Showing posts from January, 2008

A conservative look at McCain

NY Times: Senator John McCain has long aroused almost unanimous opposition from the leaders of the right. Accusing him of crimes against conservative orthodoxy like voting against a big tax cut and opposing a federal ban on same-sex marriage, conservative activists have agitated for months to thwart his Republican presidential primary campaign. That, however, was before he emerged this week as the party’s front-runner. Since his victory in the Florida primary, the growing possibility that Mr. McCain may carry the Republican banner in November is causing anguish to the right. Some, including James C. Dobson and Rush Limbaugh , say it is far too late for forgiveness. But others, faced with the prospect of either a Democrat sitting in the White House or a Republican elected without them, are beginning to look at Mr. McCain’s record in a new light. “He has moved in the right direction strongly and forcefully on taxes,” said Grover Norquist , an antitax organizer who had been the i

Navy tests most powerful rail gun to date

Navy Times: ... An EM railgun is powered by electricity rather than gunpowder. A shell is launched at Mach 7 through the electromagnetic rails into the atmosphere for about one minute, flies out of the atmosphere for four minutes, and then descends to Earth toward its target at Mach 5 in approximately one minute. The projectile is guided using the Global Positioning System. In November, defense contractor BAE Systems delivered a 32-megajoule laboratory gun and launcher to Dahlgren. Eventually, the Navy wants to produce a 64-megajoule railgun that will be able to strike targets on land from more than 200 nautical miles away. General Atomics is also building a gun, program officials said. In years to come, the Navy will decide which gun will work better on a ship. The program wants to demonstrate more than 100 shots by fiscal 2011. The objective is to fire 3,000 rounds per gun barrel. The barrels should be changeable onboard ship, according to program officials. The Navy hopes an EM rail

Obama is most liberal senator

Politico: National Journal rates Obama the single "most liberal" member of the Senate last year, spotlighting some policy differences, as well writing GOP attack ad if he's the nominee, but perhaps also a helpful note in consolidating support on the left now. The rating is a detailed, rigorous look across candidates' Senate records, and while Obama and Clinton are perceived as having similar Senate records, this suggests that Obama's record on the smaller, little-noticed votes has put him firmly to Clinton's left. ... Want to bet he does not brag about this.

McCain was for benchmark before he was against them

Trochilus Tales: Regarding this CNN-reported ongoing kerfuffle over the timetables . . . how about a little perspective here? One year ago, on January 26th of 2007, the McClatchy Tribune out of Tuscon, Arizona, per Margaret Talev, reported that John McCain himself was proposing a timetable of specific benchmarks that the Iraqis would have to meet, or we would pull out! And Barack Obama was quoted in the story congratulating his fellow Senator at the time, noting that he (Obama) had proposed the same thing two weeks before!! Below are the first several grafs of the story, which can be found here (my emphasis added). And he's making his accusations aimed at Mitt Romney, for being for a timetable back then? ... The story makes clear that several people thought bench marks might spur Iraqis to do a better job of fighting the enemy including McCain. It turned out that benchmarks were not nearly as important as an effective counterinsurgency strategy. Gateway Pundit has more on the

Al Qaeda safe house was target of missile strike

Reuters: A suspected U.S. missile strike that killed up to 13 foreign militants in Pakistan 's North Waziristan region this week had targeted second or third tier al Qaeda leaders, according to residents in the tribal area. Initial reports said 10 people were killed in the attack on Monday on a house in Torkhali village near the town of Mir Ali. An intelligence official, however, told Reuters on Thursday that based on information gleaned from tribal contacts there were seven Arabs and six Central Asians killed. He said the attack was believed to have been carried out by a pilotless U.S. Predator aircraft flown across the nearby border with Afghanistan . ... Intelligence officials said the area is controlled by Islamist militants and too dangerous for security forces to go. After the attack, militants surrounded the area and barred anyone from going near the house. Ahmed Aziz, a 70-year-old resident, told Reuters that the militants also stopped villagers from attending the fun

