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YOU’VE BEEN GRUBERED! If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn’t Pick a New One For You. “Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. . . . It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year. A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS DURING LAST NIGHT’S AMNESTY TALK EXPLOSION: Top Obama bundler accused of child rape.

On Wednesday, Portland, Ore. police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. . . .

A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.

Although this report is in USA Today, I assume the major TV networks — which haven’t even covered Jonathan Gruber — will give this story a pass. Remember: Making sure you know what they want you to know is job #2 for them; making sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know is job #1.

DAVID DAYEN: Why Gruber-Gate Is So Devastating To Democrats. “The growing impression that politicians don’t play straight with their constituents is completely toxic, particularly to Democrats, who actually want to use government to improve people’s lives. It’s one thing to downplay unpalatable choices made in the law; it’s another to never disclose the consequences of legislation until it’s too late for anyone to react. Combine that with the moustache-twirling of a Jonathan Gruber, saying that the idiots should be happy for what they got, and you have basically every conservative stereotype about liberal elites confirmed.”

JAMES BOVARD: The Closer Intellectuals Get To Power, The More They Deceive.

GRUBERGATE’S INSIDER PROBLEM:

So let me finish by noting what I actually find disturbing about the whole Gruber episode. It is not that voters aren’t particularly well-informed; voters could not possibly be well-informed about all the issues that our government deals with. No one can be, which is why, when people ask me my opinions about foreign policy nowadays, I say, “I don’t know. Looks like a hard problem to me.”

Nor is it that politicians lie to voters. We reward them for lying, because we want to be told that we can have everything we want, plus a pony, and the only cost will be that some undeserving layabout will get their benefits cut off, or some very rich person we don’t like will have to sell the second yacht and pay higher taxes instead. We should not be surprised when they tell us exactly that. I’m not saying that I approve of this, mind you; I’m just saying that the way to stop it is not to tut-tut at the politicians, but for voters to stop demanding that they give us the pretty moon.

No, what really disturbs me is the sight of so many journalists acting like insiders. . . .

That politicians should try to exploit the accounting rules was inevitable; that is what people do with accounting rules. I’m not saying that’s what the rules are for, or that they do no good; I’m just saying that about eight seconds after your rules are made, some bright Johnny will start figuring out a way to game them.

What is not inevitable is that journalists should effectively sanction this by saying it’s no big deal. We don’t have to get elected, after all. And those politicians and policy makers aren’t our bosses; the reading public is. We shouldn’t act like we’re part of the insider clique that decides what other people need to know — no, worse, that decides what other people do know. If we knew this all along and voters didn’t, that doesn’t mean voters don’t have a right to be outraged. It means that we’ve lost track of whose side we’re on.

On the contrary, I think it means that most journalists have chosen a side, and are sticking with it come hell or high water.

Related: ABC, NBC Nightly Newscasts Now 10 Days into Ignoring Gruber Scandal.

A NEW AND COMPLETELY OBJECTIVE STUDY BY JONATHAN GRUBER SAYS SHE’S RIGHT: Elizabeth Warren Pitches “You Didn’t Build That 2.0.”

CHARLES BLAHOUS: Gruber and Barro Are Wrong to Assume the Public is Stupid. “Jonathan Gruber, Josh Barro and others are trying to persuade you that others’ failures of integrity, analysis, and policy design are your fault, simply for wanting a better healthcare market. Do not believe them. They are wrong on the ethics and wrong on the substance.”

JAKE TAPPER: Obama promised Obamacare wouldn’t do exactly what Gruber says it will do. And what it’s now clear it was intended to do all along.

At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax. White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

UPDATE: Academia Runs Interference for Obama: Universities Are Now Taking Down Their Jonathan Gruber Videos.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Gruber’s Obamacare payday highlights ulterior motives behind ‘do something’ cry.

For all the cursing of congressional gridlock, one of the greatest sources of Washington’s evils may be the bias in favor of doing something.

As voices chime in from the major media, from K Street, and from party leadership for the new Republican Congress to do something, it’s worth pausing, taking a breath, and looking at the recent problems caused by this urge — and the less-than-noble incentives that sometimes drive it.

The Beltway media’s predominant bias is that, for every issue, Washington politicians should do something. The simplest explanation for this bias: it gives reporters something to write about. Inaction is bad for readership.

Democratic politicians’ uncontrollable urge to do something is tied up with their view of government’s role as the champion of justice, the wise arranger of the economy and shaper of culture.

But there’s a deeper motivation to do something, and the Republican leadership shares it: When government takes a more active role in the economy, it creates private-sector employment opportunities for the policymakers — and for their advisors, like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber, the MIT professor who won almost $400,000 in contracts from the Obama administration in a non-competitive contract process, came into the spotlight again this month when a new video surfaced in which he admitted that “lack of transparency” was crucial to passing Obamacare.

My colleague Byron York pointed to a more interesting Gruber detail: After the bill passed, Gruber won hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with state governments setting up the exchanges under Obamacare.

Gruber, then, had to mislead Americans (or maybe just their senators) in order to pass Obamacare, and that opened a gusher of lucrative contracts for him. There is no doubt that Gruber sincerely thought the country needed health-care reform. But still, his financial interest in the bill ought to have raised some skepticism about the numbers he was peddling.

Nonsense. Only greedy conservatives advocate policies out of greed.

ED DRISCOLL: Earth In The Grubering. “Grubering also helps to define the relatively recent trend on the left not just to lie — that’s always been a component of the left — but to openly admit to lying as an unalloyed good to advance the Noble Cause.”

THE PALACE GUARD MEDIA ARE STILL AT WORK: Major media mostly giving Gruber ‘stupidity’ videos the silent treatment.

Half a dozen videos have exploded online showing Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber calling the American people stupid, but most major media outlets are downplaying the controversy or portraying it as little more than partisan Republican noise.

Only a handful of major news organizations have devoted significant coverage to Gruber’s “stupidity” remark and his other admissions, including his saying the law’s “lack of transparency” was key to its passage by Congress and that the measure was vaguely written so the Congressional Budget Office would not score it as a tax.

The Washington Post and CBS News have published several stories on the Gruber videos, but they have also downplayed his role in writing Obamacare and focused a great deal on the GOP’s response to the controversy in partisan terms.

As a result, the Post’s reporting has included these headlines: “Did Jonathan Gruber earn ‘almost $400,000′ from the Obama administration?” “Obamacare consultant under fire for ‘stupidity of the American voter’ comment,” “Despite what Jonathan Gruber said, Romneycare didn’t ‘secretly’ rip off Medicaid” and “GOP’s anti-Obamacare push gains new momentum in wake of Gruber video.”

Kristine Coratti Kelly, Vice President of Communications for the Washington Post, said in an email to the Washington Examiner that she disagrees with the notion that the news group has focused too much attention on the GOP’s reaction to Gruber’s comments.

“[W]e have done a great deal of reporting on the matter covering a wide variety of angles,” she said.

