Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In much of what passes for political discourse, we focus on the exceedingly short term while ignoring the long term. We talk, for instance, about the sequester or the government shutdown, while ignoring the long-term imbalances in our budgets and finances -- the disconnect between a huge and growing class of net "takers" sucking at the government teat, and a now-smaller and shrinking class of net "makers" paying taxes to support the Leviathan welfare state. We talk, for instance, about the incompetent rollout of the Obamacare website without analyzing the long-term impossibility of providing world-class healthcare to 310 million Americans, most of whom can't afford it themselves, and many of whom are actively through lifestyle choices causing the very health problems they want others to pay to cure. We talk, for instance, about a nuclear "deal" with Iran, while ignoring, for the most part, the fact that a billion Muslims have a historic, millenium-old antipathy for Christianity and the West that no "deal" will change.
Having said all that, the real short-term/long-term problem in our discourse is that we talk about politics and political questions at all, rather than spiritual questions. We focus on Man on Earth, rather than Man in Eternity. In short, we focus on Man, not God.
Anyway, I was thinking these kinds of things reading the news today, because undoubtedly the most important thing to happen today was the publication of Pope Francis' first encyclical, called "The Joy of the Gospel." You can read it all here, but I'll just grab the first few paragraphs to give you a sense of what a different paradigm for thinking about the world really looks like:
THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.
Anyway, I'm not sure whether Rachel McAdams is a good actress, but she's awfully cute in the romantic roles I've seen her in (The Notebook, The Time Traveler's Wife), so she rates a GotD:
Saturday, November 23, 2013
That was the quality of his entanglements, their very essence. He got into appalling messes, unending and unravellable -- no, she meant un-unravellable -- messes and other people suffered for him whilst he mooned along into more messes.
Sounds a good deal like our narcissistic, "so smart everything bores him" President.
That's how the private sector does business ca. 2013.
Meanwhile, here's what the government's attempt at a healthcare web-based "marketplace" looks like:
Compare and contrast!
Thursday, November 21, 2013
It's her birthday today... she would have been 101. Probably the best technical tap dancer among Fred Astaire's partners, although I'd rank her for obvious reasons behind Ginger Rogers. She looks a little bit like some of my lovely nieces. But I bet they can't do this:
Anyway, over at Ace of Spades this morning they had a pretty good list of the issues to date of Obamacare. Pretty much any of these are a debacle, together they're a death spiral:
Let's review. Obamacare's problems:
(1) The website is broken.
(2) The payment and accounting and administration back-end is unwritten, untested, and out of time.
(3) They are seriously out of time to do something about those 3.5 to 5 million people whose insurance has been cancelled. To be covered by Jan 1, they have to get a new plan by Dec 15, which means 140,000 to 200,000 of them need to be enrolling every day between now and then, including weekends and the Thangsfrickingiving holiday, which ain't gonna happen ya'll.
(4) Adverse selection a.k.a. the death spiral a.k.a. the shit spiral is coming. See Ace's post last night on the Kentucky exchange's obvious precursor to the shit spiral.
(5) Next year we get to do this same song and dance with the group plans as the employer mandate kicks in.
(6) Lawsuits. There are some nontrivial lawsuits pending including the contraception mandate challenges and the suits based on the fact that the statute doesn't actually allow HHS to offer subsidies on the federal exchange or impose the employer mandate on states that didn't implement their own exchanges.
(7) There are still 40 million uninsured Americans according to President Obama. Which seems to me to be just a bit of a failure of the aims of Obamacare.
 The plans on the exchanges likely will not let people keep the provider networks of doctors, hospitals and specialists they currently use, making continuity of care impossible. [Andy]
 Obamacare appears to be nothing more that an enormous expansion of Medicaid, the worst-performing health program in the country. [Andy]
What am I missing.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Election day 2014 is less than a year away, and Senate Democrats running for re-election know it in their bones, especially these red- or purple-state democrats:
- Mark Begich, Alaska
- Mark Pryor, Arkansas
- Mark Udall, Colorado
- Mary Landrieu, Louisiana
- Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
- Tom Udall, New Mexico
- Kay Hagan, North Carolina
- Mark Warner, Virginia
And how do you think Democrats looking to replace retiring Democratic Senators in West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa and Michigan are feeling right about now?
