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I Was Wrong To Question The DRPA

 Later this year, it is possible — even probable — that the following individuals will all be in jail: former powerhouse Senator Vince Fumo, former House Speakers John Perzel and Bill DeWeese, Senators Jane Orie and Bob Mellow (both of Leadership), and former Representatives Mike Veon and Brett Feese (also from Leadership). 

 

On the one hand, seeing corrupt politicians brought to justice is a good thing, as is all the money they are giving back to taxpayers via forfeited pensions.

 

But there is a downside. While such offenders should obviously be prosecuted, people’s cynicism toward their government seems to be at an all-time high. Why? Because the rampant corruption still occurring — the kind that directly affects people — just isn’t being tackled seriously. 

 

Despite elements of corruption — both institutional and criminal — so apparent that even a law student could successfully prosecute the violators, nothing seems to get done. 

 

Worst of all are the pols who campaign as straight-shooting, law-and-order reformers, hell-bent on rooting out corruption, yet do nothing of the kind when elected.  Sadly, they often end up as corrupt as those they challenged.  The status quo remains intact, and, save for a bit of window dressing “reforms” here and there, it’s Business As Usual.

 

Nowhere is that more apparent that the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), one of the most powerful — and corrupt — organizations in the entire nation.

 

But wait! Could there be hope after all of reforming the Authority?  Sources say that a report from the New Jersey Comptroller’s Office will be released soon (possibly Monday), and that a gag order has been placed on its contents by the DRPA’s Chairman, Pennsylvania Governor Tim Corbett.  Sounds so cloak-and-dagger that it’s just possible to think maybe, just maybe, this might finally be the time when the bums are kicked out, replaced by honest folks with only one objective: responsible stewardship of the toll payers’ money.

 

After all, on the other side of the river we have firebrand Governor Chris Christie, who, like Corbett, is a former prosecutor.

 

So will this be the day we’ve been waiting for?

 

Fat chance. Very fat.

 

*****

 

Freindly Fire (FF) has been the longest-serving media voice taking on the DRPA and the heavyweights involved with the Authority (Ed Rendell, Jon Corzine, the Ballard Spahr law firm, CEO John Matheussen, and past and present Boards, to name just a few). For much of the past four years, FF has been alone in its quest to upend the corrupt regime, eliminate mammoth conflicts of interest, fire double-dipping executives, and bring accountability to the agency.  Joined by FOX 29 in 2010— and pretty much only FOX 29 — a number of the above objectives were met.  DRPA execs were scrambling (some were canned), a few reforms were instituted (though mostly toothless), criminal investigations were launched, and both new governors promised swift and decisive action.

 

But then it all fell off a cliff.

 

While we have moved in the right direction, it is not nearly good enough.  Quite frankly, this report will probably accomplish nothing.  Sure, there will be press conferences with harsh warnings from Corbett and Christie for the DRPA to shape up, Board members will say all the right things, and taxpayer and reform groups will fall for the same empty promises. And you know what will happen?

 

Absolutely nothing.

 

Therefore, it seems appropriate to take a new position regarding all things DRPA — I am apologizing.  In retrospect, I have been wrong across the board these past few years, and it is only fitting to publicly eat crow for those errors. I am man-enough to admit my mistakes.  Here are some of the most substantial:

 

1) I was wrong to think Tom Corbett would make good on his promise to clean house upon becoming Governor (and making himself DRPA Chair).  Instead, he chose to appoint hacks, lawyers (redundant?), former union officials, large-dollar political contributors and lobbyists to the Board, without so much as one reformer.

 

2) I was wrong to think Christie would use his office as a bully pulpit to demand the Jersey Board members (whom he can’t replace until their terms expire) to fire CEO Matheussen, under whose “leadership” the DRPA has become synonymous with “corrupt.”  This is a CEO, by the way, who has been working without a contract for years, makes more than either governor, and stands to pocket a six-figure sum of toll payer money in accumulated sick/vacation days when he finally leaves. Yet he remains because there has been no political will to remove him.

 

3) I was wrong to think the other media outlets (except FOX 29) would jump on board, exposing the DRPA for what it really is.  And I was wrong to assume they were capable of doing so in the first place, despite time and again giving them an exact roadmap for investigative articles.

