4 Charts That Prove DC Elites Are Ignoring Planned Parenthood Debate Raging in the Nation

Melissa Quinn /

A series of videos that allegedly show Planned Parenthood executives discussing the sale of aborted fetal organs has sparked a nationwide debate on Twitter about the organization’s practices.

A new analysis of trends on the social media site shows that those located within the Beltway took longer to join the conversation and are talking less about it than most of the country.

According to data provided by Echelon Insights, an opinion research firm, abortion has been one of the most talked about issues on Twitter among all users and those identified as part of the conservative base.

The firm analyzed how frequently abortion was discussed on Twitter over the last eight months and found that conversation surrounding the issue surged in conjunction with the release of videos from the Center for Medical Progress.

The Center for Medical Progress released its first video involving Planned Parenthood less than one month ago and today published its fifth, with more expected. In the weeks that have followed, there have been increased calls for Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding. Lawmakers plan to conduct hearings on the organization’s practices when they return from the month-long August recess.

According to Echelon Insights’ analysis, discussion surrounding abortion has been frequent among all Twitter users and conservatives. However, that isn’t the case among “Beltway Elites,” or Washington, D.C., insiders and liberals.

Total volume of conversation surrounding abortion across all Twitter  audiences (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Total volume of conversation surrounding abortion across all Twitter
audiences from January to August. (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Total volume of conversations surrounding abortion across all Twitter audiences (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Total volume of conversations surrounding abortion across all Twitter audiences from July 2014 to August 2015.  (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Volume of conversation surrounding abortion among Beltway Elites, liberals and conservatives on Twitter (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Volume of conversation surrounding abortion among Beltway Elites, liberals and conservatives on Twitter from July 2014 to August 2015. (Chart: Echelon Insights)

>>>Did Your Senator Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood? See Here.

After the first video was released July 14, there was a surge in the number of mentions of abortion on Twitter.

However, the surge was not just among “Beltway Elites.” Instead, including everyone on the social media site, abortion was mentioned more than 90,000 times on July 14.

Additionally, on that same day, abortion was the second most discussed issue among all Twitter users. For conservatives, it was also the second most discussed issue.

However, the release of the first Planned Parenthood video didn’t resonate with Beltway Elites and liberals. Among those demographics, abortion was the fifth and ninth most discussed topic, respectively.

In examining conversations surrounding abortion, Echelon Insights found that most people on Twitter discussing the first Planned Parenthood video were located outside Washington, D.C.

The firm calculates an “Insider Score,” which measures how much Beltway Elites are discussing a topic compared to all Twitter users. Scores below 0 indicate more of a conversation outside the nation’s capital.

Last month, the Insider Score of conversation surrounding abortion indicated that Twitter users outside Washington, D.C., were discussing the issue more than those in the Beltway.

Demographic breakdown and Onsider Score of discussion surrounding abortion (Chart: Echelon Insights)

Demographic breakdown and Insider Score of discussion surrounding abortion (Chart: Echelon Insights)

The Center for Medical Progress released a second video involving another Planned Parenthood executive on July 21. The video showed a doctor allegedly negotiating the sale of aborted fetal tissue, and after the group published the video, Twitter saw its second highest peak in conversation surrounding abortion, with more than 50,000 mentions among all users.

However, that didn’t last long.

Among everyone on the social media site and conservatives, it was the most discussed issue on July 22. But for Beltway Elites and liberals, abortion ranked fourth and sixth among discussed topics, respectively.

One week later, on July 30, the Center for Medical Progress released another video showing Planned Parenthood allegedly discussing the sale of aborted fetal organs. This video stirred up conversations once again among all Twitter users—and conservatives, specifically.

According to Echelon Insights, the topic surpassed the level of discussion on July 22, and abortion had the second most mentions on Twitter, topping 77,000. Additionally, the issue became the most-discussed across all Twitter users and among conservatives.

Keeping up with previous trends, abortion was the second and fourth most discussed topic among liberals and Beltway Elites, respectively.

>>> Commentary: Why the Defund Planned Parenthood Vote Matters

Senate Republicans Allege Collusion Between EPA and Environmental Group Over Climate Regulations - The Daily Signal

Senate Republicans Allege Collusion Between EPA and Environmental Group Over Climate Regulations

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson /

A day after the Obama administration finalized a “historic” plan to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, Republicans on a prominent Senate committee are alleging that an outside group colluded with the Environmental Protection Agency to create the standards.

The allegations are detailed in a report released by the majority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, following an ongoing investigation of the relationship between the EPA and the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group.

“This majority staff report, based on the committee’s oversight to date, rebuts the Obama Administration’s narrative that NRDC [National Resources Defense Council] did not have any special access to EPA policy makers and that NRDC had minimal input into EPA’s development of greenhouse gas rules for power plants,” the report stated.

On Monday, in an effort to combat climate change, the Obama administration finalized a set of greenhouse gas rules for power plants, a controversial action that would overhaul America’s energy system by striving to reduce carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030.

