Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Politico: A Credible Political Blog

For the media watch assignment, I was assigned to Politico. My first observations were that this is a news blog, not a newspaper or proper journalistic source. Yet, Politico is often regarded fairly highly, as if it were an actual news source. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the news is accurate. However, it is definitely a slanted view that does not offer two sides of an issue. Although they do recognize Mitt Romney as a front runner in the Republican race, they do not necessarily favor him. There were articles that painted him in a negative light, particularly regarding his social policies.

Politico is now included in the list of news sources that send updates to my cell phone. This turned out to be an advantage to me because it was the first source that informed me that President Obama had overturned his stance on mandating birth control from employers and health providers. I think it is important that they were so quick to report on this because it was such a controversial issue at the time. It was controversial for reasons including views on abortion, and bringing the church into issues of government. It was important to be reported factually, and to satisfy the people’s need to know what’s going on in the regard of scandal, which is not always newsworthy, but it is something that people do want to know about. Politico had this story as breaking news before any of the other news sources that I follow which includes CNN, USA Today, ABC, The Associated Press, and my local paper, the Scranton Times.

The website is always set up with a large picture at the top. This picture accompanies their top story for that given moment. For a while, these photos included Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich, in regard to talking about the Republican nomination race. After the primary election day which included Missouri and Minnesota, this shifted. Instead of Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum became more important. They started reporting negative articles about Newt Gingrich. For example, on February 14th, a story ran with the headline “No Guarantees for Gingrich in Georgia.” This headline alone leads us to believe that Gingrich will fail in the Georgia primary, even though Georgia is his home state. The article goes on to say that he is still favored there, but for readers who may only read the headlines and not the rest of the article, it is already framed that Gingrich will not do well there. This primary is not set to happen until March 6th, yet a decision has already been made regarding the potential outcome.

As far as the most recent debate was concerned, below is the large picture that ran. It features Rick Santorum holding his finger up to Mitt Romney, as they discuss issues regarding government spending. Harsh language was used in this article, especially in the lead paragraph, which sets the tone for the rest of the article. “Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum tore into each other’s records on government spending, health care, abortion rights and more on Wednesday night, quickly turning the crucial Arizona primary debate into a flurry of charges and counter-charges that reflected the bitter tone of the GOP race. Notice that words such as “harsh” and “bitter” are used right in this first paragraph. This shows that the news may not be reported in a straightforward manner. There is opinion there, and it is important for the audience to know that from the beginning before taking what is said as ultimate truth.

Gillyan Gowarty
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Manipulating The Truth: Rush Limbaugh

Going into this class I need a decent amount about spin, when I was younger I loved Michael J. Fox and his show Spin City taught me about basic spin in politics. Listening to Rush Limbaugh for the past couple weeks has showed me the dark side of spin and how it can be used to manipulate truths to an appalling extent. Not only does Rush use devil terms, he compares Obama to the devil himself. The biblical references match the rhetoric of an insane religious cult and his rants about our country turning to communism match those of a man who built a nuclear safe house during the Cold War.

Joseph McCarthy could listen to Limbaugh’s radio show and consider it unethical. 

February 2- My first day listening to Rush Limbaugh’s show, I discovered his view on Romney, Trump, the media, and Gingrich. If you didn’t know who Limbaugh was, it would take three seconds to realize he is conservative. When discussing Mitt Romney, Rush said “This Romney thing, it’s all about reflexes and it pains me to say this stuff, He just doesn’t have conservative reflexes. It’s like trying to learn golf late in life.” I believe Rush isn’t endorsing Romney, not because he doesn’t agree with his political views, but because he needs Obama to stay in office for rating’s sake. Rush is pulling in over 15 million listeners a week, that number would surely drop if a republican were to be elected president.

Rush says things like he is “Florida’s most important voter”, speaking highly of his endorsement, and “Every time a democrat is elected president, we lose a little bit of this country.” Rush believes the media is too sympathetic towards Obama, Gingrich thinks he can win without money, and at one point returned from a commercial break stating “Are we stupid enough to re-elect Obama,”

February 3, 2012- Today Rush discussed the separation of the Republican party and how they shouldn’t get ragged on for their courage, by courage I believe he meant viewpoints. He discussed job loss from December to January, claiming we lost 2.5 million jobs, over a week after the State of the Union. The method behind Trump endorsing Romney was to get Rush, Palin, and Herman Cain to “sign on to Romney.” Their was also an interesting picture posted on his twitter today, a photo shopped Obama wearing a Robin Hood outfit was posted, symbolizing him stealing from the rich to provide for the poor.

February 7, 2012- Best line of the day, “The Catholic Church is just the latest springboard for the left to advance their agenda. The actual target here is the Constitution of the United States.” Rush was saying today that the Catholic Church’s decision highlights the totalitarian Nature of the Obama Regime.  He made Obama sound like a dictator stating that the government is telling everyone, including churches what they can and can’t do.