Meanwhile, CBS News has focused on the Republican reaction:

“[W]hen the bill was being written, the administration paid Gruber almost $400,000 for technical advice on drafting the law,” CBS reported Thursday. “Republicans, for their part, turned Gruber into an all-important player.”

Other CBS Gruber headlines have proclaimed “GOP gets more fuel in fight against Obamacare” and “Found footage fuels GOP’s fight against Obamacare.”

ABC News’ sparse Gruber coverage included this headline: “How Little-Known MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber Shook Up Washington This Week,” which ignored Gruber’s prominent role in crafting the law.

NBC News, for its part, has all but ignored the story, with only a discussion on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” penetrating the blockade.

Coverage has also been light among the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers.

They’ve got too much invested in Obama to report honestly on him.

AIRBRUSHING IN THE ERA OF OBAMA: University of Rhode Island Removes Gruber Video After It Goes Viral. First Penn, now this. You’d almost think that the higher ed establishment is in the tank for the Democrats or something.

ANTI-CHOICE: Gruber: Seniors Should Be Limited to Three Lowest Cost Medicare Part D Plans.

SEAN DAVIS: It’s Time For Leftist Gruber Truthers To Give It A Rest. “Gruber was an Obamacare architect who helped draft the law. This is a fact regardless of whether it’s currently convenient for the Left.” Nonsense. Things that are inconvenient for the left aren’t “facts.” They’re things “Republicans claim.”

NEW WHITE HOUSE SPIN: Those Gruber Videos About How We Were Lying To You In 2009? They’re From Way Back In 2009!

HEY, DON’T LAUGH — BY DARWINIAN STANDARDS, HE’S A BIG WINNER: Memphis Man Reportedly Fathered 26 Children But Reportedly Remains At Large With Child Support Violations In Multiple States.

THE HILL: Why is Obama ignoring the experts on illegal immigration? What, Jonathan Gruber wasn’t available to provide “objective analysis” in favor of his policy?

DON SURBER: Jonathan Gruber And The Credentialed Class. I’m beginning to feel that America’s educational system hasn’t produced the best-possible governing class.

Related: Gruber featured in anti-Landrieu ad in Louisiana. I suspect this is the first of many such.

WAIT, A REPORTER ASKING A REAL QUESTION? YOU CAN SEE WHY THEY WOULDN’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. Reporter’s Gruber question prompts Obamacare flack’s eyeroll.

BARACK OBAMA: I did not mislead America with that man, Jonathan Gruber.

GRUBERGATE HITS COLORADO.

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.

Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct – enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.

Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning oped pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.

The discovery of this conflict of interest by the liberal blog FireDogLake eventually caused the Times’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, to admit that the source’s interest in the news ought to have been disclosed.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

THE PROBLEM WITH CAMPUS RAPE POLICY HAS REACHED THE PAGES OF THE NEW YORK TIMES, WITH JED RUBENFELD WRITING: “They are simultaneously failing to punish rapists adequately and branding students sexual assailants when no sexual assault occurred.”

DAVID FRENCH: Dear Democrats, Don’t Even Think about Running from Jonathan Gruber.

BYRON YORK: GruberGate Shines Spotlight On ObamaCare Profiteers.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi declared that Obamacare was a jobs bill? “It’s about jobs,” Pelosi said in 2011, during a news conference to mark the first anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Does it create jobs? Health insurance reform creates 4 million jobs.”

Like many other promises about Obamacare, that hasn’t worked out. But there is no doubt that Obamacare created a lot of work for at least one American — MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. Gruber’s frank admissions that he and others deceived the public about Obamacare have drawn a lot of attention in recent days. But the money that Gruber made from Obamacare raises yet another issue about his involvement in the project. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he energetically advocated a bill from which he stood to profit. And when it became law, the money rolled in.

In 2009, as Obamacare was moving its way through Senate committees, Gruber, who had achieved a measure of fame as the architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, was a paid consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. In March of that year, he received a contract for $95,000 to work on the project, and in June he received a second contract to continue that work; it was worth $297,600. Together, they comprise the “nearly $400,000″ that critics have said Gruber received to work on Obamacare.

But after the bill became law, Gruber made a good deal more from it. The Affordable Care Act provided for states to set up exchanges to sell taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage. For those states that chose to do so, exchanges would have to be built from the ground up. Studies would have to be done. Contracts would be let.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

IT’S NOW A VERB: The Fine Art Of Grubering.

NO CONTEST: Jake Tapper vs. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on “Irrelevance” of Gruber Comments.

Plus, related thoughts from Howie Carr.

Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?

C’mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He’s the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as “too stupid” to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.

Maybe he’s right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.

This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same “mistake” five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it’s part of your stump speech.

The Unaffordable Care Act — from the same Beautiful People who gave you Vietnam, the War on Poverty, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, global warming, SSI, busing, gay marriage and gender reassignment.

Asked about Prof. Goober, Nancy Pelosi said, “Who he?” Then some video was produced of Madame Botox citing his no-bid brilliance. A moonbat in-the-satchel reporter from Vox pooh-poohed the goober’s role as “mostly number-crunching.” Two years earlier this same bumkisser said he “pretty much wrote Obamacare.”

The first place this moonbat millionaire’s obnoxious comments turned up was on a website of the University of Pennsylvania (which made fake Indian Granny Warren an affirmative-action hire back in the 1990s).

As soon as Penn realized that its video might be causing consternation to Dear Leader, it excised the footage.

Nothing to see here, comrades. Move along.

I’m beginning to lose confidence in the idea that the Ivy League is a net plus for America.

THE HITS KEEP COMING: Gruber Video #6: ‘Mislabeling’ Cadillac Tax to Deceive the Voter.

HEH: “For five years, Republicans have been searching for the perfect messenger to speak out against Obamacare. They have finally found him. His name in Jonathan Gruber.”

IT’S A TARGET-RICH ENVIRONMENT: Grubered Again! Fifth Video of Liberal Mastermind Surfaces.

ED MORRISSEY: WaPo fact check: Yes, Gruber got $400,000 for ObamaCare work. “Or, if you prefer a more acerbic conclusion, taxpayers paid Jonathan Gruber in the mid-six-figures to lie to them, and then brag about it to all of his friends and fans later.”

And also, as Morrissey notes, to lie to the CBO.

HEY, THESE POSSIBILITIES AREN’T MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, YOU KNOW: The Nancy Pelosi possibilities: lying, suffering from serious memory loss, or a facade whose power is exercised by unelected others.

Plus: “A sign of the times: Lefty website FireDogLake attacks: ‘Trying to pretend Gruber had no part in crafting Obamacare or that you have never heard of him despite considerable evidence to the contrary does sound like someone who is relying on a lack of transparency and the stupidity of the American voter – doesn’t it?’”

Related: Lefties Deceive As They Try to Distract from Gruber’s Praise of . . . Deceit. “This is who they are and this is what they do.”

WHEN TRUST IS ABUSED, IT DISAPPEARS: Roger Simon: “Climate Change” In The Land Of Gruber/Obama.

