Susan G. Komen and the Cancer Within
Editor’s note: Politics is controversial. Art is controversial. Where politics and art meet can be very controversial. We recognize the image above, and the words below, may seem controversial Â to some, but we respect our readers, and believe they would rather be challenged to examine, explore, and as they seek to understand.Â Â
In image and word this piece represents and explains the actions Susan G. Komen For The Cure has taken against Planned Parenthood and women’s rights, bowing to anti-abortion activists while supporting the sale of pink guns and events like “Shoot For The Cure.”Â
The beleaguered Susan G. Komen Foundation, in the wake of its decision to defund Planned Parenthood and subsequent reversal following an avalanche of criticism, inadvertently ended up subjecting itself to harsh scrutiny and a blazing media spotlight that shows no sign of stopping just yet, and from which it can’t run nor hide.
Brand damaging allegations, comments, old press releases, and on and off the record comments and accusations leave absolutely no doubt that the organization is steeped in political ideology that permeates its decision making and fractures its credibility.
Think Progress revealed further evidence that Komen lied about there being a political motivation to their decision in their widely publicized reversal, reporting that last December, former Press Secretary for George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, was secretly involved in Komenâ€™s Planned Parenthood strategy (if you could call it that).
Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of â€œSenior Vice President for Communications and External Relations,â€ grilling them on how they would handle the controversy over Komenâ€™s relationship with Planned Parenthood.
Fleischer, self-described long-time friend of CEO Nancy Brinker and vocal critic of Planned Parenthood, confirmed that he would, of course, be paid once the key communications position was filled.
No doubt, this will appease the anti-abortion critics of Komen Foundation who donâ€™t want their money going to the funding of abortions when it could be better spent hiring disgraced liars that are friends with the CEO.
The Komen Foundation did an excellent job of â€œborrowingâ€ the red ribbon from the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, who created it in 1991 as a symbol to promote awareness about AIDS and HIV. The Visual AIDS Artists Caucus was clear that the ribbon was to be used as a consciousness raising symbol, not as a trademark. While the red ribbon had an enormous impact when first worn by Jeremy Irons at the 1991 Tony Awards, it didnâ€™t take long for it to become a rote, unconscious, politically correct fashion accessory for celebrities to wear to awards shows.
From the very outset, politics has been involved with the pink ribbon. The choice of the color resulted from an effort by Self magazine and the cosmetics company EstÃ©e Lauder to sidestep Charlotte Haley, an activist who had begun a peach ribbon campaign to pressure the National Cancer Institute to increase its budget for cancer prevention research, and did not want to commercialize the endeavor.
Komen didnâ€™t just step in and successfully appropriate the pink ribbon, promoting it as an international symbol of breast cancer awareness. They stylized it to make it their own, and took ownership of the color pink itself.
And while they canâ€™t actually claim ownership to the pink ribbon, per se, what Komen has trademarked — with the viciousness of the MPAA and RIAA combined — is the string of words â€œfor the cureâ„¢â€ (along with 200 other registered trademarks).
In 2007, to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation officially changed its name to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. And as the organization grew, so too did its bullying tactics.
Last year, spending more than $1 million in donor funds, Komen aggressively launched dozens of legal battles against small charitable organizations daring to use â€œfor the cureâ€ or the color pink to raise funds. “It is startling to us that Komen thinks they own pink,” Mary Ann Tighe, told the Wall Street Journal after Komen challenged her over the color for her “Kites for a Cure” lung-cancer fund-raiser. “We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied to no purpose.”
Komen has also been accused of â€œpinkwashingâ€ by organizations such as Breast Cancer Action, by allowing companies to slap pink ribbons on carcinogenic products. Evidenced in their Think Before You Pinkâ„¢ campaign . And in documentaries like LÃ©a Poolâ€™s Pink Ribbons, Inc., in which she questions just how far the millions raised through pink ribbon marketing campaigns, go towards fighting breast cancer. (As opposed to hiring expensive political flaks like Ari Fleischer, perhaps.) Or the book that inspired the documentary, Dr. Samantha Kingâ€™s Pink Ribbons Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy.
Slapping carcinogenic products with the pinkwashed Komen stamp of approval is not the only thing that appears to counter the organizationâ€™s supposed laser beam focus on breast cancer â€“ and its â€œpro lifeâ€ stance.