That's 13 Democratic Senate seats that, if Obamacare implodes, would be up for grabs.
Here's my list, riffing off Karl's, but with some added TRG secret sauce:
- Identity theft - What happens when scary news stories start appearing about people who have had their identities stolen by Obamacare "navigators"? Given what we know already, would you just start uploading your most private financial and medical information to healthcare.gov? Let me tell you -- the soccer moms who will drive this debate have been scared for ten years (sometimes unnecessarily and for profit) by the boogeyman of identity theft. They are going to run for the hills if it looks like Obamacare puts them at risk.
- Costs explode - What happens when millions of Americans start realizing that they've essentially been taxed at a confiscatory rate (through the hidden tax of higher health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays) to buy health insurance for other people they don't know? What happens when people realize that they won't be able to buy their kids braces, or send them to Catholic school, or save for their college, or afford their piano lessons, or dance lessons, or summer camps? It's one thing to be altruistic in the abstract -- everyone should have health insurance. It's another thing to be altruistic in the concrete -- I should pay for Joe Blow on 27th Street to have health insurance by giving up my family vacation, or my kid's school, or the new kitchen we've been wanting for ten years. In other words, this is the moment when the passive voice of desires ("people should be given health insurance") turns into the active voice of reality ("I must pay for other people's health insurance"). Again, the soccer moms who will drive this debate in the end care a lot more about their own kids than they do about someone else's kids. That's natural, and that's reality.
- People lose their doctors - What happens when healthcare networks to shave costs start limiting the different doctors you can go to for treatment, and one of the doctors happens to be your doctor? Again, if the soccer moms start realizing that they no longer can go to the OB-GYN they've been going to for fifteen years through two or three children, they are going to have mass conniption fits.
- The employer mandate kicks in, and employer-based insurance becomes a thing of the past. This is going to happen. If you were an employer, why wouldn't you immediately dump your plans and tell your employees, so, sorry, we just can't afford this anymore, but instead we'll give you a modest raise and you can look for coverage on healthcare.gov. If you're an employer struggling to make your margins, you're going to do this. In fact, if you didn't do it, you'd likely be breaching your fiduciary duties to your shareholders.
- People die. Remember the old saw from journalism, "if it bleeds, it leads"? Journalists are lefties, sure, for the most part, but they are also careerists, and someone is going to smell a Pulitzer in the story line that some aspect of Obamacare -- either kicking people off their coverage, or making them lose their doctor, or some other hidden limitation in the umpteen thousand pages of laws and regulations and rules means they don't get treatment X or drug Y -- caused someone to die. It will happen. And when it does, people will go nuts.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Orson Swindle, who served as an FTC commissioner from 1997 to 2005, says there are a number of practices that, if HealthCare.gov were a private entity, would result in its being “taken to the shed and horsewhipped” by government regulators.
President Obama’s oft-repeated falsehood, “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” — something the administration knew was untrue — would almost certainly be a textbook case of deceptive advertising, punishable under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practice in or affecting commerce.” This includes a “representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer,” such that the consumer would be “likely to have chosen differently but for the deception.”
... Private companies engaged in HealthCare.gov’s kind of behavior would face severe consequences, Swindle tells National Review Online. “Businessmen would lose their businesses, salesmen would lose their licenses — that’s the kind of thing we are talking about here,” he says. “The bottom line is that no private entity would be allowed to get away with what the Obama administration is trying to get away with.”
Swindle served both Democratic and Republican administrations at the FTC, so this isn't conservative ax-grinding. The reality is that social contract only works -- and we only grant immunities to public servants -- based on the premise that elected representatives and public servants will be honest and devoted to the public good. Lying to the public is a fundamental breach of that social contract. The normal course for redress is to vote the scoundrels out, not to prosecute them.
