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Boxer urges end to Planned Parenthood panel

In the wake of the mass shooting that claimed three lives Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the new committee targeting the health organization.

Former Speaker John Boehner created the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” in October to probe Planned Parenthood. Boxer, D-Calif., calls it a “witch hunt” against an organization that provides vital healthcare services but hasn’t broken the law.

Some Democrats have faulted the hot rhetoric slung by Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates against Planned Parenthood in recent months for inciting the kind of violence that occurred Friday in Colorado.

“We should not and cannot continue this politically-motivated committee targeting Planned Parenthood, which is already costing taxpayers and helping to create a dangerous climate for legal health care in America,” Boxer wrote Monday to Ryan, R-Wisc. “Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers.”

“It is time to stop the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, stop the demonizing rhetoric and disband this committee immediately,” she wrote.

Read the full text of Boxer’s letter, after the jump…
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Speier named to committee on Planned Parenhood

Rep. Jackie Speier is one of six Democrats who’ll serve on the 13-member select committee that Republican House leaders have convened to investigate Planned Parenthood.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, picked Speier, D-San Mateo, and the other five Democrats for what she calls the “Select Committee to Attack Women’s Health.”

Speier, an outspoken defender of abortion rights, made headlines in 2011 when she disclosed her own decision to have an abortion during a House floor debate on a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood. On Wednesday, she issued a statement calling this new committee “part of an obsessive vendetta that Republicans have.”

Jackie Speier“On their first day in power as a majority in 2011, Republicans introduced H.R. 1, a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. They have introduced bills attacking women’s health with a vengeance ever since, and earlier this year they threatened to shut down the government unless we de-fund Planned Parenthood,” she said.

“Now they’ve set up a Select Committee with no apparent purpose but to spend millions of taxpayer dollars demonizing Planned Parenthood. We have to make sure the public gets the truth: That 2.7 million women and men a year use Planned Parenthood for health services like cancer screenings, pap smears, and STD tests, and those services save lives,” she continued. “Rest assured I will fight to make sure the needs of millions of people who use Planned Parenthood and are often ignored in this ideological debate — people whose lives will be deeply affected by the outcome — will be heard.”

Pelosi named Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., on Wednesday to be the select committee’s ranking member, and in addition to Speier, named Reps. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.; Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.; and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., as members.

Former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ordered the committee’s creation last month in the wake of a series of videos, filmed secretly and heavily edited by an anti-abortion group, in which Planned Parenthood officials discuss prices for procuring fetal tissue for research. It will be chaired by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

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Dianne Feinstein decries Planned Parenthood arson

The flames of an arson attack at a Planned Parenthood health center in Thousand Oaks were fanned by recent rhetorical attacks on the women’s health organization by anti-abortion-rights politicians and activists, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

“The toxic rhetoric directed at Planned Parenthood has dangerous consequences. It sends a signal that using violence to close clinics and intimidate health care professionals and women is ‘ok’. It is not,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in an emailed statement. “I’m grateful that no one in Thousand Oaks was hurt. My thoughts today are with the clinic’s staff, who provide compassionate care in spite of challenges no health care provider should have to face.”

Unfortunately, there’s a long history of violence against women’s health-care clinics that provide legal abortions, Feinstein noted.

“There have been more than 200 arsons and bombings over the past 40 years. These acts are serious crimes at the state and federal level, and the criminals who perpetrate them must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” she said. “Going forward, I hope that my colleagues think about the ramifications of their words. Doctors, nurses, clinic staff and patients should not be terrorized, threatened and put in harm’s way.”

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Tom McClintock quits House Freedom Caucus

Rep. Tom McClintock quit the House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday, saying the Tea Party-dominated group actually undermines conservative goals in Congress.

Tom McClintockMcClintock, R-Elk Grove, tendered his resignation to caucus chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said the caucus’ moves during the near-shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in Februrary; during the debate over Trade Promotion Authority in May; and last week regarding the nuclear agreement with Iran have actually helped defeat Republican aims.

Now, he wrote, the caucus has formally vowed to shut down the government over funding Planned Parenthood. Though he has strongly opposed public funding of abortions through his entire political career, “this tactic promises only to shield Senate Democrats from their responsibility for a government shutdown and to alienate the public from the pro-life cause at precisely the time when undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices are turning public opinion in our favor.”

“A common theme through each of these incidents is a willingness – indeed, an eagerness – to strip the House Republican majority of its ability to set the House agenda by combining with House Democrats on procedural motions. As a result, it has thwarted vital conservative policy objectives and unwittingly become Nancy Pelosi’s tactical ally,” McClintock wrote. “I feel that the HFC’s many missteps have made it counterproductive to its stated goals and I no longer wish to be associated with it.”

