Friday Reads

Good Morning!!

The karma continues to unfold at the Komen foundation.  Their original decision to defund planned parenthood under pressure from right wing extremists has left the foundation short on staff and worried about funds.

The chief executives of the Greater New York and Oregon affiliates, among the most outspoken in their criticism of Komen’s unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, are leaving. Three officials at the Dallas headquarters have left or announced their resignations, a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised about the breast cancer charity’s ability to raise money after the public relations fiasco. The New York affiliate postponed two events, including its annual awards gala, “because we were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term,” spokesman Vern Calhoun said Wednesday.

Komen is asking staff members at headquarters to review budgets for the fiscal year beginning April 1 because of anticipated drops in revenue, according to a source familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. Budgeting for the coming year was basically completed before the Planned Parenthood controversy erupted.

Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun declined to comment on the internal budget process. But she added: “It goes without saying that you can’t budget for things you don’t know are going to happen.”

Truth Dig’s Bill Boyarksy calls the Paul Ryan Budget Reverse Robin Hood on steroids. The article focuses on the extreme changes to Medicare suggested by Ryan and given the thumbs up by Romney.

The plan was conceived by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and is backed by Romney, who is favored to win the Republican presidential nomination after his victory Tuesday in the Illinois primary. If he defeats President Obama and the Republicans win the Senate along with holding the House, consider it a blueprint for 2013.

The Ryan-Romney plan would cut taxes to the affluent and corporations, increase arms spending and cut expenditures for almost everything else, including environmental programs, child care, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, aid to college students and funding for transportation, which includes air traffic control. Medicare would be cut, the health care reform law repealed. If you think the health reform law is too kind to insurance companies, you’ll be amazed at the way Ryan-Romney lets big insurance really run things.

“In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse—on steroids,” said Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.

“Chairman Ryan says these changes in domestic programs are necessary due to the nation’s severe fiscal straits. The nation’s fiscal straits, however, surely do not justify massive new tax cuts for its wealthiest people alongside budget cuts that would cast tens of millions of less fortunate Americans into the ranks of the uninsured, take food from poor children, make it harder for low-income students to get a college degree and squeeze funding for research, education and infrastructure. Under Chairman Ryan’s budget, our nation would be a very different one—less fair and less generous, with an even wider gap between the very well-off and everyone else … and our society would be a coarser one.”

State austerity budgets have created a need for PTA fundraising.  What’s that old saying about the navy should do the bake sales for battleships instead?

While the National Parent Teacher Association doesn’t keep track of how much money its 5 million members raise, interviews with dozens of schools and state PTAs confirm that as states have slashed school funding, parent contributions to public schools have soared. It’s no longer unusual for families at well-heeled schools to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year – even a million – for copy machines, paper, finger paints and other school supplies along with gym, art and music programs.

PTA funds also are used for much-needed building maintenance, classroom aides and essential staff like school nurses, but critics fear that these voluntary funds inadvertently let states off the hook and widen the gap between rich schools and poor, which can’t raise that kind of cash.

“It’s one thing to raise $300 for a teacher to buy school supplies, but it’s another thing to say $1 million,” says Arnold Fege, director of public engagement and advocacy at the Public Education Network in Washington, a network of community-based school reform organizations.

“This really moves us in the wrong direction,” he adds. “When we should be looking at adequacy, we’re assuring a system where there are winners and losers.”

Indeed, 37 states now provide less funding to elementary and high schools than they did last year, and 30 states spend less than they did four years ago, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan research and policy institute in Washington.

But in an age of helicopter dads and tiger moms, parents are eager to maintain class sizes and popular enrichment programs. Parent associations feel the pressure to raise money to fill the gap.

Nasty  right wing hit film man James O’Keefe is in more trouble.  One of his former colleagues is blogging and telling all. I have to wonder if this will impact his parole since one of the charges is that he maintains a “rape barn”.

It’s a right-wing rabble-rouser showdown! Jazz-handed pimp impersonator James O’Keefe is at “#WAR” with a former Project Veritas colleague who is now blogging an O’Keefe tell-all involving stolen panties, drugged beers, a “rape barn,” “taped intimate moments,” a $20K pay-off, and barbs about “black welfare queens.” James O’Keefe has graduated from creepy seductions to a full-blown sex scandal.

