Friday, November 30, 2007

Final Blog Assignment #6

What am I going to write about? I am not an authority on any specific subject! Those were the first thoughts I had when I learned I had to create and maintain a blog for my Online Journalism class. I had no idea what I wanted to write about or even if I had enough knowledge about a particular subject to discuss it over about five weeks. I finally decided to write about politics since the campaigns were then and are, even more so now, in full swing for the presidential elections in 2008.
As a student of journalism we are all trained to be objective and keep a fair and balanced perspective when we write. So when I began my blog, I found it hard to project strong opinions or even to type sentences starting with "I." After a bit of a slow start, I found my "voice" and settled into the type of posts I felt were relevant to my blog as a whole. As you will see, most of my posts are about the candidates for president in 2008 and what they have been up to. I covered funny, light stories like the Steven Colbert post and also hard news stories such as various polls and what they mean. I really enjoyed the fact I was able to include some of my own photos for stories which I think really adds to the quality of a blog, as it breaks up the text and gives a visual aid for the story. I feel fortunate that through other classes and my part-time job (former Co-op internship) I had access to stories such as my post with the Ben Affleck pictures, and the Roth family from Salem, New Hampshire.
As I continued to blog, I decided the angle I was going to take was through the notion that people, especially in my generation, are more private citizens then public citizens. Many people I have met and interviewed have told me they feel disenfranchised and as a result, have become complacent and apathetic. With that idea in mind, I continued writing and in one post I included an essay in which I looked at that issue through First Amendment glasses.
Overall, my experience was very positive. It forced me into a whole new style of writing and I really learned a lot from it. Also, it made me research alternative online resources to add to my blog. Through that research, I learned about a lot more sources than I would have ordinarily, as I used to rely on the same few websites for my daily news. Finally, my blog also offered a place to post and share my photography and my news video packages I had been working on all semester for a different class.
I am unsure at this point if I will continue blogging, or if I do decide to continue with it, if my blog will look the same as it does now. One thing I do know is blogging is quickly becoming a trend used by media outlets, other professionals and individuals alike. I think this trend will have, and is having, a significant impact on the "traditional" reporting styles. Some examples of this you will see in the links in my blog to sources such as CNN's Political Ticker and other individual reporters' blogs. I think people tend to resist change if they are used to one way of doing things, but with the sweeping changes the Internet has created for the news business and for society as a whole, a shift in how we do things is happening, right in front of our eyes. This is an exciting time to be apart of and one that should not be resisted but looked at as an opportunity to reinvent some of our old ways of doing things.

A Serious Bomb Threat...

Hilary Clinton is not even president and already there are bomb threats and hostage situations she must deal with. A man walked into Clinton's campaign office in Rochester New Hampshire earlier today with what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest and took three hostages. He reportedly has a history of mental illness, has been drinking and says he wants to talk to the senator. Click here to read CNN's report. There has been at least one woman released, but the news is still covering the story and the situation is still underway even as I type this. Apparently, there are still two hostages remaining according to local WBZ station, a local CBS affiliate. New Hampshire is really a very political state and is very open about their politics. I have become familiar with the type of politics practiced in New Hampshire after following the primary action there for another class. This is a bit of a surprise for me to find out this could happen and I'm sure that many people in the area are shocked and I wonder if other staff members from the Clinton campaign are scared they might become targets in a hostage situation as well. I don't remember ever hearing of a similar situation in past election cycles and it will be interesting to see how this event plays out.

Good Job, New York Times

The New York Times website has an excellent feature in their politics section for campaign donations for the current election. On the left is a list of all the candidates and on the right is a map of the United States. You can click on a specific candidate and then on a specific region of the state and see what that candidate received. There is also a link in the upper right hand corner of the page that allows you to search for individual donors as well. I think this way of presenting information is very comprehensive, but is also less daunting then a long news article would be. Its much easier to access the information and its more interactive than just sitting and reading a lengthy article in the paper. I think for stories like campaign donations, with a lot of facts and figures, this format is the way to go.

Interesting Poll Findings

Students at American University did a very interesting study in collaboration with the Washington Post's website, where they polled over a hundred students and out of 108 responses, 96% said that they would vote, 27% said they would vote for Barack Obama with Hilary Clinton coming in second at 18%. Any GOP candidates were farther down the list, Rudy Giuliani leading the Republican pack with only 6% of the responses saying they would vote for him. Also, out of those same 108 responses, the Iraq war was the most important issue for people as was the environment. These results don't really surprise me because I have always thought that college-age students are more left-leaning anyway. Nevertheless, the findings are still interesting and you should check them out.

Well, These Are Some Thoughts...

Everyone should remember who Karl Rove is. He worked in the Bush Administration as the deputy chief of staff and is associated with scandals such as the Valerie Plame affair and the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys. Now, he has something to say about the upcoming presidential elections. Basically he hopes that any of the Republicans will win (no surprise there) and that Hilary Clinton is a "possibility" but that she probably wouldn't win. He also said he "wishes" he had "never knew" the name Valerie Plame.

