In the pages of the Washington Post, we were treated to a review of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ memoir Duty by former wonderboy Bob Woodward, who will write sycophantic treatises for the powerful. (For an interesting review of the review, go here to the New Republic.) The former Smartypants, Nancy LeTourneau, has a very perspicacious piece on the uphill battle facing any modern President going against the wishes of the military and intelligence establishments.
While the military has always been esteemed in the Republic, and successful generalship served as a steppingstone to the Presidency (Andrew Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant, to name two), for most of the country’s history the military was kept in severe check. For a great power, the United States had an almost laughably small regular peacetime Army. On the eve of World War I, the regular Army and National Guard numbered just around 200,000 soldiers, a force dwarfed by Germany’s army. A “preparedness” drive was bruited, but the public wanted none of that.
It was only with the titanic struggle of World War II, and the ensuing Cold War against Soviet Russia, that the United States acquired what every great power had always had: a large, permanent military establishment. Conscription ended after the end of World War I; it continued after the Second World War until the disaster of Vietnam and the near mutiny of the conscript Army made leadership decide on a highly trained, volunteer force.
President Obama talks with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer concerning the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others, on a cell phone in the hallway outside the Situation Room of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)
Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):
9:45AM: President Obama and Vice President Biden receive the Presidential Daily Briefing
10:45AM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
12:30PM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet for lunch (press pool to take pictures)
1:30PM: Press Briefing by Press Sec. Jay Carney
2:15PM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with leaders of the intelligence community
3:45PM: Pres. Obama and VP Biden meet with Secretary of State Kerry
Andy Chow: Ohio Hospitals Try To Keep Patients From Coming Back
Bruce Vanderhoff is chief medical officer for OhioHealth, a network of 17 hospitals in central Ohio. And “it is no exaggeration,” he says, “to say that we are working with them to transform the model of health care delivery.” That transformation was sparked by a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which penalizes hospitals with high readmission rates. With a possible cut to Medicare reimbursement on the line, medical facilities around the country are thinking of new ways to make sure patients don’t need to come back for additional treatment.
Like many other hospitals around the state, OhioHealth is placing an emphasis on patient education, making sure they know everything about their treatment and medication before they walk out the door. Vanderhoff says it’s also important to identify which patients are at a higher risk of readmission. Hospitals do this by providing health coaches who visit patients’ homes and help further their treatment. Follow-up phone calls, pharmacy consultations, and in-depth meetings with a patient’s family are also used in the process.
SCTimes: MNSure Tallies 67,000 Enrollees In Wake Of Insurance Deadline
Minnesota’s health insurance exchange saw a sizable last-minute spike in enrollment ahead of a deadline for coverage. MNsure released its latest enrollment figures Friday. By the Dec. 31 deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, the agency reported 67,805 Minnesotans had enrolled for insurance under the new federal health care law.
That means more than 14,600 people signed up for coverage in the last four days of December. Of the 67,805 who signed up, about 38 percent enrolled in private insurance plans. The rest signed up for the state’s two public insurance programs, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance. MNsure stressed that the latest enrollment figures are preliminary.
NPR: 3 Ways Obamacare Is Changing How A Hospital Cares For Patients
The Affordable Care Act is transforming more than health insurance. In hospitals around the country, the legislation could transform the way doctors and nurses actually care for patients. Part of the law is designed to rein in the nation’s exploding health care costs by creating hundreds of little experiments that test new ways for hospitals to save money. One example: At Summa Akron City Hospital in Akron, Ohio, doctors are preparing for a new way of doing business. Michael Firstenberg, a heart surgeon at the hospital, says there’s something a little funny about the way he gets paid. If a patient comes in for a bypass operation, Firstenberg earns a certain amount of money for the hospital. “However, if that patient that night has to go back for bleeding, then I get paid for that procedure as well,” he says.
“And everybody’s happy because look at all the revenue I’m generating, independent of the quality.” As a result, everything is more expensive. The key question for health care reformers trying to rein in costs is how to create a less expensive system that still provides good care. Starting on Jan. 1, the federal government, the hospital and some of the doctors there will try a new approach. Rather than paying for that bypass operation and then paying again for bleeding, Medicare will pay one lump sum upfront to cover the surgery and any complications that occur after surgery. One payment for one operation, plus follow-up; that’s it. If the patient doesn’t have problems within 30 days of being discharged from the hospital, the doctors could make even more money than they do today. But if there are lots of problems after surgery, they could lose money.
TODAY, the anniversary of the shooting in Tucson that put a bullet through my head and killed six of my constituents, is when I make my annual resolutions. Many may look at me and see mostly what I have lost. I struggle to speak, my eyesight’s not great, my right arm and leg are paralyzed, and I left a job I loved representing southern Arizona in Congress. But three years ago, dispatched to an almost certain death by an assassin’s bullet, I was allowed the opportunity for a new life. I’ve spent the past three years learning how to talk again, how to walk again.
I asked myself, if simply completing a normal day requires so much work, how would I ever be able to fulfill a larger purpose? The killing of children at the school in Sandy Hook a little over a year ago gave me my answer. It shocked me, it motivated me, and frankly, it showed me a path. Predictably, Washington disappointed us during the first year of our work with the organization we began, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Many of you were outraged at the failure of the Senate to pass the background checks bill, and so was I. But I continue to be inspired by my fellow Americans. By any measure, they’re with us. They know gun violence is a complex problem. No one law will make it go away.