Harvard grad student Nadia Naffe recently filed a criminal harassment complaint against James. Citing insufficient evidence, a judge dismissed the case. Now Nadia is on a scorched earth cyber rampage. “If he wants a fight, bring it on. This is #WAR,” she tweeted last night, after retweeting outraged utterances from an unofficial Rubio4President account about James’ “rape barn.” On her personal blog, she is currently on part two of a sprawling anti-O’Keefe opus.

Nadia says she worked with James on his painful “To Catch a Journalist” series, during which he made racially charged romantic overtures. Weeks later, she agreed to stay in a “renovated barn” on his parents’ property while working on another project. She then republishes a 1500-word email she apparently sent to James and the Project Veritas board after the rape barn weekend:

You can read Nadia Naffe’s blog here.

The Economist focuses on Hillary Clinton’s record as Secretary and State and has some ideas on her future plans.

On that first of more than half a dozen Asian trips, Jeffrey Bader, the White House’s director for East Asia until leaving last year, was struck by the shrieks of approval Mrs Clinton elicited along her motorcade route or in hotel lobbies. At a university in South Korea, he says, thousands of star-struck girls greeted her as “the ultimate woman’s role model”.

Certainly no previous secretary has enjoyed Mrs Clinton’s advantages in the second part of her job, as America’s ambassador. Already a celebrity, she knew many of the world’s leaders before starting out. It may help, too, that she is not a lawyer, general or professor, like previous secretaries of state, but a politician who has seen at first hand the high politics of the White House and the low politics of the Senate and the campaign trail. At a time when people everywhere are demanding a say in how they are governed, she thinks it is an advantage to be able to say to nervous leaders in fledgling democracies: “Mr President, I’ve won elections and I’ve lost elections; I do know how you feel.”

Not only has Clinton travelled to 95 countries.  She’s reformed the State Department.

Borrowing an idea from the Pentagon, she launched its first quadrennial strategy review. The aim, she said in an article for Foreign Affairs, was to develop “a more holistic approach to civilian power”.

America’s ambassadors were instructed that diplomacy was no longer a matter of talking only to other governments: they were to see themselves as CEOs of multi-agency missions, reaching out to the whole of society. In the 21st century, she said, “a diplomat is as likely to meet with a tribal elder in a rural village as a counterpart in a foreign ministry, and is as likely to wear cargo pants as a pinstriped suit.” In umpteen meetings with “civil society” around the world, she has led by example.

Also new is an emphasis on “economic statecraft”, an attempt to co-ordinate everything from pushing China on its exchange rate, to promoting free trade, to defending intellectual property, to luring inward investment and helping American firms find markets and opportunities overseas. She has appointed the department’s first chief economist. These, however, are areas where the Treasury, Commerce Department and White House are already active—and likely to stay dominant.

Running the department has also given Mrs Clinton an instrument to promote the welfare of women, a cause she made her own as first lady in 1995 when a speech on women’s rights at a conference in Beijing made a global splash. She has installed Melanne Verveer, her former White House chief of staff, as ambassador for women, reporting directly to her, and another longtime aide, Kris Balderston, “special representative for global partnerships”. One of his projects has been to create a coalition of governments, corporations and non-profits to develop cheap, hygienic cooking stoves for the millions of women around the world who have to forage for fuel to feed their families.

It’s a nice long article with a list of some of her bigger accomplishments.  Make some time to read it !

So, what else is on your reading and blogging list today?


Reversal of Fortunes: How to kill your cash cow the Komen way

Schools that teach marketing for nonprofits will undoubtedly use the recent Komen debacle as a case study in how to radically change your brand for worse in a matter of hours.  Komen’s decision to defund breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has turned into an example of mismanagement as well as mangled message.  Komen was fairly well known by those that care as an institution more interested in marketing than its mission.  The ill-timed decision has undoubtedly brought some of its worse decisions out into the light of day.  My guess is that Komen will not be able to put its Humpty Dumpty foundation back together again.  Here are some of the reasons why.

