- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Chewing gum

White House spokesman Bill Burton assured the White House press gaggle that President Obama would balance his time addressing new security threats with outstanding 2009 agenda items, such as health care reform, in the new year.

When Mr. Obama left Washington on Christmas Eve for a Hawaiian vacation, the Senate had just passed its version of health care reform legislation. The next day, on Christmas, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a flight headed for Detroit, prompting widespread concerns about airline safety as well as reigniting existing debates over the war on terror.

Mr. Burton indicated that the Obama administration would not allow security issues to overshadow other domestic agenda items.

“When you’re president of the United States, you’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, so you can anticipate there’s going to be a very heavy push to get Americans back to work, to get the economy as strong as it can be, along with some of the other things that we left behind at the end of the year to get finished up here — health care, financial regulatory reform, things like that,” Mr. Burton told reporters traveling on Air Force One from Hawaii to Andrews Air Force Base on Monday.

“But then also along with what’s happening on these counterterrorism measures and Yemen, we’ve also got issues to deal with Iran and North Korea and Pakistan,” Mr. Burton said. “And you can bet that the president and his principals and deputies will all be taking on their full plates of work with rested minds hopefully and we’ll be able to make some good progress here right out of the starting gate.”

Tea party satire

A months-old animated video posted by National Public Radio’s Web site disparaging “tea party” protesters is drawing fire from conservative bloggers who say NPR should take it down.

Jim Hoft, who blogs at the popular http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com, said it was “outrageous” for NPR, which receives federal funding, to use “taxpayer dollars to bash teabaggers” by posting a video created by Mark Fiore titled “Learn to Speak Tea Bag” in November.

The phrase “tea bag” has sexual connotations that many “tea party” protesters object to, and in the video, a narrator mocks tea party protesters by instructing a man to use words like “socialist” and “Nazi” to discuss health care reform, as well in other everyday interactions, like ordering french fries at a fast-food restaurant. The video was originally posted by NPR on Nov. 12, but didn’t get much notice at the time. Most comments about the video, many critical, were left on the NPR Web site after Mr. Hoft linked it on his blog.

Mr. Fiore, a well-known political cartoonist whose work occasionally appears on NPR’s opinion pages, told The Washington Times in an e-mail, “To me, comments and allegations coming from various ‘Tea Party’ groups were ridiculously conspiratorial and ripe for satire.

“Though sensible arguments can obviously be made questioning various cost controls, reimbursements, premiums, etc., the Tea Baggers quickly leap to accusations of ‘socialism’ and ‘nazi,’” he wrote. “As a citizen, that infuriates me. As a cartoonist, that is the perfect recipe for political satire. In short, this cartoon is both my view and is a parody of what I feel are the shortcomings of the Tea Party mentality.”

Mr. Hoft says NPR was wrong to post it.

“It is very upsetting to see NPR join with MSNBC and CNN in attacking the tea party protesters with vulgar sexual slurs,” he told The Times. “The hundreds of thousands of conservative Americans who attended the hundreds of tea party protests across the country in 2009 do not consider themselves ‘teabag’ protesters. This was a sexual smear created by leftists to degrade those who oppose the current government’s massive expansion and out of control spending.”

Not for kids

Parents should be wary of the new film showcasing a father-daughter vigilante crime fighting team that stars actor Nicolas Cage.

The movie is based on the “Kick Ass” comic book series. Fans of the series know the young character, called Hit Girl, packs a punch, but the purple-haired pint’s bloodlust and sailor mouth will be shocking to those unfamiliar with it.

A promotional clip for the film available on the Internet features Hit Girl, portrayed by 12-year old Chloe Moretz, using extremely foul language, pushing a gun into a man’s mouth and pulling the trigger. In another portion of the same clip Hit Girl slices a man’s throat, appearing to kill him.

Mr. Cage plays the Hit Girl’s father, as a superhero named “Big Daddy.”

The movie will be in theaters April 16. It has not yet been rated.

Critical acclaim

Accolades for an intense Iraq war drama about an elite U.S. Army squad that hunts down and disarms handmade bombs made by terrorist insurgents in Iraq are piling high.

“The Hurt Locker” received near-unanimous critical appraise from a variety of entertainment sources, including Rolling Stone and the New York Times, when it was released and, now, it’s being called “best picture.”

The National Society of Film Critics named “The Hurt Locker” the best picture of 2009 at a meeting Sunday, the latest among a number of respected art groups to honor it. The New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Boston Society of Film Critics and others have also declared it the 2009 “best picture.”

Unlike many other modern war films, “The Hurt Locker” lacks political agenda. It tells the story of the Army’s elite Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squad, a group dedicated to disarming the primitive bombs responsible for nearly half of the hostile fatalities of American soldiers.

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.

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