In 2013, President Obama directed the EPA, under the Clean Air Act, to use executive action to carry out the climate change regulations.

Republicans are planning to challenge the legality of the rules in court, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is leading an effort to encourage states not to comply with the plan.

According to the new Senate committee report, years’ worth of unredacted emails between the EPA and National Resources Defense Council officials suggest that the environmental group played an “major role” in the rule-making process prior to the president’s directive.

The report points to a legal challenge from the environmental group that pressured the EPA to regulate power plant emissions, a controversial practice known as “sue-and-settle.”

This practice is used by outside groups to advance a policy goal by suing an agency, in this case the EPA, and the agency then settling the suit by agreeing to enact certain regulations.

In December 2010, the EPA announced a settlement with environmental groups over the power plant emissions, promising to issue a plan.

The report highlights a email conversation—dated the day of the settlement announcement—between current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and National Resources Defense Council Director David Doniger.

“Thank you for today’s announcement. I know how hard you and your team are working to move us forward and keep us on the rails…We’ll be with you at every step in the year ahead,” Doniger wrote.

“I really appreciate your support and your patience. Enjoy the holiday. This success is yours as much as mine,” McCarthy responded.

>>>Senator: Emails Reveal EPA, Green Group in ‘Beyond Cozy’ Relationship

A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee aide told The Daily Signal that because of the complexity of the regulations, the timeline of the EPA’s settlement was “unprecedented.”

“The environmentalists were able to keep pressure on the EPA to do the rulings on a quick time frame,” said the aide, who requested anonymity. “Because of the constrained time frames, the EPA deliberations were pretty constrained…in part why they relied so much on the expertise of outside groups.”

National Resources Defense Council communications director Edwin Chen refuted allegations of collusion, telling The Washington Times that the report is another attempt to “stop us from standing up for clean air.”

“We are doing nothing more than petitioning our government—a constitutionally protected right,” Mr. Chen said. “The real wrong here is for anyone to suggest we don’t have the right to do so.”

Following the release of the report, Chairman of Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., vowed to continue investigating the rule-making process behind the administration’s controversial carbon regulations.

“The report exposes how the Obama administration’s collusion with outside environmental groups through the use of sue-and-settle tactics has cornered out public input in the rulemaking process,” Inhofe said. “This report is not the end. The committee will continue to investigate and expose the legally-questionable actions taking place within the Obama administration regarding EPA’s costly rulemaking.”

‘Orange Is the New Black’ Author Calls for Reforms to Help Female Prisoners - The Daily Signal

‘Orange Is the New Black’ Author Calls for Reforms to Help Female Prisoners

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson /

Piper Kerman, whose memoir about her year in a federal women’s prison—titled “Orange Is The New Black”—was adapted into a Netflix series, testified before the Senate Tuesday to illustrate the criminal justice system’s failings in assisting female inmates.

“When I was locked up, I knew women who were trying to raise their children during brief reunions in the visitor’s room while fending off sexual harassment, struggling with addiction, and trying to get a high school education so that when they got out, they stood some chance of surviving despite their felony conviction,” she told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

During Kerman’s experience behind bars in a Danbury, Conn., federal prison, women were given few resources to better themselves, she says.

She saw women denied necessary medical care, while others with mental health issues had to wait months before the one psychiatrist available for 1,400 women could advise them.

“That’s unimaginable in a system where at least 65 percent of women experience some kind of mental illness,” Kerman said.

Further, the re-entry programs meant to help women readjust to life after prison were often irrelevant or unhelpful, she said.

Kerman attended a program on housing, hoping to learn how someone with a felony conviction could find a safe and affordable place to live.

But instead, the teaching was off-topic, she says, and she learned about fiberglass insulation and roof maintenance from a man who worked construction in the prison.

The re-entry health classes, Kerman continued, were taught by a culinary department officer who had no expertise on reproductive health, mental health or substance abuse.

“He had, however, played professional baseball for a brief time and hence his authority on the health topic,” Kerman said sarcastically.

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Kerman in the Netflix adaption of "Orange is the New Black." (Photo: Patrick McMullan Co./McMullan/Sipa USA/Newscom)

Taylor Schilling plays Piper Kerman in the Netflix adaption of “Orange is the New Black.” (Photo: Patrick McMullan Co./McMullan/Sipa USA/Newscom)

Women are the fastest growing population in the U.S. criminal justice system, with the vast majority—63 percent—serving time for a nonviolent offense usually related to drug or property crimes.

Kerman detailed in her written testimony that a higher percentage of women in the system are mentally ill, a higher number experience sexual and physical assault in prisons and jails and many are single mothers with young children.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons exacerbated difficulties for women to maintain relationships with their children in 2013 when it converted the Danbury prison into a men’s facility, transferring women to a federal prison in Alabama.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said the slated move sends women 1,000 miles from the New York area, violating the Bureau of Prisons’ goal to keep convicts within 500 miles of their homes.