Citizen Journalism

Professor Kennedy at Northeastern University has a very interesting blog about CNN's second ever YouTube debates. First, I must say, the "debates" between candidates, Republican and Democrat alike are very flawed. There are obvious changes that need to be made. The way they are currently conducted does not offer any free flowing of ideas through true debating and disagreements. The theory behind a debate is to allow ideas to battle it out with the hope that the "truth" or the "best" answer will come out in the end. I think now, they are more of just a question and answer period then a true debate.
Having said this, I would have to give some props to CNN for trying to come up with a way to get voters involved and to change the format of these debates. Basically, the idea that CNN had was for average Americans to be able to submit their questions via video onto YouTube and CNN would then sift through them and chooses the ones that will be asked. However, CNN has gotten into some trouble with the second every YouTube debate that happened this week for the Republicans. The news channel has been criticized for leaning more to the left, and now is accused of "planting" questions with more liberal leanings or agendas. You should really check out Professor Kennedy's blog on this topic. He has a link to one question in particular that was asked by a former general in the military who is openly gay, and it just so happens also openly supports Hilary Clinton's campaign. Professor Kennedy also offers some suggestions to fix the current problem with the system that I think are quite interesting and worth checking out.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where They Stand

Some new poll numbers coming out, thanks to the website, USA Election Polls, show Hilary Clinton as the front-runner among the Democrats. However, coming in a close second and third respectively are Barack Obama and John Edwards. Rudy Giuliani is breaking away from the Republican pack, with John McCain coming in second. However, it is interesting to note, Mitt Romney is not doing very well overall, but according to this poll taken, is doing very well in New Hampshire. New Hampshire continues to be a very important state as they have traditionally been the first state in the nation to hold a primary. I don't think these numbers at least show any clear-cut winner. However, with President Bush's approval ratings the lowest they have ever been with some reports in the mid 20% range, one thing is for sure, Americans are ready for a change.


Republicans debated over issues like immigration, governmental spending and abortion last night at the CNN YouTube debates. Americans were invited to make a home video on YouTube and CNN aired those questions as Republican candidates battled with Anderson Cooper as the moderator. It is obvious from the questions last night, a number of Americans are very worried about the state of our economy. With the holiday season coming up, people are opening up their wallets and spending, but with housing prices going down and the stock market reportedly having problems, Americans are getting nervous. GOP candidates last night were peppered with questions about the economy, but who, if any of them had the best answer? The economy will surely be one issue that will be a major deciding factor for voters and it will be interesting to see if voters give the responsibility to a Democrat or a Republican.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rudy's Ties

Does Rudy Giuliani have ties to members responsible for the 9/11 attacks on New York City? Tonight's MSNBC Countdown with Keith Olbermann had a writer from the Village Voice on to talk about just this. You decide. Click here to read the article and here to read another blog about the topic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Romney's Religion

The ideology in our country is clearly that religion should not play a part in government and in fact, the Framers of the United States Constitution believed in the separation of church and state. For this reason, some feel that a politician's religion should not be a part of the office he or she holds and in the business they conduct there. This is why some don't feel it is right to ask a candidate questions about their religion. However I would argue, especially when choosing a candidate running for the highest office in the country, ALL aspects of that particular individual should be fair game as they all play a part in the character of the person their ideologies which ultimately play a major role in how they make decisions.
When John F. Kennedy was running for president a lot of people made a big deal about JFK being a Catholic. Up until his election to office, there had never been a Catholic president. In the current election, many have drawn parallels between JFK and his Catholicism to Mitt Romney and his religion. Romney is a Mormon and some say this may pose a challenge for him. After what happened in Utah with a Mormon man being arrested for practicing Polygamy and the popular HBO series Big Love about a Polygamist Mormon family, many Americans are unsure of what to make of the religion and many political analysts say if Romney doesn't come out and make a speech clearing the air of some of the stereotypes associated with the religion, Romney might loose a lot of headway in the campaign for president. Click here to read an interesting article related to this issue.

"The Marlboro Marine"

The LA Times has a FANTASTIC slideshow about the Iraq war and the effects it has on the marines in combat. This is a very moving piece and I would encourage every one to watch it. It is in two parts with an epilogue from the photographer at the end. In the first part, the marine tells a story about how he travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials about the affects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At the meeting one congressman never showed up and when the marine went to the congressman's office to talk with him, he was told by the secretary that the congressman didn't have time to meet with him. An elected official, who is partly responsible for the Iraq war would not take 10 minutes out of his schedule to meet with a war-torn man who had something to say about his experience. The United States congressman would not even give the marine the time of day or a few minutes of his time to learn from a man who experienced war first-hand. I think this is deplorable. Let this be a lesson to the politicians running for office now; care about the people you represent, especially the ones giving their lives for the country you say you believe in.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

An Interview with a College Student

*How old are you?
*22 years old

*Are you in college?
*Yes, Castleton State College

*What do you study?
*Sociology and Art

*Do you consider yourself active public citizen?

*What do you do that is active in public life?
*I do community services like learn to skate programs, I work on arranging after school art programs for grammar and middle schools and I am a mentor for a fifth grade student.

*Do you know much about politics?
*Not a lot, I focus more on one candidate when the election comes around but don’t have time to pay much attention to a majority of issues. In addition I feel that some of it is a waste of my time because I don’t feel like just myself can make a difference.

*What are the issues, if any that are most important to you?
*The issues that are most important to me are education, health care and how the war in Iraq is affecting our economy.

*How did you learn the information you do know about politics?
*Discussions with friends, what I learn in class and by watching the news and reading the newspapers.

*How often do you do things like watch the news on TV or read a newspaper or an internet news source?
*I watch the news probably five days out of the week but only for a little while. I only read the paper about three to four days out of the week. Otherwise I get my news from hearsay and by talking to other people.

*Do you talk about politics with your friends and family?
*Yes I do. I talk about what is currently going on and how it will affect us all as individuals and as a society.

