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More on Which Dem Can Beat McCain

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 10:40 AM EST

I left out a couple things in my long blog post yesterday on which Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, can beat John McCain. So get ready...

The first thing I didn't mention is this: Hillary Clinton has more experience combating the right wing's attacks. Yes, there probably more mud to sling at her, and yes, conservatives have already spent decades doing research on the Clintons—but as she's said on the campaign trail, she's taken the worst they can throw at her and she's still standing.

Obama is coasting along with relatively low negatives right now, but in a general election the Right will find a way to drive those up. They'll find mud to sling at him too, and if they can't find any, they'll create some out of thin air. Obama won't mobilize Republican donors, volunteers, and voters the way Clinton will, but he will still get attacked as violently and as frequently as she would. Will Obama be able to respond effectively? We honestly don't know. He's never run a tough race against a nasty Republican.

It's fair to say that because Clinton is a known quantity for so many Americans, and because the Right has already revealed its cards in how it's going to attack her, she has a tight ceiling and tight floor. If she wins this election, it'll be an incredibly hard fought battle with McCain that ends up 51-49 or 52-48. If the Democratic wave that we all foresee doesn't occur, she could lose by that same two to four point margin.

Obama on the other hand has a higher ceiling and a lower floor. He's energizing young people, minorities, independents, and people of all ages who don't traditionally engage in politics. He has fewer angles of attack for the Republicans to use, and presents a greater contrast to McCain. He could win a huge electoral college landslide and usher in new Democratic senators and congressmen around the country. But he could also screw up in the general election when he starts facing real nastiness for the first time in his career and lose by a substantial margin.

More after the jump...

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The U.N. Deception: What Exactly Colin Powell Knew Five Years Ago, and What He Told the World

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 4:10 AM EST

Colin Powell presented the case against Iraq to the UN Security Council five years ago today, on February 5, 2003.

As much criticism as Powell has received for this—he calls it "painful" and something that will "always be a part of my record"—it hasn't been close to what's justified. Powell was far more than just horribly mistaken: the evidence is conclusive that he fabricated evidence and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.

Unfortunately, Congress has never investigated Powell's use of the intelligence he was given. Even so, what's already in the public record is extremely damning. So while the corporate media has never taken a close look at this record, anyone can go through Powell's presentation line by line to examine the chasm between what he knew, and what he told the world. As you see below, there's quite a lot to say about it.

Powell's speech can be found on the State Department website here. All other sources are linked below.

Leno Reminds Brokaw That He Dissed Reagan in a 1983 issue of Mother Jones

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 10:58 PM EST

When Tom Brokaw appeared on The Tonight Show Friday night to promote his new book, Boom!: Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today, Jay Leno surprised him by asking him about a 1983 Mother Jones interview in which Brokaw offered a surprisingly blunt assessment of Ronald Reagan.

In the interview, conducted by Frank Browning and appearing in the April 1983 issue, Brokaw opined that Reagan's values were "simplistic," that he had no understanding of the challenges faced by the poor, and that supply-side economic theory was a "disaster." In responding to Leno's question about the response to his interview, Brokaw made it sound like Nancy Reagan was the only one who had a problem with it. In fact, the interview set off a wave of criticism, with Brokaw getting hammered hard by conservatives, and even some liberal columnists, for his harsh assessment of Reagan:

97.5 Million People Bored by Super Bowl Until Last Three Minutes

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 9:46 PM EST

FootballThe overnight ratings are in, and initial figures show that not only was last night's Super Bowl the most watched Super Bowl ever, it was in fact the second most watched television event in history. Its 97.5 million number is bested only by the 106 million who apparently watched the 1983 finale of M*A*S*H. I never liked that show.

The Neocon Redemption: AEI's Bid to Save Afghanistan

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 7:12 PM EST

marines.jpg

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI)—bastion of neocon thought, leading Iraq war pusher, and (a day late and a penny short) deviser of the "surge" strategy that at least helped mitigate some of the resulting carnage—is now focusing its collected wisdom on the war in Afghanistan. As Sean Naylor reports in the latest issue of the Navy Times, AEI's Afghanistan Planning Group, an assemblage of about "two dozen" experts, concluded three days of meetings on January 27. The project was led by Fred Kagan, one of the chief architects of "Choosing Victory—A Plan For Success in Iraq," which formed the basis of the Bush administration's decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Iraq early last year. Conservatives have lauded the "success" of the Iraq surge as evidence of a turnaround in American fortunes there. (Others, it should be pointed out, see the diminishing violence as a logical result of the ferocious ethnic cleansing that burned through Iraqi neighborhoods in the past couple of years.) AEI insists that the group's work was undertaken independent of the White House, but acknowledged that the official findings, which have so far not been released publicly, will be shared with government officials in the coming weeks.