February 8, 2012- “Now, what does that mean?  Scarlett Johansson, wizard of smart, you unable to make up your own mind about who to vote for. I'm being asked, "What is Scarlett Johansson's preferred form of dress? I guess from Scarlett Johansson that would be more nude photos, right? Isn't that what she...? Right? Or close to it? And we're gonna start talking about people wear or don't wear? Isn't that what Scarlett Johansson's...? Am I confusing her with somebody? I didn't think so. I didn't think I was.” Rush on Her comments about on Santorum’s sweater vest. Rush talked about how Romney flip flops on standpoints, stating that he is more of an “administrator” and “What we have here is another telling sign of just how similar, if you will, Romneycare is to Obamacare.” Limbaugh’s ability to cherry pick facts in favor of Santorum is astonishing. The only example he offers of Romney’s “flipflopping” is his stand on abortion.

February 9, 2012- When you listen to Limbaugh’s show, you expect a euphemism every other sentence. It’s almost name calling when it comes to being a listener. Today Rush took an interesting angle on attacking the Obama administration. He made it sound as if Obama was succeeding in his plan to morph us into communists. “The problems that we have faced the last three years are primarily due to the fact that Obama did not fail. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.” He also made a claim today that Obama’s economic system is robbing us of our “dignity and potential.”

February 10, 2012- Today’s top story revolved around “angry democrats.” Limbaugh used rhetoric today that a 4th grade teacher would use to teach division, Stating that “The Democrats are angry. Now that’s not news; they’re always angry. What’s got them angry now is a proposal being floated by Republicans.” Rush talked about how Santorum offered clear contrast to Obama’s assault on our freedom, and how our freedom is “ under assault each and every day,”

February 13, 2012- “The country can’t afford Obama. The country cannot afford Pelosi. The country can’t afford Reid. The country can’t afford any more Democrats. The country can’t afford any more socialists. We can afford and we can accommodate and we should elaborate the creation of wealth via hard work.” Said Limbaugh. “Obama is seeking votes from the takers, and promised he will take more from the producers.” I learned that Rick Santorum has conservatism in his bodily fluids. Later in the show a caller blew my mind stating  “I want to say regarding the church, before I get to my point about Santorum, the Bible is very specific that conservatism is from God.  Ecclesiastes chapter 10, verse 2, says a wise man's heart directs him toward the right when a foolish man's heart directs him toward the left.  Straight out of the Bible.” The hot topic of today’s show was that Obama would cut the deficit in half in three years and failed to do so.

February 15th – “If there’s a do-nothing guy, it is Obama, he campaigns as if America’s problem is a do-nothing Congress. He can only get away with this with the help of a report-nothing media.” Rush said Wednesday. Rush also complained about Obama’s plan to cut Nukes by 80%. After two weeks of listening to him rant I am seriously turned off by all four candidates simply because this man and 5 million listeners share this delusional view of government.

February 17th- Today, Rush used his unpolished spin techniques and targeted his female listeners, this quote stuck “The media, the American left, they want to try to convince you that the party of Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney hates women. The party of Bachmann and Palin hates women, and the party of the Kennedys and Bill Clinton and Chris Dodd loves women. How does that work?” Rush also celebrated the third anniversary of Obama’s Stimulus package by posting a picture of Obama riding a pig on twitter.

Alexis de Tocqueville
February 20th- Rush preached about the return of Newt and how people aren’t expecting it, but it’s inevitable. Rush also talked about how Tocqueville “foresaw the Obama years.” When Tocqueville said America needs to “avoid the perils of equality,” he was referring to the Obama administration. Rush has now made reference to two pieces of classic literature , the second being the bible.

On my last day, after the last CNN debate, Rush now believes Ron Paul and Mitt Romney are in “cahoots” to bring down Santorum. He said Romney’s goal was to make  Gingrich and Santorum look like insiders, that Romney wasn’t corrupt because he has no federal history.  Listening to Rush Limbaugh, I wouldn’t consider his rhetoric to be articulate with its spin, but I didn’t expect it to be chauvinistic propaganda. His euphemisms were more on the lines of an insult. If Rush was my only sort of media I would be driving a pickup truck with a giant confederate flag sticker on my rear window. He should be banned from the radio waves for being a hypocrite, unethically bias, and bending the weak-minded American’s voter manifesto.

Mikel Hartsough
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Good Food, Bad Taste

I have always been a fan of the Food Network and its many varieties of shows, I consider it to be sort of a guilty pleasure to sit and watch delicious food being made. I've watched shows like Emeral Lagasse, Iron Chef, Food Science, Man vs. Food and my personal favorite Diners Drive-Ins and Dives many times. I watch the shows for entertainment value, some delicious cooking recipes and just some common cooking knowledge that is helpful to know.

Paula Deen is a cook, with her own show and her own style of cooking. People watch her show not just to learn how to make her food but to be entertained by her sense of humor and her antics in the kitchen. It is a show for viewers to enjoy, not a show to lecture on what a person must eat, or to teach what food is healthy for a person. When Paula announced that she was a diabetic, people freaked out, and stopped watching her show. I think this is ridiculous. If people do not have the sense to know what is healthy for them and what is unhealthy, then they should consider watching another channel, because most of what I watch on the Food Network is people making and eating unhealthy food. Paula is not saying, “Hey now, go home and fee this to everyone so that you will get skinny and nothing bad will happen to you.” Paula is saying this food is delicious to eat, not healthy to eat, not good for you, she is just saying that it is delicious and it probably is.

