Saturday, January 14, 2012

Helping American Businesses Succeed

President Obama discusses steps he's taking to ensure that more goods and products stamped "Made in America" are sold in the United States and around the world.

Van der Sloot Sentenced to 28 Years in Peruvian Jail

Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the Natalee Holloway disappearance, faces 28 years in Peruvian jail for the murder.

By Austin Alonzo
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Woman Arrested for Biting Children

46-year-old Polly Beltramo was arrested in Mountain View, CA after she allegedly bit two small children in the face.

By Charles McKeague
Anchor: Ana Compain-Romero
Link courtesy of

IBM Researchers Store Data Inside Just 12 Atoms

Researchers at IBM have stored and read data from a 12-atom storage device, the smallest possible before quantum mechanics takes over.

By Steven Sparkman
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Hysteria as iPhone Release Is Canceled in Beijing

Apple customers in Beijing hurled eggs at the Apple store after it announced that it would not release the iPhone 4S.

By Sarah Ng
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Ma Ying-jeou Wins Election

Ma Ting-jeou, President of the Republic of China (Taiwan)

Statement by the Press Secretary on Taiwan's Elections

We congratulate Ma Ying-jeou on his reelection and the people of Taiwan on the successful conduct of their presidential and legislative elections.

Through the hard work of its people and its remarkable economic and political development over the past decades, Taiwan has proven to be one of the great success stories in Asia. In this year's elections, Taiwan has again demonstrated the strength and vitality of its democratic system. We are confident Taiwan will build on its many accomplishments, and we will continue to work together to advance our many common interests, including expanding trade and investment ties.

Cross-Strait peace, stability and improved relations, in an environment free from intimidation, are of profound importance to the United States.  We hope the impressive efforts that both sides have undertaken in recent years to build cross-Strait ties continue. Such ties and stability in cross-Strait relations have also benefitted U.S.-Taiwan relations.

The relationship between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan is based on common interests and a shared commitment to freedom and democracy. As we have done for more than 30 years, we will maintain our close unofficial ties with the people on Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan and according to our one China policy based on the three Joint Communiqués with the People’s Republic of China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

Photo source:  Transferred from zh.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Shizhao using CommonsHelper
Author: Evo101469
Permission: CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Friday, January 13, 2012

R.I.P: Richard Threlkeld, Award-Winning Journalist

(November 30, 1937 - January 13, 2012)

The Associated Press has reported that veteran journalist Richard Threlkeld was killed in a car crash in Long Island, New York.

Threlkeld, 74, worked for ABC and CBS News during his illustrious career. Details on Threlkeld's broadcast journalism career and life are highlighted in the following AP article:

From The G-Man salutes the legacy and life of Richard Threlkeld.

Image courtesy of

President Obama Speaks on Consolidating Government Departments to Encourage Business

The President announces a plan that will consolidate the six major federal departments and agencies that focus on business or trade into one leaner, more efficient department tasked with boosting American business and promoting competitiveness.

West Wing Week: 1/12/12

Cuomo Signs Iran Divestment Act

Companies That Invest in Iran's Energy Sector Will Not Get Contracts in New York State

Governor Andrew Cuomo today signed the Iran Divestment Act, a new law that will exclude companies that invest in Iran's energy sector from entering into contracts with state and local governments.

"This new law ensures that companies that invest in Iran’s energy sector do not do business with the State of New York," Governor Cuomo said.

"I thank Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver for their leadership and hard work on this important law."

The Iran Divestment Act of 2012 prohibits companies that invest in the Iranian energy sector from receiving state or local government contracts.

The Office of General Services will develop a list of entities involved in such investments and will inform these companies that they will be unable to bid on government contracts as long as they support Iran's energy sector.

The law also requires companies to certify that they do not hold such investments when applying for government contracts, and allows affected businesses to appeal. The law takes effect in 90 days.

"This new law will make sure that New York does not allow companies that invest in Iran's energy sector to receive state contracts. By putting in place this important legislation, we are standing together to denounce Iran's attempt to build nuclear weapons that would pose a grave threat to America, Israel, and our other friends in the Middle East. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law," said Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stated, "It is no secret that Iran is the patron of terrorism in the Middle East. This tyrannical regime has been linked to terrorist activities ranging from assassinations and hostage taking to bombings and hijackings directed against Israel and the West. By divesting the state from any business with corporations who fuel Iran’s terrorist activities and pursuit of nuclear weapons, we are doing our part to make the world a safer, more secure place. I commend Governor Cuomo for swiftly signing this measure into law."

Obama Seeks Power to Shrink Government

President Obama plans to consolidate and streamline federal agencies, but he needs congressional approval to do so.

By Mallory Perryman
Anchor: Megan Murphy
Link courtesy of

Analysis: The Ron Paul Third-Party Factor

Paul hasn't complete ruled out a third-party run for the White House, and analysts can't stop speculating about what it would mean for the GOP.

