Archive for October 28th, 2012

Udall Runs Interference For Obama


Beginning at 16:19:

WALLACE: Senator Udall, you are on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also on the Senate Intelligence Committee. How do you answer critics who say that the Obama administration has bungled this, before, during and after the attack?

UDALL: Chris, we share the grief that Mr. Woods exhibited in that segment.

Let me say this: we’re going to get to the bottom of this. The Intelligence Committee is going to hold hearings when we return right after the election and the State Department has its own investigation underway. But I have to say this: any impartial observer who looks at what happened in Benghazi, would have to say this situation has been politicized. Governor Romney himself realizes that his actions and his reaction was unbecoming for a potential commander-in-chief. He’s backed off those comments in that point of view. In the debate this last week, Benghazi and Libya wasn’t even raised when the governor had a chance to discuss it.

We ought to be acting in the spirit of Ambassador Stevens. We ought to be pulling together. After 9/11 —


WALLACE: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Senator… Certainly, it is a legitimate issue to discuss before an election, when four Americans were killed, and there are questions of intelligence failures before and during the attack, is it not?

UDALL: It is a legitimate issue, but, every story leads to political commentary, and trying to point fingers. After 9/11, we came together, there were a lot of questions that had to be answered, let’s operate in that same spirit. And let’s remember what Ambassador Stevens was riding to do and let’s stand together, because the Middle East is crucial. We need to be tough there, but we need to be smart. We need to be engaged.

This discussion has been politicized. It hasn’t been helpful. It hasn’t helped us get to the bottom of what happened.

WALLACE: Let me ask you one direct question. There were drones that were flying over Benghazi at the time of the attacks, during the hours, when first the consulate and then the annex. And it was about six or eight hours were under attacks.

Were those drones armed?

UDALL: We’re going to find that out. As you have mentioned, I sit on the Intelligence Committee and so does Senator Warner. We’re going to get to the bottom of this. We’ll find out what happened. And that information, if appropriate, will be revealed —


WALLACE: Do you know whether they were armed, sir?

UDALL: I can’t comment on that at this point in time, Chris.

WALLACE: But you certainly agree that if they were armed they could have, without as Leon Panetta said, sending more troops into harm’s way could have been used to break up the attack?

UDALL: The drone assets that we have are remarkable and they save the lives of many, many Americans, while we have been getting the bad guys. I look forward to discussing it with you further when I have the information and am able to share it with you.

Right. We wouldn’t want a little thing like Benghazi or the situation in the Islamic world to become politicized or anything. Especially after all the restraint that President Obama and the Democrats have shown in not spiking the football over bin Laden.

Never mind the hypocrisy in a Democrat – the party of “the personal is political” – asking for something, anything, not to be politicized. He claims that what hasn’t helped us get to the bottom of what happened is that the Republicans have been asking the questions. If the Democrats on the Intel Committee like himself had been asking these questions, instead of playing the political equivalent of Dean Smith’s Four Corners offense on the thing, then they could have made it bipartisan. They chose not to.

What’s kept us from getting to the bottom of this is that the administration has been lying about what happened since Day 0, September 11, 2012, and the only way they can stop themselves from lying is to stop talking.

Udall asking us to wait until after the election is the worst sort of politicization of the issue, the defense equivalent of Nancy Pelosi telling us that we have to pass Obamacare so we can find out what’s in it.

Udall is a disgrace to Colorado, and a disgrace to the office he holds.

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Does Primary Care Actually Save Money?

One of the arguments for Obamacare has been the claim that increased access to primary care will result in long-term cost savings, but studies show conflicting results.  The theory in favor of this is that early detection will allow treatment in earlier stages.  The theory opposed to it is that keeping people alive costs money, as well.

Still, before we commit to a government takeover of health care, isn’t there a pretty simple experiment that we could run to find out?  If access to primary care really does save money in the long run, why aren’t insurance companies providing incentives to the insured to make more and better use of their PCPs?  There are some experiments in the works to incentivize doctors to be more accessible, and Anthem is even cutting them in on the presumed savings.

But the problem may be on the demand side as well – people just don’t like going to doctors, and not only because of the wait times.  Presumably the problem isn’t just putting off going to the doctor when you’re sick, it’s also putting off the routine physical or the annual checkup that could catch trouble early, before there are any symptoms at all.  So why not cut the co-pays?  Or why not mimic the safe-driver discounts and rebate an increasing portion of the co-pay for every year you go for your physical?  The latter would also help create the habit of going to the doctor regularly.

Insurance companies live and die on the sort of actuarial math that would let them detect any positive results from these experiments pretty quickly.  And if anyone is culturally geared not to fall for the fallacy of the seen and the unseen, it’s insurance companies.  (The fallacy states that people fall for redistributionist schemes because the beneficiaries are immediately identifiable, while the costs are distributed among the many.  In this case, presumably, the beneficiaries are largely unseen, while everyone sees the hit to the bottom line.)

So, is there are good reason that insurance companies don’t do this?  Is it just that they haven’t thought of it, or is there actual evidence that it doesn’t work?  Is anyone aware of any results from the Anthem experiment that show one way or the other?

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Sooner or later, the press will have to cover this story.  If you ask them, they’ll say that either it’s not an important story, or that it’s too complex and fluid a story to be responsibly reported this close to an election.  The breathtaking hypocrisy of this position aside, they refuse (with certain noted exceptions, Kyle Clark) to even ask the questions.

If there’s no story there, if the administration really does have satisfactory answers to who knew what when, then the story will go away upon being reported on.  And even if the administration refuses to answer those question, stonewalls, or dissembles, that would be valuable information in and of itself.

Benghazi is not just an election issue.  It’s certainly legitimate fodder for the campaign, as is just about anything that happens.  But it’s not Quemoy and Matsu, or Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets, the kind of thing that gets remainderd after the election, because it’s a policy decision to be decided, or a triviality to be forgotten.  It will be remembered, and it will be investigated.  It can cripple an administration, forcing it to spend time dealing with the investigation, and forcing out the president’s preferred advisers as they lose the confidence of Congress and the public.  And while real problems fester, the partisan nature of such an investigation will make it harder to cooperate on (assuming the Democrats are interested in such).

So they’ll have that to answer for, too.

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A Barzun Roundup

I promised a Jacques Barzun round-up, and here it is.  Arts & Letters Daily, sadly, confined their links to the American mainstream media, so not much there you can’t find on your own.  But there’s been some good blog coverage.  Here’s what’s worth reading, and one hopes it will spur you to read some of Barzun himself.

A little Shabbat reading has given me some grist for the mill for at least one future post.  After the election, assuming we have a winner, I’m sure I’ll be reading a lot of his work.  I know, I ought to have done four years ago when he turned 100, so I could have posted when he was alive and exchanged worthy letters with the great man himself.  Ah, well.

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