Mojo - February 2008

More on Which Dem Can Beat McCain

| Tue Feb. 5, 2008 7:40 AM PST

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 1:10 AM PST

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 7:58 PM PST

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:

The Neocon Redemption: AEI's Bid to Save Afghanistan

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 4:12 PM PST

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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 2:47 PM PST

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.

How Will the Media Measure Victory Tomorrow?

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 2:36 PM PST

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:

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President Bush's Budget - Money for Defense and Not Much Else

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 12:28 PM PST

bush-deficits-graphic.gif According to the Washington Post, the budget that President Bush is introducing today is set to "slow the growth of big federal health programs, reduce anti-terrorism grants for states and cities, and cut spending on anti-poverty, housing, and social service programs." The early education program Even Start is going to be eliminated, and funding for education technology, programs for incarcerated youth, and college affordability measures are being stripped.

Medicare will see deep cuts. Poison control centers and rural health programs will be drastically reduced. The Community Services Block Grant, "a $654 million program that provides housing, nutrition, education and job services to low-income people," will be cut completely.

Is President Bush finally embracing the fiscal conservativism that has been more myth than reality during his two terms?

Don't be silly. The budget introduces "a flood of new red ink that will rival the record deficits of [Bush's] first term." The deficit will go from $163 billion in 2007 to about $400 billion in 2008 and 2009. So where is all the money going?

Remembering Clinton and Obama on Israeli Bombing of Syria

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 12:02 PM PST

Seymour Hersh has written a new article about Israel's bombing of Syria last September. Laura Rozen may have more to say about it, but it seems inconclusive. No one—Israeli, Syrian, or American—has a convincing explanation of what happened. But certainly there doesn't appear to be strong evidence Syria truly was, as Israel claimed, building a nuclear reactor. Moreover, the hazy evidence, long links of supposition, and hints of other agendas are strongly reminiscent of the Iraq/WMD story.

With that in mind, it's interesting to remember what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were saying about the bombing soon afterward, at the September 27 MSNBC debate. Here's Clinton:

George Bush, Tree Hugger

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 12:00 PM PST

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Fun fact about the President's $3.1-trillion budget proposal: It may kill more American soldiers, but it saves money—and trees! How, you ask? From the LA Times:

In a cost-saving gesture, the government for the first time did not provide free copies of the four-volume proposal to Congress, instead releasing it online and charging $200 per printed copy ordered through the Government Printing Office.

Glad somebody's finally taking a stand against government waste.

—Casey Miner

Election '08: Ch-ch-ch-changes

| Mon Feb. 4, 2008 11:32 AM PST

If you aren't smiling half way through this video, you're the election grinch.

Also on the topic of videos, Barack Obama is having so much success online he now has his own YouTube. Introducing YouBama. No affiliation with the campaign, apparently.