Among All the Best People

The flip side of fame is often fear. Take the fate of Jonathan Gruber. In 2006 president Obama told an audience that he had “stolen ideas liberally” from Gruber, “one of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles”.  Gruber once had multiple contracts worth millions to supply economic modeling to the president’s signature healthcare program.  He was riding high.


Then Rich Weinstein an investment adviser from Philadelphia found a series of videos taken at small forums in which Gruber confided to audiences the less than flattering inside dope on Obamacare.  It portrayed an administration laughing at ignorant voters for believing in the promises of the program.  After the videos were publicized Gruber’s world began to fall apart.

First Gruber’s $400,000 a year contract was terminated by Vermont. “Embattled former ObamaCare adviser Jonathan Gruber has been booted from his healthcare consulting gig in Vermont, according to reports on Wednesday. Gruber had a $400,000 contract with the state, where he was charged with helping to create a single-payer system. ”  Then Vermont put an auditor on all his old paperwork and alleged that he had padded his billing.

The Vermont audit, which cites Gruber’s “inconsistencies and questionable billing practices,” also faults state officials for failing to exercise sufficient oversight over the MIT economist’s invoices. The audit has been referred to Vermont’s Democratic attorney general, William Sorrell, who reportedly said it raises “serious questions.”…

“The evidence suggests that Dr. Gruber overstated the hours worked by the RA and that the Agency of the Administration ignored the obvious signs that something was amiss,” Hoffer wrote.

Now comes news Massachusetts has fired Gruber from the Bay State’s Obamacare exchange. The word is out on Gruber.  “You’ll never work in this town again.”  It’s the oldest of punishments. A fall from grace can be as brief as a rise to the top was long.  Eartha Kitt was blacklisted from working in America by Lyndon Johnson after she was asked her opinion about the war in Vietnam at a White House luncheon and Kitt said she was against it.  The doors to high society were flung open to Truman Capote and in consequence he was a regular guest on talk shows until he made the mistake of writing about the unflattering side of cultural elite.  And then the doors were shut in his face.


Mother Jones describes the implicit quid pro quo of being a high roller.  Never forget who you are working for.  Mother Jones asks: “Why Is Big Pharma Financing a Conservative Group Trying to Destroy Obamacare” when they’ve been paid off?

During the contentious battle to pass the Affordable Care Act, the pharmaceutical industry was a crucial partner of President Barack Obama. Big Pharma sank $150 million into an ad blitz promoting the Obamacare bill and spent millions lobbying for its passage. Backing health care reform was a no-brainer for the drug manufacturers; they stood to reap billions in revenues as a result of expanded health care coverage. Yet all of this makes one of Big Pharma’s alliances highly curious: It has bankrolled the libertarian think tank trying to demolish Obamacare.

The Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute has been the driving force behind two high-profile anti-Obamacare lawsuits, including King v. Burwell, which will be heard by the Supreme Court in early March. …

This was the deal Big Pharma cut during the legislative battle over Obamacare: The pharmaceutical companies agreed to support the law and accept about $80 billion in cost-cutting measures over the next decade, and the White House granted the industry lucrative concessions to protect its profit margins. These industry-favoring measures include provisions preventing the government from negotiating lower drug prices for Medicare and Medicaid and blocking Americans from importing cheaper prescription drugs from abroad. Those concessions were costly to taxpayers and consumers, but they were part of the grand bargain hammered out between the White House and Big Pharma. This accord ensured the industry would use its formidable lobbying clout to pass Obamacare—not destroy it.

And you thought Obamacare was about curing the sick?

If you really want to understand what holds the liberal establishment together the one-word answer is fear. Fear among the rich has a different flavor from fear among the poor. The poor are often so used to deprivation and insecurity that it holds no special terrors for them. When you’re already a bum and a good day is when you can eat the whole box of macaroni and cheese; when you’ve been unemployed for longer than you can remember, then “you’ll never work in this town again” can be answered by “so what?”


High flyers on the other hand, have an awful long way to fall. Nobody wants to finish up like the fictional Stanton Carlisle, who descends from the heights of the entertainment industry, fleeing police trouble and winds up working in a carnival freak show, eating live chickens for a living. And therefore media will be paying very close attention to the fate of Jonathan Gruber, formerly “one of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles”.  If there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s to wind up like Gruber.

The chains of patronage are hard to avoid in exalted circles. According to Elias Groll writing in Foreign Policy, Rudy Giuliani is a consultant for Qatar. That’s nothing. The Clintons have collected over two billion dollars from foreign governments and lobby groups through their foundation.

she, her husband and their daughter, Chelsea, built a global foundation that has attracted $2 billion in contributions, including many from foreign governments and business entities.

Once Hillary Clinton left office, the newly renamed Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation resumed fundraising from foreign governments that had been off-limits during her government service.

Donations in the past two years have come from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Australia and Germany. The foreign gifts — disclosed voluntarily on the Clinton Foundation website — have led to calls from activists and ethics watchdogs for the foundation to cease such fundraising as Clinton ramps up her expected campaign drive.

