“Fire The Sexual Predator”: Protesters Demand Fox Make Bill O’Reilly’s Vacation Permanent

After years spent in the protective chrysalis of Fox News, Bill O’Reilly may get what’s coming to him. The turgid host of The O’Reilly Factor has been accused of sexually harassing multiple women over the course of his lucrative career, all of whom have been paid millions to keep quiet by either the network or O’Reilly himself. [UPDATE: FOX announced on Wednesday afternoon that he would not be returning.]

That hush money, though, was not enough to stymie an investigation by the New York Times earlier this month, which revealed that Rupert Murdoch’s company paid at least five women a total of $13 million to keep from going public with the accusations against O’Reilly. The news provoked advertisers to flee in droves, and O’Reilly promptly departed for “a pre-planned vacation.” Yesterday, a group of protesters, organized by the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, set up shop outside of News Corp’s midtown headquarters to ensure that O’Reilly’s vacation from the network is made permanent. (They might get their wish — there are reports that Murdoch will be announcing O’Reilly’s firing imminently.)

Almost immediately, the protest morphed into a tidy metaphor for the state of the country generally. A few minutes before the 1:30 p.m. start time, an altercation broke out between one of the organizers and the building’s head of security, a beefy man with a neck like a log of Taylor ham. The event, organizer Anika Collier Navaroli told me later, had originally been slated to take place in the large square in front of the News Corp building — space they were informed only shortly beforehand was private property. The protesters moved to the other side of a row of heavy potted plants, but perhaps not fast enough for the guard, who Navaroli said put his hand on her back.

“As we’re protesting the sexual assault of people who were touched without their consent by men within Fox, [the guard] proceeded to touch my female body without my consent while I’m standing on public property,” Navaroli, who is with the group Color of Change, told the Voice. “This is the exact reason we are out here.”

Pressure on Fox to fire O’Reilly has been mounting daily since the the Times’ report was released at the beginning of the month. In addition to the five women originally named in the story, the Hollywood Reporter reported on Tuesday that O’Reilly also allegedly harassed a black woman who worked near his office, referring to her as “hot chocolate.”

“He would never talk to her, not even hello, except to grunt at her like a wild boar,” the woman’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, told the outlet. “He would leer at her. He would always do this when no one else was around and she was scared.”

It’s precisely this culture of fear and intimidation that not just Fox but workplaces around the country must no longer tolerate, said Public Advocate Tish James. Standing in front of a pile of cardboard boxes containing 480,000 signatures calling for O’Reilly’s dismissal (“Fire the sexual predator,” read one in blue puff paint), James told the crowd that “Fox News needs to do more than just put Bill O’Reilly on vacation.”

“We’ve got to say it loud and clear that this good old boy culture that exists in this corporation is unacceptable,” she said. “It’s unacceptable that a known sexual harasser has his own show and the unwavering support of a network.”

James announced again that she is urging the New York City Commission on Human Rights, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission, to launch investigations into the network’s practices. The former, she said, needs to look into the sexual harassment and racial discrimination charges against Fox News. As for the SEC, James reiterated that she wants the agency to investigate whether the corporation has improperly classified settlement payouts as salary.

The restrictions placed on the protesters by the building’s security forced the roughly two dozen demonstrators to compact themselves along the sidewalk, with one very vigilant police officer regularly interrupting speeches and chants to loudly order the crowd to “step in, please.” But attention was quickly siphoned from the speeches once again with the arrival of Auri Ambalu, a jewelry wholesaler from Queens eager to make everyone present understand that what they were doing in front of News Corp was a waste of time.

“There’s a lot of things in this world that are problems,” he shouted. “You have to accept some things in life. That’s how it works.”

“If I grabbed you by the balls, would you want to accept that?” asked one protester, a woman in perhaps her late sixties.

“Grab me by the balls!” Ambalu proclaimed. “Grab me by the balls and see what happens.” (She declined his offer.)

“You have to accept certain things the way they are, and that’s the way it is,” he went on. “I wish we could stop everything. I wish we lived in that magical world.” His message delivered, Ambalu eventually continued down the street.

Once all the speakers were finished, organizers led a procession through the forbidden square to deliver the petitions. Leftover protesters and reporters instantly swelled onto the sidewalk, the same one the police had moments before loudly insisted be kept clear.

The officer let out a loud sigh. “Oh man,” he said, before giving up and walking away.