On the other hand, I'm not sure that the federal criminal fraud statutes don't apply to government employees. And, notably, a "scheme or artifice to defraud," as defined by 18 US 1346, "includes a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services." Moreover, as you consider the next scandal to erupt from Obamacare -- which will undoubtedly involve widespread identity theft by Obama's "navigators" -- think about this federal criminal statute, 18 USC 1905:
Whoever, being an officer or employee of the United States or of any department or agency thereof... publishes, divulges, discloses, or makes known in any manner or to any extent not authorized by law any information coming to him in the course of his employment or official duties... which information concerns or relates to... the identity, confidential statistical data, amount or source of any income, profits, losses, or expenditures of any person... shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and shall be removed from office or employment.
I'm just sayin'. We may need a special prosector soon.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Obama always gives the vague impression that routine features of humdrum human existence are entirely alien to him. Marie Antoinette, informed that the peasantry could no longer afford bread, is alleged to have responded, “Let them eat cake.” There is no evidence these words ever passed her lips, but certainly no one ever accused her of saying, “If you like your cake, you can keep your cake,” and then having to walk it back with “What we’re also discovering is that cake is complicated to buy.” That contribution to the annals of monarchical unworldliness had to await the reign of Queen Barry Antoinette...
Will history remember Upton for his legislative triumph? Maybe. But maybe they'll remember him more as the uncle of a certain supermodel:
I'd vote for that.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
We start with a typica Obama-ism... he's "not happy" about something that he was responsible for himself. Obama continues to act as if he's just a taking a White House tour, and not the President who is actually supposed to be managing the government. And I am so tired with the trope of how "deeply concerned" he is. Not just "concerned," but "deeply concerned." Beyond being a cliche, it's a complete falsehood... people who are deeply concerned about something try to do their job correctly. They don't go play golf 150 times and then, when the business goes bankrupt or the case gets dismissed or the patient dies, say that they are "deeply concerned" after the fact.
Wrong... it means the opposite. If only 100,000 people out of the 47 million uninsured bothered to persevere long enough to successfully enroll in an Obamacare plan (and putting aside the expansive definition of "enroll" Obama is using), that means that about 46.9/47 million people didn't care enough to keep trying over the course of a whole month. If being "uninsured" were such a hardship, the number should have been much, much higher, and if the website didn't work, you should have seen mass demonstrations outside government offices. You didn't see any of that. This is a vast new program built on a fallacy of "demand" for healthcare.
MORE "FISKING" BELOW THE FOLD!
And I don't care what anyone says, we're still a great country, and we're still the only country that can do this sort of thing:
The first significant international aid since Typhoon Haiyan hit started flowing Thursday with the arrival of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier. Helicopters began ferrying in food and clean water for regions that have seen little help in days....
All day, four U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo planes flew aid and personnel to Tacloban, where four tilt-rotor Osprey planes, able to land like helicopters, were loaded with goods for delivery to remote areas.
The U.S. planes "are a big help, as there are only three C-130s from the Philippine government," said Corazon "Dinky" Soliman, secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development in the Philippines, as she oversaw relief efforts in central Tacloban.
The U.S. aircraft carrier, which carries a fleet of boats and helicopters, "is going to be a game-changer," Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Japan, said....
Off the coast, one could see the massive silhouette of the George Washington, which began serving as a floating staging area for U.S. and other helicopters to resupply and refuel before lifting loads to Tacloban airport, said Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman, public affairs officer for the ship.
The ship is part of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet and is accompanied by seven other ships that make up the George Washington Strike Group. The aircraft carrier has a crew of 5,500 and brings with it 21 helicopters, which can be used to access hard-to-reach areas.
"(The ship) has distiller plants on board that can make 400,000 gallons of fresh water every day," Stockman said. "Some of this water will be put into containers to be airlifted to those Philippine communities in need. We will also airlift pallets of bottled water that we will take on via underway replenishment — where we connect to a supply ship and transfer cargo at sea."
The first blacked-out word is the same offensive term Incognito used. But this wasn't in a joking private voicemail, this was sent out over the Internet on Twitter to everyone in the world.
So here are my questions to the NBA and to the media:
1. Should Matt Barnes be suspended? If not, why not?
2. Should Matt Barnes be released? If not, why not?
3. Should Matt Barnes be run out of the league? If not, why not?
4. Should Matt Barnes be vilified in national media as a racist? If not, why not?
I just want someone to explain to me the double standards, so we can all understand them.
