36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2012
I had trouble deciding how many stars to give this often interesting but very uneven book. I almost gave up during the introduction, but I persisted and found the book very interesting, except when Handel went into histrionic partisan mode. Handel has led a very interesting life, and if she has done all she says, she has a lot to be proud of.
Karen Handel is the one blamed for leading Komen to drop Planned Parenthood (PP). The thing is, even if it was Handel's idea (she insists it wasn't), she couldn't have done it by herself. She is left in the position of an outside lover whom a reconciling couple has agreed bears all the blame for the infidelity. That saves face and makes it easier to reconcile, but it isn't true. Say what you will, it remains that the infidel agreed to the affair and is the real betrayer. Set up as the scapegoat, Handel is understandably bitter.
Komen, according to Handel, couldn't make up its corporate mind. They wanted to dump Planned Parenthood for a number of reasons including dissatisfaction with their work and also because they were under enormous pressure from the prolife/antiabortion forces. This is a point at which I have problems with Handel. If PP was a bully, so was the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, et al. They were the other pincher putting pressure on Komen and Handel. Handel goes into the most detail about the Catholic church's backlash, beginning on p.83. Komen has worked with numerous Catholic organizations in the past, both in giving them grants and getting their help raising money. Then the Church, and like-minded organizations, cut all ties unless Komen cut ties with PP. Handel doesn't fault them for pressuring and hurting Komen, and once the organization was presented with the situation, she was in favor of bowing to the Catholic Church's demands.
Handel is very inconsistent in what she says about these issues. The problem seems to have been that Komen didn't want to admit to the latter reason knowing that they would offend some of their friends. They were also ambivalent about PP and their past relationship. At this point, I had a lot of sympathy for Handel, she simply could get not direction from, or please, people who can't make up their mind, and she probably would have done well to walk away at this point. So Komen tried to explain its actions via their new grant system and a reluctance to deal with organizations under investigation by someone or another. Apparently they hoped that they could tell the anti-abortion/pro-life forces that they were dropping PP over abortion, but keep this news from PP; a futile hope. Then they couldn't keep their story straight, backtracked and contradicted themselves. If it had truly been a matter of grants, then Komen should just have announced the new standards to all potential grantees and let the chips fall where they may. Even if PP couldn't connect the dots regarding the backlash, the fact that Komen was hiring publicists and making a PP a special case would have told them what was up. Handel is outraged that PP and its allies refused to accept this clumsy spin, when they knew that there was more to this decision.
Handel claims that Komen was trying to be neutral in the abortion struggle, but I don't see how withdrawing grants from PP because they also perform abortions is being neutral on the subject of induced abortions. After all, PP wasn't being given grants to perform abortions, and if Komen had any sense they made it clear in the grants that the money was to be used strictly for breast cancer-related projects. They should do that with all their grantees whether they do anything controversial or not. Neutrality would either be to avoid anyone who has a position on the subject or deal with anyone regardless of their opinion. I'm sure that Komen preferred the latter, but the prolife/antiabortion forces were pressuring them to choose sides. Handel argues that this was not a political decision but a financial one, but it was still forcing Komen to take a side in the culture wars. I suspect that if PP had accepted Komen's decision gracefully, they could have expected that every organization that they dealt with would be pressured just as Komen was.
So Handel's complaints about PP are a little hollow and a lot inconsistent. She sometimes goes into a partisan histrionic mode. She complains about PP's slick political/economic arrangements, but there are a lot of organizations that I find a lot scarier who do the same, liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. These things have generated a lot of outrage over the years, but the politician don't care to put a stop to it.
She goes a bit off the deep end and almost talks as if PP and the left have sinister occult powers and can summon demons, when the truth is that they have a constituency of American citizens who don't even have horns and tails. Just like the right, about whom my liberal friends make similar claims. Life is complicated; full of hard decisions and compromise, and honorable people can disagree. And everyone who agrees with you isn't always honorable. Throughout the body of the book, I thought that Handel had had enough thrown at her that she would recognize this simple point, but in the end she goes back to blind partisan mode. I can understand why Handel is bitter about PP, but having read about the pressure Komen was under from both sides I take a different view.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where the man puts a gun to his own head and threatens to shoot.