Gladbrook, Iowa: Where Buildings Keep Burning But Matchsticks Remain

Gladbrook, Iowa has just under a thousand residents and no stop light. Besides the thin, white windmills, there is little to mark the divide between land and sky. If you stand in the middle of the town’s main street you can see a cornfield just a couple of blocks away in any direction. There is a bar, a wood working store where old furniture completely fills the windows, and Spanky’s, the new restaurant in town. Gladbrook’s largest building sits on a block of its own across from the NAPA Auto Parts, and houses city hall, a two-screen movie theater, and Matchstick Marvels.

The movie theater is run by volunteers and decorated almost like grandma’s living room, with powder blue accents, wreaths of silk flowers, wooden knickknacks, and dried floral arrangements. Matchstick Marvels is the home of Patrick Acton’s to-scale matchstick models of the Iowa state capitol, the USS Iowa, Notre Dame, and a space shuttle. His larger creations — a model of Hogwarts, the International Space Station, and Minas Tirith from the Lord of the Rings trilogy — are on display at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museums around the country.

My waitress at Spanky’s, who didn’t want her name in a newspaper, said she hadn’t made it over there yet but that she likes the matchsticks anyway.

“It’s important to bring people to the town,” she said. “I mean it’s nice to have people know us, but we need the money too, we keep burning down.”

In the past year, Gladbrook has had at least five fires. I called the all-volunteer Gladbrook Fire and Rescue to double check the number, but no one answered. When I called the Tama County Sheriff’s Office, they suggested I call city hall. When I called city hall, I got Barb, who said five sounded about right. It’s a devastating irony for a town primarily known for its matchsticks.

The two largest fires happened in December, one right in town. The remains are still there, just a block up from Spanky’s — a black wound on a city without much skin. That fire destroyed a hardware store, and severely damaged the tanning salon and general store. My waitress didn’t think the businesses would come back. The other fire happened right after Christmas, destroying a century-old family farmhouse. Later that same week, Keith Sash, Gladbrook’s mayor, reported that the fire department had responded to four other calls.

The fires are still under investigation. No one really knows why all the buildings are burning.

“Maybe they are just old?” Barb at city hall suggested. “Old things like to burn.”

A fire destroyed a hardware store and damaged a tanning salon and general store.
A fire destroyed a hardware store and damaged a tanning salon and general store.

One thing everyone I spoke to in Gladbrook wanted me to know: people helped each other after the fires. The employees at the Casey’s gas station and convenience store sent pizzas to the EMTs. Spanky’s opened early to serve food to volunteers. Others donated clothes and household items to the family who lost their home. Cupcakes and cookies were distributed to all. I asked Barb how they coordinated the effort, Facebook? Email? “We just talked. In person. We’re neighbors.”

That neighborliness partly explains why Acton, the matchstick artist, made Gladbook home. He said he wanted to move when he first got here, but the place grew on him. It was one of his neighbors, after all, who submitted pictures of his models to Reminisce magazine. Someone from Ripley’s saw them, one thing led to another, and here he is, doing what he loves.

Acton working on a matchstick model of the International Space Station.
Acton working on a matchstick model of the International Space Station.

Acton is 64 years old and has messy red hair. His hobby began almost 30 years ago, when he and his wife, both Iowa natives, moved to Gladbrook after college. She had gotten a job teaching at the local school and Acton told me they had no money for the movies or going out to eat. Bored, he remembered hearing about a man who built a to-scale model of a farm house and he wanted to do the same. Using glue and an Exacto blade, Acton constructs each model with painstaking detail.

He started small – a little church, which he gave to a Methodist minister. Then, a farmhouse. His collection grew. And as with all weird things in small towns, people started talking.

“Maybe some people made fun of me,” Acton admitted, laughing. “But no one said it to my face. Everyone is supportive.” In 2003, the city conceived of a plan to raise money for a place for Acton’s creations. Matchstick Marvels receives busloads of tourists in the summer and is even listed on the town’s Wikipedia page as one of the two cultural attractions (the other one is the corn festival held every June).

Acton is currently working on a 15-foot model of the Millennium Falcon for Ripley’s, complete with lights and a moving cargo door. With these commissions, Acton was able to retire from his job at a workforce training center in 2013 and devote himself to his passion full time. In a city where most people are teachers and janitors and the average per capita income is around $26K, it’s nothing to sniff at. Not that anyone would.

