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It’s getting old, isn’t it? Except for the schadenfreude, of course. Tasty, tasty schadenfreude.
Get your guesser going:
There is a larger point here. It lies in the nature of government work. It is near-impossible to fire anyone in the civil service–and without the fear of firing, the incentives for hard work diminish. (And also the rewards for finding creative solutions.) This is the 130th anniversary of our Civil Service system, enacted by Chester Alan Arthur. It may have been a good thing in 19th century, when Abraham Lincoln was hiring political hacks to run the post offices–but it has transformed agencies like the VA and HHS into lugubrious sludge glaciers in the 21st century.
The President should set the tone for the way the federal government operates. This President hasn’t done that. He still has three more years in office to get it right, perhaps even to propose some radical changes in the work rules governing federal employment. He could even force DOD and VA to agree on the unified electronic records system that he promised.
Otherwise, there is a danger that the Obama Administration will be remembered as not even good enough for government work.
Joe Klein, ladies and gentlemen. Joe Klein calling the Democrat President a “buckpasser.”
This is the unofficial report from ADP:
A private survey shows U.S. businesses added just 130,000 jobs in October, as the 16-day partial government shutdown slowed an already-weak job market.
Payroll processor ADP also said Wednesday that companies created just 145,000 jobs in September, far below the 166,000 it had reported earlier this month.
The job market had been weakening even before the shutdown started Oct. 1. Employers were also worried about a standoff over raising the federal borrowing limit.
The September job figures were the fewest for the ADP survey since April. Hiring was especially sluggish among companies with fewer than 500 employees. Job creation at services companies fell to 107,000 in October from 130,000 last month.
Ouch. At this rate we’ll return to full employment never.
A school administrator at has warned students at Quinnipiac University that “insensitive costumes” such as “a Mexican, hooker, gangster, or promiscuous nurse” are “as offensive as writing the ‘N-word’ on a blackboard.”
“Costumes that exaggerate, stereotype, generalize a particular ethnic culture [or] gender, [are] insensitive,” said the Connecticut school’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer Diane Ariza, according to The Quinnipiac Chronicle, the school’s official newspaper.
It’s “slutty nurse.” SLUTTY. Or sometimes “sexy nurse.” Even “naughty nurse” will do. But “promiscuous nurse?” This gal could take the fun out of… well, out of a pretty girl wearing a fun, trashy Halloween costume.
You ready for the shocker? This meddlesome busybody killjoy’s real job title is “Chief Diversity Officer.” I’d suggest that some smartass student at Quinnipiac dress up tonight as a sexy chief diversity officer, but I think we all know such a thing is contradiction in terms.
I despise vandalism — it’s just nihilism given pubescent physical form. But there is not enough TP in the world for that woman’s house.
And that goes for this woman, too:
Most children expect to get candy when they go trick-or-treating. But, if they stop by one Fargo, North Dakota woman’s house, they might get an unexpected “fat letter.”
A station manager told valleynewslive.com in Fargo that a woman identified as Cheryl called into the Y-94 morning program saying that she wanted to make a stand against obesity during Halloween. Her idea? Give children who had extra pounds on them a letter instead of a sweet treat.
“You (sic) child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar treats to the extent of some children this Halloween season,” the letter reads. “My hope is that you will step up as an adult and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits.”
My advice to Cheryl? Turn off your lights tonight and just pretend like you’re not home. And have a Hershey bar while you’re sitting there alone in the dark.
This is Halloween. It’s supposed to be silly and fun — for everybody.
But busybodies don’t know how to have fun and want to make damn sure nobody else has any, either.
Of course they went ahead with the launch as scheduled — because HHS has nothing at risk. Maybe a head or two would roll, but probably not. It’s not their data, they don’t have to show a profit, they don’t have to keep customers happy.
It’s just a huge recipe for (yet another) big government failure.
Of course, the hacker risk to your data is nothing compared to the political risk of your data being in the hands of the IRS.
Even Democratic allies of the administration question why Obama didn’t know about the serious problems, and express concern about his personal response.
“I think he might have been better off by standing up and saying this happened up on my watch and take responsibility for it. I think that’s better than saying he didn’t know,” said veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum. “I think people expect the president, on his signature program, to be on top of it.”
“The president’s certainly got some work to do in getting people focused on his agenda,” added Democratic operative Jamal Simmons, who floated the idea of the administration bringing in an adviser from outside Obama’s close-knit inner circle to shake-up internal thinking. “Mainly it just seems that the White House has been reacting to issues as they arise and not getting out there and setting the agenda.”
David Axelrod, a former top aide to Obama, told NBC News that the president needs to be vocal in his response.
