Featured Post

What is Carly Fiorina up to?

Carly Fiorina had a combative interview on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd on Sunday that offered a great example of political strategy in action; for an unseasoned candidate, it appears that Fiorina learns very fast.

As the interview begins, Chuck Todd immediately seizes on one of Fiorina’s most memorable moments from the CNN debate.

You can watch the video 100 times, and you will not see or hear any technician say the words, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” The video in question is below.

The video contains eyewitness testimony from a woman who claims to have participated in abortions in the past. She claims to have developed moral qualms with the procedures as she had to perform tissue extraction. Additionally, it shows stock footage from the “Grantham Collection” of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform that appears to depict a recently-deceased fetus. The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org reached out to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform about the stock footage. They write,

In a statement emailed to us, Gregg Cunningham, the executive director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, said the clip “depicts an intact delivery abortion,” but he declined to identify where it was taken. “[O]ur access agreements forbid the disclosure of any information which might tend to identify the relevant clinics or personnel with whom we work,” he said.

So it is fair to say that Fiorina exaggerated what was in the video. And Chuck Todd aimed to drill her on it.

TODD: Let me start right in with the Planned Parenthood situation. At the debate, the most recent debate, you described the following scene claiming it was on a tape, a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Since then, when asked about the claim, your campaign has attacked Planned Parenthood. But there is no tape–there is no evidence–that the scene you describe exists. Are you willing now to concede that you exaggerated that scene?

Todd gets her, right? Nope.

FIORINA: No! Not at all. That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying — “We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain — exists as well,” Fiorina said.

The discussion continues for several minutes. Todd keeps trying to pin her down, but Fiorina stays on message:

FIORINA: Here’s the deal. Yesterday I was protested by Planned Parenthood people who were throwing condoms at me. I don’t know what that has to do with this. They’re trying to distract the American people from the hideous reality that Planned Parenthood is aborting fetuses alive to harvest their brains and other body parts. That is a fact. Planned Parenthood will not and cannot deny this, because it is happening. It is happening in this nation, and taxpayers are paying for it. Planned Parenthood desperately wants everyone to think this isn’t going on, because when Americans realize that it is going on–whether they are pro-life or pro-choice–they are horrified. This goes to the character of our nation, and it must be stopped.

Todd tries again:

TODD: The footage you described at best is a reenactment. They–The videos–even the people who made the videos admit it’s stock footage. Yet you went right along and said it’s Planned Parenthood!

Fiorina continues to stay on message.

FIORINA: Chuck, do you think this is not happening? Does Hillary Clinton think this is not happening? So sad that you missed the opportunity to ask Mrs. Clinton why she said that late term abortions were only performed for medical purposes. That is patently false. This is happening in America today, and taxpayers are paying for it. That is a fact. It is a reality, and no one can run away from it.

Todd tries again:

TODD: But you are sort of ducking, you are ducking the specific of this question.

The two keep going back and forth on Planned Parenthood and abortion for a full six minutes.

Let’s imagine an alternate reality, in which Fiorina responds as Todd might want.

TODD: Let me start right in with the Planned Parenthood situation. At the debate, the most recent debate, you described the following scene claiming it was on a tape, a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” Since then, when asked about the claim, your campaign has attacked Planned Parenthood. But there is no tape–there is no evidence–that the scene you describe exists. Are you willing now to concede that you exaggerated that scene?

FIORINA: Chuck, you’re right. I exaggerated the scene. The video shows a woman expressing her horror at having to participate in the dissection of fetal tissue. I was caught up in the moment because I feel so strongly about this issue.

TODD: Thank you. Now let’s move on to your tenure as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Last week in the debate, Donald Trump said…

In our alternative reality, Fiorina gets to spend 30 seconds on abortion, and then Todd shifts somewhere else. Fiorina gets no benefit.

What is Chuck Todd?** Todd fancies himself a referee, but to a presidential candidate, Todd is simply a tool to reach out to voters. Todd is useful because he has some ratings, and because clips of the interviews with Todd will eventually circulate down to voters and to operatives. But answering Todd’s questions directly is essentially useless to a presidential candidate. Fiorina doesn’t want to talk about what Chuck Todd wants to talk about. She wants to talk about Planned Parenthood, and the videos, and fetal tissue dissection, and her convictions about abortion. The alternative–to answer Todd’s questions directly–means that she is moved off of her own terrain and onto his.

(Note that good politicians do this all the time. Interviews are opportunities to get your message out. It is why prospective presidential candidates deny interest in running for president; otherwise, the interview moves into political speculation rather than whatever the candidate actually wanted to talk about.)

In this instance, Fiorina is taking advantage of Todd’s focus on catching candidates in misstatements, hypocrisy, or “lies.” The mainstream media loves to focus on those sorts of things; they have clips of someone saying one thing, they have other clips showing something else, and the interview seeks to force the candidate to reconcile the two. It’s easily measurable, and it’s compelling television. But Fiorina declines to play and focuses elsewhere.

So, what is to stop candidates from simply ignoring everything an interviewer says and just saying what they want to say? Prudence, essentially; if Fiorina did not have a leg to stand on–if the videos showed *nothing*–then she would be best off deflecting and trying to find better ground on which to fight.

But the reason why it makes sense for Fiorina to argue this way is because her campaign probably believes that the videos are beneficial for the pro-life cause. The viewers who hadn’t seen the videos and end up watching are unlikely to say, “Gee, Carly Fiorina lied about this! OK, back to football.” Instead, they are likely to engage with the subject of the video. They will identify with the technician. “Wow, the technician was really horrified by this work, so much so that she quit. Am I comfortable with fetal tissue being donated for research? How old was that fetus on the table? Does the kick I saw demonstrate that the fetus was still alive? I heard about bodies sometimes moving after death; is that just an involuntary spasm? What is human life? When does life begin?” Fiorina’s introduction of the video fades to nothing; the video itself–and the questions it presents to the viewer–is all that remains.

Meanwhile, Fiorina gets to hammer home her pro-life bona fides to Republican primary voters everywhere. Todd’s interview was useful, and she moves onto the next event.

Fiorina is very sharp, and whoever is running strategy for Fiorina’s campaign is very canny.

**I really have nothing against Chuck Todd. He’s a pretty good journalist, all things considered.

Image by John Premble (CC)


Staff Writer
Twitter 

Dan Scotto lives and works in Oregon. He has a master's degree in history, with a focus on the history of disease and the history of technology.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

181 thoughts on “What is Carly Fiorina up to?

  1. I’d say you’re generally right. Fiorina is doing the normal pro-life dance. If you’re pro-life you’ll agree with and celebrate her performance regardless of whether it’s wholesale fiction or not. If you’re pro-choice you won’t listen to her at all except perhaps for a minute to shake your head in disgust. If you’re the “Cake and eat it too” middle you’ll not really look into it but instead will be disgusted and tell pollsters you’re pro-life as long as abortion remains available for you should you or your relatives and friends need it.

    Report

    • The best way to respond to a person on one side lying repeatedly over many days is probably to throw shade at the other side for saying something you find unfair. That way we get back to the important issues, like why stuff you disagree with is wrong, and won’t get wrapped up in the good side’s unfortunate but perhaps necessary mendacity, right?

      Report

      • Eh, the fact that pro-lifers are using lies in service to their own “higher” morality isn’t really a surprise to me. I find it difficult to shift into high dudgeon, though.

        It was only a matter of time for someone half-decent at PR to show up on the pro-life side.

        Report

            • Oh I don’t think they invented the script, but they are easily the most successful contemporary users of it. Hell, they may still shut down the government over their own lies and deception. I’m sure PETA would love that kind of success. Instead the best they can do is to get some actors to pose naked and some researchers to buy better locks.

              Report

              • PETA has had some, small, success with their “hidden camera” videos. The “slow growth” chicken movement, free range eggs, that sort of thing.

                People who like sausage (or don’t mind others liking it) have been persuaded to change their minds about how sausage is produced after seeing those videos.

                In the same way, Carly getting people to hammer on these videos (edited, of course, and edited in such a way to make the sausage production look as distasteful as possible) is a way to “raise awareness”.

                And, as Dan points out, she’s doing a hell of a job here. She’s raising her own stock at the same time as talking about abortion on a national level.

                Report

                    • What research are they designed to result? It seems quite clear to me that they’re not designed to produce any further investigation. Once you’ve seen or even heard about a fetus with its legs still kicking, what more do you need to see or hear, right?

                      Report

                      • Well, with the “yes it did!” “no it didn’t!” argument, there’s a handful of people who might say “I’m going to see for myself who is lying!”

                        And even if the PETA videos didn’t exactly show what people said they showed… well, someone who watched one will probably shell out the extra cash for free range eggs or organic chicken breasts the next time they go shopping.

                        And I’m wondering what the best counter-attack to this would be.

                        I’m thinking Biden’s “It’s always wrong” and “I accept church rule personally, but not in public life” might be the best defense.

                        Maybe talking about how as bad as the sausage creation might look, going the other way leads to Kay Davis. Maybe.

                        Report

                        • “Medical procedures look gross, even disturbing,” is not a valid argument against medical procedures. Especially when the “gross and disturbing” footage is from a different medical procedure.

                          E.g., “We should ban open heart surgery because I just saw a video of doctors using a rib spreader.”

                          Or more analogous to the present case, “We should ban open heart surgery because I just saw a video of an autopsy.”

                          I suppose we can quibble over whether the animals in some anti-factory farm videos are really suffering as much as we think they’re suffering, but at least the anti-factory farm videos are showing factory farms.

                          Report

                          • I imagine that the people behind the PETA videos were hoping to make vegetarians instead of Free Range chicken fans.

                            As such, I’m thinking about how The Jungle was supposed to improve the lives of workers. I don’t think that these videos will do what the people who made them want it to do.

                            I’m wondering what the equivalent of “improving sanitary conditions” would be in this case.

                            Report

                            • I imagine what they want to come directly out of this video is to shut down Planned Parenthood. Defunding PP as a result of these videos is at least a possibility.

                              After that, they want to make abortion more and more difficult, and ultimately impossible legally. They’re certainly succeeding at the more and more difficult part. I don’t know if they’ll succeed in making it completely illegal, but they’re not too far from that now.

                              So yeah, it seems like they might get some of what they want by lying and deceiving and just being awful human beings. Such is our political system.

                              Report

                              • I don’t think that they’ll successfully defund PP.

                                Putting that out there now: They won’t succeed at defunding PP.

                                They will succeed at something else, though. Fetal tissue research becoming illegal, maybe?

                                Report

                                • Well, they may not defund it at the federal level, since Obama would veto any such bill, but they may do some damage to PP at the state level. In fact, they almost certainly will.

                                  I have to believe that fetal tissue research won’t become illegal, because that would be insanity, and I like to think that there is at least some reason left in our politics.

                                  Report

  2. Very nice analysis. The Republican base, and even a vast swath of independents as well, don’t trust the MSM, with its sneaky gotchas and all the secret Canadians and whatnot. It’s best to avoid feeding it, a la Hillary and the emails.

    Alternatively, could you imagine a world where Hillary said: no I did not use my private email account for work, and if I did it was for good reason, because I was saving us from terrorists. Do you want the terrorists to win?

    Report

  3. I have a hard time believing that Carly Fiorina is going to be the GOP nominee especially because of her lousy business record at HP. She and Carson seem to be getting the flavor of the month ticket right now.

    That being said, she lies, lies, and lies and continues to get away with it. This is partially because the GOP does not trust the Mainstream Media and also because the anti-abortion movement is so fanatical that they will believe anything and/or say or do anything to their ultimate goal.

    Fiorina has a grit and she seems to work on her political campaigning skills but she did so poorly at HP that she was unanimously fired by the Board of Directors and couldn’t get another position for 14 years. She also has never held political office and lost her one major race. I get that the GOP is looking for outsiders or feels like they want to find an outsider but this is poor strategy.

    Report

    • She and Carson seem to be getting the flavor of the month ticket right now.

