I knew she was smart, but I had no idea my friend Sally Zeliskovsky could sing so well. Put those two things together (great lyrics and a beautiful voice) and you’ve got yourself a new political Christmas classic:
Rahm Emanuel famous said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.“ As of today, Avik Roy explains that the Obama administration is facing a serious crisis when it comes to Obamacare:
It’s hard to come up with new ways to describe the Obama administration’s improvisational approach to the Affordable Care Act’s troubled health insurance exchanges. But last night, the White House made its most consequential announcement yet. The administration will grant a “hardship exemption” from the law’s individual mandate, requiring the purchase of health insurance, to anyone who has had their prior coverage canceled and who “believes” that Obamacare’s offerings “are unaffordable.” These exemptions will substantially alter the architecture of the law’s insurance marketplaces. Insurers are at their wits’ end, trying to make sense of what to do next.
That’s just the intro. In paragraph after paragraph, Roy details the disaster facing the administration as it makes up rules on the fly. Like the hydra, every time the administration thinks its lopped off a problem, two or three more pop up in its place.
Presumably, when the dust settles and the private insurance market is destroyed, the Democrats will say, “See, we told you that the private market couldn’t be fixed. It’s time to socialize our healthcare system.” That will be their version of not letting a crisis go to waste. It’s scary to think that Americans have been so brainwashed that it’s entirely possible that, rather than recoiling in horror and saying, “We will never let you brainless, tyrannical incompetents touch our healthcare again,” Americans will instead say, “D’Oh! You’re right. You’d better take over the whole thing.”
All of which is to say that Republicans and other conservatives ought to figure out ways to capitalize on this crisis too. My instinct is that it’s best if Republicans in Congress don’t act. After all, when your opponent is busy digging a deeper and deeper hole, you don’t throw them a rope ladder. To the extent that Obamacare can never be made workable, Republicans would do well to keep their fingerprints off this disaster. But that doesn’t mean they should keep silent.
So, what should Republicans say that will best enable them to capitalize on the Obamacare debacle, not just in the area of healthcare, but regarding Big Government itself?
And if that question is too easy for you, here’s a harder one: Even though the media is disappointed with Obamacare, that doesn’t mean that its members won’t protect Obama and the Democrats to their dying breath. They are the living embodiment of that hackneyed saying “Nobody gets to pick on my little brother except for me.” How, then, should Republicans who are saying the right things make sure that the public hears what they have to say?
Roger Simon is a little wrong when he talks about A&E’s decision to fire Phil Robertson violating the First Amendment. Only government can violate the First Amendment. Having said that, Simon is right about everything else, insofar as it boils down to this: What we are seeing is the ascendency of the thought police who, through coercion, lies, threats, and economic pressure are stifling speech, thought, and religion in America. Just because it’s not the government doing it doesn’t mean it’s not a bad, a very bad, thing, and that’s true whether or not you agree with Robertson’s statements.
Funnily enough, the media wasn’t bent out of shape at all back in the day when Al Sharpton called someone “a faggot” on air. It’s not just the stifling political correctness, it’s the hypocrisy.
Incidentally, just as an aside here, Robertson was mostly quoting from the Bible. Are the PC brigade, aided and abetted by the American media, now saying that all Biblical references are homophobic and must be banned.
A surprising source supports Robertson: Harvey Levin, a gay, Jewish editor at TMZ who, to his great credit, fully understands what’s going on and is honest enough to admit it. I doubt Levin and I are on the same page about many things, but today I admire him.
Claudia Rosett talks about the incredible dislocation that comes with being thrown off her insurance, including the problem of finding a new doctor. What I haven’t seen anyone talk about is the disastrous burden being placed on doctors as they lose their old patients and, in one fell swoop, have to deal with dozens to hundreds of new patients. The office work on new patients is overwhelming: collecting medical history, doing the first (always long) exam, creating brand new files, dealing with new insurance claims, etc. This is going to bury doctors and it’s going to lead to wait times that make Cuba and Britain look good.
Two on Obamacare: Obama is no longer even hiding the fact that his illegal ukases are intended to help Democrats hide before the next election. There is some humor to be derived from his desperate flailing. His latest illegal directive is that the people who got kicked off of insurance they like are now allowed to purchase “catastrophic insurance,” which gives them less coverage for more money. That’s bad enough, but there’s a funny part to it: Obama claims he has the right to issue this rule because the law gives him power to issue emergency rules for man-caused disasters — and in this case, the man-caused disaster is Obamacare itself!
I linked obliquely to this video yesterday, but as the Phil Robertson matter heats up, I want to include the following Obamacare video here, with its focus on getting gay men to sign up. Please be warned that the video is vaguely NSFW. There’s no bad language, nudity, or sex, but it’s full of partial nudity and gay sexual allusions that may make you and your colleagues uncomfortable.
As Dan Calabrese notes, although the government probably didn’t fund the video, it’s almost certain that taxpayer dollars funded the video indirectly. The bigger point, however, is this one:
Now before you start disputing the comparison between this and the Phil Robertson situation, let’s get it straight. Yes, this is a video on YouTube and Phil Robertson could do one of those too. I’m talking about the broader stance of the prevailing culture. Robertson cites and embraces scriptural teaching on homosexuality, and he is suspended because A&E is “disappointed” in him for what he said. These guys prance around in a clear and unmistakable celebration of a) gay sex; and b) ObamaCare; and that’s perfectly fine because hey, what are you, some sorta bigot or something?
Please note that neither Calabrese nor I are saying this video shouldn’t have been made. What he says, and I agree with this, is that in a truly free society, both videos get made, rather than having the one supporting traditional values get axed.
Two more things:
(1) Couldn’t they have gotten a better singer? Her voice is dreadful.
(2) Is it a coincidence in this carefully staged set piece that one of the prancers and dancers is wearing dog tags?
(I didn’t come up with my clever post title. The friend who emailed me the link did, and it was such a delicious line that I had to borrow it.)
