"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Well, This Sort of Sums It Up, Doesn't It?


Simple Questions

Let me just ask a few simple questions that will ring true to the other "regular guys" out there.
  • Do you think Barack Obama has ever changed a tire?
  • Do you think Barack Obama has ever put up drywall?
  • Do you think Barack Obama could explain how a carburetor works?
  • Do you think Barack Obama could explain the purpose of priming before painting?
  • Do you think Barack Obama knows what "glazing compound" is for?
  • Do you think Barack Obama has ever operated a chainsaw?
I could go on, but you get my drift... our liberal elites, of whom Obama is the apotheosis, are people who, if they lived in your neighborhood,would be the last ones you'd ask for a favor in doing something practical.
 
But they think they can run our lives.   They think they can go into a room with lawyers and pizza and pull an all-nighter and "fix" a healthcare system that is the size of the entire economy of France.
 
But, in real life, you wouldn't ask them to hold your ladder for you while you clean your gutters.

If You've Lost Ezra Klein...

Ezra Klein is a big-time liberal blogger.   So if he says this about the Obamacare rollout, you know the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party (the mainstream media) is feeling the heat:

The saga of healthcare.gov has been a symphony of government inefficiency. The effort, directly overseen by the IT department of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, involved no fewer than 55 contractors. The process was thick with lawyers and political interference. In violation of current best practices in the software world, the code was kept almost entirely secret; other engineers weren’t able to point out its flaws, and it wasn’t tested rigorously enough. The Obama administration has been assailed for not calling in Silicon Valley’s top minds to collaborate, but that misses the fundamental problem: The best coders in the Valley would’ve never agreed to work under such deadening, unpleasant conditions.

But, but, but... isn't there someone in charge who could have said, let's involve fewer contractors, and get the lawyers and bureaucrats and politicans out of the process, and publish the code so that people could comment on it, and make sure we have six months or a year to do beta testing on it, and make sure that we have the appropriate personnel and expertise to do it, etc.?   Isn't there a position that is supposed to be doing that kind of, well, shall we say... executive management?

Oh, yeah...


Obama's Wildly Successful Presidency

The Stimulus and Unemployment.  Solyndra and "Green Energy" Boondoggles.  Fast and Furious.  The Obamacare Debacle. 

Benghazi, Libya and "Leading from Behind."  Syria and the Russian "Reset Button." Retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The NSA Scandal.  The IRS Scandal.

Every domestic policy Obama has enacted has been a failure or a scam.

Every foreign policy initiative has been a failure and an embarrasment.

His supposedly "most transparent administration ever" has been characterized by remarkable secrecy while at the same time audaciously spying on Americans and our allies with the most intrusive, privacy-destroying technologies ever invented, and illegally using the IRS to target political opponents.

His poll numbers are finally dropping, but remain stubbornly high for a Presidency that has been such an abject failure.

And yet, and yet, and yet.... has it?

What if the point of the Obama Presidency wasn't ever to successfully lead the country and make it a better place?

What if the only point was to line the pockets of his cronies, to ensure the growth of the progressive bureaucratic state and the mandarin classes of lawyers and financiers who run it, to promote the hegemony of the Democratic Party through expanding opportunities for voter fraud, to destroy the Republican Party and conservatism through relentless and shameless demonization of fellow citizens?   What if the real goal was to institute a one-party rule of a bureaucratic socialist regime?

Then Obama's Presidency would have to be deemed a roaring success, wouldn't it?



Remember the Premises of Obamacare

Remember the premises of Obamacare...

  • That there were 50 million uninsured Americans who were clamoring to be able to buy health insurance but couldn't.
  • That creating massive uncertainty regarding a significant cost factor for every business, large and small -- namely, health care benefits for employees, including the self-employed -- wouldn't flatten out America's economic growth.
  • That lawyers in Congress and federal government bureaucracies knew how to "fix" the problems with the health insurance marketplace to ensure that everyone would get coverage.
  • That people who "liked" their existing coverage could keep it.

Every single premise has been proven false.   And, perhaps the most damning, the negligible number of people who persevere to sign up for Obamacare shows that this disaster was trying to fix a problem that essentially didn't exist.  

All of these machinations, all of this disruption, all of this effort, all of this expense... and the "uninsured" apparently don't really care all that much whether they sign up or not.

Sheesh!

Uncle Drew Returns

More great stuff from Duke's own Kyrie Irving:


Girl of the Day - Catherine the Great

I missed this one last week.... Catherine Deneuve turned 70!






















Tempus fugit... and how!

Birthday Today - John Keats







































The great Romantic poet, John Keats, was born today in 1795.   One of the pantheon of great poets who deserve re-reading every few years, and particularly on a cold and wet autumn day:


To Autumn
 
 Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
 Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
 Conspiring with him how to load and bless
 With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
 To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
 To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
 With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
 And still more, later flowers for the bees,
 Until they think warm days will never cease,
 For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
 
 
 Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
 Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
 Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
 Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
 Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
 Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
 Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers;
 And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
 Steady thy laden head across a brook;
 Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
 Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

 
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
 Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
 While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
 And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
 Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
 Among the river sallows, borne aloft
 Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
 And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
 Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
 The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
 And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Obamacare and Occam's Razor

When we look at the scope of the Obamacare rollout debacle, it's easy to fall into conspiracy theories.   Here are three making the rounds:

  1. It was designed to fail so that Democrats could usher in single-payer.
  2. The real goal of Obamacare, like other Democratic policies, is providing opportunities for graft and corruption and cronyism.
  3. Obamacare was just a surreptitious voter fraud/voter registration plan to keep Democrats in power forever.