If the objective of this book is to bash Planned Parenthood the author pulled the trigger. Planned Parenthood comes across as politically savvy with a strong message and one voice. The Komen organization is portrayed as amazingly out of touch, prone to hiring numerous expensive political PR firms, disorganized and unable to come up with a coherent message. Komen's founder is portrayed as out of touch and not really in control. The author is clearly out of her league and should have stayed in local politics. No matter which side of the debate you are on as to whether Komen should have been founding Planned Parenthood their strategy, decision making and inability to deal with the issue effectively make me question how well the organization will function in the future. To those breast cancer patients hoping for progress or a cure that is a real shame.
Politics is a messy business, and no one who ever engages in it escapes unscathed. Unfortunately, politics is increasingly becoming an integral part of all sorts of organizations and activities, many of which would at least on the surface seem non-political or non-controversial. This, it seems, has happened to one of the best-recognized and universally respected non-profit health awareness organizations in the world: Susan B. Komen. Komen fell victim to the ugly politics of the culture wars, and to the shameless bullying on the part of Planned Parenthood. Like most other non-profit organization Komen has been trying to make its granting process more streamlined and results driven, which invariably meant that many organizations - such as Planned Parenthood - would become ineligible for the continuing financial support. This created a huge backlash from the left-wing organizations and politicians, the consequences of which are still being felt to this day. At the center of this controversy was Karen Handle, former secretary of state of Georgia and Komen's senior VP for public affairs. As one of the most prominent conservative and Republican members of Komen's staff, she was made into the scapegoat and had felt compelled to resign her position. "Planned Bullyhood" is Karen's attempt to set the record straight and clear up her reputation.
The opening chapter of the book is a brief biographical sketch of Karen's life up to her hiring by Komen. It is a very interesting life story, filled with many personal and professional triumphs, as well as bitter disappointments. It is told straightforwardly without much embellishment. Even though she seems to have been a significant figure in Georgian politics for years, Karen is less known to the wider national audience. Karen presents herself as a strong and feisty person who is not easily intimidated. However, she also uses this part of the book to settle old scores with some of her former political opponents and rivals. Even though her account of her past political
The major pert of the book is dedicated, as is to be expected, to Karen's experience at Komen. She goes into a great detail describing Komen's operations and her own involvement in this organization. She also names many current and former Komen employees, senor staff, and affiliates who had been involved with the whole Planned Parenthood fiasco. This is a very revealing and informative book in its own right. It has provided me with a new level of insight into the operations of major organizations, their day-to-day activities, and the interplay of nonprofit, politics, and the media. This is probably one of the strongest features of this book.
The central point of this book is the following: Panned Parenthood's reaction to the discontinuation of Komen's funding has been premeditated, politicized, and designed to create the biggest positive negative impact on Komen. To any reasonable person who knows anything about the operations of Planned Parenthood this would not come as a surprise. That organization has become a major political force in its own right, and one of the pillars of the liberal and Democratic establishments. They are ruthless and disingenuous when it comes to dealing with all of their political opponents. Therefore all of the specific claims that Karen makes in her book are extremely plausible and ring true. Wherever it was possible Karen has tried to back her claims by links and citations of outside sources. Of course, most of the interpersonal interactions can only be known by the persons directly involved, and aside from Karen there doesn't seem anyone else out there, from either Komen or the other involved parties, who has gone on the record verifying any of the various claims presented in here. I tend to believe Karen's general account of this whole affair, but I still take it with a grain of salt. It's always a good idea to hear both sides of the story.
This is a very intriguing and interesting book, which goes beyond just the score setting and explains in some detail how organizations like Komen make their decisions and how they deal with all sorts of crisis and pressures, internal and external. It may not persuade many who are not already sympathetic to the pro-life view of Planned Parenthood, but it will at least provide some further evidence that Planned Parenthood is an explicitly political organization that needs to be barred from receiving public funding. Hopefully the years ahead will bear this out.