I’m of two contradictory minds on this. One, they thought it would work; they really did. The other, they’re trying to crash the system alá Cloward-Piven. The way HHS wrote the insurance regulations suggests the latter. The White House’s reaction suggests the former.
There’s a third possibility which just came to mind, suggested by something Roger L. Simon wrote a year or three about. I don’t have time to find a link, but Roger’s in-person impression of Wiggleroom was of somebody who didn’t really believe in much anymore. He was steeped in revolutionary Marxism at home and faculty room Marxism at school, but real-word experience had discredited Marxian thinking and left Wiggleroom with… not much to replace it. I’m paraphrasing broadly here, but that’s the gist of what Roger was left with after meeting the man.
So suppose then that ObamaCare is just the result of a sort of reflexive statism endemic to an intellectually exhausted progressive lefty. The left had always wanted to centralize health care, so they did just that in the only politically possible way at the earliest possible moment. Not much thought then was given to practicality or workability of the law itself — just to whatever was politically doable in the moment. And the President, whose own fingerprints are actually nowhere to be found on the law bearing his name, happily signed the thing thinking it was some sort of grand achievement. That it turned out to be a mess doesn’t require any conspiracies; it merely requires a left-thinking President without a philosophical core, doing whatever was political expedient to achieve somebody else’s dream.
It all fits, and even passes Occam’s Razor.
Adrianne Jeffries for The Verge:
Other complaints raised by Congress, including anecdotes about rising costs and cancelled plans, are easier to defend. The administration can say that average prices are lower even if some people are now paying more. And to the second point — that President Barack Obama said people could keep their insurance and now some have had their plans canceled — the administration can say that the law included a grandfather clause specifically so that insurance providers would not be required to cancel old plans. Some providers decided to cancel plans anyway, forcing some Americans to seek new insurance. But providers have always been able to cancel plans at a whim, Sebelius testified.
Repeating Sebelius’s dreadful testimony doesn’t make it true. As Tim Carney and others have already noted, Health & Human Services specifically wrote the insurance regulations to force insurance companies to drop as many millions of plans as was possible. Ace adds that insurance companies have been threatened into silence.
The dropped plans isn’t because insurance companies are being vindictive or arbitrary. This is a campaign by HHS, directed by the White House, to dump millions of Americans onto the non-functional exchanges.
The Verge ought to stick to tech reporting, and leave the propaganda to Chuck Todd.
(And they all work, too.)
What I’d like to do — using a kind of crowd sourcing method of gathering information — is to put together a step-by-step guide for the citizen wishing to get involved in a movement to re-establish constitutional limits on the federal government, return power to the states and localities, and blunt the 1-vote finality of a SCOTUS ruling becoming forever enshrined as the law of the land (even against the broad interests of the electorate, and relying on an encroachment into social jurisdictions where the Court does not belong). It is one thing to say that the remedy to a cloistered DC ruling class is to circumvent them at the state level; but it is quite another to begin to understand, from the most basic steps to the more advanced procedural hurdles, just how to go about doing it.
Clearly, one thing citizens can do is contact their district reps and ask them whether or not they are for a constitutional movement to curtail a DC-centric government by way of using the power of the collective state legislatures. Those who do should be supported; those who hedge or who say they cannot support such a position should be opposed. And — as much as I hate pledges — in this instance support for a particular candidate should be tied specifically to this willingness (or not) to use the constitutional provision provided us to take on the very federal overreach that has taken away from the states the power it once held over a federal government they themselves gave life to.
Yes. This is one big advantage to holding the House, assuming the Republicans can keep it, and conservatives and libertarians are willing to work it.
And if you haven’t read Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments, from which Jeff is adapting his thinking here, I highly recommend it.
Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, for another round of America’s most exciting and challenging game show. And remember, all answers must be phrased in the form of exasperation.
Are you ready to play? Here we go, and pay special attention to every word and maybe you’ll be the one to Name! That! Pundit! Begin:
The menu of current problems feels far more perilous because these go to issues of core competency to govern:
Eavesdropping on foreign leaders. The choices here are unflattering. Either President Obama did not know what his spy agencies were up to, in which case he is not fully in control of the reins of power after nearly five years in office, or he knew, in which case he did not think through the obviously inadequate cost-benefit ratio and his aides are misleading the public now.
It’s tempting to write this one in all caps, but I’ll confine my alarm to italics: How could he not know? If he did know, how could he think the information gleaned could possibly be worth the risk of having foreign leaders discover the surveillance?
Syria. No, Mr. President, this is not a problem solved, critics-jumped-the-gun situation. Even if the country had been transformed into the Garden of Eden, the herky-jerky nature of the administration’s approach — drawing a red line, failing to enforce it, trumpeting enforcement, then suddenly shifting to Congress — does not portray the president in a flattering light. This is first year of first-term amateurishness, not the workings of an experienced president and well-functioning national security machinery.
