Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Politics

A good cause, stopped by bad politics

Like many men of his generation, my father was not inclined to inquire about matters of women's health.

But now and again, he would say quietly to me: You're getting checked, right? And by this I knew he was thinking of his mother, my grandmother, and how she died from breast cancer.

For a lot of reasons, I had a soft spot for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer movement, its local fundraising walk in particular. You need only one friend who is caught up in it to see how the walk gives people a sense of actually doing something about a cancer that has hit so many sisters, mothers and friends.

So hundreds and hundreds of women (and men) strap on their sneakers for a weekend of blisters and sisterhood for the cause, walking 60 miles in three days to raise big money for awareness, prevention, research and ultimately, a cure. Komen says it has invested $1.9 billion in the cause so far.

Me, I'm not much of a joiner. One year, I went out to cheer foot-weary walkers in pink passing through Tampa on the final leg. The next, I joined a prewalk-walk with a couple of enthusiastic participants I know. Finally, I found myself setting up tables before dawn for a garage sale to help some women I like meet their fundraising goals, and writing checks matched by my employer.

Next year, I thought, I'm walking.

But nothing in this world is safe from politics — not even a fight to cure cancer.

Komen this week ended hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to Planned Parenthood, mainly for breast cancer exams — you know, the kind that save lives.

Heavens no, the charity insisted, it's not political. Komen said it's because Planned Parenthood is the subject of an investigation into whether public money was used for abortions, an inquiry by a conservative Republican congressman that was pushed by abortion foes.

Nope, no politics there.

Apparently, it does not matter that Planned Parenthood is about overall sexual and reproductive health, with lots of services, including birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Komen either caved to antiabortion pressure or showed its true colors rather than keeping strictly to the business of raising money for an important cause. The reason doesn't matter. Both are equally disappointing.

Sometimes I worry that many young women coming up in the world take for granted the fight for the right to decide, that to them it must seem as old as 8-tracks or the Civil War. This is how rights erode, how gardens die. Even now, our Legislature is fielding the latest attempts to make a safe, legal abortion harder to get, from a waiting period to hurdles for doctors. And so it goes.

The Komen walk will lose some supporters like me, unwilling to strap on our battered New Balances in the face of this.

I have no illusions that my personal boycotts — like purchasing my potting soil elsewhere after Lowe's caved to bigotry over a TV show about Muslims — will cause vast organizations to crumble. But it starts somewhere, like with the name you scrawl on the pay-to line on your check.

What's saddest is the politics of it all, smack in the middle of a cause that was supposed to be about saving sisters, mothers, friends, and nothing else.

Comments
Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

Back to work: Government shutdown ending as Dems relent

New York TimesWASHINGTON ó Congress brought an end to a three-day government shutdown on Monday as Senate Democrats buckled under pressure to adopt a short-term spending bill to fund government operations without first addressing the fate of young un...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON ó Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown wonít slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18