 

4) I was wrong to think the Philadelphia Inquirer — both under former publisher Brian Tierney’s failed leadership and the current sell-out ownership — would cover the DRPA as a media watchdog should.  Could such inaction have been caused by Tierney begging Rendell for a taxpayer-bailout of the paper? And let’s not forget that, while R.endell was in power, the acting Board Chairman was John Estey of Ballard Spahr — Rendell’s former Chief of Staff, a major Rendell fundraiser, and a fellow member of Rendell’s law firm.  So obviously, I was wrong to even consider the possibility that the paper could objectively cover the matter.

 

5) I was wrong to expect that over $35 million in “economic development” money —codespeak for political slush funds used for everything under the sun —except the bridges — would be spent on 1) the long-overdue re-decking of the Walt Whitman Bridge; 2) helping offset yet another toll increase; or 3) paying down some of the DRPA’s enormous debt. 

 

And I would be wrong to end my list here, since there is so much more.  So check back next week for even more wrongs.  And who know?  Maybe all these wrongs might somehow make it right…

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm Comments (0)

Blame Impotent Congress – And Yourself – For Gas Prices

 Americans don’t have enough holidays.

 

Unlike our Euro brethren, who take off all of August to refresh themselves after their grueling 25-hour work weeks, those in the U.S. can’t catch a break.  Sure, we have Arbor Day and Wildflower Week, but we need to celebrate more.  So it’s only appropriate to propose a holiday to which we can all relate, one that stays with us for more than just a day.

 

National Colonic Month.

 

No, not the colonic used to flush the body of evil red meat. That would be pointless since, according to a new study, just looking at a hamburger increases the likelihood of death by 900 percent.

 

National Colonic Month would be the collective feeling of having a gas pump forcefully inserted where the sun doesn’t shine by the United States Congress each time we refuel our cars, buy groceries, heat our homes, lay people off, lose our jobs, pull out our hair and contemplate “crimes of opportunity” (aka siphoning your neighbor’s gas tank), all in the name of making Arab sheiks the world’s first trillionaires.

 

Since America has perfected its current position of being bent over a barrel, its posterior wide open and ready to receive whatever comes, what better time for a national colonic of Middle Eastern petroleum?  And here’s the best part.  Given America’s insatiable appetite, National Colonic Month would just roll from month to month. So whether gas is $4 now, $5 in the summer, or $9 when the Washington braintrust strikes Iran, we will never have to worry about a shortage of colonic activity.

 

Of course, as with any procedure, there are side effects.  In our case, it hurts a lot more as the price goes up, hemorrhaging can occur, and decay and disease may soon set in. And since we are the only doctor in town, yet remain impotent to solve, let alone diagnose, the problem, the prognosis for recovery isn’t good.

 

Kind of reminds you of Fletch’s most famous line, “Using the whole fist, Doc?” 

 

In America’s case, it’s a lot more than a fist.

 

*****

It’s really tough to figure out who is dumber: Congress or the people who elect them.

 

Are people up in arms about skyrocketing gas prices? You bet.  My answer? Shut up and take your colonic.  It’s no one’s fault but your own, so deal with it.

 

Oh sure, there are renewed calls for drilling now that gas is $4/gallon — just like in 2008 when it hit $4.50.  But then the economy tanked, oil prices collapsed, and gas returned to “normal” (under $3).  Result? Back to complacency.  The only thing that got drilled was the people, but they were too ignorant to know better.

 

Now that prices have spiked again, we are looking for a scapegoat.  Obama is a convenient target, and while he is partially responsible, so are his blamers, namely the Republicans. Consider:

 

1) It was George H.W. Bush who implemented the moratorium on offshore drilling.  And it was Junior Bush who, rather than being proactive by opening up ANWR and reversing Dad’s mistake while he had significant majorities in Congress (and let’s face it — after 9/11, he could have had anything he wanted in the name of security), waited until gas spiraled out of control to call for drilling.  Too late, as the Democrats slammed the door in his face.

