Election Day Iraq

NYTimes live blog.

The US is scheduled to withdraw from a combat role in Iraq in 3 months.

Après moi le déluge. But it was always to be so. It was always just a question of when.

In sporting news, the Paris-Nice cycling race begins today. Podium Cafe is the place to discuss it.

This is an Open Thread.

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    Withdrawal, my ace (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 03:29:08 PM EST
    We're not going anywhere.  There will be a US military presence in Iraq (and Afghanistan) when my grandchildren are having children.  How many troops are remaining after we supposedly withdraw?  I know, I know, they'll be in non-combat advisory roles, and if any of us believes that we are more than delusional.  Two things symbolize American life now more than anything: the continuing and gleeful destruction of our own economy, and our pathological addiction to military thuggery.  That, for any nation, is a death sentence.

    I shudder to think what this place will be like in twenty more years.  Unless...  

    in 20 years there will be wars over (none / 0) (#12)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 03:56:04 PM EST
    ME oil.. I mean, wars that are not pretending to be something else.

    NYTimes, the paper. (none / 0) (#1)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 10:06:56 AM EST
    In its editorial both supporting health care reform and noting the dire consequences if it fails, recognition is made that no one is sure of how to "bend the curve" of costs. Instinctive beliefs, such as computerization of records, payment for quality not quantity of services and preventative programs cannot be shown to lower costs.  However, the editorial reassures us that the Senate bill tests these theories with pilot projects and a special board will assist in the adoption of "anything that seems to work."  Now, let's look down a few paragraphs to comments on Medicare made with a bit more certitude. "The pending reforms would cut the growth in Medicare spending per beneficiary in half--from 4 to 2 percent, by demanding productivity savings from Medicare providers and cutting unjustified subsidies to the private plans in Medicare (physicians excepted)"  Apparently, the latter refers to Advantage plans, exempted in the Senate, but in the president's proposal.  It seems to me that some of those demands relate to those same unproved curve benders in need of pilot study.

    Providers have the option not to participate (none / 0) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:48:08 PM EST
    in a program that does not produce the revenue stream that they want.

    Mayo Clinic used by Obama as the role model for new way to provide lower cost benefits to Medicare patients is a prime example. Mayo Clinic AZ will now only treat Medicare patients on a cash only basis. Somehow this little piece of information is not mentioned by those promoting the cuts to Medicare providers.


    I wish the Iraqis well (none / 0) (#3)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 11:48:40 AM EST
    and I hope they use their fledgling democratic principles wisely.

    I'm all for nationalization,but (none / 0) (#4)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:19:18 PM EST
    modern medicine is expensive. How much can we afford to pay?
    I'm probably in a minority, but when I read about some person who needs a million dollar transplant  and dies after insurance refuses to pay for it, my opinion is not one-sided against the insurance company.
    I would rather have ultra-expensive care  for terminal patients rationed if more people could get better treatment for heart disease and diabetes, etc.  

    Well, my view is (none / 0) (#7)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:04:50 PM EST
    that health care needs to be considered in a different light than most other aspects of our economy.  A part of the problem is that economists are trying to bend that old curve in the same way that, say, brings  efficiencies and economies from computerization to inventory control.  We need not go out to the year 2014 to see the problems encountered by the present day squeeze on hospitals at present: less staffing, greater patient loads for nursing, including in areas such as ICU, reductions in reimbursement, penalties for readmits and the like. Hospitals are dangerous places to be, and likely to get more so.  The idea that less care will bring better care is counter-intuitive at best.  Joseph Stiglitz has it right, in my view, when he compares delivery of quality health care to the quality of music from a string quartet played in the 18th century and today--still takes four, there is years of skill acquisition needed and the musicians today are not likely to play for the same pay scale as then.  As we are often told, health care is about 20 percent of our economy. Perhaps, cost scoring and ordering of priorities in military expenditures, world policing and wars needs to be subjected to  a sharp pencil so as to enable, at least, quality care for all  Americans.  

    Your comment says several things. (none / 0) (#9)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:45:46 PM EST
    Let  me just take issue with your statement that less care is not necessarily better care.
    Really?? It just depends. Because of false positives, any time you have a medical test, you run the risk of undergoing some unneeded medical procedure, which means you will run some risk of mortality or morbidity.

    I mentioned organ transplants as an extreme case, where the dollar cost needs to be considered, even if the procedure is medically sound.
    I wasn't even arguing that less care is better care.

    The bottom is that we can't spend so much on the military and have good health care.
    In that I agree with you


    Sorry, I may not have been clear (none / 0) (#13)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 04:55:19 PM EST
    that I was referring to  the worry I have with  the economics of a health care policy that rests upon the idea that "less care will bring better care". I agree that that there are instances where less care, or even doing nothing, more effectively achieves the goal to do no harm.  Laboratory results can be wrong, and may need to be repeated (although, avoidance of duplicative tests was one of the cost cutters cited by the president). The less bad care the better and, undeniably, there are risks to any and all drug and surgical treatments. Clinical judgments do involve a willingness to make a decision in concert with the patient often on the basis of inadequate or incomplete information.  You also make a good point on extreme situations, although I am not sure that an organ transplant for a patient, for example, who is already terminal would be sound..