Komen was in such a hurry to please some of its new associates that it obviously didn’t plan its response or gauge the backlash.  It underestimated the power of women and the power of social networking.  This comes when you listen to only one side and the Komen organization appears to have been listening to  right wing advocates that were more concerned about their own personal agendas than Komen’s broader mission.  They hired women that were part and parcel of the current war on women who pushed until Komen’s board broke. This should demonstrate that you really need to be careful with whom you climb into bed.

As heartening as the outpouring and the reversal has been, and as satisfying as it’s been on some level to watch Komen’s PR strategy implode, the initial decision is still bad news, and it comes after a year of bad policy. One of the primary items on the right-wing agenda since the GOP swept into Congress in 2010 has been to isolate, ostracize, harass and shame Planned Parenthood. They’ve tried to de-fund it at the federal and state levels and launched a bogus investigation. Planned Parenthood and all abortion providers are part of a never-ending paranoid obsession. Many bloggers have been comparing it to the Salem, Massachusetts hysteria, the kind of witch-hunt that taints everyone by association.

They’ve already succeeded in making abortion a pariah among medical procedures, the only one not funded by Medicaid, the only one hushed up and shunted aside. Now they’re trying to extend that blacklist to Planned Parenthood, and backlash aside, Komen’s move shows that this relentless campaign has met with some success.

Komen’s board must’ve become progressively insular.  This is something that is ill-advised when you’re a service organization that relies on the donations of a broad group of donors.  They removed their democratic lobbyist and lost their primary scientist. By doing this and hiring right wing activist and Quitterella pal, Karen Handel, Komen sealed their fate. No amount of protesting about the “unpolitical” nature of the defunding decision takes away the well-documented change in direction.  The press have found smoking pink guns in less than 48 hours.

Before Handel’s hiring, Komen’s lobbying shop was staunchly Democratic — from its head to its hired guns, former Democratic aides did most of the heavy lifting on everything from the breast cancer stamp to breast cancer research to its advocacy on the health care bill. And when their lead lobbyist, former Democratic staffer Jennifer Luray, quietly left in 2010, she took with her a six-figure severance package not in keeping with an employee that just found a new job.

At the time Handel was hired as a consultant — shortly after Luray left — Handel told the local magazine Northside Woman that Komen was her first and only client, and that her role was to “[work] with [the affiliates] to make sure they are as strong as they can be,” adding, “we’re making sure there’s a good relationship between the national group and the affiliate group [sic].” She told the Atlanta Trend last year, “Everybody understands that budgets are really, really tight in virtually every state. And that means that every program, no matter how worthwhile, is on the table to be scrutinized.” That would seem to belie Komen Foundation President Nancy Brinker’s assertion today that Handel wasn’t involved in the decision to end most affiliates’ grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, let alone her assertion that none of their decisions were “political.”

Interestingly, before Brinker took the reins of the organization itself and Handel came on board, Komen’s lobbyists had typically leaned to the left, especially since the Advocacy Alliance opened.

Now, the change in mission is clearly seen. We’re seeing the branding of pink hope hand guns and carcinogenic perfumes.  We’re reading about how Komen has started defunding stem cell research and hearing about the lobbying efforts made during the HCRA passage that indicated Komen did not have the interests of under-served women in mind.  Their brand is shot.

There has been plenty of controversy from Komen to date ranging from accusations they are denying links to cancer because of donations they receive to suing smaller organizations for using “for the cure” in their marketing. But they’ve weathered it because they’ve remained focused on what is and should be a completely non-partisan cause — preventing, treating and curing breast cancer. They’ve attracted women and men of all political stripes and backgrounds to their cause. It was a safe place for corporations to support the cause. Komen’s board thought they were simply cutting off a grant, for what many believe to be ideological reasons driven by Karen Handel, but what they were really doing is changing their entire mission. By taking a side in the abortion debate they essentially decided: we only want to work with men and women on the anti-abortion side of the debate, cutting off at least 50% if not more of their support.

I’d bet the board didn’t realize that’s what they were doing, but given that fact there’s no communications strategy that could have saved them. They could have handled things much better, but that was crossing the Rubicon for them. The lesson for nonprofits here is you have to always bring strategic decisions back to your mission and your supporters. How would they perceive it? Mission statements aren’t something top of mind every day and they usually aren’t something we can rattle off in an elevator. But that’s why they exist, to guide you as things like this come up.