Remembering Tet 40 years later

It does not seem that long ago. James Robbins gives the facts, many of which the media has gotten wrong through the years and most of which the liberals have gotten wrong. Here are a few: ... Americans grew discouraged with Johnson because his administration was not trying to win. Defense Secretary McNamara was pursuing an esoteric limited-war strategy intended to bring about a negotiated settlement that enshrined the status quo. But Americans understand war as a “win or lose” proposition, preferably “win.” We had not sacrificed over 16,000 Americans by the beginning of 1968 to achieve a draw. And a hard-line Leninist like Ho Chi Minh viewed negotiations as simply a good time to reload. But disapproval of Johnson’s handling of the war did not mean opposition to the war effort per se . At the low point of LBJ’s public support, only 32 percent of the American people wanted to withdraw from South Vietnam; 50 percent wanted to escalate, to seek not a tie but a win. Most Americans wanted

Deflation in the housing market

William Gross: It seems to me that the U.S. economy requires a new orthodoxy, a redirection from consumption toward the stabilization of the housing market and an emphasis on infrastructure. America's economy is faltering because of an exhaustion of free-market capitalism that has mutated in recent years to something resembling a pyramid scheme. Our levered, derivative-based financial system, seemingly so ascendant after the dot-com madness that preceded it, has met its match with the subprime lending and poorly structured, opaque mortgage-backed securities of today's marketplace. The result has been a dangerous deflation in America's most important asset class -- housing. Preventing home prices from declining even further is job No. 1 for monetary and fiscal authorities. So far, only Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke seems to appreciate the necessity for timely, creative solutions. The Fed has cut interest rates twice in eight days, by one-half of a percentage point yesterday

All the failed GOP candidate strategies

Michael Barone: ... Every Republican candidate's strategy failed . Including John McCain's. Remember his original strategy: run as the party's heir apparent and bank on the benevolent neutrality of the Bush White House (obtained by the emotional reconciliation of John Weaver and Karl Rove) to raise large sums of money. This failed spectacularly at the end of June 2007, and the McCain campaign had to reboot. Its strategy: keep the candidate in the field and hope that other candidates would screw up and that external events would strengthen McCain's appeal. I have always been wary of campaign strategies of which one essential step is, "The other guy screws up." In McCain's case there were many steps, not just one. He was like the safecracker who must tackle an unfamiliar safe and must get one tumbler after another to fall in place. But for McCain it looks like all the tumblers fell into place. Of the other candidates, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson had gre

The candidate's client list

Michael Zeldin: Beginning with the South Carolina debate, and continuing as an applause line in many stump speeches thereafter, Hillary Clinton has accused Barack Obama of representing an inner-city slum lord while practicing law in Chicago. Of all people, Sen. Clinton should know better. During the Whitewater investigation, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr investigated the legal work performed by Mrs. Clinton, then a partner in the Rose law firm, on behalf of Jim McDougal and his bank, Madison Guaranty. Mr. Starr believed that Mrs. Clinton helped orchestrate the fraudulent land deal known as Castle Grande. He subpoenaed her billing records, hauled her before a grand jury, and relentlessly pursued her. In her defense, Mrs. Clinton and her attorneys asserted that her involvement in the matter was de minimus . As one of independent counsels who preceded Mr. Starr, I was interviewed repeatedly on the subject. I wholeheartedly defended Mrs. Clinton. I believed that the evidence revealed

McCain at the debate

Chuck Todd: ... Romney wasn't happy about the criticism McCain leveled at him about timetables in Iraq. He said it was a dirty trick because it came days before Florida. Well, maybe so, but it should also serve as a comfort to nervous Republicans about McCain's ability to play hardball in the general. McCain may seem like a guy who likes to reach across the aisle but he's not afraid to get dirty. McCain will be a very clever general election candidate; it won't all be kumbaya with Clinton or Obama. ... I doubt it. McCain has always saved his most hostile comments for "fellow" conservatives. For liberal senators he is more chummy and cordial. When it comes to the war, his Democrat opponents will be much more vulnerable than Romney. He want have to make up any cut and run statements with those guys.

McCain is too easily persuaded by liberal senators

Robert Novak: AS John McCain neared his momentous prima ry-election victory in Florida after a ferocious campaign questioning his conservative credentials, right-wingers buzzed over word that he had privately suggested that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was too conservative. In response, Sen. McCain recalled saying no such thing and added Alito was a "magnificent" choice. In fact, multiple sources confirm his negative comments about Alito nine months ago. McCain, as the "straight talk" candidate, says things off the cuff that he sometimes can't remember exactly. Elements of the Republican Party's right wing, uncomfortable with McCain as their prospective presidential nominee, surfaced the Alito comments long after the fact for two contrasting motives. One was a desperate effort to keep McCain from winning in Florida. The other was to get the party's potential nominee on record about key issues before he is nominated. The latter has no pretensions

Can McCain excite GOP base instead of media base?