Even though Komen continues to insist that there is no politics or ideology in their decision making and that â€œproviding hope for a cure must drive our efforts,â€ many supporters were alarmed to learn of a cozy relationship between Komen and gun makers — exacerbated by Komenâ€™s strenuous denials and the subsequent unearthing of documentation to the contrary. Komen has been slow and clumsy attempting to explain the questionable link between breast cancer awareness, prevention, treatment and research with gun sales. Accusations that further strain the entire â€œpro-lifeâ€ underpinning of their Planned Parenthood fiasco.
Events such as â€œShoot for the Cure,â€ or the Pink Hope 22 handgun available on Discount Gun Sales (recently removed in the wake of the accusations of politicization and right wing mission creep) give more than just a little credence to the pinkwashing accusations and embracing of what are traditionally considered right wing causes.
“We do not have partnerships with any firearms manufacturer,” Komen told Huffington Post when probed. Jim Clune, communications manager for the Puget Sound Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure confirmed the denial. “This fundraising scheme is not sanctioned by us; we had no knowledge of it. We have not received a single penny from this gun seller. It is a rogue scheme,” he claimed.
With Komen spending millions to police and protect its mark, it stretches credibility that they are either uninvolved or unaware of anything using their name, slogans or color.
Naturally, some intrepid reporting by Village Voice and others revealed that Komenâ€™s gun loving ways are, in fact, quite well documented and guns and events in their name canâ€™t suddenly be hidden. From the First Annual Susan G. Komen Shoot for the Cure event in Illinois Â to pink rifles and pistols, Komen is clearly wielding its power to keep money flowing in wherever it can, at the expense of its scruples, and focus.
How else to explain the loss of nearly $12 million dollars in research money to eradicate breast cancer this year alone following Komenâ€™s decision to cease funding any organization affiliated in any way, shape or form, with embryonic stem cell research.
In a cryptic statement on its web site, Komen denies â€œdefundingâ€ human embryonic stem cell research, vowing it would continue to â€œfocus its research efforts on the most promising areas of science.â€ Adding: â€œTo this point, embryonic stem cell research has not shown promise for application in breast cancer.â€ For an organization with credibility issues, this kind of obfuscation does little to rebuild their brand, or treat their constituents with the transparency, respect and intelligence they deserve.
Nancy Brinker has done a formidable job in raising funds. And promoting herself. Of that there is no denying. The billions raised by the organization renders the upward of $5 million annual salary she draws, insignificant. By comparison.
And while she may be unabashedly Republican, she isnâ€™t overly generous with her political donations. Blogger and activist Michael Petrelis reveals of the $186,000 in total donations sheâ€™s given over the years, 98% of checks went to GOP pols and PACs, and just $3,750 went to a Democratic candidate. Of course she supports the winners like Mark Foley (who resigned in a sexting scandal) and the rabidly anti-abortion Rick Santorum, who would have Susan G. Komen give birth to the spawn of a rapist, were she alive and to suffer such a horror.
Komen’s red-faced about turn was about money and their clueless tone deafness to reality outside the rich, white Republican bubble. Maybe she was too busy checking up to see how the Promise Me fragrance -Â the first and only proprietary fragrance developed with Susan G. Komen for the Cure — was doing, and coincidentally sharing a name of the title of Nancy Brinker’s book, which purchasers of the fragrance were lucky enough to get for free.
Ralph Reed, disgraced chairman of an organization that has the audacity to call itself the Faith and Freedom Coalition, weighed in, calling the reversal â€œdeeply disappointing.â€ Ralph Reed, known for his conspiring to steal from Native Americans with convicted lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, tricked Christians into supporting gambling initiatives whilst laughing all the way to the bank. Unfortunately for the anti-abortion critics of Komen, sad media outlets like MSNBC quote him as a spokesperson for their cause with a straight face. Other ethicists like Bernie Madoff and Casey Anthony were presumably unavailable. And Timothy McVeigh and Jeffrey Dahmer are dead.
The drumbeat to fire the failed gubernatorial candidate, anti-gay, anti-abortion Karen Handel, (who is neither a doctor nor a scientist) who was hired as senior vice president of policy reached a crescendo culminating in her resignation Tuesday. Prior to the reversal last week, a defiant Nancy Brinker told MSNBCâ€™s Andrea Mitchell that Handel did not play a â€œsignificant roleâ€ in this decision.