*Do you think our generation is apathetic?
*No I don’t think that kids do care, they just don’t vote on things, they go out into the community instead. At my school a lot of people do community service and volunteer projects but not a lot of people participate in politics.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The iPod Touch is Pretty Cool...

New York University students have spoken. According to a poll conducted by an NYU journalism class, 20 percent of NYU students say they would give up their vote for president if they could have a free iPod Touch. Apparently, Apple products are dominating not only the computer realm, but also the basis of the entire free world! I am sure that people in other countries living under a cruel dictatorship with little to no freedoms, all feel life would be just fine if they could only get their hands on a cool new iPod touch. Other students' priorities lie elsewhere. Two-thirds of students polled would give up their vote for a year's tuition, 66 percent would do it for a free ride to NYU and about half of the students said they would give up their vote for a nice fat check of $1 million - that they could spend on tuition of course, or maybe a few hundred iPod Touches.

As a student at Northeastern University, I can understand student debt. I myself have almost six figures worth of loans out just for my undergrad degree and like NYU, Northeastern is very expensive, costing upwards of $40,000. I am not saying any of this justifies this poll's finding, because I think it is abhorrent that students in pursuit of a higher education would put voting so far down on their list of "important things" that they would take a new piece of technology over their rights as an American citizen. The college tuition thing I can sympathize with, but I think when some analyze this poll they might be quick to judge it as a glaring example of our generation's apathetic attitude and feelings of being disenfranchised. However, those same students seem to contradict themselves:
Ninety percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for the money also said they consider voting "very important" or "somewhat important"; only 10 percent said it was "not important." Also, 70.5 percent said they believe that one vote can make a difference - including 70 percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for free tuition.
Click here to read the entire article. The findings are really quite illuminating.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

First Amendment Discussion

With the current elections in full swing now, there is a lot of commentary on the "race" and on the issues at hand in the newspapers, on TV and especially on the Internet. Some of this commentary can be offensive or against what you personally believe in, especially in the blog forum, which tends to be personal and tailored to the author's beliefs and ideologies. I have tried in my blog to remain somewhat neutral in the reporting aspect of my stories. If I have a strong opinion about something, I will interject it into my story if I feel the need to. I think it is important, especially today, with the almost omnipresence of the media, that when you get bombarded by information from all different types of sources, you are able to distinguish the proverbial tree from the forest. In other words, you are able to see the larger picture and you don't get caught up in too much fact, or conversely, too much opinion. Having said that, there is a great need in our democratic society for fact and opinion. Both are considered to have substantial newsworthiness and that need speaks directly to the reason the First Amendment was included in our U.S. Constitution. I felt compelled to have a discussion on the First Amendment, considering I am the author of a blog in which I do a mix of reporting and commentary. The premise of my blog is that people need to pay attention to the issues surrounding them and to care enough to educate themselves and then take some action. Without the protection the First Amendment offers us all, it would be difficult to do this because if the capability to disseminate information was not protected, the public would be powerless against a government that is designed to be checked by the people. Thus, my discussion of the our first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights.

The language of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is well-known to many and it has a profound effect on our lives as Americans. The entire profession of journalism, the media and therefore much of our society as it exists today would be entirely different if the First Amendment was not in place. The more serious investigative journalists that are a part of the media, have been called the “fourth estate,” or the fourth branch of government, involved in the checks and balances system. The question of what kind of “checks” if any, the government can put on the media has been debated and cases have been brought to the United States Supreme Court. There have been attempts the government has made to do so in cases such as New York Times v. United States when the government sought to stop publication or “prior restraint” of a document that detailed the United States involvement in Vietnam. Even though the court ruled against prior restraint, historically there have been many more attempts to control the press. Speech that is considered to be an obscenity, which can elicit violent reactions or produce some sort of evil, has traditionally not been protected under the First Amendment, especially when it applies to a public school. The United States Supreme Court in cases such as the “Bong Hits for Jesus” case have upheld a precedent that when it comes to speech interfering with a school’s mission, that speech has not been protected. Derived from this thinking, we see the emergence of tests such as the “clear and present danger” test, proposed by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.
I can understand that certain publication of very specific classified matters should not be published in the interest in saving lives, it is important not to let those few exceptions set a precedent for a slippery slope that would leave Americans with no real First Amendment rights and the press as a public relations tool of the government.
When asked by a man on the street what type of government the Framers had decided upon, Benjamin Franklin replied, “It’s a Republic, if you can keep it.” I think the same logic applies to many of these rights we all enjoy. The power to say what we think, exercise the ability to question and petition the government without fear of reprisal come easy to us when it’s our own thoughts and opinions, but not necessarily when it’s the opinions of another we completely disagree with. These freedoms provide a tremendous amount of power for an ordinary citizen. With that power, comes responsibilities to uphold those rights even if it means you are offended, annoyed or in disagreement with what you see, hear, or read in a publication.
Last month, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was invited by Columbia University’s President to speak. Many people from the community were outraged to hear that Ahmadinejad was coming to speak at Columbia as many of his ideas are ludicrous to people. I can’t help but wonder if those people who criticized Columbia University have forgotten what we as a country are all about. The freedom of speech means for all no matter if you agree with the ideas or not. It is easy for people to sit and listen to someone who is of the same mind set as them, but it is much harder to listen to someone whose ideas are polar opposite of yours. As hard as it is to do this, it is beneficial to account for and have knowledge of even your enemy’s beliefs.
It seems that in theory our government should protect and provide for these freedoms, but in reality there is a struggle to keep them narrow and well-defined. Certain “symbolic speech” such as burning the American flag, is extremely offensive to some people. Those people tend to call upon their patriotism and claim the act should be punished. I would argue, however, the real patriotic thing is having the strength to allow the burning of the flag even though it goes against everything you might personally believe in. You can’t deny another’s First Amendment rights on the grounds that you just don’t agree with the same things as they do. The United States Supreme Court affirmed this in the 1989 case, Texas v. Johnson. Still, in light of the decision, attempts were made to squash the right through Congress’ Flag Protection Act and the former President Bush’s pledge to “protect the flag,” but what the former president and congress was really “protecting” was the citizens from their First Amendment rights based on their personal ideologies of flag burning.
Americans enjoy these rights and seem to exercise them freely and without instance when their own ideas, sentiments and values are being expressed. However, they seem to be quick to argue against those rights if the speech is counter to what they believe in. It’s important to have the strength to listen to others ideas, because a loss of one person’s First Amendment rights is a loss for all people.

