Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Santorum rises again? Komen's 'diversion'?

Hello there. Welcome to O-Pinion, the editorial board's center for discussion and commentary. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono, your host today.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. More caucuses/primaries to help decide who the Republican nominee will be to face President Barack Obama in the November general election. Up today: Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.

The news should be all about Mitt Romney, given his showing in Nevada and his widening lead in delegates against the other three remaining Republicans in the race. But it's Rick Santorum getting some big press, with one poll showing him in a neck and neck race with Romney in Minnesota and another showing him as the only Republican in the field beating Obama in a head to head match-up. Jonathan V. Last writes about that in the conservative Weekly Standard. William Kristol writes about "Romney vs. Santorum?" for the Standard. He also looks past the economy - now that it seems to be perking up - at what else Republicans can point to about Obama that shows he's not right for the country. His piece is called, "It's not (only) the economy... and we're not stupid."

Obama's PAC and Catholic problems

Obama's travails were also in the news. Daniel Harper of the Standard writes about his flip-flopping on super PAC's. Harper quotes Glenn Thrush of the liberal Politico: "President Barack Obama — in an act of hypocrisy or necessity, depending on the beholder — has reversed course and is now blessing the efforts of a sputtering super PAC, Priorities USA Action, organized to fight GOP dark-money attacks.

Obama also might be having a Catholic problem, stemming from his administration's decision not to provide an exemption for religiously affiliated groups like hospitals and schools from a rule requiring contraceptive services be a part of medical insurance coverage. The New York Times reports that the administration might be looking to change course. David Axelrod, top advisor to Obama's reelection campaign, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, said the president will “look for a way” to address the vocal opposition from Catholic groups who say the rule forces them to violate their religious beliefs against contraception: “We certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedoms, so we’re going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions.”

Ah, politics.

G.K. Butterfield and earmarks

Speaking of Washington politics, the Washington Post ran big investigative piece today on 33 congressmen steering earmarks to projects close to their own property. ("Where public projects meet private interests"). Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama seemed to make the most news.

Our local example was Democratic U.S .Rep. G.K. Butterfield of Wilson:
Butterfield has helped obtain $817,500 over the past few years toward revitalizing buildings in Wilson, N.C. The lawmaker owns 19 properties within three-quarters of a mile of the project.

The congressman's spokeswoman said his properties are outside of the revitalization area. "The location of the Downtown Wilson buildings in no way influenced his decision to support the projects," she said. "The City of Wilson developed these projects without his consultation or input, and there is no potential for Butterfield to personally benefit."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/capitol-assets/mapping-the-earmarks/


Komen's 'mammogram diverson'?

So, the Susan G. Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood flap continues. A reproductive health group on its RH Reality Check blog posits that the Komen Foundation, who met a firestorm of protest when it said Planned Parenthood affiliates would no longer be eligible for breast cancer screening grants but later reversed course, will use "mammogram diversion" to continue to deny the group access.

"Komen's ostensible new strategy, to focus its prevention grants "only on mammograms," would not only exclude Planned Parenthood clinics from eligibility, but would also deny tens of thousands of low-income and uninsured women medically-indicated primary preventive breast health services and, potentially, leave many with undiagnosed breast cancers," the group said.

Komen initially said Planned Parenthood would be excluded from the group's grants because of a new foundation rule that said no group under investigation by a government agency would be eligible.

"(Curiously, the new policy did not, apparently, apply to Penn State University, which is under actual criminal investigation, nor to a long list of universities and corporations in which researchers and others are under investigation and to which Komen money continues to flow.)," the group said.

Komen fine-tuned that language to say criminal investigation after critics charged the new rule was used to target Planned Parenthood, which being probed at the behest of one congressman prodded by an anti-abortion, anti-Planned Parenthood group. The foundation on Friday said Planned Parenthood would still be eligible for grants.

But as the firestorm grew, the foundation noted another change in criteria for grants: It wants to now to focus funding directly on mammograms. Said Komen CEO Nancy Brinker at a subsequent press conference: "We have decided not to fund, wherever possible, pass-through grants. We were giving them [Planned Parenthood] money, they were sending women out for mammograms. What we would like to have are clinics where we can directly fund mammograms."

Conservative columnists Kathleen Parker and George Will took up that mantle over the weekend.

But at least one member of Komen's scientific advisory, New York City radiologist Dr. Kathy Plesser said she would resign if Komen didn't fund Planned Parenthood: To the New York Times, she reportedly said, “I strongly believe women need access to care, particularly underserved women,” Dr. Plesser said. “My understanding is that by eliminating this funding, it will jeopardize the women served by Planned Parenthood in terms of breast care.”

Speaking of resignation, the high-ranking Komen official that some critics said was behind the move to cut off Komen's funding resigned today. Karen Handel, who ran for Georgia's governor vowing to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in the state, acknowledged her role in support of cutting off Komen funding for Planned Parenthood. Sources told the Washington Post that Handel was the driving force behind the move, and that the grant criteria was changed with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood.

All this seems to contradict Brinker's contention throughout the controversy that politics had no role in the decision-making. The continuing revelations underscore what we said in an editorial Saturday that Komen will have to rebuild "what CEO Nancy Brinker said the group values most: People’s trust. Sadly, a lot of damage has already been done."

2 comments:

J said...

The notion that Planned Parenthood has anything whatsoever to do with women's health is naive at best and an absolute joke at worst. Planned Parenthood exists to ensure maximum resources for abortion and Democratic Party candidates, and nothing more. They are just like the NAACP, which long ago abandoned making the lives of blacks better in favor of being an arm of the Democrat Party and crying "RACISM!!!!!!!" anytime a Democrat Party bill or idea is opposed.

The Komen Foundation should have stood its ground and withheld funds to Planned Parenthood until PP reverts from political action committee to a genuine women's health organization.

Michael Procton said...

J, you're such a tool. PP is one of the primary low-cost and free providers in the country, with nearly 13 million non-abortion-related services in the most recent year data was available. And check this out: Pregnancy/prenatal/midlife services provided: 1,178,369. Abortion services provided: 332,278. So they're over two and a half times more likely to help bring a child to term than to work against that goal!