Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Mother’s Concern Over Homeland Security

The aftermath of the Christmas Day, Flight 253 attempted terrorist attack hits home.

Since 9/11 I haven't been that enthused about getting on an airplane, but it's never been a problem because I'm not a frequent traveler. However, I did allow my teenage daughter to fly out of the country to Taiwan and Malaysia for the Christmas holidays. Prior to my daughter's departure, I was aware that I would miss her a lot because she had never been out of my sight for more than five days and as most mothers, I was concerned about her safety. And, yes, I did think about terrorism and even mentioned it to some of my friends. There response, “You watch the news too much”.

The Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253 (Amsterdam to Detroit) awakened my fears because four days after this dreadful event, my daughter was about to board a flight to come home. And what made it most worrisome, she was flying from another country back to the United States––Taipei, Taiwan to Los Angeles. Feelings of fear hit home. Not like the terror experienced by the passengers and crew on Flight 253 on Christmas day, but inner panic that this terror plot might be more of a larger one. Was our government on top of this situation and handling our homeland security properly? Will be my daughter be safe?

I guess I wasn't too crazy because as I was writing this blog I found out that another airline bomber, with a plan similar to that of the "Christmas Bomber," was caught trying to board a commercial airliner in Mogadishu last month.

Suffice it to say, my daughter made it home safely and without incident. In an effort to keep this story from becoming melodramatic, I'll just say that Tuesday, December 29 was a very long day of waiting and worrying, but with the assistance of my brother, my eldest daughter, a few friends, and my dog Shorty, I picked up my daughter from LAX and was relieved and excited!

Shortly after this attempted terrorist attack, the facts surrounding Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab began to unravel. While many are still questioning how Abdulmutallab got on a plane with a bomb and why there weren’t more “red flags” raised, information about this case continues to soar faster than a jet. Like the fact that Abdulmutallab purchased a ticket with cash and did not carry any luggage and back in May he was denied a visa by the British government and was placed on an official watch list to prevent him from re-entering Britain. What we are learning is that Abdulmutallab has links to Al Qaeda, who have claimed responsibility for this plot to blow up the airliner bound for Detroit.

The most interesting part of this story is that the father of Abdulmutallab had recently (about a month ago) contacted the U.S. Embassy and various other security agencies to warn them that his son had "become radicalized." Apparently Abdulmutallab was placed on the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) list but failed to make it on the “no-fly” list. Recent reports also tell us that the CIA knew of a "Nigerian" airline terror plot, but according to a CIA spokesperson, "We learned of Abdulmutallab in November, when his father came to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and sought help in finding him. We did not have his name before then."

What Flight 253 deserved in the days following this terror attempt was a quick response from a president to commend them for their heroic acts; followed by a nation that needed a sense of safety and security. But what we got was a president that decided to wait a few days before he addressed our nation, and worse an administration that sent out Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano, who appeared on State of the Union this past Sunday and she stated that "the system worked" and a day later she clarified her ridiculous and controversial remark by backtracking and admitting, “Our system did not work in this instance".

When President Obama gave his second press statement in reaction to the Christmas day bomb plot, he labeled it a "systemic failure". Well, they got that right––the system and the people running the system FAILED! It not only failed those 278 passengers and crew on Flight 253, the city of Detroit, and the United States, but it failed all of the of people flying this holiday season, including my daughter.

I thought it was the job of Department of Homeland Security to prevent terrorist attacks, not the responsibility of citizens to thwart them. While there is plenty of blame to go around, a third grader could have put all of these “dots” together, made a nice picture, and colored it in without going out of the lines.

It’s unfortunate that our current administration treats terrorists more like common criminals as opposed to the unrelenting and deadly, terrorizing threat they represent. It's quite fascinating that they have changed the name from a "War on Terror” to "Overseas Contingency Operations". Did they miss the fact that these radical Muslim extremists declared jihad (“holy war”) against the U.S., intensified their warfare on 9/11 when they used four of our airplanes as weapons murdering almost 3000 innocent people, have in 2009 vowed to open "new fronts" against the U.S. and its allies, and evidently aren’t done yet.

I’m not saying that I advocate the aggressive “Cowboy Bush”––shoot first ask questions later approach, but going the other extreme––everyone needs to love me passive, “Obama Style”––is just as dangerous. I'm well aware of the complexity of the terrorism issue and the difficulties involved in combating this type of evil, but homeland security should be a top priority––they need to fix the failures, make sure there are no other loopholes in the system, and anticipate possible killing methods terrorists may try in the future. I can only hope and pray that moving forward our concerns will be lightened and as we (or one of our loved ones) board an airplane we will be safer.

A Mother’s Concern Over Homeland Security
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 31, 2009 at 1:33 pm
Politics, BlogCritics

Friday, December 25, 2009

Just in Case You Missed Church This Christmas 2009

Candles illuminate what is most important during Christmastime; the birth of Jesus and family and friends.

When I was growing up and our family would go to Church, my mother would test me to see if I had paid attention to the sermon, by asking me what it was about. Raised Catholic and a child who went to Catholic school for my elementary school years, I didn’t appreciate my faith and the people surrounding it, so how could I remember the sermon and it's message.

What is amazing is that I can recall all of the nuns who were my educators at St. Theresa School. In hindsight, the nuns and priests had a profound impact on my life then and to this day. In fact, when I was very young I wanted to be a nun. Well, we all know that didn’t happen. But it was Monsignor Rice and Sister Theresa, not part of my Catholic school but leaders of a church I later attended as a youth, who had the most influence –– they were my heroes growing up.

Presently, I can honestly say that the gift of faith that my mother introduced me to and nurtured (along with all the nuns and priests), was the best gift of all. Over the years I drifted away and turned my back on my faith, and at times was one of those "carnal" Christians with one foot in Christianity and the other in the world. Talk about darkness and inner turmoil –– but that’s another story. The good news is that whenever I returned to my faith, I always found Jesus Christ waiting with open arms and forgiveness in His heart, ready to put me back on the path of "light".

Christmas 2009 is “bitter sweet” for me because my youngest daughter is on a holiday trip, making this the first Christmas that she is not with me. However, my eldest daughter came for Christmas bringing me comfort and joy! It's interesting to note that my youngest, who does believe in Jesus still has many questions in her young mind to contend with in order to put all her faith in God, but my eldest daughter has found her way and is a strong believer; as they say in Christian circles, she’s "on fire for the Lord"!

