NYT: Victory for Obama Over Military Lobby

Star Wars? Quite the contrary, in fact.
Effective and sensible leadership? Yes We Can.

Our Democratic President, along with his Defense Secretary and formidable White House staff, have pulled off a major accomplishment and can claim victory over the Industrial Military Complex. The people who follow such things say this is surprising. I, on the other hand, think it's just plain awesome!

Published: October 28, 2009

When the Obama administration proposed canceling a host of expensive weapons systems last spring, some of the military industry's allies in Congress assumed, as they had in the past, that they would have the final say.

Congressional lapdogs and revolving door aspirants, many who are seasoned geezers used to getting their way (and subsequent big $$$ from lobbyists), had a bit of schooling, it would seem, from the new kids up the street...

Military analysts said Mr. Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, also aimed at the most bloated programs. And Senator John McCain of Arizona, the former Republican presidential candidate, who has criticized the Pentagon's cost overruns, provided Mr. Obama with political cover to make the cuts without being seen as soft on the military.

"They probably get an `A' from the standpoint of their success on their major initiatives," said Fred Downey, a former Senate aide who is now vice president for national security at the Aerospace Industries Association. "They probably got all of them but one or maybe two, and that's an extraordinarily high score."

I'll give you minute for that to sink in.

Still, even White House officials say they were surprised at how far they got in reshaping the weapons programs.

"In terms of sort of bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington and changing the way the place works, you couldn't have picked a more challenging area than the defense budget," said Rob Nabors, the deputy director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

Good work, Mr. President. Keep it coming.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/busine ss/29defense.html?_r=2&ref=politics

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PEW: More Think Health Care Bill Will Pass

Take away: Opinion on this question has changed dramatically from just a week ago. You don't have to be really sick to think this is good news, but it couldn't hoit.

By a 57%-to-38% margin, most Americans say they think a health care reform bill will pass over the next year. Democrats (71%) are the most likely to say they expect a bill to pass, and they are joined in this view by a somewhat smaller majority (56%) of independents. Republicans express mixed views: 47% say they think a bill will pass over the next year, 50% think it will not.

Opinion on this question has changed dramatically from just a week ago. The previous weekly News Interest Index -- conducted Oct. 9-12 -- found about as many saying they expected a bill to pass (45%) as saying they did not think a bill would pass (46%). In the current survey, the percentage expecting passage of a health care reform bill is up 12 points; the change has been particularly pronounced among Republicans (up 19 points) and Democrats (15 points), while there has been a smaller, nine-point increase in the proportion of independents saying they think a health care reform bill will pass over the next year.

http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1387/views-o f-afghanistan-news-troop-fatalities-know ledge

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The brilliance of Dracomicron

I was so overwhelmed by the sheer genius of one of our fellow travelers here on MyDD that I wanted to share it with everyone. The following is from a back and forth in a different diary, I've edited it down to make it read seamlessly. I did not have the permission of Dracomicron, and if (s)he objects, i will gladly take this down.
(The topic is clear in the reading.)

[T]he bill currently has the public option [and thus] cost containment.

[I]f Obama were to veto the bill because there's a public option, and I were to somehow defend that as a victory for progressives, then [I'd be wrong].  He's not going to do that, and I wouldn't do that, so the point is moot.

Obama has laid out what he wanted to see in the final bill.  He was willing to accept less if it decreased the risk of failure, which is understandable, because a failure here would undermine his delicate success ratio.

Reid, who is the majority leader despite being a sucking void of charisma, almost has to have his numbers in order, and the behind-the-scenes weight to put down opposition in his own caucus.  He also knows that he's going to be facing a tough re-election campaign next year.  He put the effort in and informed the President that he could do him one better, that he [the President] should chill out, because they have the votes to get a better result.  

The President differed [with] his Majority Leader's assessment of the state of the legislative branch, because that's how politics is supposed to work. [They were having a discussion.]

To suggest that somehow Obama was working at odds with Reid when he was simply acknowledging that a somewhat less-than-optimal bill would still be acceptable as a starting point for later reform is [plain silly].

There was a fantastic episode of Futurama years ago, where Bender meets a galactic computer that might be God.  At the end of the episode, everything works out for the best, and the computer says, "If you've done it right, people won't know you've done anything at all." The same applies here.  Logic dictates that Obama was involved with the process, since he's been involved with the process from the start.  While he might not be Lyndon Johnsoning the hell out of the Legislative branch, the current apparent success suggests that whatever he was doing, whether that be making deals or simply giving the Congress room to grow up and do their jobs, is working.

       A) Obama has been in the corner of the public option since before he was president.  It is implausible that he would turn against it now, not to mention unsupported by any evidence.

       B) Obama has clearly and publicly supported this kind of reform, most blatantly in his nationally televised speech to a joint session of Congress.

       C) Obama has had congressional leadership in closed meetings.

       D) Obama has a Chief of Staff who is a tough ex-legislator and a notorious strongarm.

       E) None of this would even be possible were Obama not elected president, and it was one of his campaign promises.  Obama is clearly an ambitious politician who knows what his self-interest is.

       Now, I never claimed that Obama did this all by himself.  If you think that's what Obama supporters believe, then you're way off base.  Part of Obama's appeal is that he's actually a leader instead of simply an authority, and part of leadership is getting people to do their jobs.

       ... Reid hasn't exactly been the paragon of fighters or obvious leadership.  I'd say that there's definitely an overflow effect, owing partially (not entirely, of course) to Obama's leadership.
 The world is a complicated place, and you can't always point at the cumulation of years of work and say it happened for one reason and one reason only.  Wise people know that it's usually a combination of factors.

