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Exercise - It Does a Cell Good

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 6:03 PM EST

mitosis3.jpgHere's yet another reason to keep your New Year's resolution to exercise this year: people who work out have younger-looking cells than those who don't.

In the study, conducted at King's College in London, 1,200 pairs of British twins were tested. Just one hundred minutes of activity a week made cells of active twins look five to six years younger than their couch potato counterparts. With three hours of exercise, the cells looked nine years younger.

Young-looking cells may not seem much to crow about, but scientists have long theorized the younger your cells appear under a microscope, the younger you look on the outside. As cells age, they divide. Over time, a cell loses its ability to divide and dies, causing aging symptoms like wrinkles, reduced organ function, and poor eyesight. So while exercise helps you feel better and keeps you healthy, it may also help you look younger.

Excuse me while my cells and I slip on our running shoes.

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In Endorsing Obama, Kennedy Anoints a Prince and Tells Clintons To Cool It

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 5:15 PM EST

Democrats don't come much more traditional than Teddy Kennedy, the grand man of the Democratic Party. So his endorsement of Barack Obama--implicitly an anti-endorsement of Hillary Clinton--has punch. Endorsements routinely don't matter much in presidential campaigns--with a few exceptions. A politician who controls a machine--say, a governor--can come in quite handy on Election Day. In this case, Kennedy brings two piping hot dishes to the Obama potluck.

By awarding him the Kennedy Seal of Approval--with Caroline Kennedy (daughter of John) and Representative Patrick Kennedy (son of Ted) chiming in--Kennedy makes it official: Obama is the Next Generation leader of the Democratic Party and, in that role, has a lock on the vision thing. And by pledging to campaign arduously for Obama in the coming days, Kennedy will be assisting Obama's efforts to reach out to traditional Democratic voters: working-class Dems. Clinton has been faring better among that core demographic chunk of the Democratic electorate. Kennedy is no white knight who will rescue Obama on this front. But if Kennedy pulls a few votes here and there, it could be significant--only if Obama on his own can close the gap between him and Clinton on blue-collar Democrats and Latinos. It is too late for any candidate--or any set of endorsements--to change the fundamentals of the presidential race in time for Supersaturated Tuesday on February 5. And Ted Kennedy on the campaign trail is no match for Hillary Clinton's hit man: her husband. Yet any bit of Kennedy magic dust the Massachusetts senator sprinkles for Obama can only help.

Kennedy's endorsement speech--held before an enthusiastic crowd at an auditorium at American University--was a roar. He noted that Clinton and John Edwards were fine people and his friends. "But I believe," he said, "there is one candidate who has extraordinary gifts of leadership and character, matched to the extraordinary demands of this moment in history." He completely adopted Obama's own arguments: "He is a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view." That last line, an echo of a remark Obama made on Saturday night after winning the South Carolina primary, was a dig at the Clinton camp.

Us to Earth: We Will Rock You

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 5:00 PM EST

footprint150.jpgGeologically speaking, nature usually calls the shots. Historically it's been the case that major natural events—shifting tectonic plates, volcanoes, even asteroids—have shaped the trajectory of life on this planet. Not anymore. A team of researchers from the University of Leicester and the Geological Society of London is the latest group to make the case that the Holocene era is coming to an end, and the Anthropocene (meaning, basically, man-made) is on its way in. Our impact on the planet is so profound, say the scientists, we've changed our home for good. The evidence:

* Vastly altered sediment erosion and deposition patterns.
* Major disturbances to the carbon cycle and global temperature.
* Wholesale changes in biology, from altered flowering times to new migration patterns.
* Acidification of the ocean, which threatens tiny marine life that forms the bottom of the food chain.

This isn't a new idea. The term "Anthropocene Era" was coined by Paul Crutzen, winner of the 1995 Chemistry Nobel Prize. Crutzen identified three phases of the era—and made some guesses as to what we can expect next.

Edwards Campaign: "Hey, We're Still Here!"

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 4:47 PM EST

john-edwards-campaigning.jpg The Edwards camp shot a campaign memo around to reporters today explaining Edwards' "path to the nomination."

"Ultimately, we expect the race to narrow to one of the two celebrity candidates and us," it says, "and when that happens, we are confident that the remaining contests will break in our direction as voters are finally offered the choice the national media has ignored all year—the most progressive, most electable candidate in the race, John Edwards."

That last phrase—"the most progressive, most electable candidate"—is used throughout the memo.

The campaign goes on to mention that only a handful of delegates have actually been awarded (counts vary, but the Edwards people identify about 130), while there are over 4,000 total to be awarded in primaries nationwide. That means that a candidate needs to take over 2,000 delegates to win. The point is, Edwards has time to make a comeback.

So that's the plan (or, that's the plan they'll make public)—stick around and hope that one of the "celebrity" candidates stumbles so badly that he or she has to get out of the race. Not a great bet, but the only one Edwards can make.

The problem is, there isn't a whole lot of retail politics from here on out. As the Edwards people point out, "once people have a chance to hear directly from John Edwards, the numbers move." But on Super Tuesday, Edwards will not be able to work the small towns of any particular state, the way he did in Iowa and South Carolina. He has to rely on big ad buys and free media (aka press coverage). Neither of those things are really within Edwards' reach right now.

Bush's Economic Growth: Not So Impressive

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 2:25 PM EST

Dean Baker takes a look at this paragraph from a NYT analysis of Bush's economic record:

Mr. Bush has spent years presiding over an economic climate of growth that would be the envy of most presidents. Yet much to the consternation of his political advisers, he has had trouble getting credit for it, in large part because Americans were consumed by the war in Iraq.