Stella Paul notes something I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere when it comes to Obamacare: the devastating effect it will have on people who travel or divide their time between two locations. The new policies are narrowly locked into local care providers. But people aren’t always in the same locality. Both of my children have been hospitalized while we’ve been traveling. If our insurance company hadn’t paid, we would have been out tens of thousands of dollars. Knowing that sickness can happen and that our insurance might reject our claims makes travel much less enticing.
The Left needs censorship because it’s ideas do not work in the real world. Only censorship can hide that fact long enough for the Lefts to have such a tight grip on the levers of power that, once the truth emerges, hapless citizens can do nothing to change the situation. The latest example of this is Covered Oregon’s insistence that those who know about its healthcare debacle must forfeit their free speech rights.
Speaking of censorship, one would think that Britain would be doing everything in its power not to become the living incarnation of Orwell’s 1984. Instead, though, it is hastening down that path, by refusing admittance to those who make factual statements about who Islamists really are and what they do.
Some people — most notably greedy insurers — have been voluntarily silencing themselves (self-imposed censorship, if you will), because they believed that the Democrats would reward them. Now that Obama is actively trying to destroy them, Jonah Goldberg wonders if these corporate worms will turn.
Speaking of worms turning, is it my imagination or are some courts getting a little more courageous about taking on Obama’s overreach. Gabriel Malor has what I think of as a great example of this judicial trend. No wonder Reid went nuclear in order to pack the courts.
By now, of course, you’ve heard about the young metrosexual nattily attired in a plaid onsie pajama and clutching a cup of hot chocolate, whose image went out in a Tweet from Barack Obama urging people to “talk about getting health insurance.” I call him “Princess Pajama Boy”:
Other people, much more witty than I will ever be, have been having way too much fun with this one. You can see collections of retweets and Photoshops here, here, and here. There’s a bit of overlap between the three sites, but still a lot of original stuff on each. Here’s my effort:
@BarackObama Looking at the kid in the photo, y’all are talking about “getting MENTAL health insurance,” right? That kid needs help.
— Bookwormroom (@Bookwormroom) December 18, 2013
And finally, the ad that everyone is saying is a political game changer:
UPDATE: I’m still laughing over the Pajama Game posters that Steven Hayward found.
UPDATE II: And still more posters, this time from National Review.
I seldom quote Peggy Noonan here because I think she’s usually a day late and a dollar short when it comes to discussing the current administration. It seems that, just as Baa-baa Waw-waw did, she drank deep of the Obama Kool-Aid. Noonan is an inside the Beltway gal and, just as David Brooks did, swooned about Obama’s Harvard degree and well-pressed pants. She had enough conservative in her to criticize him and his administration a bit, but she was also enough of a disciple to dance around her own criticism whenever she could. And now, just as happened to Baa-Baa Waw-Waw, Noonan is snapping out of the enchantment that gripped her for five long years. Freed from the Kool-Aid induced hallucinations, Noonan is finally making sense.
Today’s blog post from Noonan has some nice turns of phrase about the Obama administration’s incompetence — an incompetence for which we must all be grateful, because it revealed Obamacare’s failures in such a delightfully spectacular way:
It all looks so lax, so loosey-goosey. In the place of the energy and focus that would go into the running of things, the administering and managing of them, we have the preoccupation with spin, with how things look as opposed to how they are. The odd thing still is that the White House never misses a speech, a list of talking points, an opportunity to shape the argument on TV. They do the talking part, but the doing? They had 3½ years to make sure ObamaCare will work, three years to get it right top to bottom, to rejigger parts of the law that they finally judged wouldn’t work, to make the buying of a policy easy on the website. And they not only couldn’t do that, which itself constitutes an astounding and historic management failure, they make it clear they were taken aback by their failure. They didn’t know it was coming! Or some knew and for some reason couldn’t do anything.
And it’s all going to continue. One reason this scandal isn’t Katrina is that Katrina had a beginning and an end. The storm came, the storm left, the cleanup commenced and failed and then continued and succeeded. At some point it was over. ObamaCare will never be over. It’s going to poison the rest of the administration. It’s the story that won’t go away because it will continue to produce disorder. Wait, for instance, until small businesses realize it will be cheaper to throw their people off their coverage and take the fines than it will be to reinsure them under the new regime.
“They mistook the White House for the government,” said an experienced old friend, a journalist and Democratic sympathizer. We were having holiday dinner and the talk turned to White House management. His thesis was that Obama and his staffers thought they could run the government from there, from the White House campus, and make big decisions that would be executed. They thought the White House was the government, but the government is a vast web of executive agencies that have to be run under close scrutiny, and within their campuses, to produce even minimally competent work.
I have come to see this as “West Wing” Disease. Young staffers grew up watching that show and getting a very romantic and specific sense of how government works. “The West Wing” was White House-centric. It never took place at the Agriculture Department. But government takes place at the Agriculture Department.
(Read the rest here.)
Sadly, the only area in which the administration is showing a great deal of competence is when it comes to Israel: in just five years, Obama has managed to back that nation into a corner from which there seems to be no escape, something I’ll discuss in a later post today.
My husband was working on a Word document that needed to have paragraphs and subparagraphs numbered. As I’m sure you know, if you start inserting paragraph numbers without creating distinct styles, Word takes on a life of its own, and starts generating multiple styles. Eventually, every paragraph in my husband’s document was numbered either 4 or 5, and each numbering had a different format. Since I enjoy word processing, my husband asked me if I could fix it. He confidently expected it would be a three or four minute job. Thirty-minutes later, I was still working on it. It turned out that the document was so horribly coded I couldn’t fix it. Instead, I had to strip it to basic text and then re-code. The point of this is that some things cannot be fixed. They are so profoundly ill-conceived or damaged that they have to be scrapped and started from scratch. So it is with Obamacare: It is so dreadful, corrupt, and dysfunctional at every level that it cannot be fixed.