So, with only one daughter by my side, we attended the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Grace Church here in my hometown. Considering it was Christmas Eve and church with candles, we were both excited. After all candles, developed by the Ancient Egyptians, have been used for light and to illuminate man's celebrations for more than 5,000 years. “Candles have played an important role in early religious ceremonies including Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, which centers on the lighting of candles and dates back to 165 B.C.”

As we entered the church, we got our candles, had a quick giggle, and found our place in the pews –– a mother, daughter bonding moment if you will. Later a very special friend of mine along with her family joined us. The Christmas Eve service provided a collection of scriptures from the Old and the New Testaments, some foretelling the birth of Jesus, while others confirming that He has arrived. The scripture that caught my attention and stuck with me throughout the service was Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel"––Immanuel meaning God with us.

In between scriptures were traditional Christmas carols that brought me back to my youth and at the end of the service we all lit our candles and sang, Joy to the World. With hundreds of candles burning and unity and goodwill abounding, what a precious time it was. I could feel the power of God’s love –– realizing, not for the first time but a much deeper revelation, that God actually came down from heaven to be with us –– the light and savior of the world.

This Christmas, candles have taken on a more significant meaning for me: a guiding light illuminating what is most important during Christmastime: the birth of Jesus as well as my family and friends. Also, leaving me a glimmer of a distinct memory I will have forever –– Christmas 2009.

First on BlogCritics in Culture

With all my love to my wonderful daughters Nicole and Angelica! MOM

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Barack Obama: “Absolutely, We Need Earmark Reform”

Business as usual in Washington: So much for "Hope and Change", just control and more debt.

The term earmark comes from the practice of marking the ears of livestock for identification, yet in American politics it has come to mean money that is "set aside for a special project or purpose": AKA pet projects, pork. As I'm sure that animals are not thrilled by this procedure, I am more confident that Congress and their frivolous spending outrages the American people.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog organization states "widespread earmarking is a relatively new phenomenon in American politics, which gained momentum in the 1970's". Pork in a bill in Congress is as common as a hot dog at a football game. Moreover there continues to be a rise in pork barrel spending and there is no getting around it; both Republicans and Democrats are part of this Congressional excess and waste.

During the first presidential debate Senator John McCain and then Senator Barack Obama argued over the earmark issue, and Obama pledged, "Absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely." Hold your applause please; I'm just getting started!

Considering the White House continues to proclaim that "we are in the worst economic crisis since the great depression", why does Congress keep spending money on flippant projects. It's one thing to spend money when we are flying high in prosperity, but when we are drowning in debt, it doesn't make sense.

Any intelligent American household would have enough common sense to cut out the "extra stuff" when they are facing dire financial times; why doesn't Washington? Are they that ignorant, unwilling or are they just self-serving?

We started 2009 spending; when Congress passed the urgent $800 billion Economic Stimulus Package claiming that it would create jobs and save our economy. Almost a year later and as we continue to await the arrival of our jobs, we do know that the White House website, which costs over 18 million dollars to renovate, reported that thousands of jobs were saved in Congressional Districts that don't exist. Not to mention that stimulus checks were sent out to dead people and inmates. But, that’s another story.

While the stimulus package was in the midst of scrutiny, President Obama said, '"Members of Congress won't be allowed to slip earmarks into the economic recovery package Congress will soon take up. And concluded "we are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington." "We are going to stop talking about government reform, and we're actually going to start executing."

The Republicans claimed that there were over 9,000 earmarks with an estimated value at $7.7 billion in the stimulus and the Democratic leadership estimated the dollar amount to be around $3.8 billion. But President Obama bragged, "We passed a recovery plan free of earmarks," and on many fronts, has blasted earmarks. In February Robert Gibbs declared victory on the earmark front maintaining there were "no earmarks" in the stimulus package, yet Truth-O-Meter found his statement to be FALSE. I guess that is the nice way of saying "you lie".

Congress continued this pattern and in March of this year passed an Omnibus Spending bill at a price tag of $410 billion, which contained 9,287 pork projects at a cost of nearly $12.8 billion.

Contrary to his campaign promise, President Obama signed that bill too, however, the White House did have an excuse. In an exclusive interview with ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag told Stephanopoulos, "This is last year's business. We want to just move on". Orszag also stated that Obama intends to work on earmark reform in the future.

Even Chris Matthews, one of Obama’s biggest fans, criticized Obama for breaking his earmark reform pledge.

Now we end 2009 with yet another spending fiasco. Over the weekend the Senate was at it again and passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill. The 1,000-page-plus package passed with a 57-35 vote and now heads to President Obama for his signature.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, there are 5224 earmarks worth $3.998 billion, and that is just the preliminary round. Included in the list of pork barrel spending are "home-state projects sought by individual lawmakers in both parties". While the legislation also contains numerous items not directly related to spending, it also approves a 2 percent pay increase for federal workers.

On the Senate floor, Senator McCain expressed his concern over the earmarks in the spending bill, calling it "shameful", urging his colleagues to vote against it, and "demanded" President Obama to "keep his word" and veto it.

McCain’s two favorite earmarks are the $2.7 million to support surgical operations in outer space at the University of Nebraska and the $655 thousands for Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California for equipment and supplies for the Institute for Irritable Bowel Syndrome research. This would be laughable if it were a Saturday Night Live skit, but this is not joke, this is our Congress in action.

Americans are jobless, losing their homes and can barely put food on the table, yet Congress wants to play doctor in outer space and contribute to IBS –– literally. By the way Woodstock Film Festival Youth Initiative gets 30 thousand of our taxpayer dollars. Besides the fact the youth in America are already inundated with Hollywood stuff, isn't the film industry wealthy enough to pay for their own special projects? And, I wonder if this earmark has anything to do with the National Endowment for the Arts.

I’m just waiting for the millions we’re going to spend on condoms for animals; or will it be Viagra? I’m sure Congress wants to put a Kool-aid station on Mars or research the farts of pigs. Yeah, that makes sense. And since this is the season to spend frivolously, maybe Congress plans on buying Christmas presents for Al Qaeda this year.

Despite the 5000 earmarks, President Obama has gone ahead and signed it anyway. Apparently, Obama didn't get that earmark reform memo.

And to add insult to injury, Washington is so out of touch with reality and politicians like Senator Schumer have the nerve to utter that American people don’t care about earmarks. Billions of dollars wasted, are you kidding me? Congress is nuts to think we don’t care –– we do! Furthermore, we are sick and tired of out-of-control spending, votes being bought as well as the fact that special interest groups, lobbyists and big business are making out like bandits, while the needs of the American people are ignored.

