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Sarah Beth Costello
January 16, 2010

On Christmas day, 2009,  the world came close to observing an airborne tragedy when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate a

The Nigerian bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to blow up Northwest Flight 253.

bomb while aboard a Northwest airliner en route to Detroit. The Nigerian claimed to have been trained in Yemen under the instruction of al Qaida. Had he succeeded in igniting the explosives he had harbored in his underwear; he would have obliterated the lives of himself and those on the aircraft in seconds.

Following the near attack, airports worldwide amped their security, delaying passengers and creating general chaos for people traveling during one of the busiest months of the year. Airport security doubled, and metropolitan airports, including Chicago’s O’Hare and Amsterdam’s Schiphol, made plans to install both human and computer screened full body scanners, which many claimed could have prevented the Nigerian from boarding Northwest flight 253.

The scanners are high-tech x-ray machines, capable of exposing areas beneath a passenger’s clothing and produce a detailed image of every scanned individual. The use of these scanners has ignited controversy from many who claim the x-ray images violate privacy. The high cost of these machines is also a concern. According to a Dec. 29 Reuter’s article, the scanners are 10 times more expensive than traditional metal detectors, which run for about $15,000.

Despite the push for body scanners, emerging evidence suggests the existence of intelligence that could have prevented the Abdulmutallab incident, had the U.S. intelligence community heeded the previous warnings.

“Two officials said the government had intelligence from Yemen before Friday that leaders of a branch of Al Qaeda were talking about ‘a Nigerian’ being prepared for a terrorist attack,” wrote Peter Baker and Carl Hulse of the New York Times in a Dec. 29 article.

In November, the Nigerian’s father contacted officials at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, voicing concerns for his son’s radicalism. Though a file existed with Abdulmutallab’s name, officials said they did not possess the evidence necessary for placing the Nigerian on the “no-fly” list.

Despite many signals, the Homeland Security threat level was not raised. The Nigerian flew from Lagos to Amsterdam. Though the Nigerian police force is riddled with corruption and counter terrorism methods are unstable at best, Abdulmutallab should never have been allowed to board Northwest Flight 253 when he arrived in Amsterdam, but he did and came disconcertingly close  to succeeding with heinous plot.

Adding to the frustration of many Americans was the claim made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s that “the system worked,” despite the clear breach of security. The statement had many  anxious Americans questioning the Obama administration, and the actions taken toward countering terrorism.

The Nigerian hid a syringe detonator, explosives and powder in his underwear and was able to pass through security undetected.

Several days after the failed attack, Obama made a speech acknowledging that the incident could have been prevented had “critical information been shared.”

No amount of blame or what-ifs can change the past, and even expensive equipment will not always thwart the missions of our enemies. In the past few months, Americans have witnessed actions of violence from the brutal Fort Hood massacre to the Nigerian bombing incident. The question remains: what are we going to do about it?

Increasing security and spending millions of dollars might work in the short term, but the answer lies in intelligence and identification of our enemies. Obama has recently taken steps to improve intelligence operations and correct “systematic failures” that contributed to the Dec. 25 attack attempt. But “fixing” security methods will not obliterate the problem. In fact, sole dependence on intelligence and high tech gizmos could ignite a fire of trouble we cannot even imagine.

These are not just radicals or random trouble seekers; these attacks are conducted by terrorists. It is time to start calling the kettle black. Forget about political correctness and a fear of “jumping to conclusions.” Future protection of America will require Obama to step outside his comfort zone and take a stand against the enemy. Our safety depends on it.

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By Sarah Beth Costello

Dec. 9, 2009

As the economy fluctuates, the unemployment rate climbs, the issue of nationalized health care looms and war is prolonged, many Americans are second guessing the actions and intentions of elected officials.

A Nov. 16-17 Elon University Poll, which surveyed 563 North Carolina residents, revealed that 73 percent of respondents think corruption is prevalent among elected officials. According to 65 percent of those polled, elected officials are more concerned for themselves than the best interest of the public, and 67 percent said corruption is becoming more common among North Carolina public officials.

