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The BBC has this video from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush's humanitarian visit to earthquake-torn Haiti. At about the 50-second mark you can clearly see George W. Bush, having taken all the hand-shaking he can handle, wipe his hand off on the back of Clinton's shirt. You can almost hear him say "Yucky."

Stay classy, Dubya.

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BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Jeffrey Joseph

Viewers can expect a certain amount of ridiculousness from Sean Hannity, such as giving voice to a congressman who tried to rationalize racist and homophobic comments toward Reps. John Lewis and Barney Frank, respectively. Still, Hannity's partnership with a particular charity may ultimately prove more reprehensible than his usual.

Hannity has a long-held association with Freedom Alliance, ostensibly intended to help veterans and the children of veterans. In reviewing the tax return forms for the charity, though, some have suggested that the charity operates as an elaborate scam. Possibly the most surprising aspect of the recent allegations, though, comes from its main source: a fellow conservative.

Freedom Alliance, founded by Oliver North of Iran-Contra infamy, puts on "Freedom Concerts" across the nation with Sean Hannity often listed as the presenter for said concerts. In so doing, Freedom Alliance has brought in millions of dollars toward its cause. According to conservative Debbie Schlussel's analysis of the charity's tax returns, however, very little of that money ever reaches the veterans or their children. More specifically, Schlussel contends that in 2006, for example, "Freedom Alliance reported revenue of $10,822,785, but only $397,900 -– or a beyond-measly 3.68% -– of that was given to the children of fallen troops as scholarships or as aid to severely injured soldiers."

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BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight in support of historic health insurance reform legislation.  The House passed the Senate version of health insurance reform legislation by a vote of 219 to 212. That bill now goes to the president for his signature into law.  A second bill, to improve the Senate bill, passed by a vote of 220 to 211 and goes to the Senate. Below are the Speaker’s remarks.

“Thank you, my colleagues.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank all of you for bringing us to this moment.

“It is with great humility and with great pride that we tonight will make history for our country and progress for the American people.  [Applause]  Just think—we will be joining those who established Social Security, Medicare, and now tonight health care for all Americans. [Applause]

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Washington, DCNevada Senator Harry Reid delivered the following remarks this afternoon to President Obama and the House Democratic Caucus to reaffirm Senate support for a simple up-or-down vote on health reform. Attached to this release are the contents of a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from a majority of Senators expressing that same support. Below are Senator Reid’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

“We’ve spent the last year discussing, debating, drafting and re-drafting.

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by Jeffrey Joseph

It took Glenn Beck just a few days to respond to all the blow back he received for telling people to "leave their church" if it mentioned social justice, a tenet prominent in many Christian circles. In so doing, he took the only route he felt comfortable approaching in avoiding any of the specific criticisms or even his accusers and relying on a single pseudohistorian to defend him.

Beck opened the segment talking with David Barton because "I'm under attack by the 'Christian' community," complete with air quotes. He explained, "It's not the 'Christian community,' it's the 'progressive community' covering themselves or wearing the mask of Christianity," again accompanied by his air quotes. In effect, Beck tried to change the topic, doing his best not to reiterate the term "social justice" in the segment to defend his ludicrous ties between it and Nazism and Communism, preferring instead to attack any who would oppose him as progressives.

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BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
by Jeffrey Joseph

In large part a response to the exaggerated and vitriolic presence of the Tea Party, the Coffee Party founders wanted to create a more genuine grassroots movement that showed civility in politics and an avenue for reasoned debate. Just as soon as the Coffee Party began having meetings nationwide, though, FOX covered the story as one would expect -- asking its favored Tea Party to come in and denigrate it.

The Coffee Party officially launched this past weekend and FOX felt obliged to cover it in a way only they could. Though FOX called in Michael Patrick Leahy, co-founder of the National Tea Party Coalition, to discuss the kickoff, the Coffee Party offered no representative to FOX because they "decided not to accept interviews focused on fostering ongoing political divisions in the country or provoking fights with the Tea Party." In response, Leahy summarized his group by saying, "We love the Constitution and we love America," as if wide swathes of the U.S. despised both, while also mocking the Coffee Party's objectives as "vague" and tying them to George Soros' Open Society, an allegation specifically denied by the Coffee Party.

FOX host Dave Briggs, of course, left Leahy unchallenged on his facts while the production team ran chyrons, those headlines describing the segments, making saliently "unbiased" observations, such as, "New Brew, or Sour Solution? Coffee Party Rises to Counter Tea Party Movement." Briggs also concluded his segment by comparing the civility of the Coffee Party and the Tea Party and saying, "I think Coffee might make people more fired up and less civil, but that's for another discussion." Fitting that Briggs found that an appropriate way to close his one-sided segment.

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by Jeffrey Joseph

This past week, FOX received a rather excoriating criticism from former New York Times editor Howell Raines for the way the network has "overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II." FOX's biggest ratings draw, Bill O'Reilly, responded with incredulity, making an argument for FOX's coverage of healthcare that ignores the bulk of what his home network broadcasts.

