30 / November
30 / November
Cusbands

The tryptophan hangover has long since departed, but I can't seem to shake the lingering Turkey Day distaste from reading the New York Times Thanksgiving edition's piece on "cusbands." Every satire of liberals one day becomes true. Two months from "An Outbreeder's Modest Proposal for Inbreeder Tolerance" is a little quick, no? By sympathetically profiling several conjugal cousins, the Old Gray Lady attempts to mainstream the marginal by marginalizing the mainstream. Borrowing rhetoric from the gay marriage template, the Home & Garden section piece informs that the anti-cousin marrigage "laws [were] enacted mostly in the nineteenth century" and that the United States is "one of the few countries in the world where such unions are illegal." Get it? The laws are antiquated and out of step with the rest of the world. Yesterday's rural embarrassment is today's urban cause du jour. Backward is the new forward.

Mike Huckabee's Willie Horton

Mike Huckabee commuted Maurice Clemons' 35-year sentence for armed robbery in 2000. Clemons is a "person of interest" in the murders of four policemen in a Lakewood, Washington coffee shop. During Huckabee's ten-year tenure as governor of Arkansas, he employed his clemency power more times than the combined number of clemencies issued by the governors of the six states that border Arkansas. After preaching about God for so many years, the Southern Baptist preacher tried to play God in the governor's mansion. Pardons, commutations, stays of execution, and the like can serve as a check on injustice, but to cavalierly overturn the verdicts of hundreds of juries, as Huckabee did in Arkansas, suggests delusions of omniscience.

Court Martial Is the New Commendation Medal

Petty Officers Matthew McCabe, Jonathan O'Keefe, and Julio Huertas should each receive a Navy Cross for capturing Ahmed Hashim Abed, the architect of the killings of four Blackwater security agents whose bodies were subsequently desecrated and displayed. Instead, the heroic trio faces a court martial next week. Welcome to the bizarro, up-is-down world of Barack Obama's military, in which punching a terrorist in the face is punished rather than rewarded.

24 / November
24 / November
A Shot in the Arm

I got my flu shot this weekend. In fact, I got two of them--swine flu in the right arm, flu flu in the left arm. Strangely, I never felt so in danger of contracting the flu than I did as I waited in line for my flu vaccine.

A few hundred people, herded together on one hospital floor, waited, and waited, and waited. Thankfully, or not--Are waiting rooms good places to wait?--the floor seemed a giant waiting area. Think: colorfully painted bus terminal with children's books, an aquarium, and various gadgets and gizmos aimed to distract youngsters. I always bring a book--just not this weekend. Claustrophobia set in: people bumping into me, breathing on me, reaching over me to grab an US Weekly. "I like you. I just don't like your germs," I ESP'd one space invader.

Most of those gathered were in some at-risk group: children, the mentally retarded, cancer patients. A few people awaiting the coveted shots wore masks. It seemed more a negative advertisement scaring everybody about the swine flu than it did an effective precautionary measure. Whenever anyone coughed, people looked upon them suspiciously. There was a heavy "Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" vibe.

One mother, Francesca--I know her name because her children all wore sweatshirts announcing their maternal lineage--flipped out when she discovered her daughter using chapstick that she had found. Did its previous owner have the flu? Francesca probably knows by now. Francesca's paranoia intensified as her son stared closely at himself in a fun-house style mirror. Had he kissed himself in the mirror, Francesca angrily inquired. I had a better view, and knew that he hadn't. And if he had, I am pretty sure that reflections of people are less contagious than actual people.

Like Tom Petty sang, the waiting is the hardest part. I waited in line to fill out a form. And then I got a number, 157, and waited 45 minutes to hear it called. Then a woman dressed as a nurse escorted me and my young companion to a room where she informed us to wait for the actual nurse. Fifteen minutes later, the nurse arrived. The shots hurt, but in an effort of psychological manipulation, I laughed hysterically each time the needle plunged into my shoulder. I didn't fool anybody. My young companion's reaction to the needle was not of the laughing kind.

Mission accomplished, the nurse informed that we had to wait some more: twenty minutes, in fact, lest we, presumably, drive away light headed. Just as my young companion needed to be held down to receive the needle, the staff would have needed to hold me down to keep me waiting in that waiting room any longer. I departed, happy to be immunized from the flu; happier to not be waiting around any longer for a poke in the arm.