Oh yes, health care. The president’s signal domestic policy achievement. Probably the most important legacy of his administration. Time for italics again: So how could the rollout of the website be so bad?
Emphasis in the original, because our Mystery Pundit said so!
I’ll give you clue to today’s answer: This time we have a feisty female columnist.
Could it be firebrand Ann Coulter saying such nasty things about the President?
Well, it could be — but it isn’t.
How about that catty Mona Charen?
Would you believe… Washington Post doyenne Ruth Marcus?
Yes, Ruth Marcus.
Thanks for playing, and come back next time for another exciting episode of Name! That! Pundit!
The JournOlist — it still works!
These came today on top of Josh Barro’s claim earlier this week that “rate shock” means ObamaCare is working, because “young, healthy people” — or “those poor things” as Barro calls them — are asking for it, due to their unseemly youth and health.
We’re going to see a lot more of these crude defenses of ObamaCare in the coming days and weeks — because what else have they got? I especially like Franke-Ruta’s insistence that forcing millions of America’s to lose their preferred coverage and conform to one of four centrally-determined plans is “creative destruction.”
There’s nothing creative about coerced conformity.
Nothing at all.
But that won’t stop the likes of Franke-Ruta and Sally Kohn from putting up smoke screens to obfuscate what Professor Wiggleroom has done to us.
Jonah Goldberg is on a roll this week, today describing those charming new health plans millions of Americans are lovingly being “transitioned” into:
Ah, but they’ll get better ones!
That appears to be the new rationalization for Obama’s bait-and-switch. “Right now all that insurance companies are saying is, ‘We don’t meet the requirements under Obamacare, but we’re going to offer you a better deal!’” explained Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday.
A better deal according to whom? Say I like my current car. The government says under some new policy I will be able to keep it and maybe even lower my car payments. But once the policy is imposed, I’m told my car now isn’t street-legal. Worse, I will have to buy a much more expensive car or be fined by the IRS. But, hey, it’ll be a much better car! Why, even though you live in Death Valley, your new car will have great snow tires and heated seats.
One size will fit all, tovarishch.
Anyway, go and read the whole thing, paying special attention to Jonah’s lead about Obama lying either to us or to himself — with the biggest whopper ever told about American domestic policy. Although that does leave us with something of a theological question: Is it possible for the Smartest Man in Any Room™ to tell a lie so big that even he’ll believe it?
In yet another bungle for the botched government insurance rollout, the state Health Department has mistakenly listed numerous non-health-related business as enrollment sites — including a Brooklyn cupcake shop that has been besieged by callers.
“I have nothing to do with this,” said Carmen Rodriguez owner of Brooklyn Cupcake in Williamsburg. “I run a very busy establishment, and I’m like, what is going on?”
Because of the mistake, her bakery has gotten 150 calls from people seeking medical-insurance information.
“There has to be somebody who can help with ObamaCare; that’s their own mess,” she said.
See, that’s where Rodriguez is wrong. Under collectivism, anyone’s mess is everyone’s mess — and good luck getting all of them to clean it up.
Insurance companies aren’t sending out cancellation letters, they’re helping people “transition” into Obamacare, according to a top Democrat.
“If [the companies] changed [the insurance plans] then they have to notify the people who have to have the opportunity to have another policy,” said House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich.
In fact, according to Levin, the “so-called cancellation notices” merely “help people transition to a new policy.”
Levin went on to add, “What we’ve been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn’t meet the test of the essential health benefits, therefore they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange.”
Meet whose test? Washington’s.
Who deems what is essential? Washington.
What options are there? The four plans Washington allows.
Who makes them available? Washington.
How much do they cost? Washington can’t really say.
This is coercion, plain and simple. So the real question is, “Are you in compliance, comrade?”
Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. -George Washington
It’s sad that his name adorns our imperial capital.
PJMedia has obtained exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage of Kathleen Sebelius and Marilyn Tavenner rolling out Healthcare.gov.
Jonah Goldberg on keeping the plan you have:
Obama’s statements were not ”narrowly untrue.” They were broadly, knowingly and entirely untrue. He repeated them over and over again, often straight into the camera. It’s nice that Greg Sargent concedes now that the president “could have been clearer.” But “could have been clearer” implies that he was a little clear about how this would work and just didn’t clarify enough. The truth is the complete opposite. He wasn’t even deliberately unclear. He was clearly dishonest. Obama was stridently deceitful. Seriously, watch this video compilation of Obama’s repeated and vociferous statements about “keeping your plan” and tell me he was just failing to be sufficiently clear that millions of people wouldn’t be able to keep their plan
What amazes me is how many people seem to be genuinely surprised by the lies and by the failures — but that’s my topic for this week’s Trifecta.