Wall Street Journal Editorial: John McCain's hard-fought victory over Mitt Romney in Florida on Tuesday, combined with Rudy Giuliani's exit, has made the Arizona Senator the clear favorite. Now that the nomination is within Mr. McCain's grasp, he can close out Mr. Romney and help his prospects in November by showing he intends to repair the breach with all parts of the GOP coalition. Mr. McCain's great political strength has also long been his main weakness, which is that his political convictions are more personal than ideological. He believes in duty, honor and country more than he does in any specific ideas. These personal qualities are genuine political assets, and they are part of his appeal as a potential Commander in Chief. Among other things, they help explain why he held firm on Iraq when the fair-weather hawks lost their resolve. But he is now on the cusp of leading a coalition that also believes in certain principles, and its "footsoldiers" (to bor

Pause in troops cuts planned this summer

Thomas Ricks: Senior U.S. military commanders here say they want to freeze troop reductions starting this summer for at least a month, making it more likely that the next administration will inherit as many troops in Iraq as there were before President Bush announced a "surge" of forces a year ago. There are about 155,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, with about 5,000 leaving every month; the proposed freeze would go into effect in July, when troops levels reach around 130,000. Although violence is dropping in Iraq, commanders say they want to halt withdrawals to assess whether they can control the situation with fewer troops. Gen. David H. Petraeus , the top U.S. commander in Iraq, will probably argue for what the military calls an operational "pause" at his next round of congressional testimony, expected in early April, another senior U.S. military official here said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and top military officers have said they would like to see co

Power failures in South Africa bring country to halt

NY Times: ... The predicament was foretold. In 1998, a government report warned that at the rate the economy was growing, the nation faced serious electricity shortages by 2007 unless capacity was expanded. The government, led by President Thabo Mbeki , who assumed office in June 1999, tried unsuccessfully to induce private investors to build additional power plants. Only belatedly did it permit Eskom to begin the necessary expansion. “The president has accepted that this government got its timing wrong,” Alec Erwin, the public enterprises minister, said last Friday at a much-anticipated news briefing that broke a mystifying public silence. This statement was a rare admission of fault by a prideful, post-apartheid government. Mr. Mbeki, now in the final year of his second term, can legitimately boast of many successes, among them the provision of electricity to the impoverished masses. Since the African National Congress came to power in 1994, South Africa has doubled the percentage o

Clinton's questionable deals rake in huge profit

NY Times: Late on Sept. 6, 2005, a private plane carrying the Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra touched down in Almaty, a ruggedly picturesque city in southeast Kazakhstan . Several hundred miles to the west a fortune awaited: highly coveted deposits of uranium that could fuel nuclear reactors around the world. And Mr. Giustra was in hot pursuit of an exclusive deal to tap them. Unlike more established competitors, Mr. Giustra was a newcomer to uranium mining in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic. But what his fledgling company lacked in experience, it made up for in connections. Accompanying Mr. Giustra on his luxuriously appointed MD-87 jet that day was a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton . Upon landing on the first stop of a three-country philanthropic tour, the two men were whisked off to share a sumptuous midnight banquet with Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, whose 19-year stranglehold on the country has all but quashed political dissent

Al Qaeda in the media battle space

CNN: The man nominated to head public diplomacy at the State Department said Wednesday that al Qaeda is doing a better job than the Bush administration in winning friends over the Internet. "Our enemies are eating our lunch in terms of getting the word out in digital technology," said James Glassman. He was answering questions at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If approved by the committee and then by the Senate, Glassman would succeed President Bush's longtime friend and adviser Karen Hughes as assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy. Glassman is now the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- responsible for the radio, television and Internet networks paid for by U.S. taxpayers -- such as the Voice of America , available in dozens of languages, and Arabic language Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. Hughes stepped down from her State Department post in December. Glassman's comments Wednesday echoed a November

