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Judge presidential hopefuls yourself

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

I received this press release this week and it's substantial food for thought:

The Libertarian Party says the decision by Fox News to cut GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul out of this weekend's debate illustrates the culture of censorship of competitive views in mainstream politics. "There is simply no tolerance of competing voices against the political elite of two-party politics," says Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian Party.

"The leading GOP fundraiser for the fourth-quarter is being snubbed from the debates for nothing more than having political views outside of mainstream Republicanism," says Cory. "The Republican establishment shuns Paul for his pro-liberty views, and will do everything it can to marginalize him. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. There is a long-standing culture of censorship among the political elite when it comes to competing viewpoints."

Third party candidates, such as those from the Libertarian Party, are routinely denied participation in political debates, both locally and nationally. The Libertarian Party claims the competition of opinion is vital for healthy and open debates, which are essential to democracy.

Despite the institutional bias against competing viewpoints, one group has taken up the charge to try to open debates to third party candidates.

"We have people dying in Iraq to promote democracy in that part of the world, and in this country, we can't even have full, open, inclusive debates," says founder Bob Sullentrup. "There is something fundamentally wrong with that." is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to opening up debates to all candidates. has asked presidential candidates if they would be open to debating a third party candidate. Of those that have responded, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee are the only two current GOP candidates that have agreed to do so. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have said they are opposed to open debates. Democrat Barack Obama has also said he is opposed to debating a third party candidate, while Hillary Clinton has been ambiguous with her answer and John Edwards has yet to respond.

"The Republican and Democratic Parties may say they are dedicated to open and democratic debates," Cory concludes, "but their track records with limiting competition in debates shows the hypocrisy of their rhetoric."

Can we safely say that corporate media is narrowing the public's ability to judge the candidates themselves?


There are no stories sadder than unrequited love, right?

My foster daughter and her husband gave me a gift of gifts this Christmas: an iPhone. I've been wanting one of these things since I first saw it. Among my many flaws is an attraction to gadgets, especially if they are from Apple. I've been an Apple guy since the 1980s when we bought a Mac Plus. Since then I've had a succession of Apple machines and have been very much in love.

I've successfully resisted getting an iPod, but the iPhone called a siren's song to me. My daughter consulted with my wife if I really wanted one, received affirmation and lo and behold on Christmas Day I got one.

Joy! Right?

Well, I brought the phone to the local Apple store for activation. Yes, the instructions said plug it into your computer, but I thought it would be easier (and I could get some operating tips) if I went there. No, I had to plug it into my computer, I was told.

I did and found out I needed a newer operating system.

So I called Apple and asked if my iMac G5 had the memory needed for the new Mac OS. Yes, I was told. So I went back to the Apple store and spent $129 plus tax on "Leopard." Where do they get these cat names from for a computer operating system?

I came back and tried to install it only to find our that the no good rat-soup-drinking junkyard no-show muffin wrapper technician had either lied or didn't know his backside from a hole in the ground.

Another call to Apple confirmed I needed more memory: $100 more to be precise.

So I ordered it and now am waiting to receive it so it can be installed.

Then I will have to install the new operating system, hitch up the iPhone and get it activated.

I received the memory in the mail, went back to the Apple Store to have it installed, which took all of five minutes. I was all set to go back home and take the next step when our power went out in our neighborhood from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Tonight, I'll try again. Boy, I hope I like this thing!

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.