As you can tell from that title, today's column is going to be nothing short of nit-pickery. But then my original plan (due to lots of offline stuff that needed doing today) was just to re-run an old column, so at least this way you get to read something new, even if it is nothing more than an extended tangential semantic complaint. But I feel the complaint is a valid one, or to put it another way, I feel this nit needs picking.
Archive of Articles for September, 2014
The United States Congress is currently abdicating one of its most solemn duties: declaring when America is at war, and with whom. This is nothing short of disgraceful, and every member of Congress who didn't actively push their leadership to hold a vote should be ashamed of themselves right now. Because by completely abdicating their constitutional warmaking power to the executive branch, they are displaying nothing short of their own "profiles in cowardice."
Holder certainly had a momentous term in office. Depending on when he is officially replaced, his will either be the fourth-longest or third-longest record as Attorney General in American history. Liberals found him lacking on civil liberties issues (especially in Obama's first term), and conservatives just despised him because he was serving a president they really, really hated (he's also the first Attorney General to be found in contempt of Congress by the House).
There is big news from the Justice Department today, but I'm not talking about the announcement that Eric Holder will be stepping down as Attorney General (which I'll comment on tomorrow, most likely). Instead, the news comes from the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. James B. Comey is upset because Apple and Google have recently announced that they will be providing privacy -- via strong encryption -- as a feature in their personal computing products. Comey reached out to the companies to convince them to change their minds about their decision to, as he put it, "market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law."
Wars always seem to produce inappropriately cute phrases in American culture. These usually have origins in military shorthand and are then picked up by politicians and pundits and used ad nauseam until everyone just ignores the inherent dehumanization of the language. Examples from the past abound: "domino theory," "Vietnamization," "limited warfare," "surgical bombing," and a more recent example that I always personally objected to (mostly for its "aren't pirates cute" nature) -- "blood and treasure." This time around, of course, the phrase now on everyone's lips is: "boots on the ground."
Zombies are in the news again. Not actual zombies, but instead the growing governmental awareness that the citizenry needs to be prepared against any possible future zombie attack. And, no, I'm not kidding. It's the time of the season.
The prosecution objects. That's one way to put it, at any rate.
Congress followed up their recent five-week vacation with almost two whole weeks of actually doing their jobs, so to reward themselves they're now going to take off on another vacation. Until mid-November. The American people will show their disgust at this pathetic work ethic by returning upwards of ninety percent of them to office, if this year is anything like a typical one. The big question on everyone's mind is whether the Democrats will hold onto control of the Senate, which will mean two years of gridlock with the Republican House, or whether Republicans will gain control of the Senate, which will mean two years of gridlock with both the Tea Party and the president.
"Aha!" I thought, "Hillary Clinton attending a Steak Fry (which is not a steak fry, simultaneously) is a perfect political metaphor: she is Schrödinger's candidate!"
It is time to once again take a broad look at the upcoming Senate midterm elections. As always in non-presidential election years, I seldom pay much attention to the House races, for a number of reasons. First, there are a lot of them -- too many for one person to reasonably keep track of. Second, this year seems like a pretty foregone conclusion: the House will remain Republican, and the only two real questions are whether (and by how much) they will increase their lead, and how strong the Tea Party faction will be after the dust settles on election night.