      I have assumed all along that the nomination will go to a white guy. (VP is a different matter.) What is interesting is that there is a realistic possibility that someone with a Hispanic surname might qualify as a white guy. This is not in itself remarkable. Assimilated Hispanics have long been counted as nearly as white as assimilated Irish. But it is interesting by way of cognitive dissonance with the oft-stated belief that the Hispanic immigrant population is qualitatively different from the great-grandparents of people who vote Republican today.

      Report

      • I still think Rubio is the most likely VP unless Jeb! gets the nomination. Though Rubio is becoming more and more likely to get far via marathon runner strategy. The truth is that it is hard to tell who the GOP nominee will be because Walker dropped out and on paper he was a strong contender and all the air is being sucked up by Trump, Fiorina, and Carson.

        Trump worries me more than Fiorina and Carson who just seemed like long-shots. Trump is still probably a long shot but we are not seeing establishment candidates really leap out ahead of the pack yet. They all seem to stumble in one way or another.

        Now on the Democratic side you have a war between the HRC crowd (who is still doing really well) and the Berne Sanders supporters who seem to think that Bernie is making leaps and bounds over HRC. I can’t tell whether there is something to this or it is just really wishful thinking in the minds of Bernie supporters. Bernie is generating a lot of passion among young and youngish Democratic voters but is seemingly not making inroads yet to older Democratic voters.

        Report

  4. Honestly, it’s hard for me to take much of the election-related news seriously…we’re still over 400 days from the election, people! There are children who will be born before election day whose parents haven’t even met yet!

    That being said, it has provided some nice entertainment. But that in itself should be an indictment of the situation.

    Report

    • Agreed, I don’t know if its common in the US, but there’s a saying in New Zealand and the UK – A week is a long time in politics. We are still more than 57 long times from the election.

      Report

  5. Now I wonder… when was the last time any political cause was angry or chagrined by lies which, if true, would advance the cause? Actually went out of their way to expose said lies?

    Report

    • How bogged down into “advance the cause” would we get into, here?

      The first example that came to mind for me was that, during Hurricane Katrina, there was an op-ed writer who talked about the cannibalism taking place.

      But was that a lie? Were the people who told him that lying? (To what end were they lying?) When the claim got publicized, it led to all sorts of responses and many of the responses did not advance the cause. (Wait, what was the cause?)

      But, anyway, I’m relatively certain that there are a number of examples somewhere around that egregious (on both sides because, truly, both sides do it).

      Report

  6. To talk about Carly herself for a second, she is very, very vulnerable indeed on the whole “jobs” thing.

    She made a handful of comments about American workers during the split of HP/Agilent that will make for spectacular soundbites during any given Democratic Candidate’s commercial and these comments are bad enough that they’ll make good soundbites even if she’s the VP choice.

    To be sure, she has to make a big play for the SoCon vote and this is a big play.

    The Hawks are probably not in play this year (they’ll vote R again, like they always do).

    The FisCons, however, have less and less overlap with the Club For Growth every year and while Carly might be able to get the CFG, she’s going to need to distance herself something fierce from her CEO statements to get the FisCons on board.

    And that’s without getting into the whole issue of whether Republicans who work in the IT industry will vote for her (short version: if my circle is representative of anything, they won’t).

    Report

  7. “That being said, she lies, lies, and lies and continues to get away with it.”

    Just…like….every….other…politician….ever…

    The curious part is that there’s 16 posts on this thread and that you’re still talking about this.

    Report

    • The question is whether the mainstream press collectively decides to adopt the meme. Recall how Al Gore got labeled a lying liar who lies for supposedly claiming to have invented the internet. I take the meta-topic as being whether the press will decide this about Fiorina. And a lot of trying to work the refs, of course.

      Report

    • Just…like….every….other…politician….ever…

      What has Obama said (in eight years, mind you) that is so completely devoid of factual support? I’m drawing a blank (but then, I suppose I’m biased).

      This is a different category from a campaign promise not delivered (e.g. Obama promised to close Gitmo, but could/failed-to overcome GOP opposition) or a statement that could be interpreted one way or another (e.g. Obama promised you could keep your health insurance, the ACA does allow that, but insurers canceled a lot of pre-ACA plans anyway so those people couldn’t keep their plan). It’s much more like Hillary’s sniper-fire lie, though with a more problematic goal (Hillary was trying to make herself look tough, which is silly and irrelevant; Carly is trying to kill a hugely important health service to score political points; which would hurt a lot of people)

      Report

      • Sorry, I don’t distinguish between lies and “campaign promise not delivered” and lies “that could be interpreted one way or another”. O COULD have used more precise wording, and choose not. It’s not like we’re talking undergrad speech writing here. These things get vetted and check several times.

        Report

        • So in your mind there is no difference between these two things:

          1: “I promise to close Gitmo” -> finding a US location and planning the transfer -> GOP defunding the effort -> trying, and failing, to stop the GOP from doing so.

          2: “I just watched a video that contains [things not in the video] therefore we should defund Planned Parenthood” then repeatedly insisting the video exists.

          Ok. Color me unconvinced.

          Report

          • First off, I wasn’t addressing the PP issue at all. I was speaking generally of all politicians and their lies, which they all do.

            Gitmo: He COULD have said “I’ll do my best to pass legislation to close GITMO. He said he’d close it. He knew exactly what he was saying. If he wasn’t 100% sure he could get the law passed, he should have clarified.

            Now, as to your comment equating the two things. Yes, they are both lies, if number 2 is true.

            Report

      • “or a statement that could be interpreted one way or another (e.g. Obama promised you could keep your health insurance, the ACA does allow that, but insurers canceled a lot of pre-ACA plans anyway so those people couldn’t keep their plan).”

        Obama’s lie didn’t leave much room for interpretation that I could see.

        Report

        • Yes, but you’re willfully blind when you’re trolling.

          The ACA does allow preexisting plans to continue as-is, just as he said it would. It does not require insurers to continue those plans. So some did and some didn’t. Those choices by private companies do not make Obama a liar under any rational meaning of the word.

          Report

            • It is true that lots of plans were cancelled (range of estimates seems to be 1.8-4.7 million)

              There are a few reasons for this:
              1: the plans did not, and were not willing to, make these changes (other requirements do not apply to grandfathered individual plans):

              End lifetime limits on coverage
              End arbitrary cancellations of health coverage
              Cover adult children up to age 26
              Provide a Summary of Benefits and Coverage
              Adhere to the 80/20 rule

              2: The insurer didn’t want to continue offering the plan, for whatever reason.

              3: So many insured chose a better plan that the pool evaporated (you cannot join grandfathered individual plans, only retain or leave).

              I’m not aware of the breakdown, but #1 certainly isn’t 100% of the cause. And, even if it were, that isn’t “the feds” sending cancellation letters, its insurers deciding not to implement those important consumer protections.

              So if the big lie is that Obama didn’t mention some of the key ACA protections (lifetime caps, 26 year olds, 80/20 rule) in the same sentence, then fine. He’s guilty of telling a half truth. But a lie would be to say you can’t keep your plan and then NOT having a provision to allow people to keep their plans (with dramatically looser requirements for those plans than ACA-compliant plans).

              Report

                • Yes, it’s a lie. In the sense that “grass is green” is a lie. In the sense that “the sky is blue” is a lie. In the sense that any unqualified statement not a tautology is a lie. Including that one.

                  Report

                  • My moma told me to be question everything and to pay attention when someone makes an unequivocal statement. That’s why I knew when O said what he did that he’d likely be nailed for it. And rightly so. Of course I expect politicians to lie to me, no matter the side.

                    Report

                    • “That’s why I knew when O said what he did that he’d likely be nailed for it.”

                      Did you know right when he said it? Or was it a few moments after you’d heard it, and had a chance to process and consider the implications? In which case, were you lying?

                      Report

                    • Let’s see if this helps: Fiorina’s lie is a different character than Jason Chaffetz’s.

                      He presented two true numbers, out of context, and with an appallingly deceptive chart to suggest something that isn’t true (the overall number of non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood barely changed at all, and abortions are a small percentage of the total number of PP services).

                      That’s a standard political lie (though the chart is especially clumsy). Fiorina’s lie is equivalent to the same chart with fake numbers that assert PP does less cancer screening than abortion.

                      Report

  8. The only thing about the post with which I disagree is the characterization of Fiorina as a political novice or as “unseasoned.” To some extent her personal success in business was based more on political than business skills, but in more conventional terms she was a high level aide and spokesperson for the McCain campaign in 2008, and in 2010 ran for the Senate in California. She eventually lost to Barbara Boxer, a Democratic incumbent in a deep blue state, but she first had to defeat two experienced Republican politicians, both of them officeholders, in a competitive primary.

    Fiorina may not be a lifelong career politician who’s worked her way up from assistant dog-catcher election by election to the big show, but she’s, as the writer says, a “very sharp” woman, and she’s played the game, especially the political part of politics, at the highest levels. Her chances in the current race very probably do not include a realistic chance of winning the nomination, but social conservative support for Trump has always seemed unnatural, and for a large number of voters she’s an attractive outsider-messenger who, unlike Trump, happens to be emphasizing their messages, and, unlike Carson or the old guard so cons, in a way that breaks through into the mainstream.

    As for the excited reaction from the far enemy, their staging protests, calling her names, and shouting “liar, liar, liar!” can only help her.

    Report

        • BSDI, right?

          Are there some examples of Democrats getting more popular by lying and then the wrong folks calling them on it? Maybe Clinton in ’98? Though everyone seems to have agreed that he lied, at that time. Hillary Clinton seems to be at best treading water with the email stuff, if not losing ground to a primary challenger who everyone assumed entered the ring for Hilary rather than as an actual challenge. Are there other recent examples? Last 10 years, maybe.

          I’m not saying there aren’t; I just can’t think of any. And I don’t particularly like Democrats.

          Report

          • http://www.politifact.com/personalities/barack-obama/statements/byruling/false/

            I’m not a fan of Politifact, but I don’t think your view of recent political and social history is anywhere near as evenhanded as your last statement about not particularly liking Democrats seems intended to imply. Crying “liar!” dishonestly and then lying about that, and then seeking to implicate the aggrieved or supposedly aggrieved or re-aggrieved or re-re-counter-counter-aggrieved party in connection to his or her would-be defenders, or someone else’s attackers, and so on, and so on, is a constant feature of every significant political race I’ve ever closely observed. It sometimes seems to be the vast majority of all political discussion.

            Report

            • Oh, I do not doubt that Obama lies. Hillary too. I just don’t see them becoming more popular as a result of being called on it, as it seems Fiorina is.

              Bill Clinton being attacked by Republicans for lies definitely made him more popular.

              Report

          • “BSDI, right?”

            For the record, not that long ago I decided to do what was going to be a series of posts, where I would start from one place that I was sure we would all agree was examples of terrible and unjustifiable actions, lies, and coverups; we would then work our way toward more gray areas and then have a somewhat nuanced discussion. I never bothered with additional posts, because it turned out that lies and coverups of things I was sure would be universally condemned were excused out of hand by, really, basically everyone.

            So yeah, I think BSDI is pretty damn spot on.

            Report

      • Why should this world be different from any other world we know of? The people inclined to support her and her larger message tend to view the available evidence and its import differently than the people inclined to oppose her and her larger message. Crying “liar!” and “no fair!” doesn’t make you necessarily wrong, but for all practical purposes serves to identify you as someone immune to persuasion anyway.

        Report

        • tend to view the available evidence and its import differently than the people inclined to oppose her and her larger message

          What she says is objectively false. It’s not a matter of seeing the “available evidence… differently,” it’s a matter of seeing things that aren’t there. It’s living in a fantasy world. This is not healthy for a political system.

          I mean, we can disagree on some facts, we can disagree on their import, but if someone makes stuff up and people just believe it, even though there is absolutely no truth to it, and it’s upon such things that a political movement with real power bases its decision making, policy, and legislative action, we’re fucked.

          Crying “liar,” on the other hand, is telling the truth: she’s lying, she is lying repeatedly, objectively, knowingly (as what the video shows has been demonstrated to her, and she has had ample time to review the facts). She is, quite simply, a “liar.” Does that mean that I make mistakes in interpretation?