23 / November
23 / November
Does Bin Laden Have the Right to Remain Silent, an Attorney, and a Phone Call?

Attorney General Eric Holder has made news, most recently for announcing that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and several 9/11 conspirators would be put on trial in New York City, more often than any other cabinet member. As I noted last month, this is often to the detriment of his boss. At least in the case of trying in American courts foreign terrorists captured on foreign soil, it is also to the detriment of his country, as Senator Lindsey Graham made so abundantly clear in his devastating questioning of the attorney general.

A Bill To Abolish Private Health Care

The great irony of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which overcame a fillibuster attempt on Saturday night, is that it will make health care more expensive, rather than affordable, for patients. This seems by design. How does $60 billion in new taxes on health insurance companies reduce the cost of health care? Is anybody naive enough to believe that levying $22 billion in new taxes upon pharmaceutical companies will make prescription drugs cheaper for those who rely on them? Ditto for the $19 billion in taxes proposed for the manufacturers of medical devices. It is consumers, not companies, who will pay these taxes. Remember: this bill proposes that the government compete with private insurance companies through a public option. It's easy to put the competition out of business when you are both competitor and referee. This bill, then, is more means then end. It masquerades as legislation to reduce the cost of health care. Instead, it intentionally boosts the cost of health care, which is done in part through higher taxes. The motive here is to burden the private health insurance industry so heavily that the single-payer (i.e., government-run health care) plan will be more politically palatable a few years down the road.

20 / November
20 / November
Friday Fill-in on 96.9 Boston Talks

I will be filling in for Michele McPhee on 96.9 Boston Talks tonight (Friday) from 6-10 p.m. In addition to tonight's appearance, I will be back on 96.9's airwaves on Wednesday, November 24 from 6-10 p.m. and Friday, November 26 from 6-10 p.m. If 96.9's powerful FM signal doesn't reach you, click on the listen live button here. So, readers: what topics should I discuss on the radio tonight?

19 / November
19 / November
Blame Canada

Brock Lesnar, the cage-fighting heavyweight champion of the UFC, got released from a North Dakota hospital after an eleven-day stay. A microscopic bacteria succeded in felling the surly giant where 250-pound men had failed. Aiding and abetting that bacterial infection, Lesnar's friend and chiropractor Larry Novotny claims, is Canadian health care. Lesnar first fell ill while on vacation in the Great White North. "His symptoms became severe while in Canada, which because their health care system made it difficult to manage," the friend of Lesnar's explained to a Minnesota television station. "And at this point it's a possibility that it could jeopardize his career." At least Lesnar could venture south to get the quality care he needed. Where will people go when ObamaCare passes, and the United States of America becomes, on health care at least, the United States of Canada?

Losing Our Conservative Mind

A few years back, when conservative books appeared all over the bestseller list, I gave a talk noting the paradox that just as the options for conservative writers were never greater the substance of conservative books was never so shallow. Now that conservative books have reemerged on the bestseller list, John Carney offers a penetrating essay lamenting the sorry state of conservative publishing. "On one level, it is tempting to greet the rise of the conservative bestseller with elation," he writes. "Our long exile from the world of letters has ended. We're on the New York Times bestseller list. We have arrived. But where?" To find out exactly where, read Carney's article.

18 / November
18 / November
Just How Bad Is the Real Estate Market?

Joe Montana won his first Super Bowl there. The Who, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd sold it out. The World Wrestling Federation set an indoor attendance record there for Wrestlemania 3. Earlier this week, a Canadian company purchased the site of all of those amazing events for $583,000. That's right. The Pontiac Silverdome sold for less than several of the houses on my street. Is this sale, totaling about one percent of the stadium's actual construction cost, a symbol of the awful state of the real estate market or of the sorry state of the state of Michigan? Maybe a little bit of both.

Let's Talk About Sex

A Reuters story begins: "American squeamishness about talking about sex has helped keep common sexually transmitted infections far too common, especially among vulnerable teens, U.S. researchers reported Monday." Nothing in the article makes any connection between sexually transmitted diseases and "squeamishness about talking about sex," let alone research--as is implied in the "researchers reported"-- establishing such a connection. The piece reports that homosexual men compose 63 percent of syphilis cases. Are homosexual men squeamish about talking about sex? Young people and African Americans are two other demographic groups that are disproportionately afflicted with gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia. At the risk of sounding like a prude, a far more compelling case can be made that an oversexualized culture--particularly within the groups disproportionately afflicted by venereal diseases--rather than one supposedly "squeamish" about discussing sex, contributes to rising VD rates.

