Facebook Slider
Get News Alerts!

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

The healthcare bill that passed in the House late Sunday is one small step for man and one giant leap backward for womankind.

No doubt you've heard the media's breathless line about how the only way that President Obama got this bill through the House was by lending cover to anti-choice Democrats. Just as Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) approached a podium with his misogynistic fist wrapped around the neck  of a gasping healthcare reform bill, the president caved and issued an executive order affirming the Hyde Amendment, a measure designed to ensure that no government money goes to funding abortion.

You may be thinking that Obama's statement on Hyde is no big deal. After all, he's just affirming established law, right?

Wrong. The Hyde Amendment has never been what you might call established law. In fact, Congress must reaffirm it in an appropriations bill every year in order to keep it in place. And Obama's executive order makes it even easier for Republicans and the media to keep repeating this meme about how Hyde is just the way we do business.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

It's no secret that progressives have had a tough time of late. The internecine squabbling over the flawed healthcare bill is but one manifestation of the recent trouble.

That's part of the reason why Jon Stewart's unconventional intro to The Daily Show Thursday night was so satisfying.

The other part was that he's just damn good at what he does. In the nearly fifteen minutes he devotes to spoofing Glenn Beck's FOX show, he mocks, but he also tries to reason with Beck's persona, and makes it clear that dignity, common sense and intelligence are on his side.

(If you haven't seen it, you've got to watch. I've embedded both the intro and the main portion of his Glenn Beck take-down, respectively, in this story.)

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

The Senate passed a bill yesterday that would mean a person found with a small amount of crack and a person carrying 18 times as much cocaine would be sentenced to the exact same amount of jail time.

The strangest thing is that lawmakers called it the "Fair Sentencing Act." The reasoning behind this misnomer is that currently the sentencing disparity is a whopping 100-to-1. So it's an improvement, but excuse me if I don't leap for joy at the sudden dispensation of "justice."

(To be, ahem, "fair": When this legislation was originally introduced, it proposed a fair 1-to-1 ratio. Later the bill was "watered down" for "purely political reasons" according to the advocacy group Color of Change.)

Back when this disparity was first created, lawmakers and the public were treated to misunderstandings, along with a fair amount of lies, about crack and cocaine. It was thought that crack was a stronger and more addictive drug, which it is not. Also, the media hyped faulty science about crack babies and other fear-based reporting. Though the contentions have since been proven incorrect, to this day crack is the only drug with a mandatory minimum for mere possession, regardless of amount.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Like most political writers, I like studies. Sometimes the data give me semi-factual fodder for my opinions and other times a reason to reexamine my preconceptions.

Thing is, there are so many studies that people often only read the ones that have conclusions with which they already agree. In the worst cases, the request for a study to be undertaken in the first place is not an attempt to gain further knowledge, but a delay tactic.

And I'm afraid such is the case with the proposed government studies folded into the financial reform legislation working its way through Congress.

The New York Times writes today that those studies (roughly 38 in the House bill and 24 in the Senate) will "effectively delay for up to two years the possibility of addressing" the problems that led up to the financial crisis in the first place, and may prevent new regulations from being implemented until then. Reading between the lines of the piece, it's clear that the studies are less about information-gathering and more about mollifying the banking industry

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

If you happen to be reading this at noon your time on Tuesday, March 16, I want you to do something for me. Get up from your desk, find the nearest English major and scream in their ear, "Onomatopoeia is for talentless hacks!" over and over for about five minutes. Then go back to what you were doing.

Oh yeah, and write me a check while you're at it. Just call me an American for Prosperity.

Of course the real group called Americans for Prosperity, an industry-funded 501(c)(3) and (4), is a successor to the folks that brought you the demise of Hillarycare more than a decade ago. But, as equal opportunity obstructionists, they're also known to front for climate change deniers and the tobacco industry.

Wearing their "hands off our Medicare healthcare" hats today, they're calling on members to get in their gas-guzzlers and drive to their nearest U.S. representative's office and lay on the horn at noon today. They're calling it the "Honk No" campaign, and frankly, I think it's brilliant.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Did you know that the government is restricting gay men from being allowed to save your life?