BUSTED:

OH, YES: Republicans May Get Gruber Under Oath. “Just make sure to get him in Congress under oath ahead of the Supreme Court’s look at the exchange issue. He’ll surely provide more useful soundbites about how he and the Democrats lied to everyone, gamed the CBO, and knew all along that the subsidies/exchange issue was not a typo, but was put there for a reason. Maybe Gruber will insult Chief Justice John Roberts specifically while he’s under oath, too. The Chief is one of the ‘stupid’ ones, after all, according to Obamacare’s architect.”

THE HILL: Voter stupidity remark gives GOP new ammo on ObamaCare.

Comments about voter stupidity made by an ally of the Obama administration are turning into conservatives’ newest weapon against the president’s healthcare law.

A series of unearthed videos of ObamaCare consultant Jonathan Gruber insulting U.S. voters while saying a “lack of transparency” helped Congress pass the healthcare law are attracting serious attention on the right just as Republicans prepare to take control of the Senate.

The newly discovered remarks — revealed so far in three videos circulated by conservative media — add fuel to the GOP’s claim that Democrats were deliberately obscuring pieces of the law to assure its passage.

Add a wave of interest from Republican lawmakers and increasing scrutiny from the mainstream media, and you have the latest flashpoint in the abiding partisan war over ObamaCare, just ahead of the start of the law’s second enrollment periodon Saturday.

Gruber, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who also helped craft that state’s healthcare reform law, said Tuesday that he regrets saying ObamaCare passed because of the “stupidity of the American voter.”

Two additional videos have been released since then. In those clips, Gruber said the law’s passage relied on “basic exploitation of [voters’] lack of economic understanding,” and that Americans are “too stupid to understand” the law’s so-called Cadillac tax.

Republicans have pounced on the remarks and are already weighing congressional hearings, which would create an enormous headache for Democrats.

It’s interesting that this stuff didn’t come out before the election.

AS PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO SAY ON TWITTER, “WHAT A GRUBE!” Wendy Davis was warned in January of an embarrassing defeat. “Consultants for former Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis warned the campaign in January that it was heading for a humiliating defeat on Election Day if it didn’t make changes quick, according to a memo obtained by the Texas Tribune. The campaign took that advice and made one change in particular — it fired those consultants.”

With that approach, you can see why she was an Obama favorite.

THREE STRIKES: Another video shows Obamacare architect Gruber talking about the ‘exploitation’ of American voters. I wonder how many Senate seats the GOP would have gotten if this had come out two weeks ago?

SIMPLE POLICIES WIN ELECTIONS:

Michael Kinsley once famously defined a gaffe as when a politician says what he or she truly believes (i.e., “a gaffe occurs not when a politician lies, but when he tells the truth”), a formulation so iconic that it is now known in the trade as a “Kinsley Gaffe.” A special subcategory of Kinsley Gaffe is becoming more common in these days of ubiquitous personal electronics: “accidentally telling the truth without knowing a camera or a tape recorder was running.” This is the category where we’d put Obama’s remarks about “bitter” working-class voters who “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them” and Mitt Romney’s complaint about “the 47 percent.”

Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare, has now made two such gaffes: once, when he insisted it was ridiculous to think that anyone could ever have thought that subsidies would only be available on state exchanges, only to be confronted with one audio and one video clip of himself saying that very thing in 2012. And again yesterday, when footage surfaced of Gruber making some awkward remarks about the design of Obamacare at a an event a year ago in Philadelphia. . . .

This is undoubtedly true, and critics of the law have been saying as much for years. Nor is it only true of Obamacare. As Steve Teles of Johns Hopkins has been arguing for a while, the American system increasingly favors byzantine laws that do things in complicated, opaque ways rather than better, simpler, more transparent ways. We prefer 1,000 tax credits to a few direct subsidies, mandates rather than government provision, hidden costs rather than direct ones. Teles calls this “kludgeocracy,” and not in an affectionate way.

A good argument can be made that Obama has gone further down this road than most, in part because he favored big technocratic bills that aimed to do a lot of everything that experts and the party base wanted done, rather than simpler and more targeted initiatives.

The fact that we have a lousy media makes it worse.

ANOTHER PICKUP: AP Calls Alaska Senate Race for Sullivan. Two thoughts: (1) AoSHQDD called this a week ago; and (2) If the Gruber video had come out before the election, would the GOP have picked up Virginia and New Hampshire? Quite possibly.

A FIELD MARSHAL IN THE ARMY OF DAVIDS: Meet the Mild-Mannered Investment Adviser Who’s Humiliating the Administration Over Obamacare.

Rich Weinstein is not a reporter. He does not have a blog. Until this week, the fortysomething’s five-year old Twitter account had a follower count in the low double digits. . . .

He’s also behind a series of scoops that could convince the Supreme Court to dismantle part of the Affordable Care Act. Weinstein has absorbed hours upon hours of interviews with Jonathan Gruber, an MIT professor who advised the Massachusetts legislature when it created “Romneycare” and the Congress when it created “Obamacare.” Conservatives had been looking for ways to demonstrate that the wording of the ACA denied insurance subsidies to consumers in states that did not create their own health exchanges. Weinstein found a clip of Gruber suggesting that states that did not create health insurance exchanges risked giving up the ACA’s subsidies; it went straight into the King v. Burwell brief, and into a case that’s currently headed to the Supreme Court.

A few days ago, Weinstein pulled a short clip from Gruber’s year-old appearance at a University of Pennsylvania health care conference. As a crowd murmured with laughter, Gruber explained that the process that created the ACA was, by necessity, obfuscated to pull one over on voters.

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” said Gruber. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Call it the stupidity of the America voter, or whatever.”

Weinstein’s scoop went around the world in a hurry.

As it should have. Nice work. Imagine if we had actual journalists doing this sort of thing.

KEITH HENNESSEY: ObamaCare Architect, MIT Economist Dr. Jonathan Gruber’s Honesty About Lying. Quoth Gruber: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass. It’s a second-best argument. Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”

See, they have to lie about their policies, because if they told the truth no one would support them.

SO NOW IT’S THE 13TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Back then, InstaPundit was shiny and new new. Now it’s not, and some people have been warning of “blogger burnout.” But I’m still here. On prior 9/11 anniversaries, I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party with Andrew Breitbart.

This year, as in most past years, it’ll be blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well. Which is too bad.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

Now, of course, with the Syria debacle last year, leading into this year’s Iraq rerun, it seems like we’ve gone from tragedy to farce and back to tragedy. Are you feeling the hope and change? I’m not.

God bless America. We need it.

TYLER COWEN: The Real Import Of The Gruber Fracas. I like this from the comments: “All I can say is, if you’re going to pass a law with zero bipartisan support, you should be very careful in the drafting, since they aren’t likely to help you out if you muck it up. In this case, haste and arrogance is biting them in the ass.”

USA TODAY: ObamaCare Court Defense Crumbles: Key Affordable Care Act architect tangled in his conveniently changing story..