But, when in doubt, Occam's Razor remains the most useful tool in analyzing politics.   Why is Obamacare failing so badly?

Because its authors just aren't that smart, or organized, or hard-working, or detail-oriented.  

They've never done anything in their lives like run a business where accomplishment actually mattered more than bullshit.

They've been lawyers, or academics, or politicans.

They are, in short, the apotheosis of the post-1960s graduate student mentality... they don't actually have any skills... other than changing the world.

































UPDATE:   Exhibit A for the proposition that they're just not that smart:

Biden said he and Obama were under the impression the site was ready. 
"Neither he or I are technology geeks and we assumed it was up and ready to run," he told HLN. 
He said he's confident it will work by the end of November and that there will be plenty of time for people to enroll. 
When asked why it will still take a month for the the glitches to be fixed, Biden didn't have an answer. 
"I don't know the technical reasons," he said. "I don't know, I wish I could tell you. that's why I became a lawyer."






 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Girlies of the Day - Wedding Version

TRG was out last week with the family at the wedding of our niece.   A beautiful bride, a wonderful family, a handsome and gracious new husband, a moving ceremony, a fun reception... it couldn't have been better.

And the best thing of all was dancing with the Regular Daughters!   In a few years they won't want to dance with Dad.   But for now... carpe diem!





More on the Obamacare Fiasco - It's Not Windows 8

John Fund has an excellent article up on the IT problems with the Obamacare website, and the unlikelihood that they'll be fixed anytime soon.   Here's the chilling part:

The administration may also know less than it is claiming to know. It is astonishing that Zients, after only three days on the job, could make the assurances he did without having conducted a full technical review of the system, including requirements, architecture, design, and implementation. The scope of Healthcare.gov is staggering. Its 500 million lines of code dwarf the size of almost all known IT projects. According to CNN Money, it took just half a million lines of code to send the Curiosity rover to Mars. Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system has some 80 million lines of code. And a typical online-banking system might feature between 75 million and 100 million lines.
So the healthcare.gov website is roughly six times the size of Microsoft's Windows 8.   Hmmmm... I wonder how long it took Microsoft to develop that system?

WELL, THE FACT THAT THEY CALL IT WINDOWS FREAKIN' 8 OUGHT TO GIVE YOU A CLUE!   They had seven earlier versions over a couple of decades in which they progressively worked out problems and added features.   And then there's this from the Wikipedia article on Windows 8:

Windows 8 is a personal computer operating system developed by Microsoft as part of Windows NT family of operating systems. Development of Windows 8 started before the release of its predecessor, Windows 7, in 2009. It was announced at CES 2011, and followed by the release of three pre-release versions from September 2011 to May 2012. The operating system was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012, and was released for general availability on October 26, 2012.

So, basing it on an existing program developed over decades of testing and patching and fixing and adding features, it still took the world's most sophisticated and powerful software company more than three years to develop Windows 8.   But CGI Federal was supposed to develop a project six times bigger in less than a year?

What senior executive signed off on that lame idea?   The Board of Directors wants to know so we can give him a pink slip.  

Oh, yeah... now I remember.  



 




Monday, October 21, 2013

The Totalitarian Moment for American Liberalism






















I happened to be reading Anne Applebaum's newest book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956, on the train back from Chicago today, and came across this passage, which sent a chill through my spine.   She was citing a work from the 1950s by Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski called Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, which had defined totalitarian regimes by reference to five common characteristics:

1. A dominant ideology.
2. A single ruling party.
3. A secret police force prepared to use terror.
4. A monopoly on information.
5. A planned economy.  

Well, that all sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it, living here in American ca. 2013,
  • with the ideology of liberalism triumphant (if you don't think so, consider my son, a junior at an all-boys Jesuit high school, who relates that most of the faculty and nearly all of the student body are completely sold on gay marriage as a civil right);
  • with essentially a single ruling party in many states and, increasingly, in the national government, regardless of who is President... namely, the Party of Government and the Progressive State;
  • with the NSA snooping on our private communications and the NPS barring vets from the Mall in Washington;
  • with the mainstream media putting out constant drumbeats of propaganda on behalf of Obama; and
  • with the government taking over 1/6th of the economy (health care) and domineering over the rest through the aggressions of the EPA, the IRS, the SEC, etc.  
And, now, today, President Obama holds a news conference to tell us that black is white, and war is peace... to tell us that the debacle of Obamacare is really just a sign of how great it is.

It Can't Happen Here?    It's happening.   In slow motion, maybe, but it's happening.  

Obamacare Premiums or Christmas Presents?

I noticed this minor factoid in an excellent article by Megan McCardle about the Obamacare rollout... the premiums for Obamacare enrollees are due December 15th.

Did anyone in the Administration think this through?   Does anyone in the Administration have any common sense or understanding of how ordinary people live?

Let's see... people who have either been too irresponsible or else are too strapped for cash to buy health insurance get to the middle of December and are faced with the dilemma of either buying something that is a vague promise of future insurance payments for potential health care you might or might need sometime next year... or buying Christmas presents for their kids!!!   

Hmmmm.... wonder what they'll choose?   People with a demonstrated inability to priortize their lives to ensure that they have health insurance.   In a country where our entire culture is geared to conspicuous consumption.   Sure, they'll choose the invisible, contingent, boring insurance contract over the tangible, right here-right now good and happiness of Christmas.   Sure.   That'll happen.