18 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Handel's great at corporate spin. After voluntarily assuming an executive vice presidency, she pretends that she had no direction in subsequent policy making. Somehow everybody else just ordered her to take the position--and required her to withdraw funding from community organizations assisting with the provision of breast cancer services to low-income women
Huh?? This is where the public outrage over her hire began. And she does not understand that the foundation's mission was supposed to provide breast cancer services to women, period. I'm left scratching my head because this woman is no political newbee. Prior positions included President/CEO of the Greater Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Policy advisor to Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue, and Georgia Secretary of State. She was supposed to have come in already knowing how the public sector works.
But she never comprehends that money from any foundation only goes to a very specific project. Or the profound ramifications withdrawing the foundation money ultimately did create--until it cost her job--and the organization's once-stellar image. Komen's top public health official, who had been aware of the impact this would create, immediately resigned when the policy was first implemented.
Fundraising to the Komen Foundation dropped because masses of women now believed it was not concerned with their health. It was playing politics with their lives. So they donated directly to other organizations which were providing the cancer screening services.
This book does not have me coming away feeling sorry for her. It has me concerned that the Komen Foundation threw away their long-standing image on somebody lacking political-financial savvy. The national affiliate and smaller organizations faced economic impact because of a grassroots boycott specifically in response to Handel's decision. Even concerns about 'pink washing' did not generate the same public backkash as her directive.
And while we can debate over what percentage of funds goes to actual breast cancer services/research, the resulting lack of incoming funds from this policy did damage the organization. Komen should have done more careful screening of prospective hirees, including what the hirees were trying to accomplish and how they would accomplish the goal(s). A little foresight helps the organization both with policy and image.
This book would be a good read for case studies in what NOT to do for non-profit management.
32 of 51 people found the following review helpful
It's often said "There are no second acts in American Politics" and aside from the Lazarus-like rebirth of Richard Nixon that's largely true. With "Planned Bullyhood" Karen Handel is attempting a sort of personal and political redemption and revival but in the process she is also driving nails in her coffin. As a Georgian I'm well familiar with Ms. Handel's political curriculum vitae, a former Fulton County commissioner and past Secretary of State. Her quick rise was staggering and her equally fast flameout equally predictable. Handel has no qualms about speaking her mind, which she does in abundance here in "Planned Bullyhood". The problem is Handel is an odd mix of direct honesty, naïveté, and a very fundamental and undiplomatic grasp of how politics works. All are on display here and it is a fascinating snapshot of a politician who rose quickly despite a lack of political guile; a rarity in politics today. Certainly she was the odd man (woman) out in Georgia politics as she bristled at the old-boy political system at work in the Georgia Assembly and which infuses politics at the state level. She rather naively thought she could transcend it and change it, yet when she attempted to rally troops and lead the charge she looked back and found few supporters. The net result was she was marginalized by the old-boy network. Sad indeed, yet what did she expect would happen? Entrenched political interests don't give up so easily. "Planned Bullyhood" fairly drips with recollections like this and it is somewhat astonishing that Handel genuinely believes that by force of will and her convictions she can demand change and reform. Handel recounts her nearly successful 2010 campaign for governor that won the endorsement of Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Jan Brewer. The primary and runoff were especially brutal even for rough-and-tumble Georgia politics with Handel and eventual winner Nathan Deal lobbing vitriol at each other's past with aplomb. Handel pulls no punches here on rehashing the accusations leveled at Deal and other prominent Georgia politicians and honestly it comes across as a weird mix of sour grapes and an inability to transcend the past. Clearly Handel wants to settle old scores, but if you're trying to win people to your side it's an odd way to do it. Her political career in Georgia bruised, battered, and left for dead, Handel opts to move in a new direction and opts to take a position as Senior Vice President of Pulbic Policy with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