Debate gives candidates a chance to claim conservatism

CNN: The Republican White House hopefuls tried to present themselves as the most conservative candidate in the final showdown before the Super Tuesday contests. Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney dominated most of the debate, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Rep. Ron Paul fought to get their voices heard. When asked if Americans are better off than they were eight years ago, Romney said Washington has not dealt with the country's problems. "We have people who feel there needs to be a change in Washington, and that's what I represent," he said, kicking off the Republican debate. Romney said some of rival McCain's views are "out of the mainstream" conservative thought and have hurt the Republican party. "I would also note if you get endorsed by The New York Times, you're probably not a conservative," Romney said. McCain, who has emerged as the Republican front-runner, shot back saying, &

Al Qaeda mocks Aussie retreat AL-QAEDA-linked insurgency groups are cheering Australian troop casualties and mocking the Federal Government for “fleeing like a cornered mouse” from Iraq. ... A special investigation by infiltrating these global networks has identified jihadi references to the “embarrassing collapse” of the Howard government and cites Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Iraq withdrawal as a “victory”. ... But the effectiveness of such propaganda can be seen in public discussions igniting on forums popular with Islamic extremists. A search through one forum registered in Cairo shows a file picture of a visibly dejected John Howard over a derisive post on the result of the Australian election just hours after the outcome was declared. “After a rule that lasted 10 years, Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s government suffered an embarrassing collapse in the Australian elections,” the post says. “John Howard the biggest supporter of America, siding with Britain during its war agains

Al Qaeda leader targeted in missile strike

ABC News: Pakistani intelligence sources say they believe a "high-value" al Qaeda target was killed in a missile strike yesterday in the country's tribal region bordering Afghanistan. U.S. officials said there was no indication that the target was Osama bin Laden or his deputy Ayman al Zawahri, but one senior official told the strike was aimed at one particular figure. "We don't know whether we got him yet, we are sorting through it," the official said, indicating the intended target was a top leader of the terror group. The official also ruled out as a target American al Qaeda Adam Gadahn, who appeared recently in a propaganda videotape. "Gadahn may be recognizable to all of you, but he is really not that high up on the food chain in al Qaeda and not that important," the official said. ... I guess Gadahn is not worth the price of a Hellfire missile. If the target was not al Qaeda's number one or number two man, then it is possib

War in Lebanon was "missed opportunity"

Jerusalem Post: "Israel did not win the [Second Lebanon] war" and the army did not provide an effective response to Hizbullah's rocket fire on Israel, said Judge (ret.) Eliyahu Winograd, issuing his committee's final report on the war at Jerusalem's International Convention Center Wednesday, adding that the war was a "missed opportunity." He also said that while the cabinet decision to embark on a key ground operation in the war's last 60 hours was correct, the last-minute ground offensive did not improve Israel's position and there were "serious failings" in army command. More than 30 IDF soldiers were killed in the offensive launched shortly before a UN-brokered truce went into effect. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had come under severe criticism for ordering the battle, despite his contention that the offensive improved Israel's position before the cease-fire. "It was not a failure to embark on the ground operation, despite its

McCain leads Hillary and Obama

Rasmussen Reports: The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of Election 2008 shows Republican frontrunner Senator John McCain with single-digit leads over Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. McCain now leads Clinton 48% to 40%. He leads Barack Obama 47% to 41%. In a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted mid-January , McCain was two points behind Clinton, five behind Obama. A couple days later McCain won the South Carolina primary. McCain has led Clinton in four of the last five polling match-ups conducted by Rasmussen Reports. He has had the edge over Obama in three of the last four polls. (see history and trends ). Following his victory in Florida, Rasmussen Markets data indicates that McCain is the overwhelming favorite for the Republican Presidential nomination. ... In the new survey McCain enjoys an 22-point advantage among male voters with Clinton as his opponent. He lags by only three points among female voters. There isn't much gender discrepancy in the McC

Why people lose respect for Islam

BBC: The upper house of the Afghan parliament has supported a death sentence issued against a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan. Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge. The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case. The Afghan government has said that the sentence was not final. ... If Islam is so fragile that it must kill those who disagree with it, it is in trouble anyway. It is hard to have respect for an institution that imposes the death sentence on those who insult it.