By Blake Hanson
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link courtesy of

Pakistan Vote of Confidence

The vote comes amid high tensions between the nation's civilian government and military.

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link courtesy of

Myanmar Frees Prisoners

The U.S. restored diplomatic ties in full with Myanmar on Friday in response to moves observers are calling "progressive."

By Blake Hanson
Anchor: Blake Hanson
Link courtesy of

Foxconn Settles After Factory Workers Threaten Suicide

Around 150 workers protested factory transfer and wages at one of Foxconn's China-based factories.

By Adnan S. Khan
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link courtesy of

Analysis: Iran's Oil and Nuclear Situation

New developments regarding Iran's nuclear program are emerging nearly every day. What's the big picture?

By Steven Sparkman
Anchor: Christian Bryant
Link courtesy of

Israeli Top Court Upholds Law Barring Palestinian Residents

The Israeli Supreme Court upheld a law passed in 2003 that bars Palestinian spouses of Arab-Israel citizens from attaining citizenship.

By Adnan S. Khan
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Mormons Believe Americans Would Elect a Mormon President

Pew released a survey of Mormon Americans, the first survey of how Mormons feel they are perceived.

By Alyssa Cartee
Anchor: Lauren Gores
Link courtesy of

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New York Students Critique New Hampshire Primary

Poignant and Powerful Commentaries on the Political System and 2012 Presidential Candidates

The mainstream media has always placed a great deal of emphasis on presenting adult perspectives when it comes to politics, especially presidential elections. However, the youth of America have played a significant role in the world of politics in recent years, and the 2008 contest between Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama serves as confirmation. 

Young voters came out in record numbers and helped Obama become the 44th President of the United States. In 2011, it was young people, once again, that helped launch an event that forced people all over the world to unite and corporations to worry about their bottom line. That event was Occupy Wall Street. 

The 2012 presidential election will have more drama, twists and turns than an episode of "The Walking Dead". That is an indisputable fact. Another indisputable fact is that young people will be front and center demanding that their voices be heard and their votes respected. 

From The G-Man believes the young people of this country deserve to be treated with a greater level of respect when it comes to voting and being allowed to debate issues that will have a profound impact on their lives and future. After discovering that several Hofstra University students traveled to New Hampshire to cover the primary, From The G-Man asked them to submit commentaries about their experiences. The students enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to not only showcase their exceptional writing ability, but to assess the current state of politics in America. 

Note: The comments expressed by the students do not necessarily reflect the views of those held by the executives, faculty or other students of Hofstra University. 

Ron Paul: A Rebel with a Cause
by Kayla Rivara

After a weekend in New Hampshire observing the Republican primary process, my frustration with American politics was only reinforced. I found that Santorum truly earned his Daniel Savage definition (Google it), Romney really does look and act like a Ken doll, and Gingrich—well, he’s just as slimy as he’s always been. These candidates are all catering to a specific audience with a simplistic message that, if investigated, doesn’t often add up but sounds good to the unsuspecting ear. However, my conclusions are by no means based on an impulse to defend President Obama.

Like his counterparts, he uses rhetoric and empty policy proposals to get votes, yet has very little to back up his promises. But why ignore those you depend on for your election? The answer is, these politicians don’t depend on us. They depend on Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Halliburton, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin, just to name a few; they depend on the unlimited, undisclosed campaign contributions allowed under the horrid Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court decision made just two years ago. You will find the Democrats’ and Republicans’ policies very similar in that their allegiance lies not with the electorate, but with these special interests. And the dog-and-pony show goes on.

 Kayla Rivara

It may come as no surprise to you that 52% of Americans want a third party option. However, most feel like they have no choice but to vote within the two major party boundaries. This is because the Federal Election Commission, along with the major media outlets it collaborates with, is privately run and doesn't have to answer to voters. The system that exists purposely denies access to any fringe ideas or candidates who may threaten the mainstream elite power structure. This is why the presence of Ron Paul in the presidential race is so significant. Not only has he appeared on the debates, but has gained momentum and earned second place in the New Hampshire Primary.

Granted, Ron Paul is running not as a third party candidate, but within the Republican Party. He also seems to have no intention of fixing the disastrous campaign finance system. However, there is one glimpse of hope with this candidate: He stands strong on issues he believes are right, even when it’s unpopular to do so. The greatest example is his foreign policy stance, which calls for the U.S. to close its approximately 1,000 military bases around the world that have been the source of aggravation and violent retorts from locals, especially in the Middle East, not to mention the deterioration of our image abroad.

Whether you agree or not, this is the first time many Americans are having this “non-mainstream” conversation on such a massive scale. It is also a testament to the power of the American voter who wants to hear someone different, which allowed Ron Paul to slip through the nets surrounding our political process in the first place. If nothing else, the positive attention voters are giving to Ron Paul will encourage future third party candidates to run, or more likely, cause citizens to realize their influence and actually vote for them. It’s time to take our democracy back—and, dare I say it, it starts with Ron Paul. 