With our economy in shambles, unemployment above 10%, and our national debt at $ 1 2 , 1 0 5 , 1 3 8 , 4 6 5 , 5 3 5 . 5 1 and climbing (financial burdens of the massive health care reform and cap and trade legislations yet to be factored in), what is their excuse? I’m sure the White House would like to continue to blame Bush, but even smart Obama supporters know that game is getting old––BLAME GAME OVER.

This may be business a usual in Washington, broken promises and a smorgasbord of pork, but it's an utter disgrace and a slap in the face to the American people. Both sides of the political aisle, Republican and Democrat are guilty; and that means those who get appropriations for their pet projects, vote yes on pork-laden bills, and any president that signs such treacherous bills. So much for "Hope and Change": all we can expect is government control and more debt.

BlogCritics in Politics
Barack Obama: “Absolutely, We Need Earmark Reform”
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 16, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Senator Barbara Boxer Compares Abortion to Viagra

Drivel and arrogance intact, Boxer is up for re-election here in 2010––time to run Boxer right out of office.

The men who have brought us this [amendment] don’t single out a procedure that is used by a man, or a drug that is used by a man, that involves his reproductive health care, and say they have to get a special rider...There is nothing in this amendment that says if a man some day wants to buy Viagra, for example, that his pharmaceutical coverage cannot cover it, that he has to buy a rider.”

This is the latest drivel in the health care debate brought to the Senate floor by Barbara Boxer this past Monday in response to the
Nelson Amendment, a proposal "to ensure that no federal funds are used to pay for abortion".

After Senator Reid's ridiculous statement comparing health care reform to slavery, this recent absurdity reminds me of the Jim Carrey movie, Dumb and Dumber. What the heck does Viagra have to do with abortion? How is there any comparison between an erection (or lack thereof) and terminating the life of a fetus? Either Barbara Boxer is on drugs, is showing her ignorance, or worse, she's demonstrating her lack of sensitivity for the unborn.

Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson noted that the current Senate health care bill does “allow taxpayer dollars, directly and indirectly, to pay for insurance plans that cover abortion”. Nelson led the charge along with nine others Senators, offering an amendment that mirrored the Stupak Amendment language that was passed by the House last month and was to extend the Hyde Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1976, barring public funds from covering abortion.

Abortion is an extremely contentious topic and even though the goal of the ten Senators was not to take a women’s "right to choose" away, but to make sure taxpayer dollars don't have to foot the bill, it was rejected yesterday by the Senate with a 54-45 vote. While I'm sure Boxer did some high fives, Majority Leader Harry Reid had a message of his own, "The legislation is about access to health care, not abortion". Do Boxer and Reid know that an abortion is an elective medical procedure with the goal of ending a life, not health care aimed at caring for and saving lives? When are these progressive Democrats going to get out of their pathetic ideology and off their "we know what is best America pedestal” for just a few minutes and do what is right? Or at least they can choose proper analogies to make their point.

The silver lining in the dark clouds looming over ObamaCare (if there is one) is that Barbara Boxer and others in Congress are up for re-election in 2010! "Call me Senator”, Boxer may be facing off with either Republicans Carly Fiorina or Chuck Devore in 2010. While a November Rasmussen poll puts Boxer ahead of both Republican candidates, there is plenty of time to expose her inadequacies.

Senator Boxer's voting record reflects a left-wing political agenda, a partisan approach, and a strong partiality toward unions. Boxer is also considered a career politician who apparently hasn’t done much legislating or communicating with her constituents, although she has plenty of time to write books and attend book signings.

This past summer, Boxer preferred to serve herself rather than conduct Town Hall meetings to address the concerns about health care reform shared by many California citizens. Who could forget her starring role as "Obama's attack dog"; condemning concerned citizens. Both proof that she doesn't give a damn about us citizens. And more revealing was Boxer's condescending racial twaddle when she addressed Harry Alford, the President and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce.

As I continue to monitor and research the potential Republican candidates who may get in the ring with Boxer, it is clear that whoever gets the job, a knock out would be the best outcome for this political bout. Since this match will affect my state, my hope is that Boxer’s 2005 book; A Time to Run is prophetic in nature. Wake up California, we need a change; it's time to run Boxer right out of office –– three terms (18 years) is long enough!

Senator Barbara Boxer Compares Abortion to Viagra
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 09, 2009 at 4:07 pm
And featured on National Broadside Mag - the place to get your political fix!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

White House Party Crashers: Who Let the Salahis In?

As the mystery unfolds, a Congressional hearing is forthcoming, to which the Salahis do have a formal invitation.
Caution: this is a SATIRE piece...

'Twas the night of the White House dinner, when all through the House
Not a guest was stirring, not even a spouse;
The Secret Service were standing by the White House with care,
In hopes that the President would soon be there;
The media were nestled all snug in their heads...[screech]...BUT WAIT! A couple appeared, with camera in tow and even got a photo with Joe.

You know the story and it's not the one about St. Nicholas. A Virginia couple apparently crashed the White House dinner last Tuesday, November 24, 2009, which included 320 guests — “a potent mix of politics, diplomacy and glamour.” Later identified as Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the couple managed their way past the Secret Service and into the star-studded state dinner, where they mixed and mingled, shook hands with President Obama, warmed up to Vice President Biden twice, had a photo op with Rahm Emanuel and others, posting their exploits on Facebook. Busted?

First, where was Joe Biden’s wife? From the looks of this cozy photo with Joe, if I were Mrs. Biden I would have chased that Michaele woman right out of the dinner and with one of my Callaway golf clubs –– maybe my nine iron. Speaking of golf, you can’t even gain access to a private golf course without a membership or a guest pass. In fact, a while ago and guest approved, I was unable to play golf or have lunch at The Olympic Club in San Francisco because my pants were inappropriate –– they had belt loops. Furthermore, the odds of penetrating certain night clubs without being on a list is grim.

So, how did this happen? This story reminds me of the song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” and would be funny if it didn't reflect a breach in the security of the White House and our President. Maybe they should do what Santa does –– check the list twice. What is bizarre is that we are the most powerful nation in the world and we can’t seem to figure out who let this star-struck, fame-seeking couple into the White House dinner in the first place.