“I don’t have the words,” Barb said when trying to describe the importance of the matchsticks. “It’s just that, well, this is a close community and people take pride in every single thing in this town.” Gladbrook and the matchsticks are almost symbiotic. “Without this town, I mean, would the matchsticks be what they are?” the waitress asked me. She shrugged as if the answer was obvious.

Gladbrook’s city hall, movie theater, and home of Matchstick Marvels.
Gladbrook’s city hall, movie theater, and home of Matchstick Marvels.

The first time I visited the Matchsticks in 2008, I met Esther, a volunteer, who cried when I asked her why she worked there. Her husband had died and matchsticks were all she had. “It gives me something to be proud of, a reason to get out of the house now. It’s just a good thing.”

I ask Acton about Esther and he tells me she doesn’t volunteer as much, because she has family to visit now in Cedar Rapids. “She’s a real good lady. She’s given us so much.”

Acton describes his politics as progressive, and admits that he doesn’t always agree with his neighbors, the recent election made that clear. But he shrugs: “That’s America, right? I think rural Iowa people, despite our differences in politics, are the most sincere, most welcoming people there are.”

This town built Acton a shrine, and it’s clear he is devoted to Gladbook too. “I’ll never leave,” he said. “I can’t, its home.” Plus, he points out, anywhere else in the country, people might not have appreciated his work.

“Artists don’t think I’m an artist. I don’t think my work is for the city. But woodworkers, people here,” he waves to the clear Plexiglas of the display cases holding his creations. In the end, he says, he puts his differences aside and helps his neighbors. “That’s what America is, we just go forward.”

Acton in front of his mode of the Iowa state capitol.
Acton in front of his mode of the Iowa state capitol.



Dispatch From Standing Rock: Election Night, and the Morning After

This is the second of three accounts over the next week from Kelly McDonald, who is traveling with a group of fellow New Yorkers to join the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The first dispatch detailed their journey; this one covers Election Night and the day after.

At 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, long before daylight, all of the estimated 5,000 people in Oceti Sakowin Camp are rousted by an man yelling into the mic around the fire — a place that serves as both a town square and a hallowed space of worship.

“Get up!” he cries, in both English and Lakota. “This is not vacation! We’re here for a reason—to fight the black snake!” After a brief pause, his voice cuts again through the icy fog, this time with an admonishment for dawdling. “Wake up! There’s usually snow on the ground at this time of year!”

After only a little while here, I’ve learned that Lakota leaders have a remarkable capacity to serve up spicy hot burns alongside wisdom. Propelled by the admonishment, which was also a reminder that climate change has already changed this landscape, I bundle up and head to Facebook Hill in the rising light.

The New Yorkers' corncob-emblazoned bus at dawn
The New Yorkers’ corncob-emblazoned bus at dawn

The hill is a small but steep incline near the entrance of Oceti Sakowin. It’s called Facebook Hill, because it’s the only place in the camp where most smartphone users can find enough bars of LTE service to check the news or send a message. While most places in the camp are shared and community-minded, Facebook Hill is one of the only spots where people gather together but separately.

As I scroll through my own social media feed of shocked city dwellers, I think back to the night before, when I sat by the fire at Sheep Camp, populated by Navajos from Arizona; we mulled over possible outcomes, feeling thankful for once that the camp has so little cellphone service. Here on Facebook Hill, phone in hand, reality sets in and I turn to my neighbor to ask how she’s feeling. Her name is Jerilyn Dawn; she’s from Tsaile, Arizona. “Yeeya,” she says. “That means ‘scared’ in Navajo. I don’t wanna know.”

Just 24 hours earlier, many of the protesters I talked to struggled to see why any vote other than their presence in this camp would benefit their future. “I’d rather rearrange my sock drawer than vote in this election,” joked Michael Allen, an organizer from Houston, Texas.

Many of the camp residents who did want to vote discovered Tuesday that it was nearly impossible to do so. North Dakota has a thirty-day residency rule, but some people claimed that consistent Facebook check-ins at Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stone, or even just Standing Rock Reservation would suffice. It turned out that this could not substitute for a North Dakota ID.

Voting instructions
Voting instructions

With poor to no internet access throughout the rest of camp, news of Trump’s victory the next day trickles down from Facebook Hill slowly. “I had to let four people know,” says Jacob Smith, a Crown Heights activist who’d joined me on the bus ride here. “A lot of people probably went to sleep not knowing the results. It was brutal.”