The real problem I see that Paula made, is that now she wants to be the face of a diabetes drug. I think that it would be fine for her to donate money to help fund diabetes drugs and give to diabetes related charities, but I think she should not be the face of speaking out against diabetes. She hasn't changed anything on her show saying, “Now if your a diabetic then you can't eat this,” so I believe that her being the face of a diabetic drug is a bit hypocritical. Also, I am surprised that a drug company's Public Relations team would even consider Paula for being the face of the advertising for the drug especially now.

Other than that, I don't think Paula really did anything wrong. It's her business if she wants to reveal she has diabetes or not, and it's her business if she wants to keep the show the same or not. It's her show so she can make whatever she wants, and why not continue doing what she has been doing for years. Let her put 4 sticks of butter into her mashed potatoes and add more beacon grease into her sausage lasagna, she is allowed to do that because it is her show. Most people understand that her food is unhealthy and that it probably shouldn't be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have shows like Myth Busters where before the show they say. “The following should not be tried at home because it is dangerous, and these experiments on the show are done by professionals.” Should a show like Paula's have something like that before her show starts? “The food on this show should not be eaten if you have diabetes, or have heart problems or it you are trying to lose weight.” I mean that is ridiculous if people have to be told that this is bad for you so don't eat it. Come on people let's use our brains not our bellies to think with.

Andrew Grandinetti
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Love Each Other As I Have Loved You: A Catholic Lie

I was raised as a Catholic. My family went to church every Sunday for more than half of my life. My mom taught CCD, my grandmother sang in the choir, my grandfathers were Eucharistic Ministers, and my cousins were altar servers.  It’s fair to say that the teachings of the Catholic Church have had a significant role in my moral development. However, I am also an average woman with modern American values. And the values of Americans have changed over time to include groups of people that were previously ostracized. Sadly, not a single institution ostracizes people like the Catholic Church and their current target is women.

The Obama Administration began their “War on Religion” a few weeks ago with the announcement of a mandate in the President’s much scrutinized health care plan that all employers must provide insurance coverage for birth control pills. Naturally, this didn’t go over well with the Catholic Church.

The church famously preaches abstinence until marriage at which point they believe contraceptives of any kind are unnecessary. However, what the male dominated religion may not know is that besides preventing pregnancies, birth control is also prescribed for acne, heavy periods, and regulating estrogen levels. Fifty-eight percent of Catholic women agree with the President’s decision and 98% have admitted to using contraceptives. Therefore, I don’t see the argument. Women want and need birth control pills. Why is it fair that we should pay more for a simple solution to common health issues because they are gender specific?

The Catholic Church has a long history of targeting women though. During my eight years of religious education I was led to believe that women should not have sex before marriage. If a woman chooses to sin, by giving in to the natural human urge, and has sex she should not use contraceptives to protect herself against diseases or unwanted pregnancies. In the case of an unwanted pregnancy women should not, under any circumstances, including rape and incest, get an abortion. Women who have children out of wedlock are going to Hell.

Their hypocrisy is off putting to me. They tell us that we are surrounded by God and that He made everyone perfectly and loves equally and as his servants, they are supposed to be preaching those ideas. Instead they make it their business to ignore the idea of separation of church and state and voice their conservative opinions any time the progressive government makes a decision they don’t agree with. Now they are making the case that the government can’t force a religious institution to provide healthcare coverage that conflicts with their values. I say, as long as Catholic affiliated institutions are taking government funding they should be forced to comply. Additionally, they should respect that women know what is best for them health wise.

By now you’ve probably guessed that I don’t agree with many of the things Catholic leaders preach about and I stopped attending Mass regularly quite some time ago. It wasn’t because I lost faith in God. It’s because I lost faith in the Catholic Church. They have lost sight of what is most important. Their mission is to spread the word of God and last time I checked, that word was Love not Damnation.

 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” - John 15:12

Kayla Mattioli 
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Barack Obama’s “War on Religion"

Answer this question: As Americans, do we live in a country where we are encouraged to make choices based on our own interests? I would have to argue that the answer is yes. Why am I asking this question? I believe that requires a little background information. Currently, the country is in the middle of a political storm because President Barack Obama signed a bill that would make Catholic hospitals, educational institutions, and other Catholic facilities to purchase health insurance that covers contraceptives and “morning after” pills. If anybody has any sort of background knowledge about Catholics, they know that they believe they are to have as many children as God wants them to have, and therefore ban the use of contraceptives and morning after pills. In other words, the Catholic Church now believes that Barack Obama is attacking their religious rights by forcing them to carry contraceptives and thereby taking away their ability to choose to not promote these types of things.

There are two problems with this situation. The first issue is that President Obama should not be forcing this upon Catholic institutions. While this is not a malicious attack on Christianity, this issue does indeed infringe upon Catholic beliefs. It is the Catholic Church’s right to not carry things they are so strongly opposed to. It could be the equivalent instituting a time for prayer in public schools. The students could choose not have to pray, but there are people that would be offended because religion would be in the schools. In this instance, the students at the universities and people at the hospitals would not have to accept the contraceptives, but would be offended that they are being offered.

While President Obama is wrong, the Catholic Church is also wrong for furthering what some call Barack Obama’s “war on religion.” Right wing media outlets, such as Fox News, are claiming that Barack Obama wants to take away “religious freedom” from Christians. One Fox News correspondent even stated, “This (in reference to the bill), of course, is going over about as well as a BBQ joint in a Hasidic neighborhood.” President Obama is doing this to help people who are in times of their lives when they do not want children.. This legislation comes from a good place. Furthermore, while Obama is forcing the Catholic institutions to carry contraceptives, he is not forcing people to take the contraceptives and morning after pills. If the Catholic universities are doing a good job at instilling its morals into their students, then the students will not take the pills. Barack Obama may not give the Catholics a choice in the matter, but it is ultimately the choice of the people whether to use the contraceptives or not.

