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Thursday, 09 February 2012 11:48

When It Comes to Sex, There Is a Plan B

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

When it comes to sex, there is a Plan B.

In a surge of recent moves that appear to accommodate the realities of living in a contemporary world - and not the mythical Ozzie and Harriet past (that was really just a Hollywood television fantasy) - the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services is now requiring that insurance companies and plans include birth control in their free preventive services. This would include the "Plan B" pill (pharmaceutically aka as Levonorgestrel), which can be taken after intercourse, for a very limited time period, to try and prevent a pregnancy.

You might be surprised to learn that birth control will be mandated as free if you are insured, since you might not be aware that many preventative health care procedures are now free under health care reform. Of course, it is not unlikely that the same people who continue to batter "Obamacare" are now in an uproar about how America will allegedly further descend into a sexual libertine nation if the pill and Plan B are considered preventative.

It's hard to know what it is about Republicans and sex. So many of them seem to regard it as the downfall of civilization, when it appears globalization and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act had much more to do with America's decline than Elvis Presley and the pill.

And then there is the strange reality that so many Republican leaders seem to live rather licentious lives (think Newt Gingrich) while decrying the fall of "social values" in the US. Sex is sort of a third rail psychological hot button for followers of the GOP that gets them politically aroused beyond any relationship to this modern world.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

"Trickle down" is not an economic theory; it's a self-enriching religion for the wealthiest amongst us.

The economists and pundits are legion who have challenged the notion that the amassing of wealth by a privileged few results in more jobs being created in the US. After all, if this were the case - at a time the richer are becoming even richer - why did we nearly just reach a depression?

Published in EditorBlog

It would be wrong to let Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation off the hook because its Tea Party, anti-choice, anti-gay rights Vice President for Public Policy Karen Handel has abruptly departed the organization.

First of all, Handel was hired by Komen as the foundation's point person for their government and public affairs policies with full foreknowledge of her extremist positions and right-wing political pedigree. Indeed, when Handel ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2010, she was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer. Did this not come up in her Komen job "interview"?

Furthermore, as we pointed out in the BuzzFlash at Truthout exposés listed at the end of this commentary, Ari Fleischer, an opponent of Planned Parenthood, was asked by Komen CEO and founder, Nancy Brinker, to subsequently oversee the hiring of a senior vice president for communications and external relations. Does one need to connect the dots here?

It is BuzzFlash at Truthout's speculation that Handel was terminated with the cover story of her resigning. Employers do not usually give severance packages to people who resign, which Handel claims she turned down from Komen in her "departure letter."

Before Komen's "crisis management" - and carefully worded - mea culpa, Brinker confirmed and backed the future Planned Parenthood cut off, so no one at Komen can argue that this was a stealth strategy carried out by a fanatic.

In fact, as the BuzzFlash at Truthout exposés point out, it appears - given the partisan and "corporate branding" priorities of Komen - that Handel was hired to implement the feckless appeasement of the anti-choice movement.

Actually a key passage in Handel's "resignation letter" to Brinker sounds close to the truth (while other sections sound self-serving):

At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization's real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT  

Last week, BuzzFlash at Truthout pointed out the GOP leanings of Nancy Brinker and her tightly held governance of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. We provided evidence of Brinker's strong Republican donation ties, and the domination of the small (nine member) Komen board by Brinker's friends, Republican donors - and even her son.

In essence, the Komen Planned Parenthood debacle should not have been unexpected, as detailed in our exposes, since Brinker's return in late 2009.

Aside from leaning to the right since Brinker's return as CEO, there has been a long-standing complaint that Komen indulges in rampant "pinkwashing." This is the use of corporate "cause marketing" relationships with Komen, in return for donations to the foundation. (The Bank of America "pink ribbon" credit card is one such example.)

But it comes at a significant price, according to many observers. Take for instance a Mother Jones article that charges that Komen underplays the likely impact of toxic chemicals in causing breast cancer and other cancers. Why would Komen adopt such policies? Allegedly, according to Mother Jones, because many of its corporate sponsors would have their profits and images negatively affected by Komen recognizing the likely causal relationship.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

No doubt the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has done some good and honorable work, but according to the most recent audit of Komen, it had $471 million (page 11 of Ernst & Young audit, included in-kind goods and services) in "public support and revenue" in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011 - and that's a lot to account for.

The Komen Foundation also had a whopping $193 million dollars in net assets as of March 31, 2011. (See page 3 of audit.)

To the Komen Foundation's credit, it has posted its official financial statements from the last few years on its website.

So many women and men have invested their money, volunteer hours and hopes in Komen that it is reassuring to know that it makes its revenues and expenditures accessible, in terms of its audit and IRS required 990 forms.

But there is another kind of transparency that is lacking on the site. Yesterday, BuzzFlash at Truthout wrote a commentary entitled the "CEO of Komen and Former Husband Gave Massive Donations to GOP." In the blog entry, we also noted the widely speculated role of anti-abortion GOP social conservative activist and former political candidate, Karen Handel -- who serves as the Komen senior vice president of public policy - in the Komen Planned Parenthood debacle.