Planting A Seed, Hilary?

Hilary Clinton is the front-runner of the Democrats so far in this election. She has topped many of the polls, has plenty of padding in her bank account and seems to be doing well in critical states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. But, there is some talk that Clinton may be loosing some of her ground. Because of some recent political gaffs such as the time she was caught double talking about licenses for illegal immigrants in the October 30th debates and just the other day when she was in Iowa giving a talk to a group of students and was accused of "planting" a question in the audience so that she could talk about her energy plan. MSNBC's "First Read" blog discusses this issue in the link above. As I was reading the blog, it made me wonder how many candidates and their aids do this and how big of a deal is it really? Certainly, Clinton didn't have any malicious intentions; her aids obviously wanted to make certain she had an opportunity to discuss certain issues. So, if this alleged "planting" did happen, how dishonest is this really and how many other candidates do it who just haven't gotten caught yet?

Blogs Blogs Blogs

Are you really making an effort to understand the issues but feel like the commentary is far too spread out and you don't know where to start? Well the website, Politics 2008, Center of Elections has a pretty good collection of the more non-partisan blogs out there. It is really easy to navigate and some of the blogs are from major network news sources such as ABC and CNN. Also another good source to go to for this type of blogging is CNN's Political Ticker.

Richardson's Strategy Versus The Others'

Richardson has got a pretty good idea for campaigning. He is calling it the presidential job interview. The campaign is on the internet only and can be found on sites such as YouTube and his own website. I think its a catchy idea and a innovative way of getting his message across using humor. Match that type of ad with the more conventional, feel-good, patriotic commerical of Hilary Clinton's posted on YouTube. I'm not sure which one is better or worse, but I do know that Richardson should win points for the most innovative. So as not to play favorites, here is one of Mitt Romney's TV ads on YouTube, which is the same kind of style as Clinton's as well as John McCain's also posted on YouTube. It seems Richardson's team is the only one so far that is thinking outside the box.

If you are the type of person that likes to further question things, you are probably thinking, well how much does this all cost? Excellent question. CNN's source for answers to such questions is TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group. According to CNN, Mitt Romney spends about $85,000 a day on TV ads, McCain has spent about $300,000 on his ads, Obama leads the Demoracts spending $3.9 million and Clinton and Richardson both tie with $2.2 million in TV ads.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Obama the Softy?

According to an article I read in the November addition to Time magazine, Obama's numbers in the polls aren't as high as some might like, especially after the October 10th Democratic debates on MSNBC. According to Time:

"[Obama] has been more herbivore than carnivore in the days leading
up to the Oct. 30 Democratic debate: a fevered, unsolicited-advice orgy, none of
the advice was substantive, of course. It was all about tactics. He had to make
his move or lose...and so, there he was onstage next to Clinton the night before
Halloween and not exactly dressed as an assassin. He took his shots,
judiciously - and more comfortably as the evening wore on."

Obama may have been criticised in the media and elsewhere for his less than stellar performance in the debate, however, no one can deny he is still a major contender in the Democratic presidential race. Obama seems to answer the questions straight out even when the answer may be hard truth a voter may not want to hear. At the end of the Time article, the author tells a story about when a mother asked if he would consider extending Social Security to stay-at-home moms. Obama explained simply "No," explaining further the financial repercussions of doing so. I think a lot of candidates in that situation would have cleverly dodged such a question and moved on to the next. Keeping in mind the uphill battle our country is facing with the war in Iraq, global warming, badly damaged relations abroad, and problems at home with border security, social welfare programs and violence on our streets, the time for being politically correct is far over. It is time for straight talk and more action. This is why every American should be paying attention to the candidates and to the issues because whoever takes over the White House next year, will be dealing with all of these issues and will be cleaning up the mess the Bush administration has made. We should at least know who we are dealing with and who we are going to be sending in to do the job.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Politics of Weather

People are always talking about the politics of the Democrats, the politics of Republicans, the politics of businesses, and of countries. Basically, there is politics in every day life, even in each of our personal lives. So, why should it be a surprised that there is politics in mother nature? Click below to watch a video I produced based on the weather and how it can affect elections.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Body Piercing