Which leads me to a larger point about Obamacare:

1. Trolling the website does not mean you're insured.
2. Opening an account does not mean you're insured.
3. Even choosing a policy and enrolling does not mean you're insured.
4. Only choosing a policy, enrolling, and paying the first premium means you're insured.

And, even then, I'd like to see how many people end up losing coverage when they stop making payments.   And remember... the second monthly Obamacare payment will be coming due about the same time those post-Christmas credit card bills start rolling in.

In short, here comes the death spiral.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Girls of the Day - Television Flashback Version

For my generation of men, these TV stars of the 1960s and 1970s caused widespread crushes.   They were the wholesome girls-next-door that were cute and nice and funny and yet somehow unthreatening and maybe even attainable.   Now they just make me feel very old indeed.

Dawn Wells (Maryann of Gilligan's Island) turns 75:





































Pam Dawber (Mindy of Mork and Mindy) turns 62:


More on the Obamacare Rollout Debacle

Yuval Levin at NRO has a long, brilliant piece on the problems of the Obamacare rollout, largely relying on insiders at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services ("CMS").   Here's a key point that I've made in other posts, thought not quite as elegantly or authoritatively:

The tone of the CMS officials who spoke with me was a kind of restrained panic. Among the insurance company officials (who, I should stress again, work in the Washington offices of some large insurers, and so are basically policy people and lobbyists), there was much less restraint. The insurers are very, very worried about the viability of the exchange system—especially but not exclusively at the federal level.
One key worry is based on the fact that what they’re facing is not a situation where it is impossible to buy coverage but one where it is possible but very difficult to buy coverage. That’s much worse from their point of view, because it means that only highly motivated consumers are getting coverage. People who are highly motivated to get coverage in a community-rated insurance system are very likely to be in bad health. The healthy young man who sees an ad for his state exchange during a baseball game and loads up the site to get coverage—the dream consumer so essential to the design of the exchange system—will not keep trying 25 times over a week if the site is not working. The person with high health costs and no insurance will. The exchange system is designed to enable that sick person to get coverage, of course, but it can only do that if the healthy person does too. The insurers don’t yet have a clear overall sense of the risk profile of the people who are signing up, but the circumstantial evidence they have is very distressing to them. The danger of a rapid adverse selection spiral is much more serious than they believed possible this summer.

The whole system relies on healthy young people who don't think they need health insurance deciding to help out people they don't know (anonymous unhealthy older people somewhere else in the country), not just by buying a product, but by overpaying for it, and not just by overpaying for it, but by navigating a ridiculously frustrating, badly designed website to do it.   I don't think that's a business plan that can work.   What's amazing and strange is that anyone anywhere anytime ever thought that it would.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Conrad Black on the Provenance of Obamacare

Conrad Black tends to write as if he swallowed a thesaurus, but he provides a useful recent history lesson here in NRO:

The Affordable Care Act was passed in a dubious manner. The 60-vote level in the Senate was obtained by the subornation of Arlen Specter in that tainted window between his rejection by his own party and his defeat by the Pennsylvania voters, and by Al Franken’s questionable win in the Senate election in Minnesota, where partisan, county-by-county recounts overturned the people’s choice. Also, most egregiously, Republican senator Ted Stevens of Alaska had been narrowly defeated in 2008 after being convicted of taking a bribe — a conviction that was subsequently thrown out because of the prosecutor’s completely improper suppression of exculpatory evidence....
The Affordable Care Act, then, owes its existence to political treachery, electoral hijinks, and extreme prosecutorial misconduct...
Again, read the whole thing. 

More on the Obamacare Train Wreck

The WSJ has a must-read article today.   Here's the peroration:

Before the rollout, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Sebelius likened the exchanges to a new Apple product and asked for forbearance as problems were fixed. But Apple doesn't ship products that don't work and then force everyone to buy them, and a private business executive who supervised a fiasco like this would already have been fired.
The crowd in charge of the country that includes Silicon Valley ought to be ashamed that they can't produce a serviceable website in 2013.
A useful act of contrition would be to resign, or, failing that, to beg Congress for a year delay to clean up their wreckage.

Just so.   Read the whole thing.

End of American Civilization?

Actually, no.   Just America assimilating other culture's foods.   Happens all the time.

Salsa overtaking ketchup as America's No. 1 condiment was just the start.
These days, tortillas outsell burger and hot dog buns; sales of tortilla chips trump potato chips; and tacos and burritos have become so ubiquitously "American," most people don't even consider them ethnic.
Welcome to the taste of American food in 2013.


Girl of the Day - Jean Arthur, or How Congress Works





































This was an easy one... Jean Arthur was born today in 1900.   One of my absolute favorites, with maybe the best voice in Hollywood -- what I'd call sexy squeeky.  

Here's a famous scene from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, with Arthur explaining how Congress works (or doesn't work) to Jimmy Stewart.   Seems oddly appropriate after the shutdown fiasco:


The Obamacare Rollout Train Wreck

According to the respected health policy group the Kaiser Family Foundation, there were 558,400 uninsured in Wisconsin in 2012.   Providing health insurance to the uninsured was the main goal of Obamacare.  

So, to enroll them by January 1st starting October 1st, you would have had to successfully enroll about 43,000 Wisconsinsites a week.   And, of course, given the build-up to the rollout by the Obama Administration, and the pent-up demand for insurance among the uninsured (again, the Big Premise of the whole program is that people really really really want and really really really need health insurance, but can't get it because of the bad insurance companies), you would have expected a big surge in the first couple of weeks, with perhaps hundreds of thousands of people enrolling.  