Think Progress also ran a story late on Friday that former George W. Bush presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer played a significant role in a recent key senior level hiring at Komen. According to Think Progress, Fleischer - an opponent of Planned Parenthood - brought up the organization and its "problematic nature" for Komen during the interviewing process. The question of why such a partisan figure as Fleischer was retained to hire a senior vice president for communications and external relations is well worth asking, particularly in light of the communications disaster caused by the announcement of the Komen Planned Parenthood planned cut-off.

It should be noted that the ideological Planned Parenthood decision might have its roots in the return of Nancy Brinker as CEO (the founder, who named the organization after her sister who had died of breast cancer) in December of 2009, after she had completed a stretch of service in the George W. Bush administration, including serving as US ambassador to Hungary (thanks to campaign contributions to the Bush campaign) and as chief of United States protocol (ditto).

A review of the board of directors of Komen by BuzzFlash at Truthout reveals that Brinker has the likely votes to control board decisions at any given time, and that those votes are either Republican stalwarts or individuals personally loyal to her. For instance, one of the members of the relatively small nine-person board - given its nearly half-billion dollars in annual revenue - is Brinker's son, Eric Brinker. Another is Brinker herself, although, to be fair, many non-profit boards have the CEO as a member.

Linda Law, an apparently extremely accomplished real estate developer and consultant, includes in her Komen board biography that she is an "RNC regent." This means she is a top bundler and fundraiser for the Republican National Committee, an odd detail to be included in a non-profit board bio. Komen board member Linda Custard, a Dallas social insider, and her husband, William, are listed on opensecrets.org as giving more than 95% in significant contributions to Republicans.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The fallout from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's planned severing of funding to Planned Parenthood can be measured in the number of women who would be denied breast cancer screening.

Today, February 3, Komen engaged in what is known as crisis management, appearing to "reverse" its decision, although that, as Truthout points out, remains the subject of some debate. The devil as always, will be in the details - and right now, even after its "mea culpa," Komen is not committing to refunding Planned Parenthood.

The devil may also be in the politics of the decision, although Komen founder and CEO, Nancy Brinker, denies that this is the case. The Dallas Morning News presents a former senior employee with another perspective:

But John Hammarley, a former KDFW-TV (Channel 4) medical reporter who went to work for Komen, disputed her account in an interview Thursday with The Dallas Morning News:

Until last summer, his job at Komen was to explain and defend the charity's relationship with Planned Parenthood. He was laid off in July.

He said questions about Komen's support of Planned Parenthood began to arise from within the breast-cancer advocacy group after Karen Handel was hired as senior vice president for public policy in April.

Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia, posted on her campaign website: "Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood."

Hammarley said he did not know if Handel was behind the policy change.

"All I know is the internal debate and review of this issue ramped up significantly after she was hired," he said.

The new policy was that the Komen Foundation would not fund organizations "under investigation." CREDO, the mobile phone company that also funds progressive causes - including Planned Parenthood - indicated that the Planned Parenthood "investigation" in the GOP House of Representatives is a vendetta to appease anti-abortion groups:

"The move is clearly connected to attempts by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood," the organization said

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Given the daily lacerating commentaries on BuzzFlash at Truthout, you might not suspect that we have a sentimental side. Although, admittedly, there is a political/"social values" angle to our soft spot for the Obama marriage.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

A short time ago, BuzzFlash at Truthout ran a commentary on how US global corporations don't give a hoot about increasing jobs in America.

In it, we included a section about how Silicon Valley high-tech companies, particularly Apple, use overseas contractors to manufacture their latest technological consumer products. It has been documented that some of these contractors create such harsh conditions and pay such low wages that workers have been driven to suicide, as The New York Times and other publications have detailed.

In a two-part Times expose, an Apple executive claimed: "We [Apple] don't have an obligation to solve America's problems." That was in response to Apple shipping so many potential US jobs overseas to these slave-wage sweatshops; e.g., "90 percent of the parts of an iPhone are made outside the U.S."

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

It was the photo seen round the nation - one that in a single finger-wagging gesture was a Rorschach test of America's "post-racial" society.

When Jan Brewer - governor of perhaps the most politically anti-immigrant state in the union (including most recently banning school books statewide that were Mexican-American related) - was seen in vivid color raising her index finger in high dudgeon at President Obama, the outpouring of racial animus that followed his election was distilled into one Phoenix sun-drenched tarmac moment.

Adding to the image of white backlash in a racially charged "post-racial" America, Brewer claimed that she felt "threatened" by Obama in their airport encounter.

It is worth noting that Brewer was supposed to be "welcoming" the president of the United States - as is the usual case when a president travels - not confronting him to, perhaps, increase sales of her book and fundraise off of the image of a white woman being "threatened" by a black man. Ironically, Brewer was carrying a handwritten letter inviting the president to lunch and a border tour, while acknowledging their political differences.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

The birther movement is back, and its goal is trying to get President Obama knocked off the fall ballot in as many states as possible.

Sound preposterous? Well, the movement may be, but the strategy is for real.

Look at what is happening in Georgia.

Orly Taitz, the naturalized-citizen birther provocateur from Moldavia, is trying to get Obama thrown off the state ballot. Her argument is, yet again, that Obama is allegedly not a natural-born citizen, according to the constitutional requirement.

Published in EditorBlog
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