Tag Archives: damage control mode

Life on the Edge

Over the last 20 or 30 years, we’ve been entertained by those who push the envelope. Whether it is comedy or music or political theater, we continue to look for entertainers who push the envelope and go right up to the edge. We have almost reflexively rejected those who have stayed in the mainstream. Comedians like Chris Rock, Bernie Mac and Bill Maher are more toward our liking. Hell, even mainstream folks like Jeff Foxworthy and Jeff Dunham are pushing the edge. Radio talk show hosts who are simply entertaining aren’t enough. They need to be in-your-face. They need to cause you to recoil, every now and then. They need to be Rush Limbaugh. Sure, you can use the same decorum that was acceptable in the United States back in 1970, but you’re not going to see the kind of riches that Rush Limbaugh is enjoying. You have to push the envelope. You have to be Icarus and fly too close to the sun.

Bill Maher has enjoyed a relatively long career specializing in this type of comedic acrobatics. His film on religion was all about pushing the envelope. His HBO television program, Real-Time, is basically about balance between mainstream comedy and pushing the envelope. Comments that he made about Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann have caused many to throw him in the same bucket as Rush Limbaugh. (Limbaugh’s comments on Sandra Fluke are here.) For the past several days, if not weeks, Bill Maher has been in damage control mode. To try to put out the fire, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times. The point of the op-ed was not to defend his own actions but instead to “gallantly” come to the rescue of Robert De Niro who got in hot water over a mildly racial “joke” that he told a fundraiser. “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?”

This joke caused “outrage.” Really? Outrage? I agree with Bill Maher. We have tons of fake outrage in our society. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of fringe groups who are looking for just a little bit of leverage so that they can ride a wave of outrage to fame, fortune and riches. In my opinion, the problem isn’t the fake outrage. The problem stems from our desire to see entertainers push the envelope yet again. When they do, though, for some reason we are surprised that they’ve gone “too far.”

My blog has outrage in the title. The purpose of my blog is not to be outraged and upset every single day or at every single issue. Instead, I do believe that there are some things that we should be outraged about and we have yet to figure it out. The fact that we were deceived and went to war in Iraq should cause all of us to really be upset. Thousands died. For what? For reasons that still remain unclear to me, we’ve decided to give up some of our civil liberties so that we can be “safer,” yet we haven’t demanded any sort of measure of our safety. An absence of terrorist attacks cannot be the only end point. What was that stupid color-coded alert system? The fact that we had a huge economic meltdown and have yet to hold Wall Street truly accountable for their fraudulent behavior should cause us to be truly outraged. Then, to compound the confusion and frustration, we have thrown cash at Wall Street and somehow we expect different results? Here’s where our outrage needs to be focused. The fact that Robert DeNiro or Bill Maher or Hank Williams said something stupid just isn’t it. I’m sorry, but it should be obvious that we have bigger problems in this country to focus on. (The anger and frustration directed at Rush Limbaugh was more than justified, in my humble opinion.)

Susan G Komen stirs up a hornets nest (Updated, again)

Pecos wilderness

Many, many years ago, I was out in the Pecos wilderness with several of my classmates. We found out, first-hand, what happens when you stir up a hornet’s nest. We were walking down this trail single-file. All of us were city slickers and most of us did not really appreciate being out in the woods. Therefore, we really were paying attention to our surroundings. Suddenly, one guy grabbed his leg and ran off the trail screaming in pain. A few seconds later, the guy behind him did exactly the same thing. It turned out there was some sort of hornet’s nest in the middle of the trail. The first two or three guys walked down the trail that the hornets stirred up. The middle of the group got stung. Those of us who were lagging behind saw the commotion and took a different path. In the end, everybody was fine, with the exception of a few stings. In this highly charged political atmosphere, one would figure that a major fund raising foundation would steer clear of hornet’s nests. Not the Susan G Komen Foundation for the Cure. On Tuesday, they decided, for purely political reasons, to stop funding Planned Parenthood. There was significant blowback. Today, they are in 100% damage control mode and almost  reversed their decision. This was a major announcement that did very little to guarantee future funds for Planned Parenthood.

We needed a pink gun, did we??

We live in an era in which nothing is exactly as it seems. Just a couple of years ago, the average American thought that British Petroleum really cared about the environment. They had a charm offensive which included more than five years of commercials filled with environmentally friendly talk. It only took one oil well and a completely tone deaf CEO to show America that British Petroleum was no different than any other major oil corporation. The Susan G Komen foundation had completely infiltrated the American psyche. They equaled breast cancer awareness and treatment. Even the NFL had one game where players would support the Foundation by wearing pink shoes or pink gloves or even have pink towels hanging from their waist. Personally, I have purchased golf balls, baseball caps and other merchandise which sported the Susan G Komen logo and supported breast cancer awareness and treatment. I have personally given money to people who have run in their multiple, well-publicized, “race for the cure” over the years. Now, that’s not happening. Millions of Americans have the same feeling. It will take Susan G Komen foundation years to recover from this strategic blunder.

In my opinion, the Board of Directors needs to clean house. The power structure of the Susan G Komen foundation needs to be fired. New management needs to be brought in if they are to convince the American public that they truly understand what the problem is. In my opinion, today’s announcement tells me that they know what the problem is, but that they don’t really want to fix it. Personally, it’s going be hard for me to pony up money to the Susan G Komen foundation ever again. I’ve already donated to Planned Parenthood, which I’ve never done in my life. I plan on making it a habit.

The Daily Kos has done an excellent job covering the to and fro of this debacle. Please check out their many posts here, here and here. Marcy Wheeler, fabulous blogger and personal friend, has an excellent post here. You can give to Planned Parenthood here.

Update: This is what anyone would describe as a bizarre episode in PR. This case just gets stranger. Ari Fleischer, Bush’s former press secretary, raises his ugly head. This just gets crazier and crazier. Komen has not been officially labelled a partisan, dead organization. I don’t see how the Susan G Komen foundation will be surviving this.

Here’s what I think is very sad about this whole ordeal. Women need an organizational advocate to raise huge sums of money to combat breast cancer. The advocate must be non-partisan and focus like a laser on breast cancer research and on helping women.

Update II:

I thought that this graphic would be helpful.