In other words, Congress did mean to use the subsidies to overcome state resistance and pressure them to set up their own exchanges. That is precisely what the plaintiffs in Halbig asserted. Of course, Obamacare’s supporters didn’t anticipate that the backlash against the law would be so intense that 34 states would actually decline the subsidies, almost as an act of civil disobedience.

On Friday morning, an embarrassed Gruber insisted to The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn, “I honestly don’t remember why I said that… I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake.”

But a second speech, this time in the form of audio, surfaced this morning in which he makes the same claims before the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco at around the same time. In it, Gruber actively acknowledges that should if states revolt en masse, they’d bring down the law. But, he said, that he had enough faith in democracy to believe that even the states that didn’t like Obamacare would eventually succumb to the “ultimate threat” that “if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.”

Gruber would like everyone to ignore, not just the plain text of a law that he had a major hand in crafting, but also the plain meaning of his own words explaining why the law was written the way it was – not once, but at least twice.

Who is being “screwy” and “really criminal” here?

They took a crappy bill that they hadn’t read, they rammed it through on a party-line vote using a budget-reconciliation technicality, then they did an “I won” victory dance. Now it turns out the bill sucks and they’re blaming Republicans for not stopping them.

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM? OR THREE STRIKES, YOU’RE OUT? John Sexton may have found another Gruber ‘speak-o.’

Meanwhile, The New York Times knows nothing — nothing!

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO BELIEVE — ME, OR YOUR LYING EARS? Gruber: My 2012 remarks were “a speak-o — you know, like a typo.”

This answer is not a “speak-o” any more than the statutory language on subsidies and exchanges was a “typo.” Gruber explained the coercive policy correctly and in detail, along with the stakes involved in seeing the coercion succeed. It’s not a case of just using the wrong terminology, like “market” instead of “exchange.” Gruber clearly understood the statute at this time — in January 2012 — to provide the arm-twisting needed to get states to launch their own exchanges by stiffing consumers in states without them, which would then create more pressure on those states to get them the federal subsidies that they were funding but not receiving.

That is exactly what the plaintiffs argued in Halbig, and what the court ruled to be the intent of Congress as well as the statutory reality of the ACA. Just because that arm-twisting policy failed in its goals doesn’t mean it wasn’t deliberate, rational, and very much a part of the ObamaCare strategy then, and it doesn’t make it a “typo” now — or a “speak-o” either.

You can watch the video and see if it seems like a “speak-o” to you. More background here.

UPDATE: And here’s Gruber saying the same thing on another occasion. Meanwhile, Vox has been spinning the “mistake” angle. Oops.

See, the problem with Ezra, Gruber, and these other lefty “wonks” is that a real wonk is supposed to (1) understand the policy better than anyone else; and (2) care about getting the policy right more than about partisan political posturing. Double fail, here. But then, Ezra’s having a bad year.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more on Gruber. “I’ll just add that for all the left-wing pundits who called the plaintiff’s arguments in Halbig vs. Burwell ‘ridiculous’ and such, I’ll gladly barbecue some crow for you.”

MORE: Making the rubble bounce.

JAMES TARANTO: Socialist Supermodel: Not long ago, the left raved about the VA.

Paul Waldman, Greg Sargent’s deputy, sees broader ideological implications. “If Democrats are going to argue that government can be a force for good, their most basic responsibility is to make government work,” he writes. (An odd statement. It seems to us making government work is the “most basic responsibility” of anyone who chooses a career in the public sector, regardless of ideology.)

“As troubling as some of these allegations are, this controversy presents an opportunity for the administration,” Waldman continues. “This isn’t some kind of phony scandal like Benghazi: it’s a real issue with real consequences.” Christopher Stevens could not be reached for comment.

If, by the end of Obama’s term in 2017, “officials can say that every veteran who needs care is getting it without having to wait an unreasonably long time,” that “wouldn’t be just a victory for this administration” but also “a victory for the liberal vision of effective government.”

To which we’d add that if officials can truthfully say it, it’ll be a victory for the veterans too. . . .

The “secret” of the VA’s “success,” Krugman argued, “is the fact that it’s a universal, integrated system.” That saves on administrative costs and allows for efficient record-keeping. Krugman acknowledged that the VA had a history of mismanagement and mediocre care, until “reforms beginning in the mid-1990′s transformed the system.” But wait. Hasn’t it been a universal, integrated system all along? Maybe the secret is something else. At any rate, the Phoenix revelations suggest it’s the system’s failures that are being kept secret.

Well, as a former Enron adviser, Krugman has experience with spectacular failures that are preceded by hype aimed at the rubes.

Plus: “If Krugman is to be believed–a big ‘if,’ to be sure–the Bush administration did a far better job running the VA than the Obama administration is doing now.”

HE PROCLAIMED HIS INNOCENCE. AND PLAYED THE RACE CARD: NYC Councilman Ruben Wills arrested.

“I am not resigning on charges. This is America, people. We are presumed innocent before we are proven guilty,” he said. “But because I know what I am, where I come from and the color I am, it doesn’t really work like that with you guys. But I am presumed innocent and that’s what we are going with.”

Funny.  He considers our justice system guilty (of racism) with no presumption of innocence.

 

DIVORCE, BELTWAY STYLE: The Democratic breakup that exposes Washington’s rotten core.

The documents, which you can read below, did not become available to the rest of us until yesterday. They tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth. They tell stories not only of an ugly divorce, but of the power of lobbying, of how one family maneuvered to the center of the nation’s dominant political party, of the transactional relationships, gargantuan self-regard, and empty posturing that insulates, asbestos-like, the D.C. bubble.

That the broken couple now uses the tools of their trade—the phone-call to a friend, the selective leaking of documents, the hiring of attorneys, the launch of a public-relations campaign—against one another is more than ironic. It is fitting. Tony and Heather Podesta reached the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Barack Obama’s Washington. Now they, like he, are in eclipse. . . .

Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law. John’s innovation was to establish a corporate-funded think tank where the burdensome policies would be concocted, and whose staff would go on to man the regulatory agencies that put their wool-headed ideas into practice. And to whom do the corporations turn when they find themselves on the receiving end of all this uplift, all this do-goodery, all this progress, hope, and change? Why, to the man in the red Prada loafers, and to his flamboyantly patterned wife.

Read the whole thing.

RUBE-IN-CHIEF SELF-IDENTIFIES: Full Circle: Obama Defends Iraq War.

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Unions Suffer For ObamaCare:

The first problem is that Obamacare regulations are already pushing up the cost of multiemployer insurance plans. Moreover, many of the regulations don’t really fit the plans — for example, many multiemployer plans do not distinguish between single and family policies, offering everyone the same insurance at the same cost.

The second problem is that the 40 percent excise tax on especially expensive plans — the so-called Cadillac tax — is going to hit union plans especially hard. Unlike most people negotiating compensation, union negotiators make an explicit trade-off between wages and other benefits, and the benefit that they seem most attached to is generous health plans. Union plans are made more expensive still because union membership is heavily skewed toward older workers. They are thus very likely to get hit by the Cadillac tax, which takes effect in 2018.