I was raised by a narcissist and can tell you, both from my experience and from having read up on the subject, that narcissists lack a sense of privacy. Or, more accurately, they lack a sense of your privacy. Their sense of their own privacy is highly developed. But if your parent is a narcissist, you are not allowed any physical or mental realms into which they are barred from intruding. They own you. To the extent that Leftist ideology has a great deal in common with malignant narcissism, it’s scarcely surprising that Leftists don’t have a problem with turning you inside out and making you their own. You are not a stand-alone individual; you are a subset of the narcissist’s own grandiose sense of self.
Dennis Prager says most of what needs to be said about the appalling judicial decision in Colorado that threatens to send a man to prison for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.
Do you remember Lee Iacocca? Dan Akerson, GM’s CEO does not. Pity.
Let’s be clear. The historical St. Nicholas, on whom Santa Claus is based, was as a Greek from the region that is now Turkey. He was Caucasian, although he probably had a swarthy complexion. That’s fact. Santa Claus is a 19th century American construct. He’s pretend, so people can pretend him to be whatever the heck color they desire. My imaginary Santa Claus is a pleasant turquoise, just because I like it that way. This whole debate is as ridiculous as the notion that Jesus is a fair-haired, blue-eyed Northern European.
Spengler talks about what “land for peace” really means in the Middle East (or anywhere, for that matter).
I’ve been trolling through my old posts with the idea of putting out another Kindle book, and I’m impressed by the number of my past posts that either predicted today’s political problems or explain them. As always, I’m not boasting about my exceptional perspicacity. All of us knew what was going on. It’s simply that I happen to have written these things down.
My latest foray in the past yielded a post from a year-and-a-half ago about the way a Democrat-run federal government ensures that no one ever takes responsibility for anything. My starting point was the fact that, after dining at a breakfast spot with two service men, Obama left without paying the bill. I didn’t fault him for that. Rather, I faulted his minions, none of whom stepped up and took responsibility for that commonplace inevitability. It was in that context that I wrote:
The Democrat desire to avoid personal responsibility goes all the way up the ladder to the top man, the guy in the White House. Obama avoids personal responsibility like the plague and is beginning to get mocked for that, even by his own party. But why are his compadres surprised? The entire Democrat ethos is based upon eating the food and having someone else pay the bill — and then expressing surprise when the bill goes unpaid.
To skip to another scenario (this is the scenario equivalent of mixed metaphors), think back to the last CPR class you took. I always forget the number of pumps and breaths (and understand that they’ve now simplified it down to a Bee Gees song). What I do remember, though, is that the one thing you should never do is holler out a generic “Call 911!” This makes everyone responsible for making that call and experience has shown that if everyone is responsible then no one is responsible. Instead, you have to tag someone. “YOU, the guy in the black shirt, call 911.”
The same principle of failing to invest specific people with responsibility — and thereby creating a responsibility vacuum — holds true when the government sucks responsibility away from people and distributes it into its vast machinery. Suddenly, individuals aren’t responsible — and you can’t find the clerk with the cash when you need him.
My sister once worked with a secretary who felt put upon. No matter what one asked her to do, she came back with a single answer: “That’s not my job, man.” Since she was working for a private company, she was fired as soon as the company felt that it had protected itself against a potential wrongful discharge lawsuit. In the federal world, this same gal would not only have lifetime employment, she’d be teaching taxpayer-funded seminars on avoiding direct responsibility for anything.
I wrote those words long before the Obamacare fiasco revealed itself in its full glory to the American people — and long before we learned that part of the problem was that no one was in charge. Obama didn’t talk to Sebelius, Sebelius didn’t talk to her people, and the people tasked with the work were pushed aside when they tried to talk to anyone. For each of them, when it came to taking responsibility, the controlling ethos was “That’s not my job, man!”
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
I’m off to lunch with two conservative friends (one I knew for years without either of us realizing the other was conservative), so I’m just going to throw these links at you. Take a deep breath, ’cause here goes:
The 1950s study saying most Americans are mindless, Nazi-esque sadists was a fraud.
The IRS is issuing rules that retroactively and proactively enable it to shut down Tea Party organizations — and only Tea Party organizations.
Charles Krauthammer reams Obama’s incompetence and absence from governing, even as David Brooks insists that this is why now is a perfect time to increase executive power. Brooks even has a two-liner that will become a classic of sycophantic stupidity: “This is a good moment to advocate greater executive branch power because we’ve just seen a monumental example of executive branch incompetence: the botched Obamacare rollout. It’s important to advocate greater executive branch power in a chastened mood.”
I think Brooks is delusional to think that the lying-ist administration ever will suddenly become honest and effective.
England, the land that gave us the entire notion of freedom and self-sufficiency, sinks ever deeper into the abyss of political correctness and bureaucratic tyranny.
A weak leader makes our country look like the equivalent of a wounded wildebeest. No wonder the jackals are running up and taking painful nips at our downed carcase, curious as to whether we’ve still got some fight in us. The answer, sadly, is no. No wonder the jackals in Libya are geared up for a second bite. After all the administration’s response to their first attack was to pretend that it really hadn’t happened.
And then there’s this, which I thought was a hoax, kind of like Ted Cruz’s pwning an Obama tweet, only to learn that it’s real:
May your days be merry and bright, and may your Christmas include a conversation about health insurance. http://t.co/OYo43dqYt2
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 13, 2013
Palestinians only destroy. Israelis not only create, they resurrect. It’s amazing to see sophisticated plumbing emerge from the earth after 12 centuries.
Even the New York Times is being forced to tell the truth about those new Obamacare policies — they’re really expensive. In isolation, high deductibles might not be a problem because, absent a chronic illness, they’re not a sure thing, they’re a maybe, and people will gamble on maybes. The problem is high deductibles paired with high premiums, all for a smaller pool of doctors and hospitals. Of course, you do get birth control for that money, but I’m not sure that the average family, facing thousands more in premiums and deductibles is going to appreciate that, thanks to Obamacare, they’ll no longer be out a couple of hundred annually in birth control payments.
