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!

Found first on Blogcritics–Politics...
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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Monday, October 12, 2009

Hannity vs. Moore: Politics, Capitalism and Jesus

Two Catholic celebrities on a mission from God?

Opinion in Politics — by Christine Lakatos — on Oct 11, 2009
This past week I caught glimpses of Michael Moore’s media promotion of his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, and I heard Sean Hannity was going to interview Moore on his Fox News show. As I anticipated this interview, I thought I was going to get a boxing match with some shocking political blows, but instead of Evander Holyfield versus Mike Tyson I got the Blues Brothers, on a mission from who I don’t know. You know the story; Jake Blues (John Belushi) is just released from prison and he hooks up with his brother, Elwood (Dan Aykroyd), to reunite their band to raise money to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised — they were on a mission from God.

What we learn from this interaction is that Hannity and Moore are both Catholic and Hannity lied about going to Mass on Sunday. Hannity pays 60% of his income to taxes and Moore doesn’t want to reveal his true net worth. Moore blames capitalism for the mortgage crisis, while Hannity thinks it is more complex and there is shared blame to go around. Whereas their political stance was quite obvious, one for capitalism and of course, Moore against, it wasn’t clear at what point they were going to see the light, put on their dark sunglasses, and together “save the Catholic orphanage”. In between all of the political hoopla there was plenty of discussion as to “what Jesus would do", of which I'm very grateful we haven’t yet come to “what would Obama do?"

As a Christian, who like Moore and Hannity was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, I struggle with that question in my personal life and even when it comes to political policies. Is helping the poor and the sick a moral issue? Yes, but should this issue be dealt with entirely by the government where others are forced to pay, or is this something that our charities and faith-based organizations should be handling — maybe both? In my mind, this is a very complex issue that only generates more questions than answers; like what about our own individual responsibilities (and that of our family) to our finances and our health? And does capitalism harm or help the poor and sick?

Without turning this article into a sermon, the teachings of Jesus are rooted in love for God and others and we are called to care for the poor, sick, the fatherless and widowed. I couldn't help but notice when Moore tossed some scripture at Hannity, "...the first will be last, and the last will be first". Hannity hurled back with, "Well, you're rich, so you're going to be last." Moore's counter, “Well, if I don't do good with what blessings I've received on this earth, that's absolutely right. So...but we're going to be judged, you would agree with this, by how we treat the least among us." Hannity’s response, “I totally agree." And I too concur, but there is no place where Jesus taught that this was the role of the government — it is an individual responsibility and we, as believers, will be held accountable for how we treat the needy, sick and our neighbor. While Moore is also accurate in Jesus' cautions to the rich, he failed to remind us that Jesus was not “Robin Hood”; he worked, paid taxes and encouraged his followers to do the same. I wonder if Moore read the lessons in the Bible about work ethics and the perils of laziness as wells as lifestyle and dietary laws for good health. I don’t remember Jesus lobbying for government run programs, special interests groups, or big business; instead He came to "lobby" for God — to win hearts and minds, yet always with choice; free will.

Many, like Moore, the progressive movement, and this current administration, want to denounce capitalism and “redistribute the wealth." Is capitalism evil? Only if it lacks morality, integrity and restraints. But judging capitalism on morality alone is quite tricky because these days morality is relative. And yes, there are winners and losers in this system, as there are in sports and political races. I’m sure plenty of atrocities have been left in the “wake” of capitalism and greed abounds today, but does the good in this system outweigh the bad? Most definitely, yes, so why “throw the baby out with the bath water?" Shouldn’t we fix what is broken? And what is our option — Socialism? Safety nets and a "hand up" for those in need are one thing, but breeding an entitlement mentality is quite another. I have followed politics long enough to know that corruption, greed, and incompetence are running rampid in our government; thus an America controlled solely by government would truly be our demise.

I am no fan of Michael Moore and see his new target, capitalism, as somewhat hypocritical — didn’t he get ultra-rich using the capitalistic system? However, I did find this interview (viewed in two parts — ROUND ONE and ROUND TWO) entertaining as well as thought provoking. Moore did score quite a few good points and I look forward to seeing his film. But has Moore changed my heart and mind? Do I want to kill capitalism and promote socialism? Auhh, let me think...hell no!

Click here to go to Blogcritics and view the interview.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Big Bird Goes Political: Busted Harassing First Lady Michelle Obama

Big Bird Goes Political: Busted Harassing First Lady Michelle Obama

The comedians are in full force with their political satire and they are taking no prisoners!

Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 07, 2009 at 12:14 am

With such a highly charged political climate and so many serous issues facing our nation today, we all need a good laugh, even if it includes laughing at ourselves! Comedy always parrots politics and this political season is no different. If you follow comedians like David Letterman, in between his “sex, extortion scandal”, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert, you will find them in full force with their political satire, which includes people, positions and topics of the day, and they are taking no prisoners. It's no surprise; they have a lot to chew on. Late night is taking its political pot shots as well, with Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon all over the political map. Even though some of the satire and jokes have been mean-spirited and inappropriate and comedy is subjective, there is plenty to choose from that is quite amusing no matter what side of the political aisle you stand.