Also, in doing so, please someone explain who of the following Clippers can use the n-word, and who can't, and why:
a) DeAndre Jordan
b) Chris Paul
c) Matt Barnes
d) Blake Griffin
e) J.J. Redick
In every tale of hubris, the transgressor is eventually slapped across the face with the semi-frozen flounder of reality. The Greeks had a god, Nemesis, whose scythe performed the same function. It was Nemesis who lured Narcissus to the pool where he fell in love with his own reflection. Admittedly, most of Nemesis’s walk-on roles were in the Greek tragedies, but in the modern era, comeuppance-for-the-arrogant is more often found in comedies, and the “rollout” of Healthcare.gov has been downright hilarious. (I put quotation marks around “rollout” because the term implies actual rolling, and this thing has moved as gracefully as a grand piano in a peat bog.) But, as the president says, “it’s more than a website.” Indeed, the whole law is coming apart like a papier-mâché yacht in rough waters. The media feeding frenzy it has triggered from so many journalistic lapdogs has been both so funny and so poignant, it reminds me of nothing more than the climax of the classic film Air Bud, when the lovable basketball-playing golden retriever finally decides to maul the dog-abusing clown.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
- Do you think he should have spent some of that time monitoring how the website for Obamacare was coming along?
- Do you think he should have spent some of that time being available when the Benghazi attack occurred?
- Do you think he might have spent some of that time investigating just how it was that his IRS targeted conservative groups?
- Do you think he might have spent some of that time figuring out just what the NSA was up to?
Big exit question:
Do you think if a Republican had played 150 rounds of golf that might be a news story?
P.S. And, oh, by the way, do you think if it was a Republican who had two daughters (say, George W. Bush) that the media would castigate him for ignoring his children and/or leaving them to his wife's care or the care of nannies or other watchers while he goes off playing golf?
Look, I like golf too. But I've probably played less than ten rounds in the past five years, in large part because I (a) have a job; and (b) have children who need and deserve my attention.
But, then, maybe we're just different kinds of men:
Let's do some math, shall we?
There have been approximately 3.5 million Americans who have lost their private insurance due to Obamacare to date. That's just in the individual market. Obama's unilateral (and illegal) delay of the employer mandate means that millions more, perhaps tens of millions more people who will lose their policies will have that fact hidden from them until after the 2014 election.
That means that every day last month more American were losing their healthcare coverage than were enrolling for coverage under Obamacare in the entire month.
And remember... the administration already announced that it was going to "count" as enrolled people who had put a policy into their "shopping cart." How many of those won't ever return to "check out"? A lot, I'd venture to say, particularly given the extraordinarily bad press the program has gotten.
And, too, remember that enrolling isn't the same as paying that first premium. That's when the rubber really hits the road in terms of how many people will actually get coverage through Obamacare.
And, finally, remember... the whole point of this exercise was that we had 47 million uninsured. So, with this supposedly huge problem out there, isn't it a little odd that only 100,000 or so people bothered to try hard enough to get health insurance in a month? That's about, oh, two-tenths of a percent. So 99.8% of the uninsured either couldn't get through or said, "meh, who gives a shit?" And for that we've created an enormous drag on economic growth and a $2 trillion entitlement program over the next ten years (and that's conservative).
What a colossal, epic fail! I'm with Charlie Cooke at NRO on this one... there's probably never been a bigger domestic policy failure in American history.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Looks pretty creepy in retrospect, doesn't it? I wonder how many of these folks have gone through de-programming by now?
Oh, and some of them, like their President, appear to have become has-beens in the five years since then.
One of the great things out there is a catalogue of all of the citations of Medal of Honor winners in American history, created by the Center for Military History under the auspices of the Defense Department and the U.S. Army. It's here. Just grab one at random and read it... you will be awe-struck with the heroism and sacrifices of men who, until the moment they were called upon, were mostly average fellows. And yet... when that moment came, they acted, they risked all, they sometimes gave all, for their country and, most of the time, for their comrades, their buddies, their brothers in arms. Here's one from the Korean War:
McGOVERN, ROBERT M.
- Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Company A, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.
- Place and date: Near Kamyangjan-ni, Korea, 30 January 1951.
- Entered service at: Washington, D.C.
- G.O. No.: 2, 8 January 1952.