 

2) A local Republican congressman told me during a 2010 interview that he couldn’t introduce a drilling bill while in the minority. Uhh, sorry, but Civics 101 says differently. The bill may not make it out of a Democratically-controlled committee, but it absolutely could have been introduced.  And, by the way, that would have been a coup, since Obama made offshore drilling and nuclear power a cornerstone of his 2010 State of the Union address.  But the GOP response? He didn’t really believe that. 

 

Remember, this is the same president who just green-lighted the first new nuclear power plants since 1978.  A Democrat doing that is akin to Ronald Reagan calling for a ban of all handguns.  But rather than work with the President on a (yes—Republican!) issue, the result was bitter, partisan attacks. Hence, no offshore drilling.

 

3) But Mr. Obama doesn’t get a free pass. He recently ridiculed those who advocate “drill, drill, drill” to lower energy prices. Well, not to be a stickler, but if you produce more of something, the price will, in fact, drop.  Yes, we should all be more energy-conscious. That’s common sense. And alternative energy resources should be developed so long as they are market-feasible. But let’s be real. Oil is the unrivaled king of the energy world. Since that will not change for decades, if ever, it’s time to remove our heads from the colonic area and do what we all know has to be done: drill domestically.

 

Obama delayed the Keystone XL Pipeline, which was a mistake.  But what damn near everybody is missing is that, save for a relatively small amount of product from North Dakota, the oil is all Canadian.  Granted, getting oil from our Canuck friends is certainly better than relying on Middle Eastern nations, but it misses the point entirely.  Why are we not responsibly drilling on our own turf, keeping the jobs and revenue stateside?

 

4) Natural gas just hit a ten year low, while oil (and gasoline) are soaring. Go figure. So the wells that should be tapping the unlimited, clean-burning natural resource literally beneath our feet are being capped, killing jobs and entire industries.  Well, except for colonics.

 

5) Most disturbing is that our local congressional representatives are spending their time holding hearings on the closings of the Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips refineries. No, that’s not a joke. Congressman Pat Meehan and Senator Bob Casey are looking for answers as to how the closings will affect oil prices and impact national security.  (This should be no surprise, as Congress routinely holds hearings on weighty matters such as how the College Football Bowl Championship should be decided).

 

Perhaps I could save a boatload of taxpayer cash by releasing the results of a poll conducted of a sixth-grade class I teach.  The closings will be bad. Very bad. Prices will continue to rise, since if there is less of something, its cost will increase. And we will be less secure. Next hearing?

 

When did we start prioritizing national security anyway? Congress cares infinitely more about the national security of Middle Eastern sheikdoms than it does America, despite some of those nations funding anti-American terrorist groups with our petro dollars.  And all for one reason: their oil.

 

Here’s the bottom line: as long as we refuse to domestically drill, American soldiers will continue to die in Muslim lands.  And no amount of hearings, protests, or political rhetoric will change that. And let’s be honest. Our men and women are not “fighting for our freedom,” nor are they “keeping the war over there.” They are simply doing the bidding of a Congress —and the people who elect them — who are too complacent, or worse, impotent — to do the responsible thing: protect America by harnessing our vast and unparalleled domestic energy resources.

 

And there’s no colonic to cleanse the soul from the blood we all have on our hands.

 

So to be crude, stick it in and fill ‘er up, Sheik.

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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March 21, 2012 at 7:04 am Comments (2)

Why Mitt Romney Will Lose To Obama

 

Being in the media, I have no friends, as it should be.  If I did, however, 3 of 10 Republicans would surely take offense to this column, since it points out what is increasingly obvious to everyone but Mitt Romney’s 30 percent base of support: Mitt won’t beat Barack Obama.

 

Should Romney become the GOP nominee — likely, but not certain — he will have a difficult time unseating the President.  Can he win? Given the stagnant economy, high unemployment, and skyrocketing gas prices, yes.  But will he? No.

 

Since many Republicans are calling this election the most important in history, it’s worth a look at why Romney will fall short:

 

1) He cannot relate. Nominating Romney would be par for the course for a GOP that likes to elevate stiff, out-of-touch pols who can’t relate to most Americans.  John McCain, Bob Dole, and George Bush I (after he acted like he had better things to do than campaign for reelection) are prime examples.

