In the Arena

TV Kerfuffles

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I’ve gotten into some trouble on TV twice in the past 24 hours–yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, regarding raising the age for Medicare eligibility; just now on Morning Joe, about whether the Benghazi consulate attack was an Al Qaeda operation. I stand by what I said in both cases.

First, regarding Medicare eligibility. If we have universal health care, via Obamacare, the age at which you become eligible for Medicare–whether it be 65 or 67 or, heaven forfend, 70–becomes moot. But it’s got to be a supple, competitive universal health care system where the exchanges–the online health care superstores–offer individuals and small businesses plans at the same (lower) group rates that Time Warner or the Federal Employees Health Benefit Plans (which provides members of Congress with their coverage) do.

There are two caveats here: at a certain point in life, asking the elderly to make market choices becomes cruel. A modified version of Medicare as it now exists should be available starting at some appointed age–let’s say 75–that would be the default position for the elderly. The second caveat is this: fee-for-service Medicare should be phased out over the next decade. Doctors need to be salaried, as they are at the Mayo Clinic or the Geisinger system in Pennsylvania, and not rewarded for performing more tests and procedures on end-of-life patients who don’t need them.

As for Benghazi, Joe Scarborough pushed me to acknowledge that the attack on the consulate was an “Al Qaeda” operation. My response was, “Define Al Qaeda.” He said I was tap dancing. I wasn’t. What you had was a local street gang–a radical militia–using the excuse of the anti-Islamic film and the cover of riots in Cairo to stage a spontaneous attack on the consulate. When the thugs realized that security at the consulate didn’t exist, they came back, less spontaneously, with heavier weapons. No doubt, these terrorists were Al Qaeda sympathizers and wannabes. But was this an “Al Qaeda”-ordered assault?  Not in the sense of Al Qaeda as we first came to know it: not like the 1997 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa or the attack on the USS Cole, or 9/11. It was not an attack that was planned or ordered by Ayman Al Zwahiri or some central controlling illegal authority.

The Benghazi attack was a tragedy. The Republicans attempted to exploit it as a conspiracy during the campaign. That failed. The attempts to exploit it are waning now–even John McCain is softening toward Susan Rice. But it is important to be precise here: this was not an “Al Qaeda” attack–and yes, this is a distinction with a real difference. We will, unfortunately, see more of these. It is entirely possible that a more general struggle between the conservative Muslim Brotherhood governments and the extremist salafis in the region has begun. It may eventually become an organized region-wide battle, but it isn’t yet–the various street gang militias may unite and become the Crips, or a revivified Al Qaeda. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Update: Tom Ricks got into some trouble on Fox today, making the same argument about the Benghazi tragedy that I have. I guess Fair and Balanced still has a ways to go before it arrives at Fact-Based.

48 comments
LindybOggs
LindybOggs

Joe Klein has always had a different standard for protecting gays.

TerryClifton
TerryClifton

Hey Abdullah bring your mortar launcher, AK-47, and RPG's to the US Consulate in Benghazi . We are going to protest the anti-Islamic film..Don't worry, it won't be called a "terrorist attack" by the Obama Administration or by his allies in the media; It will be called when protesters go wild..By the way, I have come up with a new name for our "street gang"..Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, has a nice ring to it, huh? Don't worry about the previous attacks and online threats we have made to kill Americans in Libya..Those will be watered down by the Obama Media Front, and any questions about Obama's not helping those Americans for whom we will kill and parade down the streets of Benghazi for our brothers in other "street gangs", will be met with contempt by our friends in the American Media who will protect their Messiah at all cost. We shall walk away from this "protest" and live to do it again in the future, many times.. 

KimmeeSunWoo
KimmeeSunWoo

John McCain cannot get over losing the 2008 election. Bitter, angry old man, the perfect embodiment of the GOP. 

reflectionephemeral
reflectionephemeral

As to raising the retirement age-- I'm sure there are more recent sources on this, but this is from a Nov. 2010 Paul Krugman post: "I’ve referenced this before, but here’s the Social Security Administration study. Look at Table 4: since 1977, the life expectancy of male workers retiring at age 65 has risen 6 years in the top half of the income distribution, but only 1.3 years in the bottom half."