You’re Doing it Wrong, Republicans
by Ben Suazo

This weekend, I had the enlightening experience of trailing several prominent Republicans as they campaigned in New Hampshire.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find one guy I completely agreed with: Santorum would sound off my idealism-alarm by celebrating an open conversation about difficult issues, such as abortion, and simultaneously thinking we ought to all arrive at uniform national beliefs. Romney would then speak about his humble immigrant background, and I worried over how much sympathy he could spare for the children of those who have entered the country illegally, as opposed to his immigrant father who was born to American parents.

As an unintended side effect of spending three days submerged in politics, however, I do think I have learned something of what the candidates consistently believe in. In fact, there’s enough material being repeated within the GOP to leave some tools leftover for me to start my own campaign. I value my privacy, so I won’t run myself; but with these tools, I think anyone’s presidential campaign ought to turn out more successful. I offer these ideas to whomever can use them, to millionaires and the underdog candidates alike.

Ben Suazo

The key to turning people on to the perfect GOP campaign starts with SWAG. Now, I’ve seen bumper stickers and I’ve seen signs offered at virtually every campaign, which are obviously pragmatic and affordable ways for a candidate to sway undecided voters with his smug bumper-support. I see sense in the name-spreading campaign, but the offer of free stickers would be more timely for a kindergarten campaign than for our voting-age citizens.

A better way to reach out to the mature adult’s vote would be to offer something we can all use and appreciate. That is why I would give away What Would Reagan Do? wristbands to anyone who contributed at least 99¢ to my campaign. For the price of a song on iTunes, supporters of the campaign could simultaneously raise awareness about my candidate and also feel fashionably Republican. A WWRD? wristband campaign would also bring the added benefit of national recognition for the 2012 religion of Reagan’s perfect presidency, which has been due for some months now. It is time that we recognize our latest all-American religion of the infallible former President, to whom it seems no candidate can escape offering their praise.

Deregulate deregulation

One of the most reiterated points in the GOP campaign for economic reform is the insistence that we must cut back Wall Street regulations, which are choking job growth. As Romney put it Sunday in Rochester, New Hampshire, regulations complicate businesses because the metamorphosis of their governing laws leads to uncertainty and unwillingness to give out loans.

“I won’t be critical of the fact that businesses fail,” Romney then said, turning his attention to the case of Solyndra’s solar energy subsidies and the company’s subsequent bankruptcy. “But I don’t think the Obama administration managed it well.”

Romney insists that when the government gets involved in businesses, it hinders capitalist ventures, because government involvement amounts to a public and financial endorsement of one company over any competition. This point has its merit, and it’s unfortunate that one point should be weakened by another part of his economic strategy—the problem of deregulating a deregulated market.

The unanimous support among prominent Republicans for the deregulation of over-regulated industry is somewhat of a fantasy. In the 2009 documentary, “The Warning,” Frontline analyzes just how free and deregulated Wall Street already was before Obama took office in a recession. The story tracks Brooksley Born, head of a federal commission (the Commodity Futures Trading Commission) that was prevented from developing regulations for the mostly invisible and unchecked derivatives market in 1998—the economy was doing well under the Clinton’s administration, and important figures such as the Fed’s chairman, Alan Greenspan, were certain that free, unregulated trade was responsible for the economy’s virility. Now, Gary Gensler is taking heat from Republicans as he struggles to keep the CFTC relevant and capable and pushes to finally reform this market; but over-the-counter derivates remain a black hole of data in the popular trading of debt.

As long as key areas such as this trillion-dollar market remain unregulated, a campaign that calls for deregulation will be left with a large hole in its logic. The solution to patch such a campaign, I think, is to take the rhetoric one step further in the realm of open frankness. “Deregulate deregulation” can be the new slogan: candidates can finally let out a breath of relief and speak candidly abou the fact that the deregulations which they propose would be applied to an already barren wasteland of sparse regulations. Although the semantics of this campaign would be problematic, that, too, has a solution.

In mathematics, of course, a double negative is equivalent to a positive, and in the same strain of thought we consider an English statement of “deregulate deregulation” as equivalent to advocacy for the opposite, regulation. However, the confusion of such a campaign would offer the perfect moment for candidates to seize the minority Hispanic vote from Democrats in the nation. Since in Spanish, a double negative does not change the sentence to a positive affirmation—a Puerto Rican I don’t want no regulation is the same as an Washington insider saying I don’t want any regulation—candidates could now assert that they are embracing America’s multinational identity, and could now approach this issue honestly and introduce a new voting base.