Here’s one troubling account of other things Komen’s been up to.

Upon calling my GOP senator and speaking with his aide, I was shocked to hear her tell me “Sen.__ can’t sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill because all the breast cancer groups aren’t in agreement on it.”  Shocked, I asked her who was opposing it.  She told me that Komen opposed the bill. When I asked her why, she explained that Komen felt that treatment for uninsured breast cancer patients should be funded through private donations, like the pink ribbon race.  I was speechless, in shock.  A phone call to another activist confirmed it was true – Komen was lobbying behind the scenes to kill the bill.  A moment later, Sen.__’s aide called me back and begged me not to repeat our conversation to anyone, that she had given me the information by mistake.

Thus my lesson about Komen began in 2000. They spend a lot of money lobbying for a very different agenda.

The bill passed anyway and Bill Clinton, who pushed hard in Congress for its passage, was happy to sign it.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t the end of Komen (and its founder, Nancy Brinker’s) political maneuvering to stall or kill legislation in Congress and in state legislatures that was supported by other breast cancer advocacy groups.

They fought behind the scenes in my state to prevent the governor from adopting the Treatment Program.  They worked for several years to stall or kill the Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Act.  In the end, they eviscerated it by removing new funding for environmental research and substituting a panel to review all research on breast cancer & environment.  Using private funds, they recently collaborated with the Institute of Medicine to develop said report.  Released last December, it sadly detailed the same old arguments that there’s no evidence of links between environmental toxins and that no further research should be done on the subject since everyone has those toxins in their bodies already.  Instead they chose to blame breast cancer patients for getting the disease (more here).

They have also been accused of  “pinkwashing” the disease.

Many companies that raise funds for breast cancer also make products that are linked to the disease. Breast Cancer Action calls these companies “pinkwashers.” BMW, for example, gives $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure each time you test-drive one of their cars, even though pollutants found in car exhaust are linked to breast cancer. Many cosmetics companies whose products contain chemicals linked to breast cancer also sell their items for the cause.

The movie Pink Ribbons Inc will certainly be afforded more attention. Given its reputation for product placement over women, anti-choice agendas over science, and higher-than-expected salaries and overhead, it seems that Lady Karma has seen to it that Komen will never again be what it was.   What we need now is an alternative. As a survivor of a rare form of cervical/uterine cancer–leiomeiosarcoma–I would like to see a nonprofit foundation that truly supports research into all women’s cancers and does so while learning all the Komen Lessons.

This is another one of those instances where women should say never again.  Right now,  Planned Parenthood is my choice of causes.  Don’t contribute to any organization corrupted by the foot soldiers in the war against women.


Evening News Reads: Tied to a fence and Tied to a bad decision…

Good Evening

Today we have seen a lot of back and forth with Komen For the Cure and Planned Parenthood. It is good to see that PP is getting some big donations in response to the ridiculous actions of the Komen foundation. So I am just going to highlight a few new articles on the whole “Pink You!” debacle…

I must say, when I saw the title of this MoJo link, I laughed and laughed.

Komen’s $7.5 Million Grant to Penn State Appears to Violate New Policy | Mother Jones

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which recently announced that it is ending grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening because of a controversial investigation launched by an anti-abortion Republican congressman, currently funds cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. Like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. But so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.

An internal Komen memo written by President Elizabeth Thompson and obtained by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic states that if “an applicant or its affiliates” is under investigation “for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities,” then “the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.” Penn State, the Pennsylvania university that the Hershey center is affiliated with, is currently under investigation by the federal government over the sexual assault scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse of children. In 2008, the Komen foundation awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant to the Hershey center to study treatments that could reduce the risk of breast cancer.

This is why we know that the decision to withdraw support from Planned Parenthood was a targeted attack by someone, cough Handel cough, who had a personal agenda to defund Planned Parenthood from the get go.

Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, university officials are required to “issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community.” The Department of Education announced that it was investigating Penn State over possible Clery Act violations last November, and a Penn State spokesperson told Mother Jones that the investigation is ongoing. The Komen foundation has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Of course they won’t comment! For those of you getting talked down to by people who believe Planned Parenhood protects sex offenders/predators, then I think you may want to share the news regarding this grant of 7.5 million to a university that clearly had a sexual predator and child rapist on their payroll…and still do. (I believe Sandusky is still getting a pension, right?) If I am wrong about that let me know.