Headline sales declined by 0.1%, which was a bit worse than the 0.0% expected by economists.
Excluding autos and gas, sales climbed by just 0.4%, which was a bit worse than the 0.5% gain expected.
“The weakness in the headline retail sales figure is largely a function of the sharp drop in auto sales, which fell 5.1% mom to 15.4 million in August,” noted Bank of America Merrill Lynch ahead of the report. “Gas prices fell in September, but we expect overall gasoline station receipts to be up.”
Auto sales have been on a roll lately, but that was due to a couple of temporary factor. Auto sales had declined so far and so fast during the Great Recession, that the nations auto fleet was at a record average age. Eventually those vehicles were going to have to be replaced by younger models. Also, the used car fleet had been partially depleted by the Cash for Clunkers debacle. So really there was really nowhere for car sales to go but up — for a while.
That while might have ended.
But expect the usual suspects to blame the shutdown (which didn’t begin until October) for the retail slowdown.
No, we’re not going to stop spying on friendly heads-of-state. But we might be about to make ourselves look like jerks, pretending we will:
President Obama is poised to order the National Security Agency to stop eavesdropping on the leaders of American allies, administration and congressional officials said Monday, responding to a deepening diplomatic crisis over reports that the agency had for years targeted the cellphone of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.
The White House informed a leading Democratic lawmaker, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, of its plans, which grew out of a broader internal review of intelligence-gathering methods, prompted by the leak of N.S.A. documents by a former contractor, Edward J. Snowden.
Years ago, and I think it might have been in a Clancy novel, somebody explained that when we eavesdrop on bad guys it’s called “spying,” but when we eavesdrop on allies it’s just “keeping an eye on things.” The trick is, not to get called out on it in such a public and embarrassing way.
But that ship has certainly sailed, hasn’t it?
It’s the kind of headline you’d expect to see from the 1930s or ’40s, when international news was becoming timely, and a vaccine for polio hadn’t yet been developed. But an unchecked outbreak of polio now, in the 21st Century? You want to use the word “unthinkable,” except there it is, happening.
Twenty-two children in Deir al-Zor province became paralyzed this month with acute flaccid paralysis, symptoms that can be caused by other diseases, and WHO’s laboratory in Tunis has now isolated the wild polio virus in samples taken from 10 victims.
“Out of those 22 being investigated, 10 are now confirmed to be polio type one,” WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told a news briefing in Geneva.
Most victims are under two years old and are believed never to have been vaccinated against the crippling disease or to have received even a single dose of the oral vaccine instead of three which ensure protection, he said.
The story goes on to say there was an earlier outbreak there in 1999 — who knew?
Welcome to another exciting episode of Name That Pundit — the game the whole country can play from the comfort of their own sofa, office chair, or even your car seat if you’re one of those jerks who surfs the internet while driving!
Today’s pundit has been a fixture at the Washington Post for what feels like ever. Let’s see what he or she wrote today about the President:
The man can give a rousing speech, but he is, at heart, a planner and a plodder. Both his presidential campaigns were exercises in micromanagement — digital all the way. Obama was the better candidate, but he had, by far, the better organization.
Yet this same man has lately so mishandled both domestic and foreign policy that he is in mortal peril of altering his image. This unsettling and uncharacteristic incompetence became shockingly clear when Obama failed to come to grips with the Syrian civil war. I did not agree with the president’s do-nothing policy, but at least it was both a policy and intellectually coherent. What followed, though, was both intellectually incoherent and pathetically inconsistent — a “red line” that came out of nowhere and then mysteriously evaporated, and a missile strike that was threatened and then abandoned. It was a policy so wavering that if Obama were driving, he would be forced to take a breathalyzer.
The debacle of the Affordable Care Act’s website raised similar questions about confidence. This was supposed to be Obama’s Big Deal. The president has other accomplishments — navigating out of the Great Recession was no minor feat — but restoring the status quo does not get your face on Mount Rushmore. It takes achievement, a program — something new and wonderful. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to be it.
Something went wrong. People could not sign up. Why? Not sure. Who’s at fault? Apparently no one. An act of God. Something that could never have been foreseen. Another president might have had someone in the White House calling every day — no, twice a day — to make sure the program was going to work. But no, it was a shock to everyone, and when the White House rolled out its gigantic cake — maestro, some music please — no one jumped out.
Wow! Damning stuff!
Did it come from the pen of George Will?
Not this time.
Would you believe…
That’s right: Richard Cohen.