I could go on, but I don’t think the world is yet ready for Oh! Bama care—that is, healthcare reform which will probably turn out identical to Obama’s so long as his name isn’t associated with it. What I will say is that following Romney, Paul, Santorum and Gingrich this weekend has been a very eye-opening experience, to say the least. I hoped that I would have the opportunity to see these candidates in the flesh, without the opinionated distortion of a media lens and pundit analyses. And I did see that, although it made me even more conscious of the candidates’ own distortions of themselves. But do I have a problem with it? Not at all. The presidency remains in my mind a popularity contest much like the election for student president, and where the issues really begin to matter is not when your future president for the next four years is speaking to you about what he will do—these promises are likely to be disappointing—but when you apply pressure to whoever is in office to make the right decisions, without the pressure of demonizing their competition, so that finally their actions can be heard above words. 

New Hampshire Proves All the Wrong Things
by Patrick Tierney

As the results start pouring in from all of the precincts in New Hampshire, the Granite State is not surprising me, or anyone else it seems, very much. After 73% of the votes have come in, Mitt Romney, at 38%, leads his closest opponent, Ron Paul, by over 14%.  This was reflected in the attitude of Governor Romney in my time in New Hampshire as well.  Every other candidate that we heard, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Fred Karger, all did their best to relay their basic points to the crowd, trying to win the votes of the people of New Hampshire.  Romney, however, didn’t play the same games.

Romney was so confident that he would win this primary, and probably the nomination in the end, that he didn’t feel the need to address his stance on most issues.  His idea was simple: get out there, look pretty, and sound confident.  And why shouldn’t he? It is more than likely that he will win the nomination.  So likely, in fact, that he didn’t bother attacking his fellow Republicans, he went straight for Obama himself.  After his rally, I had to remind myself that it was January 8th and not November 4th.  The most surprising thing about these results is how well Jon Huntsman is doing, considering how much more conservative his opponents are compared to himself.

Patrick Tierney

However, the Hofstra Goes to New Hampshire trip was a rewarding experience, even if it did reinforce some pre-existing beliefs.  It didn’t give me any real insight into our political process, or prove to me that the system and the candidates within it are getting better.  It also didn’t prove to me that there is a good candidate for the presidency that can actually fix our existing problems without creating new ones. In fact, it proved the opposite, and I wholeheartedly include President Obama in that statement. It confirmed to me that the Republican Party is still way too out there to get my vote, and that anyone who isn’t quite so out there isn’t going to have the money to really run.

Meeting Fred Karger was probably the best part of the trip, because it renewed my faith in the Republicans. It proved to me that there could be a moderate conservative with a fairly liberal view on social issues, and that not every single one of them is going straight down the party lines on everything. OK, maybe Ron Paul proved the second half of that statement already, but Karger proved it in a good, non-government destroying way.

The other good part of the trip was the interaction with the conservative and right-leaning students on the trip. All of the ones I talked to were very intelligent people, and weren’t raving right wing lunatics. This gave me faith that, even though it seems we are doomed to another four years of either a president with great ideas and no force behind them, or one with plenty of force but no good ideas, maybe in the future when some of the people that joined me on that trip are the ones running we can have one that combines the good elements of both of those bad presidents.

Looking Out My Back Door
(Part 1 - Ground Zero Hour, 9am)
by Dylan Merrick

Zero hour, 9 AM. 
 Elton John’s words are moving and kicking through my head tonight as if it were pregnant.  My story in New Hampshire is just about the same as the collective story of the Republicans.

Primary season is in full swing and there’s a fear that I have that this article will be dead news by the time it reaches the Internet airwave kingdom, but that’s no problem to me. If anything, it reflects a far greater problem that I’ll talk about later.  BUT FIRST! Let me light another cigarette and weave you a tale about the mad circus of the New Hampshire primary and the eventual carnival parading about the streets and rural routes of South Carolina.

On the first day of the NH primary I went to a famous farmhouse somewhere in Hollis New Hampshire; the place was in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by tall pine trees, a farm, and a few cows who seemed just about as curious of the whole situation as I was. I started out this journey around the Granite State with a cold, cold heart for politics.  Obama let me down, Ron Paul was and still is a nutjob, and a third party candidate is a throwaway vote that’ll just give another nod to one of the major party talking heads.  Needless to say, I’ll always have a place in my heart for politics, but the place had frozen over and left me with an empty feeling in my gullet that a Republican especially could not cure… Enter Rick Santorum.

The joint filled up quick and various supporters and media had to find a place outside. The small barn was illuminated with the flash of cameras, footlights, lights from the camera holes of demonic iPhones; lights from the skies as if the shaky hand of Ronald Reagan was reaching down to touch the cheek of the candidate, etc.  Santorum was just getting off the wave he was riding coming out of Iowa and I don’t know whether or not he realized New Hampshire is a different state.  He gesticulated his hands with precision, sincerely thanking the state Senator who welcomed him, the ignorant conservatives who asked him questions, the even more ignorant liberals who fell into their own defiant traps, the buzzing media, and (in his own words) “someone upstairs”.
Dylan Merrick

The feel of the whole things, for me at least, and the 35 other sorry left-leaning bastards in the room, was one of both electricity and fear.  It was the first speech I’d gone to since my experiences with NY-19 (the election wherein my faith in anything got lost somewhere in perpetual night) and I was kind of excited to get back into the game.  Others around me were just curious as to what he was saying, and the real bleeding heart lefties looked as if they were somewhere between laughing hysterically or being pricked with rusty scimitars.

