serrano come to mind.

    • #27
  28. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    The Reticulator:

    Tommy De Seno:That will box PP into insisting they need the government money to do the abortions. There is no “out” for them at that point.

    This is a worthwhile idea and I can get behind it.

    However, I keep wondering why we need government funding for this agency at all now that we have ObamaCare? Can’t people just use their ObamaCare insurance to buy the services they need from non-subsidized health care providers?

    Yes I’ve wondered that too.  How do we let Obama crow that he has taken care of the healthcare of the poor while at the same time we still have to fund PP and other clinics?

    • #28
  29. Mike Silver Member
    Mike Silver
    @Mikescapes

    Mona is correct. Didn’t some of these politicians go to law school? They certainly never cross examined a witness. This is not the first time. Generally speaking, congressional hearing are unprofessional; failing to get to the facts. The Republicans seem especially inept at dealing with hostile witnesses. They are not well prepared, and not quick on their feet. They need, as Mona points out, a real lawyer with the necessary skills to draw out the truth from a witness.

    • #29

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