          I’m quite frankly amazed at the fact that BSDI has been the response to this by not one, not two, not three, but at least four different commenters [edit: Oops, five. I was ignoring the little monster, whose first response was to talk about a Democrat lying.] on this thread. Quite frankly, if this is our response to blatant, repeated lies by major politicians running for the nomination of a major party for the country’s highest office, then again, we’re fucked.

          Report

          • Maybe we should turn this into a discussion of morality, then.

            I’m pro-choice, myself. I think that the so-called “pro-life” position is wrong and likely to result in more long-term pain and suffering than the pro-choice position. Insofar as Carly holds the pro-life position (and this isn’t merely a cynical ploy on her part), her preferred policies will do more to hurt people than help them.

            Given my priors, of course.

            Report

          • If you want to write a post on Fiorina’s lies or start a political organization on spreading the truth about Fiorina’s lies or contribute to Planned Parenthood or the Committee in Solidarity with Planned Parenthood and Opposed to the Horrible Objective Liar Fiorina, you can do that.

            Assembling the evidence and specifically and calmly explaining why you believe it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that she is “objectively” a liar, and why and how it matters, might make for an interesting exercise. Or it might not. Either way, the post here by Dan Scotto (whoever that is) concedes that Fiorina exaggerated or inaccurately described the evidence to which she referred, and is about something else.

            For the people who believe what Fiorina believes, the stories that those on the other side tell themselves about abortion are profoundly worse lies, and the truth of her statement about the “character of our nation” a much more weighty truth – and that’s what her performance also says.

            Report

            • Man, it’s in the post. Why would I need to write another one (there are hundreds, if not thousands, on the intertubes already anyway).

              Like I always say, the “pro life” movement reveals its character pretty much every one of its members opens its mouth. That their position is, “The other side’s position is built on lies, so we can lie all we want,” only reaffirms that.

              Report

              • Chris: Why would I need to write another one

                Because it seems important enough to you to write comment after comment about it, to add to the thousands of posts, in force if not in substance, while ignoring the subject of the post – and because, as someone who believes himself in possession of the objective truth, based on his own study of the relevant evidence, and who is by profession, if I’m not mistaken, a scientist or scholar or both, with additional background in philosophy of science and theory of language, you might isolate the key questions in a uniquely illuminating way.

                If you prefer to keep on testifying and denouncing without ever showing your work, nothing I can do about it.

                Report

                • I’m just blown away that the response, from so many, is either to excuse the lying or dismiss it. Consider my comments the equivalent of banging my head on my desk.

                  Also, that it is, in fact, making her more popular. The OP basically admits that her refusal to correct her obvious lie even as an interviewer grills her, is a sign of her political savvy. That’s depressing to me. Forehead to desk.

                  Report

                  • I suppose that if some aspiring leftwing politician on a TV show ca. 2006 had said, “Bush and his people were never interested in democracy in Iraq – that was just something they cooked up after it became obvious to all the claims about WMD were lies,” you would have been pounding your head against your desk, since you know that, of course, both statements were “objectively false” (since Bush and many others made numerous statements showing an “interest” in democracy in Iraq prior to the invasion, and since 1) not all claims about WMD in Iraq were false, and since 2) claims based on mistaken information are not by any reasonable definition “lies”). No doubt, you were equally depressed when candidates who either made or were associated with such statements were swept into office in large numbers in 2006, and when two years later a presidential candidate heavily backed by those people and also given to shading the truth was nominated and went on to win.

                    Report

                    • 1) not all claims about WMD in Iraq were false

                      This is a debatable statement. Certainly all of the claims about the state of existing WMD programs and stockpiles were false.

                      What’s more, what they knew is debatable. See, e.g., Powell’s statements about what he said at the UN.

                      That said, I wasn’t happy that a party that had largely supported the invasion was the only opposition we had to the party that cooked up the thing, no. As you may remember, I’ve already said that I will not vote for anyone who voted for that war, nor will I vote for anyone who got into politics after the start of the war but who supported the war. Pretending that they weren’t in on it doesn’t help, even if they’re supposed to be on the “left.”

                      Report

                    • Happy to talk Bush/Iraq.

                      I believe Bush was going to find an excuse to invade Iraq no matter what happened during his presidency, for the reasons predicted early in his presidency here. 9/11 was a great excuse, but wholly unrelated to Iraq.

                      I do not believe Bush thought there were WMDs in Iraq. I do not believe he suddenly developed a passionate and urgent need to spread democracy there. I believe he wanted to finish what his father started while creating what he thought would be a signature presidential success. I believe his timing was motivated by a desire to distract from his inability to obtain such a signature moment in Afghanistan.

                      So, no. Your quote would not have that effect on me because I believe it to be true (at least as far as that spreading democracy wasn’t the REASON to go in–it may well have been a post-hoc justification). Not seeing any connection to a direct lie like “I saw a video showing [thing that isn’t in any such video]” repeated and defended for days.

                      Report

                      • Interestingly, the piece that you link, from early 2001, supports claims that “there were WMDs in Iraq” during the relevant period.

                        The statement that I made up as the kind of thing you might have heard in 2006 (and later) is a statement “truthy enough” for those who support the underlying premises, as you and Chris do, but which not only is not true by any “objective” standard, but which really could not be true. There will always be facts or factoids in contradiction, and no one, not even Bush himself, can account for all of the factors determining or pre-determining his presidential decisions, much less the decision or sentiments of his entire administration and those who supported it, which latter for an extended period included large majorities of the American populace.

                        Fiorina and many on her side feel that the videos and accompanying evidence “show” or “prove” an important truth about a matter of profound moral significance. That Fiorina inaccurately quoted one individual and seemed to suggest, and to intend to be taken to be saying, that the video contained or exhibited evidence of a more direct type than it did, they consider of relatively, indeed inexpressibly, minor importance.

                        I see no reason to doubt that you or Chris would extend the same flexibility in defense or forgiveness of someone in a parallel position in regard to matters that you considered of profound moral significance. I think your responses to my argument “objectively” demonstrate that you are fully prepared to do so. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to function politically at all, and you would likely also feel like a traitor to your cause. You and Chris, like everyone else – not “on both sides,” but as the basis and substance of divisions into sides – are ready to discount or explain away imperfections in statements or conduct that happen to accord overall with your strongly felt beliefs about the larger issue. When confronting someone who feels as or more strongly about a different issue, and you do not share those feelings, you are much more punctilious.

                        Wasn’t for nothing that Schmitt described the “friend-enemy distinction” as the central political distinction.

                        Report

                        • I certainly agree politics is tribal (which is why I made the point elsewhere that the most disturbing part of this is that Fiorina is winning against others in her tribe with this method).

                          I think the difference between the two examples is that only the former is subjective. I believe that Bush’s primary motivation was not to spread democracy. But it would be a lie to say that he never SAID that was a motivation. Of course he did.

                          Fiorina, though, is pointing to a video and saying it has scenes in it that aren’t there. Then justifying policy based on those (nonexistant) scenes.

                          If you don’t see the difference, I’m sorry. It would be like Clinton defending email-ghazi by saying she DIDN’T USE a private server. That would, of course, cost her credibility in my eyes, because it would be a lie. Likewise, if the claims she actually makes prove untrue, I would be concerned. Does Fiorina’s lying concern you at all? Or is everything just Cleek’s Law and you love her because she pisses me off?

                          Report

                          • nevermoor: Or is everything just Cleek’s Law and you love her because she pisses me off?

                            I don’t know what I’ve ever written that would lead you to ask a question like that, put in that way.

                            I don’t think the Clinton comparison is a good parallel. ( I’m confident that whatever else we eventually learn about Emailghazi, we’ll be left with statements that from one point of view will qualify as suspicious prevarication or, in short for people who like to go short, “lies,” and from another perspective will qualify as “close enough” – at worst ambiguities or un-clarities or innocent or trivial and explicable misstatements.) As for Fiorina, before I could offer a possibly better parallel or determine how concerned I ought to feel, I first would need to know exactly what claims against her, especially what claims if any additional to the ones whose validity is already conceded in the post, are being assumed proven. Then I’d have to know what theory of harms or dangers or other concerns I’m supposed to be applying.

                            Report

                        • That Fiorina inaccurately quoted one individual and seemed to suggest, and to intend to be taken to be saying, that the video contained or exhibited evidence of a more direct type than it did, they consider of relatively, indeed inexpressibly, minor importance.

                          Hold on. You’re admitting that she’s lying?

                          Report


            • Did you mean to say “the truthiness of her statement about the “character of our nation” a much more weighty truthiness – and that’s what her performance art also says.”

              Because I think that makes much more sense.

              Oh, I still want to bang my forehead on the desk and weep for our Idiocracy- but at least that phrasing makes more sense.

              Report

      • I had that reaction too after the debate when Vox’s lead was “Carly Fiorina won the GOP debate, but fact checkers will have a field day

        I can say with certainty that in my last real primary season (when I was legitimately torn between Clinton and Obama), either of them doing that would have settled me on the other real fast. Isn’t this supposed to be the same thing for the GOP (“most talented field ever”)? Shouldn’t we be worried that someone’s ability to give nonsense answers (I thought the GOP were the seasoned military experts. They can’t detect the garbage in her Germany / Sixth Fleet answers?) and clear/direct lies forcefully is driving support to them when GOP voters have other options?

        Similarly, I wouldn’t vote for Clinton in a primary if it turned out she did circulate then-classified material using her private email. I’m just pretty convinced now that she didn’t.

        It certainly fits my narrative that the GOP a category difference from my party, and one that would destroy my country while telling itself that things were better than ever. Unsourced BSDI claims don’t change that view.

        Report

  9. That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying — “We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain” — exists as well,

    It does. It’s from Bride of Frankenstein.

    Report

  10. I’m not going to wade into any particular exchanges, but I’m with is being utterly shocked that people want to insist what Fiorina is doing is anything other that flat out lying. And of a different type and kind — with a different reaction, too — than is typical in politics. Might there be other examples of similar behavior? It’d be crazy to insist there is not. But to argue that this is just more of the norm is absurd. And if you really believe this is the norm… wow, what an indictment of our system.

    Report

    • So, you’re up to Douthat’s challenge?

      [F]or Fiorina to actually be proven as wildly misleading and fundamentally dishonest as her critics keep suggesting, they would need to marshal evidence beyond just a parsing of her words, and demonstrate that the thing she’s describing is an inaccurate depiction of what happens inside abortion clinics that double as tissue procurement centers. They would need to prove that, for instance, the technician in the video is lying about what she saw and did, or that the footage of the twitching fetus in the bowl is fake, or that abortionists never approach the procedure with an eye toward making sure the fetal body comes out intact, or that the idea that this leads to “born alive” cases is just a myth and all testimony (including, implicitly, Planned Parenthood’s own) to the contrary is false or misleading.

      Evidence on any of those counts would actually rebut Fiorina’s essential claim, which is that the process of acquiring organs from the unborn involves practices and habits that would shock the squeamishly pro-choice if they ever had to confront the reality — and that they ought to confront it, politicians very much included included, ideally by watching the videos the Center for Medical Progress has produced.

      But I don’t see that kind of counter-evidence being offered in Lithwick’s piece, or in any other similar fact check. I see a lot of talk about selective editing, but mostly the claim is just that the CMP exaggerated Planned Parenthood’s eagerness to turn a profit on these practices, rather than that their videos mischaracterized the practices themselves. So I’ll put it to Fiorina’s critics: Is what she’s describing actually a pure fantasy? Is it entirely false to suggest that brains and other organs are regularly harvested from fetuses whose limbs can still twitch and whose hearts can still beat, and that abortion procedures are sometimes chosen with that harvesting in mind?

      http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/28/lies-carly-fiorina-and-abortion/?_r=0

      h/t Dan Scotto’s twitter feed

      Report

      • She says she watched as the heart of an aborted fetus was restarted, explicitly so they could harvest the brain, which she also said she watched. Instead, she heard a story in which the heart was started, without explanation, and the brain harvested, while watching film of a likely stillborn pre-viable fetus. The implications of what she said she saw, which fits the propagandists’ and Douhat’s narrative, and what she saw, which does not, are extremely different. That she continues to insist she saw something she did not, and heard something she did not, shows that she recognizes this, as I’m sure do both you and Douhat.

