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Belmont Club

Victory At See

March 26th, 2014 - 3:34 pm

The administration has mastered the art of declaring  victory at will. Not that it means anything, but it sounds good. Obamacare, which has missed one deadline after another and has promised not to extend yet again … has extended yet again. As Avik Roy at Forbes wrote “Though the Obama administration repeatedly insisted that its March 31 enrollment deadline for Obamacare’s first year was “firm,” many observers predicted that the administration would combat lagging sales of health law-sponsored insurance plans by extending that deadline. Sure enough, on Tuesday night the White House indicated that it would be postponing that drop date in order to squeeze as many people as possible into the program.”

Count on them to let you down. HHS said they didn’t even have the power to do it. But now they’ve done it, on an “honor basis” without a deadline too.

On March 11, Julie Bataille, the appropriately-surnamed spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that “we have no plans to extend the open enrollment period. In fact, we don’t actually have the statutory authority to extend the open enrollment period in 2014. …

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth. … According to a Health and Human Services official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about decisions that have not been made public, an exact time frame for this extension has not been set, and it will depend in part on how many people request it. Nor have officials decided precisely how long people will have to select a health plan after they get the extra time.”

Not that it matters. Sixty percent of uninsured don’t even know about the deadline and more than half have decided not to sign up anyway, according to the Kaiser Health Foundation.  It is as if even the lowest income people in America understand that Obama’s deadlines have all the rigidity of a rubber band.

But if the Obama administration has a problem observing its own deadlines, it is nothing to the contempt with which foreign enemies treat his Red Lines. The New York Times says the challenge now is for President Obama to regain his credibility somehow. “While President Obama insisted again on Tuesday that the West would not recognize the annexation of Crimea, officials in the United States and Europe have privately concluded that Crimea is lost and that the real challenge is stopping Russia from further destabilizing Ukraine.”

Ivo H. Daalder, a former ambassador to NATO under Mr. Obama and now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said the fate of eastern Ukraine, not Crimea, should be the priority for the administration now. “If the basic question is whether we focus on Crimea or focus on the next thing, the right thing to do is to focus on the next thing,” he said in an interview. …

The administration cannot admit that publicly, however, because it would be taken as a sign of capitulation. … In The Hague, administration officials repeatedly sought to avoid saying directly that the United States and its allies had accepted the annexation as a fait accompli. A senior administration official who briefed reporters on Monday under an agreement that he not be identified said Mr. Putin could incite more serious sanctions by trying to stir trouble inside Ukraine.

So they pretend they’ve won, even though they know they’ve lost and are reduced to searching for ways in which Putin can be induced to believe him next time.

Perhaps by impressing upon the Russian dictator a true appreciation of the president’s brilliance, Putin can be made to respect him. Obama’s supporters argue that the president is playing some devious and brilliant game whose snare will be drawn at the proper time. It would be a mistake, says Anne-Marie Slaughter, a director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009 to 2011, to interpret events in Ukraine as a hostile act. Obama knows better, unlike former NATO officials and ambassadors who seem to regard the past month’s trouble — as trouble.

The West is playing into Vladi­mir Putin’s hands by treating Russia’s annexation of Crimea as the return to a world in which Russia and the United States are once again principal adversaries. Yet a trio of current and former NATO secretaries general took exactly this position at the Brussels Forum over the weekend, announcing that 2014 marked the end of the post-Cold War era. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said that Putin “has reignited a dangerous, pre-1991, Soviet-style game of Russian roulette with the international community.” Michael McFaul , the most recent U.S. ambassador to Russia, has written that the annexation “ended the post-Cold War era in Europe.”

If Putin is unimpressed it is only because he’s too dumb to be awed by a being far beyond his comprehension.  But Jeffrey Folks at the American Thinker is unmoved by Obama’s refusal to stoop to ordinary umbrage. “For Obama, the Great Man is the man who refuses to negotiate, the one who advances but never retreats, the one who presents himself as ‘above’ partisanship while pursuing his own ends, the ‘only adult’ in the room.”  He is unimpressed because the Great Man act’s not working.

Just yesterday “president Obama declared North Korea’s nuclear program ‘unacceptable’ during a meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea on Tuesday in The Hague.”

Kim Jong Un however, appears not to be listening to the Great Man. In fact, he is treating Obama with positive derision. “North Korea fired two ballistic missiles capable of reaching both Japan and South Korea as President Barack Obama hosted the first meeting between the leaders of the U.S.’s biggest Asian allies. … The launches also coincided with the anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, in 2010. Forty six sailors died in the incident, which a multinational investigation blamed on a North Korean torpedo fired from a submarine. North Korea denied any role in the sinking.”