It turns out to be an unseasonably warm day, and despite the news, work continues as usual. Hammers and handsaws reverberate through camp as carpenters build permanent winter structures. The medic tent is abuzz with nurses, midwives, and alternative healers sorting through salves, tinctures, and allopathic solutions. Children ending their school day at a camp-led Lakota language and cultural immersion school slalom down a dusty path on Facebook Hill until dinner.

Some cuteness relief at Oceti Sakowin
Some cuteness relief at Oceti Sakowin

As the sky darkens, the northernmost hillside that has been crested with military Humvees and construction equipment since Monday is lit up by a roaring fire at its base. Word around camp is that the contents of the fire came from North Camp — the land being defended under the name of the 1851 treaty, which police bulldozed on October 29 after arresting most of its residents. According to Lakota tradition, when belongings are taken away and given back (police dumped many of the confiscated items, some of which were ceremonial, on the side of the highway), they are unwanted — and unwanted belongings are to be burned.

Despite the election results, the atmosphere in camp is still celebratory. Cries of “mni wichoni” (water is life) reverberate across great distances, and roadside fireworks light up the sky. It’s Logan’s third birthday today, so after a makeshift party with a Rice Krispy Treat “cake”, he and his cousin Jaray practice drum songs on a plastic bucket. War whoops ring out through camp like wolf howls, and Logan surprises us all when he throws back his head and and emits his first little war cry. While we play, Lakota singers assemble nearby at the fire circle mic. “Ooh, I know that song,” Jaray says as the drumming begins. “That’s a war song.” The kids play along on the bucket until the icy fog once again settles into the riverbank valley.

Oceti Sakowin at dusk
Oceti Sakowin at dusk



Dispatch From Standing Rock: Meet the New Yorkers Bussing to North Dakota to Fight DAPL

This is the first of three accounts over the next week from Kelly McDonald, who is traveling with a group of fellow New Yorkers to join the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The bus arrived at Oceti Sakowin Camp on Sunday night; below, McDonald details the journey.

It’s an unseasonably warm day this Friday as a diverse group of New Yorkers board a bus to Standing Rock from the corner of 140th and Alexander in the Bronx. The trip is a grassroots effort, organized via Facebook and one-on-one invitations by longtime Bronx activist Poonam Srivastava. I’ve already been to Standing Rock, in October, and feel compelled to return just a week after getting back home to Brooklyn. So I took the long subway ride here to embark on a three-day ride straight to Oceti Sakowin. Srivastava is waiting next to our coach, beaming and welcoming us aboard.

At the helm of the bus, one side of which bears a large painting of a corn cob, is Bill Hill, a lifelong activist based in the Bronx who drives the bus for The Cause, whatever that happens to be.

“Whenever somebody needs me to drive it, I drive it,” says Hill, who has caravanned New Yorkers to, among other places, Cuba, Chiapas, and post-Katrina New Orleans. At the beginning of September, Srivastava asked him to start getting New Yorkers to the front lines of the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and so, here we are.

Bill Hill at the wheel
Bill Hill at the wheel

We get going, the bus eventually reaching the slow crawl it will maintain for the rest of the trip. I start talking to my traveling companions about why they’re here. Maria Marasigan greets everyone with a bright smile—this is her return trip to Oceti Sakowin. She arrived back in Rocklin County last week and was scheduled to leave home for the Philippines today, but she canceled her ticket and headed back to Standing Rock because she felt she was needed there. “Whether you’re non-Native or Native, it’s about people being treated like human beings,” she says.

The youngest of the group is Logan Long Soldier, a two year-old Oglala Lakota Sioux from Pine Ridge, North Dakota—the same place we are now headed. A year ago, Logan and his sisters were adopted by their cousin Cheyenne Goodman, an Eastern Band Cherokee who lives in the Bronx. “[The pipeline] not only affects my Native child, but it affects millions of people,” she says. “If we don’t clean this up, then the children are going to have to clean up our mess.” Logan is learning to count in both English and Lakota and will spend his third birthday back in Pine Ridge, surrounded by family.

