Welcome to our annual frightfest! Every year, we provide two tales of shrieking horror -- one for Democrats and one for Republicans -- so sit back and prepare to be terrified right out of your cheap cardboard costume!
Archive of Articles for October, 2014
Today, instead, I decided to ramble down Memory Lane, and put together all my Jack O'Lanterns from years past. Here is a chronological review of my history of political pumpkin art, starting before I even began blogging.
We have now entered the homestretch of the 2014 midterm election season, with less than a week to go before Election Day. Many Senate races remain incredibly close, and Democrats got some welcome news this week from far up north.
With one week to go until the 2014 midterm elections, almost all of the punditocracy world is absolutely chomping at the bit for this cycle to already be over, so they can concentrate on the much-more-fun 2016 presidential election season. This is pretty obvious, with some media now swooning over Jeb Bush's possible candidacy and the Clintons out stumping for other Democrats (and being covered more in the news than the actual candidates).
About a month ago, a debate erupted when Apple and Google announced they were going to start providing encryption services for smartphones that could not be cracked by anyone -- including the police. James Comey, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, was horrified at this prospect and began a public-relations push to convince the companies (and the public) that this was a terrible idea. He tried to get the companies to change their decision to (as he put it) "market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law."
A program note, before we get started: there will be no Friday Talking Points column next week. We have to make room for our traditional Hallowe'en column, where we try to scare the pants off of everyone across the political spectrum with spooky tales of what the upcoming election might mean (plus, we get to show off our politically-inspired Jack-o-lanterns). So don't miss that, but the Friday Talking Points column won't be back until after the election.
That title, by my own standards here, should really be: "From The Archives -- Interview With Betty Medsger, Author Of The Burglary." I am reprinting the following interview I conducted earlier this year with a woman who was a young reporter in Ben Bradlee's newsroom around the time of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers. Since Betty Medsger is the only one I've ever personally been in touch with who knew and worked with Ben Bradlee, I thought it would be appropriate to mark his passing. Bradlee was a lion of the newspaper publishing industry, and deserves all the praise that is currently being heaped on him, and more. If you didn't read the series when I first published it this spring, follow the links to the two-part book review, and (once again) I highly recommend this book to one and all. The story of the Media, Pennsylvania burglary of the F.B.I. office is one that is not well known, but that doesn't make it any less important in today's debate over secret surveillance by government agencies.
Sorry for the overly-provocative title, but I'm a little surprised at how all the big media election-predicting sites have apparently decided to just call the whole Senate for Republicans and clock out early. Because I just don't see it as quite the slam-dunk everyone else does, at this point.
I have shortened this line to the part that asks the question that really needs asking right now (which is another way of saying my roundabout introductory ramblings are about to actually get to the point): Are we still "the home of the brave"? Are we, really? Or have we become a nation that responds to every perceived threat with nothing short of outright panic? One wonders what Francis Scott Key would say today were he to witness the metaphorical collective loss of sphincter control that seems to accompany each "crisis" that comes down the pike. Another way to ask this question is: Has America truly been showing its chops as "the land of the brave" to the rest of the world lately? Or have we fallen just a wee bit short of that lofty goal?
As frightening a prospect as it is for progressives and liberals and other assorted Democrats, it is now impossible not to contemplate what two years of a Republican-led Senate would be like. While Democrats are still putting on a brave face about their chances in the 2014 midterms ("Our ground game is going to win the day!"), the possibility of Republicans picking up the six Senate seats they now need to gain control of the chamber is very real and even (according to many election forecasters) probable. But what would this mean for President Obama's last two years in office?