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“The Five Year Plan Was Overfullfilled”

November 4th, 2013 - 4:02 pm

What most frightens those who have ever built a database application isn’t finding that it doesn’t work, but discovering, after some minutes of false satisfaction, that you are getting different answers to the same query.

Most professionals will try to fix the problem. But there’s another alternative. Hide it. Pretend the system works and keep up the charade as long as you can. Kathleen Hennessy of the Los Angeles Times describes an incident which might have taken place in Stalin’s Russia or the Death Star.  Prior to it failing, the “President was told [the] healthcare website would work, official says” — even though it wasn’t working.

WASHINGTON — President Obama was assured that the healthcare insurance website was ready to launch on Oct. 1, even as private contractors and some administration officials knew the site had failed in early testing, a senior White House advisor said Sunday.

Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer said the president repeatedly asked about the website, a key piece of his 2010 healthcare overhaul legislation, and was told it would meet his expectations.

Along with the president, Pfeiffer hyped the website in the weeks before the troubled launch, promising it would “be a consumer experience unmatched by anything in government, but also in the private sector.”

The system had been in  free fall for three years, but nobody wanted to listen. “Three years ago, a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of Obamacare. A memo obtained by CBS News said strong leadership was missing and the law’s successful implementation was in jeopardy. The warnings were specific and dire — and ignored.”

David Cutler, who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign and was a valued outside health care consultant wrote this blunt memo to top White House economic adviser Larry Summers in May 2010: “I do not believe the relevant members of the administration understand the president’s vision or have the capability to carry it out.”

Cutler wrote no one was in charge who had any experience in complex business start-ups. He also worried basic regulations, technology and policy coordination would fail.

Naturally nobody wanted to be the bearer of bad news, to tell the Big Guy that his Legacy — his claim to public immortality — was lying in ruins on the coding floor. Instead they told the Boss what he wanted to hear. It’s fine boss. In the words of Matthew Yglesias before the rollout:

I’ve got a new column up about the White House’s plans for the rollout of the Obamacare exchanges and I wanted to once again take the opportunity to lay down a marker and say once again that Obamacare implementation is going to be a huge political success.

You can say that again.

In effect, they faked the query that management was waiting for. And if the database kept giving a different or nonsense answer each time they pretended it was consistent by relying on hacks, toadies and claques to reassure the occupant of the Oval Office that everything was just fine.

The White House dismissed these and other warnings. It relied on appointed bureaucrats and senior White House health care advisers. Fearful of constant attacks from congressional Republicans, the White House became secretive about the law’s complexity and regulatory reach.

This was ethical because everyone knows that the Narrative is stronger than Reality.  Given a choice between fact and fiction, print the fiction. As Deval Patrick put it, Obamacare is not a website. It’s  a statement of values.

So when it became apparent that the website was well and truly broken, the first instinct of the White House was to implement more sleight of hand. Applicants were told alternative enrollment methods were available even if in reality the alternative was a cruel hoax,  since those taking their details by phone still had to use the same broken system they were supposed to replace.

Internal memos from the Obama administration suggest Obamacare’s Web problems are holding up the entire enrollment process, including the phone and paper options that President Obama and top officials are pushing as an alternative to the troubled website, according to a report by ABC News.

“The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online),” an Oct. 11 memo from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight says, according to ABC.

“The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option,” it says. “At the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue.”

But at least the public feels better. Obamacare may not give you insurance to treat your dread disease, but it gives you the Hope that you will.  And if you keep feeling hopeful until you’re too sick to care then the problem is solved. What the Administration apparatchiks are now worrying about is how to keep the public from ever learning the truth about their higher insurance premiums as Jake Tapper explains:

Washington (CNN) – Officials expressed concern that the next shoe to drop in the evolving story about the Affordable Care Act would be disappointment from consumers once they are able to get on the troubled website – disappointment because of sticker shock and limited choice, according to a new document obtained by CNN.

“Mike described a general concern of PM (Project Management): getting to the point where the website is functioning properly and individuals begin to select plans; the media attention will follow individuals to plan selection and their ultimate choices; and, in some cases, there will be fewer options than would be desired to promote consumer choice and an ideal shopping experience. Additionally, in some cases there will be relatively high cost plans,” say the notes from the Obama administration’s Obamacare ‘War Room’ from one week ago.

