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Belmont Club

A Run of Bad Luck

January 3rd, 2014 - 3:38 pm

The administration’s Foreign Policy has been going badly for some time. Al-Qaeda has been retaking Western Iraq.  The Coalition anticipates losing much if not most of the territory it gained from the Taliban the minute it leaves Afghanistan.  President Obama’s “war of necessity” in Afghanistan is now officially more unpopular than Iraq at its most unpopular. Heck it’s more unpopular than Vietnam. US intelligence estimates the whole thing will collapse when the coalition pulls out.

A civil war may be breaking out in Lebanon. President Obama has abandoned the Western-backed rebels in Syria and reached out to the Islamists. The Islamists have laughed in his face.

In a Principals Committee-level meeting at the White House in early December, top officials from several national security agencies convened to decide on the next steps in the Obama administration’s Syria policy. The leadership of the Free Syrian Army, the moderate Western-backed rebels, had been chased from their headquarters in Northern Syria, leaving U.S. non-lethal aid in the hands of the Islamic Front, a new alliance of Salafist groups estimated to control over 130,000 fighters throughout Syria.

At this meeting, the top U.S. officials decided to open up direct engagement with the Islamic Front for the first time in the three-year civil war, according to three administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal government deliberations.

The invited Islamists didn’t show up. “The truth is, we don’t for sure know why the Islamic Front pulled out of the meeting. It could have been because they were insulted,” one administration official told The Daily Beast. ‘Right now, there is no follow-up meeting scheduled.’”

Max Hastings thinks that World War 3 may yet break out in Asia, fueled by a rivalry between Japan and China. And if that weren’t enough, there’s Kim Jong-un.

BEIJING — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful uncle was stripped naked, thrown into a cage, and eaten alive by a pack of ravenous dogs, according to a newspaper with close ties to China’s ruling Communist Party. …

Hong Kong-based pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po reported that Jang and his five closest aides were set upon by 120 hunting hounds which had been starved for five days.

Kim and his brother Kim Jong Chol supervised the one-hour ordeal along with 300 other officials, according to Wen Wei Po. The newspaper added that Jang and other aides were “completely eaten up.”

Some media outlets have scoffed at the reports largely on the grounds that it was inconceivable that anyone could do this, although they do admit that nobody can believe that the unspeakable horrors of Pyongyang’s Gulag could have existed either. Let’s just say the whole place is going to the dogs.

Kim might not be the president’s fault, but it does seem as if the world is on a losing streak; that the boiler of crisis is containing an ever growing head of steam.

As David Beatty said at Jutland after watching battlecruiser after battlecruiser blow up: “something is wrong with our ships today”.  Michael Moore knows what’s wrong. Moore writing in the New York Times, explains why Obamacare is doing so poorly.  Listen to his closely reasoned argument.

I believe Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could — is a result of one fatal flaw: The Affordable Care Act is a pro-insurance-industry plan implemented by a president who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go. When right-wing critics “expose” the fact that President Obama endorsed a single-payer system before 2004, they’re actually telling the truth.

What we now call Obamacare was conceived at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and birthed in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then the governor. The president took Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions. In effect, the president was simply trying to put lipstick on the dog in the carrier on top of Mitt Romney’s car. And we knew it.

By 2017, we will be funneling over $100 billion annually to private insurance companies. You can be sure they’ll use some of that to try to privatize Medicare.

For many people, the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act risks being a cruel joke. The cheapest plan available to a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year in Hartford, Conn., will cost $11,800 in annual premiums. And their deductible will be $12,600. If both become seriously ill, they might have to pay almost $25,000 in a single year. (Pre-Obamacare, they could have bought insurance that was cheaper but much worse, potentially with unlimited out-of-pocket costs.)

The recent difficulties experienced by the administration’s flagship program are all a plot hatched at the Heritage Foundation to force Obama to go against his single-payer instincts. Didn’t you guess that from the start? And we already know the NYT has reaffirmed the cause of the attack on Benghazi as occasioned by a video, just like Hillary said. Afghanistan will turn out to be George Bush’s fault.

The administration knows how to campaign, but it is less adept at governing. It promised a new outreach in the Middle East. It aimed at the lofty goal of a world without nuclear weapons. It pledged to end the war on terror “where it began”. Not too much luck so far.  Success has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. That recently the administration has spawned a lot of orphans may be due to the fact that it’s in the shell game business.

Obamacare was supposed to be about making people well. But as Megan McArdle observes it is really about funneling money to insurance companies.  ”For an economist, insurance is a financial product, health insurance as much as life or auto insurance. Auto insurance probably doesn’t improve your driving much, but it does protect your assets if you’re in an accident. It may not be what we expected Obamacare to do … but it’s probably what we should have expected.”

Cutting costs means tort reform, increasing the supply of doctors and medical professionals and increasing competition. That might be more meaningfully achieved by removing excessive torts, increasing the supply of doctors, improving competition among health care providers, etc rather than by centralizing insurance. But the government doesn’t do cost cutting. However it does do mandated payments for insurance.