 

Of course, it is rare for an incumbent president to lose, which occurred only four times in the 20th century.  But in those instances, sitting presidents lost to charismatic leaders articulating bold visions. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton achieved success over Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, because, more than anything, they were extremely effective communicators, speaking from the heart rather than a script. There was a widespread perception among Americans that these candidates were talking directly to them — that they were leaders who innately understood what the problems were, and how to solve them.

 

On a scale of one to ten, Romney’s ability in this regard is zero. Not only is he unable to relate, but when he tries, things gets worse. He either becomes a laughingstock (an aloof Northeastern moderate patronizing unamused Southern conservatives by saying “y’all” and “grits” as many times as possible) or a human gaffe machine (“$10,000 bet,” “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” telling unemployed people that he too is “unemployed,” he knows what it’s like to worry about getting a pink slip, and “I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners,” among countless other beauties).

 

Romney doesn’t understand that trying to be someone you aren’t is death to a candidate. Nowhere was that more apparent that in 1988, when another Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis, was photographed riding in an army tank. Given his liberal positions on national defense, Dukakis was ridiculed to such an extent that his candidacy never recovered, with that iconic photo symbolizing his ill-fated campaign.

 

Apparently not a student of history, Romney is doing his best to upstage his Massachusetts colleague.

 

2) Romney is regressing. After spending hundreds of millions over the last six years, Romney is still routinely losing 7 of 10 Republicans. And that is with a weak field. Ron Paul is running to keep the others honest, Newt Gingrich has won just two states, and Rick Santorum, who two months ago was polling at two percent, is surging only because he is the last “anti-Romney” candidate standing.

 

Comparing apples to apples, Romney is faring considerably worse than in 2008. That negative trend is bad enough, but even more startling is that four years ago, Romney faced a number of credible candidates, including John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. In other words, he is doing worse now despite competing against a rag-tag cadre of opponents who have virtually no money or organizations and who mathematically can’t win the nomination.

 

The proof is in the pudding: of Romney’s 15 wins (out of 27 contests), he has barely broken fifty percent in just four — heavily Mormon Nevada and Idaho, his home state (Massachusetts) and Virginia, where Gingrich and Santorum weren’t even on the ballot. In fact, Romney couldn’t even attain 60 percent against “quirky” Ron Paul — known for his non-interventionist foreign policy and reduced military spending platform — in Virginia, despite it being one of the biggest military and defense industry states in the country. 

 

Four years ago in Minnesota, Romney garnered 41 percent, yet this time (as the “frontrunner”) he won less than 17 percent of the vote—yes, 17!  In his true home state of Michigan, where he grew up while his father was governor, he hung on just enough to defeat Santorum — and that was after a dismal debate performance by Rick.  In Ohio, despite vastly outspending his opponents, he eked out a one point win. And most recently, not only didn’t he win Alabama or Mississippi, but came in third in both states.

 

A successful candidate needs to win states in every region, an achievement that has thus far eluded Romney. A number of Mitt’s wins have been in states that will go Democratic in the general election (Vermont, Massachusetts, Washington and Hawaii), and he is struggling mightily in must-win battleground states (Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan). Not exactly a roadmap to success.

 

3) Flip-Flops.  Conventional wisdom keeps predicting that the Republican base, weary of the drawn-out primary season, desperately wants to coronate Romney so the focus can be on Obama. Yet every time another primary rolls around, Convention Wisdom is turned upside down. Why can’t Mitt seal the deal?  Because to many, he simply isn’t trustworthy.

 

Sure, Romneycare makes him wildly unpopular to many Republicans (whose main objection to Obama is Obamacare). But much more unsettling are his flip-flops, too numerous to list in their entirety, but which include abortion, gay rights, guns, government mandates , indexing the minimum wage, the auto and TARP bailouts, and even whether he is a Ronald Reagan fan.

 

But Romney’s inconsistencies go beyond the policy arena and extend into his personal life, such as the issue of illegal immigrants working at his home.  When questioned about that situation, Mitt responded that he fired the landscaping company that employed the immigrants, not because illegals working in the U.S. is wrong, against the law and hurts American citizens, but because, “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake….I can’t have illegals.” Political expediency at its worst.
 