Barry Rubin, who knows as much about Islam as any man living, looks at the West’s failure to understand that Islam is made up of two houses: one of peace (for those who have bowed down to its tyranny) and one of war (for those who have not). This world view has no room for compromise. Those who do not fight have already lost.
Time Online, of all publications, unearthed the fact that, back in the 1990s, ACORN sued California to be exempted from minimum wage laws. Its reason: “[P]aying its workers more would require the group to reduce headcount and would make its workers less sympathetic to the poor.” Yeah, it’s funny how that works: if you force employers to pay more, they hire fewer people, and these hard workers, surprisingly, seem to become less sympathetic to those who are sitting around, often for generations, collecting the dole. I told one of my Little Bookworms yesterday that the laws of economics are as unfailing as the laws of physics. When you first jump off a cliff, you may think you’re flying, but you’re really falling. And when your government distorts the marketplace, the short team benefits invariably give way to real world wealth loss. (Hat tip: Tom Elia.)
In most people’s minds, Quakers and pacifism are inextricably intertwined. That’s not the case anymore, as Quakers have become one of the staunchest supports of Palestinians. These Palestinians:
I said in an earlier post, and I’ll say again here: The Left makes inroads into institutions, while conservatives abandon them. Theirs is the better tactic. Or, as I’ve also said before, Leftists have horrible ideals and great tactics; conservatives have great ideals and horrible tactics.
Caped Crusader sent me this funny video:
The principal at the kids’ public high school routinely sends out emails notifying parents about upcoming events, exposures to diseases such as whooping cough, sports victories, etc. Today’s email, in addition to scheduling and sports information, contained this snippet:
Lastly, Kaiser Permanente has asked our help in spreading the word about a free workshop open to the community about the Affordable Health Care Act and options available for health care coverage. The workshops will be held this Saturday, December 7, in San Rafael and Petaluma. See the attachment for more information.
Here’s the flyer:
Appropriate or inappropriate?
Oh, wait! Actually reading the articles explains the inconsistencies. It turns out that the young are willing to sign up if someone else is paying for their insurance, at least according to the first article to which I linked:
The poll finding “runs counters to what a lot of people were expecting,” said Gerald Kominski, a UCLA health care economics professor who believes that what’s persuading young people to plan on signing up is the significant subsidies many will get from Uncle Sam. If those young people follow through on their intentions, he said, it would result in keeping the cost of the new exchange health plans low.
That Gerald Kominski is a healthcare economics professor proves that you don’t need brains for the job. Unless he was misquoted, he said two mutually exclusive things: (1) that young people sign up to get subsidies and (2) that these sign-ups are necessary to fund Obamacare. Excuse me, professor, but Obamacare funding is set up so that young people do not get subsidies. They’re the low insurance users who are being charged a premium for care they usually don’t need so as to fund all the old, sick people.
What this tells me is that young people are saying “yes” to Obamacare when they think their insurance will come to them courtesy of other people’s money. Then, when they learn that they are the “other people” funding Obamacare, they back off from enrolling, having decided that they don’t really need it.
Before I begin, how do you like this lovely Currier and Ives image of nature’s bounty? My webmaster, Trip, suggested that as part of my site upgrade, I try to have a few images that are strongly associated with posts that might not otherwise be image-rich. When I think of my “flotsam and jetsam” or “clearing off the spindle” posts, I always think of a bountiful bouquet. So, here I am, “branding” my posts. And here I go, sharing the blogosphere’s bounty:
According to MSNBC, Consumer Reports, which had first warned its readers away from the Obamacare Exchange, is now raving about it:
“Now we’re saying, ‘it’s time,’” [Nancy] Metcalf [Consumer Reports health care expert] said, in particular praising the new window-shopping function, in which users can peruse health plans without registering with the site. The requirement to make an account before viewing options was considered one of the main causes for the site’s initial traffic bottleneck. “It’s terrific, I’ve tried it, it was working yesterday through the busiest times,” Metcalf said.
Dig down in the report, though, and you discover that the only thing Metcalf is actually raving about is the fact that the revised website gives consumers a chance to see products early in the process, rather than waiting until after having given over all their information. Otherwise, Metcalf notes that problems persist, problems such as actually buying insurance:
Metcalf warned that consumers had no control over the back-end problems, which are giving inaccurate information to insurance providers, and said that if you enroll through Healthcare.gov and don’t hear from your new provider within a week, your best bet is to contact the insurer directly.
In other words, Consumer Reports, which was an early Obamacare supporter, is trying to put lipstick on a pig, while ignoring the effluvia flowing out of the pig’s back end.
Should you want a better sense of what’s going on with Obamacare, I always recommend Jonah Goldberg, who can make you smile, even when what he’s reporting is actually the stuff of tears.
Still, one can’t ignore the fact that more people have been using Obamacare since November 30. It remains to be seen whether any of the 29,000 last reported are satisfied customers or are even customers at all. It’s also unknown whether they are customers who fund subsidies or customers who use subsidies. To many of the latter and too few of the former and yet another Obamacare flaw will reveal itself to the public at large. Right now, it seems as if the youngsters who are required to buy insurance to prop up Obamacare are staying away in droves. In any event, as it is, no one currently has any ideas what the subsidies will be, so the insurers are guessing and the government is essentially writing them a blank check.
What we do know is that a lot of people are waiting in long, long cyberlines. Charles C. W. Cooke has a great post about socialism’s love affair with lines. I’ve told jokes on the subject (with pictures!), and Cooke includes an absolutely splendid 1979 Tory ad out of England — an ad that might have something to do with Margaret Thatcher’s success:
Okay, that’s the Obamacare portion of this bouquet post. Now on to other stuff:
Surprisingly, despite the Islamist sweep that followed the Arab Spring, if one ignores Iran and the bomb, Israel expects 2014 to be a safer year for it than 2013 was. Basically, it’s benefiting from the fact that Arabs and Muslims in surrounding nations are so busy fighting amongst themselves, they don’t have the energy to attack Israel. In addition, citizens in those countries are noticing that their own governments, rather than Israel, might be the problem.