Finally, finally, finally, they would sigh happily... my family is secure from unexpected medical bills!

Well, how's it going so far?  


Less than 50 people enroll for insurance through Exchange

           
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)--The newest Wisconsin enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act have been released.

As of HealthCare.gov’s launch on October 1s, less than 50 people have enrolled....

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Mitch Ryan.

Like many people, Mitch Ryan has not been able to get on the Exchange because of glitches in the Health Care website.

“This is something that should have been taken care of prior to being rolled out on October 1st,” said Ryan.

According to the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance less than 50 people have enrolled. But some health clinics say it’s less than that.

Trish Sarvela with Partnership Community Health Center said she only knows of a few.

“Less than a handful,” she said.

At Partnership Community Health Center they communicate frequently with other county health clinics to see if anyone has signed up.

“Every day there are emails that go out. Do you know anybody who enrolled? It’s at that level it’s such a countdown for us,” said Sarvela.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girl of the Day - Winter is Coming

The temperature was around fifty this morning here in lovely Milwaukee.   Winter is around the bend.   Time to get out the winter coats and gloves.



The Obamacare Failure - A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

 
 
And the traffic to healthcare.gov is apparently down precipitously since its disastrous first week... by 88% according to the Washington Post.
 
Which makes sense.   Look, consider the typical person who the government needs to sign up for Obamacare in order to keep it from going into an insurance death spiral.   He or she is young and healthy and uninsured.   And, by now, they've heard that their premiums are going to be artificially high to pay for the artificially low premiums of the older, less healthy person who couldn't previously get insurance because of pre-existing conditions.   Maybe they feel a moral urge to sign up, maybe they're loyal to Obama, maybe they feel like healthcare is a "right," yada, yada, yada.   All that is fine in the abstract.   But here's the nub of the question:
 
Is that typical twenty-something really going to take time off from playing video games, or work, or going out and trying to get laid to spend hours frustrated while they try to maneuver around a half-assed website trying to sign up to overpay for a product that they don't really want?
 
No way.   Which is why it's failing so badly.
 
Utopias always fail.   We could have told you that.   In fact, many of us did.







Government Shutdown - Day 16

And I still don't care.   Hasn't affected me at all.   Do we actually need a federal government?   Other than the military, what is it that the states couldn't do?   Or, more importantly, what is it that they do that simply doesn't need to be done or is entirely counter-productive?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Esurance v. Osurance

The fiasco of the Obamacare website continues as we speak.   So I thought I'd take a gander at how easy it is to get a price quote for health insurance from a private website.

Hmmmm.... let's try this one, called eHealth:

























Hey, looks inviting!   I particularly like the fresh-faced, healthy-looking babe.   But that's me.  Let's move on.   If you click on the stupid-proof "Find Plans Now" button (even libs can do it!), you get this page:























It took me all of about two minutes to type in the birthdays of my wife and kids.   And, presto!   Prices for a dozen health insurance plans available in my zip code!























Meanwhile, there's this report from Avik Roy in Forbes:

A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.
“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.”

For the private sector, the end is customer service, so the means (website design) needs to be user-friendly.

For the government, the end is confiscating the wealth of the citizenry, so the means (website design) needs to be as user-unfriendly as possible.

It all makes sense now.















More on the Obamacare Princeton Connection

Look, as I said below, I don't want to cast aspersions at anyone.   I just want someone in the media to notice some connections.

CGI Federal is the company that was hired by the Obama Administration to design the online health insurance exchanges for Obamacare.   The reported price tag is more than $600 million.

Obamacare was signed into law on March 30, 2010.

According to this bio, Toni Townes-Whitley was hired by CGI Federal in May 2010.   Her expertise is not technical, it is "business development."

Toni Townes-Whitley was a Princeton classmate of the first lady, Michelle Obama, in the Class of 1985.

Is it improper to ask the question whether Ms. Townes-Whitley was hired precisely because of that connection and to leverage that connection into getting CGI Federal a big chunk of the Obamacare business?

Has anyone reviewed the White House visitor logs to see if she and Michelle Obama have met?

Is there anyone in the media who thinks these might be interesting "news" stories, given the "train wreck" of the Obamacare website rollout?



Monday, October 14, 2013

Demagoguery and Its Enablers

It's hard to understand why the mainstream media doesn't hammer Obama about his position on the debt ceiling given this unfortunate historical fact found in the Congressional Record from Obama's time in the Senate:






































OK, so it's actually not so hard to understand.   The mainstream media suppresses this fact because they don't want the obvious conclusion -- that Obama is a hypocritical demagogue -- to reach the American public.   It's all Pravda, all the time, in the newsrooms of what used to be called American "journalism."

Girl of the Day - Martina Garcia

Homeland was a bit grim last night... Brody is now a heroin addict in Caracas living in an abandoned half-finished high-rise ruled by what appear to be a gang of criminals.   Carrie Mathison is still in the nuthouse taking lithium to smooth out her... ahem... rough edges.   Bizarrely (this is Homeland, after all), Brody is cared for by a young woman who appears to have fallen straight out of the pages of Vogue, played by an actress named Martina Garcia.   Hard to understand why someone who looks like this would be living in a squalid crime den, but then... it's TV!



Scandal Watch - How Exactly Did the Company Hired to Do the Obamacare Website Get the Gig?