We've all seen the speech of Patton from the opening of the movie Patton starring George C. Scott. Here's the real Patton speaking in 1945:
Again, we're not the same country, are we?
Or, maybe we are. It's also, ironically, Alger Hiss' birthday.
In the battle of the Meuse-Argonne, fought over the final six weeks of the war largely by the American Expeditionary Force, America lost more than 26,000 dead and more than 95,000 wounded. The American military cemetery, which somehow our exalted leaders thought it fit to close during the government shutdown, looks like this:
We are a very different country now. Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad. We won't really know until the current generation, or a future generation of Americans, is called upon to sacrifice.
Lest we forget.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Thursday, November 7, 2013
But I didn't see this coming. Apparently it is the tradition for the Pope to greet newly married couples on Wednesdays. Here a couple who volunteer as clown therapists had just gotten married, and Pope Francis greeted them... well, you get the picture.
I had and have very high regard for both the Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict, the first for his world-historical, courageous leadership; the second because of his extraordinarily important intellectual writings, which will no doubt make him someday a Doctor of the Church. But Pope Francis is doing something really interesting... he's bringing the Papacy back down to earth and back to being essentially about evangelizing among the people, one at a time. We've been very lucky to have these three very different, but very great men as our Popes over the past four decades.
- Martin left the team last week, claiming bullying, including racially-charged voicemail bullying from Incognito.
- Incognito was almost immediately suspended, and will likely be cut, even though he made the Pro Bowl last year.
- The story got weirder yesterday when, almost to a man, the Dolphins players sided with Incognito, saying that he was like a "big brother" to Martin and they don't understand what Martin is talking about.
Here's a couple of interesting facts that are noteworthy:
- Martin is a Stanford grad whose parents both went to Harvard. He went to a very toney prep school in California... Harvard-Westlake. In other words... he's upper-class. This is a conjecture, but I would very strongly suspect that he has been steeped in liberalism since a young age... which in 2013 is both a therapeutic culture (note his rush to the hospital to deal with "emotional issues") and a minority-victimization culture (note his rush to put out a voicemail showing Incognito had used the n-word). Incognito, meanwhile, appears to be a rough-tough public school kid. He went to Nebraska.
- Re the voicemail. It's from April 2013. There are reports that Martin not only kept it for six months, he played it in the locker room for other players as a joke. Now that's not to condone Incognito's language. But if he knew Martin well enough to joke around, and Martin appeared to be able to take a joke, then it's pretty dirty pool to then turn around and publish it in a climate where a public accusation of racism basically ruins Incognito's career.
- I haven't seen this anywhere in the news, but a casual five-minute search of Twitter shows this picture from late September of Incognito and Martin together out on the town. That's five months after the allegedly racist voicemail. Martin sure doesn't seem like he is intimidated by Incognito, and he sure doesn't act the way I would expect a black man to act if he thought the white man standing next to him was a racist.
Here's my take. I don't know what this story is about. I don't think it's really about racism or bullying or any of the other buzz words going around. I think it might have something to do with class -- a rich kid from a cultured upbringing who went to elite schools suddenly being a kid in a locker room full of grown men who come from rougher backgrounds.
I also think it might just be a very common human story... Martin wasn't happy with where he was in life, wasn't doing as well as he had hoped, didn't like it, but instead of making the decision to quit football (like this guy did just this week), decided to scapegoat someone else in a manner that would get him social approbation as a victim of racism and bullying. As a litigator, the concept of blaming someone else when things go wrong seems very familiar to me.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The broken websites are a sideshow. Mark these words: the breakdown in the individual insurance market is only a small foretaste of the total chaos from mass insurance cancellations that will come when and if the employer mandates go into effect.
Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
It’s not easy to get a lie into a presidential speech. Every draft address is circulated to the White House senior staff and key Cabinet officials in something called the “staffing process.” Every line is reviewed by dozens of senior officials, who offer comments and factual corrections. During this process, it turns out, some of Obama’s policy advisers objected to the “you can keep your plan” pledge, pointing out that it was untrue. But it stayed in the speech. That does not happen by accident. It requires a willful intent to deceive....