Given that Medicare is doing a better job controlling costs than private health insurers, and that we pay around 2.5 times the OECD average per capita for health care for none-better results, we ought to be talking about lowering the Medicare-eligible age. I'm healthy & under 40, I went a few years w/o health insurance. Why not let me buy into it?

DebbieLedford
DebbieLedford

I watched the Morning Joe segment today and was put off  when Joe Scarborough just blew over what you were saying and wouldn't let you really explain what you meant or what you had heard form people in the diplomatic community. He talks over Mika like that all the time and I always thought it was because she was a woman and Morning Joe is such a sausage fest anyway, but to hear him go on like that with a man was   something else...

donthebear
donthebear

@dondanl @TIMEPolitics Agreed, we have to organize and get all of the republicans out of office in 2014 or the RWNJs will ruin this country!

curt3rd
curt3rd

They didnt lie?  Wow, you are completely diluted.

curt3rd
curt3rd

This writer lives in a fantasy world.  Their was no demostration before the attack.  Was it just a coincidence that it happen on 9/11?  If you couldnt tell this was a terrorist attack untill 2 weeks after then you  should be fired. 

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

As someone who is on Medicare, I agree with Bobell, the better thing to do than raising the age at which people are eligible is to lower it. The program is generally efficiently run, although the part D drug plan I've been put on generates a silly four page report every month. It could seem silly to me, however, because I am lucky enough to take only one regular prescription.

People who work in offices or at desks frequently don't understand the wear and tear that physical labor takes on your body. Raising the age would be an unnecessary hardship on those workers.

I'm also not sure that unnecessary tests are only performed on the elderly or at end of life. I believe good doctors should be left to practice as they see fit and that Medicare and the ACA are trying to help this to happen. I read a commentary that one aspect of the ACA may fall in the budget cutting faux crisis and it showed the benefits of the community health research that was funded that the Republicans call a waste. They want to cut and cut without trying to find ways that will ensure better outcomes at lower costs.

kathy
kathy

Saw you on Morning Joe this morning.  Increasingly, when Joe Scarborough is caught out he simply bulldozes his guest, as he did  you this morning.  He demonstrated no curiosity about what you were saying, just ran over you.  

Joe is often worth listening to and even sees some truths that his party has been blind to, but this sort of "I'm louder than you are and it's my show" approach doesn't help Republicans any, much less civil discourse.

The one thing I would have liked to hear more about from you is why Petraeus apparently didn't offer any nuance similar to yours in his answer that they had known it was Al Qaeda right away.

Robbert5
Robbert5

So this is your answer, make healthcare even more complex and that will somehow make it cheaper/better?  And then guaranteeing medicare but then for over 75 years of age?  What is the purpose of that?  Why not leave it at 65?  What is so special about 75?  There are times when I wholeheartedly agree with you but there are times and subjects where you drive me absolutely crazy and make no sense at all to me, healthcare is one of the latter.

CanuckExpat
CanuckExpat

I would support raising the age of Medicare eligibility if that program were less efficient than the private market. But it isn't. It controls costs better, has lower administrative costs, is publically accountable, etc.

If it's good economics to roll eligibility back a few years, why wouldn't it be better economics to eliminate Medicare altogether? The problem is that moving someone into the private market doesn't make the cost of insurance go away. It just moves the cost from the government's public ledger to individuals' private ledgers. That's good for the public ledger but bad for America's standard of living as healthcare costs continue to outpace the economy.

In my opinion, reforms like salaried healthcare providers or a fee-for-results system have some promise. But I think that raising the eligibility age is basically a shell game that misses the root problems and forces more individuals to absorb steeper costs.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Probably the biggest reveal we got right before the holiday was that the intelligence community fed Susan Rice the information she presented to the American public immediately after the attack in Benghazi and in no way did the White House or the State Department have any input on what she said.  Even McCain is backing down from this because I'm sure he's aware of how childish and foolish their resistance in all of this is making the GOP look at this point.  I wonder if our local trolls will finally find a new non-topic to yell about...