Obamacare may turn out to be a MacGuffin: “a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation as to why it is considered so important.” It’s a red herring; a substitute goal.   The administration started off doing a whole lot of irrelevant things which looked good but did nothing.

And in the end you get nothing.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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Top Rated Comments   
Every educated person should read Marx, and "Mein Kampf" and the Koran and Hadiths. If you do not know what the threat is then how can you defend against it? The joke was that you could spot the Intel officer because he was the friendly guy willing to talk to you and he had read Marx.

If the NYT was to write a story on the death of Kim's uncle it could include, "Knowing his Uncle was about to die Kim saw to it that he was surrounded by family and friends at the end. Even the dogs whimpered." It is not much of a surprise that the dogs in North Korea were ravenous. The surprise is that they were themselves uneaten.

When ultimate power is mine (chortle chortle) I shall task the NSA with infecting all media computers with a virus that replaces the word "unexpectedly" with "predictably." Then we shall break the Left wing monopoly (Viacom) on billboards so that all voices can be heard.

What comes next? I'm waiting for the Democrats to impose regulations that turn nova scotia lox into rubber, because they can.

Can we send Al Gore to the ship stuck in the ice in Antarctica? We could send Michael Moore but the whales may have a union. They'd need a bigger ship.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Mediocre results"? In Medical innovation; "basic science, diagnostics, and therapeutics — the United States has contributed more than any other country, and in some cases, more than all other countries combined." http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/bending-productivity-curve-why-america-leads-world-medical-innovation

There's a reason why in 2010, The Canadian premier of Newfoundland and Labrador traveled south to America for a cardiac surgical procedure at a U.S. hospital. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/02/03/danny_millions_williams_heads_south_for_heart_surgery.html
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not bad luck at all. It is either terminal incompetence, or it is extreme competence with everything working exactly as intended. When you consider the breadth of data and data points we have over the last 5 years; it is possible to make a relatively high confidence judgment.

In the normal run of things, in the absence of intense effort to make things go a certain way, blind chance would have eventually have had something come out to the benefit of the interests of the United States. Have we had anything work out right in the field of foreign affairs where the regime has been consciously involved. I remove two things that happened from consideration. The first is the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which apparently happened over the objections of and behind the back of Valerie Jarrett. Obama was literally dragged off the golf course to pose for the picture in the Situation Room. The other was the killing of the Somali pirates and rescue of the Maersk Alabama. From the moment of the rescue, there was word that the captain of the USS BAINBRIDGE who ordered the rescue did it despite restrictions placed by the White House.

Absent those two events, what planned foreign policy initiative of the regime has been good for the United States [not Obama's political maneuverings, but the United States]?

If there has been none, then the laws of probability have been tampered with and it implies a concerted effort to make things come out the way they have.

Subotai Bahadur
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (77)
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Be aware folks, that the Michael Moore "Heritage Foundation Did It!" meme is catching on in some quarters. Remember that in a thread in a previous post I mentioned that I heard this line in a gym locker room, of all places.

Long before our time, when the scoundrels-that-be screwed up royally, they blamed the ensuing calamities on the Jews and Gypsies, and were believe by many or most. Now it's the Republicans and Tea Party. Human nature NEVER changes and never will. Shake your heads, but keep your eyes on the horizon.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The only power conceivable to Michael Moore and his fans and allies in the entirety of the Democrat party is absolute power. If Obama, or whomever is President, does not have his will enacted into law and enforced to the smallest jot, then Obama’s will is thwarted.

Moore, honored guest of the Democrat Convention, and his fans and allies and the totality of the Democrat Party have never known the theories of democracies or republics, having never been taught them in any school, college, or university. Their political theory begins and ends in Socialism.

To thwart the will of the omniscient, just, and righteous marks the opposition as beyond all Socialist civilization. And we all know where that road leads.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let me get this straight; the new Obammunist party line is that they (1) admit Obamacare is a failure, (2) blame the Republicans for using their Jedi mind tricks to design it to fail, and (3) demand that Republicans support Obamacare and help the Democrats make more of it.

A maze of twisty little passages, all alike--that's what passes for a mind in Michael Moore.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
So this is what technocracy has come to. I’m glad were lead by the Ivy League-educated best and brightest.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The government's new national symbol:

http://img363.imageshack.us/img363/863/att00010hi3.jpg


14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Who wants to ruin the Oriental food experience by serving the real thing?”

One wonders if the same thing could be said about the proverbial “girlfriend experience”...

Seriously, the word “oriental” was a completely respectable literary term – one used most extensively by Marxists, no less! – until a fanatic by the name of Edward Said came along and vilified the academic study of Islamic societies as “Orientalism”. College professors have been scared to write honest history about the Middle East ever since. Even the fresh air of Ibn Warraq has not been enough to lift the fog of academic fear – one could almost call it a reign of terror – promoted by Edward Said.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the explanation on O/oriental.

