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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

In case you hadn't heard, the Internets made a new site this week.

While the desperate misogyny of Matt Lebash as a sad reflection upon the identity of the conservative male, the manufactured I-wish-I-was-Ann-Coulter faux bitchiness of S.E. Cupp and the utterly inane and un-newsworthy ramblings of Tucker Carlson are all entirely boring to me in their predictability, there is one thing that interests me about the new HuffPo/Politico hybrid known as The Daily Caller.

Call me wonky, but -- while everyone seems more happy arguing whether or not the new political news site from the conservative pundit who used to wear bow ties will be right-leaning or centrist, or whether that even matters -- I'm wondering about funding.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Margaret Smith

Move over Jared Fogle, there's a new fast-food diet icon in town.

Her name's Christine, and she lost 54 pounds over two years with the help of diet, exercise and... Taco Bell?

That's the latest ad campaign the famous "Mexican" fast-food chain has gone with for their new Drive-Thru Diet. Joining the likes of Subway, McDonalds and Pizza Hut, Taco Bell started adding healthier fast food choices onto their regular menu a while ago in order to help an increasingly obese America lose weight. The Drive-Thru Diet is Taco Bell's latest excursion in this popular money-making scheme.

Do a little research, however, and you'll find that the Drive-Thru Diet is no diet at all. 

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Their grub may be "finger-lickin' good," but will Kentucky Fried Chicken's secret recipe make a dent in the financial woes of struggling American cities? The restaurant chain announced a new advertising strategy this week KFC fire hydrantseeking to take advantage of budget shortfalls in several municipalities across the nation.

KFC -- owned by Yum! Brands, which identifies itself as "the world's largest restaurant company" -- sent out a letter asking cities to consider allowing the chain to plaster its ads on fire-safety equipment in exchange for a cash infusion.

The letter (filled with vaguely inappropriate puns such as "Is your city feeling the heat?", "budgets across the country are under fire" and "the topic of fire safety really starts to heat up") was sent out to mayors across the country this month, requesting that submissions of interest be turned in by Jan. 28.

Two Indiana cities have already undertaken a trial run of the program, with Indianapolis receiving $5,000 and nearby Brazil getting $2,500. KFC plans to spend $15,000 more on three cities to be announced shortly after the application deadline.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

As President Barack Obama approaches the one-year mark of his term, many are reflecting upon the last tumultuous year with relief. Some things do get better with age, and perhaps "hope" will join fine wine on that list.

While some beverages improve over time, tea is not one of them. Unless we're talking about absurditea.

Yes, the teabaggers are back. And I'm not referring to the tea party "convention" to be headlined by Sarah Palin in February. No, I'm talking about the awkwardly-named National Day of Strike, to be held on the one-year anniversary of Obama's inauguration. The event is organized by the folks calling themselves TEA 2.0, not to be confused with the Tea Party Nation, or the Tax Day Tea Party, or the Re-Tea Party, or the Tea Party Express, or the 1776 Tea Party, or the... OK, you get the idea.

Anyway, Allen Hardage is the designated press guy for the National Day of Strike, though you wouldn't know if from his grammar or lack of knowledge regarding spellcheck and the Gregorian calendar. For instance, in his blog post titled "Discovring [sic] the massive funding of socialism and radicalism in America," Hardage says the day of strike "will be the first dismantling this socialist politeriate [sic]."

And how will they defeat the socialism?  By striking, of course! Keep moving, ladies and gentlemen. No irony to see here!

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

This morning I got an e-mail from David Plouffe, care of the folks at Organizing for America (OFA), the post-election incarnation of Obama for America.

"2010 will be a year of new, exciting challenges," the message read. "As we've always known, change this big must come from the bottom up. Organizing for America was founded last year based on your feedback, and OFA supporters are at the core of everything we do."

The note then linked to a survey regarding what the group should focus on for 2010. Personally, I found the poll questions themselves rather lacking. Take a look for yourself (click on image below to enlarge):  OFA's 2010 survey

While I am "interested" in the six options above, I felt a little limited by the choice between the feel-good challenge of creating new jobs and the equally sugary idea of promoting green jobs. So, I added a few suggestions of my own at the bottom in red.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

John Mackey is ruffling feathers again, except this time he wants to take the whole planet down with him.

Self-professed "big fan" of the Whole Foods CEO, Waylon Lewis wrote that John Mackey is "finally losing me." Well, if it wasn't the anti-healthcare reform, union-busting, greenwashing Wal-Mart-ism that broke Lewis, what could it be?

Turns out the latest moral indignation over Mackey's behavior is that he's a climate change denier. This was revealed in a profile published in The New Yorker this weekend, in a trip to Mackey's study (emphasis mine):

One of the books on the list was “Heaven and Earth: Global Warming -- the Missing Science,” a skeptical take on climate change. Mackey told me that he agrees with the book’s assertion that, as he put it, “no scientific consensus exists” regarding the causes of climate change; he added, with a candor you could call bold or reckless, that it would be a pity to allow “hysteria about global warming” to cause us “to raise taxes and increase regulation, and in turn lower our standard of living and lead to an increase in poverty.” One would imagine that, on this score, many of his customers, to say nothing of most climate scientists, might disagree. He also said, “Historically, prosperity tends to correlate to warmer temperatures.”