Conservative media want go away if McCain wins

Donald Lambro: Conservative talk radio is ganging up on presidential candidate John McCain, attacking him for joining Democrats to push liberal legislation and opposing bedrock Republican positions from tax cuts to immigration. ... "I don't think talk radio has changed their core views. Look at Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Michael Medved, Mark Levin and myself, all center-right conservatives generally supportive of the Republicans," talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt told The Washington Times. "I think if you were to poll that universe of talkers, you would find they would be anti-McCain-Feingold [on campaign finance]; anti-McCain-Kennedy [on immigration], except for Medved; pro-oil exploration in ANWR; and supporters of the Bush tax cuts," Mr. Hewitt said as he ticked off bills the Arizona senator has championed or opposed in the Senate. "So the hostility toward the McCain legislative record shouldn't surprise anyone," the founder of the

The rejection of al Qaeda in Anbar

The Belmont Club gets an email for Josh Manchester: ... The Iraqis in Anbar have completely rejected Al Qaeda. A while back I told the police chief in my town that I thought the reason the terrorists are weak is because their ideas have been rejected. He said, "In 2002 and 2003, we thought Al Qaeda was just another Muslim group. Now, you can go far out into the desert and talk to even a shepherd, and he will tell you that he hates Al Qaeda. One hundred years from now, you will be able to go into the desert and talk to a shepherd and he will still tell you that he hates Al Qaeda." So, having rejected extremism, what is left? They are still Muslim in my town, but I wouldn't call them devout -- they go to the mosque and pray, and mention God in everyday conversations -- as do I to them -- and granted, I certainly don't know or interact with all of them, but I don't think that "moderate Islam" fully captures who they are. In fact, religion is almost irr

Who is McCain's conservative outreach director?

Michelle Malkin asks the question in her critique of McCain's illegal alien outreach director.

McCain talks conservative and votes with liberals

Terrence Jefferey: While the liberal establishment may be conflicted over whether it wants Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee, there's no doubt which Republican it favors. John McCain is the liberal elite's go-to guy in the GOP. They believe he'll be there for them when they need him. That was the essential message of last week's New York Times editorial endorsing McCain for the Republican nomination. "With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field," said the Times. "We have shuddered at McCain's occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle." What the Times is saying here is that it does not take McCain's conservative campaign-season rhetoric seriously. No, they're convinced the man on the Straight

Edwards is dropping out

Chris Cillizza: Former senator John Edwards (N.C.) will end his bid for the presidency today in New Orleans, bringing to a close a five-year quest for the nation's highest office. Edwards will be joined by his wife, Elizabeth, as well as his three children on stage. He is expected to take part in a Habitat for Humanity event following the announcement. Edwards will not endorse either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) or Barack Obama (Ill.) today and has no plans to weigh in for either candidate in the immediate future, according to aides. ... It is not clear who this helps on the Democrat side. There have been whispers that he was helping Obama by staying in the race and that he would be awarded with an appointment as Attorney General. It has been clear for some time that he could not win.

The base of GOP really does not like McCain

Ryan Sager: THEY don't like him. They re ally don't like him. But he's going to be their nominee. John McCain has won yet another primary without carrying either self-identified conservatives or Republicans - at least according to the Florida exit polls, which show McCain losing self-identified Republicans by 31 percent to 33 percent for Mitt Romney. More, Romney scored a stunning 37 percent of self-described conservatives to McCain's 27 percent. But a win is a win - and there's little that can stop the Straight Talk Express now. McCain had been written off by the pundits (including me, many times, usually quite gleefully), but the media remains his base, his campaign treasure chest and his get-out-the-vote operation all wrapped up into one. His narrow victory will ring through the land as a landslide. And, truth be told, while it's underwhelming, it's enough. It's long been clear the winner of Florida would almost certainly go on to win the whole t

Distorting the market with eminent domain

Wall Street Journal Editorial: Does restricting "eminent domain" -- the power of government to seize private property -- harm economic growth? A new report from the Institute for Justice looks at the evidence and concludes the answer is no. Since the Supreme Court sanctified eminent domain on behalf of private developers in the dreadful 5-4 Kelo ruling in 2005, 42 states have passed some restriction on the practice. Some reforms have been far-reaching, as in Florida, which barred public entities that seized property from transferring it to private hands for 10 years after the seizure. Other reforms are more modest, changing the definition of "blight" or throwing up other obstacles to overeager planners. But one constant since Kelo v. New London has been the refrain, echoed by developers and politicians alike, that eminent domain is necessary for redevelopment. In 2006, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack vetoed an eminent-domain reform, arguing that it would harm the eco

Where will Obama cave to Republicans?