And the third problem is that Obamacare undercuts one of the key benefits of being in a union. Take a low-wage service worker who is currently insured through her union’s multiemployer plan. If she went to work for a nonunion shop, she could get a substantial wage hike, use part of it to buy a heavily subsidized exchange policy, and still be better off. As I heard one expert say, Obamacare turns health insurance from an organizing tool to a disorganizing tool.

Oft evil will shall evil mar.

JAMES TARANTO: 1930-Something: Old-school leftists are unhappy with Obama’s America.

Reed disdains what he calls “the cult of the most oppressed,” the idea “that there’s something about the purity of these oppressed people that has the power to condense the mass uprising. I’ve often compared it to the cargo cults. . . . As my dad used to say, ‘If oppression conferred heightened political consciousness there would be a People’s Republic of Mississippi.’ ” (This all seems a bit out of place in Salon, whose usual stock in trade is exotic identity-based grievances. Last week the site ran an article by Randa Jarrar, an Arab-American novelist, titled “Why I Can’t Stand White Belly Dancers.”)

Conservatives share Reed’s and Frank’s aversion to identity politics, though of course for different reasons. They (we) see it as anathema to the classical liberal ideas of individual freedom and equality of opportunity. Reed pointedly rejects what he calls “a neoliberal understanding of an equality of opportunity.”

What Reed wishes for instead, in his Harper’s article, is a radical “redistributive vision,” which “requires grounding in a vibrant labor movement.” There’s more than a bit of nostalgia here: He opens by observing that the left “crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement,” and that “at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called ‘a second Bill of Rights,’ ” including “the right to a ‘useful and remunerative job,’ ‘adequate medical care,’ and ‘adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.’ “

What we actually have is a coalition of Wall Street — they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing — and gentry liberals, with enough minorities included as electoral fodder to provide key votes. But look who’s getting richer these days. It’s the .1 percent. A few rubes are just starting to catch on.

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Liberal labor union makes Republican arguments against Obamacare. “A new labor union research report offers a scathing indictment of how Obamacare affects middle-class workers. The report features a series of arguments that conservatives have long made about the law, right down to mentioning the language of ‘unintended consequences.’”

THE RUBES ARE CATCHING ON: The Uninsured Are Turning Against Obamacare. That’s A Problem. “Fifty-six percent of those who identified as uninsured in a new poll conducted in February by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a research institution, had an unfavorable view of the health care reform law, compared to just 22 percent who said they view it favorably. The uninsured now see Obamacare less favorably than they did when the enrollment period began in October. As recently as September, more uninsured approved of the law than disapproved.” Well, that was before people knew it was a train wreck.

PEGGY NOONAN: OUR DECADENT ELITES:

Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines? Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?

“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.

Or maybe they’re just stupid.

But it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?

I don’t understand why members of Congress, the White House and the media become cooperators in videos that sort of show that deep down they all see themselves as . . . actors. And good ones! In a phony drama. Meant I suppose to fool the rubes.

Or something.

THEY NEED IT EVEN WORSE THAN WE DO: European Tea Party Movements On The March.

According to The Economist, this “insurgency is doing well partly because the mainstream has done so badly. Governments encouraged consumers to borrow, let the banks run wild and designed the euro as the pinnacle of the European project.” And “in the past five years ordinary people have paid a price for these follies, in higher taxes, unemployment, benefit cuts and pay freezes.” As a result, more Europeans are viewing the modern state as being “designed to look after itself, rather than the citizens it is supposed to serve.”

Uh oh. The rubes are catching on. And the term “global superclass” aptly summarizes the ambitions of transnational progressivism.

BETTER KNOW A PLAGUE: Measles, Mumps & Rubella.

WHY THE SOUTH FELL APART IN THE SNOW.

There’s a simple explanation for that one, too. Birmingham is one of those cities that shuts down at the faintest hint of snow. Again, this isn’t because we are rubes who wonder why God’s tears have turned white and fall slower. It’s because the city does not have the infrastructure in place to handle snow, and is self-aware enough to realize it. If you don’t know how to swim, just stay out of the pool. Easy.

This time, though, the city did not shut down. Schools were open. Places of business kept businessing. That’s because as of Tuesday morning, we were being told that all that was coming was a light dusting.

That’s no disrespect to James Spann, who is a wonderful weatherperson and a bit of a local legend. But reports like that meant that when the snow actually started in earnest—and it became clear that it was going to stick—people were in offices and kids were at school, instead of being at home like they normally would.

That, in turn, meant that everyone was trying to get home at the same time, on snowy, icy roads that had not been treated, in cars that do not have four-wheel-drive (why would they?). These are, for the most part, people who do not drive in snow very often, which means that accidents like this one were common.

We got off much lighter here in Knoxville, but it was the same thing, basically: When I went into work, my weather app showed a 30% chance of light snow. By late morning it was already getting icy. I canceled my class and wound up being glad I did. Personally, I have four-wheel drive and snow-rated tires (they’re only all-seasons, but they’re good ones) and I know how to drive in the snow. I got home okay, but a lot of people had problems — and, of course, it doesn’t matter how good your car is, or your driving skills are, if you’re stuck behind jackknifed semi.

RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY: Byron York: Among ‘Obama Coalition,’ Obama approval plunges.

President Obama won re-election with the rock-solid support of what has become known as the “Obama Coalition” — young people, minorities, women, and low-income voters. Without a firm foundation — and high turnout — among those groups, Obama would not be in the White House today.

Now, little more than a year after the president’s re-election, his job approval rating has fallen among all segments of the American electorate. But it has fallen the most among those who did the most to elect him.

For example, according to a new Gallup compilation, Obama’s job approval rating among Hispanic Americans has plunged from 75 percent in December 2012 to 52 percent today — a drop of 23 percentage points, the sharpest decline among any voter group. Among Americans who make less than $24,000 a year, the president’s approval rating has fallen from 64 percent last December to 46 percent today. Among Americans 18 to 29 years of age, it has fallen from 61 percent to 46 percent. Among women, it has fallen from 57 percent to 43 percent.

The only key part of the Obama Coalition that did not experience a double-digit drop in support for the president is black Americans, although his support is down there, too — from 92 percent last December to 83 percent today.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya, Obama voters?

REBOUND EFFECT: Rube Goldberg Legal System Derails CA Bullet Train.

California’s bullet train boondoggle was sucker punched yesterday, as a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked $68 billion in bond funding. The same case saw a separate ruling allowing the state to spend $3.4 billion in federal cash for the project, while a second case (same judge) rejected the rail authority’s request to issue $8 billion in bonds that voters approved in 2008. The judge ruled the project would need to meet various mandates, compliances and environmental clearances before the funding stream can be allowed to flow.

The convoluted rulings are yet another sign that California’s toxic regulatory and legal environment makes any public works project slow, expensive and Pyrrhic. . . .

We’ve long argued that the train is an awful idea, but it looks like it’s starting to fail for all the wrong reasons. It would be good to see some common sense shape a consensus that the project’s exorbitant costs and marginal utility make it not worth the while. But no, the train is being derailed by red tape.