“I think a lot of citizens are frustrated, and that translates to blame on elected officials because they are the ones that we’ve trusted in making our country better,” Student Government Association President and Elon junior Justin Peterson said. “If the state of the nation is negative, I think our perception of their job would be negative as well.”

The media has reported dozens of political scandals in the past few months, from the promiscuous excursions of South Carolina Sen. Mark Sanford to Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s bribery scandals and the questionable actions of Gov. Mike Easley in connection with the hiring of his wife at N.C. State University.

“I think, historically, distrust in government goes back to the 1970s with Watergate,” SGA Vice President Evan Davis said. “I think another issue with that is the state of North Carolina. I know there are problems with the budget and state employees.”

Many North Carolinians blame elected officials for the discrepancies in the budget and handling of finances on a state and local level. The recent recession has impacted thousands of North Carolina households, and the unemployment rate continues to climb.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the North Carolina unemployment rate is 11 percent, increased 4 percent since October 2008.

“Right now, there’s a lot of debate with state officials,” said Taylor Foshee, president of College Democrats. “People think our officials in North Carolina have become complacent and have not addressed some of the pressing issues like the economy and jobs. There’s not enough action for (many), especially given what we perceive to be a severe issue.”

Corruption among elected officials is often widespread and heavily reported, contributing to a lack of faith and support for political leaders. Respondents to the Elon Poll are not the only ones who are wavering in their trust in elected officials.

A Nov. 30 Rasmussen Poll revealed a lack of confidence in politicians, particularly Democrats. The survey was conducted before President Barack Obama’s speech on his plans for the war in Afghanistan.

Voters gave a 13-point edge to Republicans — 50 percent to 37 percent — in regard to trust in national security and the War on Terror.

“The intense frustration with government and politicians among North Carolinians could pose serious ramifications for the electoral landscape in 2010,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “Coupled with a poor economy, the midterm elections may shape up as more of a referendum on government in general rather than the typical repudiation of the party in power.”

More than half of the respondents to the Elon Poll said corruption among North Carolina elected officials is more common today than 10 years ago but most appear to trust North Carolina legislative bodies more than national legislative bodies.

“I would foresee some type of shakeup in upcoming local elections and the larger elections in 2012,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to be interesting how the next couple of years will play out. State politics have been dominated by Democrats, and Republicans haven’t held the House or Senate in 150 years.”

Davis said he thinks many North Carolinians, and Americans in general, are wary of the unfulfilled campaign promises that helped elect Obama into office.

“With the Afghanistan troop surge, many are upset about that because that’s something that Obama was against,” Davis said. “The economy and health care are two mainstream issues that he talked about as well as gay rights and the environment. There are a lot of campaign promises he hasn’t come through on.”

Despite the distrust Americans may have for political leaders, 74 percent of respondents said America has the best government in the world, and 65 percent claimed support of the United States government despite any actions in Washington.

By Sarah Beth Costello

President Barack Obama is a manipulator, skilled in the art of beguiling vast audiences with his debonair and charm,

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President Barack Obama greets crowds in Berlin on July 24 during a speech on German partneship and America's need to strengthen relations. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

while discounting opposition by producing excuses.

When concerned citizens question his motives and the remaining trustworthy media outlets debunk his initiatives, the Obama administration rarely offers counter-arguments. Instead, they blame antagonists for hindering growth or obstructing plans for a better America. Their surest and most popular ploy: accusing opposition of racism or extremism.

Racial issues have received excessive media attention in the past eight months. With senate apologies for decades of slavery, a Supreme Court justice with a history of exhibiting racial preferences, an Ivy-league professor accusing police of discrimination and a president who continues to pull out the race card, it is no wonder racism in not altogether eradicated. Society cannot let it go.

Obama’s presidency has fueled a fire that refuses to die. While pockets of radicals exist, extremism is not an epidemic. We have made great leaps in overcoming prejudices and should acknowledge success rather than continually discuss the few factious franchises.