    I may be misremembering the (none / 0) (#14)
    by observed on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:07:01 PM EST
    details on the transplant case I had in mind, but I believe the cost was over $1 million.
    End of life care probably should be rationed more, even though that means "death panels" (as if they don't exist now).

    40 people in Iraq die in bomb (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:03:17 PM EST
    explosion.  High price for democracy.

    How many people have died for OUR democracy ? (none / 0) (#15)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:11:59 PM EST
    I grieve for those families but I don't think there has every been a single democracy that has not been paid for with the blood of men and women.

    Yes they were killed. (none / 0) (#17)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:13:24 PM EST
    It's a high price - but not for democracy.
    It's the price of our invasion.

    At this point their destinies (none / 0) (#18)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:22:11 PM EST
    are just about within their own grasp. I am saddened and did not agree with the decision to invade Iraq. I disagreed with the premise that we should push people who were not prepared to pay the price for democracy toward democracy and I disagreed with a go it alone strategy that would make the transition of a democracy foisted upon them more difficult. That being said we can not go back and get a do over. What needs to happen now is we allow them to transition and they either succeed or end up with another thug like Saddam because all factions were not prepared for the difficult process and the work involved in a democracy(Heck sometimes I wonder if WE'RE up for the task since more people can name movies stars then the actual people that are our representation in government.)

    Let people be. (none / 0) (#19)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:43:00 PM EST
    The invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with establishing democracy.
    It was about toppling and killing Saddam Hussein with the attendant bonus of gaining control of the oil production.

    Even the stated reason for the invasion, false as it was, had to do protecting us from an alleged threat of attack, perhaps nuclear, from Iraq.

    Since all of that has been amply been revealed as bogus, the current cover is to say we're there to help with the establishment of democracy. As you indicated, we could use some democracy over here.
    Other people have a right to run their own countries. If we had a functioning and thriving democracy, others might be inspired to emulate it. As it is, we are a corporatocracy. Two parties selling the same product. Why would anyone want the system that we are currently experiencing here?


    What it didn't start out as (none / 0) (#21)
    by cawaltz on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 06:04:24 PM EST
    does not mean that is not what is NOW. Look, I'm more than aware Bush was an idiot at best and a disgusting liar who deserves to be tried for his behavior at worst. I was disgusted weapons inspectors weren't utilized. I criticized the lack of understanding of the region and the factions as well as the military premise that it would take 6 months tops. I thought the lack of control of borders in a region that is problematic and not securing weapons depots was military blunder. I could go on for days about how the war that I never wanted was waged. Heck, I DID go on for hours in 2006 slogging from person to person about the tragedy that was the decision to invade Iraq.(On the days I'm stuck with Jim Webb who can't seem to espouse an opinion on health care I remind myself I have only myself to blame). That being said on the cusp of leaving Iraq largely to their own devices I know that no apology can bring back their dead and the best I can do is wish them well going forward and hope that at the very least what emerges is better for them then what they had under Saddam Hussein. With us leaving and leaving the grunt work to them it is my hope that the fledgling chance of democracy they have today is able to transform into a government that fully functions and can appreciate allow each Iraqi to achieve their full potential free from tyranny and fear.

    It's also my hope that my own country someday learns to look before it leaps and weigh carefully the longterm consequences of their decisions, not just the short term view that we can remake regions to our own benefit without enacting a large, large cost.


    Lets gtfo (none / 0) (#8)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:18:31 PM EST
    About our hopefully imminent (I'll believe it when I see it) departure from Iraq, you wrote:

    Après moi le déluge. But it was always to be so. It was always just a question of when.

    It will be the same with Afghanistan.

    The only question will be will this inevitable déluge happen before or after we have lost another 4000 soldiers.

    In Stephen Kotkin's "Uncivil Society," (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 02:49:25 PM EST
    he states the USSR's withdrawal from Afghanistan was interpreted by the Eastern bloc as a sign of weakness of the USSR and contributed to the subsequent break-up of USSR and overthrow of Communist regimes in the other countries.

    Enough (none / 0) (#16)
    by lentinel on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:12:07 PM EST
    I don't know that I'll buy that.

    But even if it were true, are you inferring that were we to get out of Afghanistan and (from my point of view) allow the Afghanis to work things out for themselves - we would be seen as weak by members of our own bloc (whatever that would be)?

    And even if we were perceived as being weak by Britain or France or anybody - what difference does it make?

    We are strong in that we have the capacity to destroy anyone on earth or earth itself. We are weak in that we are vulnerable to attack by terrorists - independent of country.

    Withdrawal from a senseless and futile war does not make us less strong - and it makes us less weak by not creating ever more enemies.


    No. I wish we were not in Afghanistan. (none / 0) (#20)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 05:57:38 PM EST
    The other part of Kotkin's theory:  Eastern bloc countries were heavily in debt to Western Europe--hard currency.  Put it all together--poof.

    Oh, the irony: (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 12:20:44 PM EST