Of course, there's no need for me to point out that little or "no scientific consensus exists" about any developing theory, but that doesn't mean said theory has no merit. Or for me to bring up the fact that millions are living in lowered standards of living, and poverty is increasing every day because of pollution in low-income areas. As for the idea that “prosperity tends to correlate to warmer temperatures,” the island nation of Fiji might disagree. Whether or not Mackey can hear their cries over the muffled din of the overseas transport of the millions of plastic water bottles sold by Fiji water each year, I couldn't say.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

In case you missed it over the holidays, there's been a fair amount of internecine conflict over FireDogLake.com founder Jane Hamsher's decision to target White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's supposed misdeeds on the board of the troubled semi-governmental lending entity known as Freddie Mac in the early part of this fading decade.

Some of the uproar clearly comes from the way Hamsher decided to do it. Teaming up with the notoriously conservative Grover Norquist to sign a letter calling for the attorney general to investigate and for Emanuel to resign easily evokes the term "strange bedfellows," and mistrust along with it.

FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver wrote that he found the "conspiracy theory" to be "bizarre." The New York Times' Caucus Blog seemed to roll its collective eye at Hamsher's "viewing [Emanuel] as a sort of presidential puppet-master."

Personally, I can't say if Emanuel had anything to do with the stripping of Acting Inspector General Ed Kelly's authority to investigate the apparent crimes of Freddie Mac, though I find it marginally more convincing than the funnel a "trillion-dollar slush fund into corruption-riddled companies with no oversight in place." More troubling to me is Hamsher's childish and short-sighted oversimplification of the healthcare reform process as a way to further her vendetta against Emanuel.

Still -- as with most conspiracy theories -- there is an insidious nugget of truth here, of which many are vaguely aware but mostly uninterested in. In this case it is that Obama's allegiance to corporatism was confirmed well over a year ago, when he announced Emanuel would lead White House staff just days after being elected. And that corporatism stretches back not to sexy slush funds, but plodding political fundraising.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Like many of you this Monday morning, I got up early to face the mountain of messages that had piled up over my vacation last week. Toward the end of that journey down my inbox list, I clicked on an e-mail from President Barack Obama, which hailed the Senate's action on healthcare as a historic achievement.

"These are not small changes. These are big changes," he wrote.

I couldn't agree more, Mr. President. There are some huge changes in this bill. And what jumps out at me immediately is the big change that the religious right has inserted in this bill, turning half of the country into second-class citizens.

Just when we thought American women would be spared the indecency of the House's Stupak-Pitts Amendment, expected to make abortion functionally unavailable by prohibiting women from using their private plans to pay for their own abortions, the Senate came up with a "compromise" that appears to be nothing but a poison pill.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

Senate Democrats appear to finally have enough votes to pass their version of the health-care reform bill despite all the rhetoric and lobbying against it. As the critical vote draws nearer, though, the bill deserves an evaluation of how it might affect some of the private industry forces who are said, in the corporate press, to be economically harmed by the Senate bill.

Some hospital industry experts have made their opposition to reform salient for months. Richard Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, wrote disparaging remarks about the reform effort, fearing "many of America's hospitals will not be able to withstand the cuts that the administration and the Congress are considering. They already are experiencing increases in charity care and nonpayment for services as the economic downturn affects more and more Americans and their employer-provided insurance coverage." He later lamented the possibility of expanding Medicare coverage to 55- to 64-year-olds by comparing it to "living in a house with a crumbling foundation and trying to repair it by adding more bedrooms." After the White House and Senate removed the public option and proposed Medicare expansion, the Hospital Association officially decided to support the bill, no doubt to remain on the inside of negotiations that were going their way.

Huge swathes of America suffered from the economic downturn Umbdenstock mentioned, but as Bruce Jaspen of the Chicago Tribune reports,hospitals "are spending unprecedented amounts on new buildings and seeing some of their best improvements in cash since the dot-com boom of a decade ago." The same may not hold true for hospitals serving primarily poor patients, but large hospitals have had few economic setbacks in getting larger and often "charging higher prices when that money could be used to lower costs or subsidize hospitals in a hole." Jaspen notes that "Critics say large hospital operators that are amassing cash are doing so at the expense of patients."

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

The Body does not like what the hands are doing.

Let me just start by saying I genuinely like Jesse Ventura. Of course, I was a bit embarrassed when my fellow Minnesotans elected the former wrestler to the governor's office. I worried that Ventura was only elected thanks to his campaign ads using action figures to portray his iconoclasm while still asserting that he didn't take himself too terribly seriously. 

But I appreciated that he seemed to surround himself with smart people regardless of political persuasion and did a decent job making sure the state didn't explode. After his political career was over, he maintained an entertaining (and sometimes insightful) media persona that gave Minnesotans an example to point to when in need of evidence that we're not all that uptight.

These days, "The Body" has a new television show called Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura. His mustache is gone and he's taken on a beer belly, but that bulldozing iconoclasm is still there. Unfortunately, he's taking himself a lot more seriously than he used to.

Still, it's entertaining to watch, at least for an episode or two. As a matter of fair warning, this show is anything but balanced. The point is to appeal to conspiracy theorists, so skeptics are not asked to opine. 

Never having seen it before, I happened to catch the latest episode this week, which is cheekily billed as an "inconvenient Conspiracy Theory": global warming. I've embedded a video of the final fourth of the one-hour show in this article, to give readers an idea of the tone.

The two things that are repeated most by Ventura are that people are getting filthy rich off of this climate change bunk and that they're going to use it to "take over the world." Rather than debate whether or not human activity has any effect on the planet, these are the new arguments from those who follow the Sarah Palin school of eco-logic.

Published in Analysis
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