        It is the difference between saying I saw him shoot the gun at someone and saying I heard a story about a person holding a gun and saw a video of an unrelated dead person.

        Report

        • I watched a video of Tawana Brawley being raped by white cops.
          In order to refute my story you would need to prove that this sort of thing doesn’t happen elsewhere, or that black women have never been raped or that cops don’t commit rapes.

          Whether I actually saw it is really not the point.
          We know for a fact that it happens. Don’t try to change the subject to minimize the brutal crime of these white cops.

          Report

        • Chris: She says she watched as the heart of an aborted fetus was restarted, explicitly so they could harvest the brain, which she also said she watched.

          Fiorina’s statement is actually shorter and much simpler, and is in the form of a challenge, not a complicated narrative. It is probably also noteworthy that her statement consists of two not entirely grammatical sentences offered near the end of a longish statement that mainly referenced foreign policy.

          She said the following:

          As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s [sic] heart beating, it’s [sic] legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

          http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2015/09/17/full_replay_and_transcript_of_second_republican_debate.html

          So, Fiorina does not say “she watched as the heart of an aborted fetus was restarted, explicitly so they could harvest the brain, which she also said she watched.” To be clear, this statement of yours is, Chris, as far as I can tell, completely false. Made up. Without basis other than in someone else’s comments mistakenly attributed to Fiorina.

          She stated that she saw, in the video or videos, “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” She made no claim about actually watching the heart being re-started or about watching the harvesting of the brain. Her principal error was to suggest that the fetus depicted – illustratively – was the same one that someone else, the “ex-procurement technician” Holly O’Donnell was discussing. She also misreports the nature of the narrative in a trivial respect, in fact actually lessening its force, since what O’Donnell describes is more gruesome, and does concern the actual operation, not mere discussion.

          Either way, it would have no bearing on Fiorina’s essential claim whether the the fetus depicted illustratively was alive or dead or was the same one that O’Donnell mentioned. The essential claim is that fully formed fetuses are harvested in the rather horrific – or Fiorina says barbarous – manner that O’Donnell says made her too uncomfortable to remain in her job. Whether it had been the same fetus or some other fetus would have no bearing whatsoever on determining the truth of O’Donnell’s claim, or Fiorina’s, since Fiorina references what “someone says,” not the actual operation.

          The rest of your comment contains additional discrepancies, but I see no reason to beat this possibly stillborn fetal horse further. Since you have incidentally mis-conveyed Fiorina’s words, I suppose we can now conclude, by the same standards you and others are applying to Fiorina, that… Well, I won’t use the words to describe you that you freely use to describe the people with whom you disagree.

          Report

          • Whether Chris said it or not is entirely irrelevant.
            Someone said it and Chris is challenging you to refute it. It may not have been a quote about or from Fiorina, but the important fact remains that quotes were, for our purposes, uttered, and are illustrative in purpose and are hereby standing unrefuted.

            Report

          • Well this is infuriating. The statement you yourself quote doesn’t match the video, either the visual or spoken components, which do show a fetus, but not its heart, and no one said what she says they did. This statement, which is made up, leads to the conclusion, which you and she and Douthat then justifies the false statement.

            An even slightly more careful look at the video reveals we don’t know much about what happened in the woman’s narrative, including what procedures were involved and why, and we know nothing about the fetus we see.

            And that she couldn’t continue in the job is irrelevant. Many people quit medical jobs after the first time they have to do the dirty work, and much of medicine is dirty. Hell, a non-trivial number of med students don’t make it past the first few days of gross anatomy. This allows no conclusions about the procedures involved other than that they are, like most medical procedures, not for everyone.

            Unless you can come up with a better defense than “what she said misrepresents the video, but her conclusion justifies this,” I’m done. It’s a lie in service of her agenda. She’s repeatedly defended the lie, also in service of that agenda. And all based on a deceptive propaganda video to begin with. You’ve yet to say anything to lead to the conclusion that anything in this paragraph is false.

            Report

          • So when she says: “No! Not at all. That scene absolutely does exist, and that voice saying what I said they were saying — “We’re gonna keep it alive to harvest its brain — exists as well,” Fiorina said.”

            Well… does the scene exist? Is there a voice saying what she said it said? If the scene doesn’t exist and if there is no voice saying what she said it said… how do we conclude she is doing anything other than lying.

            Again… in her own words… “The scene absolutely does exist.”

            So let’s see it.

            Report

            • She is referring to the scene, mis-described in irrelevant particulars in her brief debate remarks, that is analyzed by Douthat extensively, and that has been gone over in other locations as well, including this very thread.

              To extend the example that Douthat gives, if I say, “I’m a fan of the scene in Casablanca when Bogart and Sam are at the piano, and Rick says, ‘Play it again, Sam,” does the scene exist? The scene to which I am actually referring and which I am uniquely identifying “absolutely does exist,” and some things close to the words I am using are said, but, in another sense it does not exist at least in exactly the form I am recollecting it. You and I could therefore differ on the correct answer to that question, but, either way, everyone who has seen the movie will know exactly which scene I’m referencing, and, as a matter of fact, Bogart does literally say all four words, if not ever in that order except in the imaginations of millions upon millions of people the incidental inaccuracy of whose recollections has absolutely no bearing on anything at all – and you would have be a pettifogger of a type unknown outside of partisan politics to make something of the matter.

              Report

              • Bullshit. She is being called to answer for an alleged lie and her response is that the scene in question “absolutely does exist”.

                No. It doesn’t. She isn’t misremembering. She is insisting that something she has never seen because it does not exist to see exists and can be seen.

                Here is what preceded the above quote, from Todd:

                “But there is no tape–there is no evidence–that the scene you describe exists. Are you willing now to concede that you exaggerated that scene?”

                The question is: Does a tape exist that depicts the scene that Fiorino described?

                All evidence — ALL evidence — points to no.

                Of course, Fiorino could clear this up quite easily: Show the tape. If she won’t, it is very fair to call her a liar.

                Again, Todd said to Fiorino that “[t]here is no tape.” Fiorino responded that the taped scene “absolutely does exist.”

                Only one of these people can be right. The tape either does or does not exist. It is not a matter of memory. There is either a tape depicting what Fiorino describes or there is not.

                Fiorino’s only defense is that someone misled her about the existence of this tape. However, she has not made that defense. And, if she did, it’d be about as weaksauce as it gets for someone who wants to hold the highest office in the land.

                Report

              • Using your example, what Fiorina is claiming is that, in the scene she points at and references, “In that video, right there (pointing) Rick says “play it again, Sam””, and when called on the fact that Rick never said any such thing, she doubles down (just as you are doing!) by claiming that such a video exists. (Which makes your appeal to the imaginations of millions of people so interesting and informative even, since the claim she’s making is, at this point, based on her imagination.)

                Maybe those lines exist. But not the video she referenced to make her initial claim. To find em you gotta look in the Woody Allen section.

                Report

                • I pursue this because I think it’s an interesting problem in language, not because I think it has any great political or moral significance relating to this particular issue, which is played out.

                  Of course, the specific question that you conjure up is not what Todd said to her. Todd’s actual question assigned multiple mutually exclusive definitions to the same concept.

                  From the transcript (http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-transcript-september-27-2015-n434466):

                  CHUCK TODD:

                  Let me start right in with the Planned Parenthood situation. At the debate, the most recent debate, you described the following scene, claiming it was on a tape: “A fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'” Since then, when asked about the claim, your campaign has attacked Planned Parenthood, but there is no tape.

                  That’s incorrect. There is “a tape,” although it probably isn’t actually a “tape,” but rather exists in digital media.

                  There is no evidence that the scene you described exists.

                  There not only is “evidence” that the scene she described – with incidental inaccuracies – exists, but the scene in question is easily accessible, and has been analyzed in detail and with contrary intentions by both Fiorina backers and Fiorina adversaries.

                  Are you willing now to concede that you exaggerated that scene?

                  Wait a second. I thought he just said that neither the scene nor the “tape” exists, and now, for purposes of this question, both the scene and a medium in which it was recorded must exist, since that scene is subject to exaggeration.

                  Obviously, Chuck Todd is lying scum and everyone who doesn’t recognize the threat he poses to our precious bodily fluids should be disqualified from holding public office or voting or speaking in public debates without trigger warnings.

                  I am now going to snuff this comment thread out of existence by calling it the one in which Stilwater Kassy and Chrs stubbornly held to a position I consider one-sidedly lame, self-trivializing, inconsistent, hypocritical, and to the extent pursued in this manner of more benefit to their political adversaries than to their allies. No need to thank me, since your thanks will also be pre-emptively nullified.

                  Report

                  • Well, if the meaning of every word is a context dependent, individually determined text, then there are no facts of the matter regarding the truth of anything anyone says, yeah? Our words just never actually “touch the world”. So when you claim that I’m claiming that Todd claims that what Fiorina claims is false, you’ve misunderstood the whole thing. I’m not actually expressing anything useful in the world!

                    Report

                      • Also, via CK and Douthat, we now have a way to excuse every politically-motivated lie ever:

                        Sure, what ______ says didn’t happen in the event in question, but it’s not a lie because it is his/her belief that it happens. In order for him/her to be lying, we would have to demonstrate not that it didn’t happen in the event in question, but that it has never happened.

                        Just fill in the blank, and any politically-motivated lie is shown to be a brave truth-telling.

                        Report

                        • Sure, what ______ says didn’t happen in the event in question, but it’s not a lie because it is his/her belief that it happens. In order for him/her to be lying, we would have to demonstrate not that it didn’t happen in the event in question, but that it has never happened.

                          Just fill in the blank, and any politically-motivated lie is shown to be a brave truth-telling.

                          In other words Fake but Accurate?

                          Report

                          • Heh. It seems to me more like this: if someone believes P, then P is true unless shown otherwise. Which sorta collapses the distinction between the psychological property of “believing” and the non-pschological property of “truth”.

                            Report

                          • I got precisely what she said wrong (based, coincidentally, on your version from earlier). My point still stands with the precise quote you gave. Therefore whether you are inclined to do anything with what I said is of no consequence to me, as the only conclusion is clear: she lied, she did so blatantly, and repeatedly, and so far the only defense has been that it doesn’t matter that she didn’t tell the truth.

                            There was no beating heart beat, no one said what she says was said, the fetus was not alive. The only thing that’s true is that there was a fetus with moving legs and a woman mentioned talking about a heartbeat and harvesting a brain. She has refused to admit this, compounding the lie. You’ve tried every rhetorical trick in the book to get around it, but it’s a lie. Even when properly characterized.

                            This is what she said in the Todd interview:

                            “Fiorina: “No, not at all. That scene absolutely does exist. And that voice saying what I said they were saying, ‘We’re going to keep it alive to harvest its brain’ exists as well….”

                            Todd: “So you saw that moment on the tape?”

                            Fiorina: “Yes.”

                            That’s a lie. It isn’t in the video. You defend it, but it’s not in the video, and she repeats the claim that it is despite being told (and having plenty of time to watch again that it isn’t). It is indefensible. You defend it.

                            You’ve defended a lie here, repeatedly (as you did, coincidentally, in the citizenship discussion), in what seem like intentionally sophistic terms (in the classic sense of the word: arguing not in service of the truth, but in service of winning). I can only assume that you’re trying to serve as a corrective to liberal bias/perception here, but it’s poor selection of battles.

                            By the way, have you seen this:

                            http://www.rawstory.com/2015/09/this-wasnt-an-abortion-cnn-forces-anti-planned-parenthood-group-to-admit-fiorina-was-wrong/

                            Makes it even more of a lie.