Eighteen senators sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Thursday demanding an end to the lifetime ban prohibiting any man who has had gay sex since 1977 from donating blood.

From the Associated Press:

"Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass...

The lawmakers stressed that the science has changed dramatically since the ban was established in 1983 at the advent of the HIV-AIDS crisis. Today donated blood must undergo two different, highly accurate tests that make the risk of tainted blood entering the blood supply virtually zero, they said.

...Kerry compared the effort to lift the blood donation ban to legislation he backed in 2008 to end the law banning people with HIV from traveling and immigrating to the United States.

I see where Kerry was going with his comparison. If we can lift the travel ban on those with HIV (which we did last year), surely we can lift blood donation restrictions on completely healthy gay men.

Unfortunately, this issue is more fraught with intimacy than the travel ban. Our ingrained squeamishness over bodily fluids has traditionally meshed quite well with tribalism, creating unfounded fears over the blood of anyone we consider to be an "other."

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Maybe it's just cabin fever, but progressives seem to be emerging from their insulated shells recently to show that tea baggers don't have a monopoly on civic participation.

For every stay-at-home mom interviewed by some cable news outlet at a tea party rally talking about how she was never really involved in politics before Glenn Beck aroused her out of her civic slumber, there's a Jessica Sharp on the other side.

Sharp, featured in the video embedded here, was a Maryland mother politically involved only in the margins. After she heard about the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited corporate donations in elections, she was worried for her child's future.

"I had Samantha in the back seat and I looked at her and I said, 'My God, what is she going to grow up to know if corporations are going to be allowed to just skim a couple million off the top of their profits to flip a couple of races that might be close?'" Sharp recalled. So, she organized her first rally, which attracted national politicians and activists from all over the country.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Oh, if only the folks at SeaWorld would just read the Bible. I've been hankering for a good old-fashioned whale stoning!

The good folks at People for the American Way brought this little "tragicomic relief" to my attention this morning. Ever eager to capitalize on the bloodiest of news, the American Family Association (AFA) put out a release in the wake of that bizarre story last month of the SeaWorld trainer being dragged to her death by a killer whale (who happened to have a couple of priors).

American Family Association’s director of issue analysis Bryan Fischer wrote (emphasis mine):

Chalk another death up to animal rights insanity and to the ongoing failure of the West to take counsel on practical matters from the Scripture.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, "SeaWorld Orlando has always know [sic] that Tillikum... could be a particularly dangerous killer whale... because of his ominous history."

The Sentinel then recounts that Tilly, as he was affectionately known, had killed a trainer back in 1991 in front of spectators at a now defunct aquarium in Victoria, British Columbia.

Then in 1999 he killed a man who sneaked into SeaWorld to swim with the whales and was found the next morning draped dead across Tilly's back. His body had been bit and the killer whale had torn off his swimming trunks after he had died.

What about the term "killer whale" do SeaWorld officials not understand?

OK, first of all, let me explain what Fischer doesn't understand about the term.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Imagine this: At the end of 2009 -- one of the bleakest years in recent financial memory -- you went to your boss' office, grabbed the company's checkbook and wrote yourself a bonus check.

Your boss says, "Hey! That's way bigger than the bonus I was gonna give you!"

Your reply?

"Tough cookies, sir."

Damn, it must be good to be Goldman Sachs.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Goldman Sachs' board announced that it will not heed the calls of shareholders demanding an internal review of the company's financial compensation packages. In a filing with the Security and Exchange Commission, the financial institution brushed off the shareholders' suggestion that executive compensation was too high in 2009, adding that it would not consider reforming its pay structure.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

On paper, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and her primary challenger, Arkansas Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter, aren't all that different. Both pay lip service to classic Democratic issues of choice, protecting the environment, providing quality education to the country's children, etc.

Thing is, in Lincoln's case the lip service part is where it ends. Judging by her recent actions, the senator's most important constituents are the industries lobbying against virtually every type of reform being advanced by the Democratic Party. This primary isn't about the issues, it's all about the Benjamins.

Indeed, with Halter throwing his hat in the ring for Lincoln's Senate seat this morning, we may have found the perfect illustration of the fallout from the recent Supreme Court decision on campaign finance reform.

Published in Analysis
Page 8 of 92