The Washington Examiner has this interesting tidbit that ought to blow up quickly into a major scandal as the Obamacare website fiasco continues to unravel:

Federal officials considered only one firm to design the Obamacare health insurance exchange website that has performed abysmally since its Oct. 1 debut.
Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance.
CMS officials are tight-lipped about why CGI was chosen or how it happened. They also refuse to say if other firms competed with CGI, or if there was ever a public solicitation for building Healthcare.gov, the backbone of Obamacare’s problem-plagued web portal.
Instead, it appears they used what amounts to a federal procurement system loophole to award the work to the Canadian firm.
The multiple awards were in the form of “task orders” for projects of widely varying size. Over the life of the CGI contract — which expires in 2017 — the IT firm can receive awards worth anywhere from the “$1,000 to $4 billion,” according to a contracting document provided by CGI to the Washington Examiner.

Hmmmm.... let's look up the names of the officers of CGI Federal online.   You have to dig two levels deep to get from the CGI officers, to the CGI "US leadership team," to the CGI Federal leadership team.   Here they are:

Donna Ryan
President, CGI Federal

Cheryl Campbell
Senior Vice-President, Health & Compliance Programs and Defense Agency Programs
Barbara Fast
Senior Vice-President, Army & Defense Intelligence Programs
Tim Hurlebaus
Vice-President, National Security Programs
Tom KirkVice-President, Government Secure Solutions CGI Inc.
Toni Townes-Whitley
Senior Vice-President, Civilian Agency Programs

Now, if you parse the descriptions of their duties, I think it's fair to surmise that the two individuals with the most responsibility for the contract with HHS would be Cheryl Campbell and Toni Townes-Whitley.   I could be wrong, but I think it's fair to say that Hurlebaus and Kirk, the two men, based on the descriptions of their positions, weren't involved as much or at all, nor was Fast, while Ryan as the President would have oversight responsibilities.  

So what do we know about Campbell and Townes-Whitley?   Well, they're obviously both women.   And, if you go to their bios and look at their pictures, you also see that they are both African-American women.

Now, I don't want anyone to take this the wrong way.   Both of these women, based on their bios, seem to be highly successful and capable people, with exceptional backgrounds.   Townes-Whitley, for instance, is a graduate of Princeton, my alma mater.   I do note, however, that neither appears to have a technical background.   Townes-Whitley appears to have been a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School for International Affairs.

But I think it's worth asking the question... what are their prior connections to Michelle Obama and/or Valerie Jarrett?  

Well, one place to start would be to note that Ms. Townes-Whitley was at Princeton at the same time as Michelle Obama... both are members of the Class of 1985.   Are they friends?   Did they know each other?   Have they networked through Princeton alumni activities?

Well, they are both listed in the directory of the Association of Black Princeton Alumni.   

Hmmmm... that's about 20 minutes of Googling... let's see if the mainstream media can come up with anything more by, say, ASKING THE QUESTION!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Bespectacled Menace Returns!

It's a little alarming to have Game 1 of the NLCS in the hands of Joe Kelly.   It's like Mike Matheny's a degenerate gambler who keeps on hitting on sixteen and drawing fours and fives.   Everyone knows he shouldn't do it, everyone knows it's going to backfire, but he just keeps winning.  

Let's hope the magic continues.

Government Shutdown - Day 11

When do you think people will start noticing that, for most purposes in life for most people, they just don't need a $3.6 trillion federal government?

And they certainly don't need one that tells American citizens they can't voluntarily do things that the government refuses to do, like this:

With the National Park Service hamstrung by furloughs, a South Carolina man took it upon himself today to do some grounds keeping at the Lincoln Memorial.
Chris Cox was pushing a lawnmower and toting a chainsaw on the north side of the monument, doing the landscaping work that Park Service employees would normally do.
"The building behind me serves as a moral compass not only for the country but for the world," Cox said. "And over my dead body are we going to let this deteriorate."
Cox felt the memorial should not be neglected.
"We got men coming here to see these memorials in wheelchairs carrying respirators. They had hand to hand combat with the Nazi's.Come on man, this is a no-brainer to keep this area clean for them," he said.
"I've emptied hundreds of trash cans. I've cut up branches that have fallen during storms in these handicapped access roads," Cox said.
The U.S. Park Police told ABC News that Cox was "told to leave and he left." Cox was not arrested or fined for violating the official closure of the monument, said Sgt. Paul Brooks. He did not finish mowing the grass around the Lincoln Memorial, Brooks said.


Girl of the Day - More Turtlenecks!

October rolls on toward November and winter here in Wisconsin.   Time to get out the turtlenecks!

Birthday Today - Jerome Robbins

Today would be Jerome Robbins' 95th birthday.   The greatest choreographer on Broadway ever?   Well, maybe not... I'd probably still take Bob Fosse.   But is Robbins' prologue to West Side Story the greatest dance ever on Broadway or on film?   I'd have to say yes.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

How to Turn Blue to Red

OK, so maybe these folks really won't become Republican voters.   For some people (maybe most people), their political party is like their baseball team... they grew up rooting for Democrats or rooting for Republicans, and they viscerally can't switch, no matter whether the other team is better, or whether their own interests have changed.   But you have to admit that the sense of these folks in California being shocked-shocked by the increase in their insurance premiums under the Obamacare regime is funny-sad:
"I was laughing at Boehner -- until the mail came today," Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
"I really don't like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family's pocket each year, that's otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy."
Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level -- the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn't realize they would rise so much.
"Of course, I want people to have health care," Vinson said. "I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally."
So you thought the Republicans were laughable and you didn't like them... they were the bad guys and they were stupid, just like your liberal friends had told you for your entire life... right up to the point where you found out they were right and your premiums were really going to go up.   You were OK with it so long as it was other people's money, but when your ox is going to be gored... hey, that's unfair!  