The Salahis recently appeared on the Today Show where they told Matt Lauer that they were “shocked and devastated” to discover they were labeled as “party crashers.” Lauer also pointed out that they had been kicked out of another event on September 26, the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner –– where they were also uninvited — and they denied it. When asked by Lauer, “Who invited you,” the interview progressed or should I say, regressed. The couple had a pity party, portraying themselves as victims, claiming they were invited and that at the end of the investigation, they will be exonerated. At the center of this obscurity is Michele Jones, a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and she had this to say on the matter: "I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come."

So, who let the Salahis in? At this point, with all the coverage, confusion, and rumors, it still remains a mystery. While the Secret Service have launched an investigation into the security breach, the preliminary probe has already thrown them under the bus, yet this couple is free to crash the next party and maybe a party near you. In the meantime, a Congressional hearing is forthcoming, to which the Sahalis do have a formal invitation.

Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Dec 02, 2009 at 2:24 pm
Satire in politics on BlogCritics

Thursday, November 26, 2009

2009 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute

"Tonight we honor the best humanity has to offer" - something we can all be thankful for.

If you haven’t heard of CNN Heroes, you are missing out - it's a pageant with substance, honoring those worthy of recognition. CNN Heroes started in 2007 and its focus is ordinary people from around the world, who with a compassionate heart go out of their way and “make an extraordinary difference in their communities and beyond.” Nominated by people from around the world and highlighted on CNN, the votes are tallied via, then they make their way to a blue-ribbon panel for a final ten and a winner, who are honored at a gala event: "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute."

The third annual CNN Heroes were chosen by a panel that included distinguished leaders and humanitarians like Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg, Ted Turner, and Elton John. With 9,000 nominations from over 100 countries, CNN Heroes captured record attention and participation this year and after seven weeks of online voting and more than two and half million votes counted, the list was shortened to that special top ten, each to receive cash prizes to carry on their tedious and selfless yet most needed work.

"CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute", hosted by Anderson Cooper, was taped before an audience of 3,000 at the Kodak Theatre and premiered Thanksgiving evening, November 26, 2009. Anderson Cooper, cute and calm as usual, opened the show: "Tonight we honor the best humanity has to offer." Not only was I exposed to stories of human suffering and tragedy around the world, I found out that we have courageous people who are willing to take a chance, one problem and person at a time, making our world a better place. I discovered that while some were motivated by their own personal tragedy or turmoil, others just saw a need. Whatever the case, each of the honorees was emotional and grateful, and all had a message of hope and healing.

For the past few weeks I had the privilege of viewing some of the CNN Heroes and their
incredible stories and even though I knew that Efren Peñaflorida had been named the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year, I was moved when Anderson Cooper opened that envelope. It was an emotional moment when Peñaflorida was announced and his walk to the stage to accept his award was enhanced by the music of Mariah Carey and her heartwarming song, Hero. As the cheers silenced, a humble Peñaflorida had this to say: "Our planet is filled with heroes, young and old, rich and poor, man, woman, of different colors, shapes and sizes. We are one great tapestry...Each person has a hidden hero within, you just have to look inside you and search it in your heart, and be the hero to the next one in need".

Celebrities were featured in this tribute and with charm and talent intact bared a sense of pride and pleasure just for their involvement in this celebration, albeit no less affected by the stories they unveiled to the audience. Presenters included Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Greg Kinnear, Randy Jackson, Neil Patrick Harris, Pierce Brosnan, Dwayne Johnson, Eva Mendes, George Lopez, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. There were also performances by Carrie Underwood, R&B Crooner Maxwell, and British pop-star Leona Lewis.

The 2009 Top 10 CNN Heroes are quite extraordinary, tending to a wide range of needs for children, from helping the disabled and getting them off the streets, to providing them with food, shelter and education, and providing a safe haven for young victims of sexual abuse.

Wine to Water provides clean water to communities worldwide, while a breast cancer survivor in Florida has taken it upon herself to bring early detection to the doorsteps of uninsured women. A veteran in Florida searches for homeless veterans and those who are struggling with addiction, so he can take them in and change their lives. A bus driver, after a long day's work, goes out and distributes meals to the hungry in Queens, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I'm sure it was quite difficult to choose a winner from these top ten, because they are all winners - heroes. I must admit that I was too late to vote but if I had, I would have chosen Roy Foster. The inner joy expressed on Foster's face as he takes in a homeless veteran brought tears to my eyes and hope in my heart. But they all deserve our vote of gratitude as they exemplify how compassion should be revealed, not just in thoughts and words, but in actions. This is the best of humanity: something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving and every day.

"Then a hero comes along, with the strength to carry on, and you cast your fears aside, and you know you will survive."
- Mariah Carey
BlogCritics Review in Culture — by Christine Lakatos — on Nov 27, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dems Health Care for America: Who is Going to Pay?

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness could foot the bill...and a lot of cash.

As the health care reform debates settle for a holiday break, only to resume again shortly after, I am left to ponder the question: what are the Democrats really after? Do they care about the millions of Americans without health insurance or is this a scam to take over our entire health care industry? Is this about saving lives or controlling lives?

The government already has programs to assist the elderly, poor, and our vets and in many cases our children, however, their effectiveness and financial stability is of much concern and debate. The focus and distress should be over those who do not have access to health insurance. That number is floating around is 46 million, but if you analyze that figure you will find out that many millions of the uninsured are actually eligible for existing government programs like Medicaid and SCHIP. You will also find that some of the uninsured can afford it, but choose not purchase it. Many would rather buy material objects rather than health insurance or anything to do with their own health and wellness for that matter. As the government promotes the 46 million figure in order to move their agenda, the health insurance industry sees it closer to 8.2 million. For the sake of argument and propaganda emerging from both sides –– government and the health insurance companies – –lets say the real number lies somewhere in the middle, and that nobody is denying that we should help the uninsured and fix our health care system. Despite the price tag, most would like to see health care reform done in an efficient manner and without trampling on American liberties and putting our "unalienable rights” at risk.

"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." –– Thomas Jefferson, July 4, 1776
Nancy Pelosi used restrictions on abortion coverage to pass the Democrats' health care reform bill through the House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid thus far has not. John Boehner cites many disturbing facts about abortion in the Senate bill: “Senator Reid’s plan would levy a new “abortion premium” fee on Americans in the government-run plan: the government will determine when an abortion is allowed under the government-run health plan; and Reid’s plan also requires that at least one insurance plan offered in the Exchange covers abortions.”

