The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year of Lies

In looking back at 2013, it's hard not to characterize it as The Year of Lies. We were told that Syria was a humanitarian disaster, until we were told it wasn't. We were assured (repeatedly) that you could keep your healthcare plan and your doctor under Obamacare, until you couldn't. We were told that the IRS attacks on opponents of the administration were conducted by rogue low-level employees in Cincinnati, until we leaned that they were coordinated in Washington, DC. We witnessed continuing and pervasive stonewalling on a variety of scandals (Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the AP, the NSA) and were told that the scandals were all "phony" ginned up for political advantage. Yet not once was the public provided with full disclosure. We listened as a president lied about his lies, misstating events that were well documented and arrogantly blaming it all on his opposition.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Senator Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) makes a rather remarkable statement: "The past year may go down not only as the least productive ever in Washington but as one of the worst for the republic.

Barack Obama, his band of leftist supporters, and his media allies do what they do best—redirect blame for this administration's many and varied failures, incompetence, and mendacious actions to a variety of conservative boogie men: Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Rand Paul, the Tea Party, FOX News—the list is long. Yeah-it's all their fault. If they would just participate in the fantasy that abject incompetence can be forgiven, blatant lies can be ignored, and bigger and more intrusive government provides all of the solutions, we'd all be just fine.

Sure, the GOP isn't blameless. They did more than a few boneheaded things during 2013, but the party and it's leaders look like true statesmen when compared to this president and this administration.

Coburn laments this Year of Lies when he writes:
The culture that Mr. Obama campaigned against, the old kind of politics, teaches politicians that repetition and "message discipline"—never straying from using the same slogans and talking points—can create reality, regardless of the facts. Message discipline works if the goal is to win an election or achieve a short-term political goal. But saying that something is true doesn't make it so. When a misleading message ultimately clashes with reality, the result is dissonance and conflict. In a republic, deception is destructive. Without truth there can be no trust. Without trust there can be no consent. And without consent we invite paralysis, if not chaos.
This administration has repeatedly demonstrated that it cannot be trusted—to tell the truth, to govern competently, to lead effectively. As a consequence, it has eroded the trust of a majority—and that does, in fact, invite chaos.

Will 2014 be any better? Sadly, I fear we'll see more of the same.

But life goes on. We can hope for more honesty, more competence, and less divisiveness. Heck, maybe that'll happen.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baffle Them

It is fascinating that for 15 months, The New York Times and other major left-leaning news media were remarkably incurious about the Benghazi attack, suggesting that claims of a cover-up were ill-founded and that in any event, the concern on the part of congress and a significant majority of the American People was politically motivated. The Times didn't investigate the questions that really mattered:

- Why blatant lies were repeatedly made by Barack Obama and Susan Rice to suggest that the attack was due to a violent movie review? (Even today, the times has the temerity to call Rice's comments a "misstatement".

- What role did the President have in decision making as the 8-hour long string of events unfolded?

- What events occurred in the White House as the attack was underway, and what decisions were made there?

- Why was help not dispatched in numbers, and who gave the order for assets in the region to stand down?

- Why did the FBI investigation get nowhere and why have the perpetrators, well know within a few months, never been brought to justice?

- What was the role the CIA had in Benghazi and was there a weapons smuggling operation in place?

- What was the role of then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, before, during, and after the attack.

- What did the administration refuse to allow state department personnel who were on the ground in Benghazi to testify during congressional hearings?

Basically the NYT punted, hoping the story would fade in public consciousness and the many lingering questions would remain unanswered. The story has not gone away, and it looks like the NYT felt compelled to develop a narrative that provides cover for this president and their choice for the next president.

This morning, The New York Times published a six chapter exposition on their version of what happened in the run-up to Benghazi. It has the feel of an in-depth investigation, the use of chapters give it a gravity that it does not deserve, and first person accounts (by people who the author admits may be mentally unstable) gives it the feel of veracity that is cynical and misleading. In reality, the report fails to answer the questions that really matter about Benghazi and does absolutely nothing to clarify why four Americans, including a US Ambassador, were left to die that day.

