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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

My garden started a little late this year, but my five varieties of heirloom tomato plants (plus a tomatillo) are really looking promising already. I can almost taste the fresh burst of flavor that's been missing from my diet for months on end. Every sorry winter salad with a pink tomato slice laying limply on top was another reminder of how important farmers markets and my own garden would be to my taste buds this summer.

So, my ears perked up when I heard talk of efforts to "restore the supermarket tomato to something that tastes more like a tomato than a piece of cardboard" coming from my radio this morning. Of course I should have known something was amiss when the next sentence noted that the effort would require "a combination of psychology and genetics."

The National Public Radio report consisted of a visit to the University of Florida at Gainesville to visit a scientist working to boost the concentration of chemicals called "volatiles" in tomatoes without reducing the yield. See, factory farmed tomato plants are selected for their huge yield and the fruit's tough exterior, so that farmers can get as many un-squished tomatoes to the supermarket as quickly as possible. But that also means that wonderful tomato taste gets diluted when one plant has to share all its nutrients and sugars with so many fruits.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

Recently, Joe Sestak managed to win out against Arlen Specter for a chance to run as the Democratic candidate from Pennsylvania even though Specter held the backing of the president. In and of itself, Sestak’s victory should have made a large enough story. Nonetheless, the incredibly biased team at FOX News aimed to make an even bigger story out of an alleged job offer from President Obama to Sestak in return for dropping out of the primary with cries of “impeachment” thrown about, but with those calls tellingly originating from a team with little legal expertise.

One of the earliest commentators to cry foul in the Sestak case, Dick Morris went on Sean Hannity’s program to report the situation as potentially “a high crime and misdemeanor.” Hannity wanted to take it a step further and asked if it was an “impeachable offense,” to which Morris replied, “Absolutely.”

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

One of the most popular rallying cries of Republicans and tea partiers alike this election year is that Democrats are not listening to the will of the American people. They can point to polls on many hot-button issues, from immigration to the environment to trying terrorism suspects and say that the "majority of Americans" disagree.

Well, count me as one American who disagrees with that entire premise. On this particular issue, I'm with former Darth Vader Dick Cheney's sentiment that public officials shouldn't "be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls."

Let's start with immigration. Despite the massive public outcry over the Arizona immigration bill, all we hear about in the media is about how the majority of Americans support it. Well, that is, 51 percent of the 1,079 people who were asked about it in this one poll said that they backed the new law. Yet when asked in that same poll what they think should be done with illegal immigrants found in this country, a whopping 64 percent of respondents said that they should be allowed to stay here under some kind of work and/or citizenship program. 

The Democrats response to this in an election year? Send $500 million and 1,200 National Guard troops to the border in the hopes that such an action will placate these scared, confused Americans and the obstructionist Republicans who are holding the breaks on real immigration reform.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

When calculating the cost of offshore drilling on our nation's coastline, its easy to point to the millions in clean-up costs and economic damages to affected communities racked up in the explosion of a BP-run oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. 

BP has assured us all that it will pay "all legitimate claims" regardless of whether it hits the $75 million cap set by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. BP's latest estimate of the clean-up costs more than a week ago was a whopping $625 million, and they haven't even fully stopped the leak yet. Experts are already warning the total could top $2 billion.

Before we get too weepy about BP's financial future, however, let's keep in mind that Big Oil has been screwing the American taxpayer out of much needed funds for decades. And if only one good thing comes of this oil spill, it may be cuts in the subsidies that many agree allow for cheap, but increasingly dangerous oil.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

Last week, Tea Party candidate Rand Paul took a major victory for the Tea Party movement in beating out the candidate chosen by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the race to become the Republican candidate for U.S. senator of Kentucky.  Almost immediately, Paul’s success nearly became a failure for the movement due to an interview given by Paul to Rachel Maddow where Paul controversially opposed part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As much as FOX has done its best to prop up the Tea Party since its formation, it seemed only a matter of time before the network came out to vigorously defend Paul’s sentiments. And sure enough, people such as Sarah Palin and Dick Armey, armed with misdirection and misinformation, helped to do just that.

The national media attention began with the superficially unusual pairing of Rachel Maddow and Rand Paul on Maddow’s show. Paul’s saliently conservative perspective made an interview with the famously progressive Maddow strange, but Paul had previously announced his candidacy on her show, so he appeared to respect Maddow on some level. During the interview, Maddow asked Paul to clarify his stance on the Civil Rights Act because previous interviews with other news sources such as NPR suggested he was opposed to at least some part of it. As Paul clarified with Maddow, “There’s ten different Titles, you know, to the Civil Rights Act, and nine out of ten deal with public institutions, and I’m absolutely in favor of [those]. One deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would’ve tried to modify that.” He reiterated his opposition to racism in general but would not commit to saying he would totally oppose the legislation because “this is why it’s a little hard to say exactly where you are sometimes… When you support nine of out of ten things in a good piece of legislation, do you vote for it or against it?”