You haven’t arrived until everyone is offering you job; and once hired you don’t make waves with money like that at stake. The great and the good are bound together by chains of gold.  Some will argue this is a good thing. The Clintons were perhaps the first prominent American politicians to understand that Globalization made it possible for an international elite to settle all disputes by means of cash payments or penalties.  Once the top men had reached an understanding, the elites could jointly rule over the international taxpayer, thus abolishing conflict forever.  In today’s world no longer are patronage relationships limited to national borders, as was formerly the case.  Today, political deal-making is global.


What the international elite is really afraid of are people determined to settle disputes in the traditional way.  The basic problem with Vladimir Putin  is that he still believes in outdated concepts like national boundaries, Slavic culture, Great Russian glory, etc.  He hasn’t yet grasped that in polite circles, nationality is now an illusion.  If only he would fall in line and take his share.

What the Europeans and Obama are trying to do to Vladimir Putin is tell him, in an international way, “that if you don’t play the game you’ll never work in this town again.” By dint of sanctions, encircling trade agreements, the freezing of bank accounts, etc. they will do to him what the Obama administration can do to wayward economics professors.   They believe — perhaps rightly — that eventually lucre will prevail.

The great thing, the advocates of this policy will contend, is that economic signalling makes war unnecessary. Consider what Roger Simon called “a landmark court victory over terrorism in New York”.  A court held that the PLO must pay $655.5 million for killing American citizens in Israel in terror attacks.

The PLO and PA are appealing, of course, and promising they won’t pay up, while concentrating on their own sleazy attempt to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court over Gaza, but there is no question this case opens a powerful new approach to dealing with terror organizations: bankrupt them. Behind virtually every such organization from ISIS to Hamas is a leadership looking to get rich by exploiting their own people. Putting them out of business wounds their bloody enterprise, perhaps fatally.

Perhaps fatally.  Indeed. It’s effective because it hits the Palestinian elite where they live.  Bankrupting them may be a good strategy because military action is out.  As a practical matter nobody is ever going to invade PLO enclaves even though Israel has the physical ability to conquer Gaza in a week.

Since that’s off the table why not put a crimp on the ability of leaders of the Palestinian authority to splurge in Paris and London?   The Left, president Obama included, have long been working toward delegitimizing military activity so that all that remains is The Chicago way, sometimes known as the rule-based international order. Recently Bing West has argued that the Obama administration has decided to publicly announce a campaign on Mosul without even articulating its war aims. In fact the administration will in all likelihood take Mosul only to give it to Iran.


Given the enormous costs, the White House must not commit to this operation unless it is convinced that taking Mosul would significantly advance American interests. Now comes the strategic kicker: Who is the winner if Mosul is seized? Iran. Currently, Iran has 7,000 troops and advisers working with the Shiite militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army. Our bombing and our advisers would be supporting Iranian soldiers and Shiite militias advancing amidst Iraqi Army units. This operation would make America the de facto wartime partner of Iran. If the Shiite Iraqi Army did capture the destroyed Sunni city, Iran would stand out as a winner, having extended its regional power into a Sunni heartland. How would the White House explain that outcome to Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt — already estranged by the administration’s actions over the past six years?

Pre-announcing the operation, ceding Mosul to the Iran … none of this makes sense to a military man like Bing West.  But it makes perfect Chicago sense. Americans can’t keep Mosul for themselves. That would be like “going to war for oil”. Recently the United Nations has warned that taking Mosul would precipitate an unprecedented humanitarian crisis displacing 1.5 million people. President Obama is now facing the same kind of objections his predecessor faced over Fallujah. Everybody supposedly wants ISIS destroyed, but nobody, least of all the UN, is willing to accept the costs of war.   The Catch-22 is that the US can’t let ISIS keep Mosul nor take it either. The “international community” is like a man who wants a steak but doesn’t want to kill the cow.  So Obama’s solution is to give Mosul to Iran because nobody blames the Muslim because of the bigotry of low expectations.

The real action is in the payoffs.  In the Clinton-Obama world, one doesn’t defeat Iran, one makes a deal with the Ayatollahs. In return maybe Obama will get a nice photo-op or something. Whatever the arrangement is, a settlement will be reached among the elite and we should be thankful they’ve found a way to settle things between themselves instead of drafting millions of ordinary men into armies and setting them against each other.


And everything will go tickety-boo until someone brings a baseball bat to the dinner party and beats the other guests to death. Will some insider ever spill the beans? Not unless they have a desire for career suicide. “Liberal philanthropist George Soros and the Ford Foundation have lavished groups supporting the administration’s ‘net neutrality’ agenda, donating $196 million and landing proponents on the White House staff, according to a new report.” Not long now before they give the Internet the Gruber. Maybe someone will try to talk, but I doubt he’ll get far. If you see some formerly famous media figure eating live chickens at a carny sideshow, let me know.

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