In her resignation letter to Brinker, dripping with a nauseating mix of self-pity and piety, Handel wrote:Â â€œI am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komenâ€™s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyoneâ€™s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komenâ€™s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy.â€
Good distancing there, Karen. Denying poor women mammograms and putting the brakes on any kind of promising stem cell research really better serves women. Almost as much as launching trademark lawsuits keeps Komen focused on its mission. Or selling pink dishtowels.
Jim Galloway at the Atlantic Journal Constitution reports that Handel refused a severance package that might have bought her silence, opting instead for a press conference this afternoon. Rest assured, with Sarah Palin-like speaking fees in mind, Karen Handel will become the new anti-Planned Parenthood spokesperson, with national road shows and frequent visits to Fox News.
Perhaps using Komen as a stepping stone was Handelâ€™s objective all along. She successfully convinced Brinker — preoccupied becoming the Martha Stewart of Breast Cancer — to take the decades of good work done in the name of her sister, Susan, and toss them aside by demonizing Planned Parenthood and turning Komen into a marginalized, anti-abortion political football. Except for the demonizing of Planned Parenthood, for whom Komenâ€™s gargantuan public relations catastrophe is a financial touchdown.
And within just one week, over 50% of the graduating class of the Yale School of Public Health sought to rescind Nancy Brinkerâ€™s invitation to give a commencement speech. Although Yale chose to honor the invitation, one of the students who had signed a petition to withdraw the invite, Vanessa Lamers, told Yale Daily News that she believes having Brinker as a speaker would â€œtarnish the schoolâ€™s reputation.â€ How quick and how far the mighty have fallen.
Just like a bitter, ugly frauds named Cliff Stearns or Mike Pence have failed in their blatant mission to cripple Planned Parenthood on the taxpayerâ€™s dime. Stearns is one of those big spending, big government panderers who initiated an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood is being truthful in its denial that it uses any taxpayer funding to perform abortions.
Stearns, a Republican congressman from Florida, of course, Â introduced a bill in 2011 that would only provide federal funding to organizations that flagrantly violate the relationship between doctor and patient and show women unnecessary sonograms of fetuses and advise against ending pregnancies. When it comes to the living though, heâ€™s pro-death, and believes big government should be monitoring everything from steroids to art. In 2010, with straight faces, Citizens Against Government Waste named Stearns a â€œTaxpayer Hero,â€ for a second time.
Mike Pence is an unfortunately unaborted Indiana Republican and former talk show host that loathes Planned Parenthood almost as much as he does women. In 2011 he introduced a bill to the House that would ban federal funding for abortion providers. Hatred of women and reproductive health is not uniquely Republican though. Several pro-life Democrats cosponsored the bill. The amendment to defund Planned Parenthood passed the House of Representatives easily but lost 42 to 58 in the Senate.
And so you have it. A few Catholic bishops in Missouri and Ohio shifted their gaze from the crotches of prepubescent children and sheltering and shuffling pedophiles long enough to convince their parishioners to boycott Komen because of their ties to Planned Parenthood and stem cell research. A few right wing nutcases threatened to disrupt Komen events or boycott sponsors. Along with the pro-gun, anti-abortion politicos, allowing women to die in the name of â€œconscience rightsâ€ of doctors.Â Komen, already in bed with the very people declaring war on womenâ€™s health, didnâ€™t need much arm twisting.
â€œWe have made mistakes in how we have handled recent decisions and take full accountability for what has resulted, but we cannot take our eye off the ball when it comes to our mission. To do this effectively, we must learn from what we’ve done right, what we’ve done wrong and achieve our goal for the millions of women who rely on us. The stakes are simply too high and providing hope for a cure must drive our efforts,â€ declared Nancy Brinker in the wake of Karen Handelâ€™s resignation, as if a sudden refocus on the ball, from which eyes and efforts were largely diverted, will make the whole ugly mess just disappear. But in the haze of her astonishing arrogance, Nancy Brinker doesnâ€™t seem to realize sheâ€™s lost control and the ball has already rolled away.
Komenâ€™s mean-spirited, politically motivated board decision to change its policy late last year would have cut nearly $700,000 to Planned Parenthood and their affiliates. But the entire plan, along with Ari Fleicherâ€™s containment strategy blew up in their faces.
Planned Parenthood in just one week received almost $3 million — four times the amount it usually receives from the Komen annually — with high profile donations from the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Lance Armstrong. And a whole lot of former Komen donors, who didnâ€™t realize quite who they were supporting, and wonâ€™t be going back.