Logan Long Soldier
Logan Long Soldier

Then there’s Brandon, a 28 year-old activist of African and Eastern Band Cherokee descent who declines to provide his last name. He lives in Harlem, where he struggles to organize fellow NYCHA residents against the threat of hyper-development. When he learns of Goodman’s tribal affiliation, he exclaims, “We’re supposed to be here, together!” Everyone talks late into the night, getting up early the next morning to continue the journey.

We stop for our second night at a bucolic farm in Idaho, and in the fading afternoon light Cheyenne and Logan stride happily through the rows of ripe tomatoes and peppers, eating as they pick. Several people are brought to tears by the sight of the garden and the simplicity it promises. They cry in a cornfield, and hug it out. More than a few comparisons are made between the fight against gentrification in New York and Native struggles for sovereignty.

Goodman, right, and Logan in Idaho
Goodman, right, and Logan in Idaho

It’s late afternoon on Sunday when we finally get to Standing Rock, and through smeared windows we can see spotted ponies dotting the hills. As we near camp, Bill points out a construction crew working by floodlight, clawing up the earth and laying pipes where solid ground once was. Activists call DAPL the Black Snake, referencing the oil it carries, but the pipes themselves are a bright, unnatural blue.

The corncob bus pulls up Oceti Sakowin, where security waves us in with friendly recognition: “Oh, the corn cob bus!” As we finally and step down onto the dirt, Goodman’s family runs to greet us. After two recent actions and a whirlwind of weekend visitors, the camp is serene. People sit around fires; children play between tents, campers, and tepees. “Where the singers at?” an older protester calls from beside a fire, and minutes later, songs echoing through the camp almost drown out the drone of what appears to be an unmarked surveillance plane circling overhead. The northern horizon is bathed in light from work trucks.

I turn to Nasha Paola Holguín, a young Dominican woman from Harlem, and ask her how she feels right now. “I’m very overwhelmed. [But] I just feel like I’ve answered the call. Right now, I feel my ancestors bumping in my chest.”

Tomorrow, a long week begins.

Oceti Sakowin Camp
Oceti Sakowin Camp



A Few Lessons We Learned From the 2012 Election Season

Election Day is upon us, people. We cannot even begin to count the minutes, hours, days, and months since this whole boondaggle started to consume the media’s attention, but it’s safe to say that it has been way too long. And, once it’s over, we can return to normalcy, which is a prolonged period of time when any utterance of the phrase “swing state” is prohibited by law.

But that’s not to say that this election season was for nothing. The quadrennial spectacle of American politics is always introspective for the nation; we learn about ourselves, our brethren, and just how dirty and disrespectful our elected officials can act toward one another. It’s pretty great. Except we usually forget all those lessons the minute the curtains close in the ballot box and have to re-teach ourselves everything the next time around.
With that being said, as the Biggest Story of 2012 winds down, we are left with memories, projections for the future, and, of course, the aforementioned lessons. So let’s step back for a second and take a look at all of this from a student’s point of view.
Preach, Election 2012:

1. Rick Santorum is actually insane. His views on gays; his views on contraceptives; his views on women; his views on the separation between church and state (or lack thereof); his views on Palestinians; his views on Satan in America; his views on waging war with China; his views on Darwinism; his views on any policy issue since the birth of the Constitution. And he almost became the nominee.

2. During an election, social media can be leveling, enthralling, informative and funny. Also, it can be very, very annoying. The information overload and second-by-second commentary during the debates really nailed this one down. We all follow that one person on Twitter whose more than willing to call shots in this election but couldn’t tell you how the tax structure in America works. Or that friend on Facebook who posts statuses about the election that are neither intelligent nor coherent. Yes, social media gives all of us a voice in the democratic process that we’ve never had before. But, keyword: all of us.
3. Unfettered private equity is, uhm, not good.
4. The vice presidential debate can be (and was) more entertaining than the presidential debates. It’s a bunch of malarkey if you disagree.
5. Kid Rock will never be cool. And singing “Bawitdaba” with Paul Ryan is not helping anyone.
6. Mitt Romney has a love/hate relationship with New York’s wealthiest.
7. If you run for President, ask yourself this over and over again: “Do I really want Clint Eastwood’s endorsement?”
8. Whether it’s the killing of Trayvon Martin or what happened in Aurora, our elected officials will always be hesitant to talk about gun control. And that’s a damn shame.
9. At one point, polls had Herman Cain in the lead among prospective Republican voters. Therefore, polls are bullshit.
10. Never let a House Republican talk to you about rape.
11. Do not listen to a band if you’re running for one of the highest offices in the free world and not only not share, but also vehemently oppose, their political views. Because they’ll call you out in front of everyone.
12. In the Big Picture and long-term scheme of things, trends are irrelevant. Who the hell is Big Bird? Is he voting for Mitt Romney? Am I voting for Mitt Romney? How did Obama do in the first debate? Was he asleep? What are binders full of women? Is Newt serious about a moon colony? Does any of this even matter on Election Day? No, it does not at all.
To America (or whoever is reading this): your job over the next 24 hours is to memorize these lessons. Like, really, really memorize them. Don’t forget them. If you do, we’re all screwed come 2016.
Oh, and go vote. That, too.