Karl Marx loathed Jews. Why therefore should we be surprised that Marx’s political descendents despite them too? In New York, which has now moved as far Left on the American spectrum as it’s possible to do without going full Soviet, the Jew-haters are stealthily crawling out from under cover. I recently spoke with a delightful, ultra-liberal New York Jewish transplant who couldn’t believe that de Blasio could herald an antisemitic tinge to New York politics. Perhaps a few years will leave him a sadder but wiser, and less liberal, Jew.
The House has the power of the purse. Why doesn’t it use it? Angelo Codevilla points out that, now that the Senate has taken the nuclear option regarding the filibuster, the House can take the nuclear option regarding budgets, at least insofar as controlling judicial nominations goes. I’m of two minds about this. The House has power of the purse for a reason, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t use it in the face of a starkly ideological Senate. Having said that, just as people have pointed out that the Democrats may regret ending the filibuster if/when Republicans regain power, Republicans may be worried about letting the “no funding” genie out of the bottle in the House because of the presumably inevitable day when Democrats will regain power.
Speaking of inevitability, weren’t we told that Obama’s election, and then his re-election, heralded a new era of unending Democrat majorities? Apparently no one told that to the youth vote, which has become disenchanted with a Democrat government that lies to them, spies on them, takes their money, and leaves them without a future. Remember, the higher on the pedestal you place yourself, the further and harder you’re going to fall.
And a sad story about one of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who’s finding it harder than anyone could have realized when it comes to making it in America.
There’s so much good stuff out there, I’m just going to spill it all here, a la Instapundit.
Jonathan Tobin doubts that Obama’s upcoming three-week long “Sham-Wow” commercial for ObamaCare will miraculously turn around the public’s perception that the program is a failure and the president a liar.
The success of the president’s snake-oil show is especially doubtful given that the narcissists in the White House are now blaming the public for the website’s manifest failings.
Oh, and Obama junket will also have dubious success because news is leaking out that the Obamacare site is a hacker’s wet dream.
Right now, it looks as if Obama has finally been unable to fool all of the people all of the time, at least when it comes to Obamacare.
After Chief Justice Roberts resuscitated Obamacare, I find it hard to imagine the courts dismantling that monstrosity. Still, it’s possible.
For people who want to see the inevitable graveyard of Obama’s anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, redistributionist policies, they need look no further than Venezuela, where the country has gone from stable to basket-case in a decade.
If you want to renew your driver’s license in Oregon, you’d better come in prepared with every bit of proof known to man showing that you are who you say you are. Interestingly, though, you don’t need to show any ID to vote in Oregon. Just sayin’.
I was reading Glenn Reynold’s article explaining why we should abolish the TSA, and I was nodding so hard in agreement, I looked like one of those bobble-head dolls in someone’s car.
I could dig up the zillions of posts I’ve done about the way in which the welfare state destroyed the black community because it was rational for blacks to put forth less effort. I won’t though. Thomas Sowell makes the same point, only he does so brilliantly in his article about test scores.
When you’re George Bush and increase AIDS aid to Africa, you’re reviled; when you’re Hillary Clinton and you decrease AIDS aid to Africa, you get a reward from the AIDS Foundation. It’s not what you do, it’s whether there’s an “R” or a “D” after your name.
Regarding Iran, here’s the good news: Obama’s an idiot, but the Iranians aren’t necessarily that smart (although, so far, their madman chess is a lot more successful than Obama’s amateur basketball).
On Passover, Jews the world ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?” When it comes to Islam, if you still find yourself “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”, you’re not asking that because you’re engaging in a timeless religious ritual. Instead, if you still have to ask that question you, like our President, are an idiot. Islam is indeed different from all other religions and that difference lies in the fact that it’s utterly barbaric as written and as practiced.
No, Obama is not Hitler. (He’s more Neville Chamberlain, with a large dollop of the Hugo Chavez school of economics.) Nevertheless, the Dems couldn’t have been more tin-eared when they came up with “White House Youth” or WHYouth (to which I either want to answer, Why not? or I want to do an endless bullet-point list explaining why you’re not getting good public policy if you look to young people as your guide).
I’m sure there’s someone in the British government who could be dragged to a microphone to say, “Hey, some of my best friends are Jews.” Nah! Not really. Because there’s no one left in Britain who could say that with a straight face, why Britain was able to ban Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from entering England in part on the ground that they were pro-Israel.
Is it the Onion or is it just an ordinary Progressive news report about businesses in America?
And finally, if you’re a veteran and you can’t get a gun, Dom Raso has some helpful practical advice.
The news story is pretty grim, detailing the fact that the Obamacare insurance exchanges are so difficult to build, even when a private contractor is handling the work, that disaster is the only outcome:
Oregon has spent more than $40 million to build its own online health care exchange. It gave that money to a Silicon Valley titan, Oracle, but the result has been a disaster of missed deadlines, a nonworking website and a state forced to process thousands of insurance applications on paper.
Some Oregon officials were sounding alarms about the tech company’s work on the state’s online health care exchange as early as last spring. Oracle was behind schedule and, worse, didn’t seem able to offer an estimate of what it would take to get the state’s online exchange up and running.
“It is the most maddening and frustrating position to be in, absolutely,” says Liz Baxter, chairwoman of the board for , the state’s online exchange. “We have spent a lot of money to get something done — to get it done well — to serve the people in our state, and it is maddening that we can’t seem to get over this last hump.”
Before you go here to read the rest, try to guess at which publication you’ll find this story.
Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of reasons that even Oracle had problems:
(1) Despite the fact that Oracle is a private sector company, the party on the other side of the deal is government. That stultifies everything. Government projects tend to suck the life out of things, because they have no dynamic energy. They’re so hedged about by rules and regulations that there is no room for initiative, creativity, energy, or the type of greed that drives progress.
(2) Obamacare is such a monstrous law, and the moving parts are so many and varied, that there is actually no way to create a working system. The interface is just the pretty stuff, and that’s been frustrating enough. The real problem is meshing individual information (much of it deeply personal and private), corporate insurance information, state information, federal information, Medicare information, etc. After all, at the back-end, each of these entities have their own computer systems with which the Obamacare system must mesh.