...I doubt it.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Ralph Klein, former Premier of Alberta, is 70 years old and a year and a half removed from being diagnosed with dementia.  I would argue that it is cruel, now, to expect him to make those choices.  To be fair, it is a flaw with the current system as dementia is something that could hit at a much earlier age - and a whole host of other diseases could easily crop up to create a similar problem at an earlier age and it is an inherent flaw with the US system since it is lacking a universal single payer platform, but it still highlights an important point: a blanket age is hard to use for determining when it is "cruel".  An age that is good for one could be absolutely useless for another.  For example, I present my two grandmothers, one (who died in my last year of University) clearly suffered from mental degradation and a series of strokes gave her Parkinsons in her last few years.  The other is in her mid-80s and is fully vibrant and cognizant - and certainly more fit and able to make reasonable decisions than my father-in-law.  The two women were born within 2 years of one another.

gysgt213
gysgt213

"But it is important to be precise here: this was not an “Al Qaeda” attack–and yes, this is a distinction with a real difference. We will, unfortunately, see more of these."

Just to be clear the function and mission of a consulate office is different than that of a embassy and so is the accessibility and security.  Our embassies are required to have 3 layers of security while consulate offices are not.  Consulates (and their chief diplomat, the consul) handle minor diplomatic issues like issuing visas, aiding in trade relationships, and taking care of migrants, tourists, and expatriates.

Whenever, we hit some one with a drone or other type attack the other side will hit back according to their capabilities. 

gysgt213
gysgt213

" There are two caveats here: at a certain point in life, asking the elderly to make market choices becomes cruel."

It also leaves the elderly open to the many scam artists that always come out of the wood work when there is money to be made from the elderly and poor.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

I think that this post of mine from 2007 remains pertinent. 

http://phd9.blogspot.com/2007/06/words-matter.html

There are certain words that carry magical properties. The magic they possess is the ability to render people sub-human and therefore no longer subject to moral consideration. That is why pundits get so hung up on word games. Someone who's dead is equally dead whether his killer was a "terrorist" or a "demonstrator". But being a 'terrorist" allows more latitude when formulating a response. All the sudden taking out entire neighborhoods seems perfectly natural.

outsider
outsider

I didn't see you on the shows this weekend, but i appreciate what you said about Benghazi. 

DebbieLedford
DebbieLedford

@curt3rd Diluted? Diluted with what? You must mean deluded. But sorry, I don't think they lied at all and agree with Mr Klein wholeheartedly.

curt3rd
curt3rd

They didnt lie? Wow, you are completely diluted.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Im obsessed with the fact that the government lied to me and the rest of the nation. Does that not bother you?

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@curt3rd Someone who's dead is equally dead whether his killer was a "terrorist" or a "demonstrator"

Your obsession over the distinction tells us significantly more about you than it does the events.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Blah blah blah.  I knew it was a terrorist attack. The whole world knew. Hell, your probably even itelligent to have known.

curt3rd
curt3rd

Did Susan Rice and Obama not say repeatedly for 2 weeks that it was because of a youtube video.  The video wasnt even new.  It was posted last summer.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@curt3rd 

Fortunately it was told to you that it was a terrorist attack by Obama himself the day after it happened.  Any narrative Susan Rice presented to the American public was given to her by the intelligence community, as has been proven time and time again.

DebbieLedford
DebbieLedford

@Ivy_B Yes! that monthly report is useless. I know what I take. I think doctors should be salaried too. I just went to a new doctor about spinal problems and he ordered and performed in his office THOUSANDS of dollars worth of tests when I had new MRI and Xrays already sent to him. That was wasted money.

gysgt213
gysgt213

@Ivy_B Seems to be that @joeklein wants to lower the cost of Medicare insurance by limiting access to it. But this leaves in in the same pickle. Health care costs to much.  Lower the cost of health care over all and use our combined buying power to do it. Then look at age requirements to qualify.

bobell
bobell

Part 1 of 2 (ya gotta luv my antique browser)

@Robbert5 Worst of all, upping the Medicare age doesn't save money.  Quite the contrary.