This post is going to be short because I don't want to spend too much time talking about frivolous things that have no place taking up the time and attention that we should be giving to other issues that are of far greater importance. However, since the news media has devoted time to it, I thought I would cover it as well - not for its newsworthiness, however. Anyways, if you haven't already heard, democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich's wife has. . . a tongue ring (dun dun dunnnnn). Honestly, who cares? Mrs. Kucinich seems to be taking some heat for not conforming to the social norms, but it seems that many politicians who do, don't seem to be doing very well at their jobs anyway. Click here to watch the interview with Mrs. Kucinich on MSNBC. I don't know much about Kucinich's wife, but it seems to me her answers to questions about not fitting the "traditional first lady" mold are quite articulate.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Underdog Grabs Headlines

Ron Paul, the libertarian presidential candidate is behind in all the polls. A congressman from Texas, Paul has alienated himself from the majority of voters in the middle of the political spectrum by expressing his many extreme libertarian ideals, namely his belief in a severely limited government. Paul has routinely been referred to as one of the underdog candidates, way behind the others, until he started making headlines for his fundraising performance on Monday. Thanks to the independent website,, Paul was able to break the record of any one-day fundraising effort by a republican, raising over $4 million in one day. The website plays up the November 5th British holiday that remembers the rebel, Guy Fawkes' attempt at blowing up Parliament in England circa 1600s. If this doesn't sound familiar to you, or you weren't aware of this holiday, the movie V for Vendetta was based on this event. Anyway, the real story here is that Paul, an underdog candidate, was able to break this fundraising record via the Internet. I think it speaks to the new age of campaigning we are in and it will be interesting to see if this helps him in the polls as it has certainly gotten him a lot of media attention in the past few days.

Candidates Gotta Look Good Too

John Edwards is the champion of the working-class citizen. His campaign has spent millions of dollars trying to get that very message across to voters. He sports blue button up shirts with the sleeves rolled up as he talks to crowds of people about the strong need to alleviate poverty in our country. But, with the cameras constantly rolling and lights flashing, you have got to look your what's a candidate to do? Get a haircut! But, not just any haircut, a special haircut by a Hollywood hairstylist who you have flown in to personally "lower your ears." I wonder what a haircut like that would cost a man? Well, according to CNN, Edwards thinks $1,250 is a fair price, as that was the amount he shelled out in 2004 when he was running for vice president. So, I don't know why the media is now making such a big deal about a measly half of a grand - the amount he paid for his latest haircut for this election. I mean, who cares about a few hundred here and there when you can just chalk it up to campaign expenses. One would think, that a candidate would be a little more conscience of how they spend their money when they are trying to win the vote of middle-class families. Those people driving their children to soccer practice and school every day, working two jobs to pay the bills, worrying about having enough money to retire and put their children through college, are not spending $500 on a haircut and are not going to identify with a candidate who indulges in such expensive pampering as Edwards has.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Sad Day for Colbert

I have blogged a few times about The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert attempt to get on the ballot for the presidential primaries. Just recently, after much "sucking up" as he puts it, to the democratic executive council, Stephen Colbert finds out on his show that he did not get on the democratic ballot in South Carolina. The funnyman gets a phone call from Carol Fowler, the chair of the democratic committee in South Carolina who gives him the bad news. Stephen Colbert ends the televised phone conversation by asking Carol Fowler to "give his best" to the people of South Carolina and that he will "see the other candidates in hell."According to an article on CNN's website, Colbert won't try to get on the republican ballot as there is a $35,000 fee.

Presidential Candidates Reach Out To...Aliens?

Out of all the questions pointed to democratic presidential candidates in the MSNBC debate last week, one really stuck out. Tim Russert from Meet The Press asked presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich if he saw a UFO. Apparently, the godmother of Kucinich's daughter wrote a book and in that book talks about an instance when Kucinich claimed he saw a UFO in the sky. During the debate, Kucinich confirms that he did indeed see a UFO, or a "triangular craft, silent and hovering." When laughter broke out, he got a little defensive and tried to sidestep it by flashing his his funny side, at least I think he was trying to be funny, when he said that more people in the country claim to have seen a UFO then support Bush's presidency. Although, if Kucinich did win the nomination and go on to win the presidency, he wouldn't be the first United States president to have had a UFO sighting. Former President Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Georgia, claims to have had his own UFO sighting. How aliens came into play during a serious debate is beyond me, but I really liked Obama's response to the question when he was then asked if he believed there was life beyond the Earth. Obama said he had no idea, but he did know there was life on THIS planet and it needs tending too. Way to bring it home, Obama. Click on the YouTube clip below to watch the Kucinich's UFO answer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Youth Noise

Read this article posted by a twenty-one year old in North Carolina. This story is about the political apathy of today's youth, generation Y, or "Ygen." The author is writing as a member of her generation, about her generation. The ideas within this article is really the driving force behind my blog. I write about the issues going on in politics, the people that have been making headlines lately and the fringe topics that spin off from there, but at the core there is a need to know, and a need to share information with others. Some of the "Ygens" she interviews say they don't watch the news, they don't understand politics and they certainly don't have any idea what is going on in the race for president in 2008. She asks fellow "Ygens" about the Iraq war as well and some of the responses are incredible. I don't think people give the younger generation much credit. Many complain grassroots involvement and leadership is dead. I ask, "Y" is that?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Video Clips

If you click here, it will take you to a great website that has clips of various presidential campaign ads that the candidates have released so far. One interesting one is to check out McCain's ad against Clinton's proposal for a museum dedicated to Woodstock. The end is rather funny..."John McCain says, if you want to relive Woodstock, buy the record." According to a report by CNN, TV advertising could reach over $3 billion this time around, and there are still over two months to go until the first few primary elections in the country.

