What would Suzie say? (5×8 – 2/1/12)

Politics in pink, the mystery of the Postcard Underground, ugly science in Minnesota, the medallion search ends, and it was nine years ago today.


If there’s one word that has become synonymous with the fight against breast cancer, it’s “courage.” So it was surprising to many that the Susan G. Komen breast cancer charity — the pink people — so quickly threw women with the potential of breast cancer under the bus yesterday.

Komen announced it would stop funding breast screening programs run by Planned Parenthood, because the organization is under investigation that it channeled federal funds for abortions. Abortion, of course, is a highly emotional and long-debated issue. Breast cancer is not controversial except when it can be politicized.

“I know that hundreds, even thousands, of people reached out to Komen to request they stop giving to Planned Parenthood. That was constant over the years,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, told the Los Angeles Times. “Pro-life people object because Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion chain. Every dollar they take in facilitates their operations.”

The noble cause of the Komen Foundation has eroded in recent years as it got tough with organizations that used the word “cure” in fundraisers, or dared to use “pink.”

On the Washington Post’s “She the People” blog, Melinda Henneberger’s commentary considers the politics of two organizations, but says nothing about the question that’s going unanswered in the heat of the debate: What about women with breast cancer?

I do have a question, though: Was Komen planning to give that money to some other organization, or to community clinics who’d do the exams?

In the end, they may not have to worry about what to do with the extra cash. Planned Parenthood, which received about $680,000 from Komen last year, according to the Associated Press, has reportedly already raised $250,000 on news of Komen’s decision. And it will likely end up recouping its losses quickly.

But Komen, which seemed utterly unprepared for the outcry, may not bounce back quite so fast. In response to the charge that it had given in to bullying, Komen said in a statement to CBS News that “grant-making decisions are not about politics.” The PR team that came up with that one may have a future in comedy. Though I guess not at the Daily Show.

The Komen Facebook page is not a happy place…


On NPR’s Two-Way blog, one commenter says the action isn’t at all surprising:

There are far greater problems with Komen than this. They’ve co-opted every breast cancer dollar donated yet provide no help to women/men with the support needed when battling cancer. They stay mum on legislation important to breast cancer survivors. Claiming to raise “awareness” isn’t enough. Who hasn’t heard of breast cancer. Yes they put some money in detection, but nothing for prevention because that would be treading in the murky waters of corporate America and holding them accountable for proven cancer causing agents/chemicals in their products. Komen approves use of their ribbon on products that have a proven link to breast cancer. Taking their grant from Planned Parenthood is just another anti-woman action by a well-funded corporation passing as a charity.


There’s one other question nobody seems to be asking: What would Suzie say?


My colleague, Alana, has presented us with a mystery that only the power of the Internet can solve.

It appears that for the last week or so, at least two postcards a day arrive for the recently retired Gary Eichten, all bearing the mark of the “Postcard Underground.”

Today’s postcards were from the same person: “Sue.”


A Google search reveals no certain answers, although the blog of a woman in New England indicates she once received the postcards. Check the signature on the top card:


There are other websites all reporting the same thing: Postcards show up from someone who obviously is paying attention to the specifics of what’s being lauded. And “Sue” is obviously behind them:


Somebody in the InterTubes knows who Sue is. Come forward!


Many years ago, when Ann Landers was writing her advice column, a teenager wrote to her to ask how she can be more popular and stand out more? “Hang out with the ugly girls,” she wrote.

How can Minnesota look proficient in science standards? By hanging out with the ugly states. The state gets a “C” (that’s nothing to be proud of) in the State of Science Standards report this week, which looks better than it really is because of the ugly states surrounding us, as shown by this map on Greg Laden’s blog


“The Minnesota science standards are like the frustrating student who does excellent work two days a week but shoddy work on the other three,” the report said. “When the standards are ‘on,; they are cogent and challenging. But too often they are marred by vague, incorrect, or grade-inappropriate material, or are missing key content entirely.”

The report criticizes the state, for example, for teaching that “glass conducts heat well” (it doesn’t). It doesn’t pull its punches:

Though a minor issue, the standards are occasionally marred by an inappropriate focus on local beliefs. Fifth graders, for example, are told that science is “influenced by local traditions and beliefs,” a truism that is a poor substitute for the reality that the scientific process aims to negate and overcome such influences in its pursuit of universal knowledge and understanding. The fascination with local traditions extends into high school, where students are asked to consider how “Native American understanding of ecology” has contributed to scientific ideas. No guidance is given as to what may be involved here, nor are any examples provided. The tendency to blur the distinction between scientific and traditional wisdom is not helpful to the students’ development of a clear understanding of science.

(H/T: Ben Chorn)

Here, kids, let me give you a little of what you should be getting:


Return to your homes, people! The Pioneer Press winter carnival medallion was found overnight in Arden Hills. There’s no word yet whether the winner of the $10,000 was one of the people who put their lives on hold every night or a casual searcher.


As the shuttle Columbia mission progressed, engineers expressed concern that the shuttle might have been damaged on lift-off. But managers dismissed their concerns. It was a textbook lesson for businesses everywhere.

Bonus I: I’ve always thought professional sports athletes could provide the rest of the world with a lesson on how to put the “game” behind and just be normal. On Sunday night, after the Lakers beat the Wolves, Minnesota star Ricky Rubio was chatting in the hallway of Target Center with fellow Spaniard, Laker Pau Gasol, when Kobe Bryant, who had just buried the local NBA team, stopped by for some trash talk about the upcoming Olympics.

Bonus II: Another Super Bowl ad has been released:


There’s been a great deal of concern this campaign season about super PACs, which have changed the political landscape with their unlimited spending for and against candidates. There is talk of a constitutional amendment to allow greater regulation of such groups. What changes would you like to see in campaign finance laws?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: President Obama unveiled his plan to control the ever-rising costs of higher education last week at the University of Michigan. His decision to focus attention at the cost of college was universally welcomed by the higher ed community. But his plan to tie federal funding to the ability of a college or university to keep costs low has drawn mixed reviews from the higher ed community.

Second hour:In his new book, writer Henry Alford sets about on a mission: to restore our appreciation, and practice of good manners. He joins Midmorning to provide some insight on how to behave properly.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Songwriting. Co-host is Jeremy Messersmith. Guests: Haley Bonar and Toki Wright.

Second hour: An Intelligence Squared debate: Should the UN admit Palestine as a full member state?

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political Junkie Ken Rudin joins Neal Conan for a recap of the week in politics, plus Gov. Christine Gregoire on gay marriage in Washington state.

Second hour: Pitching your idea to investors. Plus, reparations for Japanese-Americansvinterned in the U.S. during World War II.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – The author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” found plenty of first-hand inspiration for his novel. Ken Kesey wrote it while working at a psychiatric facility. His debut book became an acclaimed film and changed the way many people think about mental health institutions. It’s the 50th anniversary of this classic American novel.