“There are a lot of people from the northeast, a lot of women with small children, who are having those connections effectively severed and that is very problematic,” he said.

Kerman urged Congress and the Bureau of Prisons to adopt gender-specific policies to address the differences between men’s and women’s experiences while incarcerated.

She cited research finding that women’s incarceration is overwhelmingly driven by substance abuse, mental illness or an experience with traumatic violence.

This last driver, Kerman said, is exacerbated in a criminal justice system, where more than 80 percent of women report emotional, physical or sexual abuse prior to incarceration.

“The problem with incarceration is that for prisoners who have experienced very significant trauma like rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence, many of the commonplace correctional practices are very reminiscent of some of those abuses,” she said. “This creates a serious, serious challenge in terms of rehabilitation and re-entry.”

Citing the drug crackdown in the 1980s that resulted in harsh mandatory sentencing, Kerman said those working in the criminal justice system need to reevaluate if many of the women should have been incarcerated in the first place.

“If any member of this committee had the opportunity to meet the hundreds of women I did time with, you would probably walk away from getting to know those women with a deep feeling that their confinement in a prison cell or a prison facility was just a colossal waste,” she said.

Bobby Jindal Demands Planned Parenthood Be ‘Honest’ on Sale of Body Parts - The Daily Signal

Bobby Jindal Demands Planned Parenthood Be ‘Honest’ on Sale of Body Parts

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre /

Louisiana’s governor and top health officer this afternoon demanded that Planned Parenthood’s affiliate in their state explain discrepancies in what its officials say about harvesting body parts from aborted babies.

“It is time for Planned Parenthood to stop misleading the state in our investigation,” @BobbyJindal says.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast must “reconcile” its claim to the state agency—that it does not donate or sell organs and other body parts—with what its research chief says in a new hidden-camera video about obtaining the best specimens to get a higher price, Gov. Bobby Jindal said.

“The recent video of a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast employee [research director Melissa Farrell] discussing the harvesting of organs from aborted babies is disgusting,” Jindal said, adding:

It is especially concerning given that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast responded to our investigation with a letter just a few weeks ago claiming its organization does not sell or donate any unborn baby organs or body parts.  After watching the most recent video, it certainly appears Planned Parenthood representatives are being less than truthful in their responses to our investigation so far.

In a letter to Melaney Linton, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood affiliate, Kathy Kliebert, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, says the undercover video of Farrell said to have been made April 9 appears to contradict the organization’s assertions that it does not engage in the sale or other transfer of aborted body parts.

Kliebert writes:

In light of this new video, the department is extremely concerned that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, its close associate Planned Parenthood Center for Choice (PPCFC), or both have not only participated in the sale or donation of fetal tissue, but also deliberately misinformed the department about this practice in its July 24 response letter.

She goes on to ask nine pointed questions about the extent to which Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and its associate, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, receive compensation for donating, selling or otherwise transferring “unborn baby organs or baby parts.”

>>> Planned Parenthood Official Suggests ‘We Alter Our Process’ to Harvest Body Parts

“It is time for Planned Parenthood to stop misleading the state in our investigation and be honest about the nature of its activities,” Jindal, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, said in a press release by the governor’s office.

The letter asks for a response by Aug. 14 as “part of an ongoing investigation.” It follows Jindal’s move Monday to end Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast under a provider agreement between the organization and the state.

Officials at the national group, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, have denied any wrongdoing by affiliates and continue to dismiss the videos as the heavily edited work of  “extremist” anti-abortion forces.

In a statement today, Dawn Laguens, the organization’s executive vice president, said:

Extremists who oppose Planned Parenthood’s mission and services are making outrageous and completely false claims. They are engaged in a fraud, and other claims they’ve made have been discredited and disproven.

The footage released today doesn’t show Planned Parenthood staff engaged in any wrongdoing or agreeing to violate any legal or medical standards. Instead, the latest tape shows an extremely offensive intrusion and lack of respect for women, with footage of medical tissue in a lab. These extremists show a total lack of compassion and dignity for women’s most personal medical decisions.

The Daily Signal sought comment from Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which operates both of Louisiana’s Planned Parenthood clinics as well as nine in Texas. The fifth in the series of undercover videos from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress was shot in Houston.

A spokeswoman for the Louisiana clinics later emailed the national organization’s statement by Laguens to The Daily Signal but attributed it to the Gulf Coast affiliate’s Linton.

>>> Commentary: How Lawmakers Can Beat Planned Parenthood’s Stalling Tactics

In reaction to Jindal’s termination of Medicaid funds on Monday, Melissa Flournoy, the affiliate’s Louisiana state director, said:

Last year in Louisiana, Planned Parenthood provided more than 15,000 health care visits. Men and women turn to Planned Parenthood for basic preventive health care such as lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams, birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. More than 4,300 low-income, uninsured  women and men were able to access high-quality, affordable health care through the safety net provided by Medicaid funding. The men and women who benefit from this funding often have limited health care access, and we are often their primary health care provider.