It is as this new chapter of Handel's life and career begins that I find myself saying "Wait a minute here!" as it all seems like I'm missing pieces of the puzzle. Why would a national organization like Susan G. Komen for the Cure hire someone with so limited a political resume as Handel for such a vital position? Handel had really only been working within Georgia, had mostly Georgia political connections, and only recently had developed a larger recognition in broader circles outside of Georgia. Wouldn't you want someone who had experience in DC and more broadly throughout the country, that was well connected politically? Shouldn't Handel have been asking herself these very questions? But again, Handel reveals herself again and again to be astonishingly un-selfaware. In some respects this makes me believe that the leadership at Komen was indeed bringing Handel onboard to be a potentially sacrificial lamb if the decision to cut ties to Planned Parenthood went horribly wrong. Handel alleges that both Komen's President Liz Thompson and founder and CEO Nancy Brinker assured her that plans to cut ties with PPH were already in motion and that there was no way they would backtrack from that position. This is a bit of he said/she said, but reflecting back on my earlier posit about why Komen would hire an under-qualified outsider it would all make sense that what Handel is saying must be true and that Thompson and Brinker hired her as a fall guy. Handel certainly portrays herself as the gullible ingénue who could be played as a patsy in just this kind of situation. Handel's recounting of how events play out predictably paints herself as the victim and PPH as the villain, all framed within Handel's claim to being the sole possessor of truth and the victim of a vast left-wing cabal. It surely will go down well with social conservatives but to someone with a far more jaundiced and skeptical eye I'm seeing Handel for what she is: a somewhat naive and craven opportunist. She certainly wins the first-past-the-pole award for getting her side of the story out, but it's hardly likely to be last word. There is a good bit of truth here as well and reading over "Planned Bullyhood" it's clear that Thompson and Brinker underestimated Handel and PPH and deserved to lose their positions as well. As leaders they had to know this would blow up in their faces whereas Handel saw this as merely an extension of her pro-life crusade. Handel was at least pursuing cutting off PPH for what she genuinely believed were the right reasons whereas Thompson and Brinker were doing so for more crass and vulgar reasons. No one here comes off as particularly astute, either politically or professionally. In the end nobody wins, everyone loses. Careers are destroyed, reputations lost. If this is Handel's efforts to politically and professionally rehabilitate herself she has completely squandered her opportunity. No one would be associated with somebody so hopelessly naïve, gullible, and utterly un-selfaware. Her lack of political savvy points to how in a one-party state like Georgia even the most mediocre of talents can rise quickly simply because they have a R for party affiliation. At countless times reading "Planned Bullyhood" I found myself thinking "Wake up and smell the coffee!" at Handel, yet she seems unwilling or unable to see the world as others see it. Her implausible rise and predictable fall seem now all the more understandable. There will be no second act, only political obscurity beckons.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2014
This book was excruciating to read because the author changed her views on abortion when she herself went into politics. Those of us in Georgia who worked with her before she started her professional career of running for office, any office, remember only too well That Karen Handel, and she was a completely different person than this author. She publicly identified herself as a, to quote a Bushism, "compassionate conservative," or a fiscal conservative, one whose social views were out of step with the Republican party she had sworn allegiance to. I am just one of dozens of co-workers who remember Karen being very clearly and publicly pro-choice, and I would swear to this on a stack of Bibles. Again, that was before she sold her soul to win votes. Same with gay issues: she never had any issues with gay rights, and campaigned hard to win the gay vote in Atlanta when she ran for Fulton County Board of Commissioners, until she began her statewide races, when it was necessary to throw her support of gay rights under the bus too, to win the good ol boy vote she railed against but secretly coveted. The expediency with which she changed her views to match her political agenda has been disgusting to observe. Knowing, absolutely knowing, from personal experience, from personal, private, intimate conversations that no one can question because you weren't there, that Karen was once absolutely and comfortably pro-choice, reading this book gave me nothing more than a massive case of schadenfreude. Once upon a time, I loved Karen Handel. She was my boss, she hired me. She was my mentor. I would have followed her to the ends of the earth. That person, and this author, are not the same person. Her victimhood, her sacrifice, her pity party, her blame game -- all of that pales in comparison to the shame she should feel for changing her views for political gain. I thought she was better than that. We all did. My bad. Look what it got ya, Karen.