Kim is like a punk stoning the police station. He’s not much of a punk, but then maybe the cops aren’t much of a police either.

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post offers this advice: “Please, Mr. President, stop talking”.

His obsession with words and his excessive self-regard are what got us into this and other situations in which seemingly two-bit powers run rings around him. That’s not a reflection of their relative strength, but of the president’s ineptitude in defending U.S. interests.

Now — are you sitting down? — Obama made an even more troubling comment on Tuesday, calling North Korea’s nuclear program “unacceptable.” Umm. . . . Yikes! That is precisely what he has been calling an Iranian nuclear weapon program. But North Korea, it is widely believed, has a nuclear weapon. So we now know all too well that “unacceptable” means a two-bit regional threat defies every international norm, threatens the United States and our allies and incurs the rhetorical barbs of the president of the United States — but suffers no real consequences for its actions. Good grief.

How will cutting back on talking help? Maybe the president suffers from what has been called a low signal to noise ratio. “Signal-to-noise ratio is sometimes used informally to refer to the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or exchange.” The president utters a lot of words, but nobody seems to know what they mean. And the more words he utters the less people get the drift.

For example: is an Obamacare deadline a deadline or is it a sort of deadline? Is a Red Line a Red Line or just in a manner of speaking? If North Korea’s nuclear program is “unacceptable” or if Russia’s seizure of the Crimea is “unacceptable” then how come it’s been accepted?

Even stupid minds want to know.

When a cheap tub of lard like Kim Jong Un doesn’t get the message maybe there is no message. There’s such a low signal to noise ratio that it appears to be all noise. So when the New York Times asks itself what president Obama should do to regain credibility obviously he must do something different. He has got to change something.  Yet what he must change is the hardest thing of all to alter. He cannot bring himself to address the single most significant point of failure, which he regards as the single greatest factor for success.

Himself.


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Top Rated Comments   
Or, he's just an affirmative action kid and community organizer and has never been held to produce something or face the consequences of his actions, just choomin' and golfin' through life. Poor baby.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obamacare is missing its deadlines because it's a bad, overpriced product. Its sales channels, the exchanges, are expensive and often don't work. The business rules are senseless and complex. The actuarial numbers are terminal. That's why the thing isn't selling. The problem is not the packaging, it's the item.

It's the same problem with the administration's foreign policy. The reason it lacks credibility is because it premised on fantasy. It rests on a fundamentally flawed assumption about the nature of the world. The world has dangerous regimes in it. It has bad people who are not simply misunderstood.

Consequently the policies based on that faulty premise, as with insurance based on bad numbers are never going to work. And they will seek in vain for the magic inflection, the perfect words, the transcendent speech, or the transformational talking points to fix things. They think the reason a crumbling building looks bad is the paint. No. It's the building sinking into its shambolic foundations.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here’s another way of looking at it- Barack Obama likes to pretend he’s a lawyer. As a matter of fact, I think he views governance and public affairs as a legal matter that can be settled in a courtroom, where even if the facts aren’t on your side, if you have enough other things stacked in your favor (you’re smarter, more eloquent, clever, have better resources including the power of the state, etc.) you can prevail. And since you are just the lawyer, if you lose there’s really no price to be paid. Your client may go to jail, but you get to go home.

Obama’s not a criminal attorney or ever tried a case, but I think the principle is the same. I think this is his entire presidency, in a nutshell. He thinks he is operating in some legal proceeding where the advantages have always been his, He probably thought in the beginning of his presidency that he could run his mouth and some judge or arbitrator somewhere would recognize his brilliance and award him victory over Iran, Putin, whoever. It seems to have worked for him for much of his life.

But this is the bare-knuckle world of real bad guys and real bad outcomes. Now, I think he’s just going through the motions on a lot of these things. He doesn’t have to believe or care, partly because he knows he still has enough things rigged in his favor to keep him personally out of trouble, and hey, if things really go south, someone else will be paying the price, not him. He's just the lawyer.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (99)
All Comments   (99)
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The behavior of the present chief executive is convergent upon the behavior of the initiator nexus of cells responsible for a coordinated heartbeat in the human chest. As the "orders" become increasing chaotic, the ejection fraction of the chambers drops to nil. Despite furious activity, the blood no longer moves, the oxygen no longer is delivered to crucial organs; Death follows.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
It appears that Obamacare is suffering from a bad case of civil disobedience. If enough people don't sign up, it can't work mathematically. Thus the desperation. What are they going to do next. Have uninsured people arrested until they enroll? IMHO, even that, (especially that) wouldn't work. It's toast. The dems just don't know it yet.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, in reference to the "Goat Simulator" noted by uddy arsen; it only lacks two goat ropes and a county fair to describe our national government.