In the wake of the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also has ordered a probe of Planned Parenthood’s activities in his state.

In a statement today about the new video, Abbott said:

The latest video showing Planned Parenthood’s treatment of unborn children in a Houston clinic is repulsive and unconscionable. Selling baby body parts is the furthest thing imaginable from providing women’s health care, and this organization’s repeated and systematic disrespect for human life is appalling. The state of Texas is aggressively investigating this matter and must use all available legal remedies to address this depraved conduct.

***

Here is the text of the Louisiana health secretary’s letter today to Planned Parenthood’s Linton:

In your letter dated July 24, 2015, you stated that ‘PPCFC [Planned Parenthood Center for Choice] does not have fetal tissue donation programs in Texas currently’ and that ‘PPCFC disposes of pathological waste through an entity that is licensed for disposal of special waste from health care-related facilities.’

You also answered ‘no’ in response to the question ‘Do any Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast facilities, or any affiliates, subsidiaries or associates thereof, sell or donate any unborn baby organs or body parts?’ As you note in the letter, ‘PPCFC will lease space in PPGC’s new health center located at 4636 S. Claiborne Ave., and PPCFC intends to seek a license to provide abortions at that location.’

These statements directly contradict a recently released video made on April 9, 2015 at the Planned Parenthood facility in Houston, Texas in which Melissa Farrell, director of research at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC), discusses existing contracts for fetal tissue donation for the purpose of research. In one specific contract, she notes that the researcher is requesting 120 fetal cadavers.

[Farrell] also discusses compensatory terms for ‘altering [the] process’ used to extract the baby to ensure more body parts are intact. She explains this is ‘diversification of revenue stream’ and how she can ‘get creative’ for altering the process to ensure that more ‘products of conception’ are usable for fetal tissue research, which ‘we bake…into our contract and our protocol.’

In light of this new video, the department is extremely concerned that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, its close associate Planned Parenthood Center for Choice (PPCFC), or both have not only participated in the sale or donation of fetal tissue, but also deliberately misinformed the department about this practice in its July 24 response letter.

The department therefore requests that you answer the following additional questions:

  1. Does PPGC, PPCFC, or any affiliate or associate donate, sell, or in any way transfer-for-remuneration unborn baby organs or baby parts?
  2. Does PPGC, PPCFC, or any affiliate or associate provide any research facility, research company, or individual researcher unborn baby organs or baby parts?
  3. Does PPGC, PPCFC, or any affiliate or associate receive any financial compensation from that transaction of any kind, including cost?
  4. If so, how much does PPGC, PPCFC or any affiliate or associate receive on average per baby body, baby organ or baby part provided?
  5. How much has PPGC, PPCFC or any affiliate or associate received in total for all baby bodies, baby organs or baby parts provided to any organization for the last five years?
  6. In your letter of July 24, 2015, are you defining PPCFC as a fully standalone entity that is not an affiliate, subsidiary or associate of PPGC? Do you not consider an organization that plans to lease space from another organization an “associate” of that organization?
  7. What is the current job title of Melissa Farrell? How long has she held this position? Did she previously hold any other positions with PPGC, PPCFC, or with any affiliate or associate?
  8. Your letter states that Oncore Technology, LLC is the entity with whom you contract for the disposal of unborn baby organs and baby parts. Does Oncore Technology, LLC receive all unborn baby organs and baby parts from every abortion performed by PPCFC?
  9. If no, please provide the names of any organization that has received in the last five years, with or without formal contract, any unborn baby body, baby organ or baby part.

Please respond to this letter no later than August 14, 2015. This letter is part of an ongoing investigation.

Sincerely,

Kathy H. Kliebert
Secretary
LA Department of Health and Hospitals

 

How Lawmakers Can Beat Planned Parenthood’s Stalling Tactics - The Daily Signal

How Lawmakers Can Beat Planned Parenthood’s Stalling Tactics

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery /

On Monday, federal district court Judge William Orrick ordered the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) not to publish undercover video taken at the National Abortion Federation’s (NAF) annual meetings in 2014 and 2015.

CMP has released five undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s program of selling aborted babies’ body parts—and they promise that more videos are on the way. But it may require lawmakers to get involved to allow the public to see the videos, based on the unfolding court battle.

NAF is a professional association of abortion providers who are dedicated to making “reproductive choice a reality” according to its website. A quick Google search reveals all types of information already available about its annual meetings and the presentations made there. For example, an organization called Gynuity Health Projects describes the panels on which its staff participated at the 2015 NAF annual meeting in Baltimore, with subjects ranging from “Medical abortion service provision: How low can we go?” to “Can we omit the screening ultrasound before medical abortion?”

This makes it a bit far-fetched for NAF to claim that its privacy has been invaded by a video about what happened at these meetings.

Obama Bundler’s Spouse Temporarily Blocks Video Release

Late Monday, Judge Orrick—who along with his wife was a major campaign finance bundler for and contributor to Obama, raising at least $200,000 for Obama’s campaign and contributing over $30,000 to committees supporting Obama—granted a temporary restraining order on the grounds that CMP breached confidentiality agreements with NAF by setting up a fake company and attending NAF’s annual meetings in a bid to uncover potentially illegal activities.