Not so fast, says Baker. He pulls up the rankings of the presidential terms since 1960 by average annual GDP growth:

Kennedy-Johnson — 5.2%
Clinton — 3.6%
Reagan — 3.4%
Carter — 3.4%
Nixon-Ford — 2.7%
Bush II — 2.6%
Bush I — 1.9%

That list says an awful lot. (1) The Family Bush really doesn't know how to manage the economy. (2) Democrats are pretty good at it. (3) Carter probably gets more crap than he deserves for his economic performance.

Qtrax Free Downloads Too Good to Be True?

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 1:48 PM EST

mojo-photo-qtrax.jpgThe Drudge Report gave it a top-line link: Free, legal downloads of every song in the universe on some weird site called Qtrax! Come and get 'em! Qtrax claimed all the major record labels had signed on to their new service, an ad-supported, filtered P2P platform that would allow actual downloads of every song in the labels' catalogs, the files wrapped in DRM, but whatever, they're free, right?

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Thinking About Endorsements: Do They Matter?

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 10:18 AM EST

David discusses Obama's endorsement from Teddy Kennedy below; it will be valuable to BHO if Kennedy can campaign effectively amongst older voters, Latinos, and labor. Those are three constituencies in which Kennedy has some real juice, and Obama trails Clinton. Also, it gives Obama some old-guard cache.

But color me dubious. I'm just not sure endorsements matter. Imagine the thought process that would be necessary: "Well, I've seen these candidates in debates, on the late night talk shows, on the front page of my newspaper, on the internet, in their ads, on cable TV—I've seen these candidates everywhere in the last few months and have all the information I could possibly need to make a decision. But I'll just do what Teddy Kennedy says." Really? In this supersaturated news environment?

I may be wrong. There may be a number of what political experts call "low-information voters" who use things like endorsements as shortcuts. And perhaps there is a generation of Americans whose allegiance to the Kennedy brothers is so strong that an endorsement matters. I'll concede that—but does anyone care who Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI, if you were wondering) supports?

While we're on the topic, here is how Clinton's and Obama's Senate endorsements break down:

Edwards v. Dellinger: Gossip Over The Next AG

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 10:00 AM EST

dellingerw.jpg
Since Jonathan has waded into the gossip mill over the future attorney general, I thought I'd chime in with some other, equally unsourced gossip along those lines. With rumors flying that Obama would pick John Edwards as his AG, conventional wisdom among liberal lawyers in the know is that Hillary Clinton would tap former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger III for the post.

Personally, I see this as far more plausible than Obama selecting Edwards, despite what Bob Novak says. After all, Edwards has never been a prosecutor, which is a basic pre-req for anyone hoping to get confirmed by the Senate. Also, the AGs job is an administrative position. Edwards is, despite his recent transformation, a plaintiffs lawyer, and good plaintiffs lawyers tend to suck big time at desk jobs. The things that make them good in a courtroom—willingness to take big risks and an unwillingness to compromise—often make them terrible at running things. (See A Civil Action.)

Just as Ted Kennedy Endorses Obama, RNC Discovers - Omigod! - EMK Is a Liberal

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 9:58 AM EST

ted-kennedy250x200.jpg Yes, the Republican National Committee has shocking news. Teddy Kennedy is a—yikes!—liberal. The vaunted opposition research department of the RNC somehow unearthed this information, and on Monday morning, hours before Kennedy was to appear at a rally to endorse Barack Obama, the Republican Party sent out an email to reporters reminding them of this sinister nexus: Kennedy = liberalism. Its point: Kennedy's endorsement "highlights" Obama's "true liberal credentials."

It's hardly a given that Obama will win the Democratic nomination, but it's clear that if he does, the RNC is ready with its traditional playbook: brand the Dem a liberal. No doubt, the same stratagem is set for Hillary Clinton. This traditional attack has often paid off for the Republicans. (Ask Michael Dukakis and the first George Bush.) But it could wear thin this time around. Obama, though obviously a progressive, has shown an ability to attract independents and even a few Republicans. Remember, voters are not nearly as ideological as the partisan activists of both sides. And in the case of HRC, after eight years of triangulating White House Clintonism and eight years of intermittent centrism in the Senate, the old Hillary-is-a-radical-socialist routine doesn't resonate much these days, except among die-hard, living-in-the-past, Hillary-hating conservatives.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party will bang the he's-a-liberal! (or she's-a-liberal!) drum. Though it remains the GOP's favorite beat, voters may not dance to it as they once did.

South Carolina's Lasting Impact

| Sat Jan. 26, 2008 9:39 PM EST

The true legacy of this election cycle's South Carolina slimefest remains to be seen.

In 2000, John McCain faced a do-or-die contest in South Carolina and got slashed by allegations that he had fathered an illegitimate black child and abandoned his fellow POWs in Vietnam. McCain lost in South Carolina by 11 points and his campaign never recovered.

This time around, the mudslinging occurred on the Democratic side. Clinton attacked Obama for supporting the policies of Ronald Reagan, a false claim, and many Clinton surrogates found ways to mention Obama's religion or past drug use. And Bill Clinton called Obama's record on Iraq a fairy tale, compared him to Jesse Jackson, and repeatedly brought up race, all while chastising the press for trivializing the campaign. Obama was baited into responding with his own nasty ads.

The result, even the Clinton campaign admits, is that the candidate who was once transcendent and post-racial is now very clearly "the black candidate." That may serve Obama well in a Southern state like South Carolina, where half the Democratic electorate is African-American, but it will take off some of his sheen in the eyes of white voters across the country. And that's why South Carolina's role in this campaign will not end until the February 5 primaries (and possibly even later ones) are decided. If Obama loses even a small share of the white vote in those states, he will struggle mightily to beat Clinton.