The president may by now resigned to the fact that consumers will eventually see how they’ve been ‘helped’. But so they won’t have time to be outraged by the draining feeling of thousands of dollars leaving their pockets, he’s prepared a PR  blitz on immigration reform to change the subject. The Daily Caller reports:

President Barack Obama will go on the offensive this week to shift the public’s focus away from the catastrophic and politically damaging roll-out of his Obamacare network.

He’s got a closed-door Nov. 4, meeting with political allies at his Organizing for America group, where he’s expected to tout the program which is driving up health-care costs for millions of Americans.

He’ll push for a big immigration increase on Tuesday, fly to Texas on Wednesday for a health-care speech, and jet to New Orleans Friday for another speech on the stalled economy.

It’s a brilliant move, relying on the well proven fact that no one remembers a toothache after being struck on the head by a 64 ounce hammer, a treatment whose efficacy has often been demonstrated by Moe on Curly Joe. By applying this sovereign remedy it is virtually certain that by this time next month no one will remember Obamacare because they’ll be caught up in some new catastrophe.

Of course none of this fixes the problem, merely hides it and spins it away; a process similar to pasting a static picture on the front glass of a dead Iphone to make it seem like it’s working. It may not be working at all, but it won’t matter as long as the customer is distracted long enough for the vendor to sell it and get away.

The Economist says that Barack Obama’s supporters are worried that he is “a terrible manager”. Nothing could be further than the truth. He can sell anything, even if the product never ever works.

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Top Rated Comments   
"Of course this puts me in a bind, and my own solution will probably be to resign this Friday. I have a "no disasters" rule, which in long form pretends to some attempt at professionalism - for what that's worth in today's world. For sure, it has not proved the royal road to riches."


You have to be happy with yourself since swimming against the tide usually leads to ruin. Although success at the very highest level requires talent and intelligence, modest success seems attainable by formula. How hard can it be? We see mediocrities clamber up the ladder every day of our lives.

Step one: Build up a list of people to suck up to and then assiduously brown nose. But the all around careerist must also learn the fine art of betrayal. Know how to stay with the corporate train wreck until one can advantageously jump and only if you rig it so that someone else is blamed. If all else fails, lie. Lie with a straight face, and with feigned indignation. Never admit even part of the blame. Even if your own excuses sound too pat or implausible to be accepted remember that nobody ever went broke by underestimating the stupidity of his audience.

The applause from your dissimulation will disabuse you of any doubts about how dumb most people are. The most demoralizing thing about life is the realization that people can be fooled so easily. The worst thing about being Obama, I think, is that you have to take advantage of the blind.

But if you want to make it, play them for saps. Succeed socially by reading joke books, by memorizing pickup lines and using them; aping the fashions that are published in newsstand magazines. You will hate yourself for being so phoney, but in recompense a certain sort of woman can never get enough of you. Because really, phoney sells.

Learn to express the conventional opinion in the cheap and cheesy snarky way that passes for cleverness. Being "edgy" is really just another word for being utterly conventional.

Being really unconventional is choosing to follow your inner drummer. And as you know, there's little percentage in that, so be prepared to march alone at times. You'll have some company, it's true. But they'll be mostly the sort who neither want nor offer sympathy so that maybe at the end of your life you may actually repent of your stiff-neckedness and regret most of it as spent in the sin of vanity.

Then you may wish you had come in from the cold and learned to boogie with the rest of them. But that was the illusion. When you come right down to it, we live as we do because there is nothing else one could have done. It is our fate to be as we are and the slimeball path we always thought was always open to us in days gone by really wasn't. The real fantasy was thinking we could have led someone else's life.

Perhaps we come in the end to a realization and acceptance of who we are. The last thought of a dying lion is probably, "whaddaya know. It had to be this way after all."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hmastercylinder, leave "African Americans" and the rest of us alone. Your group-think is racist, so I don't care what you think about President Obama or Obamacare.

If I were in your class, I would learn some things about you, but I probably wouldn't be learning much math or economics. If you can't deal with people or think about people or talk about people as individuals, then you should go find someone who can help you learn. Good luck!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Pfeiffer hyped the website in the weeks before the troubled launch, promising it would “be a consumer experience unmatched by anything in government, but also in the private sector.”

Well, he wasn't lying about that part.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (83)
All Comments   (83)
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Brilliant article Wretchard.