Following the speech, Ricky Sanitarium the choir boy seemed as if he were pretty damn pleased with himself.  In a move he would soon regret, he entered the Hofstra bus I was riding in.  He came in so we could ask some questions and because we brokered a seating deal with his advisors. The friendly conversation quickly became a cross-examination in the most lethal of the good cop bad cop ilk!  With flip cam a-blazing, I photographed the exchange between a 21-year-old Hofstra senior and Ricky because it was just too good to miss.  She questioned him on the environment and became a little too wordy for his taste, so with all his might (although ultimately in vain) Santorum dodged the question with some bull**** statistic about coal and its longevity.  She came back at him with more statistics and a message of pathos but he slinked back in his in own shoulders.  I was hooked.  “How could this happen??” the look in his eyes searched the sky screaming to the Good Lord Above “I’M FROM PITTSBURGH!!!!”  A Mexican standoff ensued.  Both banditos had their hands placed firmly on their guns; Santorum’s weapon in its holster beaming false divinity with a small homophobic inscription coming down the barrel; the senior, whose .44 wasn’t as decorated as Santorum’s (due his failed stint as a Senator for the decent state of Pennsylvania), brandished her gun with such swagger that before it had started we knew who would end up the victor.  The high noon bell rang as Ricky’s advisor said “okay that’s enough questions for today” which means two different things in the world of politics.  For the one being questioned it means “RETREAT!” and for the one questioning it means “DRAW MOTHERF****R!”  And in the flash of gunfire, Santorum’s hand slipped upon hearing his advisor’s comment and he fell slain on the red desert ground.  Santorum and his puppeteers left the bus and his political soul lay there dead outside the farmhouse somewhere in Hollis, New Hampshire.

The bus was electric; conservatives hated liberals; liberals hated conservatives; it was the House of Commons en route to Manchester after a heavy cocaine and steroids binge and I dug the whole scene.  I have to thank Rick Santorum, his staff, his career, his campaign, and his personal beliefs for the following series of events.

I decided to stretch my rusty claws. My first victim was the solemn, solitary Santorum supporter on the bus.  He sat looking defeated, sitting on his hands as a measure to stop himself before he tore out his own ears.  He called himself a “traditionalist conservative” and no one seemed to care. After watching the other “traditionalist conservative” enter our domain and leave an idiotic shell of a once deplorably bigoted man, no one would come to his aid.  My attacks were vicious.  I started with his choice of candidate, abandoned that on the roadside for his choice in ideology, and finally when I was no longer entertained by that I decided to slash the jugular of “traditionalist conservatism” and let the blood flow slow.  While this was going on, the senior who perpetrated the Great Santorum Slaying of 2012 walked over and introduced herself. I was hyped up in a rant as a means of keeping myself from losing my swag and acting like a nerdy, horny schoolboy.  We then looked over the corpse of our classmate’s ideals and had a good hardy laugh together but somewhere deep down, as much as I dug it, I hand the inkling this flirtation would end up short-lived.  The prospect was inviting and the pieces were in place.  I rolled the dice but in the Smoky Barroom of Romance, they came up snake eyes. My talking points were too reliant on buzzwords and the traditional values of flirting as opposed to something different yet solid and universally agreeable.  I fell into the same trap that Santorum had fallen into!  My foot lay there mangled in the bear trap and there was no way to escape.  As I cried in the snag over the loss, she walked away to go somewhere more interesting.  How could it be??  I rode the wave too far and paid dearly for it.

Somewhere in Hollis, New Hampshire I laid down next to Rick Santorum’s corpse and we chatted about being afterthoughts in the public’s eyes. Halfway during our conversation, I decided he was a p***y.  As I lay whining, I realized I was acting no better than he was and I couldn’t stand it. I jumped up, put on my cowboy boots, dealt him a good flogging, and discovered right then and there what I had to do. I could no longer chase the American Dream the way Santorum had outlined.  I stepped away from the farmhouse back onto the bus with triumph searing in my heart where there used to be a cold, black hole.  I no longer hated politics; I hated ignorant people like Rick Santorum!  I wasn’t going to end up like him and follow false promises of gold to the shore only to drown in their emptiness that I already foresaw!  The fire shot out of my chest with rabid energy and like a mighty, mighty phoenix, I was reborn in the back of the bus with a torn up edition of Tom Sawyer in my hands and a new political fire burning like a towering inferno in my mind!