The Obama administration recently claimed that “right-winged extremists” were organizing in angry mobs in attempts to ensure Obama’s failure. These are the same protesters Nancy Pelosi claimed were carrying swastikas to town hall meetings and Sen. Harry Reid accused of “sabotaging” health care reform.

Obama, the poster boy for the mantra of “yes we can” made history as the first African American president, but eight full months into his presidency, this is his only noteworthy accomplishment.

Since his inauguration, unemployment has risen to a devastating 16 percent, according to Atlanta Federal Reserve Chief Dennis Lockhart, who included those who are no longer looking for work, a figure removed from Obama’s figures. His administration also predicts budget deficits will rise to $9 trillion during the next decade.

The past month was the deadliest for U.S. troops in the eight-year War on Terror. The president passed a nearly $800 billion stimulus package that is reaping few benefits and attempting to push a life-changing, widely unread, healthcare bill through the Senate.

There is a clear double standard of tolerance. Though many demanded his impeachment and assassination, Bush did not waste effort regaining popularity. Unlike Obama, Bush realized a good leader would never please everyone.

The media rarely question the actions of the president, refraining from probing and second-guessing the largest power entity in the U.S.

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Image courtesy of Soda Head.

Media bias was evident during the election, when the majority of mainstream media did not investigate Obama’s questionable relationships with the radical Rev. Jeremiah Wright and William Ayer. Other examples include support from major networks (CNN and ABC News) of Obama’s nomination for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, his quick push towards health care reform and his massive spending sprees.

Obama’s race is a minute detail that does not deserve the attention it has received. The problems afflicting America are much bigger than the president admits, but he must eventually come to terms with the fact that the majority of Americans could care less about his race.

Obama’s obvious attempts to quell an existing crowd of discontent with accusatory and threatening condemnation have not gained him any brownie points. Americans are watching, and many are not thrilled with his disregard for legitimate concerns. Stooping for good excuses is not getting Obama anywhere. If he wants to regain public satisfaction he must provide sound defenses and terminate a vocabulary riddled with excuses.

By Sarah Beth Costello
July 1, 2009

If international leaders had responded negatively to the actions of patriotic

Americans in 1775, and had intervened to restore lasting “peace,” interrupting plans to annihilate tyranny, America would still be in bondage.

America was founded on the principles that governments cannot succeed when controlled by one sovereign power; nations will not prosper when capitalism is not allowed growth; and all men and women deserve to experience freedom without the limited bonds set by tyrannical forces.

Oppression, taxes and restrictive laws were motives that encouraged American patriots to risk conducting illegal activities, even with the underlying threat of prison or worse.

In the 300 years since the birth of this nation, Americans seem to have forgotten that sacrifice. The freedoms we enjoy are taken for granted, with many demanding ridiculous rights our forefathers never considered because of the preposterous natures.

THE HONDURAS SITUATION

Honduras, a small nation in Central America, is in the midst of serious upheaval due to the removal of President Manuel Zelaya. President Barrack Obama has been quick to befriend enemies, including Islamists and dictators, but has refused support for a people group striving to protect their constitution.

The media have painted a not-quite-accurate picture of the recent events in Honduras. Networks have described the actions of opposing forces as a coup; however, the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya was conducted peaceably and with good reason.

“Manuel Zelaya trampled the Honduran constitution by pushing for his illegal referendum to allow him to rule indefinitely, and by firing the top military official, Gen. Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, when he refused to comply with Zelaya’s unconstitutional orders,” said Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla. in a Fox News article.

A president, though elected democratically, has no right to carry out his term in office if he refuses to abide by a set code of conduct. Zelaya gave his “capturers” no choice but to remove him from office.

We are a nation comprised of hypocrites. America should sympathize more than any other country, but instead we are siding with Castro and Chavez (men not so different from King George III).