Tony Blankley: Quoted material removed. You may read the original at the link above. For Democrats, the Clintons are the safer bet. Blacks will stay on the Democrat plantation, but the Hispanics will probably not give Obama much support. They will very likely vote for McCain. Hispanic prejudice against blacks is rarely spoken about, but it is there and it is pervasive. If Obama is the Democrat candidate the rainbow coalition will be split.

Inside the chaos in Kenya

Ralph Peters: A MONTH ago, Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki brazenly stole a national election, abruptly reversing the nation's progress toward a mature democracy. Violence since Election Day has taken nearly 1,000 lives and left a quarter-million homeless. Now a legislator allied with Raila Odinga - the man who actually won the election - has been assassinated. The police and military have been unable to contain the savagery in the streets. First, Odinga's outraged backers ethnically cleansed members of Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyus. Then put-upon Kikuyus struck back, driving out Odinga's Luo and other minority tribes. Spontaneous rage coalesced into organized purges. Ex-UN chief Kofi Annan's attempts to reach a compromise continue to fail. But it's not only corrupt local pols who are to blame. Kenya's sudden nightmare is also the fault of pompous Western theorists and impossibly arrogant diplomats. (Our embassy in Nairobi's botched response to the st

The collapse of the liberal health care fantasy

Wall Street Journal Editorial: Arnold Schwarzenegger's "universal" health-care plan died in the California legislature on Monday, in what can only be called a mercy killing. So let's conduct a political autopsy, because there are important lessons here for the national health-care debate. ... ... The California legislature is probably the most liberal this side of Vermont, and even Democrats refused to become shock troops for this latest liberal experiment. Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the State Assembly did agree on a compromise plan in December. But on Monday, only a single member of the Senate Health Committee voted to report the bill to the full chamber -- and thus it joined a graveyard full of state "universal" health-care failures. Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thoug

What talk radio will talk about with McCain

Jennifer Rubin: Certain conservative opinion makers are not pleased. Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, much of the roster at the National Review and many (but certainly not all) of their more conservative talk radio and blogger colleagues are beside themselves at the prospect that one of the Republican contenders they deemed to be “not conservative” might be nominated. As Mike Huckabee won Iowa, John McCain took South Carolina and Fred Thompson bestirred himself to draft a note withdrawing from the race, the fretting has intensified. How could the voters reject their advice? There are a few explanations the dismayed conservative punditocracy might use to explain their apparent disconnect with Republican voters. One is that the electorate has not rejected their advice about what constitutes an unacceptable candidate. Voters are simply rejecting the flawed candidates who were poor standard-bearers for conservatism. This scenario seems eminently reasonable given that the pundits’ favored co

McCain has the advantage next week

Robert Novak: Florida's primary was the one former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney badly needed going into next week's 21-state Mega Tuesday. Instead, his loss by a slim margin to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) sends McCain into the Feb.5 showdown with a leg up on the Republican presidential nomination. McCain has a natural advantage in next Tuesday's virtual national primary, especially in high-population California, New York and New Jersey. The winner-take-all method (by district or statewide) used by Republicans, in contrast to the Democrats' proportional representation, makes McCain a commanding favorite for the nomination. To block McCain on Mega Tuesday, Romney needed to win in Florida. His well-financed campaign outspent everybody there. He was closely followed in the dollar derby by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who finished a poor third in Florida. That effectively ends Giuliani's hopes for the nomination by the former front-runner in national Republ

No joy for Democrats in the South

NY Times: The domed courthouse clock tower tolls the hour, but not much else breaks the stillness in this centuries-old county seat where politics seems to have reached equilibrium, balanced between ancient Democratic traditions and newer Republican ones. Beneath the surface peace, though, in the storefronts, diners and offices around the square, there is unease as Tuesday’s primaries approach. A prosperity that has endowed this city of 34,000 with fancy antiques stores and well-appointed personal investment offices is weakening. Unemployment in Maury County is rising as a nearby auto plant declines, unfamiliar candidates are on the ballot and all the history accumulated here over two centuries, in the middle of a politically middling state, is proving to be an unreliable guide. In November, Democrats need to win here in this swing county in the hilly Nashville exurbia, just as they need to win in the rest of Tennessee and in its neighbor Arkansas, Southern states that have voted for t