Jordan issued a statement calling McClintock “a principled conservative and a valuable member of the House Republican Conference,” and saying the caucus “looks forward to continuing to work with him, as well as every one of our colleagues, to give a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them.”

Read the full text of McClintock’s letter to Jordan, after the jump…
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Carly at odds with HP heirs on Planned Parenthood

As Carly Fiorina joins the rest of the GOP presidential pack in calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the charitable foundations of the two families who founded the company she’s famous for leading remain among Planned Parenthood’s largest donors – to the tune of more than $138 million since 2001.

Carly FiorinaFiorina was CEO of 1999 to 2004, the first female CEO of a Fortune 50 business – a major part of the track record she now touts on the campaign trail. She has been an outspoken critic of Planned Parenthood since mid July, when the first of a series of covert videos were released depicting officials from the organization discussing procurement of fetal tissue for stem-cell research.

“I am pro-life. And I believe science is proving us right every day. But you do not have to be pro-life to understand the hideous nature of what is going on here,” she said at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 17. “This is about the moral character of our nation. When you can have employees who target poor communities, who are pushing women into later-term abortions so they can more successfully harvest body parts even though late-term abortions are demonstrably bad for women, you can only be horrified when you see employees picking over a Petri dish for body parts while they say, ‘Look, it’s a baby.’ There is no excuse – Planned Parenthood must be defunded.”

Meanwhile, the Menlo Park-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation since 2001 has given $86,580,945 to various domestic and international Planned Parenthood organizations and affiliates. And the Los Altos-based David and Lucille Packard Foundation since 2001 has given $51,883,238. (The Packard Foundation’s online grant database goes back only to 2010, but spokeswoman Felicia Madsen provided the total since 2001.)

There’s been no love lost between Fiorina and some of the HP heirs for quite some time. For example, Jason Burnett – the mayor of Carmel, the grandson of HP cofounder David Packard, and a member of the Packard Foudnation’s board of trustees – earlier this year told CNN that Fiorina shouldn’t work at any level of government: “She did damage to a great company and I don’t want to see her do damage to a great country.”

But Burnett said Wednesday that “there’s no particular reason why a CEO of a technology company needs to hold other policy views consistent with a company’s founders” such as on Planned Parenthood.

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Carly Fiorina embraces ‘happy hour debate’

Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says she’s looking forward to taking part in Thursday’s “happy hour” debate between the low-polling contenders.

Fiorina, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, had issued a statement Tuesday soon after Fox News announced the main debate’s lineup saying she continues “to be encouraged by the support of conservative activists and grassroots Republicans across the country–even just today from the readers of PJMedia and Breitbart. They know we need someone from outside the political class if we want America back in the leadership business.”

She called into MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday morning to speak with host Joe Scarborough:

SCARBOROUGH: You ears were probably burning yesterday. We were all saying wonderful things about you around the set, how you have done a great job this year in everything you’ve done and yet, you’re not going to be on the main stage tomorrow. I know you’ve been getting positive reviews from a lot of people. What do you think about being kept off the main debate stage based on some polls, what, seven months out?

FIORINA: Well, first of all, these are national polls, as you know, Joe. National polls measure, among other things, name I.D. About 40 percent of Republicans have heard my name. In other words, a vast majority of Republican voters, never mind Americans, still don’t know who I am. So that’s not unexpected, considering I’m not a professional politician. Also, you know, in 2007 I think Rudy Giuliani was burning up the polls. As you point out, you have a long way to go here. It’s a long race. And I’ll look forward to the “happy hour” debate.

SCARBOROUGH: What’s the message you hope to get out in the “happy hour” debate?

FIORINA: You know, people are frustrated, disappointed, angry with the professional political class. Whatever your issue, your cause, the festering problem you hoped would be resolved by now, whether it’s border security or the veterans administrations or debts and deficits or a complicated tax code, the political class has let you down.

I don’t come from the political class. I think we need a president now who understands how the economy works, how the world works and who’s in it. Bureaucracies have to hold them accountable and cut them down to size. Technology. I think we need a leader in the White House who understands that their job now is to challenge the status quo of politics as usual.

Every problem we, as Republicans, talk about has been around for 25 or 30 years. It’s not that we don’t have good ideas. We have great ideas. It’s just that they never get implemented. So if we want to actually change it, we have to change the kind of leader we put in the White House.

Fiorina also said she would defund Planned Parenthood; oppose a gas-tax increase to fund the federal highway program; take the federal government to zero-based budgeting; and hold a summit meeting with America’s allies in the Middle East to determine how we can support them better.

Fiorina now ranks 14th among the Republican candidates, with 1 percent support, in an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she places 11th with 2.5 percent support in an average of four recent polls; in New Hampshire, she’s in 11th place with 2 percent support in an average of three recent polls.