Listen to Local College Students

College students speak out about their voting habits and what they think about the coverage of the presidential elections of 2008 so far. Click on the above link to listen to my podcast!

Baseball and Politics

Republican presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, is the epitome of the "new yorker." The favorite former mayor of New York that led his city through the devastating aftermath of 9/11 has done the unthinkable. Giuliani has publicly announced his support of the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankee's arch rival, in their quest for the World Series Title. Giuliani defends his support by saying he supports any American League team in the post season. Is this going to alienate him from Yankee fan voters? It certainly has been somewhat of a blunder and other candidates have picked up on it. I won't name any names, but a certain female U.S Senator of New York and fellow presidential candidate, has used this against him.

Not Just a Restaurant

I talked earlier in one of my posts about local people getting involved in politics and making a difference. Well, getting involved can happen in various ways. These sisters from Manchester, New Hampshire have become like local celebrities in their town by offering candidates over the years, a platform for their campaign messages - and a bite to eat! Click below to watch a video I produced on this topic.

Colbert Meets the Press

To follow up on my post about Stephen Colbert joining the race for president, Colbert has released his book, I Am America, And So Can You and has also made headlines in TV News station reports' throughout the country. One appearance that seems to be getting the most attention was Stephen Colbert's spot on NBC's Meet the Press. Tim Russert, the show's host, grilled Colbert about everything, from his new book, to his stance on issues and seemingly attacking the legitimacy of his presidential run. If you do not watch The Colbert Report, one might not get that the response to Russert's questions are heavily laden with sarcasm. Colbert's sense of humor is so dry and he delivers it so seriously, its hard to tell when he is kidding and when he isn't. It is obvious throughout the interview that Russert becomes increasingly irritated by Colbert's witty responses. Watch here.

Some say that Colbert will hurt the race by taking attention away from the more "serious" republican contenders. Others say it is comic relief for the coverage of the presidential race that has dominated the media's attention thus far. Is Stephen Colbert making a mockery of our political system? There are many people that are fed up with politics in America and still others that don't completely understand why Colbert is doing this, how serious he really is, and don't know whether they should laugh or be offended. This entire situation reminds me of that movie with Robin Williams, Man of the Year, except in that movie, at least Robin Williams' character was a little more sincere.

Bill Couldn't Make Ladies Night

The First Lady of California, Maria Shriver, wife of Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, held a conference with the wives of the presidential candidates in Long Beach, CA. The event was an attempt to bring together the families behind the candidates and have a discussion of what it is like when a spouse runs for president and the impact being on the campaign trail can have. In an interview with CNN, Shriver told Wolf Blitzer that the "ceremonial days" of the first lady were over. I think this was a bit of an understatement on Maria's part as one of the presidential candidates is a former first lady has already made history by becoming the only first lady in history to go on to hold an elected office in government. It would have been funny to see what former president Bill Clinton would have said if he attend the "wives" discussion group last week. Like he needs the advice of Maria Shriver! In any case, click here to watch a clip of the interview on CNN.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Happy Birthday, Mrs. President"

There are very few people in this world that have a 60th birthday bash quite like Hilary Clinton's. With the famous comedian, Billy Crystal as the host, a rendition of "happy birthday" by Elvis Costello with Jakob Dylan and his band, The Wallflowers as back-up, and people such as Magic Johnson and Bob Dylan as guests, Senator Clinton's celebration of her sixth decade on this planet was certainly one for the history books. Among the celebrity guests there were die hard democrats, many with very deep pockets, and of course former president, Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea. The party that was held at Manhattan's Beacon Theatre last week was one that won't be forgotten soon, especially for Rudy Giuliani, who wasn't present, but who took a hit from Clinton on his own turf. According to an article in the New York Times, during a speech at her party, Clinton had this to say about New York Yankee's fan and Republican presidential candidate, Giuliani's public support of the Boston Red Sox in their post season.

Addressing a packed Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mrs. Clinton noted that both she and the evening’s M.C., Billy Crystal were devoted to the Yankees.
“I have been a fan, and I remain a fan of the New York Yankees — no changes, no looking to curry favor with anyone else,” she said to much laughter and applause from the audience of mostly New York Democrats.
Senator Clinton, according to many polls, is considered to be the front runner of the democrats in the race for president. With the "nosebleed" sections of the theater costing about $100 per seat, the entire night raised about $1.5 million for the senator, according to several different reports. Unfortunately, with all the excitement, it doesn't seem that Hilary Clinton was able to kick off her shoes and relax, as she got back to work, ending her night with a speech highlighting the main points of her campaign - as if she had to convince any of her guests!

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Every one likes a good laugh and I have to admit I find myself watching the Comedy Central shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, but what is Stephen Colbert doing? Is he seriously running for president?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Local People

The people in New Hampshire really know how to get involved. Beth Roth, a local resident in Salem and her daughter Lexi, opened up their home to Barbra Richardson, the wife of Governor Richardson, a democratic presidential candidate, to talk to other Salem residents. The Roths believe by inviting various presidential candidates and their families to their home, it creates a more intimate setting so people get to know who the candidates really are. In fact, this isn't the first time Beth and Lexi have hosted such an event. The most famous example was during John Kerry's campaign when Carol King came to the Kerry meet at greet at the Roth's home and entertained the crowd by playing Beth's piano.