Second, returning to Ukraine. Of course Obama is fixated on the Crimea to the exclusion of the rest of Ukraine. That puts him TWO steps behind reality. The Crimea is gone and cannot be retrieved by diplomatic or military means.

Short of an all out effort by NATO, including the US, to defend Ukraine, it is not defensible. And a large portion of that defense would be the sudden change in correlation of forces caused by NATO nations discovering that there is something worth fighting for. This effort is physically and politically impossible, because there are not the NATO capabilities to do such, especially with a major US/NATO force trapped in Afghanistan and held hostage logistically by Russia. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I grant that Ukraine could defend itself, using the deterrent theory of Mutual Assured Destruction and scorched earth. If they set off/threatened to set off explosions and fires inside their 15 nuclear reactors akin to Chernobyl, they can make not only their country but major portions of Europe uninhabitable. Those portions include major parts of Russia, and there is not a bloody thing that they could do to prevent it or to stop the damage from continuing. It took a major Russian mobilization, when they had larger forces, and a kamikaze-type effort to kinda-sorta secure one reactor at Cherynobyl.

Pretty sure that is not going to happen, but the threat should give even Putin pause.

With Russian forces lining up at their start lines to move west into Ukraine [even the US government is admitting such, discreetly]; Ukraine is gone one way or another.

The next effort should reflect that fact and that the greatest need now is to prevent the next attack on full NATO/EU members. A successful Russian incursion into the Baltic Republics, or other NATO/EU member would destroy the alliance, and leave every European country cutting the best deal it can, individually, with Russia.

The effects will not be limited to Europe. Every other country that has any sort of treaty [commercial, political, or military] with us will have to assume that all bets are off. That is not going to help us.

Short form possible positive US reactions in the short term:

Public and visible deployment of CVBG's and MEU's in the Med and North Atlantic.

Withdrawal of US [and NATO] forces from Afghanistan ASAP. We have lost the war there politically, the puppet government we installed is already cutting deals in alliance with Taliban and Al Quada, and their presence in Afghanistan at the logistical sufferance of the Russians give them a tight hold on our short and curlies. A good place to put them as they withdraw is in Western Europe, at least as a temporary measure and deterrent against a Russian push against a NATO member.

There are other follow on measures to be taken, but that would involve a political dynamic that may never be possible again in the US. However, none of them involve a new commitment for the US. That is making the assumption that the US government and people still support NATO. If we do not, then the option at that point is in our hands, not the Russians. And the withdrawal of our forces and the end of NATO can be used as leverage by our country for our benefit in Europe.

Subotai Bahadur
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Naval forces are useless in the Med. Better in the Baltic, with Poland/ Baltic Republics as fly-drive over country...Turkey cannot be trusted.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Would not trust Turkey at all. I see the Eastern Med or Adriatic as a holding position giving us the most options to launch strikes to protect NATO members, with an option of projecting force into the Middle East in the event of a Russian sponsored diversion there. The MEU gives ground combat options if inserted.

Baltic is too restricted. North Atlantic/North Sea gives similar option for northern European NATO members.

YMMV

Subotai Bahadur
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Channeling Walt:

"Everytime a Democrat Congressman gets his pair of silver 'rings',
an Angel in heaven gets his wings."

.... Clarence Odbody - "Its a Wonderful Life"

Congress man Leeland Yee must have forgotten to give Holder his cut of the action.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama invested almost all of the political coin that the MSM handed him on Obamacare to the detriment of more import national concerns, e.g. economic recovery. Obamacare was to be Obama's legacy socialist entitlement program in analog to the Social Security Program for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Big difference: Franklin D. Roosevelt was a competent socialist politician while Obama is not.

Obamacare will almost immediately fail after costing the American taxpayer billions of dollars. I should mention that the Social Security Program will also eventually fail due to demographics and fiscal misconduct but that's another story (socialism always fails eventually).

Different topic:

The Ukraine claims that 100,000 Russian soldiers are poised for invasion, refer to:

http://news.yahoo.com/ukraine-claims-100-000-russian-troops-near-border-151112283.html;_ylt=AwrTWfycSTRTzxkAs3_QtDMD

This is probably a lie intended to attract support for the Ukraine from the US and the EU. Putin probably does plan on eventually conquering the Eastern Ukraine when he can do it with minimum Russian casualties. Ideally, Putin would like to scare the Ukrainians into abject surrender without firing a shot.

The Russian propaganda over at Zero Hedge is hilarious to read. It's so over the top that the FSB/SVR intelligence officers managing Zero Hedge are destroying it as a useful agitprop asset. I guess they figure the invasion of the Ukraine is so important that they should go all-in and bet everything.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, I think Obamacare's problems also have a lot to do with the fact that FDR and LBJ and Jimmeah and Billary added so many socialist programs that we can not only not afford Obanacare but even as much as a jelly bean jar on the POTUS desk, either.

