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 CNN.com, 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
Life:
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.

Liberty:
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 healthcare.gop.gov, 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!