(Part 2 - Pretty in Pink, Rock 'n' Roll Hits the Granite State) 
by Dylan Merrick

If Santorum’s downfall was that he couldn’t back up his positions with solid plans of action, I knew that I could no longer go about my days with the grime of spin and bull**** oozing from my mouth.  He’s a disingenuous fool and I can’t wait to have a huge shindig for when he’s finally dropped out.  He only had a chance in Iowa because it’s a bunch of Bible thumping Evangelical morons out there who climax at the mention of keeping “The Big Man Upstairs” in government and he knew that but refused to let it show.  Dishonesty will be the death of this Godforsaken Empire -- if it hasn’t already.  

After dinner and a meeting with a professor from the University of New Hampshire about the nonsensical tendency of media and politicians to follow statistics, we retired to the Hotel in Salem to watch the debate. What I saw wasn’t a debate, though. What I watched was a vicious attack on American principles.  Aside from one of the announcers having a comically deep voice that nearly made me soil myself with laughter, all of the candidates let their conservative colors fly. I have no problem with conservatives, hell, when it comes to guns I’m as right wing as they come; I’d make Charlton Heston cry tears of joy for weeks on end!  However, I’m not a particular fan of the mainstream Republican take on conservativism and I’m not afraid to show it. Even Ron Paul stood there mindlessly humping a dilapidated cardboard cutout of Ronald Reagan, he was just more discrete in his desires, but not in the message.  Everywhere you looked the words dancing off the lips of the candidates were the same and hit the audience with such intensity that it felt like bombs detonating in the Tora Bora morning:


BANG BANG BANG! My head was reeling back and forth trying to make some semblance of sense from the idiocy I was watching.  No one had any plans of action!  It was like watching an ancient Looney Tunes cartoon of a Western shootout with all the bullets people were dodging.  It was like a Picasso caricature of true political reason.  I couldn’t believe my eyes! I almost turned it off out of pure disgust.  As I lay there ill, I felt a pang in my gut that ironically told me everything would be okay.  The world of politics is a sick one, wicked to the bone and cynical to the core.  I felt comfort in my own disgust at the charade I was watching because I then remembered that the next day we’d be seeing the Ring Leader of the Mad Circus.  His chiseled jawbone and perfectly parted slick hair gleamed in the stage lighting.  He looked like a president I could hate.  If he got elected I’d easily stay employed writing columns about his f**k ups.  My morbid, selfish desires for my own career overcame me and I was immediately invigorated, no matter how wrong it might have been.

Zero Hour, 9 AM.  The words sting me as I type this out because it’s drawing closer.  Eh, screw it! I’ve never had much use for sleep anyway, life’s too exciting for sleep!  Think of everything you waste when you don’t dig it all and let it overtake you.  People don’t get wrapped up in anything anymore, or at least they don’t allow themselves to get wrapped up in the right things.  The Almighty THEY say that my generation is skeptical and hardworking, which may be true but I refuse to agree.  I finally figured out why I will never agree with the Almighty THEY (whoever sits upon that gilded throne in some corporate high rise in Midtown or Hollywood) on Sunday after seeing that badly animated manikin Mitt Romney and Ye Ole Crazy Grandpaw Paul.

The bus was tired that morning.  I got up at 5:47 am to work out, shower, and explore the local scene.  I got an amazing breakfast at Sammy J’s on the main stretch in Salem and was alive as Hell.  I switched on “Moanin’” by the Great Mingus and jumped around the bus.  I couldn’t understand why people were tired and then it hit me like pepper spray at an Occupy rally: they were sad.

Let’s face it, folks.  Times are sh*ttier than they’ve been in a while.  We’ve yet to find our way out of the bloody ruins of the Twin Towers and I don’t think we ever will.  Fear still governs us with an Iron Gavel no matter whose hands it’s in; the economy’s been down the sh*tter since the dawn of time, we’ve gotten stupider and proud of it, there’s endless war, we’re prey to every source of authority that’s out there and we feel weak underneath it all.  We’re waiting for a Knight in shining armor to carry away this ravaged Damsel in Distress of a country we find ourselves wandering aimlessly in but feel and perhaps know deep down that we’re just waiting for the next sorry motherf****r playing Russian Roulette with a dingy Luger pistol he fashioned out of our broken economy and need for distraction.  Between the media who keeps an I.V. ready with a boredom killing serum on tap, a government who gives more of a sh*t about our Tweets about its job performance than our problems, and corporations and banks who play jump rope with our bank accounts, it’s a wonder to me that we don’t have a collective repeat of Jonestown.  After watching the pitiful performance of each candidate, regardless of what the news networks say, my classmates and professors were broken down.  There’s only so much disappointment we can take before the weight of it all gives us worse scoliosis than Quasi Modo.

In lieu of all this, we kept our spirits up a little bit by keeping our minds off politics or only cracking the occasional political joke.  The best remedy for political sickness is a shot of something strong and a huge whopping dose of ANYTHING ELSE.  We opted for movies, which became a philosophical analysis of films which eventually led back to politics.  We were like dogs chasing our tails and tragically always got them.  I didn’t mind though.  Unlike my pals and colleagues I believe that we can all find a nice rock to sleep under and plenty of hope in dangerous amounts of cynicism as long as it doesn’t morph into pessimism.  My friends felt cheated by Obama (I got over that feeling 6 months into his sad excuse of a presidency) so they were looking to Republicans to find someone to root for.  This was their chance because we were seeing the two main frontrunners that day.