After stating all of this, the fact of the matter is everyone involved in this is wrong. President Obama is wrong for forcing this upon people with such strict beliefs pertaining to contraceptives. The Catholic Church is also wrong because President Obama is not attacking religion. His motives are to encourage more people to use birth control.

People get themselves into problems all the time due to unintentional conception. Therefore, if more people use birth control, the problem would be lessened. It truly comes down to whether Catholics at hospitals and universities choose to take the contraceptives.

Days after this whole debacle occurred, President Obama decided that the insurance Catholic institutions would have to purchase would not cover contraceptives and morning after pills, but these things would instead be given to them for free. The right wing is still claiming this is his “war on religion,” but this is really a sign that President Obama acknowledges concerns, but will not back down. I am sure that this issue is certainly not over.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Monday, February 20, 2012

A True Patriot: Barack Obama SOTU 2012

President Barack Obama started out his fourth the State of the Union (SOTU) in a smart way: patriotism.  He said the Iraq War was successful and the killing of Osama bin Laden was also included in this section of the speech.  While I agree that finally murdering his assembly was pretty much the greatest take down since Adolf Hitler took down himself, I cannot stand beside the President on his position of the Iraq War.  It’s really not his fault, as he inherited it from President George W. Bush, there is no way he can possibly actually believe it was a success.  There was no way that war could be successful because it wasn’t started for a real reason at all.  It started with a war on weapons of mass destruction.  Then we found out those didn’t exist.  Then it was dubbed Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Where the transition was made from WMDs to freedom, the world may never know.  The point is, I think the President was saying what he had to.  It’s not like he could go out and admit losing American soldiers’ lives didn’t end in a successful way so much as just end.  That wouldn’t show confidence and could even be misinterpreted as anti-American.  Which is the last thing he needs.

Next, Obama moved to the American Dream, another move to instill feelings of patriotism and togetherness in the American people.  He wants to bring jobs back to America by stopping offering tax breaks to companies who outsource would-be jobs for Americans.  He called this a restoration of American values.  That was smart.  It makes people think of moving jobs overseas as not only irresponsible, but as a move specifically against America.  Which, yeah, it pretty much is.  That inference is accurate.  To move our economic potential somewhere else is a very me-centric way of thinking.  Based on the way the American economy has been heading these last 10 years or so, that’s not working out so great.

On the same lines, Obama said he wants to become more energy independent as well as for more United States markets to go international with their products; investigate unfair trading in China; and train more Americans in a specific trade.  All of these ideas can be said in sum by using just three words: jobs, jobs, jobs.  And this is very important to the American people right now.  Millions of folks are out there struggling because their either under qualified due to a failure of an educational system or because there just aren’t jobs in their specialty available.  The aforementioned actions would open up millions more jobs for Americans and give the economy a major boost.

Then, Obama started talking about education and I had a lot of moments where I just didn’t know why he was saying what he was saying.  If I were to offer advice to him it would be this: DO reward teachers; DO offer the tuition tax credit for college students; punish educational institutions for unreasonable raises in tuition rates; DON’T torture teachers and the children by keeping kids in school against their will until they’re 18.  That last one is a biggie.  Because there really is no benefit to it.  There is a tiny possibility a student or two will change their tune between the ages of 16 and 18, but it’s not worth all of the other kids’ educational and possibly emotional suffering.  It’s a waste of teachers’ time and tax-payers’ dollars.

Then, Obama moved onto the subject of immigration.  To no one’s surprise, it’s the same thing he has been saying for years.  Guess he’s not rushing to actually jump on that issue.

Here he discussed the almighty dollar.  He said he wants to extend tax breaks to small businesses to help them grow more easily, continue providing grants to medical and technological projects, capitalize on this country’s natural gas resources and provide money to improve local infrastructure.  It was like the republicans’ worst nightmare except the part about natural gas.  I agree with pretty much all of this except I am a little annoyed at the desire to siphon all of America’s natural resources.  It’s hurting the earth.  Which is sad.  Because we all live here and Earth can’t even defend itself, save for hurricanes and tsunamis.  We need to work harder on alternative energy.  Can you even imagine the strides we could have made here if instead we had spent the gargantuan number of dollars pumped into Operation Iraqi Freedom on energy research?  Obama also said later in his speech he wants to provide more jobs for veterans.  I think we should educate and train them for use in various energy projects, the ones who aren’t retired, anyway.  But, that is a ridiculous idea which I have no defense for.

Other positives on the money front included the fact that Americans can officially refinance at historically low rates, saving up to $3000 per year and a crack down on large-scale fraud and vowed to have the Financial Crimes unit protect investments so the disaster of the economy of 2008 will never happen again.  I don’t know a lot about refinancing or the economy, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about all that.  But what I do know and what I will say is that’s a bold claim, being that Obama will not be president forever.

