The Night Beat: Navy in the Crosshairs; Health Care Progress Report

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The Internet is abuzz about a report from BigGovernment.com's Brad Thor (not a nickname!) that Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, has been captured in Pakistan. Official sources cast doubt on the claim, although there's a chance that news of his capture would be highly compartmentalized. Nonetheless, these sources are advising extreme skepticism in a way that suggests Omar is not in U.S. or Pakistani custody. 

Early last week, there was a fair chance that President Obama would campaign for Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania's Democratic primary, but those chances now are slim-to-none. Obama has recorded a radio advertisement for Specter. A television spot is TBD. The momentum seems to be on Rep. Joe Sestak's side. The primary is May 18.

WV Rep. Allan Mollahan (D) faces a challenge from his right (State Rep. Mike Oliverio)  in tomorrow's primary election. Do not be surprised if the margin is close.

The First Lady's Task Force On Childhood Obesity releases its first report tomorrow at 10:00 am ET. Industry, advocacy groups very eager to see it.

Please read a TED talk by Nicholas Christakis, partly on his research on obesity and social connections.

President Obama has no public events tomorrow. Craig Fugate, FEMA head, will attend the White House Press Briefing.   BTW: when Fugate's Twitter stream is updated, his actual fingers and thumbs are tweeting, not those of his staff.

If you were going to be a fly on the wall of just one RNC meeting tomorrow, it would be the members only meeting at 7:00 am ET, when the painful subject of "budget adjustments" is going to be discussed.

Democrats in the Senate still don't know whether they'll be able to finish financial regulatory reform this week.

Speaking of the Navy (er, Sestak was a Navy admiral) ... the U.S. Navy: good at putting ships to sea, not very good at picking data-center locations. The most important one right now lies in the Mississippi flood plain. Now they are thinking of replacing it by putting one in Norfolk or San Diego. Shouldn't they go for high ground?


The news that Defense Secretary Bob Gates intends to take on the military-industrial complex means one of  two things: he's girding himself for a third round of battle (rounds One and Two have already been waged against the Air Force's F-22, CSAR-X, Airborne Laser Programs, etc. and against the Army's Future Combat System and, most recently, Non-Line of Sight-C Programs, respectively) or that he's laying out some broad concerns on the way out.  

Gates now has several large, highly expensive  under-performing Navy programs in his gunsights. "Whether these moves will result in meaningful systemic reform of how the DOD does business or just another procurement holiday, is the $600 billion question," a veteran observer of the procurement wars says.

Gay veterans met today with members of the Pentagon's Don't Ask, Don't Tell working group.

At 7:00 pm ET Tuesday, Nancy-Ann DeParle and Stephanie Cutter will address the House Democratic Caucus on the progress of health reform implementation, and will advise Democrats about how they should answer questions they get. They'll bring with them some talking points and a letter from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that was sent to Congressional leaders.

It notes that today, HHS promulgated rules for extending parental health insurance coverage to those aged 26. On September 23, HHS's rules on "guaranteed issue" and ending rescission practices will be released; the insurance industry's decision to stop denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions is also noted. Also today, HHS sent the 30 states that have decided to form their own temporary high risk pools an application and instructions, and the creation of the federal fallback pool is proceeding apace. Also: HHS plans to start its early retirement reinsurance program three weeks ahead of schedule. Ahead of schedule, too: the department will get uniform definitions about medical loss ratios from the insurance industry by June 1, instead of by December 31. Finally, Medicare donut hole checks will be mailed to seniors beginning June 15.

Glenn Greenwald debates Jamin Raskin: Is Kagan a good nominee?


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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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