Orrick claims that the videos released so far have subjected the individuals and companies involved to harassment and death threats, and this was “sufficient to show irreparable injury” to NAF if a temporary restraining order had not been issued. The judge set a hearing on the merits for August 27.

This comes on the heels of a California state judge ordering CMP not to release video of a meeting with employees from StemExpress—a company that buys “human tissue, blood and other specimens” from Planned Parenthood.

Restraining Orders Raise Free Speech Concerns

 

As we wrote last week, StemExpress’s desire to avoid further ridicule, criticism or scandal for its nefarious involvement in the gruesome harvesting and sale of aborted babies’ body parts does not outweigh the public’s interest in seeing these videos any more than it would if this were a CBS “60 Minutes” undercover sting.

The same can be said of NAF, particularly given the information already available about its annual meetings. And these restraining orders may violate the stern prohibition against prior restraint of free speech outlined by U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

These groups are clearly concerned about what other horrendous details may come out in the yet to be released videos, and dragging CMP into court for breach of contract or invasion of privacy is a stalling tactic.

Politicians Investigate Planned Parenthood

 

In light of statements made by Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, about the collection and pricing of “intact” body parts from aborted babies in one of CMP’s videos, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce opened an investigation of Planned Parenthood.

In a letter to Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, Chairman Fred Upton and Tim Murphy, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, requested information from Planned Parenthood on its consent procedures, tissue collection practices and other related issues, as well as the opportunity to have a staff briefing with Nucatola.

Planned Parenthood has refused to make Nucatola available to committee staff, citing the need to review this request with lawyers. The committee has threatened to subpoena Nucatola if Planned Parenthood will not make her available.

Likewise, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte, along with Trent Franks, the chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, has asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to open an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood has violated the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. They cite statements in the undercover videos by Nucatola “that raise serious questions about whether abortionists and particularly abortionists in the Planned Parenthood organization are complying” with the law.

On Friday, Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, sent a letter to CMP’s lawyer requesting “[a]ll video footage in CMP’s possession relating to the provision, acquisition, preparation, transportation and sale of fetal tissue…by PPFA, Planned Parenthood affiliates and associated clinics, intermediary businesses, end-users, as well as any other individuals, entities, and organizations involved in these processes.”

What Lawmakers Can Do

The other action that one or both of these congressional committees should consider taking is immediately to request or subpoena all of the remaining videos from CMP that have not yet been released.

The actions of StemExpress and NAF, who are allies of Planned Parenthood, reveal the tactics that these abortion providers and organ buyers intend to use to prevent or delay the release of these videos: seeking out sympathetic judges who will prevent the further release of videos that severely damage the image of the abortion industry and reveal in gory detail their inner workings.

No federal or state judge has the authority to prevent a congressional committee from holding a hearing at which witnesses—like representatives of CMP—testify about their experiences or where the committee presents evidence it has obtained such as the undercover videos, which could also be posted on the committee’s website.

Such action by Congress may be the only way to ensure that litigation tactics do not prevent the public from seeing the rest of the evidence of Planned Parenthood’s possible violations of federal law, and its hideous practices and procedures.

 

What Krauthammer Has Wrong About When Human Life Begins - The Daily Signal

What Krauthammer Has Wrong About When Human Life Begins

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery / Genevieve Wood /

I like Charles Krauthammer. But he made some disturbing statements Monday when talking about the Planned Parenthood scandal and reactions to it.

“There is a difference between a fetus and a born adult or child human being,” Krauthammer said on “The O’Reilly Factor” when explaining why those defending Planned Parenthood’s actions thought the way they did.

“I think,” he added, “there is an honest division of opinion in the country between people who believe as you do [referring to O’Reilly] that life and personhood begins at conception and others who believe it’s a gradual process[.]”

If personhood begins at conception, says Krauthammer, “then why don’t we have a funeral at a miscarriage?”

He continues, “There are legitimate arguments that the very early embryo is not to enjoy the kind of protections that a nine-month-old fetus or certainly a child does. You’re working with a small clump of cells and deciding whether you should derive stem cells.”

A few questions for Krauthammer:

O’Reilly countered Krauthammer’s misguided logic by saying, “Human DNA is present [at] conception.” Not, he said, “after six months, or after nine months, no, not after it walks out of the hospital.”

Thank you, Bill.

For further reading, I would direct Charles to the Bible, which reads from Psalm 139:13:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

(New International Version)

Or for a public policy perspective, consider the view of Sarah Torre, a policy analyst in the Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. Torre writes:

Every human being, from the moment of conception, is a person with intrinsic value who possesses the right to life.  That fundamental human right doesn’t belong only to the strong and the powerful. It belongs to every human being—regardless of age, dependency, or ability.  A country founded to protect unalienable human rights should not deny those rights to the most vulnerable children in our society merely because they are small, dependent, disabled, or simply inconvenient.