Big government self-derails. Opponents of big government should take a cue from environmentalists, and seize every available opportunity — and there will be many — for legal monkey-wrenching.

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: My ObamaCare Cancellation: Seething At The President I Helped Elect.

We received the letter in the mail a couple months ago. The good people at Regence Bluecross Blueshield were pleased to inform us that due to Obamacare our current low-monthly premium, comically-high deductible medical policy would no longer exist come January 1, 2014. Pleased, because a new and better plan would be offered in its place. Old monthly premium: $578 for a family of four (non-smoking, helmet-wearing, and paternally snipped). New premium: $1,123. A 94% increase.

Once the sound of boiling blood dissipated, in my head I heard my Republican friends chuckling at the sight of a liberal Democrat hoisted ten stories high on his own petard. How’s the view up there, Obamacare Ollie?

Plus this:

At a certain point in the conversation, the accountant/lawyer had to get off the phone. “I have to stop answering your questions,” he told Peter. “I can’t ethically advise you, because honestly I don’t know the right thing to do. Nobody does. There are no answers. Right now it’s a complete clusterfuck.”

Yeah, pretty much.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ can’t pronounce “misled.”

Two thoughts: (1) If it were Sarah Palin who’d done this, it would be all over the MSNBC/Daily Show/Colbert/Maher circuit as proof that she’s an uneducated rube; and (2) honestly, I’ve always thought “myzled” was a more evocative pronunciation, ever since, at age 8 or so, I found out that wasn’t actually how it was pronounced.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: “I Quit Academia,” an Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays. “In its insularity and single-mindedness, academe is also very similar to a fundamentalist religion (or, dare I say, cult), and thus those who abdicate often feel compelled to confess. But there’s an important way that Ernst’s essay distinguishes itself: Most I Quitters are like me, which is to say failed academics, or like Lord, whose disillusion hit her midway down the tenure track. Ernst is part of the sub-subgenre of quitters who did the unthinkable, giving up tenure. He joins, for example, scientist Terran Lane, who left the University of New Mexico for Google, and writer Anne Trubek, who ditched idyllic Oberlin when freelance writing was able to pay her bills.”

Original essay here. “I’ve had one foot in the academic world and the other in the business world for a few years. It’s been fascinating to observe the differences between the values of a small start-up and a large university. . . . What makes me pessimistic about my own university and public universities in the United States in general is that their inability to adapt isn’t due simply to bad leadership or an unfavorable economy. It’s based on structural features that are self-reinforcing.”

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

SO NOW IT’S THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Twelve years ago, InstaPundit was new. Now it’s not, and some people are even warning of “blogger burnout.” But I’m still here. On prior 9/11 anniversaries, I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party with Andrew Breitbart.

This year, as in most past years, it’ll be blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well. Which is too bad.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

Now, of course, with the Syria debacle, it seems like we’ve gone from tragedy to farce. Obama tried to channel W. last night, but he didn’t have it in him, and Syrian gas attacks on Syrians aren’t the same as Al Qaeda attacks on Americans. But a farce, however farcical, at least isn’t a tragedy. Yet, anyway.

OUR HOPEY-CHANGEY ECONOMY: “Our drop from 8.1% unemployment to 7.3% is analogous to losing 20 pounds by cutting off a body part.”

HEY, RUBE! “As a Democrat, I am disgusted with President Obama” – Leading New Media Guru Jeff Jarvis. “Did I mention that Jarvis voted for Obama?”

ACLU TO OBAMA: “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear.”

Under President Obama, the United States is “a nation governed by fear,” the American Civil Liberties Union says in an open letter that echoes the criticisms Obama has made of George W. Bush’s national security policies.

“[W]e say as Americans that we are tired of seeing liberty sacrificed on the altar of security and having a handful of lawmakers decide what we should and should not know,” the ACLU writes in a statement circulated to grassroots supporters and addressed to Obama. “We are tired of living in a nation governed by fear instead of the principles of freedom and liberty that made this nation great.”

It’s strange to read in light of Obama’s disavowal of Bush. “[T]oo often — our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions,” Obama said in 2009. “Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us — Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens — fell silent.”

The ACLU is circulating that statement in response to the Justice Department’s efforts to prosecute Edward Snowden.

Hey, Rube!

MORE RUBES SELF-IDENTIFY:

Pew survey, June 13, 2012: 89% of Germans would like to see Obama re-elected.

Spiegel, June 17, 2013: “If Barack Obama is our friend, then we really don’t need to be terribly worried about our enemies.”

Thanks to reader Roger Heinig for the links.

THE ONE CONSTANT IS THEIR HAND IN YOUR POCKET: Classic: States debate taxing green cars to recover lost gas tax revenue.

I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion that, because gas taxes pay for roads, it’s unfair for those who aren’t buying gas to get what critics call a literal free ride. This problem is more pronounced with bike riders who argue for reconfiguration of entire cities’ roads without throwing a whole bunch in the pot. But the larger point is how elaborately stupid, counterproductive, and at odds with themselves idiotic governments become in using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money. Um, yes, that’s what we were saying years ago when you started subsidizing these cars with thousands of our dollars and lecturing us about how awesome it was going to be. STEP AWAY FROM THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES IN YOUR MINDS. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Indeed.

YA THINK? Obama’s Scandals Help the Tea Party, Hurt His Friends.

President Obama had big plans for this second term, but they’ve been pulverized by a slew of controversies that have erupted all at once.

The White House’s defensive crouch only tightened after revelations last week about Top Secret government programs to track Americans’ phone and Internet activities.

In addition to justifying those programs, it must also resolve the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups, satisfy inquiries into the death last year of four U.S. officials in the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack, and balance its claims of transparency with the Justice Department seizing the records of reporters at the Associated Press and Fox News who cover classified security issues. The president tried instead on Friday to sell Obamacare’s rollout as a success, yet he had to devote a fair share of his appearance in San Jose, CA to a reporter’s question about the government accessing phone and Internet records. . . .

Taken as a whole, these controversies have re-ignited the Tea Party movement, while also offending liberal supporters who believed that Obama would dismantle the national security state he inherited from George W. Bush.

Hey, rube!

ANOTHER RUBE SELF-IDENTIFIES: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: I mistakenly believed in Obama’s promises.

HEY, RUBE! Americans Are Outraged Because in Voting for Obama, They Thought They Were Rejecting Bush. Meet the new boss, yada yada.

UPDATE: Heh. Obama’s Apology Letter To George W. Bush. “I am sorry that, as a United States senator and presidential candidate, I was critical of you about so many things I now, myself, am doing. . . . You can take heart that, even though I am a Democrat, I decided to keep going nearly all your vision and plans on national security and even take it to all-new levels.”

THE TELEGRAPH: Not superhuman Barack Obama, just a very naughty boy.