First up was the Head Hancho Himself: Mitt Romney.  Similarly to Santorum’s rally, I went to the press section.  When asked for credentials I told them I forgot my badge but I was definitely with the Huffington Post online, writing for a new section on the youth perspective (no insult to my man, THE G MAN!).  Like good lemmings they followed my trap to the water and fell in with dazzling swan dives TEN OUT OF TEN! I was excited to see Romney because I knew just as well as everyone else in that amphitheatre and the rest country he would win New Hampshire and probably get the nomination by a huge margin (scoring 40% in New Hampshire on Tuesday).  Unlike Santorum whose security consisted of a fat guy with a big silver cross and mutton chops that seemed to reach his ankles, Romney had legit security.  People lined the wings backstage, down in the pit, and up in the balcony as I bounced around getting down every little bit I could.  My partner in crime Pat Tierney wrote down everything he could muster about Romney’s speech and what he wrote said it all plainly: THIS GUY’S A TOOL.

This Ken Doll Crotch of a candidate showed no gravitas at all.  His political huevos rancheros were a no show and to me that means he’s a no go.  Romney walked onto the stage and the crowd blew up!  There were at least 350 people in and around the theatre but it didn’t feel that way.  The thing with Romney is he’s definitely electable.  He came in with jeans on, the sleeves of a grid patterned button down rolled up because 110% working man.  His voice rang out clear with his scripted, memorized sound bites blazing through the amplifiers; the crowd loved it.  I wanted to throw myself off the balcony when I heard him talk about the love he had for veterans.  He had no plan at all for the country, he had no plot or set of actions to save us from our dire situation but g*ddamn the guy sounded electable.  The crazy thing about this man was he didn’t need to say anything that involved policy.  This was no maniacal tyrant I was watching, hell bent on turning America into a theocracy; this wasn’t Rick Santorum and this wasn’t Ronald Reagan! No, no, NO, partner! This was the sickly cancer boy in Thank You For Smoking who companies use as a pawn to win over the audience and the dumbasses out in the seats and aisles were eating it all up like hobos at a damn pig roast. It was nauseating, shocking, appalling, depressing and -- more than anything -- fascinating!  I didn’t know what to think!  I saw a bunch of semi-educated, grown adults buying into a message with no teeth and Romney made no bones about it. From his Stepford wife, who I’m thoroughly convinced is into brutal bondage like no other with that creepy smile of hers, to the eight thousand family members he brought with him, to his now infamous quoting of “America The Beautiful”, this wishy-washy bastard looked like and in fact IS the biggest whore in politics since Bill Clinton; parading himself around like a Prime Rib Plaything for the right wing Oligarchy holding the Republican Party hostage by its own freewill.  I’d feel bad for him if he wasn’t so weak and if he didn’t know what he was doing.  But the twisted thing about it is that he does know what he’s doing and he revels in it.  It’s because of his willingness to bend over for any right wing cause that he can win people over with his talks of the long dead American Dream and Ronald Reagan’s haunting ghost.  He looks like a president, talks like a president, walks the walk, and that’s what got him 40% in New Hampshire, but he thinks too much like a crony.  It’s because of this willingness that he’s the perfect presidential nominee, but the holder of a failed presidency if the Electoral College voted him into office.

So after a good laugh about the whole situation (I couldn’t bear to feel down anymore, all the bull**** in the political world has gotta make you laugh to keep you from blowing your brains out with a .50 calibur, gold plated Desert Eagle), we headed off to some little pochuck town in central New Hampshire that kind of reminded me of where I grew up.  There are two reasons why it reminded me of good old Rock Tavern, New York: there were 8 cows for every person and Tea Baggers coming out of their secret farmhouse lairs in droves.  We were en route to see the Fringe King elect, ladies and gentlemen… RON PAUL!

I was pumped as hell to see Ron Paul.  If there was any one of the Republican candidates I could have seen myself supporting, it was Ron Paul.  He had that independent swag and spoke his own truth, a man after my own heart.  He spoke about freedom, cutting overseas spending, gutting corporate loopholes, the Constitution, and the “preservation of Liberty”.

I got right up front with my Flip Cam to get every moment I could, as a souvenir to my own Libertarian heart.  I also did this “I’m-a-hardcore-journalist-in-the-making-ladies” act to impress the girl from the day before -- and any other girl there or who I was texting -- because I was in that kind of a mood.  Sometimes you just wanna impress ladies (or men if that’s your poison), not even to pursue them, just to dig that attention and anyone who says they don’t is a damn liar who should be dragged to the stockades by their boot heels.  As I was putting on this embarrassing but personally entertaining performance, Ron Paul came out from the door and I saw something I had never seen before.  I never got to see Barack Obama at a rally back in ’08 but this was the closest thing you could get.  Ron Paul struck a chord with that audience with only one toe poking through the door that Mitt Romeny couldn’t strike if he ran naked through the halls of the Capitol Building.  The audience erupted like Mt. St. Helen 30 years ago and the lava that flowed quick through the audience never disappeared for the next hour and a half.