17 / November
17 / November
Ken Ober, RIP

Ken Ober, the host of Remote Control, was found dead in his California home over the weekend. He was 52. Remote Control was the first place I saw Colin Quinn, Adam Sandler, and Dennis Leary. More importantly, it was the only place I ever saw Marisol and Kari (Quick: Marisol or Kari?). Of paramount importance, Remote Control was the first non-music themed programming on MTV. Back in the late 1980s, nobody took this as foreshadowing. How could anyone have prophesied the Music Television network becoming the Reality Television network? At the time, Remote Control seemed like a harmlessly amusing diversion from videos. By selecting such categories as "Brady Physics" and "Dead or Canadian" with their remote control, couch-potato contestants answered questions that generally focused on television. Remote Control put the television in Music Television. Video killed the radio star. Ken Ober killed the video star.

Going Rogue

A Republican politician's popularity among the party's conservative base is directly correlated to the politician's ability to engender contempt from the liberal media. In observing Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue" media blitz, it's clear to me that she understands this axiom. The "perky one" and other Palin haters, on the other hand, don't seem to grasp that their attacks serve to legitimize the very politicians they seek to undermine.

16 / November
16 / November
'Welcome To My Life Tattoo/I'm a Man Now Thanks To You'

I purchased an $8 copy of The Who Sell Out this weekend largely based on a realization of just how underrated a song, just on a storytelling basis, Tattoo (listen here) is. So it was a great coincidence to come across this piece by Rick Reilly on the dumbest tattoos in professional sports. One of the most obvious, yet uncommented upon, changes in America in my lifetime has been the proliferation of tattoos. This is most glaringly evident in professional sports (Did you catch all of Miguel Cotto's new ink Saturday night?). Reilly points to this mixed-martial artist's body art as perhaps the most embarrassing. Left unmentioned by Reilly is the more embarrassing political statement on the fighter's chest. At the risk of inviting fisticuffs, my nominees for most embarrassing sports tattoos all involve fighters: former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's right-shoulder Mao, cagefighter Melvin Costa's swastika, and MMA star Jeff Monson's left-calf sickle and hammer.

13 / November
13 / November
Fantasy Football

Do not adjust your television set. The teams gracing your big screen this weekend sporting odd color schemes and unfamiliar uniforms are NFL franchises, not high school clubs. The first time I watched teams play with throwback uniforms I thought it was cool. By the time the experience had reached the triple digits, the novelty had worn off. Read my article @ the American Spectator explaining that, while nine times out of ten a throwback conjures up tradition, the NFL's marketing gimmick undermines it.

Obamanomics

The federal deficit reached a record high in October. The budget shortfall for that month alone was $176.4 billion. Such a gargantuan number used to represent an irresponsible year. Now it is par for the course--for a month. Welcome to Obamanomics, in which the policies one denounces while out of power become the policies one escalates once in power. "And we are now looking at a deficit of well over half a trillion dollars," candidate Obama observed in the third presidential debate. "So one of the things that I think we have to recognize is pursuing the same kinds of policies that we pursued over the last eight years is not going to bring down the deficit." President Obama, along with his spend-happy Congress, will accumulate that half-trillion dollar deficit that he lambasted President Bush for sometime before Christmas. With the deficit numbers growing, and extravagant spending bills before Congress, it is frightening to contemplate how large a deficit Obama and Co. will rack up over the course of the fiscal year--and how long it will take for America to pay it back.

12 / November
12 / November
Neither God Nor Devil

Ayn Rand's detractors saw horns emerging from her head. Her acolytes saw a halo. Titles aside, two new biographies--Anne C. Heller's "Ayn Rand and the World She Made" and Jennifer Burns's "Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right"--depict a mere mortal whose life was more complex than an angel or devil. Read my book review @ City Journal that demonstrates why readers of this pair of biographies can be grateful that Ayn Rand was more human than the characters she created.

11 / November
11 / November
Obama, Democrats Losing Ground

Barack Obama's job approval ratings have sunk to 46 percent in Rasmussen's poll. Fifty-three percent of respondents dissaprove. Of greater importance because of the proximity of next year's mid-term elections, Rasmussen's generic congressional ballot shows Republicans besting Democrats by six percentage points, with independents swinging heavily toward the GOP.

