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BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

When the Citizens United case came down, the immediate conservative response was that this was good for free speech and that it wouldn't really have much of an effect upon the American political landscape anyway. The Committee for Truth in Politics has just single-handedly defeated that already flimsy argument.

The group had been enmeshed in a lawsuit with the Federal Elections Commission which was put on hold until the Citizens United case was decided. Now that the Supreme Court had decided that corporations can pour as much money into the political process as they want, the Committee for Truth in Politics has started up their lie machine again.

Their latest campaign is an ad that claims that the financial reforms Democrats are trying to pass in Washington are really another huge bank bailout in disguise. Sigh. Only the right could take a crackdown on Wall Street and turn it into a handout. 

The thing is, there is a much closer bond between Citizens United and the Committee for Truth in Politics than their penchant for smudging reality: James Bopp Jr. The right-wing attorney for the Committee for Truth in Politics was also the guy who turned the clear-cut Citizens United case into a broad ruling on corporate speech rights.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

This morning a very salient question was tweeted by Nate Silver's always insightful blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, that really got me thinking:

@fivethirtyeight: Per @QuinnipiacPoll, voters support jobs bill 72-22. Why again do Dems feel the need to compromise on the estate tax?

Hmm. Maybe because if they don't compromise every few minutes they'll feel too much like Republicans?

The question Quinnipiac asked respondents was whether they support President Obama's commitment of "one hundred billion dollars to fund a jobs bill that would include tax cuts for small businesses, as well as investments in infrastructure and clean energy."

Not only were huge percentages of Democrats (93) and independents (70) in favor, but 49 percent of Republicans favored the measure. So the question remains: Why would Democrats have to compromise on a bill that the majority of Americans support?

Well, I remember when healthcare reform was still a nascent idea in the Obama Administration, it seems to me that the majority of Americans approved of it. It was only after many weeks of lies about death panels and socialism that approval dropped precipitously.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

The debate over the legacy of former President Ronald Reagan has taken on a tea-colored hue over the past few weeks, but the Reagan family feud moved into top gear this morning.

It all started late last month when, in an appearance on The Joy Behar Show, Ron Reagan said that his father, the 40th president of the United States, wouldn't have supported the tea party movement if he were alive today.

"Oh, I think he would be unamused by the tea partiers, with their Hitler signs and all the rest of it. No, I don't think he'd cotton to that much at all," Reagan said.

Conservative defenders of all things Reagan were quick to point out the elder Reagan's anti-tax views as evidence of his probable allegiance with the tea party movement. But the argument really got going when another of Reagan's progeny, Ron's brother Michael, put out a press release refuting his brother's opinion this morning.

"I believe he would embrace the Tea Party Movement, if he were alive today, and support the work of Sarah Palin, Scott Brown and others who espouse conservative principles," Michael Reagan, the spokesman for the newly formed Reagan PAC said of his late father. "He would be applauding the grassroots organization of this country and Sarah Palin for making herself available to elect conservative candidates."

Of course Michael would say that; he's got to justify giving campaign money from a PAC with his dad's name on it to tea party queen Sarah Palin somehow. What may surprise you is that I totally agree with him.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

The American Family Association (AFA) kindly sent out an action alert yesterday to its concerned constituency warning about the coming Armageddon for our troops if the military policy banning gay people from openly serving in the military is repealed. It began thusly (emphasis mine):

Gays showering with straights? Absolutely.

If President Obama, congressional Democrats, and homosexual activists get their wish, your son or daughter may be forced to share military showers and barracks with active and open homosexuals who may very well view them with sexual interest.

Talk about creating a hostile work environment for people who practice normative sexuality!

Wait, stop the presses. Did I just read that President Obama is trying to force our troops to have gay sex in the shower?! 

Of course, instead of imagining gay military porn as the AFA might want me to, I'm imagining the angry people who subscribe to this trash getting all riled up about those dirty homos and their sexy shower time after opening their inbox:

"No thank you, sir! I would much rather have my son or daughter continue to be forced to share military showers and barracks with repressed homosexuals! That's the only kind of naked homosexual I want to see.

...Er, not that I want to see naked homosexuals, of course. I mean, gross."

Who thinks this stuff up? Hopefully this will be a lesson to AFA President Tim Wildmon: Don't tell your supporters to imagine gay people, sculpted by military training, taking group showers. It makes them very uncomfortable, OK?

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

I imagine commentators all around the nation are looking at the Illinois lieutenant governor's race and shaking their heads, saying, "Only in Chicago could a guy who dates and threatens prostitutes, takes illegally-obtained steroids and tries to sexually assault his ex-wife win the Democratic nomination."

But I request a revision. The phrase should be, "Only in America."

The truth is, the disgraced Scott Lee Cohen, who used the Superbowl as a cloak of darkness under which to announce he's pulling out of the November elections, is fundamentally no different than Carly Fiorina or Michael Bloomberg. Their only real qualification for office is their money.

In a bizarre and painful-to-watch press conference at a bar on Chicago's far northeast side last night, Cohen announced his withdrawal, as his pre-adolescent son sat sobbing into the microphones lined up in front of his father.