This, so Barack Obama used to say in his stump speech of 2008, “is not who we are”, and the thousands who ecstatically cheered that slightly glib line instinctively knew what he meant. “This” was shorthand for George W Bush, and for those oppressively dark and fetid corners of government activity with which his name was synonymous: Guantanamo Bay, drones, the surveillance powers granted to the state by the Patriot Act, and the other measures taken in response to the atrocities of 9/11.

As for the “we”, in its royal or imperial usage that of course meant “I, Obama”, but it also referred to the wide-eyed disciples who worshipped him as a deus ex machina, floating down from his Illinois Olympus to cast healing sunlight on all those dirty little nooks and crevices, and allow America to call herself the land of the free without inviting sardonic smirks.

Five years on, Guantanamo Bay survives, the teenage computer gamers of the US military guide ever more drones to deliver remote control destruction, and we now learn that the government’s use of electronic surveillance is so wide-ranging that the default adjective of Orwellian barely seems adequate.

There is no form of communication or online activity – phone calls, emails, web page visits, Skype, social networks, and so on – that the National Security Agency, under its Prism programme, may not follow as and when the fancy takes. It can track users’ activities in real time. Assuming it has the technical capability remotely to activate lap top cameras, the age of the telescreen has arrived.

Hey, rube!

AUSTIN BAY: Benghazi Revisited: The Dead Get Pinocchios.

In a column published on Sept. 18, 2012, I argued that verified tactical military details of the engagement, the iconic date itself, and subsequent, very explicit statements by Libyan government authorities, left no doubt that on 9-11-2012 the U.S. consulate in Benghazi suffered a planned attack by an organized anti-American militant Islamist militia. A terrorist force had hit us with another 9-11 terror attack, and Americans had died, among them our ambassador to Libya.

Given the facts, the Obama administration’s bizarre claim that a sacrilegious Internet video had inflamed peaceful Libyan demonstrators — and in an outburst spurred by overwhelming theological pain, this moody crowd murdered our unfortunate ambassador — just didn’t wash. . . . As for passing major media smell tests before the 2012 presidential election? Of course the blarney passed ‘em! But eight months after the attack and six months after the election, even President Barack Obama’s chief media enablers have begun to acknowledge the video-did-it propaganda tizzy the administration orchestrated was stench itself.

And orchestrated propaganda it was, with the video-did-it narrative hedged by presidential statements calculated to slyly finesse terrorist complicity in the attack.

Glenn Kessler, who writes the Washington Post’s fact-checker column, now informs his readers that the president’s claim he called the Benghazi attack an “attack of terrorism” rates four Pinocchios. That’s Kessler’s cute way of calling our president a complete and thorough liar. . . .

The video whopper and the slippery presidential phraseology were coordinated spin — the video to fool the rubes pre-election, the slick rhetoric to fool them now.

Read the whole thing. And note: “On Sept. 16, Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megari, announced that he had no doubts the militia’s leaders had predetermined the date of the attack. That same day U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five television shows and repeatedly blamed the video.” Scapegoated filmmaker Nakoula is still in jail.

MATT YGLESIAS SAYS 401KS SUCK. Instead he calls for “a much more forceful, much more statist approach to forced savings, whether that’s quasi-savings in the form of higher taxes and more Social Security benefits or something like a Singapore-style system where ‘private’ savings are pooled into a state-run investment fund.”

The problem is, those approaches suck, too. Social Security is going broke. If you want to see a pooled state-run investment fund, look at CalPers. It’s going broke amid horribly politicized mismanagement. And state-run pension funds are subject to all sorts of politicized investment decisions that have nothing to do with the interests of the pensioners. At least with 401k plans, the politicians aren’t involved — though I sense a political move to change that, too . . . .

Ultimately, there’s no magic solution to retirement savings, though a higher economic growth rate would help a lot. But the solutions being peddled all seem to involve putting more power into the hands of the people who have created the problems we face now.

UPDATE: A cynical take from reader John Koisch:

Do you get the feeling this is all battlefield preparation for Obama to start implementing his limitations on retirement savings? We never heard of this as a problem until Obama took office.

The real problem here is that, just as in Healthcare, my sense is that Bambi is going to turn to his friends, the “experts” to manage these funds on behalf of the state. And we will inevitably come across the 401K version of the IPAB … the group who removes funds from your account because of your 18% return and gives them to the other guy’s account who only got 5%.

The common theme in all of these is the co-opting of the corporate world. What government can’t do well, it borgs from the free-market. And when captains of industry face declining rates of return, they turn to the government to protect their fiefdoms and provide “guaranteed” rates of return. And the little guy and small business is left out of all of this … rubes.

Yes, if you’re not connected you get the shaft.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails this link: “It takes two words to show Yglesias’ statist approach is massively unwise: Chrysler bondholders.”

HEH: “So that’s what austerity looks like.”

Related: “Doing without is for the rubes.”

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): The Scary Thing Is That This Bad Jobs Report Wasn’t Even About The Sequester. It’s caused by the end of the payroll tax cut. Wait, does this mean tax cuts help employment, and tax increases hurt it?

UPDATE: Jobs Report? What Jobs Report? Hey Look, Gay Marriage!

We are, however, thrilled that we don’t have a Republican in the White House, because if we did, the press would be incessantly yammering about this bad news until we were all sick of it. As it is, they are likely to say as little as possible about what appears to be a massive failure of economic policy and go back to covering the really important issues, like gay marriage.

If a Republican president got very busy on social issues at a time of economic stagnation and disappointment, there would be earnest hand-wringing of the “What’s Wrong with Kansas” variety about how American rubes were being diverted from their true economic interests by the skillful manipulation of emotionally charged social issues and identity politics. This would be taken as a sign of the cynicism of the ruling party and the clueless credulity of the hypnotized voters.

Fortunately, we aren’t going to have to listen to any of that depressing rhetoric now. Social issues are good and important; economic questions like jobs and incomes and growth are a distraction from the real business of the people.

Indeed. Plus, from the comments: “Most important number: 63.3% labor force participation rate – lowest since 1979.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: The Administration’s Jobs Debacle.

MORE: Austan Goolsbee: Jobs Report A “Punch To The Gut.” But gay marriage!!!!

STILL MORE: March jobs number are ‘a punch to the gut’ as Americans flee workforce and young people lose optimism.

When Dow Jones asked a group of economists to predict the number of new jobs the US economy added in March, the average answer was about 200,000. Friday’s numbers, released by the US Department of Labor, were just 44 percent of that figure, an 88,000-job showing that paled in comparison to February’s 268,000 and represented the lower number since June of last year.

And although the official unemployment percentage figure decreased slightly from 7.7 per cent to 7.6 per cent, analysts say that only happened because, as in past months, so many Americans dropped out of the workplace entirely.

Young workers in particular are feeling the pinch of disappearing opportunities.

How’s that hopey-changey stuff workin’ out for ya?

DEMOCRATS’ “CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS” ON RAPE cause anti-gun bill to be defeated.