And finally, as I know Charles has been a long-time supporter of stem cell research, to this article by Amy Otto on the financial and moral costs of fetal tissue research:

Richards has not identified one specific modern advance that has resulted from fetal tissue her clinics have generated. Nor will she. She will only allude to how it “could,” never considering whether it should. It’s a question worth asking, especially in light of how science is already finding better ways to produce these materials.

Those are the scientific, religious and public policy reasons Krauthammer, and others who aren’t sure when “protection of human life should begin” should consider.

Should Unions Give to Planned Parenthood Without Members’ Permission? This Bill Would Ban That. - The Daily Signal

Should Unions Give to Planned Parenthood Without Members’ Permission? This Bill Would Ban That.

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery / Genevieve Wood / James Sherk / Christa Deneault /

Unions claim they’re for the little guy.

They talk about big businesses putting corporate interests ahead of the average Joe.

But unions have become quite big themselves. They often put their institutional interests ahead of workers.

Last year, for example, several major unions gave over $400,000 to Planned Parenthood and its political action fund.

They did not get their members’ permission before donating their dues to such a controversial organization. But that’s not unions’ only abuse. Unions often care more about adding dues-paying members than whether workers actually want union representation.

Unions frequently pressure businesses into letting them organize workers without a secret ballot election.

They find it much easier to unionize workers who lack the privacy of the voting booth. Unions also pressure and interfere with workers who want a vote on whether to remain unionized. They do not want to have to stand for re-election.

These practices increase union membership, but they do not necessarily make those workers better off.

Similarly, unions can call strikes without their members’ approval.

Hostess employees never got a secret ballot vote on whether they should go on strike.

After workers rejected a contract offer by voice vote, the bakery union leadership simply called the strike—which liquidated the company and eliminated all their jobs.

In one effort to address such abuses, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., recently introduced the Employee Rights Act (ERA) to give workers more control over their jobs.

The ERA would guarantee secret ballot elections when unionizing workplaces or calling strikes, as well as requiring unions to periodically stand for re-election.

It would also make it illegal for unions to threaten or interfere with workers who want a different—or no—workplace representative.

The Employee Rights Act would also protect workers’ privacy.

Federal law requires businesses to share their employees’ home addresses and telephone numbers with union organizers.

Many workers may not want union organizers to know this. So the ERA would create a workplace version of the “do not call” list. It allows workers to opt out of having their personal information given to unions.

Union members have little control over how their union spends their money.

The ERA requires unions to get workers’ permission before they can spend their dues on political activities or give their money to objectionable causes.

Unions would prefer workers not to have these rights. They would rather organize workplaces, call strikes, spend dues and access private information without employee interference.

But unions exist to serve workers, not the other way around. The law should give workers more say over how unions represent them.

Free Health Exams Offered to Special Olympics Athletes at Summer Games - The Daily Signal

Free Health Exams Offered to Special Olympics Athletes at Summer Games

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery / Genevieve Wood / James Sherk / Christa Deneault / Leah Jessen /

Last week, 6,500 athletes from 165 nations traveled to Los Angeles to compete in the 2015 Special Olympic World Summer Games.

“These Games change the lives of people around the world who are mistreated and excluded because they’re ‘different,’” Patrick McClenahan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Games Organizing Committee, said in a statement.

Not as widely known is the fact that many of the Special Olympics athletes do not have access to pristine health care.

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program, officially organized in 1997 to promote public health and serve those with intellectual disabilities, set up a makeshift medical clinic to provide free health care to athletes throughout the week.

Doctors, dentists and other health care professionals performed eye, ear and foot exams, as well as other health checkups in tents and vans located on campus at the University of Southern California.

“About 24 percent [of the Special Olympic athletes] wear shoes that are too small—and they compete in those shoes,” Healthy Athletes Program Director Zabi Mansoory told the Associated Press. “About one out of every five or six athletes is coming in with dental pain.”

Athletes had their teeth cleaned and pulled, and in several instances even root canals were performed. “You have oral pain, and you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, it takes over your whole life,” Dr. Richard Mungo, who directs the dental clinic tent at the Olympics, told the Associated Press.

With translators on hand to break any language barriers between athletes and doctors, this year’s free clinic opened on July 26. On that day alone, 977 athletes were treated; the next day, 1,247 athletes were treated, exceeding the 1,600 athletes that were treated at the Special Olympics held in Korea four years ago. Organizers hoped to treat all 6,500 athletes this year.

Athletes were given hearing aids, eyeglasses, and other items that had been donated by health care companies. Take-home gift bags filled with items like electric toothbrushes and new sneakers were provided.

Event organizers say that some of the Special Olympics athletes they meet have never been examined by any kind of doctor before.

Since its founding, the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes has provided more than 1.6 million free health examinations that have been conducted in more than 130 countries.

A few of the athletes left this year’s Games with the ability to hear for the very first time.