The sad fact is that this whole ugly scene could've been avoided.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Every once in a while, Congress acts swiftly. But sometimes legislation alone is just not enough to get the job done.

It's hard to keep up with the flurry of bills proposed in the wake of the disastrous Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court last month which allows virtually unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns. One congressman, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), has introduced six separate bills aiming to reduce the influence of corporations on American politics, which he wrapped together in a "Defend Our Democracy" package. Fixes to the problems posed by the ruling in Citizens United include giving shareholders a say in how a CEO spends the money of a given corporation and refocusing elections on public financing.

Yet the consensus seems to be that while legislative fixes will help stem the tide of corporate spending this election year, the root of the problem is much more systemic, requiring a constitutional amendment to remedy.

"I think we need a constitutional amendment to make it clear once and for all that corporations do not have the same free speech rights as individuals," Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said in his opening statement at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the subject this week. "Big issues of fairness and justice sometimes demand nothing less... The government should stop tinkering around the edges of a system that is broken beyond repair."

Despite Kerry's stirring rhetoric, the tinkering continues.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Among the many names we have for lawyers -- solicitors, counselors, blood-sucking ambulance chasers -- there is one to which I would like to call the attention of the constitutional law professor we call president: advocate.

The word "advocate" has a long history in the practice of law, and the term is still used as a primary way to identify lawyers in at least a dozen countries. Indeed, etymological sources indicate that "advocate" may have originated as a legal term, dating back as far as the fourteenth century.

Now, I'm sure President Obama has access to a plethora of a very nice dictionaries. But in light of the squabbling rift between the White House and the Justice Department revealed today, it may be helpful to remember the advocacy role of the government's agency of attorneys.

National Public Radio (NPR) revealed a bombshell of institutional irritation this morning by quoting several unnamed sources at the Justice Department expressing frustration at being "muzzled by the White House, then clobbered by Congress" on the issue of Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

As Democrats scramble to assemble a slate of legislative and constitutional fixes to counter the effects of the Supreme Court decision, conservatives suggest Congress allow even more money to flow into campaigns.

With the president's budget proposal and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" occupying the time of C-SPAN crews in the capital today, there may have been a perception that campaign finance reform took its dutiful place at the back burner of American political consciousness at a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee Tuesday morning. But Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) wasn't about to let that assumption stand.

"I really think they show that they care when given a chance," Durbin said of the American people. He countered the conventional wisdom that campaign finance reform is an "intramural issue."

Of course, interest in Durbin's long-time crusade for fair election financing (in the form of his Fair Elections Act) was helped along last month by a highly controversial decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that opened the floodgates, allowing corporations to spend virtually unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

"I thought [the Fair Elections Act] wouldn't go anywhere unless there was a major scandal," Durbin said. "But I think it was this case that was the scandal."

Durbin's act is just one of many proposed fixes to solve the many problems brought to light by the case.

Published in Analysis

Will the decision by The Huffington Post, The New York Times and others to use Twitter as an advertising platform change the way we tweet the world?

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White

Like most writers, I was suspicious of Twitter at first. Always wary of mandated brevity, expression in 140 characters or less struck me as an exercise in ridiculousness.

I soon found that Twitter had very little to do with the 140-character news peg the media trumpeted about it in the early days. It was a community of "tweeple" who -- instead of e-mailing, messaging or posting -- were having online conversions by "tweeting."

Honestly, though, I probably wouldn't have even started if it weren't for my role at BuzzFlash. Turns out that Twitter is the perfect vehicle for BuzzFlash's snark. Tweeple seem to really thrive on the same sarcasm and irreverence that BuzzFlash had been cultivating for ten years with our headlines and blog.

BuzzFlash's Twitter persona has changed a little since it inception. We're still the snarkiest kid on the news block, but now we have begun to do give-aways from the store as well as just plain begging for our very existence. However, these developments are a result of our sorry financial situation, and do not arise out of any desire to use Twitter as a revenue-generating machine. If you were broke and having a conversation with (several thousand of) your closest friends, you'd probably mention it too.

What you wouldn't do is take money from a store in exchange for telling your closest friends to go shop there. That's where the community breaks down, and friendship becomes a financial transaction. And that's why tweeple are in an uproar over the latest attempts to monetize Twitter relationships.

Published in Analysis

BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White 

Perhaps, in a culture where one-third of women serving in the U.S. military can expect to be raped, I shouldn't be surprised when a Marine recruiter is charged with impregnating a 17-year old girl in a high school where he was recruiting students to serve. 

I'm not surprised. I'm outraged.

Nestled within a report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is a list of examples of different types of "recruiter irregularities" recorded in 2008. The list, which included recruiters lying to National Guard applicants about the realities of service, purchasing drugs with a Navy recruit and falsifying information in an Air Force application packet, made note of several instances of sexual misconduct, one of them the aforementioned incident that resulted in pregnancy.

The report does give examples of disciplinary action taken by the military, but does not connect that action with the abuse that precipitated it.

Published in Analysis
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