Plus, dumb comments not about rape: Selling a gun-control bill with excessive honesty: “I make no assertion that this bill will either increase or reduce violent crime. That is not the premise of this bill.” In all honesty, it’s not the premise of gun control in general. The crime stuff is just to fool the rubes, who seem to be harder to fool, on this subject at least, lately.

THE RUBES ARE CATCHING ON? Youth abandoning Obama; just 43% approve. “The just-released Economist/YouGov poll reports that only older Americans age 65 and above have a worse view of the president, with 53 percent disapproving of his performance and 47 approving.”

NICK GILLESPIE: State of the Union: Will Obama Tell Young People He’s Screwing Them Big Time?

Listen up, kids! Your parents are robbing your futures blind and you’re chumps enough not only to go along but to say – like the adorable title orphan in the classic baby boomer musical Oliver! – please, sir, I want some more.

From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation. First and foremost, his response to the Great Recession – stimulus and the massive piling up of debt – is slowing the recovery. Ginormous regulatory schemes such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of huge new soul-and-bucks-sucking programs such as Obamacare weigh heavily on the economy now and in the future too. His refusal to discuss seriously old-age entitlement reform – Medicare and Social Security and the 40 percent of Medicaid that goes to old folks – is a massive storm front on the economic horizon. His preference for secrecy and overreach when it comes to executive power won’t screw young people as obviously as his economic policies, but when he leaves office in 2017, he will have created far more terrorists than he needed to.

Yet The New York Times reports that not only did 18-to-29-year-olds vote for Obama by far-higher-than-average percentages than folks over 30 years old, they believe that by far-higher-than-average percentages that the government needs to be doing more, not less. This, despite record levels of government spending and debt – and awful results – for the whole of the 21st century.

Hey, rubes! Related thoughts here.

BEN SMITH: Obama Prepares To Screw His Base: Young people re-elected the president. Now they get to pay disproportionately for ObamaCare. “The near-total silence on this issue is a mark of a class that is either utterly selfless (hard to believe, honestly) or, as usual, singularly bad at seeing and defending its interests.” Hey, rubes!

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCING BLOWBACK ON ITS CAYMAN CAMPAIGN ISSUE: Cayman Islands investment snags Jack Lew nomination. “An investment Jack Lew made in the Cayman Islands has been flagged as an issue in the Treasury secretary nominee’s vetting by the Senate Finance Committee, according to multiple sources close to the confirmation process.”

Hey, the campaign’s over. You’re not supposed to take that stuff seriously. It’s just for the rubes!

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: An automated Rube Goldberg-style pancake-making robot.

HEY, RUBE! Obama Has Three Big Priorities This Term, and Ending the Drug War Isn’t One of Them.

VIK RUBENFELD: Maybe It Is All About Race. “One more possible element to Obama’s reelection deserves sufficient consideration: it appears likely that a substantial percentage of Americans may have voted for Obama in order to demonstrate that Americans have put racism behind us. . . . For decades, adults have been told, and more importantly our children are now taught, that America owes penance due to a past history of racism. It is inevitable that this would play a key part in the reelection of the nation’s first black president. This was a massive error on the part of pro-Obama voters.”

STRATEGYPAGE: Austin Bay: More Benghazi Questions.

The Benghazi attack, if it proved to be a planned attack rather than a spontaneous response to a video created without Obama’s approval, would call into question at a politically inconvenient moment the fundamental assumptions that guide his administration’s Middle Eastern diplomacy — in particular, the history-changing impact of his own personality and his insistence that his diplomacy is smart. A planned attack would also demonstrate that the Terrorists War on America continues, no matter what George W. Bush and Barack Obama call the conflict, and that al-Qaida remains capable of orchestrating terror attacks that have strategically deleterious effects on U.S. policy.

The video-did-it narrative gave Obama a political shield to deflect criticism of personally dear policies and achievements. It also gave the old community organizer a rhetorical cudgel to wield against intolerant, Muslim-despising bigots in America. Partisan Democrats connect those code words to bitter clingers — Republican rubes who cling to their guns and religion while waging war on women. Obama went with, then stayed with, the video narrative because he and his campaign advisers believed it was a foreign policy shield and domestic political sword.

Read the whole thing.

OUR PRO-TORTURE PRESIDENT: Barack Obama’s Department of Justice Railroads CIA Torture Whistleblower Into Reduced Guilty Plea.

President Obama has said that waterboarding is torture, as has Attorney General Eric Holder, who runs the DOJ. Given that, combined with Obama’s repeated insistence that his administration must encourage whistleblowing, you would think that the administration, led by the DOJ, would celebrate a CIA agent who exposes such practices, and seek to punish those who carried them out.

Instead, we have the reverse.

Yeah, it’s like all that stuff was just a bunch of malarkey to fool the rubes or something. All the Democratic apologists who are still riding Obama’s bus might want to rethink. Oh, who am I kidding — they’ll want to avoid thinking about this at all. And, I predict, they’ll succeed entirely. Probably while saying something bigoted about Mormons.

ANOTHER STATE DEPARTMENT SCANDAL: An American lawyer named Warren Rothman was tortured and nearly killed in China. State Department officials inadvertently collaborated with Rothman’s would-be killers and didn’t exactly handle that mistake in a confidence-inspiring manner. Joel Brinkley has the story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

[Rothman] contacted officials at the State Department Office of the Inspector General and told them of the distressing role the acting consul and other consulate officers had played in his own drama.

Well, late last month, the inspector general’s office wrote back and told Rothman, “We have determined that the appropriate office to address your concerns is the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs” – the very State Department office where the diplomats in question worked.

There’s an ineffectual response, if ever I have heard one.

I wrote to the agency and asked why on earth it had referred Rothman back to the office where the accused bad actors worked. Brian D. Rubendall, special agent in charge of the office, told me simply: “Our office made the decision that” the State Department bureau was “best suited to handle the complaint.”

I hope I never have to count on these people.

SO HOW TO NOTE THE ELEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11? In the past I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party.

This year, as in most past years, I’ll just keep on blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have much new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating today.

You should also watch this memorial, made shortly after the attacks. It’s still quite powerful.

UPDATE: Sarah Hoyt: “Has it really been eleven years?” A must-read post that’s more about the present than the past.

VIK RUBENFELD: How the Left Captured Academia, the Media, and Other Organizations. “Alinsky-style behavior in the workplace itself may have been the key.” This ties in with all the emailers who are afraid to have their names publicized.

CARDINAL TO RAHM EMANUEL: So what exactly are “Chicago Values.” I think it’s all about the Benjamins, with a veneer of moralizing to fool the rubes.

GOTCHER “HOPE AND CHANGE” RIGHT HERE: Obama “Will Pivot to the Drug War” in Second Term, Claim Anonymous White House Sources.

Hey, rube!

UPDATE: Reader Alan LeWinter snarks: “How many terms needed before Obama pivots to the economy?” Heh.

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: “Could somebody please get Barack Obama to shut up about ‘outsourcing’ until some undergraduate aide has explained to him what the word means? As it stands, the president is showing himself an ignorant rube on the subject, and that is to nobody’s advantage.”