*****

 

Mitt Romney embodies an articulate politician without a soul, one who will say whatever it takes to get elected.   So prevalent is his flip-flopping that he couldn’t even decide whether to campaign in Iowa.

 

He’s so out of touch that he doesn’t understand the peoples’ yearning for a leader who stands for something and sticks to his guns.  Instead, Romney’s “be all things to all people” approach has him foundering, and should make him easy pickings for Obama in November.  

 

There are those who will say the media is deciding this election, because columns like this are killing Romney’s chances to win before the general election campaign even begins.

 

While it will be a bitter pill to swallow, those on the Right would be wise to realize two things. The “Anyone But Obama” approach is a losing strategy, since negative premises always produce inferior candidates.  And Republicans looking to cast blame for Mitt Romney’s troubles should stop looking for a scapegoat and see the real reason he will flop: Mitt Romney himself.

 

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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March 19, 2012 at 8:37 am Comment (1)

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Penn State’s Board Reportedly Has Considered Going Private

March 15, 2012, 10:34 am

(Updated at 12:04 p.m. with comment from Penn State.)

After months of promising greater transparency, Pennsylvania State University trustees now say they see the appeal of possibly privatizing the institution, according to reports in two Pennsylvania newspapers, The Patriot News and The Morning Call. Karen Peetz, the board’s new chairwoman, said she met recently with the chairman of Cornell University’s board and found the Ivy League institution’s governance model—a private university with some public components—of “great interest.”

In response to questions about its commitment to being a public university, Penn State issued a statement saying “Penn State is not exploring how to become private. Penn State is exploring how to remain public in the face of declining public funds.” The statement said Ms. Peetz’s meeting with the Cornell board chairman “was only a discussion of ideas and nothing more. Karen Peetz did not endorse Penn State adopting the Cornell model or any particular model. All she said was that the board is listening to various ideas.”

Penn State’s board has been criticized as insufficiently transparent in the wake of allegations that Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at the university, sexually abused young boys, and that Penn State officials responded inadequately to the charges.

Now this is interesting…, verrrrrrrrry interrrresssssting!

 

March 16, 2012 at 2:13 am Comments (2)

Diabetes, Donors—and Determination

For National Kidney Month, the story of one young woman’s fight against a ravaging disease—and time.

 

The difference between tactics and strategy is substantial. A tactic is a method employed to help achieve a goal. A strategy is the long term plan of action to achieve that goal.

 

Four years ago, that distinction was crystal clear a 31-year old Drexel Hill woman who had been ravaged by diabetes.

 

Christine Grosso’s strategy was simple, but far from easy— survive the debilitating disease that had left her nearly blind in one eye, caused her sugar count to frequently soar over 600 (150 is high), and made her a household name in Emergency Rooms from Temple to Shore Memorial.

 

More pressing, however, was the tactic she needed to employ to continue her fight. She needed a kidney transplant, since one of the consequences of diabetes is that the body’s overstressed organs often shut down, placing the person’s life in jeopardy.

 

Christine’s story was bittersweet, since her courage, determination and heartwarming attitude almost made one forget how perilous her situation had become.

 

 

What is Diabetes?

 

Christine’s symptoms first appeared when she was 13, and were noticed by her mother, Toni: increased thirst and appetite (yet the result was weight loss), frequent urination, and mood swings. Grosso’s pediatrician initially thought these changes were related to puberty. Further investigation, however, revealed something different and far more ominous: Type 1 diabetes.

 

Christine realized that her life would never be the same.

 

 “In the beginning, my treatment consisted of insulin injections twice a day; blood sugar tests four times a day and a strict diet— consisting of four meals a day, at specific times,” she recounted.

 

“Basically, I couldn’t eat the junk food that teenagers love. I would have to eat whenever my blood sugar was low, and couldn’t join everyone at a meal if my blood sugar was elevated,” Christine added.

 

Type 1 diabetes results from the lack of insulin production by the pancreas. Since insulin is a hormone required by all cells to utilize glucose for energy, a deficiency results in the depletion of energy stores, such as liver glycogen, fat and eventually muscle mass. This leads to significant weight loss and fatigue, and, left uncorrected, soon leads to the excretion of glucose in the urine and metabolic imbalance (ketoacidosis), requiring hospitalization. The longer-term effects are much more severe— damage to various organs and body systems, notably the kidneys, the eyes, the nervous system and the heart.