Last I checked, other than when a woman’s life or health is at risk, abortion is an elective procedure and is not part of health care –– care that saves lives not terminates them. If the Democrats are willing to sacrifice the unborn in order to provide health insurance to others, this should be a non-starter for anyone that cares about the sanctity of life. And considering us pro-lifers see abortion as “the shedding of innocent blood” and those on the pro-choice side already have the right to choose to terminate, we should have the right to choose NOT to pay.

Due to the Democrats' use of closed-door meetings and unwillingness to compromise on any issue, one can only conclude that their health care reform proposals have more to do with government control and their coddling of and catering to the Left and their ideology of "social justice" and the redistribution of wealth. While this “Robin Hood” mentality is quite amusing, it is a serious matter that if realized will cripple our economy as well as our society, leaving many Americans less prosperous and others unmotivated.

Nothing is free, especially when it is proposed or delivered by the government. The Senate Democrats’ deception on the cost of this massive 2,074-page legislation is troubling, claiming to cost $849 billion over a decade. Did the Democrats flunk math or is this a gimmick? Reid and his cohorts will begin collecting taxes "for 10 years (2010-2019); however, actual health care expenditures are scheduled just for the final 6 years of that period"; this means that the Senate’s bill actual price tag is closer to $1.6 trillion, providing all proposed cuts come to fruition.

So, who is going to pay for it? As noted by the Wall Street Journal, “both the House and Senate bills make hundreds of billions of dollars in proposed cuts in spending on Medicare. But the two chambers differ on how to raise revenue. The House legislation relies largely on an income surtax on the wealthy. The Senate bill would raise money across a range of health care sources”. And to be exact, there are 17 proposed taxes in the Senate Bill.

Consequently the taxpayers will pay and to be more precise…the rich! This reminds of the movie Other People’s Money; the Democrats want to take care of all of our woes and use money from the rich. It is not enough that "five percent of Americans pay over half the income taxes in this country and forty percent of Americans pay no income taxes at all" –– and now they want even more.

It is honorable and righteous to help the poor and sick in our country and that of other countries as we do, however, it is entirely wrong to build an entitlement mentality. The rich are demonized and penalized; yet, they do more than there share of paying for government-run programs as well as their contributions to charity. Now the Democrats want the rich to pay for health care reform and be subjected to one of the biggest redistributions of wealth plans in recent history, with the potential of a government takeover of the entire health care system, which will affect everyone’s liberty––the rich and the poor alike.

Pursuit of Happiness:
The “pursuit of happiness” is a somewhat ambiguous part of the phrase by Thomas Jefferson and can be interpreted in many ways. Unfortunately, we are a culture of instant gratification, where we want and have everything within minutes, even if it is not good for us. Health and wealth are two key examples: instead of a little discipline in our life, we want a pill to fix all of our ailments and even to solve our self-inflicted health predicaments. Take a look at the success of the lottery system; people are willing to spend their last dollar on luck. And to add insult to injury, we seek out superficial happiness, those things that offer short-term solutions to a much more profound and lasting inner need. No longer do we rely on work ethics of commitment, diligence and integrity; we are moving away from accountability and self-sufficiency and toward dependence on government for everything.

Do these government entitlement programs propel our pursuit of happiness? What we fail to realize is that government interference many times leads to less liberty –– we lose more of our freedoms even if we don’t pay the tab. Moreover, the government is not responsible for our happiness––their job is to get out of the way “in our pursuit”. I can’t speak for the rich because I am not one of them –– I'm actually one of the millions that would benefit from more government entitlements and handouts. What I can say is that relying on our government for health, happiness, our needs and desires is not only debilitating, but in the end, will stifle our true pursuit of happiness; that which on a deeper level signifies inner peace, which is captured more so when we are independent — individually and as a nation.

First on Blogcritics: Politics Debating Health Care
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Nov 24, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sarah Palin Book Tour Underway: Drama Ignites

Love her or hate her, Palin is a “Rock Star” in the political arena and isn’t going away any time soon.
Opinion in Politics — by Christine Lakatos — on Nov 15, 2009

With the much anticipated release of Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue: An American Life, it is already an Amazon best-selling pre-order that many are calling a “phenomenon.” Published by Harper Collins, Going Rogue is set to be released November 17 and apparently with quite the marketing strategy — as if Palin has difficulty drawing attention.

While Palin enjoys widespread popularity and adoration, the criticism and slams are already pouring in, starting with the Associated Press and their reports on her book. The Huffington Post fired an attack entitled "The First Ten Lies from Going Rogue."

Due to the fact that Palin writes about her experience during the 2008 campaign and apparently criticizes some staffers from the McCain campaign camp, many are crying foul, drumming up all kinds of drama.

Last week, Rachel Maddow, in the condescending way reserved for those she doesn't like, featured a Palin book segment, which included Ana Mari Cox, from Air America Radio, Cox claiming she has the “inside scoop” into the McCain camp and a direct line to the McCain staffers.

As both Maddow and Cox whacked around some petty complaints and opinions about Palin and her book, Maddow surmised a gloomy prediction of Palin's reputation. I wonder why don't these "targeted staffers" come out and speak for themselves? Even though I have yet to read Going Rogue, I'm confident it has more to offer than Palin's attitudes about her vice presidential candidacy; nevertheless, many prefer to ignite drama rather than substance.

As the Associated Press stands by their story, Palin fired back on her Facebook page, “Amazingly, but not surprisingly, the AP somehow nabbed a copy of the book before it was released. They're now erroneously reporting on the book's contents and are repeating many of the same things they spewed during the campaign and afterwards. We've heard 11 writers are engaged in this opposition research, er, 'fact checking' research! Imagine that…”

I’m sure there is more criticism looming, but I’ve been debriefed and am certain that when I watch Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher or David Letterman, I will get an earful of Palin bashing.

It wasn’t enough for liberal pundits, politicians, and comedians to take pot shots at Palin and her family, her life, and anything else they found useful in their arsenal of contempt during the 2008 campaign. The left wing media continues its obsession with Palin and their attempt to discredit and demean her at every turn — the criticism is unrelenting and senseless. I don’t quite get it.

Love her or hate her, Palin is a rock star in the political arena and the pundits, politicians, bloggers, and all the rest might as well get used to it. Palin is here to stay and she is now going on tour!

The official publicity for Going Rogue started with a taped sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey, which is set to air on November 16 and clips have already emerged along with an Oprah promotion and a statement that directly followed the interview. Palin also noted her experience with Oprah and announced it on her Facebook page: “Oprah was very hospitable and gracious, and her audience was full of warm, energized and (no doubt) curious viewers.”