Cut-Off-Your-Nose-To-Spite-Your-Face Liberalism

The two leading Democratic candidates to take Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate oppose the health-care bill that passed the House of Representatives on Saturday night. Wasn't health care Ted Kennedy's issue? Sure, but so was abortion. In a Democratic primary, particularly in Massachusetts, it's never a bad idea to run as far left as possible. So, Rep. Michael Capuano and Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley have announced that they would vote against the bill passed this past weekend in the House should they get a chance to vote on it as the Bay State's next senator. "I refuse to acknowledge that this is the best we can do," Coakley explained. Has she ever heard the saying that the perfect is the enemy of the good? Capuano's stance is stranger, still. As a sitting congressman, he voted for the House bill. He then lambasted Coakley for her extremist stance: "She would have stood alone among all the prochoice members of Congress, all the members of the Massachusetts delegation," told the Boston Globe. "She claims she wants to honor Ted Kennedy's legacy on health care. It's pretty clear that a major portion of this was his bill." Realizing what party, and what state, he's running in, Capuano promptly disowned his vote and joined Coakley's all-or-nothing stance. It's not called the Abortion Party for nothing.


Before Nidal Malik Hasan, There Was John Allen Muhammad

Before Major Nidal Malik Hasan unleashed violence upon his fellow Americans, John Allen Muhammad, a former Army sergeant, did. Last night, the Commonwealth of Virginia executed Muhammad. Before embarking upon his shooting spree, the DC sniper railed against America and spoke favorably of the 9/11 attacks. Sound familiar? Nidal Malik Hasan's story reads in part as a John Allen Muhammad deja vu. His ending will too.

10 / November
10 / November
V

I hadn't watched a scripted, prime-time, network program in full for about a year--and that was only because I had exchanged correspondence with one of the players. That streak ended last Tuesday. "V" was the cause. I loved watching the old "V" miniseries back in the 1980s. Robert Englund eating a mouse behind a dumpster and this poor actress giving birth to alien babies was must-see TV (or was it I-guess-you-had-to-be-there TV?). But this "V" is, well, new and improved. Its not as campy, which is especially evident when one juxtaposes the Queen Bee leading ladies of '80s Diana (Jane Badler) and 21st-century Anna (Morena Baccarin). The former comes across as a Halloween dominatrix that might elicit giggles; the latter, a dungeon dominatrix not accustomed to hearing the word "no." Amidst the action and drama, there is a serious message being conveyed. As you might have read, the Visitors promise universal health care, peace, and hope. All their charasmatic leader wants in return is a docile, non-questioning public. This is change many earthlings can believe in. It is thought provoking, but for those who care for provocations of a different sort there are city-size space ships, brawls between the Visitors and the resistance, intergalactic love stories, and more. It's a layered program. After a year away from primetime network television, I will be visiting ABC again tonight at 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Central) after just one week away.

Happy Birthday Marines

The United States Marine Corps was founded 234 years ago. And 219 years later, I stood on those yellow footprints at Parris Island, South Carolina. "We don't join the Marine Corps to go to college. We don't join the Marine Corps to make a lot of money. We join the Marine Corps because we want to be the best." That comes from a motivating birthday video put out by Commandant General James Conway. Watch it here, and Happy Birthday Marines!

Don't Jump to Conclusions

Major Nidal Malik Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he murdered 13 people. But the president says don't jump to conclusions. Major Nidal Malik Hasan sent emails to a wanted al Qaeda iman. But the president says don't jump to conclusions. Major Nidal Malik Hasan expressed anti-American views and called the war on terrorism a war on Muslims. But the president says don't jump to conclusions. Major Nidal Malik Hasan reportedly worshipped at the same Northern Virginia mosque as two of the 9/11 hijackers. But the president says don't jump to conclusions. Major Nidal Malik Hasan purportedly defended suicide bombings. But the president says don't jump to conclusions.

09 / November
09 / November
Worst Bill Ever

House Democrats passed a health reform bill that would put the government in the strange position of being in competition with the very health insurers it regulates. In the bizarro world of statists, fairness is the referee getting to play the game (so long as they get to referee). The bill is an abomination on so many fronts: the public didn't get a chance to read it before the vote, it raises taxes on the wealth producers in the midst of a recession, it increases the already enormous national debt, it further bureaucratizes medical care, and it fascistically props up the health-insurance industry by criminalizing the free man's decision not to be a customer. One could go on. The critic of this bill feels like the proverbial mosquito in the nudist colony: Where to begin?