 

The need for a kidney

 

Christine’s condition steadily deteriorated over seventeen years. Whereas in high school she was involved in numerous activities, her lifestyle had become hampered. Her body functions had taken a tremendous blow, with the kidneys taking the biggest hit. When the tiny blood vessels (nephrons) in the kidneys become damaged by diabetes, the filtering units of the kidney are less able to filter unwanted substances from the blood. Damaged nephrons are also less able to retain essential substances, such as proteins. In time, as the kidneys continue to fail, the patient will require a kidney transplant.

 

After an exhaustive process, Christine qualified for such a transplant. But that was just the beginning. If a suitable donor was not found quickly, she would be forced to begin dialysis — never a sustainable long term solution. “My transplant time was as soon as possible since I was being evaluated for dialysis. If a live kidney donor was not found, I would have had to wait until a cadaveric source (kidneys of organ donors upon their deaths) was found which matched my tissue type. This could have taken years.”

 

Finding a Donor

 

The need for a kidney transplant is determined by a nephrologist, based on tests of the patient’s kidney function and clinical condition. Once the patient is found suitable as a transplant recipient, he or she is placed on the United Network of Organ Sharing list for a cadaveric source of a kidney.

 

But finding a kidney donor is a very personal process. “In my case, I began as soon as I was informed that I needed a transplant. I composed a Gift of Life letter in which I described myself and asked if anyone would be interested in being tested (to become a compatible kidney donor). Surprisingly, several people whom I did not know contacted me,” Christine explained.  Yet two of those individuals were not a match.

 

“When I found out they were not suitable, I revised the letter and again circulated it to friends, churches, schools, businesses and newspapers. Several more people offered to help. My donor profile was someone between 21 and 60, in good health, same blood type, and without a history of cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure.” Easier said than done. If the potential donor was either rejected by the center or by the recipient, a new potential donor would be tested, and the process starts anew.

 

Christine’s Support Network

 

Through it all, Christine’s parents never left her side. “Our lives changed drastically after Christine became chronically ill. One or both of us is with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” her father Lou explained.

 

Toni elaborated: “Before the transplant, Christine was constantly in the hospital.”  The hospital stays usually were a week to ten days, with Christine’s parents taking turns to always be in her room. “Although not under the best circumstances,” Toni added, “Christine’s illness has brought us all closer together.”

 

Christine’s attitude kept her spirits high. “My faith has helped me to deal with most of my medical problems, by trying to find positive reasons for my condition. Since I was 13, I have been searching for someone like myself to talk to. These people are hard to find, and dealing with diabetes is the hardest thing I have ever done.”

 

Because of this, Christine helps others with similar conditions. “I counsel young diabetics, and this helps me as well as them. It feels good making a difference in someone’s life.”

 

The search for a kidney was difficult but rewarding. Along the way, Christine became reacquainted with old friends, and met complete strangers selfless enough to offer a part of their body. “It is so overwhelming to meet these amazing people,” she reflected.

 

The Guardian Angel and the Transplant

 

Despite the unimaginable heartbreak for Christine and her parents when two donors fell through at the last minute, their undying faith paid off. A donor responded to a Church Bulletin article chronicling Christine’s inspirational story and her need for a kidney. The donor, who did not know Christine or her family (yet ironically lived just four blocks away) and wished to remain anonymous, met all the transplant requirements. Soon thereafter, she placed her own life in jeopardy by undergoing surgery, literally giving part of herself to another in the ultimate act of selflessness.

 

The result? Success beyond expectations. Christine Grosso just celebrated her four-year transplant anniversary — rejuvenated, vibrant and alive.  No longer just surviving, she is once again living. While diabetes will forever be with her, the tables have now turned, with Christine controlling the disease.  Her donor, Marie Manley — who can only be described as a true guardian angel — is also doing remarkably well, living a fully functional life and now working at the Kidney Transplant Program at Lankenau Hospital as a transplant assistant, counseling donors and recipients.