He also promised a crack down on insider trading in Congress.  Am I alone in being really taken aback by this?  Maybe I’m just not paying attention or try to see the good in people too much, but the fact that insider trading is happening within Congress is astonishing.  Because obviously people know about it.  Because it is a big enough issue for the President to address it in the State of the Union Address.  It’s just another example of the rich using corrupt methods to get richer.  If these rich people want to complain about the economy, how about the top one-percent all give ten-percent of their money to the government and fix it.  Instead, they’re too concerned with making more money they don’t need and will never use.

The idea of interacting with Iran at all makes me shake in my boots.  Remember when they sent that pink plane back?  They know where we live.  And they do not like us.  But, I have little hope Obama or anyone else is going to go over and develop any sort of diplomatic plan.  This is America.  We don’t say, we do.  Ask Japan.  They learned that the hard way.  But none of us are looking to the total destruction of Earth that may be World War III and I’m afraid what we’re doing messing around with Iran and North Korea is going to be the start of something terrible.

Obama concluded his speech with: "Each time I look at that flag, I'm reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team."  I agree.  And I think we can do it again.  Yes we can.

Cathryn Frear
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Komen Catastrophe

In the past couple of weeks, the Susan G Komen foundation made some terrible mistakes that will be likely to impact the long-term reputation of the charity.  A representative of the Komen foundation announced that they would no longer be giving money to Planned Parenthood, an institution that offers services to women that could lead to early detection of cancer, or offer preventative measures. Once this was announced, social media websites lit up instantly. People were outraged with the decision made by the Susan G Komen foundation, and counteracted the movement by donating their own money to the cause, over seven million dollars was raised.

As if this decision was not bad enough, a few days after the announcement was made, they retracted it. They decided to give the original funding back to Planned Parenthood. This was a stupid decision, in my opinion. They probably would have been better off standing firm on their original decision. Now, not only do they have a bad name for denying funding to Planned Parenthood, but they look weak as well. They took a beating from the media, so they decided to change their minds. Better still, Planned Parenthood proved that they did not need the funding anyway. They proved this when they raised way more than they would have received from the Komen foundation anyway, and they did it in a matter of days.

If the Komen foundation wanted to take a stand on abortion, fine. I would not necessarily advise them to do that, but they certainly have the right to do so. They did not seem to have any solid grounds in pulling their funding though, since their money was not being used toward abortions anyway. The money was specifically being used toward education, detection, and treatment of cancer, which makes perfect sense. They are going to have challenges in the upcoming months, and even years, as they work toward restoring their reputation as best they can.

Gillyan Gowarty
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013


The Susan G. Komen Foundation cut their funding for Planned Parenthood last week and to no surprise, this didn't go unnoticed. People took to social media with an endless barrage of hate toward the most widely known, largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States. Throughout the past 5 years, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has donated money for over 170,000 breast exams at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. What has changed? Why did they cut funding? And why did they reverse their decision in nearly 36 hours?

Right now, every finger points at Karen Handel, a Republican who at one time ran for governor in Georgia and then called for a "defunding" of Planned Parenthood. "I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood," said Handel.  With this controversy and public outcry, Handel immediately "stepped down," the $700,000 was instantly re-instated. The part that doesn't make sense to me, is the fact that this funding has been going on for the past 5 years. How did a women's organization for women, let this happen?

What ever happened to a secular organization not tainted by politics or a fictitious bible? Moral people make moral decisions, not decisions that hurt so many women by eliminating their breast cancer screenings. I can understand that there are many issues associated with Planned Parenthood, when it comes to their view on abortion but none of the $700,000 Komen was donating was even going to abortion. Not only did the Susan G. Komen Foundation lose a lot of money from potential donors, they lost my respect and they most certainly lost yours.

When two leading women's organizations butt heads the only people that suffer are the very women they are supposedly taking care of. It seems that this organization lacked a leader with common sense; didn't they know by cutting funding they would be cutting out support from a slew of their donors. Just look at the PR nightmare Komen started on #Twitter.

Bryan Calabro
Integrative Media/Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Sunday, February 19, 2012

You Stay Classy Barack Obama: State of the Union 2012

Karl Marx 
If Obama’s theme for the State of the Union last year was “Innovation”, then this year’s big buzzword was most definitely “Fairness” or more specifically “Cooperation from everyone to achieve Fairness”. Obama’s stated many times throughout his hour speech that “if everyone does their fair share” the problems facing America such as jobs, immigration, debt, war, and even the environment will all be fixed.  A sentiment I understand, but know that in this political and societal climate might be too idealistic. I also thought the wording of this quote was dangerously similar to the defining principle from Marx’s communist manifesto “To each his own ability”. The statement proved a gutsy move for Obama who has often been criticized by the far right as a socialist putting him at a vulnerable place for the GOP to take advantage, especially with an election coming up in November.

Of course being a Junior in college soon about to enter the real world of a jobless, and debt ridden America, I was interested in Obama’s plan to increase the job market while fixing the sure to be devastating financial aid and student loan crisis that has already begun to plague this country. His solutions for financial aid were as usual vague but involved cutting off government assistance to any University who does not give all they can to students in need of financial aid. I was unsure of the effectiveness of this plan since it sounded like Obama was leaving the responsibility of financial aid directly on the school itself and not the government through loans and grants. I also thought this policy was definitely different from normal democratic beliefs in bigger government showing Obama’s bipartisan values which in itself is a comfort. His bold statement to tax millionaires 30 percent every year to help small businesses and job growth, delineated from his usual non-specifics in his State of the Union addresses and is commendable.