You sucked me in there for a bit- the 'data base' in reality being the formless void of magical thinking that Hope and Change describes but never details out in reality, and the toadies, hacks, and flacks surrounding the One inventing what he wants to hear...

This Administration is a complete Potemkin Village.
You just have to laugh at the MSM as they wiggle desperately trying to recover whatever shreds of credibility they imagine they might retain.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Since their "no questions asked" base seems to be over 50% of population and possibly more (if they will be able to push through their immigration "reform") their credibility with you and me doesn't matter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Democrats at today's hearing are really, really trying to get the Republicans to grab hold of their tar baby, ObamaCare.

So Republicans, be politically incorrect and follow Br'er Rabbit's example and let Br'er Fox keep all the "credit" for himself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"there will be fewer options than would be desired to promote consumer choice and an ideal shopping experience. Additionally, in some cases there will be relatively high cost plans"

Wow, that's right up there with "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage". Couldn't happen to a more deserving car of clowns.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama: What dost thou know me for?

Us: A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel b*tch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry, but these sycophant defenders of the president merely underscore the utter worthlessness of this hollow man. {}bama and NO ONE ELSE is responsible for selecting the cowards and flatterers who hadn't the AUDACITY to tell their master his toplofty fantasy was turning to a pile of manure. It is MONSTROUS that he was elevated by powerful and rich men throughout his life --- men who schemed to make him their puppet, all the while creating and feeding a megalomaniac who never had a clue that he was NOTHING like the heroic genius of the age they kept whispering in his ears that he was destined to be.

All the while they were grooming him to be the slick mannikin whom they expected would follow their perverted orders--- fed to him as the logical manifestation of his own giant intellect, and so beyond questioning or criticism by any of his swooning lickspittles --- HE was taking their financial support and seeing it as confirmation that he was indeed the Genius of the Age.

Coin of the Realm is, after all, the sincerest form of bribery.

The truly pathetic aspect of this comedy is that the power brokers --- including evidently a rich Saudi of the extended royal family*, as well as the well-known Hungarian currency speculator and his regiment of flatterers and toadies--- didn't seem to reckon that their princeling would "not stay bought." Even the Saudis have reason to regret this particular investment.

{}bama unembarrassed used their loot and blocking to accede to power, and now believes HE is his own maker. It is a delicious irony that they who perverted and twisted the institutions that were supposed to make this country the strong and wholesome nation it USED to be, are now more likely to be betrayed by the jester they ennobled, than to enjoy the voluptuous retirement they'd sought.

So the trainwreck proceeds apace. Lies and fabricated stories pile up faster than they can be documented, confounding both the admirers and the investigators. Failures of grandiose squanderings of taxpayer monies are so commonplace that it might almost be reasonable to expect some benefit to the economy from just the change the grifters dropped in their haste.

In my youth I laughed at the image of Scrooge McDuck diving into and back-stroking his way through mounds of coins and thousand dollar bills filling a vault that stretched into the misty distance.

Amazingly, Bernanke and company have actually managed to make this image a reality. The sad thing is that the warehouse full of currency after the coming galloping inflation will probably buy a couple of burgers and a soda.

* Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal is supposed to have been persuaded to provide the funding for Obama's lifestyle and educational expenses --- Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law School --- by none other than Khalid al-Mansour, Black Nationalist and "mentor" to the founding of the Black Panthers in the early 1960s. Those schools may have each subsidized the charade in their turn, thinking they were repaying an historic debt to the supposed oppressed third world indigenes presumed to have suffered so much at the hands of their European longfathers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
IMHO,prior to the 2014 elections, these facts will be clear to any sentient being.
1. The current website is irretrievably defective and will have to come down as patching it up will create more problems than it solves;

2. The sheer unwieldiness, complexity and incomprehensibility of this labyrinth will render impossible a reliable, dependable, secure website-even using the best talent;

3. Individuals and families will continue to lose their policies creating tremendous gaps in coverage, generating horror story after horror story;

4. Personal medical information will be compromised and leaked to the administration and its cronies, in order to blackmail political opponents;

5. The number of hackers and scammers taking $ for non-existent policies will greatly outnumber persons who obtain actual coverage from the site.