07 / November
07 / November
The Fall of the Berlin Wall @ 20

Twenty years ago this Monday, the greatest political development of my lifetime occurred: the opening (which precipitated the closing) of the Berlin Wall. For Westerners, the Berlin Wall served as the symbol of Communist oppression. In the Communist Bloc, the Berlin Wall functioned effectively as the survival mechanism of the German Democratic Republic. Twenty percent of the East German populace--more than three million people--had escaped in the decade or so preceding the Wall's construction. Had the rate of exodus continued, East Germany would have ceased to exist by about 1989. Read my contribution to City Journal's symposium celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, alongside remembrances by Claire Berlinski, Judith Miller, Roger Scruton, and Guy Sorman.

06 / November
06 / November
Gay Marriage Is the Washington Generals of Politics

Since the issue of gay marriage arose in the 1990s, the Senate voted 85-14, and the House voted 342-67, for the Defense of Marriage Act that President Bill Clinton signed into law. Gay marriage has been before the voters in 31 states and 31 states have rejected it. Strangely, proponents of same-sex marriage, who have yet to win a single popular vote on the matter, insist that opposition to gay marriage is a losing position. Read my piece @ the American Spectator that explains why gay marriage isn't divisive but rather the most unifying major issue in American politics.

Unfriendly Fire

Our forebears were probably too willing to curtail the civil liberties of Japanese, Germans, and Italians living in America during World War II. Perhaps we are too willing to dismiss the idea that a small number of the coreligionists and ethnic kin of the people we are fighting and killing in the Middle East might want to fight and kill us here. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist in need of a psychiatrist, opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas yesterday. As I write, twelve people are dead and thirty one are wounded. To put this in perspective, Fort Hood's day, in terms of American fatalities, was worse than any month in Iraq since June. One would think an Army base would make a poor choice for a shooting spree. But this is neither the first time stateside soldiers have been targeted in a multiple victim public shooting, nor the first time that a Muslim servicemen has killed his fellow servicemen. There is more that we don't know than we do know at this point, so forthcoming information will shed light on whether the religion of peace has struck again or a lone nut, the homegrown type of which we are quite familiar with in America, snapped.

05 / November
05 / November
CNN + MSNBC X 2 < Fox

Take MSNBC's viewing audience, add CNN's to it, and then double it. The final product still doesn't add up to Fox News Channel's election-night audience.

CNN offers some excellent programming. John King strikes me as a go-to guy on politics. His "State of the Union Panel" always overrepresents liberals, and often features Democrats' favorite Republicans, but he offers facts and analysis while his peers on competing networks offer opinions, which, as you know, everybody has. Fareed Zakaria's weekend show is intelligent. Its global focus is not something one can find on Fox or MSNBC. The personality-driven shows of Lou Dobbs, Campbell Brown, and Anderson Cooper are definitely watchable (at least I watch them occasionally--CNN currently trails sister network HLN), but their attempts at playing the outraged independent (Dobbs) or opinionless news voice (Cooper) don't work for mass audiences in this hyperpartisan age. Larry King seems a relic from a bygone age. He has been mailing it in since the 1990s. The onetime cornerstone of the network is now the stone dragging them under water. The sooner they can cut themselves free of that rope the better.

MSNBC used to be the place for politics when Chris Matthews was still a DC rat rather than Keith Olbermann's mini-me. Now they seem to be television's version of Air America. In all candor, the station was once the favored destination of my remote. Now I watch for the unintentional comedy: Andrea Mitchell covering Hillary Clinton as if she had won the presidency, Keith Olbermann delivering his corny, pretentious, longwinded, throwback editorials, and something called "The Ed Show," hosted by a careerist, incidentally named Ed, who played a conservative in an earlier broadcasting incarnation.

MSNBC management misinterprets the reason for the success of rival Fox. The formula seems to be to take as hard a Left stand as they imagine Fox taking on the Right. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but MSNBC imitates a caricature of Fox. Unlike Keith Olbermann, Ed Shultz, Rachel Maddow, or Chris Matthews, nobody has ever thought Greta Van Sustern or Shephard Smith a partisan. Even O'Reilly isn't much of a conservative--which is an observation and not an insult. One feels the hate radiating off the television set when Lawrence O'Donnell speaks or strain one's neck looking up at Keith Olbermann's condescension. That's not a pleasurable viewing experience, which is why so many Americans turn the channel or don't watch in the first place.