This is a great example of a local resident getting involved and making a difference for her neighbors and her community. This type of active involvement in politics allows for a small, intimate venue for candidates to share their message with people while also giving the voters a chance to ask their questions directly and get to know the candidates on a more personal level. I think this is the heart of the American experience, to get involved, to have a say, to express yourself and listen to others debate issues, talk about problems and how to fix them. This is democracy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nashua Historical Society

History plays an important part in our lives and in politics as well. There have been many great leaders that were influential in their time and continue to be so now. They have all left a unique mark and in some form helped to shape the world today. In Nashua, New Hampshire, the Nashua Historical Society is home to a rich local political history of many great leaders such as President Bill Clinton and President John F. Kennedy. Click on the window below to watch a video I produced and see what the Nashua Historical Society has to offer.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Celebrities Get Involved

Sometimes in our political system, celebrities get involved as we have seen with more famous cases like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey teaming up to get Obama's campaign messages out. Celebrities also are active when it comes to causes. Locally, the mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, held a press conference to address the issues heath care workers in the city are experiencing. Many caregivers are being intimidated by higher up hospital executives not to organize themselves, suffer through low wages and poor health care for themselves. During the press conference, many of these hospital workers and their supporters advocated for better benefits to support their families. The interest group, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has been working to help these individuals. However, at a local level, Mayor Menino has worked the influence of his office onto the issue as well. While this is all well and good, sometimes even a local, well respected and well liked elected official does not create as much of a media frenzy as say, a celebrity like Ben Affleck who was also present at the press conference. The room where the press conference was held was packed with reporters and the fact that Ben Affleck was there seemed to generate more power then all the hospital workers and union supporters combined. Affleck isn't even in the health care industry, as many of us already know - I don't think he has even played a doctor in a movie, but the sheer fact that he is a celebrity, helped to push the hospital workers' issue to the forefront and commanded a high demand for attention.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No Issue Left Uncovered

If we all only had the foresight in matters of policy, the courage to ask original questions, and the level of concern this little boy had when addressing a certain republican candidate by asking a "tough" question. I think Rudy Giuliani did a relativly good job of answering an inquiry that seemed to come from left field. Way to keep 'em on their toes!

New Age Politics

Massachusetts former governor, Mitt Romney is one of the republican party's presidential candidates seeking the nomination in the upcoming primaries. He, like all of his other fellow running mates, can be seen every where - not only in person on the campaign trial, but on TV, in newspapers and on the Internet. Nevertheless, the Internet is where a new form of politicking is taking place. Mitt Romney now has his very own "myspace" profile. The website that mostly lent itself to the average person is now home to a presidential candidate. If you venture to his myspace page, you can click through a slide show of pictures, watch a welcome message clip, see who his "top friends" are, get a taste for his preferences in literature, and even write a message on his "wall" if you so choose. The former Massachusetts governor is keeping his profile up-to-date by posting a song from myspace music on his page. Appropriately chosen, it is a number by Elvis Presley, "A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action." But, Mitt Romney is not alone in his hip political pursuits. Hilary Clinton also has her own myspace profile along with a slew of other presidential hopefuls. So whether you are new to myspace or have a profile of your own, you can now stop by your favorite (or least favorite) candidate's page, write them a message or send them a "friend request."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Climate Change

First an Academy Award and now this - the Nobel Peace Prize. The former United States Vice President has done a lot to help move our country in the direction of "green" energy saving techniques and has helped to make climate change an issue that has forced its way into the 2008 presidential debates. The New York Times has created a comprehensive look at each candidate, where they stand on the issue and what their plan is for combating global warming. It is definitely worth checking out.

If You Don't Know, You Can Find it Here

It has been my experience that many people do not know enough about the candidates running for president. People have told me they don't vote because they don't know enough about the candidates running for office.

Today, with all the technological advances and media being almost omnipresent, it is pretty hard for me to swallow that justification for people not doing their civic duty. Nevertheless, Channel 9 in Manchester, NH has just made getting information about our presidential candidates that much easier. If you click here this will take you to the political section of their web page. At the top, there are pictures of each of the candidates running for president in 2008. If you click on say, Hilary Clinton's picture, you will be bombarded with a wealth of information. There are links to her official campaign site and a biography site. There is also a section dedicated to where she stands on various issues, her date of birth (in case you needed to know her age), her political affiliation (in case you have really been living under a rock), and other news stories, clips of what Hilary Clinton has been doing, and news she has been making.

So try it out, and learn at least a little bit about the candidates, because soon, you will have to select one of them to run our country.

Eye on New Hampshire

The site is called "New Hampshire Presidential Watch" and it is a great go-to site for anyone who is looking to learn more about the 2008 presidential campaigns in New Hampshire. Since New Hampshire has traditionally held the first primary in the country, the granite state is an important stop for presidential candidates. Therefore, what the candidates do there is worth paying attention to. The site is easy to navigate and gives a wealth of information on various topics. There are blogs, summaries of campaign events, the time, date, location and addresses of various candidates' campaign stops, clips of ads from youtube, and a list of endorsements and random facts about the campaigns. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Freedom of Speech at the Highest Degree

The freedom of speech that is granted to all of us through the First Amendment of our Constitution seems to be an easy concept to understand. It is also easy to exercise this freedom when it comes to matters involving ourselves or others of like mindedness, but it is far more challenging to give others a platform to exercise that same freedom when the ideas are the polar opposite of what we hold to be true or important.