This whole episode is a window into a fundamentally dishonest presidency. And the story gets worse. After Obama began telling Americans they could keep their plans, White House aides discussed using media interviews “to explain the nuances of the succinct line in his stump speeches.” But they decided not to do so, because “officials worried . . . that delving into details such as the small number of people who might lose insurance could be confusing and would clutter the president’s message.”
Yes, no need to “clutter” the president’s message with confusing details — like the fact that millions of Americans being told by the president that they could keep their plans were being knowingly misled.
When all you want is power, when all you want is to win elections, when all you want is to maintain your jobs in Washington, and your paychecks, and your opportunity to parlay your government service into riches on Wall Street or K Street or into book deals or speaking fees... well, then, what is truth? Things you say are just means to an end. Untruths at the service of the party are not just justifiable, but high-five-able.
It looks more and more like people saw Obama being intransigent about delaying Obamacare, and now are punishing him for forcing it down our throats even though he knew it wasn't ready for primetime.
By the way, Ted Cruz doesn't look quite so dumb now, does he?
But McArdle (not surprisingly given her pipes) went on to be a fantastic cabaret singer. Here she is, as an adult, doing "As Long as He Needs Me" from Oliver:
Monday, November 4, 2013
Or, some Nina Agdal:
First, there is the increasingly honest treatment of the Obamacare debacle by the mainstream media. At some point, if it's raining outside, weathermen are going to have to report it, if only to keep themselves from becoming irrelevant. When millions of Americans are getting cancellation letters for their health insurance, facts which contradict the main promise of the President with regard to his signature achievement, even libs at the Washington Post are going to have to report it. But the real shocker is that the MSM is beginning to put the blame where it belongs -- on Obama's extraordinarily poor management skills:
“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign, who was not the individual who provided the memo to The Washington Post but confirmed he was the author. “It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills.”
The White House’s leadership of the immense project — building new health insurance marketplaces for an estimated 24 million Americans without coverage — is one of several key reasons that the president’s signature domestic policy achievement has become a self-inflicted injury for the administration....
I hate to say we told you so, but we told you so. America chose a neophyte who had never done anything in his life that required substantive achievements -- a community organizer, a "lecturer" at a law school, a "present"-voting state senator, a hit-the-ground-campaigning U.S. Senator, a presidential candidate, Obama had basically never done anything with a bottom line, never done anything where results mattered more than perceptions, never done anything that wasn't essentially defined by talking. Republicans said he was unprepared and we were right; we offered an exceedingly competent man of substantive achievements in 2012 to try to undo the damage, Mitt Romney, and America chose Dr. Feelgood instead.
The second story is more chilling. It comes from the new book, Double Down, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, about the 2012 campaign:
A new book covering the 2012 presidential campaign uncovers a series of scathing remarks from political figures, but one alleged comment has stirred controversy around President Barack Obama and his administration’s use of targeted drone strikes.
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s book “Double Down: Game Change 2012” notes President Obama commenting on drone strikes, reportedly telling his aides that he’s “really good at killing people.”
This echoes something that was reported a couple of years ago at the Ulsterman Report, where an unnamed "White House Insider" commented on Obama's interest in the drone strike program:
UM: I need to your to expand on the Drone thing – Obama’s love of using the drones. You say you “got the goods” – your words. What do you mean?
WHI: It’s what has been brewin’ for well over a year now…it’s causing all kinds of hell between the administration…the military…infighting and concern among the staff…even Jarrett don’t have a handle on all of it. Even she is not entirely comfortable with how the president has sunk his teeth into the drones…the kill list. She’s not bothered by their use specifically…she’s more…I would guess she’s more worried over the political implications of Obama’s obsession…that eventually enough people will stand together and say ENOUGH. She can’t afford to have that happen too soon…the re-election makes them all vulnerable…the plans…the obligations to others…America can still stop them in 2012 and she understands that. So having Obama so oddly focused…not just focused…he gets excited…visually…the guy gets off on it and he ain’t even hiding that fact anymore. And some are repulsed by it. They’ve done video reviews you know…of the missions. The drones. The kills.
UM: The president you mean? He watches videos of the drone attacks?