The Times report relies almost solely on the narrative of a number of violent Islamic Militia members, with a few complementary facts peppering that narrative to give it some depth. The New York Times tells us that it wasn't al Qaeda, but other Islamist terrorists who conducted the attack and murder of four Americans, and that their motivation was, at least in part, due to the anti-Islamic video.

Let's for a moment assume that their report is absolutely accurate, discarding the notion that Islamists lie at a rate that would put even this administration to shame, and that the vast majority of questions about Benghazi have little to do with what happened before the attack but rather what happened during and after the attack. Why didn't the times add chapters 7 - 14 that addressed the questions listed in the first paragraph. Certainly they're worth investigating. Certainly, they have a bearing on the whole story of Benghazi. Certainly, answers to these questions would have made the report more robust.

Over the past 15 months, a newspaper as august as the NYT could have probed and investigated, interviewed and recorded, second sourced and verified and come up with answers to the questions that really mattered. Instead, after reading the report, one gets the feeling that the NYT was filibustering, putting lots of words down on paper, using lots of "eyewitness quotes" to give the appearance of completeness when absolutely none exists.

Of course, it's also just possible that the NYT is laying a foundation to protect it's next chosen presidential candidate from accusation of incompetence or worse, dereliction of duty. Among their loyal readers this will undoubtedly work, but among those who take a more clinical view of the Benghazi scandal, the Times has adopted a crude but appropriate aphorism—"If you can't blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

Monday, December 23, 2013


As the president and his supporters look forward to 2014, I'm certain that they have concerns about the future of Obamacare. Barack Obama's signature legislation is a nightmarish landscape of dishonesty, broken promises, coercive policies, and on-the fly, ineffective patches. So ... the president, as he has done throughout his terms in office, sets the stage for still another "pivot"—this time to what he and his Leftist supporters call "income inequality."

It's not that the president and his supporters aren't good at numbers, it's just that they always allow ideological belief to trump simple facts that are illuminated by numbers. This is the case with the his recent claim that "a dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility" is "the defining challenge of our time." He refuses to acknowledge compelling evidence that economic growth—something that has been sorely lacking during the the Obama administration—is the thing that allows those at the lower end of the income scale to move upward. More on this later, but first, let's examine Obama's central claim. Robert Grady cites some basic numbers:
Virtually all of the data cited by the left to decry the supposed explosion of income inequality, as Lee Ohanian and Kip Hagopian point out in their seminal paper, "The Mismeasure of Inequality" (Policy Review, 2011), use a Census Bureau definition of "money income" that excludes taxes, transfer payments like Medicaid, Medicare, nutrition assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and even costly employee benefits such as health insurance.

Thus the data that is conventionally used to calculate the so-called Gini coefficient—the most commonly used measure of income inequality—ignore America's highly progressive income tax system and the panoply of benefits and transfer payments. According to Messrs. Ohanian and Hagopian, once the effect of taxes and transfer payments is taken into account, "inequality actually declined 1.8% during the 16-year period between 1993 and 2009, when the Gini coefficient dropped from .395 to .388."

In his speech, Mr. Obama cited a recent study from economists at Columbia University that found that already enacted benefits and tax programs have reduced America's effective poverty rate by 40% since 1967—to 16% from 26%. But he ignores all this when he claims that inequality is increasing.
The Left believes that big government can cure income inequality through the redistribution of income via increased taxation. Obama and his supporters refuse to accept the notion that increased taxes reduce the incentive for businesses to grow thereby reducing economic growth, thereby reducing the opportunity of those who currently have low incomes to proceed upward on the economic scale. The president and his supporters dismiss the data that indicates that income mobility is very real and is retarded only when the economy is stagnant (as it has been for the last five years). Again, from Grady:
With respect to upward mobility, longitudinal studies conducted by the U.S. Treasury have found that there was "considerable income mobility" in the decades 1987-1996 and 1996-2005. For example, roughly half of those in the bottom income quintile in 1996 had moved to a higher quintile by 2005. The "median incomes of those initially in the lowest income groups increased more in percentage terms than the median incomes of those in the higher income groups" in that decade, while the real incomes of two-thirds of all taxpayers experienced an increase.