This idea became evident when Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran to speak at his university. The article in the New York Times gives a great summary of the events of that day. Many people were outraged by the invitation, considering Iran has been labeled by our government as a terrorist state and because Ahmadinejad has so many radical ideas. I do not believe that inviting Ahmadinejad to speak is in any way condoning his acts or his ideals, but highlights what our country's values are all about. Inviting such a person to speak at one of our most respected institutions speaks volumes about the freedoms we enjoy in this country. I think Mr. Bollinger explained this better then I ever could in his introduction speech that day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Two for the Price of One?

At Dartmouth College, democratic presidential hopefuls took the stage last week. Among the tough questions fired at the candidates was an unfair one to Hilary Clinton. She was asked if she would consider torture to be used with a suspected terrorist to which she replied, she would never condone it. The moderator then sprung his clever comeback saying her husband, the former president, had once said torture would be "appropriate." I thought Ms. Clinton had a perfect response to that question when she sharply pointed out it was her on that stage and NOT her husband. The moderator didn't let it go though, pointing out the obvious; there was a disagreement between her and her husband. I thought here, Clinton did a great job of smiling through it and jokingly saying "Well, I'll talk to him later."

Throughout the debates, there was more tough questions fired at Clinton about policies but not without the baggage of what I like to call, "what would Bill do?" I understand the weight others put on the fact that Ms. Clinton's husband is a former president, but day after day and debate after debate she seems to be running with this shadow of her husband and people can't let it go! There is some consideration to be made for who her husband is, but honestly it is Hilary Clinton who is running for president, not William Clinton.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Where's the Line?

Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien. It's not exactly a household name, but this mother and resident of Derry, New Hampshire was able to grab the attention of the media and a certain presidential candidate, all because of one question. According to an article in the Union Leader dated September 9, 2007, Prudhomme-O'Brien asked presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani the following question, "[my nephew] wanted to know how you could expect the loyal following of Americans when you are not getting it from your own family." Of course this created a bit of a stir and people from various media outlets made comments. The Union Leader sites "ABC commentator and Sunday-Morning show host George Stephanopoulos who called her a professional heckler.
So is this woman what
Stephanopoulos and others have suggested, a nuisance? Or is she on the right track - asking the candidates tough questions no matter what they are. A precedent has been set in our society that public figures such as the former mayor of New York have less privacy then ordinary citizens. So why not, if they are running for the highest office of our country, with power to shape and form our government and social policies, should we shy away from asking the tough questions?

In the article from the Union Leader Prudhomme-O'Brien defends her question.

"I was simply asking a question that people were thinking anyway. When did that become wrong?"[She] said the home lives of presidential hopefuls are relevant. If someone has trouble at home, she reasons, his professional work suffers.

Her response in the article really resonated with me. In fact, it reminds me of a book I am reading by Fred Greenstein. In the book The Presidential Difference, he evaluates former presidents on a number of different criteria including "emotional intelligence." Greenstein describes this as the "president's ability to manage his emotions..." It makes sense to me that a man - or woman now - who is campaigning to become the CEO of our country should be evaluated and questioned on all levels as Greenstein points out; there are many less obvious factors that make a difference in a presidency. So was this woman a trouble maker going too far? Or was she simply a citizen exercising her right to speak her mind?

Sometimes, You Just Have To Dig

Recently I traveled to Nashua, New Hampshire to cover a supposed protest on the Iraq war. Some fellow journalism students and myself caught wind that there was going to be a peace group organizing themselves outside of city hall. We had our video equipment with us, excited for some great shots of signs and crowds and maybe a few good sound bites from the angry citizens of Nashua. Being the dedicated students we are, we got up early on a Saturday morning and the five of us traveled an hour to Nashua only to be greeted by a deserted and very wet city hall plaza. It was practically a deluge with fairly strong winds - not exactly great protesting weather. The town wasn't exactly lively as there wasn't much traffic - everyone was probably spending their Saturday afternoon in their homes, staying dry. We weren't so lucky. Not willing to go home empty handed, rain or no rain, we did what every savvy reporter does in that situation - we used our resources to find another story. All five of us sat cooped up in one car, reading local newspapers to see if there was something, ANYTHING that was going on that day that had something to do with politics. Not much luck. Then, after a few phone calls and some research, we found a place called the Nashua Historical Society. So we switched gears a little bit, but ended up doing a great piece on the political history of the town. The people we met there were local and interesting and they gave us some great sound bites about their town and the craziness that goes on during primary season. Beth McCarthy, the curator of the museum, told us how busy the town can get. According to McCarthy, there are crowds of people on the streets, the restaurants and other service business are booming and after a long day of work, she comes home only to be bombarded by messages on her answering machine asking her to vote for certain candidates. I can imagine Nashua gets like that considering it is a town in New Hampshire; the state that has traditionally held the first of all the primaries in the country. This upcoming election will be interesting, as most states are racing to hold their own primary before other states do. I wonder what kind of madness will ensue in Nashua, a town in a state that already gets so much national attention in regards to primaries. As I interviewed the people from the museum, they told me about past presidents and other historical moments in politics. According to the staff at the museum, John F. Kennedy had his first ever campaign stop outside of city hall in 1960. There is a statue in front of their city hall commemorating just that. A little under a century before that, New Hampshire saw one of its own elected to the White House; Mr. Franklin Pierce in 1851. In light of all this history, I wonder how these upcoming elections will be remembered and recorded. Maybe 100 years from now, there will be a wall in the Nashua Historical Soceity with old ballots and pictures of today's political events on display, and there will be a new generation of reporters and students traveling through the building who will tell the story of today, tomorrow.