These have been the "salad days" for libs, but as with any good situation, they can't help but demand another serving of Lotus. They are crack addicts, demanding more and more and more until it's all gone. Most people have tolerated this level of intrusive government, but not of this type or amount. As a friend said to me, "jamming an umbrella up my posterior is one matter-opening it while it's up there is quite another." (Seriously paraphrased).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The complexity and incomprehensibility of the website is a perfect and intended mirror of the system of oppression that these monsters meant to impose from the beginning. 2700 pages of impenetrable language and abysmal referencing in the original bill were deliberately OBSCURANTIST and obstructive to even focused study.

It is (I conclude) fully intended that the new agencies, committees, offices, and departments created with this demonic legislation, will inundate the citizens of this country with a welter of clashing and contradictory regulations, so that NO ONE can ever be certain again that they are not in violation of several dozen of them. This gives the government tremendous power over people, to charge them, or threaten to charge, imprison and fine them.

Look, There are now FIVE FEDERAL AGENCIES given authority to come into your place of business AT ANY TIME and impose an audit of your business records to ascertain whether your business is fully in compliance with all their regulations. You will be subject to FINES and criminal charges if you resist, or if they suspect you're not showing them EVERYTHING they want to know.

If you didn't notice how the Democrats behaved as a crowd of tiny little spitting Napoleons when they had for only 24 months a "supermajority" just watch what they do now that their stinking health care plan is unfolding. Just because the website shows again that they are towering incompetents, don't imagine for an instant that they will admit to any embarrassment. If anything, this will more likely make them all DOUBLE DOWN and proceed with prosecutions of anyone who fails to knuckle under.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"2. The sheer unwieldiness, complexity and incomprehensibility of this labyrinth will render impossible a reliable, dependable, secure website-even using the best talent"

yes indeed, it must be extremely difficult to translate bureaucratic gibberish into functional computer code
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They're still reporting the status with the Obamacare website.

Saying the problem with Obamacare is the website is like saying the problem at Pearl Harbor was the air raid sirens.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Obama's disapproval rating based upon the Gallup Poll just hit 53%, refer to:

53% disapproval is a critical number. If you look at Real Clear Politics average poll for Obama's job approval, Obama's all time worst disapproval rating was 53.2%, refer to:

Obama's current disapproval rating is 51.9%. Obama still needs to drop 1.3% before he beats his old record for disapproval.

At present, Obama can fool himself by saying that his polls have been worse and his friends in the MSM can still fish him out of the toilet. However, after he drops below 53.2% then everything changes.

George W. Bush started out as a very popular President with 90% approval rating., refer to:

Note that Bush's popularity hung around 50% for over a year. Then there was the final collapse after which the MSM's anti-Bush narrative was accepted by the public. Bush's popularity eventually dropped to 25% and he effectively became a lame duck.

Get Obama's disapproval rating over 60% and he's toast.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What he said was, "If you'll Ike your plan, you can keep it" --he meant, if you'll arrange your floor plan with Eisenhower-era furniture, you can keep it that way. "If you want to keep Yurdok Ture, you can keep him", referring of course to the book of poems of Yurdok Ture, the Armenian goat shepherd.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If I were head of the Republican National Committee…

From: Chairman of the RNC
To: All GOP candidates and office holders
Subject: The ObamaCare Opportunity

The troubled ObamaCare roll-out offers a unique opportunity for all those who support the cause of Liberty & Prosperity.

1. Our highest priority must be to link ObamaCare to Mainstream Media (MSM). Linking ObamaCare to Democrats is redundant and a waste of scarce resources.

2. Always remember that MSM is Statism’s Center of Gravity. It may feel satisfying to rail against Obama, Sebelius, Democrats, Liberals, etc., but our true objective must be the neutralization of MSM.

3. While avoiding an “I told you so” tone, every GOP candidate and office holder should emphasize that we have been trying for years to protect America from the disaster that is ObamaCare. This is worth repeating – it is conservatives/libertarians who have been trying to save America from this catastrophe.

4. However, MSM blocked our warnings from reaching the public. They used their megaphone to push the Narrative that we are waging a war on women, that we are racists, that Paul Ryan wants to push Granny over the cliff, that Mitt Romney & Bain Capital are evil and the Tea Party are terrorists – in general, we are so “icky” that no one should pay attention to our ObamaCare warnings. While their megaphone was blaring the Narrative, our highly accurate critiques of ObamaCare were sent down the MSM memory hole as if they were of no consequence whatsoever. MSM bears as much responsibility for the ObamaCare catastrophe as Obama himself or any other Democrat. That is the message we must drive home!