                            If you’re going to continue to defend it as a non-lie when it is obviously a lie, I’m not going to participate. The point is made, again even when I’ve corrected my own mischaracterization of what she said. Conversation over.

                            Report

                    • Tempted simply to agree with the last sentence and move on. Everyone with a potentially interesting opinion about these matters must know what happened at the debate and subsequently regarding Fiorina’s statement and reactions to it, including her own reactions to it and to the reactions to it and so on. The aspects anyone chooses to accentuate tend overwhelmingly to be determined by the degree to which one is sympathetic or hostile to Fiorina or to other people sympathetic or hostile to Fiorina. Everyone knows that, too.

                      As for the questions on discussion:

                      To observe the simple fact that the meaning of every word is context-dependent, or that there is no text without context, is not to say that words have no meaning. That would be a contradiction in terms, since we just assigned meaning to words according to that same rule. What there are are multiple, sometimes simultaneous, sometimes conflicting senses potentially applicable to different words of different types in varying contexts that are themselves sometimes “multiplex,” providing endless opportunity for people to insist on foolish consistencies on the one hand, or on Humpty-Dumpty intended meanings only, on the other, often while gesturing toward the Abyss as the only alternative.

                      In this discussion there has also been an element, only superficially argued and examined so far (mostly it’s been declamation), regarding what rules for public political discourse ought to be supported and socio-politically enforced.

                      This is a complex matter unto itself. As a starting point, I do not think it would be realistic to ask for some actually unattainable rigorous literalism in political pronouncements, and to expect people to be punished for secondary intellectual or narratological errors. Seizing upon the latter often strikes me, and I think often strikes the public, as avoidant: Rather than address complex and difficult matters non-prejudicially, allowing for uncertain outcomes, those committed to one or another political or politico-religious premise (and absolute premises of the left are no less politico-religious or political-theological than those of the social conservative right) often prefer to focus on questions of seemingly little significance – whether, for instance, an image in a video that serves illustrative purposes only, and could as well have been a drawing for all of its bearing on the essential matter, has been properly identified, or whether problematic words spoken were direct or indirect narration, or in the first or third person, etc. How many zygotes can dance on the head of a pin? To complete the comedy, they then seem to expect that being shown to have gotten the wrong answer to the meaningless question can and should result in peremptory disqualification. Destroy the heretic! (Why isn’t anyone listening to me?)

                      In regard to the ideas rather than the particular words, I personally would find it much more interesting to examine what allowing “intact extraction” of fetuses for the purpose of harvesting tissue means for our image and concept of the human and the kind of society or world we are making for ourselves and our (less numerous) descendants (if any).

                      Many people find such practices, and of course the related ones including more common forms of abortion, profoundly disturbing and objectionable, and much more disturbing and objectionable than, to use an example Chris brought up via link, the waterboarding of high level out of uniform combatants (aka “terrorists”). If having such an opinion identifies someone as “scum,” to use Chris’ word, then we have a rule for public discourse in which having a wrong opinion on an issue of designated profound moral significance justifies linguistic de-humanization. Since mores are subject to change, especially when politicitized, that means that today’s “human being” will always be at risk of becoming tomorrow’s “scum” – and that goes for full-grown adults as well as for “products of conception.” I consider this not only a poor but dangerous rule for public political discourse.

                      Report

                      • “…an image in a video that serves illustrative purposes only, and could as well have been a drawing for all of its bearing on the essential matter…”

                        Illustrative of what, exactly? Is there evidence that what Fiorino and her ilk purport to happen actually happens? Or that it happens at PP? Or that it happens with any sort of regularity, with any sort of sanctioning, or with the approval of any meaningful segment of the population?

                        You are really adept at foatering nonsense and creating a standard you’d never dare hold your own side accountable to. Were I inclined to insist that Republicans are racist, I’d have no shortage of ACTUAL video evidence I could use. And if I wanted to get illustrative, I could dramatize some really obscence events that people inclined to think Republicans were racist would gobble up. And assuredly, you’d look at either of those — real video of racist Republicans OR illustrative video of obscenely racist Republicans — and insist I was being unfair.

                        The video did not show an abortion. Nor did it show what Fiorino contends it showed. These are inarguable facts. And yet you argue them. This is silly. You — for all your big words — are silly. And petty. And wrong.

                        You refuse to answer simple questions with simple answers because simplicity is your enemy.

                        Report

                        • Is there evidence that what Fiorino and her ilk purport to happen actually happens

                          No, there is not. Fiorina is typical when she basically says, “You know this is happening!” with no evidence. It’s an assertion, based on a belief about the evil of Planned Parenthood, and has no empirical support.

                          There is no doubt that PP is harvesting organs to be used by researchers. They readily admit this. There is no need for them to harvest them while the fetus is alive. Fiorina and her ilk have made this up out of a complete lack of understanding of basic biology or medicine, because they find it horrific, and therefore it meets the needs of their ethical narrative about Planned Parenthood.

                          Report

                        • Florida legislators considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion were shocked during a committee hearing this week when a Planned Parenthood official endorsed a right to post-birth abortion.

                          Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.

                          “So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” said Rep. Jim Boyd. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

                          “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” said Planned Parenthood lobbyist Snow.

                          Rep. Daniel Davis then asked Snow, “What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving. What do your physicians do at that point?”

                          “I do not have that information,” Snow replied. “I am not a physician, I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.”

                          Rep. Jose Oliva followed up, asking the Planned Parenthood official, “You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”

                          Again, Snow replied, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”

                          More at http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/video-planned-parenthood-official-argues-right-post-birth-abortion_712198.html Linked in Douthat’s article. Video ca. 39-minute mark here: http://myfloridahouse.gov/VideoPlayer.aspx?eventID=2443575804_2013031292&committeeID=2719

                          And here is the “non-existent” moment from the “non-existent” video that Douthat identifies as the immediate subject of the non-existent Carly “Fiorino”‘s two-sentence statement:

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANhrgGANa38

                          The full video (one of I believe around 10 released by Center for Medical Progress) is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1&v=FzMAycMMXp8

                          Douthat describes its directly relevant content as follows:

                          Then if you watch the full film, you’ll see that the situation the technician is describing involves the worker showing her how she can tap the heart of the just-aborted fetus they’re looking at and make it start beating again, just before they jointly cut open the fetus’s face in order to actually acquire the brains. Again, we don’t see the tapping or cutting happen; the footage of the fetus that we see is from a different case, an undercover video obtained by a different pro-life group. And then the film as a whole is using the technician’s anecdote and the footage as part of an argument — buttressed by footage of interviews with Planned Parenthood higher-ups and others — that because fetal tissue harvesting is much easier when the fetus comes out intact, abortionists have incentives to perform later-term abortions in ways that sometimes/often end with fetuses alive in the air before they die.

                          All of which you would already know if you had been pursuing this discussion seriously.

                          Report

                          • All of which you would already know if you had been pursuing this discussion seriously.

                            I’d say it like this: None of that has any bearing on whether Fiorina lied or not. And she did!

                            Report

                          • The Florida situation and the one described in the video are, in fact, opposite. But you already knew that.

                            Again, zero evidence of “a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

                            Not a video. Not anything else. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear.

                            No. Evidence. Of. What. She. Claims. Is. Happening.

                            None. Of any kind.

                            And yet she repeats the claims. That’s lying. Period.

                            Report

                            • You:

                              Is there evidence that what Fiorino and her ilk purport to happen actually happens?

                              I provided: 1) Evidence of intent or predisposition (the one item to which you responded). 2) The “moment” in immediate question and the larger context in which testimony as to what “Fiorino and her ilk purport to happen” is given.

                              Is it good evidence? I don’t know. It hasn’t managed as far as I know to have gotten Planned Parenthood as a whole convicted, though we do know of scandalously malpracticing abortion doctors displaying the same or far higher degrees of callousness in regard to what some would call “infanticide” and others find simply disgusting. Is this evidence potentially subject to impeachment in any of a number of ways? Of course – Chris has tried already to do so, though I don’t find his performance persuasive, especially since it’s so colored by emotionalism and bias.

                              At this point, in my opinion, the evidence still stands as evidence. If similar evidence had been offered on some issue on which you were already decidedly hostile to the accused – a young man accused of sexual assault, a white police officer accused of brutality against a black detainee, a CIA agent accused of torture – I am confident you’d be ready to move to the political “penalty phase” without further trial.

                              Fiorina challenges pro-choice people to view the videos (not just “the moment”) and to defend the practices described. Douthat advises those accusing her of perpetrating a political crime – not just questioning her conclusions or her logic – to provide counter-evidence or impeachment of this evidence. To be politically effective, since we are not or not yet involved in legal proceedings, such counter-evidence could take many forms. Writing sentences in which every word is capitalized, focusing on already thrashed-out discrepancies between a secondhand description and an actual video, or speculating about medical procedures or the typical lives of medical technicians, or exclaiming “liar!” over and over, or personally insulting or sarcastically critiquing one’s adversaries, including those actually willing to discuss the matter with you dispassionately, doesn’t strike me as very persuasive or likely to be politically effective.

                              Report

                              • No. You didn’t. Evidence that abortion providers will complete an abortion that was not successful is not evidence that doctors keep fetuses alive to procure organs.

                                As I said, those are opposite scenarios. One involves terminating the fetus immediately upon it emerging while still alive. The other involves refusing to terminate the fetus until such time that other steps have been taken.

                                Not. The. Same. Thing.

                                And, yes, I suppose we should clarify that we mean “good evidence”. I mean, I could probably dummy up all sorts of bad/false/irrelevant evidence for all sorts of things.

                                But, again, you want to play word games instead of engaging the point at hand.

                                Fiorino insisted that a particular practice happens and that there is video evidence of it happening. There is no video evidence of it happening and no one can prove that the practice does happen. They can’t even come close.

                                Fiorino lied and is lying and I’m starting to doubt your honesty as you continue to play games and dodge rather than engage.

                                Report

                                • Kazzy: As I said, those are opposite scenarios. One involves terminating the fetus immediately upon it emerging while still alive. The other involves refusing to terminate the fetus until such time that other steps have been taken.

                                  What they have in common, and the relevance of “live birth abortion” to the present matter, is indifference to the life (or death) of the fetus that has emerged into the world intact.

                                  In the first instance, the PP lobbyist argues against a law requiring doctors to render aid to viable babies that or who were meant to be aborted. In the second instance, the fetal tissue “harvesters” and especially their sponsors are accused of preferring and arranging for or risking the delivery of intact or still-living nearly alive or revivable, etc., fetuses.

                                  On the first issue, I suspect, as a matter of fact, that the lobbyist was probably misrepresenting PP policy. I think she was likely misinformed or misspoke. I do think, however, that her attitude is representative of that same indifference in somewhat the same way that the casual attitude of PP executives and others “stung” by CMP is representative. They do not, and to do what they do they cannot, care very much about the status of fetuses destined to be aborted. If you do not believe they deserve to be treated as human beings, then you can go ahead and snuff out their lives, either by dismembering them and crushing their skulls before they emerge from their mothers wombs, or leaving them to die by suffocation or exposure, or by doing some of the other things that malpracticing doctors or clinics in certain high profile cases have done.

                                  If you have learned, through practice and study, to be sufficiently indifferent, you might also develop procedures to pre-empt the application of live birth and partial birth abortion laws, adopting methods that greatly reduce or eliminate any likelihood of accidental delivery of intact and viable babies:

                                  Since the passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in the United States and similar state laws, providers of late-term abortions typically induce and document fetal demise before beginning any late-term abortion procedure. Since the bans only apply to abortions of living fetuses, this protects the abortion providers from prosecution. The most common method of inducing fetal demise is to inject the fetal heart with concentrated potassium chloride or digoxin using a long needle guided by ultrasound.

                                  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intact_dilation_and_extraction#Clinical_response_to_legal_bans_on_the_procedure

                                  These procedures serve an even more clearly opposite final intent, but reflect the same indifference. Problematically, at least for anyone who does not share that indifference, they also underline the artificiality of the the compromise that treats otherwise identical products of conception as categorically different based on which side of the birth canal they happen to be located at whatever moment. To kill one, we mostly agree, is murder. To kill the other, we mostly agree, is, within shifting limits, a private matter, and may also vary according to the changeable subjective determinations of the mother.

