Helping Us With Boats

No Faith In Politics On The Greyhound To Tampa

John Stanton

“I think they care about getting into office, and after that everything goes out the window,” Robert Rowan says of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney between drags of his cigarette.

Rowan is leaning against the wall of the Jacksonville Greyhound station, a tired, muscular man with thinning brown hair who looks older than 32. He offers a familiar view from the ranks of the working poor, ignored by American politicians whose pollsters have made “middle class” a mantra, and mostly ignoring American politics in turn.

“I don’t really think they really care about us,” he tells me flatly of the political class.

Rowan is heading back to Indiana, his home state, which he’d left just three months earlier.

“I came here looking for work … [doing] construction. Anywhere from the ground up,” Rowan says, proud of his abilities. And he quickly found it, taking on with a roofing company.

But the pay wasn’t that great because “of all the migrant workers. It’s just the way it is, they undervalue what we do,” he mused. Unlike politicians and anti-immigrant activists, there’s no edge to his voice, not really even anger. Just resignation.

He tried to set off on his own as a subcontractor — the kind of small business decision Romney, Obama and every red-blooded politician loves to talk about. But that dream proved elusive.

The jobs, when they came, paid terribly, Rowan says. He got behind on his bills and “ended up going into motels day to day living, doing day labor.”

“I had to get food stamps,” Rowan says.

The strain quickly became too much. So he called his mom and got her to pay for a bus ticket, he says, before hopping back on his bus.

John Stanton

I took my first serious bus trip in high school, on a Boy Scouts trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It took days, it was hot, it was uncomfortable and I loved it. Since then, I’ve taken buses in Ecuador, Argentina, China and the U.S. They’re the last really public form of transportation, cheap and often dirty, winding through the countryside, the downtowns of major cities and the avenues of small towns.

And unlike planes, or in some countries trains, the bus is where the everyman rides, often the only way the carless poor and lower middle classes can afford a long haul.

I met Rowan halfway through a two-and-half day bus ride through the gorgeous American South, from Washington to Tampa, embarked upon with little planning and in the vague hope of finding out what working class people, college kids just starting out and the truly poor think about the state of American politics on the eve of the Republican National Convention.

And, at least to hear them tell it, they don’t think much of it.

John Stanton

I boarded my second bus of my first day in Richmond, Virginia. I was a one of the last passengers to get on, and the Greyhound was pretty packed. I surveyed the remaining seats. One had a heavy set African man already slumped into the aisle seat. Another was next to a older white man whose blue ink tattoos and khaki pants made clear he’d just gotten out of jail. Again.

I opted for the seat next to a young blonde, who looked like she wouldn’t spill into my side of the seat bench — a key consideration for someone of my height whenever using any sort of mass transit.

“I’ve got all this student debt, I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” says Hara, a 23-year-old native of Savannah, Georgia I spent most of an evening talking to on the bus.

Hara graduated from nursing school in December, and while she dreams of travelling, even in a well-paying profession like nursing she realizes it could take years for her to get out from underneath that amount of debt. And by then, the realities of life — a relationship, a child, a nagging sense of permanence — will probably have caught up to her.

Hara, who spent the summer working at a summer camp in Pennsylvania, said she doesn’t pay much attention to politics — in part because of the tone of political discourse.

“Every time [there’s an election] the candidates just seem to get worse,” she says as the bus rolls through North Carolina.

“I used to want to be president, but then I realized you’re just a scapegoat…. There’s so many problems they can’t be fixed overnight. Or even one four-year term.”

John Stanton

The next morning in Savannah, Georgia I met Debora Simmons, a church volunteer feeding breakfast to the homeless and working poor. I asked whether either Romney or Obama seemed concerned with poverty.

“I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention the state of this,” she said bluntly, motioning towards the throngs of people munching on a breakfast of coffee, eggs and cake.

Simmons, who now works at the county jail after spending 22 years working in the state mental health system, said volunteers started coming to downtown to feed people four years ago.

Keith Niager, the former pastor of Rivers Community Church, was at “The Rail,” a famous park in the city’s tony downtown area, one morning and saw men lining up for day labor work.

“He saw folks gathering at The Rail to get work and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to bring these folks coffee and donuts’ … [so] four or five of us got together with donuts and coffee.”

Now, they feed some 200 people a day, and the numbers keep growing.

“I think it’s the economy,” Simmons said, adding that the volunteers “do what we can to help” those they serve get medical attention and other services.

Simmons said that local politicians have complained about their efforts and have sought to force them out of the park.

“They don’t want us out here … they want us in a building,” Simmons said. When I asked why, Simmons said simply “tourism is a big thing in Savannah.”