A large majority of Hondurans believed a coup was the only method to ensure the

Ousted president, Manuel Zelaya. Image Courtesy of: http://tiny.cc/71yRa

Ousted president, Manuel Zelaya. Image Courtesy of: http://tiny.cc/71yRa

protection of their constitution. Their actions may result in harsh punishment, but these brave men and women acted no differently than the early patriots did. They acted within their rights and duty to the constitution of Honduras.

The sad truth is, many Americans do not even know what their rights or duties are.

OUR RIGHTS, DUTIES AS AMERICANS

Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence for a specific purpose; not only to declare our independence, but also to reinforce the importance of our participation in government through voting and keeping leaders accountable.

We should never be content to sit back and let government run things. America is a democracy, which means we have a role to play.

“… Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” says Jefferson in his Declaration. Men created government; government is fallible and easily susceptible to corruption, as we have seen in the actions of Zelaya.

“… Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,” continues Jefferson, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Jefferson also says we not only have the right to combat unconstitutional government actions, but it is also our duty to do so.

Americans have become slack and lazy, listening naively to every report from the media, which is, in essence, a giant Obama P.R. firm.

Few challenge the Obama administration. Most praise him. Utter dependence and trust in government is an unhealthy and dangerous mindset. Obama is not God. His administration is comprised of humans, which are known for making mistakes. Beware of the nice words, petty smiles and shallow promises. Outward appearances are deceptive.

As Americans, we need to do everything in our power to ensure the government acts within the confines of the Constitution

Too much power can lead to rewriting the constitution, as we have seen in Honduras. It can lead to an entirely new type of government (i.e. Socialism or Marxism). Too much power and not enough accountability could mean the end to freedom.

It is easy to judge other nations and declare their actions as abominable and unconstitutional. But if Obama, or any U.S. president, insisted on making changes to our Constitution, our duty as citizens is not to sit idly by and let it happen.

If we fail to act, if we continue to allow government free reign, if we refuse to take the initiative and fight for our Constitution and freedoms guaranteed, then who are we to complain when things go from the frying pan to the fire?

Why does the president of the freest nation in the world side with dictators, rather than support a nation attempting to uphold their constitution? Maybe because Obama sympathizes with Zelaya. Maybe it’s just me, but I think a lot of changes are about to take place in Washington. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Barrack Obama decided to pull a similar stunt. Unfortunately, most Americans probably wouldn’t even notice.

Image courtesy of: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/15457

Image courtesy of World Magazine

By Sarah Beth Costello
June 11, 2009

America, once known as “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” has gained a reputation as a nation that accepts anyone and everyone regardless of the potential threats and danger posed to American lives.

In an age of tolerance and political correctness, Americans have lost their ability to discern. This lack of discernment is increasingly becoming obvious in the actions of our president, Barack Obama, who insists on promoting tolerance and acceptance in the face of evil.

Political correctness is going to kill us,” said Glenn Beck, a conservative radio and television host for Fox News. We have ventured from one extreme to the next as a nation that struggled for decades with racial inequality to one that is so blind to the underlying dangers of our acceptance of radicals.

Obama has made several attempts to “fix” the problems between Israel and Palestine and make peace with the Muslim world. Rather than strengthening our military and securing our borders, Obama is using words to eliminate the hatred that thousands (if not millions) of Islamists harbor for Americans and Jews.

When Obama addressed Muslims in Cairo, Egypt, last week, his message

Obama speaking in Cairo, Egypt. Image courtesy of: http://tinyurl.com/nnskkg

Obama stressed eradicating racial barriers and embracing peace during his speech to Muslims in Cairo, Egypt. Image courtesy of: http://tinyurl.com/nnskkg

was not aimed at peaceful, law-abiding Muslims. His message targeted the Islamists, the radicals, the ones who hate America and desire to see her in ruins. And though he did acknowledge that one message would not bring about change in our “relationship,” he did say that the pathway towards peace was being open with the emotions in our hearts.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace,” said Obama.