                                  I have not argued that the difference is not a real difference, incidentally. I cannot help but note that the borderline cases introduce moral dilemmas – for some. (Wasn’t there some well-known libertarian recently arguing to that infanticide should be a private matter, much to the chagrin of his friends?)

                                  As for what Fiorina said, again, in the remarks in question, now that you have had ample opportunity to review them, she said that the video 1) depicts a fetus, and 2) that “someone” discusses harvesting its brain. She never says that the video depicts someone actually performing the “harvesting.” The sole discrepancy on this factual level is that the “it” that is depicted is not the same that “someone” is prepared to “harvest.” I have already discussed that inaccuracy extensively.

                                  The video evidence of “it happening” – of the practice occurring – is the video evidence in the first instance of Holly O’Donnell’s testimony, otherwise the evidence contained in the rest of the videos produced by CMP, otherwise evidence assembled mainly by other activists.

                                  It may not be good evidence or adequate evidence. I find O’Donnell credible, for instance, as far as she goes – and If I were a friend of hers, I would be concerned about her well-being – but that does not mean that I consider the case closed or that I am unwilling to hear a reasonable defense. I also have not yet viewed all of the CMP videos or read much associated material pro or con. Until this discussion, I hadn’t had sufficient interest in the topic.

                                  Now I may, and that, in a way is one example of what Dan Scotto was pointing out about Fiorina’s strategy, and the trap her critics charge right into.

                                  Report

                                    • Now you see the conclusion that justifies the lie: the spirit of the lie, anv indictment of an indifference to life, is consistent with the conclusion that actually precedes it, that PP is indifferent to life, therefore it’s not a lie.

                                      It’s not an argument that anyone would allow an ideological opponent to make. Anyone.

                                      Report

                                      • Chris: It’s not an argument that anyone would allow an ideological opponent to make. Anyone.

                                        Apparently you were born yesterday. You should know that there’s another person here with your name and avatar who likes to act as though he’s been around the block. Anyway, welcome to the world.

                                        The charge of indifference to the life or death of the product of conception is relatively mild, both in comparison to charges laid openly for decades against PP and supporters – that what they support is barbarous, amounts to the mass murder of millions of innocents, had effectuated “eugenic” cleansing of the poor and especially black population, and so on, and so on – and also in comparison to charges made regularly from the left against the right on a range of issues: that the war in Iraq killed millions in order to profit Halliburton and maybe solve Bush’s daddy issues; or that conservatives are prosecuting a “war on women,” indifferent to their suffering; or that conservative opposition to ACA or conservation tax policy or conservative breakfast choices at the local Holiday Inn originate in hatred of people of color, and so on, and so on.

                                        On this very thread we had a late contribution, a model pro-choice contribution, from Francis, in which he accuses “Fiorino” of indifference to the plight of “millions of mostly poor (and largely minority) American women.” He implies that the people she represents are responsible for the likes of Kermit Gosnell, and claims she is prepared to “harm and even kill” desperate women and the potential beneficiaries of fetal tissue research – all to satisfy her lust for power.

                                        The type of “argument” is not only “allowed,” it is normal, and to pretend otherwise, so self-servingly, is risible.

                                        As for the mental attitude one must adopt toward a thing one is prepared to kill – by crushing its skull with forceps, or by dismembering it, or by poisoning it – what word other than indifference would you consider appropriate in this matter? Or do you imagine that the doctor and assistants hold group prayers and beg forgiveness before, during, and after the operations they perform, struggling to see what they’re doing through their flowing tears? Do you suppose that CMP is suppressing video of solemn PP wakes in remembrance of the lives never lived of tens of millions?

                                        (I’ll never forget the judgmental cruelty of someone once very close to me, ridiculing the ceremony of another close relative that she and her boyfriend held after her abortion – that’s the contradiction our conflicting values require us to live through. I would describe the person who was judging as not merely indifferent, but hostile to the “unborn child.” And yet in most ways she was a tender, thoughtful, very deeply caring person.)

                                        Oh, but I forgot, you were born yesterday, so how would you know what to make of this all? The other one with your name and avatar pronounced repeatedly that he’s done with this “conversation.” That’s how he likes to proceed: He’s above it all, he’s sworn it all off, it’s all behind him – and yet he seems to think there’s something admirable or useful about attacking the integrity, intelligence, and humanity of his adversaries – ID theorists, conservative constitutional theorists, pro-life activists, former Iraq War supporters, the list goes on – before running back off into his theoretical moral supremacy.

                                        Stick around, you’ll see what I mean.

                                        Report

                                        • The type of “argument” is not only “allowed,” it is normal, and to pretend otherwise, so self-servingly, is risible.

                                          If Francis is your model, then you’re already lost. What’s more, the “the other side does it, so it’s OK” argument, several examples of which began this comment thread, and with which you’re now winding it down, is beneath you and this space.

                                          I would recommend going to a Planned Parenthood, perhaps as a volunteer (many need escorts, because the “pro-life” protesters outside harass both patients and staff as they enter and leave). I think you will find some incredibly sensitive, incredibly caring people inside. They may not see the moral status of a fetus in the same light you do, but they won’t mock anyone for the way they cope with what can be a very difficult decision for some people. Do they view the clinical aspect of the procedures clinically? Yes, and that’s a good thing, because it means they’re professional and careful and safe. Do they view their patients as people? Why the hell else would they choose a place of employment that is, in many places, quite literally under siege?

                                          I dropped out of the conversation with you because you were engaging in the worst form of sophistry in defense of lies, and I would rather not continue to watch that from someone I respect. But because I respect you, I’ve hopped back in to suggest that if you are clearly speaking of things you do not understand, if you have decided, without evidence, that pro-choice people and, in particular, the staff of clinics at which abortions are performed, are cold and uncaring and do not respect life. Even a little bit of exposure would almost certainly change your mind, if it is not so closed off as to be unchancheable (and your defense of these lies suggests it may be).

                                          To stave off the obvious counter, yes, I have a great deal of experience with both everyday “pro-lifers” (including my parents, and recall I grew up Catholic) and people in the movement. In fact, I have spent a significant amount of time talking to the protesters outside of Planned Parenthoods in Austin (in most months, I do so at least twice a month for a least a bit; if you do not believe me, then feel free to join me on the morning of Saturday the 10th outside of the Planned Parenthood on Ben White, where I will be chatting up the protesters, many of whom will know me by name and know what I’m doing there). I think I have a pretty good idea of what they’re about. I don’t need to speculate or base my opinion on lies and distortions. I don’t need to build lies and distortions to justify my opinions either.

                                          Report

                                          • So now it emerges that this discussion is taking place not just with a defender of Planned Parenthood, but with a deeply committed supporter of Planned Parenthood. Your honor, I ask that the witness be designated hostile.

                                            Of course, I never said that PP or its supporters were indifferent to life. I even shared a personal story of two people close to me, one who had had an abortion, one who supported it, who were caring and tender people. I described them as caught between contradictory value systems. I said that “indifference” seemed one good way to describe the attitude that someone killing a thing has to adopt toward the life of that thing, and I asked for a better word – presuming we did not want to assign the word “hostility” to such a person.

                                            Then, he has the temerity to accuse me of tu quoque reply when the claim of his to which I was responding was explicitly “only your side does it.” The only other response – if response is to be allowed, not actually Chris’s position on most political matters – is logically “no one does it.” That is, I believe, obviously untrue, not simply “on both sides,” but, as I have said before, as a necessary assumption and condition of the division into “sides” at all. They think you’re genocidal sociopaths, and evil. You think they’re genocidal sociopaths, and evil. Sometimes, you seek to address a sub-group that, though all caught up in genocidal socipathy, you think might not be completely aware of what monsters they are. You all say it over and over again, constantly, in different ways – not “both sides,” all sides, everyone.

                                            I find it difficult to express adequately my lack of interest in joining someone at an abortion clinic in Texas – not just because I have little interest in doing such a thing, but because it would be with someone who has just finished declaring me devoid of integrity and unfit for discussion for what must be at least the third time just on this thread.

                                            Report

      • Douthat’s challenge is bullshit, plain and simple.

        First, it works off the premise that Fiorino was talking about abortion in general and not the videos. Bullshit.

        More importantly, it demands the challenger to prove a negative. Which is pretty hard to do and impossible to do when dealing with dishonest judges. We could put 24/7 cams in 1 million abortion clinics and they’d insist there was a 1,000,001st one that we failed to document and THAT is where the atrocities happen. We could put 24/7 cams in EVERY abortion clinic and they’d insist it is happening in the unregulated ones.

        None of which has to do with Planned Parenthood, mind you.

        The onus is on Fiorino to prove that what she says she saw she A) actually saw and B) what she saw is representative of what actually happens in abortion clinics. She can’t do B) because what she claims to have seen *DOESN’T* represent what actually happens in abortion clinics. And the fact that she can’t even do A)… that she can’t even produce the videos she claims to have seen… shows the depth of the bullshit pool she is swimming in.

        It’s bullshit. No ifs, ends, or buts about it.

        In that video at the top of the page, Fiorino says she saw videos where specifics scenes were shown and specific words were said. Yet no one can produce those videos. Why?

        Report

      • they would need to marshal evidence beyond just a parsing of her words, and demonstrate that the thing she’s describing is an inaccurate depiction of what happens inside abortion clinics that double as tissue procurement centers.

        In addition to agreeing that her claim about the video is made true or false by the contents of the video she’s making claims about, how does Douthat suggest the above “demonstration” be accomplished? By obtaining video evidence of every moment in time from all the spaces in which abortions are performed? Would doing even this suffice to refudiate the claim it’s still possible organs are being harvested from living fetuses?

        Report

        • It’s a clever rhetorical trick: what she says is not true, but what she says has implications that Fiorina and Douthat believe to be true, therefore to demonstrate that what she says is not true, one would have to prove the implications of a false statement are not true. I wonder if he would be so charitable with false statements with implications he disagrees with.

          Report

          • What’s more, the portion of the video that she’s lying about is itself deceptive: it shows a fetus with no explanation of its origin (OB/GYNs who’ve viewed the video seem to agree that it is not an aborted fetus), and includes a story, unrelated to the footage of the fetus, with no explanation of where or when the story occurred, or even exactly what sort of procedure was involved and why the procedure was being performed, all interspersed with further unrelated, edited footage of the meeting with the PP representative, it’s basically worse than the worst of Michael Moore, and I’m sure Douthat is a big Moore fan. Yet we’re supposed to believe that if we can’t prove, definitively, that nothing like what the video implies has ever happened, we can’t even say that false descriptions of the video are false.

            And this is what Republicans in the House want to shut down the government over.

            As I said on Twitter, if they manage to do so, it will no longer be possible to take the Republican Party, or anyone who continues to supports them, seriously.

            Report

            • Douthat looses his grip on the cat a bit when he ways

              So I’ll put it to Fiorina’s critics: Is what she’s describing actually a pure fantasy? Is it entirely false to suggest that brains and other organs are regularly harvested from fetuses whose limbs can still twitch and whose hearts can still beat

              This claim is certainly good politics (since it makes defenders of PP actually deny it), but the first one is pretty easy to answer. Yes, what she’s describing wrt the video is pure fantasy and exposes her as either delusional or a blatant liar. The second one, in my view, makes no sense for the reasons you’ve given, and hence is also good politics. Course, in both cases, the definition of “good politics” is transparently cynical. Personally speaking, I’d have more respect for Douthat if he just admitted that what he objects to in this context is certain types of later-term abortion practices, and those objections are intensified by the mere possibility that PP could be acting in the ways it’s being accused of.

              That’s a different debate, one not constructed around either a lie, or a proposition that’s impossible to disprove.