More on this bad PR move: Komen struggles to defuse Planned Parenthood crisis | Reuters

The world’s leading breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, struggled on Thursday to defuse a growing crisis over its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services.

The sudden rift between the two top U.S. women’s health advocacy groups triggered a furious debate on social media sites between supporters and opponents of abortion rights.

Democratic lawmakers called on Komen to reconsider its move as the organization was thrust into the center of an intractable dispute that some say will hamper its work for years to come [ID:nL2E8D2HHA]. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged his own money to help Planned Parenthood recoup the lost funds.

I spent most of the day on other sites, commenting on many of the articles that we have linked to on the blog in the last 48 hours. It is unbelievable the amount of smartass remarks from idiots who see no problem with the decision to cut funding for cancer screening programs that are mostly used by lower-income women.

However, the comments from folks who are disturbed by the politicizing of something as important as saving lives…are something to see. I am happy about that.

For one thing, the right’s war on women has been going on with little or no response or fight from women who seem to be detached from the attacks on their given rights over their own bodies. There has been a dull hum from people who have talked and talked about the Christian Jihad against women…we here on Sky Dancing have been a part of that hum…but this decision from Komen to cut ties to Planned Parenthood has really slapped some sense into people! And that is one thing I am glad to see.

One more link on this: Susan G. Komen Top Officials Resign As Backlash Gains Steam

Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s New York chapter, said she plans to resign from her position unless Komen reverses its decision to pull grant money from Planned Parenthood.

“I’m a physician and my interest is women’s health, and I am disturbed by Komen’s decision because I am a very strong advocate for serving under-served women,” Plesser told The Huffington Post. “Eliminating this funding will mean there’s no place for these women to go. Where are these women to go to have a mammography? Do they not deserve to have mammography?”

With her decision, Plesser joins Komen’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, and the executive director of Komen’s Los Angeles County chapter, Deb Anthony, both of whom also resigned in protest.

Moving on to something else…and I may get some flak from this, when I complain about the injection of religion into politics and government, it goes both ways.  Obama: Jesus would tax the rich – Jennifer Epstein – POLITICO.com

President Barack Obama on Thursday tied his proposal to raise taxes on wealthy Americans to his faith, telling leaders gathered for the National Prayer Breakfast that Jesus’s teachings have shaped that conclusion.

The rich should pay more not only because “I actually think that is going to make economic sense, but for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,’” Obama said at the Washington Hilton, delivering remarks at an annual event that every president has attended since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

You know, I get what he is saying, but I just wish all this Jesus and Christian and God and religious manipulation would stop…from everyone!

It has no place in government…period.

There is this op/ed from David Ignatius. Is Israel preparing to attack Iran? – The Washington Post

You can go and read it at the link, I’ve been so focused on the Komen Krap  and the violence in Egypt, that I really haven’t kept up with the latest out of Iran.

Now, this last article is disturbing…In NYPD Custody, Trans People Get Chained to Fences and Poles

A trans woman says that when she was arrested for a minor subway violation, NYPD officers belittled her, called her names, asked about her genitals — and kept her chained to a fence for 28 hours. Now she’s suing. And it turns out she’s far from alone.

In her lawsuit, Temmie Breslauer says she was arrested on January 12 in a subway station for illegally using her dad’s discount fare card (only seniors and people with disabilities can get these). She says the arresting officers — the suit names one, Officer Shah — laughed at her. When they took her to the station, a desk sergeant asked her “whether she had a penis or a vagina.” Breslauer explained that she was in transition. Then, instead of putting her with female inmates or in her own room, the department allegedly chose this course of action:

[S]he was fingerprinted, seated on a bench, then painfully chained to a fence wherein, for no apparent reason, her arm was lifted over her head and attached to the fence to make it appear that she was raising her hand in the classroom. She sat there in that position for 28 hours.