Consequently, Paul earned considerable ire from the mainstream for suggesting that he may have considered opposing the Civil Rights Act and that he would tolerate racism from private institutions though not public ones. Even GOP Chairman Michael Steele scolded Paul for his stance, telling FOX, “I think in this case Rand Paul’s philosophy got in the way of reality.”

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

The media is all abuzz about the new deal on the suggested repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Finally, after years of whining that the president -- who has no authority to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military -- hasn't done anything to end DADT, Congress is stepping up to the change plate. But there's another, perhaps less sexy, story today about Congress complaining about President Obama not doing their job for them, only this time it's about who's holding the purse strings.

Obama has requested expanded authority to reduce the deficit by cutting specific items out of spending bills. The powers -- called expanded rescission authority -- would be similar to, but not as grandiose as President Clinton's line-item veto power, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998

If you were to read this highly-biased FOX News "report," you'd be led to believe that not only does the president already have this power, but that George W. Bush was a fiscal conservative.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

Hidden at the end of a New York Times article about financial lobbying this Sunday was a fascinating tidbit about life as an elected official. The piece fleshed out the results of a study by the D.C. watchdogs at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (emphasis mine):

The group’s analysis found that the 14 freshmen who serve on the House Financial Services Committee raised 56 percent more in campaign contributions than other freshmen. And most freshmen on the panel, the analysis found, are now in competitive re-election fights.

“It’s definitely not accidental,” said Melanie Sloan, the director of the ethics group. “It appears that Congressional leaders are deliberately placing vulnerable freshmen on the Financial Services Committee to increase their ability to raise money.”

Take Representative John Adler, Democrat of New Jersey. Mr. Adler is a freshman in Congress with no real national profile, yet he has managed to raise more than $2 million for his re-election, more than any other freshman, the analysis found.

That is due in large part, political analysts say, to his spot on the Financial Services Committee. 

You read that right; Democrats are putting people on the financial committee who need money, because that's where all the lobbying action is taking place.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

The incredibly controversial Arizona immigration bill has caused a stir across the nation and reawakened tensions over race and states’ rights. In turn, the blatantly biased coverage FOX has provided of the issue and ancillary issues has only further illustrated the network’s agenda-driven “news” and pointed to an underlying problem with race that continues to confront the network and its contributors.

As the anti-immigration legislation garners more controversy, decried by many as saliently racist and inspiring protests from inside and outside of Arizona, politicians within the state have further inflamed the issue by trying to circumvent ethnic studies within their educational system. Hardly restraining her personal opinions on the topic despite her position as a “straight-news” anchor, Martha MacCullum proceeded to ask Arizona Superintendent of Education Tom Horne about the issue in a transparently biased fashion.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

In the past, Glenn Beck has taken his vendetta against social justice — a now-mainstream line of thought in most of Christianity — and made it public. Yet, while he had let the issue rest for some time, Beck has seen fit to redouble his efforts to convince his viewers that he is a prophet for the “real” Christianity, not unlike his favorite Tea Party media queen pushes the “real” America.

Months ago, Beck said on his radio show, “I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church website. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.” For further clarification, he added, “Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”
Of course, as previously described in great detail, Beck’s comments illustrate a total lack of comprehension of the history of social justice within Christianity broadly, and even in Beck’s own Mormon faith. As such, Beck manages to leave little conclusion other than that he must hope to begin his own brand of Christianity to supplant faith as the world knows it.

Before he could ever begin his own church, though, Beck would have to dedicate more time to explaining his conspiracy theory than simply denigrating religious leaders as “Marxists.” On Monday, Beck told his viewers to look forward to his special on the following day where he would attempt to explain his rationale against modern churches. Unfortunately, in so doing, Beck reverted back to his usual fear mongering, telling his viewers, “Your churches… there’s a chance it’s been infiltrated and it’s got some nasty things.” Of course, Beck still blames his favorite group of opponents for infiltrating the churches — the “Marxists.”

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

The results of the spate of primary elections Tuesday were plenty of fodder for the anti-incumbent crowd. Progressives rejoiced at Sen. Blanche Lincoln's setback as well as Sen. Arlen Specter's defeat.

And the tea party? Well, somehow they got a mandate out of it. Though he's not quite in Washington yet, tea party candidate Rand Paul won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. His interpretation of the win over GOP establishment candidate Trey Grayson was that he now has carte blanche to rule the country as he sees fit.

"The tea party movement is huge. The mandate of our victory tonight is huge," Paul said in his acceptance speech. "The tea party movement is about saving the country from a mountain of debt that is devouring our country and I think could lead to chaos."

After getting past the idea that Paul might really think the country is on the verge of anarchy due to the national debt, my second thought was that he might want to think twice before using an electorally-loaded word like "mandate."

Published in Analysis
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