              Report

              • What’s more, the legs kicking thing isn’t a result of the fetus being alive, in any sense. Nor is the heart beating, in fact. I imagine organs are harvested pretty soon after a fetus is extracted, for a number of reasons, but the suggestion that they’re harvested while the heart is beating in order to make them better is pure speculation, not based in any medical science. What they’ve done here is invent a world and then insisted that it’s not merely possible, or even probable, but actual, and asked us to prove them wrong.

                Report

                • Regarding the invention of a world:

                  It’s classic conspiracy theory reasoning: it eliminates empirical content from being relevant. In the prototypical CT countervailing empirical evidence is accounted for by the theory and so is not only consistent with it, but entailed by it. In this case, the demand is a presentation of (empirical) evidence which simply cannot – like, logically cannot – meet the imposed burden of proof. Which in this case, as stated by Douthat, means the “theory” regarding PP isn’t empirically based.

                  It just feels true.

                  Report

                  • Like some of the others here, you are completely misconstruing Douthat’s argument or what I called his challenge. Given your past stated reluctance actually to read materials under discussion, I wonder if that’s the problem again now.

                    Critics like Dahlia Lithwick and many of the commenters here attacking Fiorina, all of her supporters, anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and the state of American political culture, are not simply arguing that Fiorina is wrong or mistaken, but that she is flagrantly and maliciously preaching a “big lie,” and that all good people should join in denouncing her. It’s appalling, we are told, that either all good people are not doing so. Either that or we lack for good people.

                    Douthat suggests that, if you hope to justify the full-throated assault on Fiorina and others, your resting on the incidental inaccuracies in two sentences uttered in a three-hour debate, while “throwing condoms” at the speaker (and calling her names, and not even bothering to spell her name right…), will be insufficient. It may even be counterproductive – in part for the reasons that Dan’s post emphasizes: It keeps the issue alive, it benefits Fiorina as a spokesperson, and it may well be that the plain facts of the matter are unhelpful to PP and pro-choicers.

                    So, Douthat isn’t asking anyone to prove that PP is innocent. He points to some credible indications that the conduct Fiorina criticizes, and that some people find profoundly disturbing, occurs: He links to one item in which PP argued for the right to perform procedures resulting in something resembling so-called “live birth abortions,” and he of course has the previously mentioned testimony of Holly O’Donnell to refer to. This evidence and testimony – a small part of what he could have offered – supports Fiorina’s essential claim, or at least supports an uncommitted observer’s suspending judgment of it and saving the coarse language and Chicken Little stuff maybe for a little while longer.

                    Cecile Richards, as you may have heard, testified today before Congress. Richards’ reply to the controversy was not “this is a fantasy,” or “none of this is happening,” or “these are all lies made up by conspiracy mongers inventing a world.” Amidst a lot of discussion that had nothing to do with this particular question, her specific reply was that fetal tissue research represents a “minuscule” amount of all that PP does, and that it’s a good thing. These excessive, defensive reactions to Fiorina, Douthat, and others complicate that defense, since, if you hope to maintain Richards’ position, then you’ll be saying “How dare you accuse us of this good thing!”

                    There are apparently four PP investigations going on, as well as at least one trial in California that has already had decisions taken to the Court of Appeals for rulings touching on constitutional issues, and of course PP is at the center of the current budget brinksmanship. So we may be hearing a lot more about these videos – both the videos themselves and how they were made and distributed, and also about their content and its implications. PP supporters might want to get their story straight, carefully consider their position and their strategy, and conserve some ammo for later on.

                    Report

                    • CK,

                      I obviously disagree with you about this, both the content of Fiorina’s claims as well as Douthat’s challenge to PP defenders. I mean, if you just read the words people wrote or said, Chuck Todd is correct when he says that the video Fiorina based her claim on doesn’t exist, and Douthat imposes a burden on PP defenders that cannot be met.

                      Report

  11. You know, Allen Ginsberg didn’t really see the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix, and no one gave him this kind of crap about it.

    Report

  12. Well, we do have Russian planes bombing targets in Syria even as American planes bomb targets in Syria and they’re both ostensibly bombing different targets for different reasons.

    But they both are bombing “ISIL targets” and Russia has asked that U.S. planes stay out of the area where they are bombing ISIL targets while they’re bombing ISIL targets.

    We get a midair collision between a Russian plane and an American plane and suddenly everything everyone has talked about so far during the Presidential election matters very very little.

    Report

      • Me, I’m still waiting to hear who the “good guy” is in Syria. “The Western-Style Liberal-Constitutional-Democracy Liberation Army” isn’t doing so well the in turf grab, last time I checked. They’ve got about five rooms in a Damascus high-rise, but not the lobby or the fourth floor elevator well.

        Report

      • Well, we’ve talked about this before, notme. So, you have to wonder why the Obama Admin would float this if it wasn’t accurate. Aaaand, it seems consistent with Putin’s support of Assad…. And runs counter to the US stated desire to support the “moderates”… And pinch the US into supporting Assad over ISIS if there aren’t any moderates left…

        Report

  13. Given the poor support those groups have gotten from obama why are you surprised they arent doing well? Do expect they will beat isis with “ideas” as obams thinks they will?

    Report

  14. CK MacLeod: …often prefer to focus on questions of seemingly little significance – whether, for instance, an image in a video that serves illustrative purposes only, and could as well have been a drawing for all of its bearing on the essential matter, has been properly identified, or whether problematic words spoken were direct or indirect narration, or in the first or third person, etc. How many zygotes can dance on the head of a pin?

    This is the sort of postmodern academic-speak that drives conservatives- even former conservatives like me- into fits of eye-rolling.

    Paring away all the rambling and parenthetical asides, what this statement comes down to is
    “[we] often prefer to focus on questions of seemingly little significance – whether… an image in a video … has been properly identified…”

    NO! STOP! This is NOT of little significance! This is entirely of incredible significance. If an image on a video cannot be identified, then it cannot be identified. We can either identify CK Macleod eating the brains of a baby, or we can’t. It’s polar, binary, yes or no.

    and this:
    “or whether problematic words spoken were direct or indirect narration, or in the first or third person, etc.”

    Jaysus. It doesn’t matter whether I said it first person, or someone else said it, or someone else said I said it?

    If none of this matters, then what is it about this entire episode does matter?

    Carly Fiorina may or may not have made a statement about a video which may or may not exist, shot at a clinic which may or may not be Planned Parenthood, which may or may not have been in America, which may or may not have taken place within the last decade, showing what may or may not be an aborted fetus, which may or may not have still been alive, so that they could harvest the organs.

    Or not. It doesn’t really matter, because we all should be outraged about something.

    Report

    • LWA: NO! STOP! This is NOT of little significance! This is entirely of incredible significance. If an image on a video cannot be identified, then it cannot be identified. We can either identify CK Macleod eating the brains of a baby, or we can’t. It’s polar, binary, yes or no.

      The question is whether a certain practice is occurring. Whether the fetus or infant depicted was the particular one that later underwent such a procedure or not is irrelevant. If the video was being used as evidence in a legal setting, in which a particular doctor or clinic was accused of a particular violation of a statute against “live birth abortion,” then whether or not the fetus or baby depicted was the fetus or baby dissected might be of great evidentiary significance, but we are not attempting to convict some particular doctor of a particular violation.

      Upon my viewing of the video, I never had the impression that it was supposed to be the same one that was being discussed. Speaking of it as though it was or might be makes the video sound more dramatic than it turns out to be, but has no bearing on any assessment of the truth of the charge. It is irrelevant both to the larger issue and to the specific question of such great interest to you and yours as to the precision of Fiorina’s description, since, contrary to Chris’s false claim (which, mystifyingly to me, he says is based on something I said), Fiorina never said that the procedure itself was depicted, only that someone was heard discussing performing such a procedure.

      Report

      • The question is whether a certain practice is occurring.

        Unfortunately, CK, that is not the question. The question we’ve been discussing is whether Fiorina lied about the contents of the original STING! video, and subsequent to that, the political merits of perpetuating that lie (which is what the OP was about).

        If you want to talk about whether or not what Fiorina claims is happening in PP facilities actually ishappening, we can talk about that without ever mentioning Fiorina’s name.

        Report

          • I mentioned the distinction primarily to highlight … well … the distinction between whether a certain type of practice is occurring and whether a certain type of lying is occurring. Those are obviously two different types of inquiries. I also mentioned it because it seems to be what CK wants to talk about. I mean, I’m open to the discussion, myself. I really don’t know. I just think – like you and LWA – that the burden under which that discussion takes place requires the inclusion of compelling evidence rather than originating from the Douthatian Dictum that folks who deny it must demonstrate as much.

            Report

      • “The question is whether a certain practice is occurring.”

        Again, and I need to shout- NO!
        That is the question Douthat would like to pivot to.

        The question that this thread is about is very simple and clear. Did Carly Fiorina actually see a video of Planned Parenthood kill a living baby to harvest it’s brain?

        You keep backpedaling and asserting that it doesn’t matter if she did or not ,or if PP actually did this or not.

        Fiorina and Douthat and you have made allegations of a grisly crime against PP.

        Own it, stand by it and provide evidence.

        Report

        • LWA: The question that this thread is about is very simple and clear. Did Carly Fiorina actually see a video of Planned Parenthood kill a living baby to harvest it’s brain?

          Then the thread is insane, because Fiorina never made such a claim. The entirety of her statement was quoted above, and she said no such thing.

          Report

          • So…what is the claim here?
            As Stillwater said, if she didn’t claim to have seen this in a video, then we can cast her aside entirely.

            What is the allegation against PP that we should be discussing? Who is making the allegation, and is there credible evidence?

            Report

            • The topic of the post was Fiorina’s political skill evidenced in her handling of Chuck Todd. The topic of the thread became the insistence on the part of various critics that her original statements, and her refusal to apologize or offer a concession on Todd’s terms, should be deemed intolerable, and that the fact that it wasn’t (except by the righteous voices assembled here) should be taken as indictment not only of her and supporters, but of the entirety of American political culture (present estimable company excluded).

              In the process the continual misstatement or misrecollection regarding the remarks in question produced no small irony, since her critics demanded and continue to demand that we brand Fiorina and anyone refusing to denounce her, as liars and worse in relation to a politically self-interested inaccurate recitation of relevant facts that happens to conform to the latter much more closely than the critics’ own self-interestedly inaccurate recitation of her recitation does.

              In other words, if she is a detestable liar, then you, Kazzy, and Chris and possibly Stillwater are detestable liars, by your standards, not mine. Of course, you may be lying about those as well. Or maybe none of you, including Fiorina, is a liar or deserves to be called a liar, but is simply like all people, or at least like every person I have ever known including myself, prone to the same mostly well-intentioned errors or mistakes of over-enthusiasm on behalf of that which we believe to be true and importantly beneficial, especially if beneficial also to ourselves or our idea of our own righteousness.

              As for the other possible topics, the underlying question on the basis or bases for Fiorina’s allegations has been rather difficult to find through the haze of misrepresentation, personal invective, and intellectually lazy and prejudicial pseudo-analysis. The nature of Douthat’s advice, to provide a credible basis for the condemnation of Fiorina or to cease pursuing the argument in those terms, has also been misrepresented. At one point we did seem to be making progress on the problems of interpretation, but it was denounced as sophistry by Chris, and then it was back to ultimatums and name-calling.

              That’s my summary. You can feel free to seize upon whatever contestable points or possible inaccuracies in it, or make some up if you prefer, and call me a detestable liar, as such words have by now lost all force in this discussion.

              Report

              • In other words, if she is a detestable liar, then you, Kazzy, and Chris and possibly Stillwater are detestable liars, by your standards, not mine.

                This makes no sense, CK. A lie is a deliberate act of misprepresentation of the truth, so by definition “the truth” isn’t subjectively determined, and and also by definition it is not arrived at by parsing language (as you implied way up thread (temporally speaking)). The truth, if we’re gonna speak English, is the relationship between a statement (proposition, whatever) and the world. If I say “Osama Bin Laden is dead”, that statement is either true or false, and the thing that makes it true or false is whether, as a fact in the world, OBL is alive or dead. That much oughta be pretty clear, even for someone with your background.