John Stanton

Politicians used to talk to, and about, the poor. There was the “War on Poverty.” And Jack Kemp – who GOP Vice Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan cites as one of his role models — was a vocal conservative voice for the centrality of the poor and working class to American public policy.

But over the last several decades, those same people have found themselves increasingly marginalized by both parties as they have focused on a narrow band of middle class swing voters.

“The middle class is that golden vote,” CNN’s Mark Preston pointed out Saturday during a segment on the middle class, and on the central political question of middle class anxiety at falling behind the wealthiest Americans.

It’s a blustery Sunday afternoon when we pull into Tampa, the grey sky and wind the edge of a passing hurricane. The bus is filled with the regular lot — a couple of Khaki pants and white t-shirt ex-cons; a too-young black man with his beautiful, blissful child, her head in his lap; Latino families returning to Tampa from a hard-earned weekend at one of the Orlando resort paradises that make their children smile.

I walk outside, hoping for a smoke before my ride shows up. Three older black men loiter around the entrance, waiting for a bus, grumble to me about politicians (“Fuck these dudes.”) and “their wars,” and watch a half-naked homeless man stagger through the street, a phalanx of police standing by to guard a government building from rumored anarchist attack.

The talk in Tampa will be entirely of the middle class, but I wonder whether at least some of those in the middle class might want to hear politicians’ plans to help the poor. Those who work with poor people every day surely do, and not just out of charity.

“All of us could be a paycheck from being out of homes,” says Debora Simmons, the Savannah volunteer. “I know I live paycheck to paycheck.”

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This Is What Happens When You Offer President Obama A Joint


You’ve got to be pretty gutsy to offer a joint to one of the most powerful men in the world, but this guy did. Obama was on an off-schedule stop in Denver, Colorado, when he was offered the drug which is legal in the state.

Obama managed to laugh off the potentially awkward moment earlier this week when he was asked “do you wanna hit this?” by someone offering him marijuana.

The generous offer was captured on video and posted on Instagram and is now being watched by millions worldwide.

Obama has previously admitted being a member of the “Choom Gang” when he was at high school and adopted various techniques to get high.

Nowadays, however, his stance has changed somewhat and he described “bad choices” that he made in the past. Obama handled it well though, laughing at the man before moving on to shake hands with more people.

Writing about Obama’s previous drug use, biographer David Maraniss said: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!’ and took an extra hit.”

Whilst at the bar he played pool and met with locals including the sister of a soldier who died in Afghanistan.

WATCH>> Click Next To Watch The Full Video


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7 Celebs Who Literally Make The Same Face In Every Picture

Bonus! Duck Face Girl

We all know one, right?

Double Bonus! Douche-y Tan Man

H/T BuzzFeed commenter Taiga Star

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Community Post: 10 Big Questions For “American Idol” Season 12

1. 1. Can the show be saved?


This is the big one. Since Idol’s very first season, it has been declared dead more times than Freddy Krueger. But for the past two seasons, with ratings in free fall, reality might, at last, be catching up with the obituaries. For nine years, Idol was the most stable entity in television, reliably decimating every other network five months a year. But now, though still number one, it barely holds off The Voice and has at moments fallen behind Dancing with the Stars.

Idol 2.0, featuring JLo and Steven Tyler, gave the show a boost of excitement, but that quickly faded. Will this year’s much-heralded Season 12 premiere give Idol another boost? And if it does, will this one hold up better than the last?

2. 2. Is this one makeover too many?


Idol featured the most consistent of formats and lineups for nine straight seasons, but now it has gone through two complete overhauls in three years. Are loyal fans ready for one more change?

3. 3. Will the new judges find a way to get along?


There has not been a great running judges’ feud since the golden age of the Simon/Paula buddy team. Building up to the show, Idol has certainly pushed the Mariah/Nicki grudge-match storyline. But will the hype match the heat? Will the two be able to keep it up? And even if they hate each other, will they find a workable chemistry, or will they each just pretend the other doesn’t exist and sit on their own private islands?

4. 4.What does Keith Urban think of all this?


The country star is actually the new judge with the biggest current connection to today’s Idol audience. How is he going to deal with the diva wars? Insert himself into the fray? Play referee? Or just — as he seemed to do in the show’s PR campaign — fade into the background?

5. 5. Is the audience ready for a splash of youth?

With the median age of Idol viewers now at 48 years old, the show’s attempt to attract younger viewers with an edgy, contemporary act like Minaj risks alienating the audience it has today. Further, Idol audiences have always placed great stock in the show’s “heart” and compassion. Will the harder bite of the current panel — particularly if the sparks fly — chase away those who see Idol as a safe place in the airwaves’ vast wasteland? If the audience is turned off, the ratings decline could turn into a rout.

6. 6.Why do these people want to be judges?