We’re not daunted. We know that the gun lobby, which makes money by preventing sensible change, relies on dramatic disappointments to wound us, reduce our power, push us back on our heels. Our fight is a lot more like my rehab. Every day, we must wake up resolved and determined. We’ll pay attention to the details; look for opportunities for progress, even when the pace is slow. Some progress may seem small, and we might wonder if the impact is enough, when the need is so urgent. But every day we will recruit a few more allies, talk to a few more elected officials, convince a few more voters. Some days the steps will come easily; we’ll feel the wind at our backs. Other times our knees will buckle. We’ll tire of the burden. I know this feeling. But we’ll persist.
Max Fisher: Robert Gates Was Wrong On The Most Important Issue He Ever Faced
Back in 1985, when Mikhail Gorbachev took over as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the United States faced a really big dilemma. Gorbachev professed to be a reformer. Should the United States work with him to reduce nuclear weapons, ease the U.S.-Soviet proxy battles that were at that point directly responsible for a number of deadly conflicts around the world and, just maybe, try to end the Cold War? This wasn’t just a major, difficult question: It would turn out to be one of the most important U.S. foreign policy decisions in decades.
President Ronald Reagan eventually came around to the idea that, yes, he could and should work with Gorbachev. He was persuaded by, among others, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who famously said that Gorbachev was a man the West could do business with. But Reagan had to overcome the fierce opposition of a top CIA Kremlinologist and eventual CIA director named Robert M. Gates, who maintained for years that Gorbachev was no reformer, that he was not to be trusted and that Reagan would be walking into a Soviet ploy. Quite simply, Gates was wrong, overruled by Reagan, and the world was better off for it.
Isaac Chotiner: Bob Woodward’s Incoherent Afghanistan Scoop Shows His Anti-Obama Bias
Robert Gates’s memoir is all set to be released and The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward got himself a copy. Unfortunately, Woodward’s account of the book is as flawed and overly simplified as, er, Woodward’s own books about the Obama administration. According to Woodward, it is a serious charge against a president to say that he had doubts about the “course he had charted.” Since the same author wrote three increasingly critical books about a certain former president who never expressed the slightest doubts about disastrous policy choices, you would think Woodward might know better. Apparently not. It wouldn’t be the first time that Woodward showed a strong dislike for the president, and allowed his opinions to get ahead of the facts.
Great comment by Nusholtz, a reader of Chotiner’s article:
“more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan” I also consider that a virtue. I heard one of the members of the President Obama’s Bin Laden group explaining that during considerations of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound, after the President’s advisers became entrenched in their positions during discussions over whether a raid or a bombing was the correct choice, the President had all of the details wrapped up in a volume and a fresh set of advisers were brought in. A decider who prides himself on his fact free instincts when making a difficult decision won’t have doubts about the course he charted. I prefer a thoughtful one who has doubts.
US added 238,000 private-sector jobs in December, above economists' expectation of 200,000, ADP says - @BloombergNews, @CNBC
When will some states that initially refused federal money to expand Medicaid for their poor citizens pull a flip-flop and accept it? Because it’s inevitable that some will—and as they do, the Republicans’ sabotage of Obamacare will be profoundly undermined, and people’s concomitant opposition to the law will start to vaporize. This thought is occasioned by the publication yesterday by Theda Skocpol, the esteemed Harvard sociologist and political scientist and head of the excellent Scholars’ Strategy Network, of an eye-popping chart about how health-care coverage is proceeding so far in various states.
In the full-go states, the average Medicaid enrollment (along with S-CHIP, which is for children) is 42.9 percent of those eligible, and the average attainment of coverage through exchanges is 37.2 percent. In the supporter states, those numbers are 15.7 and 5.8 percent, respectively. And in the “just say no” states, they’re feeble—just 1.5 and 5.6 percent. In other words, says the SSN website, “It is apparent that Affordable Care is doing best in the states that are really trying to carry it through.”
Jeff Cox: Private Sector Job Creation Is ‘Off And Running': ADP
Private sector job creation continued at a healthy clip in December, with companies adding a better-than-expected 238,000 positions despite the inclement weather. ADP and Moody’s Analytics said the month was the best for 2013 and pointed towards a solid number when the government releases its nonfarm payrolls report Friday. “This is it. We’re off and running,” Moody’s economist Mark Zandi told CNBC. “We’ve jumped to a new level of growth.”
Among the highlights: Construction jobs grew by the largest monthly number since 2006, adding 48,000, while goods-producing industries contributed 69,000. Overall, professional and businesses services again led the way with 170,000 new jobs, down a shade from November’s 182,000. The big number could sway economists to change their view of the monthly unemployment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is expected to show 196,000 additional positions, all but 1,000 from the private sector.
President Obama takes part in a conference call in the Situation Room of the White House concerning the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Az., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. Pictured, left to right, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, incoming Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer, and Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro. Also taking part in the call were Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and FBI Director Robert Mueller (Photo by Pete Souza)