Part of Fox's success is that it does lean right. So do the plurality of Americans. You do the math. If PBS, the nightly network news, and the other cable networks lean left, then the network that carves out the right-leaning niche wins the ratings war. But Fox's success is so much more than that. There are the Foxes. Julie Bandaras, Juliet Huddy, and Martha MacCallum, in that order, are the three hottest women on television news. Television is a visual medium. Put good looking people in front of the camera. It's not a complicated formula. The addictive, fast-paced visuals (best exemplified by Shepard Smith's program) contribute to Fox's success. Though it broadcasts from Manhattan, Fox broadcasts to Middle America. How many people in Kansas watch the Pride of Northampton, Massachusetts, Rachel Maddow? Mike Huckabee isn't my bag, but he's somebody bag. Ditto for Glen Beck.

All three networks, and perhaps this is Fox imitation, trend toward talking-head punditry over facts-driven news reporting. Sending reporters around the world is more expensive than overpaying an inflated ego to bloviate. Also, give the people what they want, I guess. It may not be news, but neither is drumming up hysteria over missing children, shark sightings, or Jon and Kate's break up. It's cable, and if Music Television can become a reality network then cable news can become the National Enquirer.

Success breeds envy and contempt. Think of the reactions outside of New York toward the Yankees or outside of the U.S. toward America. MSNBC, and to a lesser extent, CNN, hate Fox because they want to be Fox. As a news consumer, I prefer three distinct news channels to a trend-setting Fox and two follow-the-leaders. Judging by the lopsided ratings war (What? No slaughter rule in cable news?), viewers just prefer Fox.

The election results are in: Fox won.

04 / November
04 / November
Republicans Win Big

Republicans swept every statewide elected office--governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general--in the commonwealth of Virginia, something the GOP failed to do in their 1993 landslide. They captured the governorship of New Jersey, defeating incumbent multimillionaire Jon Corzine. In New York's 23rd congressional district, where Republicans didn't even have an active candidate on the ballot, Democrats barely eeked out a victory over the longshot Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. With 87 percent of the ballots counted in Maine's same-sex marriage question, the vote to affirm traditional marriage and reject state-sanctioned gay marriage held a five-percentage-point lead.

The results may or may not forebode bad tidings for the Democrats in next year's mid-term elections. The economy could turn around, a foreign policy crisis could move the country to rally around Obama, a scandal could hit the Republican party. Next year's elections are a year away, and a lot can happen in a year. That said, Tuesday's results aren't a good sign for Democrats. Their string of victories--in 2008, 2006, and 2005--have come to an end. Republicans have checked their momentum, and, to some degree, reoriented it in their direction.

Worse for Democrats than the losses in New Jersey and Virginia is the effect they will have on Obama's legislative agenda. By mismanaging the centerpiece--universal health care--of his legislative agenda, Barack Obama has almost assured its defeat. The further the calendar got from last November, the fewer the number of Democrats there would be willing to stand with Obama. Now that big-state gubernatorial candidates who he had campaigned with the president have gone down to defeat, Democrats representing middle-of-the-road or conservative districts will be even less likely to support his controversial health-care package.

The big win for Republicans, then, is not Tuesday night's actual victories, but the Democratic defections from the ObamaCare bill that Tuesday night's victories will assure. Do you think the three freshmen House Democrats from Virginia, all representing districts in which Republican Bob McDonnell soundly defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds, will be more or less likely to support Obama's plan after seeing their fellow Virginia Democrats get clobbered last night? The elections will embolden Republicans and make it easier for Democrats to break ranks.

If politicians really are, as political scientist David Mayhew theorizes, "single-minded seekers of reelection," wouldn't it pay for Democrats in competitive districts to distance themselves from the president?

Cleveland Killer

A week ago, I wrote a post, borrowing on Adam Smith's phrase, called "Mercy to the Guilty Is Cruelty to the Innocent." In Cleveland, where cops have just discovered a tenth body on the property resided upon by Anthony Sowell, the aphorism hits home. The alleged serial killer choked and repeatedly raped a woman in 1989. Four years ago, he was parolled. Guess what? He apparently resumed his interest in raping and choking women when he got out of prison. Mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent. Just ask the families of these ten dead women.