WHI: Yeah – like it was…like it was porn. I can’t emphasize…I don’t think I’m painting a clear enough picture here for you of how this thing has people really freaking out inside the administration. It’s good on one hand because it’s got more of them willing to talk…but…the fact it’s gotten this bad…these drones…an American president who has the video sent up to his personal study so he can watch them over and over again…like I said – sh-t ain’t right. And more and more people are figuring that out – and that is what has Jarrett concerned. But even she…Obama won’t listen to her on this one. Those drones are the one thing he really feels he has control over…all the rest…he’s been told what to say and where to go…when to wake…when to sleep…but the drones. The drones are all his – and he ain’t given those up. For nobody.
Scary stuff, if true... and I hasten to add that "if true," since this is really just Internet rumor.
What connects Obama's apparent inattention to the details of Obamacare and his apparent obsession with drone strikes? Why is this really one story?
They are connected, I believe, this way... Obama is a malignant narcissist. Obamacare, if you credit its stated intentions, is about "caring" about the uninsured. But Obama can't be bothered about actually helping people, actually caring about people. Those details are beneath him. But he can be bothered about having the power to kill people remotely with drones, like a God sending a lightning bolt to earth by pointing his finger.
So what's the headline of the one story that draws Obamacare and the drone program together? Check below the fold for the answer.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
But it probably gets beat by this picture from a Tennessee event yesterday:
Ouch. That really leaves a mark.
Friday, November 1, 2013
Hmmmm... tall, skinny, smart, brunette... how could I have known back then?
For 31 days now, the Obama administration has been telling us that Americans by the millions are visiting the new health insurance website, despite all its problems.
But no one in the administration has been willing to tell us how many policies have been purchased, and this may be the reason: CBS News has learned enrollments got off to an incredibly slow start.
Early enrollment figures are contained in notes from twice-a-day "war room" meetings convened within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after the website failed on Oct. 1. They were turned over in response to a document request from the House Oversight Committee.
The website launched on a Tuesday. Publicly, the government said there were 4.7 million unique visits in the first 24 hours. But at a meeting Wednesday morning, the war room notes say "six enrollments have occurred so far."
I don't even have an analogy for this. I mean... let's say someone sold you a new car after telling you what great engineering it has, and you started it up and started to drive off the lot and got... six feet. Or your lawyer told you you had a million dollar case and then you ended up being forced to settle for... six dollars. Or the house and garden store sold you a new tree and it ended up with... six leaves. Or the restaurant offered you a gourmet meal at high prices and brought you a plate with... six peas.
HH: Here’s the biggest lie of all. Here’s number five, Sebelius yesterday, cut number five.
KS: They indicated to me that we would always have risk, because this system is brand new, and no one has operated a system like this before to any degree. So we always knew that there would be the possibility that some things would go wrong. No one indicated that this could possibly go this wrong.
HH: That is such a lie, Mark Steyn. You’ve been saying it for a decade. I’ve been saying it for as long as you’ve been saying it.
MS: Yeah, I mean, basically what happened is the United States government took over another G-7 economy. It basically took over the entire French economy. It swallowed it whole. So it’s the equivalent of making a website to navigate the entire French economy.
MS: That’s the scale of what they did. No one has ever attempted, you can do it if you’re the Bolsheviks in 1917 and you’re taking over a semi-feudal ramshackle country like tsarist Russia.
HH: And you’re willing to shoot the people who won’t go along.
Hayek identified the fatal conceit of socialism back in the 1930s -- that central government planning of economies could not work, because the central planners could never know enough information to plan, because the market is constantly creating new information about what people want, what people don't want, what processes work, what processes don't work. The market captures that information in the billions and billions of prices that are constantly changing -- prices for commodities, for labor, for raw materials, for finished goods, for transportation services, for... well, you name it. Go back and re-read the famous Leonard Read essay "I, Pencil." Or re-read the first chapter of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations. Or re-read Hayek's great essay on the Use of Knowledge in Society. This is not news to anybody who cared to think.
Arrogance about the ability of central planners might have been tolerable as a natural human error (although not tolerable in practice) in 1917. But the failures of socialism by 2009 were so established as historical fact that there really wasn't an excuse for Obamacare. Other than as a raw power-grab, that is. We haven't started shooting people who won't go along yet. But we're on the road to serfdom, that's for sure.