“On Sunday [July 26], 21 athletes received hearing aids for the first time in their lives,” John Ohanesian, Director of Medical Services for the 2015 Special Olympics, told the Associated Press. “Including three who couldn’t hear at all until they got the hearing aids.”

A basketball player from India, born without ear canals, was one of the athletes treated. Dennis Van Vliet, an audiologist, told the Associated Press that he fit the basketball player’s head with a device that transmits inner ear vibrations as sound to the brain.

“She could hear right away,” he said.

Other athletes were tested by physical therapists on their strength, endurance and flexibility.

“This has been really good for our athletes. Getting glasses [is] a big problem for our people, and now they have them,” Ivory Coast swim team coach Akani Brou told the Associated Press. “And after this, when we leave, we know they’ll be really healthy.”

No Fair! How “Fair Trade” Hurts Poor Countries - The Daily Signal

No Fair! How “Fair Trade” Hurts Poor Countries

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery / Genevieve Wood / James Sherk / Christa Deneault / Leah Jessen / Addison Arnold /

Many Americans are seeking out so-called fair trade products in their local markets. They are willing to pay higher prices in hopes of improving incomes and working conditions for people in developing countries. But, in their paper “Fair Trade and Free Entry: Can a Disequilibrium Market Serve as a Development Tool?,” economists Alain de Janvry, Craig McIntosh and Elisabeth Sadoulet uncover a startling truth—fair trade is actually quite unfair.

The term “fair trade” can have different meanings. In this case, it refers to products from industries that comply with fair trade organization standards in order to be designated a fair trade employer.

These employers provide higher wages and benefits to their workers, and hope—because of “fair trade” branding—to command a higher price in the global market. This idea may seem enticing, but it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Fair trade practices are economically inefficient in the long run.

For example, Janvry’s, McIntosh’s and Sadoulets’ research shows what actually happens in the fair trade coffee market:

In the most common fair trade scenario, coffee growers pay additional fees and adhere to regulations in order to sell coffee at a guaranteed minimum price, or price floor. However, such price differentials don’t last. The study found that, typically, the market price adjusts, ending up being just as high as the fair trade price floor, so employers essentially incurred costs to be labeled “fair trade” for no additional profit.

In other cases, fair trade companies are able to sell their coffee at a higher price than the market and make higher profits for a time; in the long run, however, Janvry’s, McIntosh’s and Sadoulets’ study reveals that, as more and more coffee companies enter the fair trade market, coffee prices return to an equilibrium.

Each scenario demonstrates that fair trade does not boost profits in the long run, because prices naturally adjust to the market clearing price.

What about those higher prices paid by well-meaning consumers? Surely that helps someone! It turns out that most of those profits accrue to retailers here, not the growers in developing countries.

Moreover, fair trade can actually harm workers in the poorest developing countries. In his online video, professor of economics Don Boudreaux explains that only companies in relatively rich developing countries, such as Costa Rica, can afford the start-up fees for fair trade. Meanwhile, companies in extremely poor countries, such as Ethiopia, are not able to join fair trade markets. Therefore, fair trade singles out a few developing countries for short-term success while leaving the poorest countries by the wayside. Is that fair?

Basic economic principles indicate that fair trade does not help workers in the way that proponents had hoped. Even so, the question remains: What is the best way to improve wages in developing countries? The answer is: competition. Instead of isolating a few winners for short-term “fair” benefits, competition within a free market gives workers in all nations a shot to make a living wage. In the end, free trade is the fairest trade of all.

Addison Arnold is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.

Why Young “Conservatives” for Energy Reform Aren’t What They Seem - The Daily Signal

Why Young “Conservatives” for Energy Reform Aren’t What They Seem

Melissa Quinn / Alex Anderson / Natalie Johnson / Ken McIntyre / Hans von Spakovsky / Elizabeth Slattery / Genevieve Wood / James Sherk / Christa Deneault / Leah Jessen / Addison Arnold / Joel Griffith /

Earlier this year, the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER) co-hosted a “National Security and Energy Independence Reception” on Capitol Hill with the American Wind Energy Association.

Four guest speakers, including two current senators, shared one thing: a desire to see continued government subsidization and favoritism in the energy markets.

At last week’s annual Young Republican National Convention in Chicago, this message continued to be delivered.

Far from advocating conservative policies, YCER seeks to continue to drain money from the public in order to provide subsidies for high-priced renewable energy sources. And these subsidies are substantial.

The Institute for Energy Research reports that in 2013, federal electric subsidies per megawatt of production were $231 for solar and $35 for wind. This contrasts with under $1 per megawatt of production for coal, natural gas and petroleum.

Fueling YCER is The Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, well known for its “global warming” work.

With more than $87 million in assets, the foundation funneled $50,000 to YCER in 2013 in addition to another $100,000 recent grant.

Hardly conservative or reformist, Tremaine boasts of being partly responsible for the state of Connecticut agreeing “to purchase 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2010 with the percentage increasing incrementally to 100 percent by 2050.”

