Brad Kent, kentdb@muohio.edu

A very Happy New Year to all of my readers, I hope you enjoy the last year of the world’s existence. As you have all heard, according to the Mayan calendar, the world will end on Dec. 21, which will really be a downer for our seniors who worked so hard to find jobs. According to a recent skit on Saturday Night Live, the Mayans simply ran out of space on the calendar they were creating and just simply had no room for any year after 2012. Either way, this year is shaping up to be very special.

Mailboxes, television channels and email accounts will be flooded with ads promoting the best of the best: the presidential candidates for this upcoming election cycle. By the end of this year, we might just have a new president-elect (who will be hoping the Mayans are wrong). Most importantly though, the country will see just how much money could possibly be spent campaigning. According to OpenSecrets.org, the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2008, around $730 million was spent by then-Senator Barack Obama, with Senator John McCain spending $330 million. They are figuring even more money will be spent during this next election. With Super-PACs and interest groups that number will be even higher. I do not know about all of you, but I would just rather them spend the money on something other than television ads. If nothing else, they should get Aaron Rodgers to do his touchdown dance in at least one of them.

A Super-PAC that is getting a lot of attention lately is Stephen Colbert’s Americans for a “Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow Super-PAC.” It started as a way to show how easy it was to create one of these organizations, but Colbert has raised millions of dollars. Now that he has given his intention to run for President (of the United States of South Carolina), he had to sign over control to another. In another educational, yet sarcastic showing, his attorney explained how he could sign over his Super-PAC to anyone, as long as he did not coordinate with whoever was in charge. His choice: Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. Stewart in turn quickly changed the name of the group to “The Definitely Not Coordinated With Stephen Colbert Super PAC.” The move showed, surprisingly, how easy it was to create, move and transfer ownership of a seemingly complicated organization, a Super-PAC.

Catherine Shoichet, a journalist for CNN, explains how this move (Colbert’s run for President) has angered many Republicans in South Carolina. They see it as a gag, a political stunt to increase ratings and get some cheap laughs. While Colbert will not be able to get on the ballot due to election regulations, is this just a political stunt? It has caused enough stir that CNN has begun running stories on Colbert’s actions. In their quest for political humor, they also educate the masses. As much as Colbert and Stewart say they run “fake news” programs, a study by the PEW Research Center in 2007 explains how 16 percent of Americans said they watched The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, which according to Journalism.org is “comparable to some major news programs.” With readership of newspapers dropping significantly, people are going elsewhere for their news. With so many viewers, is it not the responsible thing to do to educate Americans about the election process, albeit in a very sarcastic way?

Whatever one’s feelings about politics, it is important to stay informed. It is important that we look beyond those numbers and find out what is really the truth. Reading the news also gives us insight as to what is happening outside our little Miami University “bubble.” It opens our eyes to cultures diametrically opposed, like our own compared to Iran’s, yet able to work together. The U.S. Navy recently rescued Iranian citizens from Somali pirates. This came just after tensions grew heated over Iran’s threat to close an important waterway through which oil tankers regularly travel. It could have cut off much of the world’s supply of oil. Yet, tensions were calmed (for a moment at least) when that Navy ship rescued those hostages.

This weekend, an Italian cruise ship ran aground and capsized, killing several passengers. Through that tragedy, however, the some of the ship’s crew courageously stayed on board to help as many passengers off as possible. Even though, the captain may be facing legal troubles and suspension for jumping ship. It just shows how when one turns on the news, while they may see stories of murders, corruption, and scandals they can also see stories of bravery and selflessness. They may also hopefully see a political comedian who is trying to help America create a better tomorrow … tomorrow.

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