As usual, in this speech Obama’s prowess in articulation and personal presence was on full display, never once giving the audience the impression that he was reading from a teleprompter. In fact, upon re-watching I’m not sure if he really was or not. Lame jokes about “crying over spilled milk” aside (The First Lady’s face at that failed attempt at stand-up was absolutely priceless), Obama presented himself in his usual cool, calm and collected manner that we have come to know these past 4 years; a manner which usually comforts us but can also leave us wanting for more passion and anger for certain issues. I thought he also took the high road in not directly criticizing any of the GOP candidates now scrambling (somewhat ineloquently) for his position.  I guess he believed that there would be plenty of time for attacks later this year when either Mitt Romney or God forbid Rick Santorum becomes the official GOP candidate vying for the oval office.

Sarah Mitrotz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bacon, Eggs & Politics: The League of Women Voter’s Annual Legislative Breakfast

In attendance were State Reps. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township; Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake; Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre; Mike Carroll, D-Avoca; Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township; Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston; and state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township.

The questions began with a moderator chosen question on the recent ruling from the State Supreme Court, marking the recent redistricting of state legislative districts as unconstitutional.

It was not so much an opportunity to discuss state legislative policy or agendas, but more of an occasion for offering mere opinions on the redistricting process. Opinions ranged from soft disagreement to the ruling, and encouragement for more public support, all the way to condemning the commission and labeling Governor Corbett as a “school yard bully”, as Pashinski stated.

Other topics ranged from Education, to Marcellus Shale, to Voter ID. Out of all the participants, I would have to say Pashinski was by far the most partisan and offensive in his tone. He spoke a great deal about discourse between the aisles, and cited Republicans as part of the problem with the redistricting. Most of the others in attendance were friendlier with their opposition remarks, some of the advocating or offering antidotes to reach across the aisle.

All participants agreed on the need for environmental regulation in the drilling of Marcellus Shale, and a tax intended to fix and support infrastructure affected by the industry.

Towards the end of the breakfast, opinions differed on the need for Voter ID, and if requiring it shown at the polls on election day would decrease voter fraud, or disenfranchise voters. Carroll made the claim that not everyone has a photo ID.

The Democratic delegation was all in agreement against Voter ID, with one going so far as to say that being struck by lightning is more likely than Voter Fraud. Toohil responded by stating that a member of the general assembly has found that someone else voted for them when they showed up on Election Day. As it stands, photo ID is already required in most federal buildings to receive service. The Voter ID bill passed the general assembly and is on its way to the Senate.

The breakfast was a great opportunity to ask questions and meet the local state lawmakers. The League of Women Voter’s is a nonprofit nonpartisan group that gives the public educational opportunities on policy and lawmaker agendas.

Ian Foley
Political Science/Communication Studies
Wilkes 2014

A Superb State of the Union

On Tuesday, January 24, President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress and the American people. The main theme of the speech was “An America Built to Last.” If we have learned anything about Barack Obama over the last five or so years, it is that he is an excellent speaker. That was evident again in this speech.

He began by referencing the end of the Iraq War. This is one of the few things he has accomplished in his first term that people give him credit for. The President also ended the speech by highlighting the mission he set forward to capture Osama bin Laden. By bookmarking the State of the Union Address with his two major accomplishments, many believe this was more of a campaign speech than a State of the Union Address. I disagree with this.

Although the President skipped over major issues such as the debt and deficit crisis, he touched on many issues the average American’s are most concerned about. The majority of people in this country belong to the middle class and are worried about the struggling economy. By addressing plans of job creation, I believe he got the attention of most people. His ideas seem to make sense. Bring back manufacturing jobs from oversees and make America the industrial powerhouse it once was. America is a country who can’t stop talking about freedom this and freedom that at every turn. Why not give Americans a fair shot to become successful in their own terms. What I think the President understands that the Republican candidates do not, is that middle class Americans are not envious of the one percent. We do not want them to give us their money as many of them probably worked hard to earn it. We simply want a chance to work in a decent paying job, pay a fair amount of taxes, and have the opportunity to live comfortably within our means.

The President stayed true to the things he has supported for years. He discussed American energy which has become very important to environmentally conscious generation of young voters. He also addressed the rising cost of a college education. For years, this generation has been told to go to college because without a higher education we cannot and will not succeed in America. Now that we have finished our education, we are strapped with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and we are no closer to obtaining a job than we would have been with a simple high school diploma.

There are some issues the President skipped over that the GOP has repeatedly pointed out. They are annoyed that Obama neglected to discuss the national debt and deficit crisis. However, I believe at this point in the recession, most if not all Americans are aware of the fiscal crisis that the entire global economy is facing right now. What good does it do to dwell on things that cannot be fixed within a one year period? Instead the President offered solutions to tangible problems that the American people deal with on a daily basis. Creating jobs is good for the economy. A boost in the American economy is good for the global economy. More money coming into America means less money we have to borrow from others.