Here is the bottom line: In periods of high economic growth, such as the 1980s and 1990s, the vast majority of Americans gain, and have the opportunity to gain. In periods of slow growth, such as the past four and a half years since the recession officially ended, poor people and the middle class are hurt the most, and opportunity is curbed.
But for the Left, the numbers simply don't matter. They see a billionaire Wall Street guy and a poverty-stricken resident of, say, Detroit, and they fly into a rage, decrying the lack of fairness and the blatant "inequality." They use anecdotal examples, rather than hard data to suggest policies that, like Obamacare, solve the wrong problem in the wrong way. And like Obamacare, this President's clumsy attempts to "solve" income inequalty will lead to a nightmarish landscape of policies that will hurt the very people he purports to help.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How's that Working Out?

During the 2012 presidential elections, Barack Obama characterized himself as the champion of the Middle Class. Only Obama cared about their plight and only Obama could would take them to a better place. His challenger was viciously characterized as a "one percenter" who didn't care about 47% of the public and would only help the rich. A majority of the middle class voted for Barack Obama because they believed his mendacious claims. How's that working out for them?

The New York Times tells the story of a middle class New Hampshire couple whose existing insurance policy was cancelled because of Obamacare and is now forced to pay exorbitant premiums to cover their family of four.

“That’s an insane amount of money,” she [Mrs. Chapman] said of their new premium. “How are you supposed to pay that?”

The NYT does not indicate whether the Chapmans voted for Barack Obama. Given their penchant for protecting the president, the omission of that information leads me to conclude that they did. How's that working out for them?

On a more general note, the NYT reports:
While the number of people who just miss qualifying for subsidies is unclear, many of them have made their frustration known, helping fuel criticism of the law in recent weeks. Like the Chapmans, hundreds of thousands of people have received notices that their existing plans are being canceled and that they must now pay more for new coverage.

In an effort to address that frustration, the Obama administration announced on Thursday that it would permit people whose plans had been canceled to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans, which are less expensive but offer minimal coverage. Those plans have always been available to people under 30 and to those who can prove that the least expensive plan in their area is not affordable. But the announcement does not address the concerns of those who would like to buy better coverage, yet find premiums in their area too expensive.

David Oscar, an insurance broker in New Jersey, another high-cost state, said many of his clients had been disappointed to learn that the premiums were much more expensive than they had expected.

“They’re frustrated,” he said. “Everybody was thinking that Obamacare was going to come in with more affordable rates. Well, they’re not more affordable.”
The NYT skirts the import and the irony of permitting "people whose plans had been canceled to buy bare-bones catastrophic plans."

The Wall Street Journal explains:
So merry Christmas. If ObamaCare's benefit and income redistribution requirements made your old, cheaper, better health plan illegal, you now have the option of going without coverage without the government taking your money as punishment. You can also claim the tautological consolation of an ObamaCare hardship exemption due to ObamaCare itself....

HHS and the [Democratic] Senators [who are up for re-election in 2014 and are now in full panic mode] must have coordinated in advance because literally overnight HHS rushed out a bulletin noting that exemptions are available to those who "experienced financial or domestic circumstances, including an unexpected natural or human-caused event, such that he or she had a significant, unexpected increase in essential expenses that prevented him or her from obtaining coverage under a qualified health plan." A tornado destroys the neighborhood or ObamaCare blows up the individual insurance market, what's the difference?

The HHS ruling is that ObamaCare is precisely such a "significant, unexpected increase." In other words, it is an admission that rate shock is real and the mandates drive up costs well into hardship territory. HHS is agreeing with the Senators that exemptions should cover "an individual whose 2013 plan was canceled and considers their new premium unaffordable." In her reply letter, Mrs. Sebelius also observes that some people "are having difficulty finding an acceptable replacement." She means the new plans are overpriced.
Most of us who opposed Obamacare from the very beginning thought it would be bad—even very bad. But very few of us believed that it would lead to a nightmarish landscape of cancelled policies, insurance industry chaos, middle class families now forced to spend far more that they did to get lesser coverage, and arguably unconstitutional actions by a desperate president to modify the law on-the-fly.

Most nightmares end when you wake up and see it was all just a dream. This nightmare is real, it's unrelenting, and worse of all, it's just beginning. How's that working out for all of us?