I am no fan of Palin or Oprah for that matter, but then again my “fan list” is quite short and reserved for people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr. That said, I do admire and respect both of these women and may watch my first Oprah Winfrey Show on Monday with the hope that it goes better than the Katie Couric debacle.

Labeled as a "wide-ranging interview" including insights into Palin's public and personal life as well as her presidential aspirations, the Barbara Walters Sarah Palin special will be a five-part series and is scheduled to begin airing on Good Morning America starting November 17. Palin will also be a guest on Sean Hannity's show November 18 and she may later have interviews with Rush Limbaugh, and other FOX News Channel personalities like Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, and Greta Van Susteren.

Palin is set for the first part of her book signing tour, for which she will travel across the county to strategically selected locations, starting on November 18 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ending November 24 in Orlando, Florida.

Many are pondering whether Going Rogue and the Palin publicity tour is the beginning of a 2012 political campaign. Since Palin is full of surprises, we will just have to wait and see. What we do know is that drama sells books and in this case has the potential of catapulting Going Rogue and Sarah Palin beyond a phenomenon.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Senator Joe Lieberman: “Public Option is Unnecessary”

“Joe the Senator” believes that it is wrong for our government to take over the health insurance industry. So do many Americans.
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Nov 09, 2009 at 3:39 pm

The news, pundits, politicians, and bloggers have been on fire over Saturday night’s historical vote––220 to 215 on H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, passed with one Republican in favor and 39 Democrats opposed.

Joe Lieberman appeared on Fox News Sunday, spending most of his time discussing the Fort Hood mass murder. With just less than a minute left, Chris Wallace dared to ask about the 'F factor'; “Do you still intend, if there is a public option and if there’s this tax on so-called Cadillac health plans, will you support a Republican filibuster on final passage in the Senate?" Lieberman noted that there are good things in the Democratic plan which just passed the House, noting that we “ought to do health care reform this year to deal with the two great problems that President Obama and others have talked about:” the unsustainable continuing increases in the cost of health care and the millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance. However, he did discuss his fear that “[his] colleagues in the House added a lot on to that, that subtract from the genuine purposes of health care reform”. One thing Lieberman referred to was the public option plan proposed by Pelosi and the House Democrats and he firmly stressed, “The public option plan is unnecessary". Lieberman is convinced that the people who put forward this plan are those who really want the government to take over all of health insurance, concluding that this would be “wrong.”

When Chris Wallace posed the question more directly, “At this point you are a NO vote in the Senate?” Lieberman responded, “If the public option plan is in there, as a matter conscience I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote,” relaying his concern over our country’s mounting 12 trillion dollar debt, "I believe the debt can break America..."

As Nancy Pelosi basked in her glory Saturday evening, “Oh what a night”, and other Democrats put her on a pedestal, proclaiming her to be one of the greatest House Speakers in the history of the U.S., I had to hold my breath. I’ll give Pelosi a lot of credit for moving health care reform this far, however, her method of using abortion to keep the House Democrats' bill alive is disturbing. It doesn’t take a detective to come to the conclusion that the Stupak Amendment was a ploy to get the pro-life Democrats on board because without them the bill would have died. And worse, at the end of the day it is doubtful this amendment will remain intact in the final bill.

What is laughable is Pelosi’s claim that she has “listened to the American people” and is representing the will of the people; all under the guise of helping us American citizens, “A great victory for the American people”, she said. Where was Pelosi this past summer, when thousands of protesters gathered and town hall meetings where held across the country demonstrating their disapproval for ObamaCare? Did she miss the "Kill the Bill"rally where approximately ten thousand people gathered on Capitol Hill, November 5th, just two days before the vote? Didn't she see the paper trail left outside her office by the protesters?

Pelosi needs to get her facts straight. The next time she proclaims that she stands for the American people; it would be more accurate if she were to state that she is representing 42% percent of the American people. Last I checked, 54% is a majority. While most Americans, if not all, want health care reform and are troubled by the millions of uninsured, fewer than half want the Democrats’ plan. Many are getting the sense that Pelosi is more concerned about her own agenda: the progressive movement, social justice, government control, and the special interest groups she's harvested along the way, than she is about the American people.

Just as we had “Joe the Plumber” who realized that the redistribution of wealth is amiss, we now have “Joe the Senator,” who believes that it is wrong for our government to take over the health insurance industry, and worse, the entire health care system. Although our plumber was exposed as not possessing an actual plumbing license, Lieberman, on the other hand, is a Senator packed full of credentials, with the power to be part of obstructing ObamaCare (or is it PelosiCare) if it still contains the public option when it hits the Senate. Let's hope he stands his ground when the time comes and Joe says NO to the public option and others rise to rally against government takeover of our health and its ramifications––literally and economically!

First on Blogcritics Politics Debating Health Care...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

GOP Responds to Pelosi Health Care Bill

Hey Democrats: the Republican Party does have solutions to health care reform; are you listening?
Satire in Politics — by Christine Lakatos — on Nov 03, 2009

I’m sick and tired of Democrats and liberal pundits claiming that the Republican Party is not interested in fixing our health care system and has no answers or alternatives on this issue. My head is going to explode if I hear that wacko Congressman, Alan Grayson, and his rantings, declaring that Republicans want sick Americans to “die quickly”. Many on the left have labeled us (yes, I am a registered Republican) the party of NO, well maybe that is because we are a party of “no thanks” to government takeovers, higher taxes, intrusion on liberties, and socialism. The Republicans have continually tried to make their case for health care reform, yet they have been shut out of the debate –– at times, literally. And for those of you who don’t believe that the Republican Party has solutions for repairing our health care system, you don’t even have to watch Fox News to find out that you are wrong.

Over the weekend, House Republican Leader John Boehner appeared on CNN’s State of the Union. In his interview with John King, Boehner noted that the Republican’s strategy for health care reform is a "common sense approach to make the current system work better." He also highlighted some of their specific ideas for health care reform and how these proposals can be found at, which have been there since June. “What I am hopeful for is to take these eight or nine ideas and put together in a bill, that’s being scored right now by the Congressional Budget Office, and present it on the House floor during this debate” said Boehner. “And I’m hopeful that Speaker Pelosi will allow us to offer an alternative.”

In the same interview with King, Boehner gave a quick rebuttal to the massive bill unveiled by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats last Thursday, "1,990 pages, that ought to tell you all that you need to know”. “That we're gonna have 1,990 pages of legislation”. Boehner also pointed out that, the word “shall” exists in the bill 3,425 times, illustrating its effect; “shall, that means you must do!”