Overall I appreciated the message of unity that the President try to convey. He gave an example of a military unit going out on a mission. They don’t care about race, gender, sexual orientation, or social class. It only matters that they are all Americans and they all must work together to find solutions to the problems that directly or not are negatively affecting our country as a whole. If he was trying to make this speech a campaign speech, it may have worked. I think the frustrated middle class appreciated that he fought for us. I think his blatant reprimanding of Congress’s inability to work together looked good for him. It took some blame we tend to place on the President and put it where it really deserves to be. One person can’t fix our problems by himself; our system doesn’t work that way. It’s a democracy not a dictatorship.

Kayla Mattioli 
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bye, Bye GOP 2012: A Perspective of a Young Voter

I am a 20 year old college student who is registered independent. I was never satisfied with either political party because I feel like all they do is fight and get nothing done for our country. I vote based on the individual and what he or she stands for.

The South Carolina debate on CNN was the first time I ever watched an entire debate. I was amused by the debate, and I was surprised what a theatrical production it was. The beginning introductions, where the candidates walked out, felt like a talk show. “Please welcome Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.” Regis and Kelly walk out on that cue and wave to the audience. The audience would be on their feet cheering and clapping really loud. The same was true for the beginning of the political debate. The moderator announced each candidate, and then they walked out waving as if they were celebrities. The audience applauded and cheered as the different candidates walked across the stage.

I could not believe that CNN would start a presidential debate by asking Gingrich the question about his ex-wife. I feel they should be more professional and get right down to the issues. Gingrich had the perfect response that shut the host right up. Looking at this debate from a talk show perspective, this is definitely how they would start a show. Jerry Springer would jump on the opportunity to start his show on a personal subject matter like this.

I was turned off by what some of the candidates had to say about Obama Care. Since my health care is covered under my parents until I’m 26, this is an topic that I’m really concerned about. Romney wants a complete repeal of Obama’s entire health care plan. Gingrich told the audience, “Let’s create jobs so they can pay for their own health care. Parents, elect us because your kids will have work and be able to move out of your house.” Up until this issue, I somewhat agreed with what Romney and Gingrich had to say. I will not support them now because of their positions on health care. Regardless of what they say about creating jobs, we know this is not going to happen. When many students graduate from college, they do not find a job. So many times I heard stories about students who had to go back and work at McDonald’s after college because they couldn’t find any other job. When I tell people that I’m a communications major, the first thing they tell me is how hard it is to find a job. One guy told me, “Good luck finding a job. My daughter got a degree in communications and she works at McDonald’s now.” Thousands of jobs for college students are not going to be created over night.

I don’t see the big deal about releasing tax returns. Gingrich said he released his an hour before the debate. Everyone is making a huge deal about Romney not releasing his taxes yet. Regardless if he does or not, that would never determine whether or not I would vote for him.

I really liked Rick Santorum in this particular debate. I think he spoke from his heart throughout and he is the closest to an “average Joe” on the ballot. His passion about pro-life issues was really inspiring. In his closing arguments, he said that they need to elect the best person to fight Obama and that person is the one who has the most contrast with him on the main issues.

Ron Paul seems to be getting a lot of young voters. In all honesty, I have no idea why. I feel he never really answers the questions. He always brings up that he was a doctor. I think he had a significant career, but there is no need to bring it up every five minutes. When asked about releasing tax returns, he said that he never will. He was completely honest, and no one really questioned him about the issue. Young voters probably like him because he is so direct and to the point. I really liked when Paul told Santorum that he is “overly sensitive.” I would never vote for him because he is too old to be President. After this debate, I don’t think I would vote for any of these four candidates.

Dominick Costantino
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Mitt Romney & His Sly Smile

As a voter, Mitt Romney appears to have a second agenda that I don't trust. His sly smile of overconfidence after each remark makes him look outright arrogant. Romney desperately needs to consider how he looks to the middle class in particular. He recently made a bet in the amount of $10,000 which is utterly ridiculous that he proposes to have that much money to throw away on a bet when Americans are struggling to just make a living. Mind you, the same demographic that would find this bet offensive provides the majority of voters, silly Romney.

I find it "fishy" that he has yet to release his income tax information even after so many have brought the issue into the lime light. His delay in releasing his tax records leads me believe he has something to hide. I suspect that he is making a ridiculous amount of money by putting into practice every possible loop hole he can, to give himself his own personal tax break. How can we elect a president we can't even trust? As the state of the economy worsened, he helped himself become wealthier by paying a lower tax rate than most middle class Americans. This is not a leader. After the debate I found that Romney allegedly makes millions while paying only 15% income tax rate. Americans in the middle class make far less and yet they pay as much as 25%. Corruption has begun even before he has reached the White House.

I understand it is stereotypical of conservatives to be con gay rights; however, I cannot seem to wrap my mind around this bigotry. For Romney to claim that he believes in equal rights for homosexuals but does not support gay marriage is completely contradictory. Equal rights means that every citizen is given the same opportunities. To deny someone rights that are granted to another, like marriage for example, is not equal rights, plan and simple.

Although the primaries show that Romney is the most likely candidate to win the Republican nomination, I will not be voting in his favor unless he shapes up. I understand he needs to appeal to conservatives because that is his only chance in becoming the next president. However, to be a leader he needs to show Americans that he is in this race for their best interest and not his own.

Devoni Novak
Communication Studies 
Wilkes 2013

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The No Spin Zone?