5. If we fail to use this opportunity to weaken MSM, here is what the world may look like at the time of the 2014 elections: The ObamaCare debacle will be deemed “old news” and the headlines will be filled with new items that are designed to block our message; perhaps a story about a Republican sheriff in Podunk, Arkansas, who has been accused of mistreating puppies.

There will always be stories out there that MSM can use against us. Our only hope is to weaken MSM so their Narrative loses its power.

More on MSM as Statism's center of gravity here
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Only half of the parishioners a Jonestown were forced to drink the Kool Aid. The others knocked over their "friends" getting to it while proving their "faith" and allegiance.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I hate to rain on your parade because I agree with much of what you say.

Tragically, a significant percentage of voters have swallowed the left's kool-aid.

Academia and the MSM have used their megaphone "to push the Narrative that we are waging a war on women, that we are racists, that Paul Ryan wants to push Granny over the cliff, that Mitt Romney & Bain Capital are evil and the Tea Party are terrorists – in general, we are so “icky” that no one should pay attention to our ObamaCare warnings"...successfully.

The 2012 election proved that reality.

Faced with ObamaCare's 'punishment' why would indoctrinated voters believe those on the right who in their view, wage war on women, are racists, are greedy capitalists who are willing to push Granny over the cliff, thus are evil and are 'terrorists' to boot?

Why would they not believe Obama and the left's assertions that it is the evil, greedy insurance companies who are responsible for cancelled policies and skyrocketing premiums?

Why would they not believe Obama and the left that the actions of the evil, greedy, capitalist insurance companies proves... that only a government run, single payer nationalized health care system can provide affordable health care and address the inequities of our current system?

Of course they'll believe Obama because the alternative is to accept their own stupidity, gullibility and pathetic ignorance.

The secret to a great con is to get the victim to invest their self-esteem so heavily in the scam that their own pride won't allow them to face up to the truth when it rises up and smacks them in the face.

Churchill knew of this; "Most people, sometime in their lives, stumble across the truth. Most jump up, brush themselves off, and hurry on about their business as if nothing had happened."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We must take on this fight. There is no alternative. If we have have learned anything in recent years, it is that it does no good to engage in a Kabuki dance with the Dems, while the supposed referee (MSM) is sticking a knife in our back.

I say, use economy of force against the Dems and direct the main effort at MSM. Can't say which tactics will work and which won't. Let's try high altitude bombing, submarines, torpedo planes, maybe dive bombers. You never know, something might get thru.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As Instapundit recently suggested if you have enough money buy them and redirect them. In other words, take their megaphone away.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Soon enough we will all be able to afford them- what did Newsweak go for again...?

I'm interested in how the WAPO evolves. Wouldn't be the first time somebody smart and successful in one business area invests in by "catching a falling knife in a declining asset class...".

Tough to see how to change the entirely delusional Journalista culture without a massive wake-up call. They are like alcoholics in denial.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Fighting the MSM is like mud wrestling with a pig. You both get dirty but the pig likes it.

IMHO, a new office needs to be created for managing the MSM. The Roman Republic had a magistrate called "the censor". The censor had limited political power but considerable prestige / moral authority. A censor was typically an ex-consul who had served with distinction. One of the censor's tasks was to maintain public morality (this is where the word censorship came from). An American censor could be tasked with the task of shouting "Liar!", "Bias!" or "Fraud!" every time the MSM attempted to defend a popular demagogue. The censor could also be very vocal about the conduct of a President who was performing badly and openly suggest that a particularly incompetent President should resign.

The censor would be appointed for life and have unquestionable patriotism and sagacity. George Washington or Harry S. Truman after serving as President would been good censors.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I could easily see an effective campaign based on attacking the honesty and candor of the media, and showing them attached at [insert body part of choice] to Obamacare. What I cannot see is the Institutional Republicans doing it. They are too preoccupied with attacking their own base.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
that is a serious problem. maybe Tea Party groups can pool some resources and run this campaign without mentioning GOP.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not yet. Why become the big target to the Alinskyites,
when you can simply be one of an Army of Davids?

Reality is intruding already- don't get in the way of the wake up call for the low-info-voters, or give them someone to blame. Obama is making himself a fool already desperately looking for someone, anyone, to blame, and there's not enough people in the WH Admin for him to throw under the bus as is. Ted Cruz is looking smarter all the time- who got played here, again...according to the MSM?

Who's got the popcorn?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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