Who's crying now?

Well, as a matter of fact, we all are.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

If You've Lost Wolf Blitzer...

Wolf Blitzer floats the trial balloon of delaying Obamacare a year, noting that this is the "advice" of Republicans:


Three Hours Until Cardinals Baseball!!!

Not that I'm excited or anything.

Girl of the Day - It's Turtleneck Weather!

It's turtleneck weather in Wisconsin.







































I'm just sayin'.

The Obamacare Train Wreck - Day 9

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air sums it up nicely:

I’ve worked on massive database projects in the private sector... There isn’t a private-sector firm in the world that would have tolerated a web-portal project taking 42 months and delivering this kind of train wreck.

But Obamacare was never about "delivering" a workable health insurance exchange system.   It was always about what government is always about:

Rent-seeking.

Power.

Money-grabbing.

Power.

Pay-offs to insiders.

Power.

Bureaucratic territorialism.

Power.

Aggrandizing the myth of Obama.

Power.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

End of Civilization As We Know It, Part 1,739

The Obama press conference this afternoon featured zero, that's right, zero questions about either (a) the incompetent rollout of Obamacare or (b) the ham-handed tactics of the Administration in shutting down national monuments.   Hot Air has the story:

It ran for one hour and six minutes, with 12 different reporters being called on — although, notably, not Ed Henry of Fox News — and between them they couldn’t muster one question about the catastrophe that is Healthcare.gov or the spectacle of National Park Rangers locking senior-citizen tourists out of war memorials and/or inside their hotels. I admit that, near the end of it, when Twitter was already starting to buzz about the oh-fer on this week’s two unhappy topics, I started rooting for the press corps to ignore them, not unlike how you might root for an opposing pitcher when he’s throwing a perfect game against your team in the ninth. On the one hand, it’s a disaster for your interests; on the other hand, you’re seeing something historic in process. Today, we all witnessed a perfecto — no runs, no hits, not the barest insinuation in front of a national television audience that the federal government’s behavior towards the public this week has alternated between almost literally unbelievable incompetence and vindictiveness.

We no longer have a free press in this country.   We have court eunuchs, jostling each other for position so they can lick the boots of the King.

Disgraceful.   Embarassing.   Shameful.

So, as of today, the toughest, fairest questioning of the Obama Administration about Obamacare's rollout has come from.... drum roll... Jon Stewart!




Just When You Thought the Nastiness of the Obama Administration During the Shutdown Couldn't Get Worse

Hard to imagine seeing this story in the United States of America.   What on earth are the Obama Administration fools thinking?
Apparently, a priest was denied access to a military chapel this weekend. Father Ray Leonard serves at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia but because of the government shutdown, he wasn’t allowed to go to celebrate Mass this past weekend. He is contracted by the Defense department to meet the spiritual needs of Catholics but not now. The chapel doors were locked and the sign said, “Shutdown: No Catholic service till further notice.”
Father Leonard said the following: “This is our church, Catholics have an expectation and obligation to attend Mass and we were told, ‘no you can’t go to church this week…“My parishioners were upset. They were angry and dismayed. They couldn’t believe that in America they’d be denied access to Mass by the government.”
Unconstitutional?  Sure.   But that's sort of par for the course under King Barack, isn't it?
 

This Can't Happen - Gettysburg Closed!

This shit can't happen. 

The New Gestapo of Barack Obama

Here's just another story that gets out to the world almost instantaneously because of the Internet, that wouldn't have gotten out the last time there was a big government shutdown in 1995.   This is why this shutdown might be different:
Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures.
Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.
Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
When finally allowed to leave, the bus was not allowed to halt at all along the 2.5-hour trip out of the park, not even to stop at private bathrooms that were open along the route.
“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control,” said Vaillancourt, who grew up in Lawrence. “It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry,’ it was all like — ” as she clenched her fist and banged it against her forearm....
The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.
“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

This is not the Republicans in Congress doing this.   This is all Executive Branch stuff.   And the Executive Branch is headed by the President.   So when the article goes on to describe the Park Service's actions as "Gestapo tactics," that's on Barack Obama.

King Barack of Bullshitiana

Charles Cooke has a great piece up at NRO about the lies Obama used to sell Obamacare.   They include:

  • “I will sign a universal health-care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”
  • “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums.”
  • “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
  • “For people with insurance, the only impact of the health-care law is that their insurance is stronger, better, and more secure than it was before. Full stop. That’s it. They don’t have to worry about anything else.”
Lies.   Baldfaced lies.   Here's the money paragraph:
Looking back, it is amazing that Obama wasn’t laughed off the stage at the outset. His central claim — that premiums would drop for the typical family by $2,500 — could literally have been taken from the back of an envelope. As the New York Times explained back in 2008, the $2,500 number came from economist David Cutler, who predicted that Obamacare would reduce all health-care spending by $200 billion a year. Candidate Obama, looking for a good sound bite, simply divided this number by the number of families in the United States; then, calculating inexplicably that total health-care spending and family health-insurance premiums were exactly the same thing, he concluded that all money saved would be returned to the people. That Obama considered this a reasonable way of selling a plan that reorganized one-sixth of the economy betrays either a fundamental economic illiteracy or a deeply troubling readiness to mislead.
TFG almost got us into a war in Syria because of his off-the-cuff bullshit about a "red line" on chemical weapons.   Now it turns out that he got us into an epic, country-killing fiasco on Obamacare because of still more off-the-cuff bullshit.

