Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chris Hayes: CPR for the Public Option, Barach Orwella

From: Jeff Cohen
Subject: Barack Orwella


Iraq War To Be Rebranded 'Operation New Dawn'

by Agence France-Presse
Published on Friday, February 19, 2010


President Barack Obama's administration plans to rebrand its military
operation in Iraq "Operation New Dawn," beginning September 1, a Pentagon
memorandum shows.The memo, signed by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates,
shows the Pentagon approving a request to switch the name of the US military
effort in Iraq from its current designation -- "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

"The request... is approved to take effect 1 September 2010, coinciding with
the change of mission for US forces in Iraq.

"Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal
that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a
new mission," Gates wrote in the memo, first reported by ABC News.

The document, which is addressed to General David Petraeus, the head of US
Central Command, adds the rebranding "presents opportunities to synchronize
strategic communication initiatives... and recognize our evolving
relationship with the government of Iraq."

The move quickly drew criticism from Military Families United, a national
security pressure group.

"You cannot end a war simply by changing its name," Brian Wise, the group's
executive director, said in a statement.

"Despite the administration's efforts to spin realities on the ground, their
efforts do not change the situation at hand in Iraq.

"Operational military decisions should not be made for purposes of public
relations but should be made in the best interests of our nation, the troops
on the ground and their families back home."

Obama ran for office in 2008 on a platform that emphasized a pledge to
withdraw US troops from Iraq and focus on the war in Afghanistan.
There are now some 97,000 US troops stationed in Iraq, the first time the
number has fallen below 100,000 since the US-led invasion of the country in
2003, according to the Pentagon.

That figure is scheduled to fall to around 50,000 by the end of August, with
those troops left behind functioning in advisory and training roles solely.
All US troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011.



CPR for the Public Option


By Christopher Hayes
The Nation: February 25, 2010 (in the March 15, 2010 edition)

I'll admit that like almost everyone in this town, I thought the public
option was dead. In late October when Joe Lieberman announced he'd
filibuster any bill that included it, I figured it was time to conduct an
autopsy (cause of death: blows administered in quick succession by an
obstinate insurance industry and "centrist" senators), commence the mourning
process and move on.

But now, improbably, the cadaver is twitching and kicking, threatening to
push its way out of the casket. As of this writing, twenty-four Democratic
senators have signed a letter calling on majority leader Harry Reid to
include a public option in the package of changes the Senate will pass
through reconciliation. The list of signers isn't just made up of the usual
progressive suspects; the letter was written by Colorado's Michael Bennet
and signed by New York's Kirsten Gillibrand--neither known for a commitment
to the progressive base--and has attracted the support of conservative
Democrat Tim Johnson and the extremely politically savvy Chuck Schumer.

This doesn't mean it's going to work. Jay Rockefeller, who had advocated
strongly for the public option when it was being debated in the Senate,
dismissed the possibility of passing the public option through
reconciliation, and the White House quite ostentatiously omitted it from its
proposed changes to the Senate bill. Their lack of support has to be read as

And yet, the public option is like the Terminator of progressive politics:
every time the insurance industry and conservative Democrats think they've
killed it, it just keeps coming.

Why does it persist? First, people like it. Despite relentless
scaremongering about government-run healthcare, poll after poll shows that
among independents and progressives, it's one of the most popular--if not
the most popular--parts of the entire healthcare reform package. Second,
it's good policy. It would mandate competition, reduce costs and cut the
deficit by $104 billion over ten years.

But in the dysfunctional institution that is the US Congress, popular and
good aren't enough to ensure a proposal's passage, or even its discussion.
What's really kept the public option alive has been the remarkably spirited,
disciplined and creative work of a variety of progressive groups.

Take this latest iteration. It started with a few activists at the start-up
Progressive Change Campaign Committee. PCCC has been around only a little
more than a year, but it's already had a significant impact, thanks to its
smart tactical approach and very small footprint. Started by former MoveOn
organizers, the group has a staff of nine and, like MoveOn, raises all its
money from members online.

In the wake of Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and the chaotic,
shellshocked response from Democrats, PCCC saw a vacuum and moved to fill
it. "People didn't know what to do," says PCCC's Stephanie Taylor, "so we
showed them through polls, which is the language they understand." PCCC
commissioned polls of Massachusetts Obama voters who had voted for Brown, as
well as voters in ten frontline Democratic Congressional districts, and
found widespread support for the public option in each. In concert with PCCC
and its partners Democracy for America (DFA) and Credo Action, two freshman
Democratic House members, Jared Polis and Chellie Pingree, wrote a letter
calling on Reid to include the public option.

"If the Senate is going to pass something with a straight up-or-down vote,"
asks Taylor, "shouldn't it be the best bill possible? The one that's best
politically and that's best policy-wise?"

On January 27, PCCC, DFA and Credo sent news of the letter to their e-mail
lists and urged members to contact their representatives. They set up
WhipCongress.com, where users could track who had signed on, and within
eight days the letter had attracted 120 signatories in Congress. "There's no
doubt we would have had far less than 120 signers without the netroots
community," says Polis. "The phones were really ringing off the hook in
members' offices." Not only did progressives use constituent contact to push
members to support the public option; they also, Taylor notes, went out of
their way to reward their "heroes," raising more than $26,000 each for
Polis, Pingree and Alan Grayson, who appeared at an event delivering
petitions to Reid.

They then turned their attention to the Senate. According to PCCC's Adam
Green, Polis reached out to fellow Coloradan Michael Bennet, who had been a
supporter of the public option. Bennet released the letter along with
signatures from Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Gillibrand. Once again, the
groups sent the letter out to their members and urged them to whip the
Senate, and within a week of its release, it has gained twenty-four
co-sponsors. Once again PCCC and DFA rewarded those who took the lead,
raising $40,000 for Gillibrand and $68,000 for Bennet. Reid now says he'll
include a public option in reconciliation if he can get the votes--and White
House support. But the White House's silence has been deafening. That's at
least part of the reason why, by the time you read this, it's quite possible
the public option will be dead, once again.

But PCCC's success in reopening the debate highlights some of the emerging
approaches in online organizing. Much of the recent online-based progressive
infrastructure was built during the Bush years and developed effective
strategies for opposition. It's been a steep learning curve this past year
as these groups wrestle with reinventing those techniques to push
legislation, especially when it comes to finding allies in Congress and then
working with them. "I think this campaign was a really good example of the
importance of a strong relationship between folks on the Hill and activists
outside the Hill," says Taylor. "We put a lot of time and attention on those
relationships." Pingree agrees: "Things always work best when you have an
inside/outside strategy."

The incentives on Capitol Hill push toward risk aversion, minimalism and
conservatism. The job of progressive activists, as PCCC understands it, is
to alter those incentives and encourage those who go out on a limb. "Members
want to be bold," says Taylor, "and they need to know they have grassroots
constituent support."

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