Even Rube Goldberg’s designs, foolishly complicated though they were, ultimately did the job. With Obamacare, though, it’s reasonable to suspect that, short of jettisoning every system (state, federal, insurance, medical, Obamacare exchanges) and starting anew with all of them going into the same hopper, there is no way that any computer system can actually do the job.
Oh, and I can’t resist adding here that, to the extent that news story is saying something critical of Obamacare, there’s only one word for it: RAAACIST!!!!
Obamacare made simple:
Hat tip: Caped Crusader
I went to bed depressed and waking up to these Drudge Report headlines reminded me why:
The whole Iran-Munich moment has left me believing that Obama is much smarter than we realized. Even as he was lying to Israel about (a) having her back and (b) not negotiating with Iran, he created a box from which it’s almost impossible for Israel to escape. There are only bad choices says Yossi Klein Halevi:
Israel’s window of opportunity to launch an effective strike is closing. It is now measured in months, not years. The deal, worry Israelis, could further narrow that window.
Israelis note that the deal doesn’t cover inspections of Iran’s nuclear weaponization program, including fuses, timers and metallurgy, which will no doubt continue apace. And Israel takes for granted that the Iranians will persist in doing what they’ve done all along: lie and cheat, but this time under the cover of a deal. In every previous rounds of negotiations, after all, the Iranians continued building secret facilities. All of which could mean further reducing Israel’s timetable for a strike.
If Israel concludes that its window is closing and does decide to strike, even while the deal remains in effect, it risks becoming an international pariah—in effect exchanging roles with Iran. On the morning after an Israeli strike, Israel could find itself alone, facing tens of thousands of missiles from Hezbollah and Iran launched against its home front.
During the first Obama administration, the urgent Israeli question was: Is he is a friend of the Jewish state? That question was largely resolved for many Israelis during the President’s visit to Israel last March, when he won over much of the public by affirming the Jewish roots in the land of Israel and the indigenousness of Israel in the Middle East, as well as Israel’s past efforts to make peace.
Now, though, Israelis are asking this: After eight years of President Obama, will the Middle East be a safer or more dangerous region for Israel?
For most Israelis the answer is self-evident. The turning point came this summer, when Obama hesitated to enforce his own red line over Syria. That was the moment that he lost the trust of the Israeli public on Iran.
This is chess on a malevolent scale. It was also probably a planned move. Never forget that the Los Angeles Times has hidden in its vaults a videotape of Obama speaking at a radical pro-Palestinian gathering. The fact that the LA Times refuses to release the video has long led people to assume that Obama says something along the lines of “I’ll take care of Israel for you.”
We at this blog knew that Obama was never a friend to Israel, and was always doing whatever he could to curry favor with Islamist regimes. (Witness his love affair with the Muslim Brotherhood.) It turns out that this wasn’t just a feeling, but was a goal to which he committed himself, even though it required the use of fraud and chicanery. (And let’s not forget the quite obviously faked “long form” birth certificate, which almost certainly hides the fact that the father about whom Obama dreamed in Bill Ayer’s best-selling Obama autobiography probably wasn’t his real father.)
Indeed, Obama’s presidency is proving to have been built entirely on fraud. Not just lies, which are often merely self-exculpatory or self-aggrandizing, but on fraud, which is the deliberate use of lies and information withholding in order to get people to change their position to their detriment and to your benefit. He told Americans and Israelis lies, knowing that they were lies, for the specific purpose of getting both America and Israel to change their position to their detriment and to Obama’s benefit.
In the case of Obamacare, the (knowing and known) lies were that (a) you could keep your plan; (b) you could keep your doctor; and (c) average insurance costs would drop $2,500 per year for a family. He told these lies to strip Americans of their insurance and pave the way for socialized medicine.
In the case of Israel, he repeatedly told Israel that (a) he would never abandon her and (b) he would work to end Iran’s nuclear aspirations. These lies meant that Israel did not strike against Iran when the striking was relatively easy (as was the case in the strike against the Syrian nuclear facility). Now, as Halevi showed, even if Israel successfully strikes Iran, Hezbollah is on her border with thousands of missiles aimed at her. Moreover, having now struck this deal with Iran, Obama won’t have America’s back if she strikes; he’ll join the chorus of disapproval isolating Israel.
In the past, when Israel had her back against the wall, she came out swinging. Thanks to Obama’s fraud, her hands may well be tied.
Do you remember the headline horror of 9/11? I do. Since we were on the West Coast, we woke up in time to turn on the television and see the towers fall. I don’t need to find words to tell you what that felt like because you were there and you remember. You felt it too — that sense of watching a train race towards a giant canyon, where the bridge is out, and there is nothing you can do to stop the inevitable carnage. Every day, I wake up now, grab my iPad, and, driven by a fierce compulsion, open it, expecting that Obamaworld will show me headlines fully equal to the despair and horror of 9/11.
UPDATE: The wonderful image that Matt Drudge used this morning comes from Jon Gabriel.
I trace back to Dennis Prager one of my favorite expressions: “I prefer clarity to agreement.” Too often, agreement can be like Tacitus’s definition of a Roman peace (“they make a desert and call it peace”). In the years since Obama’s election, I’ve frequently argued that, with a weak American president, the world might get some necessary clarity. (For example, in January 2011, I said apropos Obama’s retreat from the world stage, “The clarity that emerges when the strong man is gone might be helpful.”)
Looking at the headlines, it occurs to me that Americans are getting a lot of clarity about what today’s Democrats really stand for, while the world is getting a lot of clarity about what a post-American world looks like. The following links all tie into this post’s theme about the clarity that Obama has wrought.
Obamacare reveals Obama for what he is: not a glorious tyrant, in the mold of Louis XIV or Henry VIII, but a petty bureaucratic Leftist. You and I knew that early on, of course, but the rest of America is catching on to this reality . . . so there’s clarity for you.