Obviously health care for older people costs more than for younger people.  But that's not the correct comparison.  The question is whether Medicare will cost more or less for old people than will insurance available through exchanges. I have yet to see anyone suggest that subsidizing insurance for old people through exchanges will cost less than keeping them on Medicare. If it costs the Government less, that will because the old people will be paying more themselves.

Of course, as Joe correctly points out, the solution is to stop fee-for-service medicine and insist on salaried group practice.  But if that's ever going to happen, it will probably happen in Medicare first. So the last thing we should do is take people off Medicare.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

As long as there's Flox there's always a chance of something new to lie about.

Arimathean
Arimathean

@PaulDirks Well said, indeed!  I hope you don't mind -- I've written down your comment here to use (properly attributed, of course) in my classes next year when we discuss the philosophy of language.

DennyFlojak
DennyFlojak

@DebbieLedford Ooh, Joe was disrespectful to a lying Joe Klein. Help me Joe, how'd you figure out that: Libyan gangsters came to the consulate to protest a video they don't have the means to locate or watch, found no opposition at the consulate, ran back to the ghetto and rounded up a few rocket launchers, grenades, machine guns, came back and shouting allah akbar killed four occupants of the consulate over a seven hour siege. The CIA videos, missed phone calls and drone reports somehow were ignored during this seven hour attack, but it's somehow not the fault of the people in charge. In the meantime, you've got a handle on what happened without having been privy to the video, etc, but the whitehouse couldn't figure it out with all the facts in front of them. Maybe you should replace Petraeus.

DennyFlojak
DennyFlojak

@DebbieLedford @curt3rd Of course you didn't think they lied. Then you would be actually questioning the whitehouse, which as we all know, would make you a racist. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@curt3rd 

I'm not a liquid so I'm pretty sure I'm not, though you certainly seem to be "deluded".  

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@curt3rd 

But it didn't lie to me, nor to you.  You wanted timely information and the intelligence community presented that which was declassified at the time.  If you want to know absolutely everything your Government is doing, go to wikileaks or something.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@curt3rd 

You continue to point out that you don't even read my posts.  It seems like you're angry just for the sake of being angry.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@curt3rd 

We've been over this many, many times.  I'm hoping one day it sticks.

The intelligence community - not the White House, State Department or Justice Department - was responsible for the substantive changes made to the talking points distributed for government officials who spoke publicly about the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the spokesman for the director of national intelligence said Monday.

The unclassified talking points on Libya, developed several days after the the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, were not substantively changed by any agency outside of the intelligence community, according to the spokesman, Shawn Turner.

TerryClifton
TerryClifton

@DonQuixotic @curt3rd  

The talking points was changed by someone in the White House. The CIA knew within 24 hours that it was a terrorist attack, and Obama again escapes doing absolutely nothing for 7 hours to save those Americans. He's your Messiah, not mine. Shawn Turner is a liar, and General Peterus said as much in front of Congress. The talking points were delivered to the White House, and they got changed from there.

TerryClifton
TerryClifton

Uh hello,  doctors are forced to perform defensive medicine. You know why? Trial Lawyers who own the Democratic Party; who also bought their way out of Obamacare..Of course you think doctors should be salaried, after all, you never bothered to go to medical school, go into debt up to your eyeballs to pay for that education, carry expensive malpractice insurance, and actually provide a service to anyone, other than yourself.  So yeah, sure let's limit someone's income so you can keep getting low cost healthcare at the full cost to taxpayers..That seems fair enough..

bobell
bobell

Part 2 of 2

Even ignoring the confusion, if not chaos, that will result from throwing many millions of people off Medicare and back into the insurance market, it doesn't make economic sense.  It's worth repeating -- The solution is to keep lowering the Medicare age.  Medicare for  everyone!  Among other things, the more people for whose health care the governmetn is paying, the easier it will be for the government to whittleaway at fee-for-service medicine.

"Medicare for all."  Join the movement. (And if there isn't a movement, help start one.)

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@nflfoghorn 

It's as much delusional hysteria as it is lying at this point honestly.  I'm sure Paul hasn't shut up about it all week; never mind that every thing he's spouted out about the attack has been proven wrong.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

They don't even try to report/let you decide anymore.  If the truth doesn't seem to go these guys' way, just MSU!