Obama, for all of his presumably good intentions, cannot empower anybody to throw off hatred and malicious intent by simply giving a motivational speech. The Left has a tendency to blame America for the problems of others. But the fact is, there are many who hate America and have been indoctrinated and brainwashed to self-martyr and murder for the cause of Jihad. They are responsible for their own actions and America should not be in any way obliged to utter an apology for the crimes and atrocities committed.

Tolerance won’t change this. Tea parties with dictators will not sway the heinous plans of our enemies. Words cannot convince enraged and hate-filled Islamists that we can coexist and be friends.

Obama, though dubbed the “anointed one,” cannot alter centuries-old hatred by apologizing for America’s power or preaching of empowerment. Weakening our military, disarming our weapons, closing down a prison for terrorists has not made us heroes in the eyes of the enemy – we have become a laughing stock. America is a perfect target.

“…America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition,” said Obama to his audience in Cairo. “Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

What do we have in common with our enemies other than the fact that we all have enemies? It is a black mark on America to equate ourselves with evildoers. I am being intolerant of our enemies; shame on me. Many may say this is “much to-do about nothing.”

But when injustice occurs, when innocents suffer, when nations are threatened, when tragedies and catastrophes are imminent, the appropriate action is not a light-hearted speech falling on deaf ears. What do our enemies care about living in peace?

It is the responsibility of our president to protect and defend the American people, even if that means discarding tolerance and replacing it with discernment. The world will never be rid of people who desire to destroy. Obama can’t fix it, nobody can. But he can do everything in his power to thwart their plans. Will he be that man?

Obama’s Speech in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009:

By Sarah Beth Costello


Conflict has raged in the Middle East for centuries. U.S. presidents from Jimmy Carter to George Bush and Barack Obama have attempted to quell the tumultuous political and religious factions.

Palestinian, Israeli and Egyptian leaders will meet in Washington this month to discuss necessary steps in implementing peace between the conflicting nations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit May 18, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will arrive in Washington May 26 and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will arrive May 28.

Obama plans to discuss U.S. involvement in enacting peace in the Middle East while “strengthening partnerships” and discussing the important steps each nation will take, said spokesman Robert Gibbs.

During his campaign, Obama said quick peace in the Middle East may even be beyond his control as president. According to General James Jones, a global expectation remains that Obama will make progress in securing peace in the Middle East. Obama’s “peace process”  will begin May 18 with the visit from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Obama plans to deliver a speech on June 4 to Egyptian Muslims.

THE PLAN

The current plan for ending the conflict will begin with a ceasefire in Gaza, while applying previous steps of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords and attempt to construct a peace deal between Israel, Palestine and Syria.

Despite the steps being taken by different political leaders, many remain skeptical of Obama’s plans for peace.

“No matter how far [Obama] gets with the Palestinians, I think there’s a problem. The Palestinians are too fractioned,” said senior Robert Chamberlain, a political science major and outgoing president of Model United Nations. “Mahmoud Abbas won’t be able to deliver on anything because of Hamas. Hamas won’t be willing to do anything. They’re basically going to be the thorn in everyone’s side for the negotiation.”

Obama says the implementation of an independent Palestinian state is one of the core deals that will solve current problems. But Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders continue to refuse endorsing this decision.

OBAMA PEACE INITIATIVE AND PUBLIC OPINION

“I believe President Barack Obama is attempting to appease everyone in the world. But there’s no way that two countries with two different ideologies can ever be at peace,” said Mark Drye, a former Marine who recently returned from a tour in Iraq. “I say the best way would be economic terms because the country itself will not have peace unless there’s something to have peace for.”

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are taking a strict stance on Israel’s current position, saying that the struggle for peace must be a “two-state solution.” Obama said that he plans to “actively pursue” implementing two independent states.

The Obama administration says that an alliance between Palestine and Israel is necessary for increasing sanctions against Iran.

“I don’t think there will ever be peace in the Middle East,” said Celia Henry, a nursing student at Alamance Community College who visited Israel in September 2008. “I don’t think Israel should have to give any more land to Palestine or Egypt.”