The Emperor Has No Clothes.   The grown-ups in Washington realize this.  Putin realizes this.   Assad realizes this.   Rouhani realizes this.   Now we're reaping the whirlwind of our folly.

Girl of the Day - Rita Hayworth

I happened to flip on the TV this morning while I was getting dressed right as AMC was showing the Astaire movie You Never Were Lovelier, and right at the moment when Astaire dances the "Shorty George" with Rita Hayworth.   I'm not sure there has ever been a more beautiful actress in Hollywood.





I mean.... Wow!

Maryland as Microcosm

Posit that the problem of the "uninsured" was the motivation for Obamacare.

Maryland, one of 14 states running their own insurance exchanges under Obamacare, has roughly 600,000 uninsured.

After the first week of Obamacare, the state reports that a grand total of 326 people had successfully signed up.

Hmmm... let's do the math.   At that rate, it will be roughly thirty-five years until the uninsured will all be signed up! 

Unfortunately, I don't think the country will survive that long.

Sheesh!   What a clusterf***!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Illegal Aliens, Yes. WWII Veterans, No.

























In case you were wondering whose side the Obama Adminstration is on:

A planned immigration reform rally will take place on the National Mall on Tuesday even though the site is closed due to the government shutdown.
Organizers for the "Camino Americano: March for Immigration Reform" were spotted Monday setting up a stage and equipment on the National Mall for the rally which will take place on Tuesday....
The event is hosted by several immigration activist groups, together with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the AFL-CIO.

The Miracle of Parenthood

Sometimes your children do things that just astonish you.   Here's the Regular Son's latest:

Three Years?



















Three years.   Billions of dollars.   The future of American healthcare, the American economy, and possible America itself riding on the implementation of Obamacare.   And this is what they came up with?
What should clearly be an enterprise quality, highly scalable software application, felt like it wouldn’t pass a basic code review. It appears the people who built the site don’t know what they’re doing, never used it, and didn’t test it.
I actually experienced many more problems than the screenshots I captured. Had I known I was performing a Quality Assurance assignment, I would have kept better documentation of typos, unclear directions, bad grammar, poorly designed screens, and other crashes. My bad!
It makes me wonder if this is the first paid application created by these developers. How much did the contractor receive for creating this awful solution? Was it awarded to the lowest price bidder? As a taxpayer, I hope we didn’t didn’t pay a premium for this because it needs to be rebuilt. And fixing, testing, and redeploying a live application like this is non-trivial. The managers who approved this system before it went live should be held accountable, along with the people who selected them.
Our Professional Solutions Group has created many mission-critical, custom software applications where scalability, reliability and quality are paramount. For instance, we built the Logistics Support System for International Humanitarian Relief for the United Nations where lives are dependent on accurate, timely data on a global scale. I know what’s involved in creating great software, and this ain’t it. Healthcare.gov is simply an insurance quote system. As a software developer, I’m embarrassed for my profession. If FMS ever delivered such crap, I’d be personally inconsolable. This couldn’t pass an introductory computer science class. 
This is going to be a huge public relations mess that could doom the whole initiative.
I always thought that Obamacare would be a fiasco in the end, because the incentives built into the concept were so skewed toward moral hazard, adverse selection, etc.   But it never occurred to me that they could screw up the most basic aspect of it... creating a website to sign people up.  

President Putt-Putt, the world's smartest man, really doesn't know how to do anything but bullshit, does he?

Girl of the Day - Morena Baccarin

Fast becoming the only reason to watch the increasingly unwatchable Homeland:





































By the way, the ridiculousness of the plots are being matched this season by the grossness of the focus on the teenage sexuality of the daughter of the erstwhile Congressman/terrorist Nicholas Brody.   The actress who plays Dana Brody, Morgan Saylor, turned 18 last fall while Season Two was on air, i.e., after it was in the can.   So, legally, they can now use her in nude scenes, etc.   But she still looks like a kid, and she's playing a kid, so it's... gross.  






































As a father of two girls who are 12 and 14, the whole thing makes me very uncomfortable... beyond being something of a distraction from whatever the hell the story is anymore.

This could have been a really interesting show if they had stuck with the cat-and-mouse spy stuff of the first season.   Maybe.   The real problem is that the premise would have only worked with a finite ending... either a terrorist attack by Brody, or the attack foiled by Carrie Mathison... and it might have made sense to do it over three seasons, or maybe over just one.   But trying to stretch out the premise over  multiple seasons has been a massive fail.  

Are Republicans Winning?

A few days ago, James Taranto in the WSJ posed the question of whether Republicans could win the shutdown:
One reason this column was wary of congressional Republicans' government-shutdown strategy against ObamaCare is that it seemed unlikely to succeed. ObamaCare is unpopular, but so are government shutdowns, and both the president (for structural reasons) and the Democrats (for ideological ones) would appear to have a natural advantage in such a confrontation. Hence the Democrats' "victory" in the last two shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996.
It may still turn out that way, but we've been surprised this week at the Democrats' tactical maladroitness. As Josh Jordan quipped yesterday on Twitter: "Since the shutdown began, Obama and Reid have taken tough stands against the two most villainous groups: WWII veterans and kids with cancer."

The reference, of course, is to the closing of the WWII Memorial in D.C., and Harry Reid's infamous (and stupid) response to a question from a reporter about saving kids with cancer by keeping funding for the National Institutes of Health by saying, "Why would we want to do that?"