Richard Fernandez weighs in of the latest attempt by the Obama administration to waive still another portion of the ACA that has crashed and burned:
Having attained the dubious achievement of canceling millions of policies in America, including practically all the health care insurance in Guam without providing a working replacement system, the administration has decided to temporarily allow people to buy the “bare-bones” insurance policies formerly allowed only to people under 30. This was suppose to bridge the gap between those who’ve lost their policies under Obamacare and the time when it finally works.

Reuters describes the move vividly.
The Obama Administration has essentially waived the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act, saying people can seek a “hardship” exemption if they lost their coverage. Actually, it is much more complicated than that: If you lost coverage as a result of Obamacare because your policy was not considered good enough, you can either seek a substandard catastrophic policy in the market (which likely still costs more than the one you had) or just carry no insurance at all, at least through all of next year.

As John Fund at the National Review notes, it’s the 14th amendment of the statue by executive order since Nancy Pelosi passed it to find out what’s in it.

However as Reuters notes the 14th fix has made things even worse.
As things get progressively worse in 2014, there is little doubt that Obama will continue to amend the ACA, driven solely by politics, not by what's best for the country. And because the ACA is fundamentally flawed, its architecture weak, and its underlying economic assumptions erroneous, every "fix" will lead to other, more compelling problems. Nightmare!

Friday, December 20, 2013

More of the Same

In a recent blog post by Megan McArdle, a commenter summarized the first five years of the Obama administration in the following way:
Many people will write in years to come of trying to determine what is the worst damage this president has done, and I think a good case can be made for what Megan McArdle and many of the comments on this thread touch upon. And it's the residue of every collectivist and centrally managed government and economy that has ever existed. You can point to the stimulus, to Obamacare, to the myriad of scandals, but it's more than that. It's that in the totality of his stewardship, this president has managed to lower our expectations of success and results to a point where for more and more of us, failure and mismanagement elicit at most a shrug of the shoulders. That it's okay that a man who promised a government that can deliver everything has created a government that can't deliver anything. THAT'S the worst of what has been termed the New Normal. It's now normal to expect failure, to embrace lower standards of performance. And to criticize those who dare object to this more than those who are responsible for it.

The irony is that the one thing that Obama has excelled at is that he has provided a textbook example of the limitations of Progressive Academic governance. I think it will be some time now that the nation turns for leadership to a self-absorbed ultra liberal college professor/community activist who had absolutely no experience running anything other than his ultra inflated ego. You wonder though when the learning will kick in, when the college professor will begin to absorb the lessons of his own experience and stewardship. Sadly, the answer is turning out to be never.
The next three years will bring more of the same—more incompetence, more hubris, more dishonesty, more divisiveness, and as a consequence, more government intrusion into our lives. We'll see continuing attacks on those who have built businesses, professional practices, and services in the private sector. We watch as this administration and its allies defend profligate spending and encourage astronomical federal debt. We'll see demagoguery raised to new levels as class warfare is escalated by a Left-wing president and his shrinking band of supporters, desperate to find additional sources of revenue to fund government incompetence and waste. We'll see vicious attacks (think: Podesta's "Jonestown" comment) on those who oppose the policies that this President wants to enact. Bottom line, we'll see more of the same, and more of the same is exactly what this country doesn't need.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

House of Cards

Last year, Netflix, independent of broadcast or cable TV, created the groundbreaking series, House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey as a venal, but at the same time oddly-likeable Congressman Frank Underwood. Congressman Underwood is a master political player, willing to throw anyone (including his beautiful, conniving wife) under the bus to achieve his many political goals. He is ruthless to the point of criminality, politically effective to the point of coersion, and operationally efficient, using the media to leverage his goals and strategies. As you watch the series, you wonder whether Washington is really as bad as the series depicts, whether hardball politics is really that bruising. Insiders smile and say, no, but they've have images to protect. My guess is that the series depicts hardball politics in our nation's capital with brutal honesty. Not every politician is Frank Underwood, but I suspect that more than a few are or would like to be.