29 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
This comes off as an exercise in self justification, a torrent of rationalization. Ms. Handel entered this organization with a clear agenda, she made her dislike of Planned Parenthood known and her entrenchment in right wing Republicanism was (and is) hardly a secret. Now she wants to play the victim; she was misunderstood, no one knows how victimized she and her organization were, spin killed what were purely good intentions. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Komen is a charity yes, one that forced women to raise more and more to even participate, who directed their funds in an ever increasing political fashion while hiding their agenda. Check and see how much money was made and exactly where it started going. Women were tricked into supporting a cause that had policies that were not in line with their ideals, when this came to light women stopped supporting this organization, period. Thats not bullying. I think the overall tone of this book comes off highly annoying, incredibly self serving and ultimately just plain disingenuous. If you want to read one woman's delusional version of this event and you are willing to shut your brain off to do it (or if you are Ann Coulter) this is the book for you!
on November 9, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2013
So DON'T mess with them. The bad reviews are thoughtful. The good reviews are wide-eyed, a lot of them. What I got out of reading ALL of them was that people are UPSET that Planned Parenthood is a political organization. And have drawn the conclusion that IF PPH is engaged in political activity, it can therefore, not be caring about women's health. I read these reviews to decide if I should include this book in my ongoing research on abortion as a member of Catholics for Choice. Eventually, I will read it, but it is not top on my list right now and here is why...
WHY are conservatives upset that PPH is involved in politics? In 1973, Roe vs Wade had bi-partisan support. It was a decision NOT to make abortion LEGAL, but that couples had the right to PRIVACY in deciding when and how many children to have. It was a decision that this was NOT the GOVERNMENT'S decision to make. Which is ACTUALLY a very conservative philosophy. However, somehow, conservatives did not LIKE this anyway. They fought it tooth and nail and INSISTED that this was NOT an medical issue and a spiritual issue between a couple, their doctor and their PERSONAL spiritual guidance, whatever that may be. In the 80s, the Moral Majority came alone and more evangelicals. And they ALL INSISTED that this issue be LEGISLATED. In other words, that it BE POLITICIZED. SO, why are you upset that ANY organization that is involved with providing health care for women is involved in politics? They HAVE to be because you guys - conservatives, Republicans, evangelicals, all right wing politicos have declared WAR on them for DECADES now. They have no other CHOICE BUT to be political in order to SURVIVE and keep on providing services to women that WE see are definitely NEEDED. And you guys want to SQUASH and KILL. ANNIHILATE if you can. What exactly do you expect US to do? Roll over and die? NO. We are going to fight you as best we can. And YOU have made it a political fight. I guarantee you, if everyone on the right can agree that outlawing abortion will do nothing to reduce abortions (which it won't) See When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973Planned Parenthood will become very non-political really fast. Because there will be no need. As long as YOU hold up your end of the bargain.
I dare you all. Give it a try. And see if we don't get some peace in this land. AND some legislators with some time to pay attention to SERIOUS issues. Not spend all their time on women with problem pregnancies. Like fixing that will change everything in the economy, the environment and international affairs. I am truly concerned that gay marriage and problem pregnancies will be the fiddle that conservatives play while Wall St steals everything (and I've dated those guys), credit is at a ridiculous premium, jobs go overseas, Americans are tricked into thinking they want rule by corporation by Rupert Murdoch's private vendetta against the British journalist class instead of rule by democracy and the environment is ruined. See Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
Sigh. You pro lifers disappoint me every time. I make a very good point and all you can do is either vote that my review didn't help you (because you didn't like what I said) or vote that all the knowledge that I have adds nothing to the discussion (because you didn't like it). All you have are your FEELINGS. And feeling aren't facts. READ some books with data on abortion and Planned Parenthood. Not just one woman's biased an unhappy tale. Check my other reviews for more comprehensive books on the subject of abortion. Just reading this book is and extremely superficial look into what Planned Parenthood does and the issue as a whole. Again, see my other reviews which are do not include many things I have read and watched that are not on Amazon. For example, videos and publications produced by Catholics for Choice.
39 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I ordered this book out of curiosity after seeing the big deal made of this Planned Parenthood vs. Komen in the media earlier this year. I read the book in one day, it really keeps you engaged and wondering what is going to happen next as the story unfolds.
My biggest takeaway from this book is how silly Planned Parenthood acts and cries foul when anyone disagrees with them, all in the name of women's health. It's hard to believe that they get so much money from the government but turn around and use that money as a political organization.
From one woman to another, hats-off to the admirable Karen Handel!