And if CNN is not your place for news, you can always get your facts straight by going to Sarah Palin’s Facebook page. On Friday, Palin made a special announcement, “TUNE IN TOMORROW TO HEAR A HEALTH CARE REFORM PLAN THAT WILL PROVE TO BE THE GAME CHANGER”, referring to the GOP's weekly address, where Boehner was scheduled to give the GOP’s plan for health care reform, “Common-Sense Health Care Reform Our Nation Can Afford”.

The address was given, Saturday, October 31, 2009, GOP Solutions for America, of which Boehner laid out the GOP's plan and addressed Pelosi’s proposal, warning that “this 1,990 pages of bureaucracy will centralize health care decision making in Washington, DC. It’ll require thousands of new federal employees. It’ll put unelected boards, bureaus, and commissions in charge of who gets access to what drug and what potentially life-saving treatment.” “And it won’t come cheap…”

Just in case those “nay sayers” and Republican bashers haven’t heard the news that the Republican Party does care about the health of Americans, wants health care reform, and does have solutions to this complex issue facing our nation, I have posted the proof here in my article. Democrats, if you keep uttering they don't, I'll have to use Joe Wilson's two famous words, "you lie" –– or maybe you’re just not listening!

First on Blogcritics-Politics:Debating Health Care!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pelosi Unveils Dem Health Care Bill: All 1,990 Pages of It

"We are putting it online for all Americans to see."

After weeks of closed-door meetings, minus C-SPAN, the Democrats released the House version of the health care reform bill. At the unveiling this morning, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, proudly had this to say, “The Affordable Health Care for America Act is founded on key principles of American success: opportunity, choice, competition and innovation. We have listened to the American people. We are putting forth a bill that reflects our best values and addresses our greatest challenges. And we are putting it online for all Americans to see”.

According to The Washington Post and other news outlets, the 1,990-page House bill includes plenty of mandates and regulations, a version of the “public option”, and declares that 96 percent of Americans will have health insurance coverage and estimates that the cost of the bill over 10 years will be $900 billion. President Obama’s statement included his praise for the progress in health care reform and a public option. He added his satisfaction with the House bill and that, " [it] clearly meets two of the fundamental criteria I have set out: it is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term."

The proposed legislation can be downloaded as a PDF file via the Washington Times' and Reuters' coverage of this monumental movement toward health care reform, yet the battle over how to fix this issue may be far from over. As we speculate whether congress will read this huge, complex House bill, we can now anticipate debates to emerge, hopefully uncovering the most relevant question –– is this what the American people really want? And at the end of the day (or year), what will health care reform look like, how much will it cost, and who’s going to pay for it?

This is a Blogcritics News Flash.
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm

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Friday, October 23, 2009

White House Steps Up Its Game Against Fox News, Other Networks Object

Obama team attempts a 63-yard field goal; denies Fox access to White House pool interview with the Pay Czar.

Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Over the past few weeks the White House has made it clear which news outlet is their rivalry and Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs used the jargon of baseball to describe their attack on Fox News, "the only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move." Considering their tactic is much more brutal, the Oval Office using an oval ball, engaging in a contact sport, yet without any set rules, it is no surprise that many are perplexed. Even though tensions developed between Fox News and the White House over the denied interview with President Obama during his Sunday Show media blitz last September, “Game On” became evident with Anita Dunn’s verbal kickoff––getting the ball rolling by publicly discrediting Fox News, "it's opinion journalism masquerading as news”. Continuing the more appropriate sports metaphor, the White House offensive linemen, David Axlerod and Rahm Emanuel, were quick to protect their quarterback, Obama, against criticism by attempting to brand Fox News as an “illegitimate” team in the game of news. And in an effort to score an early touchdown, this administration has been trying to influence public opinion against Fox News, going so far as to include an effort to persuade other news organizations to "not be led in following Fox.”

Meanwhile, this week, in an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, President Obama compared Fox News to "talk radio", yet stated that he's "not losing any sleep over it". And yesterday, October 22, 2009, the White House stepped up its game with an unprecedented maneuver: a 63-yard field goal attempt. “The administration contacted the White House pool, a five-network rotation, that has for decades shared the cost and duties of daily coverage of the presidency and to which Fox News has belonged since 1997.”

The White House made available for round-robin interviews the Executive Pay Czar, Kenneth Feinberg, however, the administration specified, “all members of the pool were welcome," but for Fox News: ACCESS DENIED! However, unlike Jason Elam, of the Denver Broncos, who actually scored with an amazing 63-yard field goal, this one was blocked, and it is quite astounding by whom. The Washington Bureau Chiefs of the five pool TV news networks, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, consulted, and “decided that none of them would interview Feinberg, unless Fox was included”. The administration relented and made Feinberg available to all five pool members and Bloomberg TV –– Major Garret got his interview.

No points scored in this quarter of the game because the collective media dared to stand up for the press. Kudos! While it is difficult to determine which team is winning this match, we do know that it has improved Fox News’ ratings and many politicians, pundits and citizens are criticizing this new White House strategy. So where does it go from here? With an administration that has more important things to deal with, such as our troops and the Afghanistan war, the economy, unemployment, health care, our environment and all the other issues facing our nation, let’s hope we will soon see –– GAME OVER!

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Why you are here, check out Jason Elamn's amazing 63-yard field goal!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

White House/Fox News Feud Heats Up Over the Weekend

Sunday news shows weigh in on the White House/Fox News drama.
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 19, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Since the White House/Fox News feud began, comments, concerns and opinions have been circulating from the media, pundits and politicians. This weekend they intensified, with the Sunday news shows weighing in on the drama. Today, Politics headlined the latest White House strategy, "White House Urges Other Networks to Disregard Fox News", noting that Senior Obama officials took to the airwaves Sunday––the feud heats up!