To date, not a single singer-turned-judge has wowed with their transition. Some offer effective advice. Paula Abdul soared as the straight man in a buddy routine. But none has done what Simon Cowell is capable of doing: telling the audience why a singer connects and how they are growing or failing as an artist.

It’s not solely the judges’ role to give advice; the contestants have plenty of time to get that backstage. The judges are there to explain to us the journey the singers are on. This is what record executives — like Cowell and Jimmy Iovine — do every day. But singers do not generally have to verbalize what makes them interesting, much less explain why any other singer is great. As a result, the singer/judges thus far have been more content to sit back, soak up the burst of press appearing on the show provides and use every chance they can to promote their day job.

7. 7. Did Phillip Phillips make a difference?

For years running, Idol has failed to do the very thing it promised right in its title: create genuine pop idols. As a result, the contest has largely lost its meaning and floated adrift. But last season, the show’s biggest star in six years emerged. The ridiculously handsome, low-key Phillip Phillips swept Season 11 and went on to produce the biggest selling coronation song in Idol history. To date, the now ubiquitous “Home” has sold a staggering 3.4 million copies. Will having something real on the line again put some spring back in Idol’s step?

(It should be noted the extensive presence of bona fide X Factor sensation One Direction did little to help Simon Cowell’s new show in this season’s ratings.)

8. 8. Why is Randy Jackson still there?


When Idol was created, the dawg was brought in as an inoffensive counterweight to balance out the toxic Cowell. Eleven seasons later, the inoffensive counterweight is still there, chewing up airtime. If the producers want continuity, why not bring back Brian Dunkleman? He’ll at least have a story to tell about his 11-year hiatus.

9. 9. How will they pretend that the female performers have a chance in hell of winning?


Now that five straight white guys with guitars have won, only a lunatic or the willfully self-deluded could believe that the winner of this season will be anyone other than a white guy with a guitar. But how will they pretend the women are doing anything other than providing cannon fodder on the road to the lad’s victory?

10. 10. Can they ever get modern song styles on this show?


It is 2013 and most of what you hear on Idol still sounds straight out of a 1980s beauty pageant. To date, hip-hop has yet to make an appearance in the final rounds. With an aging audience controlling the ballots, can that ever change?

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25 Deeply Painful Ph.D. Student Problems (Besides Your Thesis)

1. Telling children you’re in the 25th grade.

2. It’s been at least 10 years since you had a “real” weekend.

3. Realizing your vocabulary is permanently scattered with words like “problematic” and “ontological” and “hegemony.”

4. Coming up with all of your good ideas in the shower…

…and no good ideas during your oral defense.

5. Going to parties and everyone’s just standing around talking about their research.

…because none of you are in touch with pop culture in the slightest.

6. When your undergrads ask constantly, “Is this going to be on the exam?”

7. Your average dinner is a bag of frozen vegetables topped with leftover shredded cheese and hot sauce.

8. When someone claims that being in a doctoral program isn’t “the same thing as having a real job”:

9. Trying to date another Ph.D. student:

10. Unironically referring to the library or the lab as “home.”

11. …and feeling ultra-guilty anytime you try to relax.

12. Finding an old paper you wrote your first year of grad school:

13. Realizing where most of your stipend went.

14. When master’s degree students complain about their workload, you’re just like:

15. Trying to make non-academic small talk with your advisor at a reception:

16. When all of your colleagues are married, and you’re just like:

17. Feeling some degree of “impostor syndrome” at least once a day.

…as in, you’re just waiting for someone to realize that they made a HUGE mistake letting you into your program and to swiftly kick you out.

18. When someone asks you for the 357th time what your dissertation is about:

19. How you feel when your annual conference is in:




20. Seeing someone on your dissertation committee outside of school:

21. Grading your undergrads’ papers:

22. When someone asks how “writing” is going:

23. Trying to say something romantic to your significant other after a long day of coursework:

24. Explaining to your friends with 9-to-5 jobs why you can’t go out on Friday night.

25. When ANYONE asks you what your plan is after you graduate:

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why do people always talk about posts getting to the front page if everyone’s front page is different?

why do people always talk about posts getting to the front page if everyone's front page is different?

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How @Darth Became The Internet’s Most Beloved Red Panda

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

After Rudolph’s red nose led the way, Santa Claus and all his elves were very happy! They finally figured out the system that would make them super efficient and would make all the little children around the world very happy. Every delivery was made on time, and every present unwrapped the next morning surrounded by smiles.

Every year went by so smoothly, until one day, Santa noticed something was different. Kids had stopped asking for the more traditional toys — no more train sets or soft dolls. No, kids were asking for Furbies and iTunes gift cards. Video games became more popular than model airplane kits. Cell phones? iPods?