MachiasPrivateer below: at the risk of being tiresome, does all this apply to things like curricula and referenda? Is there no curriculum or referendum? Is pudenda singular? (I hope not, that's a frightening image)
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
One thing for E. Said --he co-sponsored building the great West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, out of Seville, with his Jewish partner, the toweringly talented pianist/conductor Daniel Barenboim. The WEDO players all very young, extremely talented, and deliberately mixed among Arab and Jew.

Here playing the Pastoral, Beethoven 6th, the sweetest sounds imaginable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW-7CqxhnAQ

...leaves one wondering how much worse the world could be if musicians ran the damn thing. The answer i think is not too mucking fuch worse at all. In fact, almost certainly (come to think of it) far far better.

For example, imagine this orchestra being handed the fine kettle of fish currently headlining as the new Benedict Arnold at West Point play, AKA the loss of Ramadi and Fallujah, and being busily (busy busy busy!) being made even more extravagently rotten by the grotesque Chef Masque of the Kerry, whose horrifying visage appearing as presidential candidate in 2004 was certainly the sign the enemy was looking for, to tell them to either continue the fight or retire for the next few centuries, as they did after stinging 16th century defeats at the Seige of Malta and the Battle of Lepanto.

Interesting to note that Kerry & wife sold the company she somehow inherited lock stock and barrel after the hubby had died in that tragic (cough) private plane crash. Yup, sold Heinz to good ole grinnin' grampaw insurance tycoon Warren Buffett, or is it Buffet, seems a few days or weeks after Kerry's grasping the controls of one of Obama's bosses' biggest wrecking balls, the Dept of State of the United States of America.

Not long before that, Heinz had sent North America boss to replace founder/CEO Daniel Lucis Vasella as new boss of Novartis, of the St John's district of Switzerland's array of the finest producers of psycho popcorn poison Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hide pellets for excess over-consumption by the lost young listeners of Suburbia, as well as the myriad returning combat vets who come home to find themselves locked into yet another fight for their lives, this one Back on the Pharm, and they didn't even get to see Paree.

Naw, because someone (someone who knows flattery can keep a, say, Kerry, from ever knowing that he himself is too stupid to understand how stupid he is) is relentlessy determined to show that that drat place with that damn Constitution with that smart-ass 2nd Amendment, is a poor bet for survival.

Kerry's giant vote of no-confidence in Kerry must portend USA stocks --or maybe USA itself --are cruising for a bruising. Buffett must think that his services to Obama are worth more than the implied coming loss on Heinz can bruise a good short-seller, most especially one with all the inside info there is.

Well, i swore i'd quit typing when that band stopped playing, and it just did. God what music, so non-lethal and un-preposterous.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Meanwhile, the people who really matter, doing the things that really matter, forge ahead....

"Dennis Rodman has named a team of former NBA players to participate in an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un's birthday."

I hope the dogs are not hungry.
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
It will go down in the annals of history as the most teachable moment if Dennis and his buddies get eaten for beaten the NORK Troll.

I promise I won't laugh out loud...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I will not make that promise.

Subotai Bahadur
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, she got to stay in Hawaii.
I'd count that as a win.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
To the title of the post written by Mr. Fernandez:

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as "bad luck." " - R.A. Heinlein

Bad luck seems to creep up on Mr. Obama and his Regime frequently. Could it have something to do with reality, and avoidance of the same?
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Clever witticism, but has it ever happened? Not in Rome. Or Japan. Or Germany. Or England. Or France. History is long, nations and cultures are many. I want at least one hundred examples divided equally among various eras.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, we're back to First Fallujah, as described by Anbar Iraqis in this WaPo article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/al-qaeda-force-captures-fallujah-amid-rise-in-violence-in-iraq/2014/01/03/8abaeb2a-74aa-11e3-8def-a33011492df2_print.html

Entropy does its thing, as we all knew it would when this second Jimmy Carter was elected, all around the world, but most tragironically in the war that our President "ended". He was hired to end wars, y'know, that's how he sees it.
A weak America causes more war, and as we see it pile up all over the world, this simple reality is undeniable. I am leaning to agree with Subotai, after all this, it seems unlikey to be accidental. If America wanted to make a positive contribution to peace, there must be something we could do… besides palling around with terrorists, our new allies like the Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians, Russians.
Finally, "al Qaeda has been decimated" enters history, in same category with "if you like your doctor…."

15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting tangent to health food. Very good points Richard!

My insights into herbal medicine come from my mother, a traditional herbalist. Dr. Mike Savage is also an herbalist. I learned too much of a good thing can be bad.

My mother passed on Feb last year. Her shop is a shack but it is an oasis of healing. Her niece and namesake continues the legacy. She is trained in the traditional from her Oma plus she is a certified Master Herbalist. the mistakes cited in your link are not made here in this shop.

www.mrsmangoherbs.com

Saalam eleichum and Happy New Year fellow Belmonters!

RWE3 can now find me! I just "came out"!
15 weeks ago
15 weeks ago Link To Comment
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