After a meeting with Netflix executives, Barack Obama joked with White House reporters:
“I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient.”
Jonathan Tobin comments:
We’re supposed to chuckle at this comment and regard it as an understandable expression of frustration by the president at the inability of Congress to do its job. But I’m afraid this crack tells us more about Obama’s way of governing that it does about the fact that neither House Speaker John Boehner nor Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can teach Frank Underwood much about passing legislation. The fact is, for five years Obama has sat in the White House and acted as if he had as little interest in accommodating the positions of his political foes as Underwood does. The problem isn’t that the West Wing and its congressional allies aren’t as “ruthlessly efficient” as the wicked Underwood, it’s that he has as negative an attitude toward the normal business of democracy as the character played by actor Kevin Spacey ...

It should be noted that in the show, Underwood has shown a dogged talent for negotiation that Obama lacks, even if, in the end, the character gets his way more by underhanded tactics than give and take. But he shares the president’s desire to have his own way at all costs. In the program’s fictional Washington where the anti-hero can do as he likes, “ruthless efficiency” can be achieved. But in the real Washington, Obama’s desire for acclimation of his every ideological whim is always bound to be frustrated by a constitutional system of checks and balances that allows the views of the minority to be heard and even at times to stop those of the president and the majority.
There is no doubt in my mind—none—that Barack Obama has "little interest in accommodating the positions of his political foes." In fact, this President is a true ideological believer. At his core, I honestly believe that he thinks the GOP is the enemy and that approximately half the country, you know, the half that didn't vote for him, don't need to be listened to.

Ironically, the consequence is a "house of cards" of his own making. Disastrous foreign policy, ineffective governance, and catastrophically damaging legislation all flow out of an inability to integrate opposing views and recommendations into his policies.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


There's a mathematical concept that, interestingly, can be used to create fascinating and beautiful digital art, and at the same time, can be used as a metaphor for the unrelenting dishonesty that has been used to promote and describe Obamacare. The concept is the "fractal."

For those who are unfamilar with this mathematical term, let's take a quick look at a small part of the Wikipedia discussion:
A fractal is a mathematical set that typically displays self-similar patterns, which means they are "the same from near as from far". Often, they have an "irregular" and "fractured" appearance, but not always. Fractals may be exactly the same at every scale, or ... they may be nearly the same at different scales ...

The feature of "self-similarity", for instance, is easily understood by analogy to zooming in with a lens or other device that zooms in on digital images to uncover finer, previously invisible, new structure. If this is done on fractals, however, no new detail appears; nothing changes and the same pattern repeats over and over, or for some fractals, nearly the same pattern reappears over and over. [

With Obamacare, no matter at what degree of magnification we look at the legislation and/or its details, the same pattern of dishonesty repeats over and over again. Back in 2009, Barack Obama promised that the A.C.A. "wouldn't cost taxpayers a dime." In fact, his administration claimed it would save a family of four about $2,500 each year. Jonah Goldberg reports:
In September, the Obama administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services used far more rigorous methods to predict that Obamacare would increase national health-care spending by $621 billion. Using Obama’s own math, that would mean — according to Chris Conover, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute and Duke University — each family of four in America will spend an additional $7,450 thanks to Obamacare.
At a slightly more significant level of magnification, Obama touted the A.C.A.'s requirement that everyone get "free" preventative care (ahem, nothing is free) and that this would "save money" over the long term. Again from Goldberg:
According to the National Cancer Institute, 12.4 percent of American women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives. So for every positive diagnosis there are seven negative diagnoses. Those tests cost a lot of money. Moreover, of the women who do get it, premature screenings won’t necessarily catch it. That in no way means that screenings don’t make sense. They do, particularly for women in high-risk groups. But testing everybody isn’t a great way to save money. As the Congressional Budget Office reported in August, “The evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.”
Yes, preventative care may be a good idea in theory, but it's simply untrue to suggest that it will save money in the aggregate.

Increasing our level of magnification to examine a few details, we all now understand that the President's promises that "you can keep your existing health insurance" and "you can keep your doctor" we both lies—not misunderstandings or equivocations, but outright lies—dishonesty offered solely for political purposes.

