Day: February 3, 2012

Matt Santos (The West Wing) on the definition of Liberal

I’ve said this before, The West Wing was my absolute favorite show on television.  Here is an example why…

” … I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor. “

From The Debate episode, season seven of the West Wing

“The Debate” between Arnold Vinick and Matt Santos

Written by Lawrence O’Donnell 

Susan G. Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Decision, Does Not Promise To Renew Grants

Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker

Women across the country have won this battle, but apparently, the Komen Foundation’s reluctance to  promise renewal of future grants to Planned Parenthood indicate that there will  undoubtedly be more hurdles to cross…

The Huffington Post

Following a massive public backlashover its decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker apologized to the family planning organization on Friday and said Komen will preserve its eligibility for future grants.

Brinker said in a statement that the decision is a result of “distress” at the “presumption” that Komen, the nation’s largest breast cancer charity, pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood for political reasons:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.

The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.

Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.

We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.

Continue reading…

Oops: Florida Republican Forgets To Remove ALEC Mission Statement From Boilerplate Anti-Tax Bill

ALEC is literally involved in writing most GOP policy papers on a state and Federal level…

Think Progress

Progressives have long tried to expose the influence the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) wields in state house across the country, but one Florida lawmaker is making it too easy.

Funded almost entirely by large corporations, ALEC produces “model legislation” favorable to industry that state lawmakers can introduce as their own bills. Usually, the legislators tweak the language of the bills to make them state-specific or to obfuscate their origins. Usually, but apparently not always.

In November, Florida state Rep. Rachel Burgin (R) introduced a resolution (PDF here) that would officially call on the federal government to reduce corporate taxes, but she apparentlyforgot to remove ALEC’s mission statement from the top of the bill, which she seems to have copied word-for-word from ALEC’s model bill:

 

 

As the government transparency group Common Cause reports, “Burgin quickly withdrew the bill hoping that no one had noticed and then re-introduced it 24-hours later, with a new bill number (HM 717), but now without the problematic paragraph.” Apparently no one noticed until this week.

While it’s no secret by now that conservative lawmakers in state capitals everywhere have used ALEC’s legislation to tear down environmental and labor regulations, curb voting rights, and coordinate a business-friendly agenda nationwide, it’s rare to see it on display so clearly.

Andrea Mitchell To Komen Chief: I’m Expressing ‘Anger’ Of Many People (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell had some tough words for Susan G. Komen chief Nancy Brinker about the growing firestorm over Planned Parenthood.

Mitchell and Brinker were discussing the controversy that has erupted around Susan G. Komen’s recent decision to end its funding to Planned Parenthood. The funding supported Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide breast cancer screenings for its patients.

Shortly after the interview started, Mitchell disclosed her connection to breast cancer and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. “Let me just put out there first of all, I have have been identified, an outspoken supporter and participant in the races over the years long before I, myself, ended up being diagnosed with breast cancer.” Mitchell announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2011.

Mitchell added that she and Brinker have known each other a long time through Brinker’s role at the foundation and her time as a diplomat at the State Department. “But I come to you today, you know, expressing the anger of a lot of people,” Mitchell said. “Channeling through them, you see it on Twitter, you see it everywhere.”

Alabama Republican Senator: Low teacher pay mandated by God

Without a doubt, most Republicans (not all) are one fry short of a Happy Meal…

The Raw Story

A Republican State Senator from Alabama claimed this week that keeping teacher salaries low is actually an order from the Christian deity figure, imparted in ancient texts written by Jewish tribesmen thousands of years ago.

Speaking at a prayer breakfast recently, Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill praised giving pay raises to politicians, saying that it helps to prevent bribery. Then he shifted gears and went in the opposite direction with regards to teachers, arguing against a bill that would increase their salaries.

“Teachers need to make the money that they need to make,” he said, according to Alabama newspaper The Times-Journal. “There needs to be a balance there. If you double what you’re paying education, you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard the comment many times, ‘Well, the quality of education’s going to go up.’ That’s never proven to happen, guys.

“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach. To go and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?”

He continued: “And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity. “If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.”

McGill voted in favor of a 67 percent pay raise for lawmakers in 2007.

Alabama ranks 31st in the nation in average teacher salaries, although the state did see an 11 percent increase in teacher pay from 2007-2009. The state’s Republicans have adopted so-called “right to work” laws that forbid public employees from collectively bargaining for better wages and benefits.

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

Remember, the reason the Susan G. Komen Foundation gave for cutting off funding of Planned Parenthood:  Due to a new rule implemented by their new conservative Senior Vice President of  Public Policy, Karen Handel.

Handel’s decision to  pull funding of about $600,000 per year to Planned Parenthood for the purpose of breast cancer screening for poor women came about  allegedly because they are being “investigated” by government authorities.  (Which actually turns out to be one Congressional Representative, Cliff Sterns (R-FL) who has yet to hold a hearing on any matter regarding Planned Parenthood.  Thus, nullifying any notion of an “investigation.)

Meanwhile, compare and contrast: The Susan G. Komen Foundation gave $600,000 per year to Planned Parenthood and gives $7.5 million per year to Penn State who is in fact under investigation.

Handel says this is not about politics. Yet it wreaks of politics on so many levels.

There’s something not quite right in Komen Foundation Land

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.

Komen suddenly claimed a new rule prevents them from donating to any organization under investigation by a governmental body, this rule is not being applied to any other organization and insiders say it’s being used as an excuse to cut funding from Planned Parenthood.

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.

Komen’s founder, Nancy Brinker, is a former Bush administration official who has given almost $200,000 to Republican officials over the years, and Karen Handel, Komen’s top lobbyist, is a pro-life Republican who was elected secretary of state in Georgia. Komen officials have insisted that Brinker and Handel’s right-leaning politics weren’t a factor in the decision to cut off funding, but Goldberg reported that the new grant standards were written as a pretext for denying funds to Planned Parenthood, and that the decision was “driven” by Handel.

Brinker, appearing on MSNBC Thursday afternoon, denied the decision had anything to do with politics.  “I’m troubled that it’s been labeled as political. This is not a political decision,” Brinker said.