Clint Eastwood Narrates New Pro-Romney Ad, Makes It Sound Much More Epic Than It Actually Is

For a while, Clint Eastwood was the true third party in this election. After his endorsement for Romney, the Hollywood bravado set off a media firestorm with his self-destructive tirade against a stool during the RNC and his even more self-destructive explanation of said speech. We laughed, we cried, and we got over it real quick — kinda like Trouble With the Curve.

Since then, the star has remained relatively mum while the campaigns kicked into high gear heading into November. America took its attention off Dirty Harry to focus on the bigger issues at hand here, like the “binders of women” or Big Bird.

At least for the time being.

Think of it as a sequel to his “Halftime in America” pro-Detroit ad during the Super Bowl last year. In a new swing state spot for Karl Rove’s SuperPAC, Crossroads GPS, Eastwood has the following message for America:

“In the last few years, America’s been knocked down. Twenty-three million people can’t find full-time work, and we borrow 4 billion dollars every single day from China. When someone doesn’t get the job done, you gotta hold ’em accountable. Obama’s second term would just be a re-run of the first, and our country just couldn’t survive that. We need someone who can turn it around fast and that man is Mitt Romney. There’s not that much time left, and the future of our country is at stake.”

You’ve heard this all before if you’ve watched any of the debates or listened to Romney or Ryan for more than 20 seconds, America. But something about the voice of Eastwood makes that message come alive like never before. His rugged tone adds on another layer of anxiety to the already super-anxious message at hand. We are running out of time, guys, Romney is our only hope.

Then you Google “Eastwood RNC” and everything’s back to normal — just in time to watch Mystic River.


The Mayor on the Election: Romney, Obama Economic Plans “Are Not Real”

Since he endorsed then-president Bush in 2004, Mayor Bloomberg has remained relatively mum during the election season. He didn’t endorse anyone in 2008 and will not do so this year either. The Republican-turned-independent politician likes to pull strings from the outside instead: Just last week, the billionaire told the press that he would be creating his own SuperPAC to funnel funds to Congressional candidates that shared his political views.

By doing so, the mayor hopes to influence a different level of the national stage. And that makes sense, given that he doesn’t seem to like the two presidential candidates too much.
In an interview with The New York Times yesterday, Bloomberg spilled the beans on all his electoral emotions, much to the dismay of the Romney and Obama tents. Needless to say, the criticisms were harsh for both sides, but the icing on the cake of it all was the mayor’s overarching referendum on the candidates’ policies:
“Their economic plans are not real. I think that’s clear. If you listen to what they say, they never get explicit.” (For Romney, at least, a whole website has been dedicated to that idea: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you…
The mayor has spoken.
However, if you read the rest of Bloomberg’s comments, he reminds you of the disappointed liberal more so than the centrist mold he has created for himself. On the president’s social stances, in terms of gay marriage and gun control (two issues that Bloomberg has prided himself on), the mayor is stumped by inaction:
“I will say that I don’t see as much action as I would like, and it’s nice to be on the side that I think you should be on, but unless you do something, so what.”
Continuing on that liberal fury, the mayor even included an indictment of Romney’s business experience, which is strange coming from a man who flew into office on the “I’m a businessman who can run government too” ticket:
“I do think that Romney’s business experience would be valuable, but I don’t know that running Bain Capital gives you the experience to run the country.”
Private equity is not the same as running a multimillion dollar financial information service company, Mitt.
But don’t think for a second that Bloomberg sympathizes with Obama on taxing the 1 Percent — an issue we touched upon two weeks ago with the mayoral race next year. “This business of ‘Well, they can afford it; they should pay their fair share?’ Well, who are you to say ‘Somebody else’s fair share’?”
Once again, the mayor has spoken. Sorry, Mitt and Barack. This guy ain’t your friend.