I suspect that in the weeks and months ahead, fractals will continue to haunt the Obama administration. The President unilaterally delayed the employer mandate until after the 2014 elections, but when we do have a chance to look at it once initiated, it's likely to uncover still more lies. Millions, possibly 10s of millions, of employees will lose their insurance, magnifying the mendacity of the "keep your insurance" promise.

And once a stonewalling administration is forced to release accurate enrollment numbers, we'll see that millions of "uninsured" are being unfairly subsidized by hidden taxes on the middle class and young people—those who are least equipped to absorb inflated pricing.

Unlike fractal art that becomes more and more beautiful as you look more deeply, the fractal dishonesty that characterizes Obamacare becomes more and more ugly as we understand its true nature.


The world of fractals has even begun to affect New York City hipsters, young professionals and glitterati—most are ardent Obama supporters and vocal proponents of Obamacare — until they got insurance cancellation notices. The New York Times reports that over the years, the city's hipsters, young professionals, and glitterati used professional associations for artists, writers, fashion designers, musicians and the like to create group plans that provided them with good, relatively low cost medical insurance. Under magnification, Obamacare disallows this and forces each of them to purchase new insurance that meets the law's arbitrary standards.

From The New York Times report:
“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

“Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.”
Ms. Meinwald has just experienced the fractal nature of Obamacare, and what she sees is the ugliness of big government control, not beauty.

Richard Fernandez comments on the use of young professionals like Ms. Meinwald to fund others who will pay little or nothing for health insurance:
This is called a transfer payment. This is called redistribution. You may want or not want it, but you cannot pretend that redistribution does not redistribute.

If Ms. Meinwald wanted to avoid getting slugged her group should have imitated Detroit. When you’re bust you’re off the hook. No stash, no tab. Or, as classic Marxian theory puts it from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Of course the modern Democratic Party has rewritten the slogan slightly to “from each according to his gullibility to each according to his greed”, but that’s a mere detail; that’s progress for you.
Ahhh ... the wonder of fractals.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Low Information Leadership

Today, in a speech in front of an ultra-Liberal audience, Barack Obama left healthcare behind and tried to pivot to a topic that is a favorite among that audience—income inequality. This class warfare meme resonates with Obama's Leftist base, but it will not deflect attention from the ever-growing disaster that is Obamacare—a clear example of big government run amuck.

Peggy Noonan, in a long essay on Obama and the legislative "achievement" that bears his name, discusses how things could go so wrong:
It’s a leader’s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, that’s a conservative leader’s job. It is a liberal leader’s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.

And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it. It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.

People say Mr. Obama never had to run anything, but it may be more important that he never worked for the guy who had to run something, and things got fouled up along the way and he had to turn it around. He never had to meet a payroll, never knew that stress. He probably never had to buy insurance! And you know, his policies were probably gold-plated—at the law firm, through his wife’s considerable hospital job, in the Illinois Legislature, in the U.S. Senate. Those guys know how to take care of themselves! Maybe he felt guilty. Maybe that’s to his credit, knowing he was lucky. Too bad he didn’t know what he didn’t know, like how every part has to work for a complicated machine to work.
This is an accurate assessment, but in my view it's too kind. This president lied blatantly, repeatedly, and cynically—misleading the American people about Obamacare, its intent, and worst of all, its bearing on his re-election. There's a reason he postponed implementation of the A.C.A. until 2013, and it was because he knew that insurance policies would be lost, that the law was incoherent, and that anger would grow, and then grow some more. And if he didn't know? That's just not a reasonable question for a president who has been described as "the smartest guy in the room."

Noonan continues:
Commentators like to decry low-information voters—the stupid are picking our leaders. I think the real problem is low-information leaders. They have so little experience of life and have so much faith in magic—in media, in words—that they don’t understand people will get angry at you when you mislead them, and never see you the same way again.
Before presidential election in 2008, some of us saw past the carefully constructed image of Barack Obama and examined the man, his associations, his experience, his accomplishments, and his character. At the time, I called Barack Obama a "cypher"—a back bench politician with few tangible accomplishments but big questions about his background, experience, and character. He is a cypher no more.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

So Tweet

The president, his Democrat supporters, and at least some of his trained media hamsters all claim that the the Obamacare website now works for "80 percent of all visitors." They studiously avoid discussing the more important interface to actual insurance companies or reports that over 30 percent of data collected by the front end of the website is incorrect or unintelligible coming out the back end for transmission to actual insurance providers. Worse, they studiously avoid any discussion of the simple reality that those who have participated and now think that medical coverage is in process, may in fact have no coverage at all because errors in the website make them invisible to the folks who provide coverage.