She also says officers not only refused to call her “she,” they instead referred to her as “He-She”, “Faggot,” and “Lady GaGa,” and asked her “So you like to suck dick? Or what?” Meanwhile, people arrested for the same minor crime (misdemeanor “theft of services”) she was were calmly processed and allowed to leave. Finally, she was able to go before a judge, who gave her two days of community service. She says the whole ordeal aggravated her existing PTSD and left her sleepless and suicidal.

There seems to be a pattern of police brutality when it comes to crimes allegedly committed by Transgender persons.

And this isn’t the first time the NYPD has been accused of mocking and abusing a trans person. In October, Justin Adkins, director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College, was arrested for protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of Occupy Wall Street. At The Bilerico Project, he reports almost exactly the same treatment that Breslauer got. When a male officer found out Adkins was trans, he asked Adkins what he “had down there.” Then, at the the station, this happened:

They had me sit down in a chair next to the filthy toilet, and handcuffed my right wrist to a metal handrail.

Why was I segregated from all of the other protestors? Perhaps the answer lay in the fact that police officers were coming by to ogle me, and were laughing and giggling at me through a window. It was obvious that prisoners were rarely handcuffed to a railing in this manner, because a number of officers asked a female officer why I was handcuffed to the railing. She told them something, I couldn’t hear what, but then, on each of these occasions, they would laugh and giggle while looking at me pointedly.

Adkins was chained up for eight hours, sometimes with his arm twisted painfully behind him, before he was finally released.

Adkins is waiting to hear back about his formal complaint filed with Internal Affairs. He has requested a standard procedure for arrest of Transgender detainees, however, his is not the first request.

A list of demands issued to the NYPD in 2009 by a group of transgender advocates and lawyers includes this:

NYPD officers place detained transgender women in cells with men in dangerous situations against their will no matter the circumstances. Transgender men have been cuffed to rails outside of cells for hours on end.

The list also says that, “In 2004, a transgender woman filed a law suit against the NYPD alleging a pattern and practice of engaging in unconstitutional and overly invasive searches of transgender people. Since then, at least four other transgender women have sued the NYPD about violations of their civil rights.”

The reporter ends this article with this:

So far I haven’t been able to get anyone from the NYPD to comment on this issue in any way. Emails to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information have gone unanswered. When I contacted Timothy Duffy, the NYPD’s LGBT liaison, he declined to comment and referred me right back to the DCPI. All the advocates I talked to expressed some hope that the NYPD would change. But I bet lots of people in the trans community would feel a lot more hopeful if the department would make a public commitment to treating them like people. Until then, all they have to go on are some vague assurances of reform — and a lot of lawsuits that show the exact opposite.

Reform, that favorite of all stall tactics…

What are you all doing this evening? With all that has happened on the women front, I will be making brownies…lots of brownies!


Infiltration and Capitulation: The Cult of the Zygote

The Susan G. Komen debacle is just the latest in a long history of the infiltration of organizations with the sole purpose of de-funding family planning services and eliminating women’s access to reproductive health services. I remember the first time I witnessed the infiltration and capitulation of a nonprofit organization that was designed to help families in need. This happened back in the very early 1980s. My local Planned Parenthood in Omaha was a major recipient of funds given by the local United Way. It was one of the first Planned Parenthoods defunded as anti-family planning zealots strategically worked to remove it from the United Way list of partner organizations.  In this case, they brought in Catholic Charities and booted Planned Parenthood.  I had already had problems with United Way as they are well known for unequal funding of girls and boys organizations. This made me resolve to never give them another dime EVER again.

Simultaneously, there was a move by zygote zealots to take over the Republican Party with the goal of removing the pro-choice and pro-ERA positions from the platform and to infiltrate local School Boards. These actions are directly a result of organized religious activity.  The Komen decision is just the continuation of a 30 year plan to inject strict religious interpretations of “life” and what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable forms of birth control into the process of granting both private and public funds to organizations.  Similar infiltration happened to the Libertarian Political Party and other charities.  In other words, this is nothing new. It’s been a well orchestrated, funded, concerted effort that is fully supported by major right wing, reactionary, anti-women churches in the country as well as right wing, religion-based social and cultural organizations.

Here’s an example of a recent move by the Canton Ohio United Way.