Mitt Romney Snubbed My Favorite Childhood Television Network (But It’s Okay)

Cat Dog. Hey Arnold. Rugrats. All That! Rocket Power. Legends of the Hidden Temple. Salute Your Shorts. Figure It Out. The Wild Thornberries. Everything on Nick Jr. Everything on Nick at Nite (The Cosby Show! Cheers!).  

I’m probably leaving out a few but, for the most part, that’s what Nickelodeon looked like during the late 1990s and early 2000s. I learned my morals from those shows (well, not really) and stayed up late just to watch the Huxtables’ daily routines while examining Cosby’s sweater collection.

So, when I discovered that the Republican Presidential candidate has refused to make an appearance on Nickelodeon’s “Kids Pick the President” (a political version of Kids Say The Darnest Things, where children ask the candidates about the most serious questions we face as a country heading into the next four years) next week, my ten-year-old self felt betrayed by Mr. Meanie. In a press release this morning, the network announced that Mr. Romney would not be participating in the program because “he was unable to fit it into schedule.”

He’s treading on a fragile playground: if pre-teens were the leading electoral bloc, Mr. Romney would lose in a landslide. But they cannot vote yet so us adults in the media will latch onto anything the candidate can throw at the pint-sized, be it the professed Big Bird hate in last week’s debate and, most recently, his resounding “No!” to the children of America.

This doesn’t look good for the Republican candidate, especially because Obama is making an appearance and he’s the President on his free time.  Also, the program has been around since 1992 and only two Presidential candidates have bailed: Dubya and Kerry in 2004. And that was just a bad year in general for the kids of America.

Now, Nickelodeon is already making it clear that they’re a little pissed about the decision to abstain: Nick News host Linda Ellerbee declared that the “several million kids” who will vote in an online poll for their Presidential choice “don’t deserve to be dissed. But former Gov. Romney also blew off Letterman and Big Bird so I guess we’re in good company.”


It should be expected that Romney will lose the online poll simply because he will not be there to defend himself. The President will be facing off against an empty stool a la Clint Eastwood. And, luckily, the future generations of this country aren’t as indecisive as the independent voters in this country – the online poll has successfully predicted the election in five out of the six past elections.

However, as short-lived trend stories in any election, all these children-based quips do not add up to much in the end; the Big Bird story was fun for, like, 16 hours post-debate and this Nickelodeon story will probably fizzle out in due time (less than a day) as well. Because, as mentioned before, these little squirts cannot vote yet and the electorate cares more about the present moment than the future generations’ prospects for survival.

Sorry kids and my ten-year-old self, America’s eyes are focused on broke/unemployed Mommy and Daddy, not Mr. Romney’s policy on Big Bird. But, using that logic, this article falls under my own trend criticism.

It’s alright, though. My favorite childhood TV network was Cartoon Network anyway.


Why The Ryan/Biden Debate Will Be Inherently More Entertaining

America is still letting out an exhausted sigh from the debate two nights ago in Denver. At this point, who knows who won, and who actually cares? The best/worst part of it all, as my colleague James King pointed out, is that Donald Trump was mentioned two times in 90 minutes; that’s two times more than the number of times Trump should ever be mentioned in a presidential debate.

Nevertheless, the next two meetings between Romney and Obama will likely produce more “mehs” from the begrudging national audience. Don’t worry, Election Day will be over soon enough. At least we hope so.

The pointdexter.
The pointdexter.

But, Romney and Obama aside, we are forgetting a very important part of the American democratic process: the vice presidential debate. Next Wednesday, in lieu of the big boys fighting again, Paul Ryan and Joe Biden will face off at Centre College in Kentucky. The topics: domestic and foreign policy. The expectations: With last Wednesday in mind, it’s evident that the VP debate will be much more entertaining then what we saw with Romney/Obama.

with these two characters involved.

To make this point, there’s a few things we have to touch upon. The first is what we’re working with in the past: Every time we’ve seen Joe Biden debate in the past, he’s been ignored by a higher power.

In 2008’s Democratic Party primary debates, the rivalry between Hillary and Barack took everyone’s attention off the other candidates standing there next to them (Dennis Kucin-who?). Once Barack accepted the throne and brought Biden with him to Camelot, the VP debate was dominated by the Barracuda herself, Sarah Palin. The media wanted to hear what she had to say about every issue in the political spectrum because each and every other sound bite of hers was a wonderful headline waiting to happen. With that being said, Biden was, once again, overshadowed.