In this whole drama, two things are certain.
Planned Parenthood is no Acorn, and is not going anywhere soon. Not if anyone who cares about womenâ€™s health has anything to do with it.
Nothing short of Nancy Brinkerâ€™s immediate resignation will give Komen so much as a fighting chance to regain a shred of credibility and possibly survive in a smaller, more focused capacity. It may however, be too late, given just how much the cancer has spread.
Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-â€‹known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoyâ€‹.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, â€œa nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.â€ Feinâ€™s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newmanâ€™s Own First Amendment Award.
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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
‘Troubling Questions’: Experts Slam Ginni Thomas’ Group That Waged Cultural War Against the Left via Web of Dark Money Orgs
Legal experts are responding to bombshell reporting from The Washington Post revealing Ginni Thomas, the spouse of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House and Oval Office, for years headed a secretive right-wing activist organization funded through a web of dark money groups, whose purpose was to wage a culture war against the left.
The Post reports the organization, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, took in nearly $600,000 in anonymous funds to fuel its efforts to battle “cultural Marxism,” as Ginni Thomas, who headed the group, called their mission.
Thomas had stepped away from her previous non-profit right-wing activist group “amid concerns that it created potential conflicts for her husband on hot-button issues before the court,” The Post says, and yet, she led Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty, which creates the same concerns. Where is the money coming from? What is the group doing with it? How much crossover is there between her activism and the group’s targets and efforts, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ work?
According to The Post, in tax filings of its think tank sponsor, Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty is described as an “informal, unincorporated nonprofit association which serves as an incubator for ideas across a network of conservative leaders, cultural entrepreneurs, and cultural influences.”
READ MORE: ‘Heist’: Ginni Thomas Tells J6 Committee Election Was Stolen, Says She Never Discussed Efforts to Overturn With Spouse
It appears great efforts were made to ensure the donors to Thomas’ Crowdsourcers group would not be able to be publicly identified.
“In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings. Donors Trust is a fund that receives money from wealthy donors whose identities are not disclosed and steers it toward conservative causes,” The Post explains.
Thomas, who is reportedly active in another secretive far-right wing group, the Council for National Policy, brought two well-known far-right wing activists from CNP into Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty: former Trump attorney, ally, and advisor Cleta Mitchell, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.
The New York Times last year described the Council for National Policy as an organization that “brings together old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council.”
But despite all the obvious red flags, an attorney for Ginni Thomas, Mark Paoletta, told The Washington Post she was “proud of the work she did with Crowdsourcers, which brought together conservative leaders to discuss amplifying conservative values with respect to the battle over culture.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas ‘Intertwined’ With ‘Vast’ Campaign Pressuring Supreme Court to Overturn Roe: Report
“She believes Crowdsourcers identified the Left’s dominance in most cultural lanes, while conservatives were mostly funding political organizations,” Paoletta also told The Post.
“There is no plausible conflict of interest issue with respect to Justice Thomas,” he claimed.
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who is also an attorney, responded to The Post’s report by mocking Paoletta’s claim there is no conflict of interest.
“Donors Trust was central to the far-right Court-packing operation, and now they pass secret donor funds to a justice’s spouse, but ‘no plausible conflict of interest’? Please.”
Sen. Whitehouse went on to explain his additional concerns.
“Plus, remember that the secrecy conduits like Donors Trust keep the *public* from knowing what’s happening, but nothing prevents the secret donor from telling the spouse or the justice, ‘Hey, that money that secretly came through to you — that’s me.'”
Adam Smith, Vice President for Democracy Initiatives at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), observed: “Seems like the spouse of a Supreme Court Justice shouldn’t be able to hide the source of huge donations that could be from people with business before the court.”
READ MORE: Ginni Thomas’ Attempts to Influence Overturn of Election Even Wider Than Previously Known
CREW’s President, Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor, adds: “Hundreds of thousands in anonymous donations to an activist group led by Ginni Thomas, spouse of a Supreme Court justice, raises all kinds of troubling questions about who could be influencing decisions that affect all of us.”
Attorney and Slate Magazine senior writer covering courts and the law, Mark Joseph Stern, pushed back against any idea the nearly $600,000 funding came from small donations.
“Ginni Thomas’ various political ventures have never had any small/grassroots donors. They have ALWAYS been funded by a handful of ultra-wealthy individuals and organizations who are very obviously trying to curry favor with her husband,” Stern said.