The young and the poor just got a dose of clarity today: Even the wealth transfer that is Obama’s core (but don’t call it redistribution) was done incompetently, with low-income, especially young low-income people finding that they’re in the increasingly expensive Obamacare market without a subsidy net.
I hope John Fund is correct when he says it can still be repealed — but that will happen only if the American people have learned their lesson and vote Republican in 2014, and if the Republicans don’t prove that they’re as complicit in Big Government as we currently suspect. (And in that regard, the end of the filibuster may also bring some welcome clarity for conservative voters.)
Peter Wehner comes right out and says it: Obamacare is finally causing people to see the President and the Democrats for at least some of what they are — failed technocrats. But again, the question remains whether we’ll get intelligent action in clarity’s wake.
Angelo Codevilla thinks the same is true with Obama’s appalling agreement to allow Iran to continue building its nuclear program; namely, that it forces clarity (or, as he phrases it “reality’) on the world: “But let us look on the bright side: There is value in leaving no doubt about reality.”
And finally, even the media is getting a little tired of being pushed around. This tiny rebellion won’t stop the media’s slavish devotion because, even if media members have had it with the man, they still support the cause. However, to the extent the media consuming public watches this little tiff, it might produce enough clarity in some that they start backing away from the cognitive dissonance that enslaves them.
Clarity . . . it’s a good thing.
*Thanks to Earl for pointing out that I’d forgotten those three very important words.
We all know that Obama and the Democrats committed fraud on a massive scale when the sold the public on Obamacare. I do not believe that, in the annals of history in any democratic country has a government ever committed fraud against its people in such a way.
Andrew McCarthy makes the case that the purpose behind this fraud was to pave the way for socialized medicine. The goal he says, was to knock everyone off their insurance, to destroy the insurance companies by bankrupting them, and then to have the government ride to the rescue. I have no doubt that this is correct. Indeed, I have never had any doubt, since conservatives, including those gathered at this blog, having been making precisely that argument since 2009.
What I’m wondering now, though, is whether the Democrats bollixed up their obvious goal through their own corruption and incompetence. In a couple of years, when everything collapses, will people see the government as the white knight charging to the rescue or, after having watched Obamacare in action, will they do everything possible to avoid having the government take over health care? If this plays out right, moving into 2016, won’t there be a rush to Republicans?
As always, the only question is whether the Republicans will offer a real market-based plan, or if they’ll just offer their own dreadful version of government-run medicine.
Incidentally, when it comes to government’s built-in incompetence creating large-scale technological projects, I cannot recommend this post highly enough.
Superficially, it’s just another very funny “Hitler finds out . . .” video. At a deeper level, though, it’s a stunningly accurate and precise indictment of every bad thing we’ve found out (so far) about Obamacare’s myriad failings, both the intentional and the unintentional ones:
Hat tip: Power Line
Have you subscribed to Jonah Goldberg’s newsletter yet? If you haven’t, you must. I’m not sure how to get on the list, but I think signing up for NRO newsletters might be the way to go. (You’ll find a newsletter sign-up box on the right side of The Corner page.)
And why must you get Goldberg’s newsletter? Because it’s that good. I wish I could quote every single sentence from today’s newsletter, entitled “Unknown unknowns,” but I feel that would be cheating. Instead, I’ll cherry-pick the best bits, something that’s hard to do because everything in it feels like a “best bit.”
My quotations pick up after Goldberg notes that a spring 2013 puff piece about Obamacare claims that Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough spent two hours a day on Obamacare. In the political world, he says, that it is an enormous amount of time for a Chief of Staff to give to a single issue. And now, Mr. Goldberg, take it away:
But even if that was an exaggeration, and McDonough wasn’t spending two hours a day every day dealing with the nitty-gritty of Obamacare, it’s still hard to get my head around the idea that he was totally in the dark about the problems. And if he wasn’t in the dark one can only assume that the president wasn’t either. The central job of any chief of staff is to control the flow of information to the president. And yet president Obama says, “I was not informed directly that the website would not be working, as the way it was supposed to.”
I’ve been trying to think through what that means. Did McDonough stage an inscrutably Ibsenesque puppet show about the site’s troubles? Maybe they played a game of telephone in the Oval Office which began with McDonough whispering in Valerie Jarrett’s ear, “The website isn’t going to work by October 1,” but by the time the phrase worked its way around the horn, Jay Carney whispered with his school-girl giggle, “I will have cabbage in my trousers this Wednesday.” Sure, everyone laughed when Obama repeated, “I will have cabbage in my trousers this Wednesday,” so maybe McDonough just didn’t have it in him to ruin the good time by telling him what the original phrase was? Or maybe something else is going on?
I know my Schadenfreudarama piece was a bit on the Gonzo side (which is where I will sit at the wedding when Gonzo and Camilla finally tie the knot), but I was quite serious when I was talking about President Obama’s hubris. Hubris doesn’t just mean overweening pride or self-confidence. It’s when arrogant people believe the rules don’t apply to them. And I don’t mean that in the hypocritical sense. Hubris isn’t hypocrisy. Aristocrats who insist the peasants must never rip off their mattress tags but think it’s fine for the nobility to slumber deep in the comfort of a tag-free mattress may be hypocrites, but that’s not hubris. (And since that was an incredibly dumb sentence . . . ) Nor is it hubris when liberals insist the little people shouldn’t have guns, or cars, or use planes, or eat fatty food, because only the elite can be trusted to make those kinds of choices for themselves.
Hubris, at least in part, is when you think the rules of the universe really don’t apply to you. Hubris is when you think you are anointed by God, Providence, the Matrix, or your own inner spark of awesomeness to the point where you think you can get out of any knotty situation just because you’re you. Playing the odds is for little people.
I know a lot of people made fun of Don Rumsfeld — though I never really understood why — but his saying about “unknown unknowns” is really one of the most profound and pithy distillations of a core insight to human existence we’ve seen in a long time.