Raines cited healthcare reform as an issue FOX had particularly distorted through its propaganda machine. For his response, O'Reilly began by attacking the Times for housing predominantly liberal contributors. Then O'Reilly appeared to immediately undermine his own argument by suggesting the Times was to blame for convincing the nation that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, an assertion that actually supported a conservative stance on the war. Next, O'Reilly played a clip of himself stating on the air that he was in favor of healthcare reform, though he certainly does not cite President Obama's plan, and claims that since his show is the "signature broadcast" of the network, FOX obviously treats the issue fairly.

O'Reilly did not have to wait long for a rebuttal from his own colleagues. Though he listed a few FOX contributors in favor of healthcare reform such as Juan Williams, Bob Beckel, and Geraldo Rivera, only Rivera actually hosts a show of his own. The rest have the opportunity to appear on others' shows to be talked over with outrageous sentiments like Sean Hannity suggesting Sarah Palin is "smarter than Obama."

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by Jeffrey Joseph

After having already tried to influence his fans to abandon broad Christian humanitarian efforts, Beck hardly waited long to show how he might fill the void those Christians otherwise filled with their churches -- he appears to be creating a faith all his own.

For a guy unwilling to even accept the label of "journalist" for fear of being found obviously lacking the moral integrity to live up to the title, Beck's attempts to act as some kind of spiritual guide to his viewers seems altogether disturbing. On his radio program, he told his listeners and presumed acolytes of the Church of Beck, "You've got to be an evangelist for this message." The message, of course, hearkens to a conservative ideal, but more specifically, to the one Beck propagates. As a mere radio and TV host with no college degree, Beck could hardly have referred to himself more clearly when he said, "The answer is not going to come from the elite in Washington. It's not going to come from the elite in the schools." He goes on to say the answer would come in the form of "you," his listeners, but he follows with his own instructions on how to make it so, such as telling each to be "an evangelist" for his cause twice within a few minutes.

At the same time Beck calls for evangelism of his own cause, he continued his derision of the widespread Christian call for social justice. To Beck, social justice is nothing more than "a perversion of the Gospel" because "nowhere does Jesus say, 'Hey, if somebody asks for your shirt, give your coat to the government and have the government give them a pair of slacks... You want to help out, you help out. It changes you. That's what the Gospel is all about."

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by Jeffrey Joseph

Glenn Beck, the pundit who has responded to questions about his inept fact-checking by simply claiming he is a "commentator," not a journalist, hoped to bring Rep. Eric Massa onto his show for some hard-hitting revelations about the Obama Administration. Instead, Beck could only muster an admission from himself that holds true of much of his programming when he said, "America, I'm gonna' shoot straight with you. I think I've wasted your time."

Massa has had a host of problems attached to his resignation this past week, so it was unsurprising that Beck thought Massa would offer a juicy interview. Massa had initially discussed not seeking reelection due to health concerns, but the story quickly changed to that of him resigning in advance of the 2010 elections due to ethics complaints from a male staffer who said he felt "uncomfortable" in interactions with Massa. Massa had no intention of fighting the allegations, telling a newspaper, "I am guilty," and opting to resign. In a radio appearance, he went on to say, "My difficulties are of my own making, period," and that "during long car rides in the early hours of the morning and late at night and always in private, I know that my own language failed to meet the standards I set for all around me and myself."

What really excited Beck and other conservatives came from a later part of that radio interview where Massa fairly transparently accused the Obama Administration of orchestrating the fiasco when he claimed, "I was set up for this from the very, very beginning. If you think that somehow they didn't come after me to get rid of me because my vote is the deciding vote in the healthcare bill, then ladies and gentlemen, you live today in a world that is so innocent as to not understand what is going on in Washington, D.C." For Beck, bringing on Massa would either mean talking to a Democrat about ethics violations that Massa clearly accepted or the possibility of gathering evidence of the administration strong-arming members of its own party, if not both.

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by Jeffrey Joseph

It was probably just a matter of time before Glenn Beck starting making accusations that would put him at odds with Christianity as a whole. Based on statements from his radio program and his FOX show, he has willingly endeavored to do just that.

Attempting to incite his audience into mass action, Beck decided to warn his listeners and viewers to beware churches that preach about the need for social justice. He pleaded, "I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words." To ensure that no one misinterpreted Beck's call to action, he followed that immediately by saying, "Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"

Indeed, Beck, under the guise of a concerned Christian, unconvincingly compared calls for social justice with extremists from both ends of the political spectrum and demanded people leave their churches over the topic. "Communists are on the left, and the Nazis are on the right," said Beck. "But they both subscribe to one philosophy, and they flew one banner... But on each banner, read the words, here in America: 'social justice.' They talked about economic justice, rights of the workers, redistribution of wealth, and surprisingly, democracy."

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