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GREEN IS GOOD
by Meg White

Once the purview of radical environmentalists, at age 40, Earth Day has settled into a rut. Across the nation today, people will be pledging to use less plastic, take fewer trips to the gas station and maybe even plant a tree or two. Perhaps the ultimate sign of decline is that fact that you can send Earth Day cards from none other than Hallmark.

Rather than the soothing salve of corporate platitudes, the only way out of this deadly rut is to get rowdy.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Jeffrey Joseph

A major part of what has helped FOX build up its audience has involved campaigning on at least the illusion of journalistic credibility. The network has long pushed a saliently conservative, if not specifically GOP-informed, view of the news, so sending Sean Hannity out to a Tax Day Tea Party Rally struck most in the media world as partisan, but not unusual. Selling tickets to the show and promising the raised cash to the Tea Party, however, proved so unethical that it may have FOX executives threatening further action besides pulling Hannity back to New York. Yet with all the outrage about Hannity shilling for the Tea Party, FOX still has plenty to answer for in terms of credibility with so many of the rest of its staff.

Part of the furor over Hannity's plan to sell tickets to his FOX broadcast and redirect the proceeds to directly aid the Cincinnati Tea Party certainly had to do with the recent reference to direct party support as unethical by the generally reclusive Rupert Murdoch. To make the head of the conglomerate look like such a hypocrite so soon after his statement clearly did not bode well for Hannity. Though more often associated with her fantasy work than real journalism, conservative Debbie Schlussel contends that the drama illustrated a split within the FOX hierarchy as Roger Ailes ordered Hannity to return, not other more pro-Hannity executives beneath Ailes. Schlussel has no love for Hannity, so her assertions may turn out to be mostly wishful thinking, but her blogging about his Freedom Alliance association has had major repercussions for Hannity already.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Fair warning: You may notice rowdy kids riding the city bus in the middle of the day today. No, it's not some president's birthday or a teachers' workshop day. It's Stay Home for Bullies Day. And the quiet kids will be in class.

That's because Friday, April 16th is a "Day of Silence." The project was started by students at the University of Virginia in 1996. Now sponsored in public schools by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the day is dedicated to helping to end the silence over LGBT bullying in schools by drawing attention to the silence itself. Participating students take a day-long vow of silence, wearing placards or T-shirts to explain why.

As a person who went to a high school where saying something was "so totally gay" was an acceptable way to lodge a complaint, I see this as a smart way to combat a rampant problem.

Sadly, even this quiet protest -- which shouldn't interfere with the work of educators (on the contrary, quiet students should make it easier for others to learn, and anyone who suffered through laryngitis in school knows there are alternative ways to participate in classwork) -- faces stiff opposition. Some schools are actually encouraging students to cut class, "in order to protest against gays," as one Texan put it.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

If there's one annual holiday exclusively dedicated to bitching and moaning, it's Tax Day. Whether it's complaints of confusing IRS forms, long lines at the post office or government waste, everyone has got a gripe today.

So, perhaps we're all a little crabby today. But no one whines louder or more nonsensically than the Tea Partiers. All over the nation there will be angry protests over the civic duty of paying taxes.

Of course, none of them will stop to wonder who pays for the police officers securing tea party safety at these events. Who pays for the parks, town squares and state capitol buildings where the protesters gather? Who pays the salaries of the politicians who address these angry people?

That's right: taxpayers. And let me tell ya, it ain't cheap.

Perhaps the best illustration of this is the tea party rally held last November, organized by Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Tom Price of Georgia, Todd Akin of Missouri and Steve King of Iowa. The rally, dubbed a "House Call on Washington" cost taxpayers a whopping $13,600, as revealed by official expense reports.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

So much for diplomacy.

After the Pope and the Catholic Church at large failed miserably at placating the angry and disgusted masses after the public became aware of the widespread child abuse scandal, the Vatican's top diplomat was deployed to explain what had happened.

For those of you who have stopped keeping score, the Church had already tried to blame the media and the 1960s for the epidemic. Then they shifted to blaming the victims, insisting that promiscuous children were to blame for their being tied up and abused in the local rectory.