I never said that his public words were "proof." I said that they were "supporting evidence" that he was pro-public option.  "Evidence" is the thing that leads to "proof." It's the accumulation of evidence that makes a juror decide whether or not the case is proven or not.
 In this case, I believe the burden of proof has been satisfied.  

I'm not just impressed with Dracomicron, I'm jealous.

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Damn you Obama

(subtitled - Kent is not alone....)

Well, it looks like the lazy disappointing non-partisan wimp in the White House is at it again, giving Wall Street a free pass while leaving our fine Majorities in the Congress out to dry. What's the point of having power if refuse to use it? You can kiss the Robust Public Option good-bye, and die a pauper knowing that Single-Payer was within our reach, but the hand of Obama refused to lift a finger! Don't get me wrong, I like the President, it's just his shiftlessness that bothers me.

We worked so hard for a majority in 2006 and 2008 and now all of our work is about to be flushed down the toilet.  Our last hurrah as a majority could be the passage of some sickly pathetic form of healthcare overhaul that doesn't do anything at all.  

This has been the shortest era of dominance for one political party in history, and we all know who failed us: those snarky cheerleaders at MyDD. But I hear there's a plan.

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P R O C E D U R A L hurdles facing Public Option

It is way too early to be asking these questions, but...

What lies between here/now and the day the first person insured under a Public Option Health Insurance Policy (let's call them Obama Care Subscribers) gets to visit a doctor?

What legislative steps lie ahead?
How fast can a new Insurance infrastructure be implemented?
What is a reasonable expectation based on experience?
(How fast did Medicare Part D roll out, for instance - not a perfect analog, but a recent example at least.)

What is the expectation of potential clients? Will they get pissed off if they don't have an insurance card by Christmas 2009? Will we?

Who exactly will be eligible?

Why not me?

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IRS Brings New Focus to Auditing the Rich

Obama, Thief Executive of WallStreet oligarchs and ass-licker in chief to the uber-rich oppressors, has a plan to obfuscate his complete enslavement to the neo-liberal Capitalist thugs with whom he plots the demise of all that is holy and good.
 Read about his latest tricky and nefarious plot, hidden beneath a veil of deceptive misogynistic reversely racist arrogant Norwegian gause:

WAPO (The Paper FOX) 10/27/2009

WASHINGTON -- A new Internal Revenue Service enforcement unit targeting the very wealthy will help the tax agency decode partnerships, offshore trusts and other complex techniques used to hide income, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said Monday.

Dubbed the Global High Wealth Industry group, the unit will launch "a small number" of audits of individuals with assets or income in the tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Shulman told an accountants' trade group. An IRS official said the group would begin work on these initial audits in the next month.

The high-wealth group, housed in the IRS's large- and medium-sized business division, marks a sharpening of the IRS approach to auditing the very wealthy. Its creation is a response to the complex web of entities and transactions many high-net-worth individuals use to manage their financial affairs.

"You cannot assess compliance among the nation's wealthiest individuals by looking only at their 1040s [tax returns]," Mr. Shulman said. "Our goal is to better understand the entire economic picture of the enterprise controlled by the wealthy individual and to assess the tax compliance of that overall enterprise."

Don't be fooled!

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True Origins of the Religious Right

I think you'll enjoy this lecture given at Emory University (Atlanta's 'little Ivy') and memorialized on YouTube, and you might even want to bookmark it in the event that you ever have a discussion with a Religious Conservative about the origins of their political movement. Stick it out to minute 10, and I think you'll stay for the whole thing (35 minutes).

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The Nerd in Chief

Watch President Obama's speech at MIT and comment if you like.

http://amps-web.mit.edu/public/amps/webc ast/2009/obama-2009oct23/

I could have gone to MIT myself, but I wasn't nearly smart enough.

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Obama Announces Small-Business Lending Push

The Obama Administration is trying a different tack to get Small Business Loans freed up.

Under the administration plan, banks with less than $1 billion in assets could borrow from the program at a lower interest rate than financial institutions are required to pay.

In exchange, banks must demonstrate how they would increase lending to small businesses and follow up with quarterly reports. According to the White House, most business loans by the community banks that are eligible for the new rules are made to small businesses.

In addition, community groups that lend to small businesses in low-income areas under a Treasury Department program will be able to borrow relief money at just 2 percent annually for eight years.

But there's a snag. Can you guess what it is?

The small institutions would be subject to the same compensation rules as any other relief recipient, said Gene Sperling, senior counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, in an interview. But, he added, "for these smaller community banks, the executive bonus restrictions will usually affect only their single most highly compensated employee."

But some community bankers remain concerned. "I think that could be a damper on community bank involvement in this program, said Cam Fine, president and chief executive of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade association.

And people chastise me for hating Republicans. Hate is such a 'strong' word. Not nearly strong enough, imo.

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Inouye to strip Anti-Rape Amendment from Bill

I say we cut off his other arm, and then move South.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.

Inouye's office, sources say, has been lobbied by defense contractors adamant that the language of the Franken amendment would leave them overly exposed to lawsuits and at constant risk of having contracts dry up. The Senate is considering taking out a provision known as the Title VII claim, which (if removed) would allow victims of assault or rape to bring suit against the individual perpetrator but not the contractor who employed him or her.

"The defense contractors have been storming his office," said a source with knowledge of the situation. "Inouye either will get the amendment taken out altogether, or water it down significantly. If they water it down, they will take out the Title VII claims.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/22 /frankens-anti-rape-amendm_n_329896.html

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