                So when folks, like Chuck Todd for example, ask Fiorina if she stands by the claim she made in the debate that “those videos” (the STING!!!) tapes) show what she claimed, and she then refers to “the” video or tapes, her use of the word “the” in that context refers to the original tapes in question. If she actually was referring to some other tape or video, then she either deliberately mischaracterized the statement she was making (lying) or failed to clear up a trivial misstatement (she claims she didn’t “misspoke”) by correcting the record to better reflect what she actually meant to say (lying).

                If you wanna do an end around and say that “the spirit” of her claims is true, then you’re in effect conceding that she lied. If you wanna attack other people’s determination that she lied by parsing the logical particles and the scope of mass noun terms that theyare using to describe the situation, then you haven’t done anything to refute the charge that she’s lying, since none of that has any bearing on what she actually said.

                In short, that’s the whole problem with your analysis of what’s going on here: no one ever says what they mean, they say what an interpretation of their “word texts” mean given assumptions regarding their intent. But how can those texts and intents be “interpreted” except by viewing their words and expressions of a shared language which actually refer to the world? Circular, baby.

                Report

              • You’ll notice I corrected my misstatement of her words.

                You’re continued reply to this (as in the citizenship thread, and others) with “I know you are but what am I” is, well, detestable.

                At this point, you have shown yourself to be incapable of engaging this topic honestly and knowledgeably. I really am dropping out now (though I will feel free to respond to Still or Kazzy, as they have shown no such inability; to clarify then, I’m dropping out of a discussion with you, not out of the discussion at large).

                Report

                • You’ll notice that I don’t care whether you say you’re dropping out of the conversation with me. You say a lot of things that you don’t mean, and, yet again, you adopt this absurd and hypocritical tactic of taking your “last” Parthian shots while pretending you’re above it all. You do it with me, you do it with ID defenders, you do it with conservatives of every type. It’s dishonorable and anti-social and immensely self-serving – or would be if it wasn’t so transparent. “Here, I’m above slapping you, so I’m going to slap you, and then run away where I can’t be reached in case you wish to slap back.”

                  If you don’t have anything to say, shut up. I think Wittgenstein said something like that.

                  Report

                      • Tod,

                        Care in this situation is definitely required. The debate could become even more vicious and bitter precisely because the stakes are so low.

                        {{Oh, I’m kidding. But it is true that all us participants are very well trained by The Academy. So…. uh … oh, you know.}}

                        Report

                        • CK, I like having you around. I’d hate it if you left because you felt like you weren’t wanted and your views weren’t appreciated. Dustups over this stuff are part and parcel of folks disagreeing about stuff they take seriously. Or at least seriously enough to engage in some actual debate about it. And while I’m sure that lots of people think the way we (you and I, say) talk about these types of things is a horrible waste of time, it isn’t for me. (Obvs.) I enjoy the challenges presented by your perspective. Even when you’re obviusly flat out wrong, like in the current debate. :)

                          Report

                          • Nice of you to say so, Stillwater.

                            I’m not one of the participants constantly threatening to take his marbles home, or taking this discussion personally either in the sense of taking personal offense or in the sense of justifying or making personal attacks on others, whether other participants or representative figures. The comment which our volunteer referee chose to address may have struck him as “personal,” but, as Chris probably understood, or should have understood, it was an allusion to Wittgenstein’s most famous aphorism, and was, in my view, justified in the context of those same repeated offers on his part about the marbles and home, which offers, further, in every case, were based on statements about me personally which, if I saw him making in regard to any other commenter on the site, from Tod to notme to “someguy,” I would request be spoiled or stricken, with a warning to desist. Ditto for Kazzy’s replies to me.

                            As for my assessment of Chris’s approach to this discussion and its similarity to his approach to many other political topics and opponents – which can be summed up in the popular Twitter phrase “delete your account” – I consider that fair game in a discussion about the proper bounds of discussion, in which one participant feels the need to refer repeatedly to the terms of his own participation or promised or threatened departure from it.

                            Along the way, in the process of composing thousands of words of comment verbiage on this harrowing topic, I have very likely, or certainly, expressed myself in a way that others will have found offensive, or excessively sarcastic, or unfeeling, or detestably post-modern or detestablly sophistical or intellectual or whatever. I won’t pretend to be sorry about that.This topic is one that ought to be taken as its own “trigger warning,” and thin-skinned and impatient people should abandon all hope and refrain from entering into it in the first place.

                            In any event I have stated more than once that I do not consider it appropriate to employ or respond with the kind of denunciations of fellow commenters or anyone else that those same commenters seem driven to address to others, including to me. With that, I’m done with this discussion for the day at least, or anyway that’s my intention, not because I’m itching to pick up my marbles and turn my back on you or anyone else, or because your very wrong but at least seriously considered statements do not deserve serious rebuttal, but because I have other pressing matters to deal with. Maybe, I’ll be able to reply to your latest contributions at some other time.

                            Report

                            • Ironically, perhaps, I kept threatening to take my marbles elsewhere out of respect.

                              And my response to intellectual dishonesty is always dismissal. That you’ve made a habit of defending intellectual dishonesty is not a reflection on me, obviously. Nor is the fact that you only defend it from the American “right”. When I’ve sneered at liberals, so much so that one prominent liberal here has more than once suggested that I’d rather talk to fascists than to liberals, you’ve probably not even noticed, because you only defend the dishonesty associated with one side of a tiny little portion of the ideological universe.

                              I have probably spent more time interacting with members of the pro-life movement than you, probably much, much more time, and I have definitely spent more time engaging ID than you (since you’ve basically admitted to knowing nothing about the current movement, though you defend it anyway, even when specific examples of dishonesty are pointed out). You take my lack of desire to rehash tired arguments — arguments that people who know these issues have encountered too many times to count — as equivalent to “delete your account” not out of a careful assessment of the conversations, but out of your own tendency to dismiss different opinions as uncareful, or unserious or intellectually lazy or otherwise unfit for you to to properly engage (a tendency which, as I suspect many here will gladly point out, is well known among regulars).

                              Anyway, this portion of the conversation is all rather pointless. You’re acting out, now. It’s unbecoming.

                              Report

                              • Chris: Anyway, this portion of the conversation is all rather pointless. You’re acting out, now. It’s unbecoming.

                                And you’re doing it again, Parthian, and I could have quoted the entire comment, not just the last three lines. You insist on making provocative remarks, and then declaring the exchange of remarks beneath you. Can you stop? I think you probably could if you really wanted to. Maybe you should try.

                                Report

                                • It is beneath me. I hope it’s beneath you. If it is not, my opinion of you is unjustified. Like I said earlier, I assume you do this as a sort of corrective to a perceived liberal bias around these parts (you certainly wouldn’t defend anyone on the “left” end of the American political spectrum in such a situation, or if you would, you’ve yet to demonstrate that), but perhaps the depths to which acting as such a corrective requires you sink should make you think about whether it’s a worthwhile pursuit.

                                  Report

                                  • Okay, folks, let’s let it drop now. No one’s saying anything new, just defending their respective honor; every one thinks the other has run out of substance to offer. It really doesn’t matter anymore who gets the last word.

                                    Let’s all go read Vikram’s new post about Volkswagen, maybe. Or do a relaxing 20 minute yoga routine. Or rub a household pet’s belly for a couple of minutes. You’ll feel better and the pet will like having its belly rubbed.

                                    Report

          • Then what did Fiorino say?

            I heard her say, “I dare HRC and BO to watch these tapes, to watch a fully formed…”

            Are those two separate dares? “Watch these tapes that have nothing to do with anything. Also, go watch this procedure take place. Oh by the way, I’m not saying the procedure does or doesn’t take place. I’m just saying you should watch it. Also, I watched this one tape this one time.”

            Seriously. I don’t know if you’re stupid or a liar but at this point I can only conclude you are at least one of the two.

            (Cue long rant about stuff having nothing to do with the matter at hand.)

            Report

              • EXACTLY!

                We all know what her words were. We are discussing what she meant. You offer not alternative explanation because they all stretch the bounds of reasonableness.

                So, again, I ask you… when Fiorino dared BHO and HRC to “watch these tapes, watch a fetus…”, was she making two unrelated dares?

                Report

            • Pretty much what Kazzy said.

              There isn’t any way to assemble Fiorino’s words into anything that even resembles a coherent statement, except as an accusation of atrocity against PP.

              And no one has offered even a shred of evidence of PP committing atrocities.

              This is one of those cases I refer to, where cool detached academic language is used not to strip away emotion and reveal truth, but to mask an underlying irrational anger.

              PP stands accused of just about the worst atrocity we can make, of murdering live babies and selling their parts for profit. Literally, Cecile Richards herself, personally, is being accused.

              This isn’t some graduate course in linguistics where we can wank about the context of the first person narrative. People’s lives and reputations are on the line, the health and welfare of millions of women hangs in the balance.

              Honestly, I think its kind of crappy that Fiorino and her defenders aren’t bold enough to come right out and say it, but rely on innuendo and insinuation and Hollywood editing to create slander.

              Report

  15. What is Carly Fiorino up to?

    She is trying to get elected President.
    Alternatively, she is making a serious run at being invited to run as VP.
    She is also trying to develop a conservative political persona.
    As a means of developing this persona, she is attacking a very popular target for many conservatives — PP.

    On a second level, she is up to the following:

    She is quite deliberately trying to defund PP and thereby deny critically important family planning services — none of which are abortions — to millions of mostly poor (and largely minority) American women.

    She is deliberately taking an adversarial approach to the press. While politics isn’t a courtroom and there’s no (purportedly neutral) jury weighing the truthfulness of her statements, she is way out on the edge here, daring the so-called MSM to call her a liar.

    She is deliberately ignoring the fact that no one has found PP to have broken any laws. On the issue of late-term abortions, she knows full well that in a country of this size medically necessary late-term abortions will be needed on a regular basis. She knows (or should know) that a medically-necessary late term abortion will look messy and bloody. She knows (or should know) that the by-product of such abortion — the fetal tissue — has medical value.

    One may conclude, therefore, that she knows that by whipping up hysteria (heh) against late term abortions, she will harm or even kill (a) the women who need the service but cannot obtain in a safe and timely manner (Kermit Gosnell, come on down) and (b) the people who could have benefited from the harvesting of the fetal tissue.

    I will concede that at some point in the last 50 years some woman somewhere obtained an unnecessary late term abortion and killed a fetus that could otherwise have been born alive. Why? She’s a sociopath / broke up with her boyfriend / just couldn’t take it any more. That is an outrage and both she and her doctor should be charged with manslaughter or even murder if the requisite mental state could be proved to a jury.

    But I submit that obsessing about this particular [theoretical] crime actually shows a really disgraceful desire to punish poor women over their sexuality, especially since late-term abortions are such a tiny percentage of the total numbers of procedures and since there are real medical emergencies that require the procedure. Some police officers commit murder, but no one’s talking about de-funding police forces everywhere. The military has real problems with rape, but somehow that topic didn’t come up at the debate. Nice (largely white) middle-class and rich girls will always be able to get their procedures done (California here we come!), but poor women will face real hardship when the demonization of PP causes clinics to close.

    And please, let’s not get into the sanctity of life. The conservative branch of the Republican party does not care. The same candidate who was so outraged by the harvesting of fetal issue was itching to grow and use the military. We could make huge reductions in our poverty rates without raising taxes just by reducing military spending to less-insane levels. Or we could put those savings into reducing the environmental contamination which contributes so much to early mortality. Abortion rates would plummet if young women could get IUDs at zero cost. Millions of “lives” could be saved by strictly regulating IVF. The same idiots on the stage bemoaning PP were at the same time giving credence to anti-vaccine nonsense.

    What’s Carly up to? Getting power, in one of the oldest ways in the book. By demonizing the Other. Which in this case is those filthy poor sluts who have sex, commit murder, and want Us to pay for it.

    Report

  16. Pingback: Ryan Lizza Shows Why Republicans Can’t Nominate Jeb Bush | Ordinary Times

Comments are closed.