Henry said there was a lot of discussion in Israel about the U.S. presidential campaigns when she visited the nation.

“[The Israelis] weren’t necessarily talking about Obama, but there was definitely talk about who was going to become the next U.S. president and how that would affect Israel,” said Henry. “I think that people didn’t really know what he stood for. I heard one person say ‘what’s good for America is good for Israel.’”

Many people are skeptical of campaign promises and Obama’s endeavors for peace in the Middle East when the conflict has existed for centuries.

“Honestly, I don’t think any president will ever follow through on what they say,” said Lindsey Pennington, a junior International Business major at Eastern University. “I mean, he can follow through, but I think it’s up to the Muslim and Israeli leaders.”

When it comes to the best actions to take in solving the peace crisis, many have different opinions.

“I would say take a page out of Jimmy Carter’s playbook, that we look at the one kind of lasting peace in the Middle East from the Camp David reports between Israel and Egypt. And obviously the Bush Doctrine has not been very successful in bringing democracy into the region, but you see a more diplomatic approach by Jimmy Carter of one of the very few instances of lasting peace,” said Mileah Kromer, the Assistant Professor of Political Science and Assistant Director of the Elon University Poll.

Sarah Beth Costello
March 17, 2009

barack_obama

Photo courtesy of http://www.gemzies.com.

It is ironic that President Barack Obama is willing to meet and negotiate with known terrorists who desire to blow America off the face of the earth, but refuses to join Rush Limbaugh’s conservative talk show for a political debate.

Limbaugh is America’s leading talk show host, who uses his constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech as a means of taking a public stand on current issues.

Though Limbaugh has every right to publicly voice his opinions, he is now marked as America’s public enemy No. 1 by many Democrats.

As a public figure and president of the United States, Obama should be accustomed to criticism from the media. But Limbaugh has put Obama on the defense to the extent that Obama told Republicans to stop listening to the commentator.

“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,”
Obama said.

Freedom of expression distinguished America from every other society and nation. We are great because we possess the ability to achieve greatness without parameters enforced by the government.

Limbaugh has every right to speak out against the Obama administration and to support conservative politicians who refuse to conform to present ideologies.

The fact that Limbaugh is perceived as a threat exposes the weakness and doubts that already exist in the Democratic Party. Limbaugh is not just spouting words in an effort to create havoc.

Much of what he says is supported by history, factual evidence and contextual examples to prove Obama’s plans will not work. He has a widely-heard voice throughout America and his words are ringing with truth across the nation. He’s not a threat to Obama’s life or his presidency. But Limbaugh is a presumed threat to liberalism and therefore a public enemy.

It is no secret Limbaugh hopes Obama’s policies will fail. Though the left has made this statement into a huge issue, Limbaugh believes the failure of Obama’s policies will mean a failed attempt at socialism.

If Obama’s actions become unconstitutional, if more government actually hurts America, if this increased spending causes another depression, if shutting down Guantanamo Bay decreases safety and security, if pulling out of Iraq results in chaos and more death, if supporting Palestine and meeting with an Iranian dictator results in the end of Israel, then we have every right to refuse support of our president and hope for failure.

“Barack Obama, the Democratic Party has one responsibility, and that’s to respect the oath they gave to protect, defend

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and follow the U.S. Constitution,” Limbaugh said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February.

Obama has no intention of abiding by the centuries-old constitution drafted by our forefathers. Obama is already transforming America into a government-dependent nation.

As Limbaugh said, it is not Obama’s responsibility to spend excessively, cut off ties with our allies, make friends with our enemies and hurt businesses by weakening capitalism.

Limbaugh is perceived as a spouting maniac, whose words stir discontent and anger among those in opposition. But Limbaugh’s only offense is public speaking.

Our president is remaking America in his own image. He’s responsible for the decisions that will affect all Americans. He’s the one that should be questioned unceasingly, not Limbaugh.