03 / November
03 / November
Election Predictions

I have a prediction about tonight's political races. If Democrats fare well in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial battles, and the open New York House seat, then the election will be widely interpreted in the media as a referendum on Obama. Should the Democrats go down to defeat, references to Obama will be overcome by talk of an "angry electorate" and the "sour mood" of the country (Watch MSNBC to see if I am right). In other words, if the Democrats win then credit Obama; if they lose then fault the voters.

Batman

A rabies shot isn't generally considered an occupational hazzard of an NBA off guard. But the San Antonio Spurs's Manu Ginobili revealed on Facebook that that was the treatment required after a game, appropriately enough, on Halloween. Chiggity check out this amazing video of a bat running the fast break with the Sacramento Kings, Manu Ginobili issuing a hard foul to his fellow mammal by swatting it to the floor, and then scooping the creature up with his hand. Given my contempt for the bats who had invaded my attic this summer, and my girlish response to the winged intruders, Manu Ginobili is now my hero.

No Pain, No Gain

I woke up with an unfamiliar burning feeling in my muscles today. I worked out, hard, yesterday, for the first time in two months. An injury, and a conveniently timed expiration of my gym membership, sidelined me since September 1. Dr. Me prescribed eight weeks of rest to heal the biceps/forearm tendon (Dr. Me could never quite pinpoint the offending area) injury. Picking up grocery bags and raking leaves tell me I'm still injured. But I returned to working out yesterday anyhow. Without a gym, I had to improvise in my home gym. When I was 14, with the proceeds from my job at Fenway Park, I purchased a sturdy weight bench and 310 pounds of weight. Twenty-plus years later, it still works as good as new. On Sunday, I raided my mother's basement for dumbbells and other fitness accoutrements. My rudimentary home gym lacked the machines, pulley apparatus, and treadmills of the fitness center of which I had previously been a member, but, as I discovered yesterday, a great workout can be had without expensive equipment. Instead of the treadmill, I ran around my neighborhood; instead of an incline bench, I did push-ups with my feet raised a foot-and-a-half on a chair; and dumbbells are so versitile that you can imitate many machine-based exercises. Once I get in a groove, I will not be hurting as much as I am today. A steady exercise regimen immunizes one to the pain one feels on the first day of the exercise regimen. But all good workouts inflict a welcome burn. "No pain, no gain" is a popular catchphrase because it is so true.

Ominous Clouds

Sixteen years ago, I remember getting the election results--in those days only a few nerds I knew had the internet--that Republicans had not only won the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey, but had taken Gracie Mansion in Gotham as well. I divined the results as ominous news for the Democrats. It turned out to be so, as Republicans won clobbered the Democrats in the 1994 elections (taking back the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years). There is a similar mood today, though tonight will demonstrate to what degree. Republicans look a safe bet to win back the Virginia governorship. The New Jersey gubernatorial battle seems neck and neck. And in upstate New York, the fact that no active Republican candidate will be on the ballot is a misleading barometer of the strength of the GOP. Should Republicans win in Virginia and New Jersey, and more importantly, should the Conservative Party candidate win in upstate New York, Democrats will see the ominous clouds on the horizon. Democratic representatives on the fence about ObamaCare will be more apt to abandon the Sinking Ship Obama. Should Democrats win in New Jersey (where Obama campaigned heavily) and upstate New York tonight, look for an emboldened Democratic Party to embrace Obama's agenda more forcefully.

02 / November
02 / November
Party People, Party Poopers

Have you been following the race in New York's 23rd congressional district? The special election is Tuesday. Until this weekend, it featured three candidates: Republican Dierdre Scozzafava, Democrat Bill Owens, and Conservative Doug Hoffman. Former Alaska governor Sara Palin, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, among other Republicans, came out in support of the Conservative Party's Hoffman. Newt Gingrich endorsed Scozzafava. Mitt Romney voted present. Conservative Republicans rebuffing the Republican nominee moved liberal Republicans, and Democrats enjoying the spectacle of infighting among their rivals, to question the party loyalty of Palin and the other Republicans supporting the Conservative Party candidate. Ironically, it is Scozzafava's party loyalty that turned out to be suspect. This weekend, the pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat. Like Palin and Pawlenty, Scozzafava's loyalty may be to principle and not party. She stood no chance of winning, and as Palin and company sensed, her principles more closely meshed with the Democrats than with conservatives. Whether she winds up on Obama's payroll or not will greatly help explain the motivation for the 11th hour suspension of her campaign.