 

In an age where many glibly say they “give back” and “give of themselves” — while making sure everybody knows it — there are still real heroes like Ms. Manley who believe that charity should be altruistic, the only “reward” being the selfless act of giving.  She exemplifies those who truly walk the walk, content with the knowledge that she made the ultimate difference in someone else’s life.

 

In Christine Grosso’s case, Marie Manley’s act of charity was, quite literally, a lifesaver.  Perhaps most amazing is something which will never be known — how many people, after learning of Christine and Marie’s remarkable story, were inspired to themselves become donors — and lifesavers.  

 

There is no greater love than risking one’s own life to save another. In the spiritual, charitable and literal sense, donating a kidney is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

 

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

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March 13, 2012 at 9:57 am Comments (0)

Rush Limbaugh’s Sluttiness Makes Him The Anti-Republican

 

In front of the entire nation, conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh repeatedly called Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for her support of an Obama Administration policy requiring health insurers to offer contraceptives.

 

Not surprisingly, the issue became, and still remains, the preeminent national story, pushing it front-and-center in the Republican presidential campaign.

 

Anytime a powder-keg situation ignites into a massive media firestorm, as this one did, it is always interesting to look at who comes out on top, and who is left burning in the ashes.

 

And the biggest loser, by far, may surprise you.

 

So here is a look at winners and casualties of Pill-Gate:

 

Winners

 

Limbaugh The Entertainer Rush has followed the cardinal rule in entertainment: there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  Bet the ranch that his ratings will increase, and with that additional advertisers.  This is not foreign territory to Rush, as he has been engulfed in numerous high-profile controversies in the past, since, let’s face it, controversy pays.  To the tune of $40 million a year.

 

Remember too that Rush has the luxury of saying pretty much whatever he wants without fear of repercussion.  With a net worth in excess of $350 million, he needn’t worry about paying the rent should he get fired.  And how likely is Clear Channel Communications (his employer) to fire the most lucrative figure on the radio?  It’s doesn’t take courage to tell and defend the truth when one stands to lose nothing. For those who idolize Rush in that regard, find a real hero to adore.

 

Oh, and his apology? It’s a stretch to even call it that, but all part of the game.  Apologize while not really apologizing, and trash your enemies in the process.  If nothing else, Limbaugh would be a great politician.

 

Advertisers Sure, some advertisers have “temporarily” suspended advertising, but most of those companies are also practicing the above rule.  A business (very publicly) announcing that it will yank advertising from Limbaugh scores a huge coup by receiving untold millions in free publicity.  And in a few weeks when the shelf life of this story dies, most, if not all, will quietly return to Limbaugh.  It’s a win-win for advertisers, and Clear Channel knows it.  And let’s face it — Limbaugh’s advertisers know he’s controversial, which is exactly why they pay top dollar to run commercials on his show. To them, occasional forays over the line of decency are acceptable risks. 

 

Sandra Fluke The are hundreds of thousands of law students, but Fluke has broken through the ranks of obscurity to be forever known as the “Limbaugh slut girl” who wanted taxpayers to foot the bill for her sexual habits.  She helped her issue gain political ground, and will never have to worry about landing a job.  Fluke’s popularity — and notoriety — is her golden ticket.  Who knew testifying at an unofficial congressional hearing could be so lucrative?

 

Mandatory Contraception issue (perception) This issue gained significant momentum, unwittingly helped by a poor student being mercilessly— and personally — attacked by an ultra-wealthy bully.  And what about the actual merits of the issue?  To many in the Great American Middle, they don’t matter. Right or wrong, their mentality is that if Limbaugh is attacking this young girl for just trying to tell her story, she must have some valid points. Conversely, if Limbaugh has to demonize her, his position must be so weak that it can’t be won on its own merits.

 

Too bad, because on the issue, Rush was right.

 

Losers

 

Mandatory Contraception issue on its merits The President is wrong in attempting to mandate contraception coverage from health insurers, as that is a case of government vastly overstepping its bounds. There are religiously-affiliated entities that are opposed to providing certain services, directly or indirectly, such as contraception and abortion. To do so not only tramples on market freedom, but religious freedom as well.  