As the "birthers" rage on with their insanity, Colbert led the "The Fight for the Truth Behind Obama's Birth" campaign. Humor has struck the heart of ObamaCare; has taken us all the way from a town hall meeting to the Olympics, from a tea party to a "beer summit"; and has escorted us to the bridge that leads to continuous slams against Sarah Palin.

We find ourselves with a new ACORN ad and a comprehensive translation of Kadafi’s UN Speech, where he rambles for ninety minutes about “peace and egg rolls” –– concluding with, “what the hell"? John Stewart had his very own “Obama Death Panel Debate”, which surmised the stance of his team, “Sam Bee fights for private death panels, John Oliver believes in universal death panels, and Aasif Mandvi wants whatever scares the public most”. Saturday Night Live is all over the political scene and uncovered the GOP plot surrounding the Joe Wilson “you lie” shout and recently presented the SNL "Obama Address".

While we were distracted from our ABC's by the "Obama Back-to-School Speech", the conservative movement kidnapped and has indoctrinated (or is it Stockholm syndrome?) the world-famous bird from Sesame Street. Big Bird, whose mantra is, "asking questions is a good way of finding things out", was busted harassing First Lady Michelle Obama!

Sesame Street is now in the political "hot seat" and there are questions that need to be answered. Is Big Bird a racist? What are the Cookie Monster's plans for the public option in the final health-care legislation? Is Oscar the Grouch destined to be our new "Green Jobs Czar" and will Elmo run for president in 2012?

Found at Blogcritics, Satire in Politics!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Steve-O: Madman or Dude with Character?

CULTURE at Blogcritics

Steve-O: Madman or Dude with Character?
It’s the 21st century. Do you know who your children’s roles models are?
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Oct 04, 2009 at 12:40 pm
At the beginning of the school year my teenage daughter was given an assignment by her eighth grade home economics teacher to write an essay about a person (living or dead) who represents "exemplary character." When I learned about this essay I was excited; after all, character is something we should showcase and instill in our children. I assumed my child would select someone like Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., maybe an astronaut, athlete or a president, or possibly my favorite, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

My daughter's choice for her “character essay" was Steve-O. What? I must admit that when I first found out about her choice I was kind of puzzled, but later I had a good laugh — only my kid! If you've never heard of Steve-O, which until this year I hadn't, he is one of the stars of Jackass and the hit movie spin-offs, Jackass 1, 2, and 2.5, all of which include ridiculous, pain-inflicting stunts and embarrassing pranks.

I have to point out that I am no fan of the Jackass movies and could never quite see the fascination of it all. However, I did watch an hour-long documentary, Steve-O: Demise and Rise, based on his personal life. This documentary is a "brutally honest one-hour special about his descent into madness and the consequent intervention that saved his life", which premiered on May 3, 2009 on MTV. While some reviews have labeled this documentary as "a cautionary tale and/or as exploitation," my take is mixed and when I viewed it I was somewhat squeamish, but then again, reality can have that affect.

Here is an excerpt from my daughter, Angelica's, "character essay":

Click her to read the essay and the rest of the story...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Obama’s Lobby for Olympic Games

Obama’s Lobby for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games
Will the Obama's and their "Chicago entourage" bring home the gold?
Author: Christine Lakatos — Published: Sep 30, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Blogcritics in News in Politics...
First Lady Michelle Obama is on a mission to win the bid for Chicago to be the host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. At a round table discussion with reporters in the White House State Dining Room this past Monday, Mrs. Obama, smiling, had this to say, "It's a battle –– we're going to win –– take no prisoners!"

Mrs. Obama arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, this morning and President Obama is scheduled to leave on Thursday to join his wife and they will be making their presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Friday, October 2.

According to news reports, a "Chicago entourage" will be joining President Obama and the first lady in Copenhagen, including a few from Obama’s administration; Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Hollywood powerhouse, Oprah Winfrey; and Chicago is bringing 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.

Obama will be the first U.S. president to appeal in person to the IOC for an Olympic event and many are praising his decision to make this special appearance, while some Republicans consider Obama’s trip “misplaced priorities”. The Associated Press noted that RNC Chairman Michael Steele called the visit “noble”, however, Steele asked, "Where is the focus?" and added, “At a time of war, at a time of recession ... I think this trip is nice but not necessary for the president. The goal should be creating job opportunities not seven years from now, but job opportunities today." weighed in on the Obama trip this past Monday, “White House officials didn't want Obama to be rebuffed and initially hinted the president himself wouldn't make the trip. Now top aides say they want to pull out all the stops, and they hope a personal pitch by Obama, who is highly popular around the world, will give Chicago's bid a major boost”.

The four finalists for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games are Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo and other than the U.S. President, heads of state representing Rio and Madrid will be attending as well. The IOC will be announcing the winner on Friday...will the Obama’s and their "Chicago entourage" bring home the GOLD?

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