(I can think of only two recent competitors off the top of my head right now. The first is Arthur Brooks’s insight about the importance of “earned success.” The other is Charles Murray’s summation of what is wrong with the meritocratic elite in this country: They refuse to “preach what they practice.” But those are topics for another day.)
The question — which really isn’t a question — of Obama’s narcissism is one of the most masticated morsels of pundit cud in the op-ed feed trough. There’s no need to revisit it here. Suffice it to say, Obama thinks he’s kind of a big deal.
But while the psychological term for Obama’s stunning self-regard may indeed be “narcissism” I think it’s really hubris, specifically the kind of hubris that comes with the blinding conviction that there are no unknown unknowns that a man of his abilities can’t handle. A messianic figure doesn’t need to sweat the small stuff, because messiahs by definition are immune to the small stuff.
There are now scores of quotes and anecdotes about how Obama has said to aides and allies something like “don’t worry about the politics . . . I’ll handle the politics.” Remember when that Arkansas congressman rightly feared that the passage of Obamacare would trigger a replay of the 1994 shellacking of Democrats? Obama responded that the big difference between ’94 and 2010 was “you’ve got me.” When he was looking for a new chief of staff, he remarked that he’d make a great chief of staff. During one of the budget battles he said everything would be easier if he could do it all by himself. He’s whined that Chinese autocrats have a much easier time. A couple weeks ago, Obama said that he’d fix the website himself except “I don’t write code.”
Right. Because if Obama knew Fortran or C++ he’d just be able to roll up his sleeves and bang that thing out. He’s just that good. Remember he’s a better speechwriter than his speechwriters, better policy guy than his policy guy, yada yada yada. He can cook twelve-minute brownies in seven minutes, bitches.
Valerie Jarrett’s power is reportedly derived from the fact that she knows how Obama ticks and knows how to tell him the things he wants — needs! — to hear. So consider this infamous insight:
I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.
I’ve met some of the smartest people in America, literally. I don’t for a moment claim to be one of them, but I’ve been in the room with a bunch of them. Truly brilliant people aren’t bored like that. They find ways to challenge themselves.
No, Obama’s problem is that the only thing that really engages his full attention is . . . Barack Obama. That’s why his books are about — wait for it — Barack Obama. When it came to his political career he was willing to do the legwork, because it was about advancing him. He loves campaigning but is bored with governing because campaigning is about him and governing is, by definition, about other people. And other people aren’t interesting — unless of course they are the ones we’ve been waiting for, i.e. the ones who love Barack Obama.
Back to the Website
Obama says he wasn’t “directly informed” about the website’s problems. But Jay Carney revealed the president was briefed in March about the McKinsey report. He was told of the “red flags,” he just wasn’t told how serious those red flags were. As brother Geraghty writes:
Now . . . think about it. If you’re President Obama, this is your baby. This is your legacy. Draw a parallel to anything big and important that you’ve done in your life in the past: a big project at work, a home improvement project, writing a book, planning a wedding. This is vitally important, surpassed only by the needs of your family and your own health.
Suddenly someone informs you that something might be going wrong with this hugely important project.
Even if that person says, “don’t worry, we’re handling it,” . . . aren’t you a little concerned at that point? It doesn’t trigger a bit of worry? Don’t you follow up? If they say, “eh, look, it’s technical,” doesn’t your intense concern about the project’s success get you to drill down, and get into the weeds?
How do you shrug off something like that? I know the president is a busy man with a full schedule — I can hear you chuckling about playing golf from here — but don’t you think he would have asked about those potential problems in subsequent meetings about Obamacare? Wouldn’t that have nagged at him?
You’d think, yeah. But here’s the thing: Obama’s like the dog from the Far Side cartoon. You can talk about red flags and broken data hubs all day long and all he’ll hear is “blah blah blah blah Obama blah blah blah.” Having never run anything, he doesn’t even know how to ask questions that any half-way decent manager would ask when it’s clear the staff is screwing the pooch. It’s not even clear he can tell when the staff is screwing the pooch, even when a naked staffer is standing in front of him with an extremely discomfited canine.
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(H/T to Earl for that excellent photo at the top of the post.)
A small Sunday morning round-up….
The Navy: doing the right thing and doing it right.
If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Not. (It’s worth remembering that, by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, being a doctor there was a women-only job, with about as much cachet as dog-catcher.)
Kerry brings anti-semitism and incompetence to a new high, even by State Department standards.
And please, Open Thread away here.
Just as Jonah Goldberg was inspired by Obamacare, so too is Mark Steyn. Obamacare may be the greatest political disaster since . . . well, since ever,* but its virtue is that it provides free-range for real talent. I was trying to find a paragraph from the Steyn column to quote, but realized that I was choosing all of them, since each is a gem. It seems to me, therefore, that the best thing for you to do is to read the whole thing yourself.
*I am so digging these Obama asterisks, except with mine, unlike his, I actually tell you what’s behind the asterisk. When I say “ever,” I really mean it. Other presidents have embraced policies that looked reasonable in the beginning but that, because of decisions made along the way, proved to be political liabilities (i.e., Vietnam or the Iraq War). Then there have been circumstances beyond a president’s control, such as Hurricane Katrina, which a hostile and deceitful media spun into an instant liability. But I do not believe that there has ever before been such a disastrous piece of uni-partisan (mono-partisan?) legislation that so many people accurately predicted would fail and that exploded so spectacularly. Moreover, from that initial explosion, it’s gone and gotten even worse. It’s like a 9.5 earthquake with even greater aftershocks.
Here’s a visual metaphor, complete with the beginning, where everything seems to be going so well, but was built upon “well-meaning” deceit:
Am I delighting in this spectacle? You betcha. As I’ve said, I’m worried about the economy, and desperately sorry for people who have consistently opposed Obamacare yet are now caught in its toils. Nevertheless, to see the deceitful, arrogant Obama, Dems, and media crawling around in the mud gives me intense, unholy, almost indecent pleasure. My only hope now is that the Republicans don’t dig out their usual playbook and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Then of course, it will be my turn to weep.