According to Naylor in the Navy Times, those findings include:

* Deploy an extra U.S. brigade into Kandahar and a Marine battalion into Helmand in 2008 and maintain that force level through 2009. Some 28,000 U.S. troops are now in Afghanistan, about half the total coalition force there.

Which Dem Is Better Able to Beat John McCain?

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:47 PM EST

mccain-vs-dems.jpg An interesting question that undecideds voting tomorrow might like to think through: which Democratic candidate is better suited to beat John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, in the general election?

McCain would be a tough opponent for either candidate. If he faces off against Clinton in the general, he will neutralize her primary arguments: experience and immediate fitness for office. McCain matches and beats Clinton's credentials on foreign policy, and can hammer her for playing the lobbyist/earmarks/special interest game.

But Obama has problems with the match-up too. One of Obama's strengths is that he is viewed as a candidate who would restore integrity to the White House and clean up Washington. McCain is viewed the same way. In fact, McCain can argue that because he took the lead on campaign finance reform, he actually has done more than Obama on one of Obama's key issues. What you are left with is a young(ish) man with no foreign policy experience facing off with a war hero and a former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But that doesn't mean the Democrats don't have advantages.

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How Will the Media Measure Victory Tomorrow?

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:36 PM EST

Ed Kilgore of Democratic Strategist has an interesting point about delegates—they may determine the actual winner of the Democratic nomination, but they aren't necessarily what the media will look to tomorrow night. In fact, the media can judge success in a number of different ways:

Top Hospitals Have 27% Lower Mortality Rate

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:29 PM EST

793567365_fb45589496_m.jpg This according to HealthGrades, in the largest annual study of hospital quality in America, analyzing more than 40 million hospitalization records over the most recent three years. The results indicate that patients treated at top-rated hospitals nationwide are nearly one-third less likely to die, on average. Patients who undergo surgery at these high-performing hospitals also have an average five percent lower risk of complications during their stay. Overall, 171,424 lives may have been saved and 9,671 major complications avoided during the three years studied, had the quality of care at all hospitals matched the level of those in the top five percent. "This disparity in the quality of care at U.S. hospitals is disappointing," says Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades chief medical officer.

You can check the ratings of your local hospitals for free here.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent and 2008 winner of the John Burroughs Medal Award. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

Campaign Ad Factoids

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:26 PM EST

obama150.jpgPolitical Punch has an interesting little collection of facts about candidate advertising. Among the most interesting:

* Mitt Romney was the No. 1 advertiser in both parties—35,000 ads—and spent as much as all of his GOP opponents combined—and almost four times as much as John McCain in Florida

* Barack Obama led the Democratic pack with almost 30,000 ads, worth almost $23 million; Hillary Clinton aired more than 25,500 ads, worth well over $18 million.

* Who did the talking? Barack Obama narrated nearly 83% of his own TV ads, while Hillary Clinton narrated fewer than half (43 percent) of hers.

* McCain used images of the American flag more than any other leading candidate, with 77% of his TV ads displaying the Stars and Stripes…compared with 40% of Obama's and 33% of Clinton's.

Another interesting fact: Obama was the only candidate to air an ad during the Super Bowl. Take a look:

The Best Music of 2007: What My Dad Thinks

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 5:21 PM EST

2007 Music

Here we are, a month into 2008. The Village Voice and Idolator 2007 critics polls were recently released, and it feels like it's probably time to wrap up our thoughts on the previous year in music. But rather than inflict my own opinions on you once again, I thought I'd turn to a less-pretentious source: my dad.

Larry Gill is a 67-year-old farmer who's spent most of his life in a small town in Nebraska and has no musical training to speak of (other than church choir). But his taste in music always surprises me: he's a big Coldplay fan and raves about the Zero 7 CD I got him for Christmas a few years back (and my mom assures me he really does listen to it all the time). So I wondered what he'd think about critics' picks for '07. I sent him a CD of some of the year's notable songs (along with a few of my own random picks) and we talked on the phone while he listened to it.