Santa didn’t know anything about those gifts. His elves were trained in, like, woodworking skills and painting tiny toys. How could they compete with gadgets made in giant factories? People would rather make an Amazon wishlist than let Santa know directly what they’d want for Christmas. Where’s the fun in that? Why create a middleman? Santa didn’t get it.

“Well,” thought Santa, “if technology is what the kids want, then technology is what I’ll have to give them.”

The way he saw it, there are 364 days of the year where he was free to search the world from top to bottom, side to side, for the perfect helper.

He wanted to find someone who understood the kids these days. It’d have to be someone who wanted to spread joy to everyone, just like Santa’s mission, and who could do it with a smile, just like the elves in the North Pole.

Deep in the forest, all tucked away for a nap, lived a lovely red panda neighborhood. There was a mayor, a constable, and even little shops filled with Christmas cakes and small trinkets for every holiday gift imaginable.

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

Each red panda had a job and contributed to the quaint little town. Except for one.

Darth was the baker’s son, but he could never quite pick up the skill. He spilled flour nearly every time he tried to help in the kitchen, and don’t even ask him to crack an egg. Messes seemed to follow him everywhere.

His parents understood he was different than the rest of them, and they weren’t disappointed in their son. They did wish, though, that he could do something that made him happy. Nearly every job in the town was passed along from generation to generation — where did that leave room for a little red panda trying to find his path in life?

Everyone in the town loved Darth, for sure. He always gave the best presents! He could take two totally unrelated items and turn them into something new and exciting. A gift from Darth was a true treasure.

He just never quite fit in, was all. He was teased when he was younger — a lot of snowballs were thrown his way. But as he and his peers grew a little older, they saw that he was just unique and that wasn’t something to make fun of at all.

As the holiday season grew closer, the town bundled together their Christmas lists. They always sent their letters all together in one large parcel to make the holiday demand a little less crazy for Santa.

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

Santa was getting frustrated. Well, as frustrated as the jolliest person on Earth could get. He didn’t seem to be making any progress in his search.

“Dear, you should take a break,” said Mrs. Claus. “Maybe read through some of the letters that just came in. That always cheers you up!”

He grumbled, but Santa made his way to the mailroom.

The parcel from the red panda neighborhood was just delivered that day, so he untied the ribbon to see what’s what.

Many of these letters included little notes in Darth’s honor — that the unique gifts Darth made were so special to the town that some of their wishes were for Darth to find a path in life that suited his great abilities.

Straight away, Santa rushed off. He must pack for a trip to go see this Darth in person. Could this be the helper he’d been searching for?

Meeting Darth was everything Santa could have hoped for in a helper. They talked and chatted for hours that day; Darth told him he often snuck into the nearby human library. This meant he knew everything about technology that Santa’s elves hadn’t learned!
Darth was hired right away! The whole town gathered in the town square to bid him goodbye as he climbed into Santa’s sleigh.

He must set up shop in the North Pole, where there was a surprisingly strong Internet connection, to begin making dreams come true across the world.

Thanks to Darth, the internet has been a much happier and joyful place ever since.

Hannah Spiegleman for BuzzFeed

Illustrations done for BuzzFeed by Hannah Spiegleman .

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Ben and Jerry’s offers a combination lock to keep people out of your ice cream

If you’re tired of people sneaking the frozen goodness which is your pint of Ben and Jerry’s, apparently there is a gadget just for you — The Euphori-lock. Just snap it around your precious little tub and no one but you will get into your ice cream…

I like that in the last two pics the combo is set with a little message to would-be ice cream thieves — 2-B-8. As in, “This is 2-B-8 by me, not you.”

(via Laughing Squid)

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Guy Uses Olive Garden’s $100 All-You-Can-Eat Pasta To Feed Homeless (Video)

The holidays are a time to give back and care for your fellow man.

This guy embraced the holiday spirit and used his Never Ending Pasta Pass from Olive Garden to spread some holiday cheer.

He handed out pasta to homeless people in his community who were hungry and in need of a hot meal.

It was a pretty selfless act and a perfect use of the Pasta Pass. Seriously, no one can eat that much pasta.

Though, it should be noted many believe this is all a viral marketing ploy by Olive Garden.

But, if it ended up feeding some needy souls, who really cares? Check out the heartwarming video above.

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Liz Cheney dropping Senate bid; ‘Real journalist’ offers objective analysis

In July of last year, Liz Cheney announced a primary challenge against Wyoming Republican Sen. Mike Enzi.

According to CNN and confirmed by others, Cheney is ending that challenge.

Journalist Jill Lawrence, with credits including USA Today, the AP, UPI and National Journal, offers this “real reporter” analysis:

Who says objective journalism is dead?

(h/t @DCDude1776)

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