Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spoiling For A Fight


I have to admit that I'm enjoying this. The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure people have cut all funding to Planned Parenthood because the executives have both incited and caved to pressure from the anti-choice crowd who read Planned Parenthood but hear only Abortions. Having funding pulled from Planned Parenthood would ordinarily piss me right off as I was disgusted when the Obama Administration withdrew all funding from the National Writing Project and Reading is Fundamental. But this time, it's fun to watch because Planned Parenthood is a big dog with a very loud bark. They've been kicked before and they know exactly how to take a punch and come back stronger.

So far, in 24 hours, Planned Parenthood has raised $400,000 in new donations. Take that Susan Komen. My guess is that before the end of this week, Planned Parenthood will have far surpassed the money they would have gotten from Komen and, in the process, will come out with a stronger long-term backing from people who might otherwise have stood on the sidelines. Komen, hoping to hurt Planned Parenthood (and trying to deny safe abortion care in the United States), has only helped reinforce Planned Parenthood's good name and missions.

I love it when this happens. I like it so much that my wife and I donated money to Planned Parenthood today. Oh, and I'm a runner, but if you think I'll run in a Komen-sponsored race, you're wrong. I don't work for that tribe.

In related news, Mitt Romney is getting in trouble for accidentally saying something he really means. He was trying to say that he will be the President who serves the middle class, but instead he said that he doesn't care about the very poor or the very rich. The part about the poor is probably right on. I don't think that a Mitt Romney administration will have a lot of interest in serving the very poor. The poor are too messy to serve. They need stuff that Mitt would much prefer give to the middle class. Well, not the middle class so much as the corporations who are paying for his election and who, he will claim, serve the middle class by employing them.

Mitt's problem is that he's a very, very rich guy. There's nothing terribly wrong with that on the surface. A very rich could just gave Planned Parenthood $250,000 today. But Mitt is a very rich guy who thinks that corporations are people. They aren't. The test, as I heard one man say on NPR, is this: corporations aren't people until Texas executes one. I'll offer AT&T as a test case if they want to give it a shot. Mitt thinks that corporations are people because corporations pay him to say such things. He's serving his masters.

So too with Susan Komen who appointed Karen Handel who ran unsuccessfully to become governor of Georgia. Part of her platform was--wait for it--to defund Planned Parenthood! Karen Handel is vice-president of public policy for Komen and she's the one people are looking at in this decision. Komen states officially that the defunding of Planned Parenthood has to do with a new policy not to fund any institution currently under investigation. Sure, that makes sense. And that's why there is a trumped-up investigation of Planned Parenthood going on right now. It's a nice neat explanation.

But like I said up above, I'm pretty happy about this. I like when organizations such as Komen do this stuff. Ten years ago, they would have done it and been in the news for a day or so. Hard-liners would write letters. Some money would be raised. But now, between Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and every other social network, the word got out at the speed of the electron and people rose up.

I like the Occupy movements. When the Arab Spring uprisings were beginning, I wondered when Americans would have their own Spring and rise up against bad things being done by big institutions. I thought that Occupy was the answer, but it turns out that it was only a symbol of the solution and it gave a name to what is happening now. The 99% matter and I count myself as one of them. Since Citizen's United, our vote doesn't count that much, but I'm beginning to believe that voting is passe anyway. Tweeting beats voting. How's that for a radical idea? Blogging beats voting.

In the voting booth, I'm one person operating in secret. On the web, I'm one person working with thousands of others in very well organized campaigns to make ourselves heard. One more example will show what I mean.

Last week, McDonald's tried a viral marketing campaign on Twitter. They were trying to make their business appealing by having everyone tell #McStories using that hashtag. People used the hashtag, but told stories about getting sick, becoming fat, having strange objects in their food, discussing how McDonald's doesn't make real food, and on and on. The corporation lost the battle. Had I written to my representative to get some work done to curb McDonald's power, I would have been outvoiced by McMoney. On the web, social media is turning out to be as powerful as corporate money.

Voting might not change the world any more. I gave up on believing that it could when my 2008 vote didn't change much of anything. But the Like button, the hashtag, and +1 seem to be ways to vote early and often and to make an end run around corporate power, conservative organizations, and the victimhood of the American people. It turns out that to change the world we just need to go online and write on.