The Design Margin did not get all used up at once.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
The basic mechanism of socialism is a no-brainer for the ethically challenged politician. The socialist demagogue merely transfers wealth from the un-entitled minority to the entitled majority in exchange for votes from the entitled. Absolute power would certainly follow for the demagogue if it were not due to the annoying detail that the un-entitled eventually runs out of money.

Printing money is one way to get around that annoying detail (steal from everyone through inflation) but even printing money fails in advancing socialism after the currency becomes worthless.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Back to more mundane issues...In support of the most recent Obama(don't)Care extension, Harry Reid alleges a big part of the need is based on senior citizens unable to deal with the internet.
False.
1. No one over 65 needs Obama(don't)Care...Medicare/ Medicaid is required by law and enrollment is automatic, easy and debugged. And mostly on line.
2. So, are all those over 50's who are having trouble completely without grandchildren as smart as Harry's? (He indicated that his grandchildren knew lots more about the internet than he...no surprise there)
3. Is this a hidden RAAAACIIST comment indicating that the chosen are not signing up like instructed by their race-baiting managers?
4. Are all people over 50 ('cept themselves) just plain stupid?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Moochelle's leadership style under attack at the New Republic-http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117086/inside-east-wing-who-shrank-michelle-obama
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Desirée Rogers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desir%C3%A9e_Rogers#White_House_gatecrash_incident

"Rogers was in the center of the controversy surrounding Tareq and Michaele Salahi, where the couple was able to enter, uninvited, a November 2009 state dinner hosted by President Obama in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Secret Service ultimately took the blame for the failure after Democratic-majority members of the House Committee on Homeland Security voted against issuing Rogers a subpoena. According to The Washington Post, details of the dinner planning meeting between Rogers's office and Secret Service personnel are "being guarded by the [Obama] administration as a virtual state secret."[24]"

Perhaps Tareq and Michaele Salahi were too close to being the equals of Barack & Michelle as poseurs???
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
OK, after trying three browsers I was able to scroll the TNR article. Let me see if I got the points of the article. First, the author bemoans the fact that Michelle isn't taking on the big issues because she has the same light-bringer powers as Barack. Second, that Michelle's actual efforts all seem to screw up, ...

... but of course one big reason she is restricted to smaller stuff is the one famous statement she did make on big issues about "for the first time in her life she was proud of her country".

I can't actually recall a First Lady who did serious public work that I respected, it's either frothy stuff where you go, "That's nice" and move on, or it's Hillary doing her cow in a china shop routine. Even Nancy Reagan, moving mostly behind the scenes, got in china (small c) trouble.

That all said, I seem to be in the minority, I kind of like the tone of Michelle's public efforts, although she needs to improve both her fashion consultants and her dietary consultants. IOW, by all the evidence I've seen, it's probably best she sticks to the small stuff.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
And thus the advent of the 4 post rule. Holy cow Doug, Paula Abdul?
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, objection noted.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
--doug, tho your content and presentation is nearly always sometimes entertaining and worthwhile --the sense of the comments (being as presentations at a conference) will sometimes get lost when the thread goes to stream of consciousness. That's probably why some folks quit when the session git too rowdy. For example me, i'm kinda laying off, partly because i'm dull-minded but also because you're prolific enough for both of us essentially same-named commenters.

An idea: register two or three names and no one will know any difference as long as you write as different personas, only one of which will be Duke Kehanamoukou the Surf, the others being the angry insightful patriot with the great links.

And as long as you're doing that anyway, how 'bout lets retire the oppelganger usiness ecause it's onfusing even to me; i see 'uddy arsen' and lways hink it's me for a econd or two --promptly derailing whatever pitiful toy train of thought i might've laboriously been attempting to wheeze out of the roundhouse.

"Duke the K"? "Aloha Oy Ve"? "Cuckoo Nutz"? "Serf Bored"? "Waikiki Be Itch"?

"Moan a Layer"? "Howl Alia"? "Diamond Heard"? "Keel a Weigh Ya"?

"Honor Lulu"? "Serfin' USA"? "Lava Flows to DC"? "Obsidian Here Writing"? "My Nutz in my Palms"?

"Wail Lei Awake"? "Foola Who La Hula"? "Isle Amiyai, Hula Yawl?"? "Mutiny on the Bennies"? "Moody on the Bounty"? "The Sand Dunce thee Sees"?

"Angers Aweigh"? "Vowelcanic Interruption"? "Mood & Me on the Bounty"?

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34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
uddy arsen has 37 posts and counting.....
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
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