But, against Ryan, Biden has the opportunity to shine.

In terms of wit, Ryan is the complete opposite of Palin: He can make coherent sentences and explain policy better than your political science professor (the substance of the policy notwithstanding, of course).

Remember: Every number and statistic Romney spewed out in Denver has some sort of six degrees of separation with Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint. The VP nominee just has to avoid coming off as the smug, pretentious know-it-all and be able to defend himself against accusations that his master’s numbers were a tad off from reality the other night (according to most fact-checkers, they were).

Also, with Joe, we have the go-to gaffe label — in terms of recognition, the vice president’s public persona, whether he likes it or not, is a running joke. He’s bound to say something he shouldn’t have, which everyone, except Barack, should look excitingly forward to. Cross your fingers and hope for the gaffe.

With these two on the same stage, we have a situation that is akin to a Thanksgiving dinner where the dorky cousin is trying to outsmart the drunken uncle. Ryan will attack with policy (percents, deficits, tax deductions); Biden will attack with emotion (“BUT THE MIDDLE CLASS!”). To win a debate in the American system, you need to perfectly balance the two: a little from column A, a little from column B. Luckily, we have both columns’ extremes on the national stage, duking it out for that middle ground.

Who said vice presidents weren’t important? Or at least, entertaining? Oh, right, Dick Cheney.


Unlike All Of The Media, Paul Ryan Is Not So Psyched For The Debate

Over the past two weeks, as the media buries the grave for Romney’s campaign and writes its tombstone, we’ve heard it a million times, over and over again: the debates could change everything. The debates are going to be the most exciting television this fall. The debates will finally show the human side of Mitt Romney to America. The debates will give us a chance to really see what this election is all about. Even Governor Chris Christie said today the debates would turn the election “upside down.

This Wednesday, we’ll see if any of those statements hold true as Romney and Obama face off in the first debate at the University of Denver in Colorado. Guilty as charged, we are excited for the debate as well – it’s that little piece of history occurring in front of your eyes that evokes that tingling sensation. And, also, with all the labels attached to each candidate since this whole thing started, we have a lot to work with.

(Even though, if history tells us anything, it’s that we’ll wake up on Thursday morning and say “Meh” about it all. The sad reality of high expectations in politics.)

Anyway, the same amount of emphasis the media has placed on this spectacle is not shared by one very important person: Republican VP golden child, Paul Ryan. In his mind, it’s not going to be game-changing, it’s not going to be fun and, hey, Romney isn’t that trained for these kinds of things.

Those are his words, not ours.

On “Fox News Sunday” this morning, Paul Ryan spilled the beans to whoever’s up on Sunday mornings and tuned into that channel: “I don’t think one event is going to make or break a campaign. Look, President Obama is a very – he’s a very gifted speaker. The man’s been on the national stage for many years, he’s an experienced debater, he’s done these kinds of debates before. This is Mitt’s first time on this kind of stage.”

Given, he has a point – Mitt has never participated in a general election debate before and, notwithstanding his entire political career, he says some dumb shit once in a while, whether it’s being recorded inside of a fundraiser or not. However, in the primary debates this past fall, he did a fine job of rising above the rest in terms of eloquence and forcefulness. Except a third grader could’ve outdone out his rivals’ talking points. You don’t need to be a beautiful orator to beat Michelle Bachmann in a verbal boxing match.

Also, it is true: debates don’t change much. Nate Silver, the New York Times‘s gifted mathematician, argued this the other day. The most a candidate can gain from a debate is a temporary bump of 3 points in the national polls unless you’re sweaty Nixon in the first televised debate of 1960. So, right, the debate wouldn’t ‘make or break a campaign,’ Mr. Ryan, except that’s not why the debates are important for you guys.

These media spectacles are the last fighting chance your team has to show the American people why the hell they should trust a candidate who thinks almost half of the country’s denizens are a bunch of food stamp babies. This is your opportunity for your running mate to at least be cool for one hour only. And to tell the people why his experience at Bain Capital has taught him everything he needs to know about global macroeconomics.

If anything, this debate will not ‘make or break a campaign,’ it will make or break the mold everyone has put your campaign into. So get excited!