Most of us have known for months how we will mark our ballots Tuesday, making the painfully long and obscenely expensive presidential campaign little more than a test of our patience. I'm voting for Barack Obama.
The 14th Regiment Armory was built for the National Guard (née New York militia) in 1893. The massive Brooklyn structure was supposed to mimic the castles of Europe - brick towers and fortifications of previous centuries. Now a YMCA, the Armory today is a shelter (filled to capacity) with nursing home evacuees from Hurricane Sandy. The metaphor: What was built originally to protect us, has to be repurposed for a new type of foe.
Everyone expected a big wind towards the end of October. But it was expected it'd be from the media, talk show hosts, blogosphere and politicians, building in a crescendo that'd end on Election Day. That wind did arrive – in gale force -- but what no one expected was that Mother Nature would also chime in by sending her offspring Hurricane Sandy.
In July, Sen. Al Franken opened a Senate hearing on the privacy and civil liberties implications of facial recognition technology by affirming some incontrovertible facts. "You can change your password. You can get a new credit card. But you can't change your fingerprint, and you can't change your face," Franken said. "Unless I guess you go to a great, you know, deal of trouble."
America used to have the most democratic elections in the world. It doesn't anymore. Antiquated technology, along with the failure to clean dirty voter rolls of dead and moved voters, plus gridlock blocking efforts to fix the problems have left our system in shambles.
On Friday, the House passed a massive National Defense Authorization for 2016 that will guarantee U.S. involvement in more wars and overseas interventions for years to come. The Republican majority resorted to trickery to evade the meager spending limitations imposed by the 2011 budget control act - limitations that did not, as often reported, cut military spending but only slowed its growth.
Operation Jade Helm has inspired a million jokes, and some of them have even been funny. But as much as comedians might jump on Greg Abbott for sending the Texas State Guard to monitor military exercises as the latest excuse to mock the reactionary rubes south of the Red River, Texas now faces an existential crisis: Is the Governor really this crazy?
As it appears we're smack dab in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign announcement season, this might be the perfect time to ask the question on every American's lips: what kind of twisted psychopath chooses to do this? Who are these people that are so all fired up to enter this soul-sucking fray just to sit in an Office that is oval? Masochists? Sadists? Sadomasochists? Masosadochists? Folks who didn't pay attention during any previous election?
Tuesday night I went through a crash course in what really matters, in humanity, in mortality. I was watching the news reports about the Amtrak derailment, and amid my secondhand anguish for injured strangers I thanked God, literally thanked him out loud, for the fact that my immigration hearing in Baltimore had been canceled. Had it not been, I might have been sitting in one of those mangled cars.
We all know that the 2016 campaign will cost way more money than ever before - $10 billion is the latest head-spinning estimate - and that the reform laws aimed at curbing fat-cat clout have virtually collapsed. But still, it was shocking last week when the nation's top watchdog said that she's powerless to police the new Wild West.