 

Truth be told, most insurers are more inclined to offer contraception services anyway because it makes financial sense.  Paying for the Pill is infinitely cheaper than shelling out thousands for OB-GYN visits, ultrasounds, pregnancy complications, child births, vaccinations and, of course, the regular medical bills that accompany a new child throughout his life.  

 

But the market should determine that coverage, not government.

 

Limbaugh The Movement Leader Entertainers do whatever is necessary to entertain and make money.  But when they cross the line and represent themselves as serious leaders of a political movement, there are problems. Most Rush fans can’t discern the difference, and that endangers their conservative cause when their iconic leader does something that benefits himself but vastly sets back a core issue.  

 

It’s not that he doesn’t care, but that he puts his own interests ahead of the Cause, even if that means hurting the Movement. This is nothing new, and it isn’t just Rush. Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a “faggot” was another example of needlessly providing red meat to the Left. And make no mistake, this issue will be back in the general election, with Obama and the Democrats painting all Republicans as extremist, mean-spirited Rush Limbaugh-types.  Not a winning image for the GOP.

 

The Republican Party Another fantastic issue in which the Republicans could have differentiated themselves from Obama and the Democrats — and another opportunity squandered. What else is new?

 

Not one Republican leader — and not one GOP presidential contender — transformed this into what it is: the lack of common sense health care reform. And God forbid any of them tell the truth by pointing the finger at themselves as to why we find ourselves having this debate at all. 

 

But here’s the truth.  This is fault of George W. Bush, along with the sizable GOP majorities he had in both Houses for six straight years. Did they make any real attempt to solve the problem of skyrocketing health care costs? No. Had they done so, Sandra Fluke wouldn’t be begging the taxpayers to pay for her contraceptives.

 

As it now stands in America, if you don’t like your employer’s health insurer, you can either pay for a different insurer out of pocket (totally impractical since there are so few options and far too expensive), or change jobs (more impractical).  Notice that there is no option to buy insurance across state lines, since that is illegal.  So while we can buy auto insurance from any state in the country, we are banned from doing so for health insurance.

 

Why such a stranglehold on the free market? Because it’s not in the interests of the big insurance players to have such consumer choice, as they would be forced to actually become competitive.  Thankfully for them, they have deep pockets which they use to fund the coffers of politicians. Result? Consumers are held hostage to skyrocketing rates and decreasing coverage, while the insurers laugh all the way to the bank.

 

Then there are the flexible spending accounts that still have a “use it or lose it” policy. Instead of encouraging savings, such plans only serve to have consumers making a mad dash to the pharmacy so they can buy 27 bottles of aspirin before their money — yes, their money —disappears. 

 

Medical malpractice reform? Did the Republicans and President Bush —while riding an unprecedented wave of popularity — have the guts to take on the trial lawyers who, more than anyone, are the cause of massive increases in health insurance premiums? A look at how many Republicans took big money from these scourges of society is all you need to know.

 

And the GOP failed miserably throwing the Left’s hypocrisy back in its face.  These are the people who advocate unrestricted abortion, screaming that government has no place in the uterus, while asking the same government to fund their contraceptives (which, I believe, affects that very same uterus).  The inconsistency of those folks was a gimme, a political homerun for the Republicans.  But their silence has been deafening.

 

Had the Republicans did what they had promised — what they surely could have achieved with just a bit of political will — this whole Rush/slut/contraceptive debate would never have taken place, because there would never have been Obama, and hence, no Obamacare. But that is a lesson lost on way too many Republicans, who find it convenient to blame everyone but their own Party.

 

*****

 

Perhaps those on the Right would do well to 1) realize that the Limbaughs of the world are entertainers, not Movement leaders, and treat them as such, 2) refuse to defend the indefensible when such entertainers cross the line, 3) stop blaming Obama for the things he very clearly told the nation he was going to do — make government-run nationalized health care a priority, and 4) hold the Republican Party accountable for its deliberate failures to fix America’s problems (offshore drilling, border walls, health care reform, smaller government), as promised in its Party Platform.

 

Maybe then this nation could have a constructive dialogue on the pressing issues of the day.

 

And what a Rush that would be.

 

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com  His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com

 

 

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March 7, 2012 at 7:29 am Comment (1)