That didn't go over so well (for obvious reasons). So let's pick on another historically marginalized group, the Holy See must have reasoned. How about the Jews? They don't like Pope Benedict's Nazi connections anyway, so little love lost there! As you may have guessed, that attempt fared badly too.

Enter the diplomat. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state at the Vatican, said that it's homosexuals that bear the blame for the culture of child abuse that flourishes among Catholic priests.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

For all of you elitist liberals out there planning on spending Tax Day watching YouTube for uploads of violent, racist teabaggers from the comfort of your desktop, beware that a bunch of elitist liberals plan on ruining your fun.

The Associated Press published a piece yesterday about CrashTheParty.org, a group planning to "infiltrate and dismantle the [tea party] group by trying to make its members appear to be racist, homophobic, and moronic."

Note to the party crashers: It's been done.

Despite the sometimes positive coverage from mainstream media outlets, it's clear to any casual observer that the tea party crowd is generally dominated by "racist, homophobic and moronic" people.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

There's something especially acute and universal about the pain of being falsely accused. Even the smallest child can understand the unfairness of punishment for a crime one did not commit. It's why most Americans actually believe the accused are "innocent until proven guilty," because the alternative is too horrifying to imagine.

That is, unless you're living at the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell when he was secretary of state, recently submitted at document in support of a former detainee's lawsuit that alleges that the Bush Administration knew that the majority of the men held there were innocent.

Possibly the worst part of Wilkerson's allegation is that the administration made the decision not to release innocent men based on pure politics. They didn't want to look like they didn't know what they were doing. It's one thing to be wrongly accused. It's quite another to be known to be innocent, but locked up purely for political expediency.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Sarah Palin was a featured speaker at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) in New Orleans Friday afternoon, though perhaps palin at SRLC"featured sloganeer" would have been more appropriate considering the substance of her address.

Within her "hopey-changey," "repill and replace," and "don't retreat; reload" mashup, she even started suggesting bumper sticker designs. It was the classic Palin we all have grown to cringe at.

It was when she dealt with anything that happened before, say, August 2008 when she began to have some trouble.

She tried to equate the optics of President Obama's policies with President George W. Bush's. Referring to Obama's recent energy speech, Palin quipped, "Anything sounds good when you say it in front of a fighter jet!" She added that the next step for the administration is to get "Joe Biden in a flight suit."

I wonder if Palin has ever heard the phrase "Mission: Accomplished"? Oh, and did I mention the fact that she said "nuke-you-lar" at least three times during her SRLC speech?

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Conventional wisdom from sources ancient to modern asserts that history is written by the winners. I guess when a second round of editing is deemed necessary, we must call in the losers.

Or at least that's the impression you'd get if you were following the news in American historic revisionism. It seems it's only a matter of time before children's history books change all references of the Civil War to the "Great War of Yankee Aggression."

Yes, it turns out that rewriting history isn't just for religious fanatics in Texas anymore. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a statement this week recognizing April as Confederate History Month, omitting any mention of slavery.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

You'd think after being portrayed as at least tangentially involved in the intimidation and threats of violence against members of Congress over the healthcare bill, tea party organizers would tone down the rhetoric and try to make the practical first birthday of the movement less inflammatory than in recent weeks.

So what's their latest plan for fundraising over the Tax Day holiday? I kid you not, they're promoting a Great Patriot Money Bomb. Basically, a nonpartisan (really?) group of tea party activists have put together a list of bona fide tea party candidates (or as they call themselves "constitutional conservatives") and linked them all together on one fundraising page.

I suppose they're hoping this effort will be more successful than the Republican National Committee's campaign to set ablaze fire House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (though the campaign has raised a fat $1.5 million for the GOP, there's little doubt that Pelosi will retain her seat).

It does bear mention that Liberty Candidates' Photoshop abilities don't come close to the slick imagery of GOP.com surrounding Pelosi in flames -- a shocking number of candidate pictures are very shoddy cut-and-paste jobs of a candidate's photo on top of the American flag (as you can see from the few I've scattered into this piece). But the passion is all there.

Published in Analysis
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