“If there is any candidate in this race who might talk policy when the major news networks weren’t all there, Dylan” I said to myself “it’d be Ron Paul.”  My lips were pursed and exhilarating beads of sweat brimmed from my brow and evaporated when they touched the electric fire that was in the air.  This guy gets people pumped about most of the right sh*t, or at least sh*t that’s right in my opinion.  Today however, was not that day.

Mr. Paul began with what seemed to be a Beethoven-esque ode to civil liberties and a textualist interpretation of the Constitution.  But it stopped there.  The excitement in my heart took a sudden dive and veered off to the ground so quick it was as if a Mafioso drove his ice pick clear through my chest.  I never stood a chance and my mind was just standing stripped naked to the wind and crying in the corner somewhere back in Salem.  This bright star at the front of the room quickly became a wormhole where happiness and freedom go to die!  His speech and conversation with the audience ceased being a glimmer of hope in a dark tunnel and became the darkest tunnel of them all.  This old geezer of a hack stood in front of 200 drooling people telling us that we had all these problems and he had solutions, but what were they?  Sh*t, he didn’t know!  He said he’d bring the troops home and close down the bases we have all around the world, but how would he do so?  That doesn’t just – POOF -- happen out of thin air!  I need some policy Ronny Boy! BRING IT ON!  How would we make back the revenue lost from dropping the corporate tax?  All style, no substance, and the audience swallowed it down with haste and ease.

The whole affair showed me that Ron Paul was not at all a beacon of independence compared to the other candidates; he was the same as the rest of them.  He was almost as bad as Romney and it hurt deep down to watch it before my very eyes.  I understand that you play to the base in primary season, but Ron Paul was supposed to be above political games.  This playing to the base bull**** has to stop for sake of my intelligence and the intelligence of every other American out there.  Plus, his insistence that he is a Romney competitor, as opposed to an Obama competitor, exhibits his lack of political balls.  Ron Paul sold his soul to the primary season  with stupefying audacity that made my head spin around a sheer 360 degrees.  I noticed this on two issues: Israel and drugs.  When asked by a group of anti-Zionist Hassidic Jews what his policy with Israel would be he made a huge cop out.  I could tell it pained him to make such a cop out, it was written all over his face in black Sharpie marker, but he did it anyway.  Unlike Romney who proudly wears his prostitution on his sleeve, Paul did it because he knew he had to.  He knew that even though these doting people would eat up anything he said, the party leadership was watching him with a vengeful eye already so he had to up his Republican credentials.  However, he also kept in mind that the audience would never accept someone saying they disagreed with Israel’s policies on expansion (policies that I find abhorrent and disgusting, and I say that especially as a Jew).  Because he couldn’t let his train lose steam by chancing an unpopular position and slipping up in front of the RNC (they’d be watching somewhere, some way), he let go of his principles for a split second and allowed himself to be spanked by authority and public opinion.  The second issue he lost me on personally was drugs.  He didn’t say anything about drugs.  The media will tell you that he’s won young people with his near-pacifist views on war, his libertarian views on economics, his grandfatherly image and his overall message of freedom above anything else.  The media was also duped into wasting a week reporting on a kid playing hide and go seek in a weather balloon.  Ron Paul won over the youth vote by opting to stop the wasteful war on drugs and proposing marijuana legalization, and anyone who says otherwise is either lying through their teeth or hopelessly moronic.  Ron Paul knew, however, that even if he was in the Live Free or Die state, talking about drug legalization in front of a group of old conservatives and fringe veterans was political suicide and the race for second place might be contentious between he, Huntsman, and Gingrich, so he didn’t talk about it at all.  I’m not a baseball umpire and I don’t believe cats have nine lives.  I’ll give you a second chance if I’m desperate, but I’m not, so Ron Paul can go f**k himself over in my eyes (and he already did).  If you’re supposed to be the candidate who will fight tooth and nail for your own personal cause, don’t beat around the bush in your answers and not talk about an issue because it’s the make or break position.  In other words: don’t treat me like an ass****, you ass****!  Man up, stoke the flames, grow a pair, shake rattle and roll baby and don’t let up until the fat lady belts out a little Ave Maria.

With a heavy heart, I left that meeting feeling colder than ever.  These were the two top candidates and both proved to be nothing more than $10 street corner dwellers of the night to the public and their party.  They bent over and took it (and none too admirably might I add) for the sake of primary season and nothing could make one feel more hopeless than drowning in a pool of politician lies and media fodder.

Student photos courtesy of Dylan Merrick.
Vote image courtesy of