Over the past few years, the most prominent news source on cable television has become FOX News.  All other news outlets have decreased in viewers while FOX continues to grow.  The question that everybody should be asking is “why?”  For the past two weeks, I followed the number one rated news show on cable television, “The O’Reilly Factor,” hosted by Bill O’Reilly.  Bill O’Reilly has been in the broadcasting business for over thirty years, and his FOX show has been airing since 1996.  In the very beginning of every show, Bill starts off by saying, “CAUTION!  You are about to enter the ‘no spin zone’.”  Essentially, Bill is stating that during the entirety of his show, you will hear nothing but the political facts that have not been manipulated.  After one objectively watches Bill’s show after a while, they realize that it should be retitled “The All Spin Zone.”  For one hour every night, Bill O’Reilly forces his agenda upon the viewer by making harsh statements with very little logic or reasoning to back it up.  The show is pure opinion.  Bill does bring on people who oppose his views, but never gives them the time to effectively explain their argument.  When it comes to political spin, Bill O’Reilly is the cream of the crop.

“The Factor” is structured roughly the same way every night.  Bill starts off with his “Talking Points.”  He will pick out a big news story of the day, make a conclusion about that news story, then make the same conclusion about a broader topic.  For example, a news story had broken out about a school that forced a student to purchase a different lunch than what she had packed because it did not meet the guidelines set by U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Bill took this story and stated that the country is now a “nanny state.”  In other words, Bill claims that liberals want the government to regulate everything and want the government to tell us exactly what to do in all instances.  He even called President Obama the “nanny state champion.” Frankly, Bill’s conclusion is pure opinion.  It would make sense if he made the conclusion that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going too far with their health guidelines.  Instead, Bill said the government is regulating everything Americans do.  It is a big illogical jump.

Generally, the 2012 presidential race would be the first or second story depending upon whether one of the candidates did something controversial that day.  Through watching many days of “The O’Reilly Factor,” the only two Republican candidates even mentioned were Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.  If one is to look at Bill’s rhetoric hard enough, they will discover that he prefers Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney.  Bill was heard constantly stating that he thinks Mitt Romney is a “nice guy;” but when talking about Mitt’s conservatism, he claims Mitt does not feel it.  If this were a onetime passing comment, one would not think anything of it; however, Bill said these exact words on many different days, even asking interviewees if they agreed that Romney does not “feel it” when he talks about conservatism.  When it came to Santorum, the only bad press Bill gave him was when his millionaire campaign supporter made controversial statements about women and birth control.  Otherwise, Bill would make passing comments about knowing Rick, what a nice guy he is, and even saying that Rick at least feels his conservatism.

Bill tended to use very loaded language when talking about the Democratic Party and President Obama.  One thing people might not pick up on often is that Bill very rarely refers to President Obama with the “president” title.  Instead, he usually refers to him as “Mr. Obama.”  Simply by using the “Mr.” instead of “President,” Bill immediately places Barack Obama on a lower level by not referring to him by his proper title.  His loaded language was not all about Barack Obama.  Whenever referring to democrats or liberals, there was always a snarl or a sense of sarcasm in his voice.  During an interview with Leslie Marshall, in a very snarky fashion, Bill refered to her as a “flaming liberal.”  One of Bill’s favorite words on his show is “pinhead.”  Whenever there is somebody who does not agree with him or uses a different line of logic than he does, he refers to him as them as a “pinhead.”  He even has a segment at the very end of his show called “Pinhead or Patriot” in which he determines if someone who was in the news that day did something stupid.  However, with a title like “Pinhead or Patriot,” Bill is insinuating that if somebody does not live up to his definition of “patriot,” they are lacking in intelligence and is not “American.”

One of the most shocking aspects of “The O’Reilly Factor” is Bill’s interviews with other people.  Typically, Bill will have a Republican and Democrat on to argue an issue, or he will have just a Republican.  Nine times out of ten, when he talked to just a Republican, they were a “FOX News Contributor” with loyalties to the network.  When Bill would talk to the FOX News contributors, he would be much kinder, would allow them to talk more, and there was generally less arguing.  However, when there was a Republican and Democrat, Bill would use the spin technique, selectivity.  First, Bill would never let the Democrat completely explain their point of view.  Generally, he would cut them off before they could get to the point and berate them with his own point of view.  The other thing Bill might do is discuss the topic at hand with the Republican, but when he would get to the Democrat, he would argue something different.  For example, Bill had a discussion regarding whether substance addiction is a disease or a choice.  It became quite clear that Bill believes it is a choice considering the interviewee arguing that side was not berated.  However, when Bill talked to the person who believed it was a disease, Bill decided to argue with her about why she thinks medical marijuana should be legalized.  Bill then proceeded to yell at her about why medical marijuana is a bad idea and would barely let her speak.  This is selectivity because Bill is ignoring any facts that might disprove his beliefs.  He does not want his viewers to hear anything that is an alternate to “conservative values.”

Frankly, “The O’Reilly Factor” is one of the most spin filled television shows on television.  It is intended for extreme right-wing conservatives who believe that anything that does not bear the Republican crest is evil.  This show even goes as far to brainwash its viewers by claiming it is the “no spin zone.”  Bill O’Reilly does not hide the fact that he is extremely biased and right-wing leaning; however, the people who watch his show do not seem to understand that.  It would be my sheer hope that eventually people would realize how biased this show is and would understand that.  Until then, it will be shows like this that cause our country to be so politically split.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013