Navigating the "much improved" website is a joke. Twitchy reports:
Mark Jaquith, a WordPress developer and web publishing consultant, decided to give the “gauntlet” another run Tuesday afternoon, and he live-tweeted his experience. The site might be running smoothly for the “vast majority” of Americans, but Jaquith isn’t in that vast majority.
Depending on your point of view, Jacquiths' detailed tweets of his travails at are either funny, infuriating, or mindboggingly ridiculous. After $600 million to build the site and another ??? million (no one knows the number and the White House is in stonewall mode yet again), is still a mess.

Don't believe me? Spend a few minutes reading Jacquith's tweets.

Sadly, this is big government at its worst—wasted money, incompetent execution, and no culpability for the massive problems that this breathtakingly bad legislation is causing for millions of citizens. Individuals will now be forced to spend hours or days trying to wade through the mess that cancelled policies have caused. They will spend more money for policies with higher deductibles, and they have no choice in any of this.

But progressives suggest that it's all worth it so that the 50 million "uninsured" will have coverage. It. Is. Not.

There are many simple ways to provide catastrophic health coverage to the uninsured. They have been proposed repeatedly but were D.O.A. in the democratically controlled senate. The Dems rammed through Obamacare when they held majorities in both houses. They created a disaster and now refuse to admit a profound mistake. They own this mess and no amount of "messaging" will help them with those that have been affected in an adverse manner.

Bring out the popcorn. This is going to be very interesting to watch.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Good Intentions

One of the fascinating things about progressive programs, policies, and even ideas is that they often begin with the best of intentions but then devolve into a quasi-religeous system of counterfactual "beliefs" that often devolve still further into fantasy. This is probably okay on a personal level, but it becomes counterproductive and sometimes even dangerous when it is elevated to public policy.

Consider the quasi-religious belief initially popularized by that great scientist Al Gore, and warmly embraced by Barack Obama and his many progressive supporters, that climate change (used to be called "global warming" until warming stopped about 17 years ago) would result in the flooding of the coastal plain due to the diminution of sea ice as well as other catastrophies, all attributable to CO2.

Progressives believe this fervently and bridle when facts get in the way. For example, UK's Daily Mail follows up on a well reported claim by the BBC that arctic sea ice would vanish by 2013:
A chilly Arctic summer has left 533,000 more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year – an increase of 29 per cent ...

Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century – a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading.

The disclosure comes 11 months after The Mail on Sunday triggered intense political and scientific debate by revealing that global warming has ‘paused’ since the beginning of 1997 – an event that the computer models used by climate experts failed to predict.

In March, this newspaper further revealed that temperatures are about to drop below the level that the models forecast with ‘90 per cent certainty’.

The pause – which has now been accepted as real by every major climate research centre – is important, because the models’ predictions of ever-increasing global temperatures have made many of the world’s economies divert billions of pounds into ‘green’ measures to counter climate change.
Ahhh. There's the problem. It isn't the quasi-religious belief system that gets individuals into trouble, it's when that belief system becomes part of national policy proposed by uninformed or deeply ideological politicians. Barack Obama's attempts at cap-and-trade legislation are an example, but they have so far been thwarted by his own party.

As we watch the Obamacare debacle unfold, we see the same thing. It's reasonable to argue that what began with good intentions has now devolved into a quasi-religeous system of counterfactual "beliefs" that have now devolved still further into fantasy and very bad public policy. The Left insists that our pre-Obamacare system of healthcare was deeply flawed, that most health policies were "substandard," and that 50 million people were uninsured. Although there are slivers of truth in these claims, these problems did not require 2,300 pages of flawed legislation demanding a big government solution that is both intrusive, ineffective, and counter-productive.

Good intentions are laudable. Good intentions that lead to bad policy and catastrophic results are not.