The founder of Young “Conservatives” for Energy Reform, Michele Combs, has one thing right: We can “look to the states” to see what the future of this supposed “clean and efficient energy future looks like.”

It’s not pretty.

For instance, net metering policies in 43 states allow homeowners to install taxpayer-subsidized rooftop solar panels—often at no upfront cost.

When energy in excess of that needed by the homeowner is produced, an electric utility can be forced to effectively purchase this excess energy (through credits) at retail value regardless of whether demand exists. These costs are spread to other consumers.

Other states, such as California, are imposing renewable energy mandates, forcing the addition of renewable energy generating capacity to the grid regardless of whether lower-cost options exist.

Ask San Diego residents how they like paying an extra 29 percent for electricity each month compared to Jacksonville, Florida.

Despite this reality, Michele Combs, the founder and leading spokesperson for YCER, recently boasted that legislators in her home state of South Carolina “passed a bill expanding financial options and incentives for solar power, beyond our already successful tax credit.”

She also points out that many districts in South Dakota and Iowa, regions likely to benefit from further wind subsidies, are represented by Republicans.

To be sure, Democratic and Republican politicians alike are susceptible to breaching fiscal and economic sanity in an effort to please special interests within their districts.

But a continuation of such favoritism will only saddle the economy with yet more inefficiencies.

We aren’t stuck at 2-percent economic growth by happenstance.

An ally of YCER, Lt. General Richard Zilmer, USMC (ret.), keynoted the February event.

Zilmer declared that climate change is a leading national security threat and implored so-called skeptics in the audience of conservative staffers to reconsider their view on global warming.

This shrillness is nothing new for Zilmer.

In 2014, he co-authored a report as a member of the CNA Military Advisory Board entitled “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change.”

The report emphatically states, “The national security risks of projected climate change are as serious as any challenges we have faced” including “containment and deterrence of the Soviet nuclear threat during the Cold War to political extremism and transnational terrorism in recent years.”

Almost laughably, the Zilmer report attests that “[a] recent example of one such non-state actor enabled by the impacts of climate change is Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali.”

The authors blamed the empowerment of terror groups in part on the “desertification and food insecurity exacerbated by climate change.”

Of course, drought certainly negatively impacts the economy. But rather than place the blame for terror and poverty on human-caused climate change, the truth is better served by pointing out what truly has created the political crises in Mali—the subjugation of the populace into corruption and economic bondage.

As explained in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom, “Mali has yet to open its domestic economy to global markets. Tariff rates remain high, and political unrest and security concerns deter foreign investment.

“These issues are exacerbated by a weak rule of law. Corruption is present in all levels of government and has spilled over into the judiciary, which remains notoriously inefficient.”

So what really lies behind this mirage of grassroots conservative support for more government mandates and funding of the energy sector?

A glance at page one of the climate change CNA report partially authored by Zilmer lists the Energy Foundation as a sponsor.

This is the same the Energy Foundation that funds groups such as Dogwood Initiative (an entity that seeks to ban the expansion of U.S. coal exports from British Columbia ports).

But here’s where it gets really strange.

The founder of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform is Michele Combs.

The mother of the founder of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform is Roberta Combs, who happens to be the president and CEO of Christian Coalition and Christian Coalition of America.

The foundation, which funded the climate change national security threat assessment and Dogwood Initiative, also provided more than 75 percent of the total revenues of the Christian Coalition in 2013, to the tune of $535,000 in 2013.

For what purpose did this far-left environmental group saturate Christian Coalition with dollars?

According to the Energy Foundation’s 990, the purpose of these grants is “to support education and outreach to build a clean energy future” and “to advance policy solutions for a stable climate.”

It should be noted that the mission statement of the Christian Coalition is as follows:

 

Which category does advancing “policy solutions for a stable climate” fall under?

And how does supporting a government-subsidized and controlled energy system qualify as “pro-family”?

By funding both Christian Coalition and reports by retired military personal, the Energy Foundation is able to generate the appearance that renewable energy subsidies command the support of the conservative, religious and national security voting blocs.

Genius.

The YCER founder implores us to “listen to grassroots conservatives” on energy reform and insists that “the view from the ‘real America’ is often starkly different from the view from Capitol Hill.”

Agreed.

And grassroots conservatives from “real America” oppose these cronyist handouts.

We want opportunity for all, favoritism toward none.

The way of true conservative energy reform is clear.

Congress must resolve to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As verified by the Supreme Court, the EPA continues to reach beyond its congressional mandate, threatening to drive up energy costs further nationwide.

Eliminate all subsidies across the sector. Enact commonsense policies, such as constructing the Keystone Pipeline and permitting oil exports.

Lastly, states need to eliminate renewable energy mandates that are harming consumers and industry.

The agenda of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform represents the entrenchment of what Senator Rand Paul calls the Washington Cartel.

Let’s eradicate these subsidies and handouts—and embrace real energy reform.

Let’s hope conservative leaders don’t sell out economic freedom for the temporary pleasure of an open bar.