The United Way of Greater Stark County will remove Planned Parenthood from its all-star list next year after a 40-year run.
Beginning April 1, Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio will become an affiliate partner. That means United Way no longer will consider funding Planned Parenthood with the contributions it receives as part of its annual campaign drive unless the donor specifies the contribution for that purpose.

This year, United Way allocated $141,765 to Planned Parenthood’s Canton Health Center. United Way has funded Planned Parenthood since 1970.

United Way spokeswoman Sarah Hayden said the change is due to increased concerns from donors regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion services and counseling. In 2007, Planned Parenthood of Stark County, which does not provide abortion services, merged with Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio, which includes a Cleveland office that does provide the service.

To ease the funding cut, United Way’s board of directors will give Planned Parenthood a special board grant of $140,000 a year for two years to fund Stark County programming. Hayden said the special grant, which expires in March 2013, comes from prior campaign donations that now make up United Way’s reserves.

I have refused to participate in any shape , way or form in any United Way drive since this usurpation started.  In several cases, I have had drive representatives in my organization make donations in my name to meet their goals of 100% participation against my will.  This has actually been one of my pet peeves for over 30 years now.  It was also a source of stress between my ex-husband and I since he received intense pressure to give to United Way. He would sneak donations to them so as not to rock the boat with the rest of the senior management.  He was also pressured to give to politicians which was another bone of contention between us.  His job at Mutual of Omaha and the pressure to fund right wing religious freaks became a major source of arguments.  I can’t tell you how many times I told him to quit the job or I’d quit him.  I finally quit him.

An article in today’s Atlantic outlines
how the zygote zealots on the board of directors of Susan G. Komen infiltrated and changed the policy of the foundation. It’s not a cautionary tale.  It’s a detailed outline of a plan that’s been in place for some time.  It appears that major employees of the foundation quit rather than carry out the edicts.

Komen, the marketing juggernaut that brought the world the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign, says it cut-off Planned Parenthood because of a newly adopted foundation rule prohibiting it from funding any group that is under formal investigation by a government body. (Planned Parenthood is being investigated by Rep. Cliff Stearns, an anti-abortion Florida Republican, who says he is trying to learn if the group spent public money to provide abortions.)

But three sources with direct knowledge of the Komen decision-making process told me that the rule was adopted in order to create an excuse to cut-off Planned Parenthood. (Komen gives out grants to roughly 2,000 organizations, and the new “no-investigations” rule applies to only one so far.) The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) I’ve tried to reach Handel for comment, and will update this post if I speak with her.

The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board’s decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants. Williams declined to comment when I reached her yesterday on whether she had resigned her position in protest, and she declined to speak about any other aspects of the controversy.

But John Hammarley, who until recently served as Komen’s senior communications adviser and who was charged with managing the public relations aspects of Komen’s Planned Parenthood grant, said that Williams believed she could not honorably serve in her position once Komen had caved to pressure from the anti-abortion right. “Mollie is one of the most highly respected and ethical people inside the organization, and she felt she couldn’t continue under these conditions,” Hammarley said. “The Komen board of directors are very politically savvy folks, and I think over time they thought if they gave in to the very aggressive propaganda machine of the anti-abortion groups, that the issue would go away. It seemed very short-sighted to me.”

I frequently thought that the pervasive campaign to revamp the goals of United Way to a culturally reactionary funding source would wake people up.  It has not.  My hope is that the Komen move will finally shine some much needed light on this situation.  Reasonable people cannot be complacent. I seriously recommend that you watch your dollars and make sure that any charity or organization that you’ve supported has not experienced the infiltration and capitulation to these narrow minded religious zealots. I make sure that I write exactly why I will not give any money to United Way on every plea from the organization that I get. I will not fund any organization that directly funds religious groups no matter what the affiliation.  We have seen not only our charitable giving but our public tax dollars go to religious organizations that practice discrimination, deny civil rights to individuals, and push narrow religious tenets.  We cannot afford to be blind to this any more.

Contribute directly to Planned Parenthood.  Do not give money to organizations–like United Way and Komen–that have become tools in the war against women and children.  Let them know exactly why you will not be contributing them because the anti-women right is the only group they usually hear from. This situation is only going to get worse and it’s time to fight back.