Well, I'm not sure there's such a thing as "winning" when you see a superpower in decline going through massive governmental dysfunctionality like this.   But, at least in the Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, things aren't looking so good for the Democrats' strategy:














Polls like this are volatile, so you have to take them with a grain of salt.   But Obama sure looks to have taken a big hit in the first week of the government shutdown... a drop of 8 points in "strong approval/strong disapproval."   (It should also be noted that this is the first week of the Obamacare fiasco, which is certainly injuring the Obama brand every time someone is frustrated with the healthcare.gov website.)



Government Shutdown - Day 6 - Filed Under "You Can't Make This Shit Up"

You can't make this shit up.   Cones on a pull-off viewing area to keep people from stopping to take pictures of Mount Rushmore.   Because theatrical vindictiveness is more fun than leadership or prioritizing. 
 




























Meanwhile, the Andrews Air Force Base golf course remains open for business.



























TNoTFG.



Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Obamacare Can't Work... Episode 503

Jay Cost tweeted this today:





Yes, the glitches do increase the death spiral potential. As many have noted, Obamacare only works if young health people who don't really need much health insurance sign up for overpriced insurance to subsidize "affordable" insurance for sick older people. But here's a few things you might have observed about young people nowadays:

  • Laziness.
  • Clothes on the floor.
  • Dishes in the sink.
  • Bed unmade.
  • No job.
  • Video game obsessions.
  • Credit cards maxed.
  • Lots of drinking, lots of pot smoking.
  • Horny.
  • Spend a lot of time on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Do you really think people like that are going to want to take their time and spend hours working through a complex web enrollment form that seems to be constantly breaking down and dumping them out?   These are kids who get mad if their Internet streaming is too slow.

Digusting - "We've Been Told to Make Life as Difficult as We Can."























This is how low the Obama Administration has sunk:
The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Our government thinks that the people are the enemy. 

Why This Isn't the 1995 Shutdown

Here's my list of reasons, with the biggest one last:
  • Barack Obama is not Bill Clinton.
  • Ted Cruz is not New Gingrich.
  • The economy in 2013 (stagnant) is not the economy in 1995 (booming).
  • The national debt in 2013 ($16 million and growing/98% of GDP) is not the national debt in 1995 ($5 billion/65% of GDP).
  • The image of America in 2013 (weak) is not the image of America in 1995 (a Colossus astride the post-Cold War world).
  • The readership of the New York Times in 2013 (shrinking) is not the readership of the NYT in 1995.
  • The readership of the Washington Post in 2013 (shrinking) is not the readership of the WaPo in 1995.
  • Newsweek no longer exists; Time is moribund.
  • ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS have dwindling viewership.
  • FoxNews has growing viewership.
  • Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity.
And the biggest reason why this isn't 1995:































Prezidizzle Obizzle can't get away with his my-way-or-the-highway crap in 2013.



Girl of the Day - Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon turns 67 today.  OK, so she's a big lefty.   But, hey, I dated lefties in grad school:






































Yep.   Pretty much like that.  



New Word for Today - "Obama-ganda" (or, Propaganda Plus)

We need a new word for what's happening in the past few days in the government "shutdown."   The level of lies has reached beyond Orwellian.
Propaganda just won't do.   This is beyond propaganda.  We're into something akin to virtual reality.

Let's call it "Obama-ganda."




*UPDATE:  This fellow about whom the national media had orgasms this week is more than just a Democratic activist... he's apparently a liar according to HIS OWN FATHER.   It was all a scam.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Amazing Job by Cardinals Front Office and GM John Mozeliak


























Here's something amazing... if you look back at just two years ago when the Cardinals won the World Series, there are only six players (five position players and one pitcher) who will be on the 25 man roster for this year's opening round:

Matt Holliday
Jon Jay
David Freese
Daniel Descalso
Yadier Molina
Lance Lynn

Meanwhile, of the other nineteen players on the current playoff roster:
  • Seven position players came up through the Cardinals farm system:  Robinson, Chambers, Kozma, Wong, Adams, Cruz, Matt Carpenter.
  • One position player was signed as a free agent:  Carlos Beltran.
  • Two pitchers were acquired via trades that gave up only minor leaguers who weren't doing anything for us and haven't done much since:  John Axford (Michael Blazek) and Edward Mujica (Zach Cox).
  • One pitcher was signed as a free agent:  Randy Choate.
  • One pitcher was on the DL in 2011:  Adam Wainwright.
  • Seven pitchers came up through the Cardinals farm system: Miller, Kelly, Wacha, Rosenthal, Maness, Siegrist, Martinez.
Wow.   Fourteen minor leaguers graduating to form nearly 60% of a team with the best record in baseball.  And remember, last year we were 1 game away from the World Series too.   Of those, nine are officially rookies -- Kozma, Wong, Adams, Miller, Wacha, Rosenthal, Maness, Siegrist, and Martinez.

If Mozeliak doesn't win the Executive of the Year, something's crazy.

Obamacare Rollout - No Way to Run a Railroad...

... or any other real business.   Sheesh, imagine if you had borrowed money from a bank based on a half-assed business plan, and your rollout was this fouled up:

“It’s day two of health care reform, and we have yet to have someone successfully register on the marketplace,” said Matt Hadzick, manager of a Highmark retail insurance store in Allentown, Pa., where people could go to register for the online insurance marketplace. “The registration process is very slow, and at one point it just shuts down.”

Your lenders would be very concerned about the ability of your enterprise to succeed.

Lucky, then, that the federal government can just print its own money, huh?