[This column highlights the best pieces of journalism in magazines each month, all available free online unless noted. Follow it here.]

Do you have to be an avid fan of The Daily Show or the 24-hour news networks to know there is a giant election in a few weeks?

I feel like I’ve noticed the midterms popping up everywhere, but I wonder if watching too much Jon Stewart has corrupted my thought patterns.  In magazines this past month, I’m sure there were as many celebrity profiles and far-flung travel correspondences as there usually are, but for the most part, none of them caught my eye.

There’s just something about gay-hating gubernatorial candidates who email-forward horse bukkake and Delaware witch-cougars running for Senate; I can’t look away. And looking at the articles I’ve picked, it shows. So I’m just going to roll with it.

Tea Party—Just Like the One In Boston Harbor, 1773

That title is sarcastic, by the way. The two tea parties have nothing in common aside from a complaint rooted in taxes. I thought the modern Tea Party would go away, I thought they would be pushed to the fringe—they do, after all, stand on a platform of little substance and contribute almost nothing to the political conversation. Yet they have gained ground by portraying themselves (as white and middle-class as they are) as an oppressed minority.

Not gonna lie, I’m enthralled with this political movement, especially it’s origins which Matt Taibbi covers very entertainingly.* Granted, the article is not as extensive as Jane Mayer’s profile of the Koch Brothers, but it’s a fun read none the less.

*you will only find this article entertaining if you agree with Taibbi.  If you are in the Tea Party, you will see it as another attack from the lamestream media

The Tea Party’s Mama Grizzly

I might have an obsession with Sarah Palin. I read Going Rogue. I follow her on Twitter.

Not since Ric Flair has someone so successfully made a career out of being an antagonist. She might not be able to articulate the benefits of the policies she supports nor may she have a complete grasp of the Constitution she so passionately defends, but she knows how to speak to her audience and she has an army lined up to defend her honor.  For instance, just look at the article about her that appeared in Vanity Fair. Note the insane amount of comments-—most taking the article to task—-which caused the author to write a defense of his article. Be careful, you could spend hours just reading the comments.

The Most Important Race

I’m not going to pretend that there is such thing as objective journalism when it comes to politics. Unfortunately, a magazine’s political tilt will most likely affect one’s enjoyment of their political coverage (if you are Republican, see all articles listed above for examples). The truth is, at first I did take issue with this article in The Weekly Standard; the first half read like an attack ad on Barbara Boxer. But I finished reading it anyway and realized that it carried an interesting premise: Boxer is not a particularly astute politician, but she has benefited from running in a liberal state. This race—which The Weekly Standard Executive Editor, Fred Barns, calls the most important of the midterms—could gauge how much political momentum the Republicans have.

The Most Important Race?

Ain’t nothing wrong with wanting to be a bearded man for Halloween

I once spent two months living in a barn with 19 other people. The seven of us who were male had to share one bathroom mirror. Grooming time was nearly non-existent, so I stopped shaving, and I’ve rarely shaved since. Facial hair is awesome, and unfortunately an endangered species—especially in politics. That’s why the race for Alaska’s senate seat is, in my mind, the most important. The candidates both proudly rock face fur; one a beard, and the other a solid mustache. I prefer the beard as a style, but would probably rather see the ‘stache win the seat.


Hunting Osama

If your neighbor told you he was going to Pakistan, alone, on a God-guided mission to hunt down and capture Osama Bin Laden, you’d probably assume he was schizo. Well, Gary Fulkner has gone into Pakistan 11 times, alone, looking for Bin Laden, and still seems like a relatively normal dude. Well, maybe “normal” is taking it too far.

Also this article contains the quotes of the month. I couldn’t decide which I liked more, so I decided to include them both. From Gary’s brother, Scott:

“He was in great spirits,” says Scott. “He was excited about his trip. I remember he was looking at his crossbow, deciding whether or not he should take it.”

And from Gary in response to the question, “You have been described as everything from a hero to a crackpot. What are you?”:

I’m a little of everything. I’ve done crack, I’ve done crank, I’ve done coke, I’ve done pot, I’ve done everything in the world out there.… You know, I’ve been to prison, I’ve been shipwrecked, blown up, shot, stabbed. My story does not just start here; it started when I was 5 years old, the first time I tried to hot-wire a car.…

Not That it Has Anything To Do With it

In their recent “Money Issue” the New Yorker ran a handful of personal essays under the heading “Something Borrowed.” While 3 of these five essays are available to subscribers only, the two best are available free. One by Jonathan Franzen and one by Zadie Smith

From the Archive

I wanted to start a new section this month, and I think the title says it all. It’s amazing how many old but great articles are floating around free in cyberspace. This month, I’m paying tribute to Greg Giraldo. Giraldo was the rare Latino comic who didn’t have to use his race to get laughs. I admired that about him, as well as his intelligence and wit.  Here is the section about Giraldo from an article about Harvard Law grads who pursued careers other than law. You can read the whole article here.

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