As I was finishing my opinion piece on this saga yesterday, in the background was Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday, and lo and behold, Wallace was addressing the White House’s attack on Fox News. Wallace opened his show by stating that they wanted to ask Anita Dunn about her criticism, but as usual, ACCESS DENIED! In fact Fox News Sunday has been denied access to any White House official since August. So instead, Wallace's guests included Terry McAuliffe and Karl Rove debating the issue. Karl Rove likened the White House's approach to handling criticism and questions to Chicago style politics, "if you don’t like the questions that are being asked…then you try and demonize…” Rove later added, “they called Fox News a White House enemy.” “That is over-the-top language––we heard that before from Richard Nixon." “And we have this White House prone to that kind of attitude and it’s not helpful. It’s demeaning to the president…”

Meanwhile, other Sunday news show hosts were prepared with their questions, yet they had access to White House officials. David Axelrod, Obama Senior Adviser, appeared on ABC's This Week. George Stephanopoulos played a statement by Rupert Murdoch in response to the "strong remarks" made by the White House, pointing out that the attention has “tremendously increased Fox News ratings.” Stephanopoulos opened up, “that does seem to be true, are you worried that your strategy is fortifying the enemy?” Axelrod reacted, “I’m not concerned. Mr. Murdoch has a talent for making money…” “The only argument that Anita was making is that they are really not a news station…” Axelrod added, "The bigger thing is that other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way." "We're not going to treat them that way." But Axelrod did says that they will appear on the Fox News shows––no date set.

White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union, where John King asked, why––"I'm trying to get behind the curtain and understand why your White House has decided that it is in its interest to have this, boom, with our rival, Fox News." Emanuel replied by stating that they and the President don't see Fox News as a news organization, emphasizing that they don't want "the CNN's and others in the world to be led in following Fox, " calling them an illegitimate news organization––"in the sense of both sides and a sense of value opinion.”

Will the White House/Fox News feud continue? Or as Anita Dunn recently told The New York Times, Fox News is an opponent, calling it a war, “as they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

Interesting discussions this past Sunday, but some questions remain; is this smart strategy by the White House or over-the-top nonsense? Will Fox News behave? Will President Obama or his administration ever appear on Fox News? I report, you decide.

First on Blogcritics, Politics...

Monday, October 19, 2009

White House Takes on Fox News

With all due respect, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Opposition and criticism of the government is part of American politics, and as long it is peaceful and civil, is a good for our country. This political season, especially this past summer, fireworks were lit and parades assembled. But unlike our normal Independence Day celebrations, this was a party based on criticism aimed at our current administration, some justified and others outright insane (i.e. the birthers, guns at town hall meetings, and nasty rhetoric). No baseball games with high fives, just political moments of low blows and innuendos. No picnics, barbecues and concerts with polite conversation; instead of debating the real issues of the day and ways we can make America better, we resorted to elementary behavior of name calling and drama, which included insults aimed directly at citizens.

MSNBC was out in full force to discredit conservative opposition with Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and Ed Shultz asserting that the protests were “manufactured” and people were being “manipulated.” Shultz inserted that those showing up at town halls were “dumber than Joe the Plumber.” The left has labeled protesters as angry mobs, claiming that all opposition to Obama and his administration are rooted in stupidity and racism, and according the deranged wisdom of Janeane Garofalo, if you are a “black conservative” you must be suffering from Stockholm syndrome. Who could forget Nancy Pelosi’s and Barbara Boxer’s assault on concerned citizens; un-American, Astroturf, diversion by people who want to hurt President Obama, etc. By the way, all of these statements are pure speculation–opinions–, which is relevant to this article.

The latest in this saga: the White House has decided to take on the media, moreover, publicly setting its sights primarily on one specific news organization––Fox News. An October 8th article in Time Magazine, “Calling ‘Em Out: The White House Takes on the Press”, states that due to the criticism, the White House has developed a new strategy, “rather than just giving reporters ammunition to "fact-check" Obama's many critics, the White House decided it would become a player, issuing biting attacks on those pundits, politicians and outlets which make what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims." Obama's support was duly noted and was quoted as telling his aides he wanted to "call 'em out."

Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director, a fierce critic of, and leader of the charge against Fox News, which includes blocking Obama and other officials from appearing on the network, had this to say about Fox News, "it's opinion journalism masquerading as news.” "They are boosting their audience. But that doesn't mean we are going to sit back."

Well, if Fox News is masquerading as news, then MSNBC (Lester Holt, David Gregory, Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and the sorely missed, Tim Russert––excluded) is a dismal reality show with Olbermann and Maddow as the stars.

And later in an interview with CNN, Anita Dunn elaborated, “the reality of it is that Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party." "And it's not ideological...but I think it's fair to say about Fox––and certainly it's the way we view it––is that it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party.”

Michael Clemente, Fox News Senior Vice President, had this to say on the matter, "it's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming." "It seems self-serving on their part."

In our current culture of 24/7 news coverage we now find ourselves with a never-ending smorgasbord of “opinion shows" focusing on politics. Two stand out: MSNBC which worships Obama and Fox News who doesn't. And as Clemente pointed out, it's obvious which media outlets provide opinion shows as part of their programming and it is easy to distinguish them as that. Is there room in our political discourse for opinion? Yes, even if we disagree. However, some of these opinion shows on both sides of the political aisle many times lack civility and get me fired up. But at the end of the day, I can count on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to calm me down.

Anyone who chooses to be in the public eye knows that they are an open target to all kinds of attention and attacks––just ask Britney Spears. Even we bloggers open door of criticism. So why is this White House shocked that they now find themselves the target of critics? They fail to remember that the Bush administration had its share of visceral attacks, which continue today. The majority of the media loves Obama. Why not, he's a likable, charismatic guy! It was odd to see those times when our President publicly pointed his finger at Fox News and it is one thing to dispel the myths and correct the lies, but a strategy that includes shunning and attacking an entire network is quite another. What's wrong with criticism aimed at policies? Ms. Dunn, I hear Glen Beck has set up a special red phone, just for confronting the so-called smears. Is the White House that arrogant, is it a sign of insecurity, or are they just overly sensitive? I don't know and won't speculate.

With all due respect, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, because we, as concerned citizens, have a right to know when promises are broken and when we are being lied to. We have a right to be aware of the radicals now seated in high positions in the White House. We have a right to identify who in our congress is not doing the job they were hired to do: represent the will of the people, read the thousand-page bills and give the public access to them, as promised. We have a right to be aware of where our taxpayer dollars are going, including the stimulus package and all of its earmarks, the bailouts, ACORN, and any future legislation. We have a right to know where the corruption exists in our government; either by Democrats or Republicans.

With an administration set on expanding its power, we have a right to understand what Obama’s real agenda of “change” means. How are we the people going to find out what our government is up to? From the White House or from the media? Considering my sweatshirts have more transparency than this White House (another Obama promise), the odds are in favor of the media. As long as our First Amendment remains intact, which under this administration is at risk, I don't foresee criticism or Fox News going away soon, and I will continue to be one of their many staunch viewers.

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