Former White House aide and CNN commentator Keith Boykin, also an attorney, called for Justice Thomas to recuse from certain cases: “If Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had to recuse herself from the Harvard affirmative action case, then Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from all the cases on right-wing issues in which his activist wife, Ginni Thomas, is involved.”
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Christian Nationalist Group Working to Get Its ‘Biblical Worldview Spread Across the Nation’
Last week, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed legislation prohibiting transgender people from using public school facilities that match their gender identity. That legislation was crafted by the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, a right-wing organization that seeks to elect “godly leaders in our nation at every level” and then use them to “restore the Judeo-Christian foundation of our nation.”
Following the signing of this legislation into law, Jason Rapert, a longtime religious-right activist and ardent Christian nationalist who founded the NACL, took a victory lap, crediting his organization for the law and celebrating its success in pushing back “against the things of the devil in our country.”
As Rapert reported, this legislation had first been proposed by Arkansas school board member David Naylor during an annual NACL meeting and then brought to the Arkansas state legislature by state Rep. Mary Bentley, who serves on the board of the NACL.
On Friday, Rapert interviewed Bentley on his “Save The Nation” program, where she celebrated the NACL’s efforts “to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
“Thank goodness we’ve got some common sense left here in Arkansas,” Bentley said. “[It was because of the NACL] that we were able to get that passed as model policy and bring it forth. I just love seeing grassroots come together and school board members coming to the capitol and going to the governor’s desk and just seeing it all work and flow just exactly how we want to. So, for the folks that are supporting NACL and what we’re doing, this is what we want to do across the country.”
“This is an example of the power of the NACL’s ability with model legislation,” Rapert replied. “This was brought by one of our members, and this policy actually could be immediately adopted by school boards in every school district across this country. If the school board wanted to adopt it, this is the model that they can utilize. And in addition to that, just like you did, go and pass it for the state so that this is going to apply to all the school boards in your state.”
Rapert and Bentley agreed that Arkansas has now blazed the trail on this issue, thereby making it easier for legislatures in other states to enact the same law.
“That’s what happens when you can be a leader,” Bentley asserted. “Once you make a trail, it’s a lot easier for people to follow once you get that trail made.”
“Thank you again for being a part of the NACL,” Bentley declared. “It’s just what we need in this nation right now to have it moving forward, to get our biblical worldview spread across the nation.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Pence Ordered to Comply With Subpoena, Testify Before Special Counsel’s Grand Jury
Mike Pence, the ex-vice president, must testify before Dept. of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection, a federal judge has ruled, rejecting his claims of executive privilege.
The judge is requiring Pence to answer questions about his conversations with Donald Trump leading up to the insurrection, and to answer any questions related to any possible illegal acts Donald Trump may have committed, according to ABC News’ senior investigative reporter Katherine Faulders and CNN’s Abby Phillip.
Judge James Boasberg, the chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “outright rejected Trump’s executive privilege challenge, but ruled more narrowly on Pence speech and debate challenge,” Faulders adds.
The judge, apparently citing Pence’s “speech and debate clause” claim, said “that Pence can still decline to answer questions related to his actions on January 6 itself, when he was serving as president of the Senate for the certification of the 2020 presidential election,” CNN reports.
READ MORE: ‘We’re Not Gonna Fix It’: TN Republican Says Congress Can Do Nothing to Stop Gun Violence – Calls for Christian ‘Revival’
NBC News reports Judge Boasberg “did, however, grant Pence a partial victory as to his argument that he was shielded from having to testify about Jan. 6 because of his constitutional role as part of the legislative branch.”
In what some legal experts dismissed as a faulty argument, “Pence’s legal team had argued that the Constitution’s ‘speech and debate’ clause should prevent special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors from eliciting any testimony about communications or activity related to Pence’s role as president of the Senate in presiding over the certification of the election results.”
Overall CNN calls it “another win for special counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the Trump-aligned effort to subvert the 2020 election. Smith subpoenaed Pence for testimony and documents earlier this year.”
Pence can still appeal.
Watch MSNBC’s report below or at this link.
BREAKING: Former VP Pence has been ordered to testify in the special counsel’s investigation into former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. https://t.co/EuAAgB8ILO pic.twitter.com/wrYoKJcL0g
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 28, 2023
This is a breaking news and developing story.
This article has been updated to add video.
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