The ObamaCare Black Hole
One thing that the past few weeks have accomplished is the total destruction of Obama's "towering intellect" persona.
One thing that the past few weeks have accomplished is the total destruction of Obama's "towering intellect" persona.
This is one the standard lenses through which Obama is viewed, with differing but complimentary angles from each end of the spectrum: the liberal "reigning intellect of his age" as opposed to the conservative "master chess player with a plan for destruction."
The basis of Obama's reputation for intellectual superiority lies in a mixture of Democratic propaganda and PC indoctrination. The Democratic stance has been steadily maintained for years and prevails in some circles impervious to embarrassment or shame. Obama was an Ivy-league man! He was president of the Harvard Law Review! He was a constitutional law professor! He won the Nobel Prize! He wrote best-selling books!
This was bolstered by the PC contention that blacks who display any level of talent must immediately be promoted to the top of their field (except if their names are Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, or Clarence Thomas).
This belief leaked over into the conservative camp while taking the form that Obama was an implacable superhuman entity, a combination of Fu Manchu, Lenin, and Hal 9000, who had plans in the same detail, certainty, and breadth of vision as Asimov's Foundation. Entire generations would live and die amid the unfolding of Obama's plans, which never actually terminated at any particular date but simply faded out into the misty depths of future evolutionary effects. There was no point in trying to outwit this monstrous intellect; any such attempt had already been taken into consideration and counteracted. Any development, no matter how apparently disastrous, mindless, or asinine, was simply part of the plan, intended all along by the master of the dialectic in order to enmesh America deeper in his multidimensional schemes.
That there has never been anything behind all this ought to go without saying. Obama's actual academic record remains a high state secret, unobtainable even by Edward Snowden. His history at Occidental College is totally opaque. Almost no one recalls him ever setting foot on the Columbia campus. His record at Harvard can't even be called pedestrian. He made absolutely no impact -- certainly not on the Law Review, where he remains the sole president with no actual contributions to his name.
He was never a "constitutional scholar" but merely an adjunct hired to fill in an empty period between jobs. The Nobel stands as the nadir of the committee's attempt to use the shreds of the Prize's prestige to manipulate international politics.
As for the books, see "Cashill, Jack." I was skeptical concerning the extent of Bill Ayer's contribution until I read a quote from Michelle O. herself stating that Bill helped out by "editing the book after Barack got stuck."
Anybody with editorial experience knows about this kind of "editing." There's the friend or acquaintance who really wants to write and has enough talent to put some words on the page. But somewhere along the line, they get "stuck." So you pick it up, go through it, restructure it, rewrite it, put in whatever connecting material is called for, in extreme cases reconstruct the whole damn thing from the first page on. These missions never end well -- the editee is aware of the truth of the matter and is always a little resentful.
Looking at this record with a cold eye, it's clear that Obama is no intellectual in any real sense. It's almost a certainty that he owes most of his progress to affirmative action (it would be difficult to argue otherwise, seeing that his academic career occurred in the 80s and 90s, the peak of the diversity epidemic). Except for errors of the "57 states" variety, Obama has never said anything memorable -- astonishing in and of itself, since so much of black American culture is based on the word. He is connected with no intellectual circles or movements, as Reagan was. He has no known hobbies or interests of an intellectual nature. Barack Obama is simply average, and average, as Harvey Pekar taught us, is dumb.
As for the conservative nightmare, let's face it -- there is a sizable minority within conservatism that might be called "depressive cons," that will say things along these lines no matter who it is or what the situation. We're always doomed, there's never anything to be done, there's no way out. Because of the constraints put in place over the past fifty years concerning any serious criticism of blacks, Obama is a perfect fit for this conservative Beckett formula. So the portrait of Obama the master chess-player has maintained itself even as disaster has piled on disaster to the point of farce.
The events of the past month have brought this to an end. Obama has at last been confronted by situations outside the control of his supporters, and which cannot be masked by legacy media.
The Mideast situation is now in its worst point within living memory, all thanks to Barack Obama. Islamic radicals are in control of several once-friendly Muslim states. The U.S. government has alienated the leadership of the leading Arab state, Egypt, and the richest one, Saudi Arabia. Syria has freely used WMD's without any tangible response. The Muslim Brotherhood was progressing by leaps and bounds until the Egyptian military finally moved against it. The same organization -- the Ur-terrorist group of the Islamic world -- has infiltrated our own federal government with impunity. The United States, for reasons impossible to grasp, finds itself allied with Al-Qaeda affiliates. Iran is on the brink of gaining nuclear weapons.
Every last one of these developments is a direct result of decisions made by Barack Obama. The current situation in the Middle East is a product of the efforts of four Obama aides: Samantha Power, a strange and unsettling woman with two apparent goals in this world: the exaltation of the Arab Islamists and the abject destruction of Israel. Susan Rice is a career diplomat who lacks, along with other basic talents, an ability to lie convincingly. Hillary Clinton is the exact female equivalent of Obama: a woman of no ability apart from a certain feral cleverness boosted to high status for purely ideological reasons. (We're omitting Huma Abedin to this list due to the fact that she's Hillary's). Valerie Jarrett has a past even more opaque than that of Obama himself -- about all we know is that she is Obama's closest aide and is Iran-born.
No person of even normal perceptiveness would have hired this coven, or would have stood by as they left a wake of destruction and misery across the Near East and the Mediterranean littoral. No person of decency would tolerate the results. But Obama doesn't even seem aware that anything is wrong. He does not appear to grasp that things have changed for the worse and require correction.
The end result of this... well, it can't be called a "policy," generated as it is by offhand attitudes, momentary whims, and wish-fulfillment daydreams, has been the most thorough humiliation of an American president on the foreign policy stage since James Madison. The Mideast is teetering on the precipice, the people of Egypt (and likely Libya and Tunisia as well) are seething with bitterness toward the United States -- and justifiably so; they were betrayed by the U.S. government. Israel has all but written off the Obama administration and will make its own decisions from here on. Obama has been reduced to groveling before the Iranian mullahs while his Secretary of State John Kerry acts like an automaton in overseeing a completely irrelevant set of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
The French avant gardist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau once said, "Stupidity is always astonishing, no matter how many times you encounter it." Obama's Mideast debacle can serve as an illustration. It doesn't matter what the goal may have been or what anybody involved had in mind. Not only did it not happen that way, there was no possibility that it was ever going to happen that way. The man who gave his first public speech as president in Cairo now doesn't dare appear within 500 miles of the place.
The woe-is-us conservative take on this is that it's deliberate, that Obama truly wants to hand over power to the Islamic radicals (the same ones he's killing with drones) and it's all proceeding according to plan. Enthralled as I am by the image of Obama aboard Air Force One wearing a Mao jacket and stroking a Persian cat while hissing, "Mubarak? Eliminate him," I have to demur. Chaos achieved through contradiction is always a product of idiocy and nothing else. There is no way to plan such a chain of events or to guarantee any benefit from it - it's the equivalent of dropping a grand piano from a forty-story building in hopes that the impact will tune it. The alternate, and convincing, explanation is that Obama is in over his head and doesn't understand what's going on around him.
We turn to the collapse of Obama's "legacy" program, ObamaCare. Nothing like ObamaCare -- the rationalization of an entire national health system -- had ever before been implemented. In cases such as the British NHS, the government simply took control of an already going health-care system. ObamaCare is an attempt to impose on the run an entirely new operational template on a health-care system, and not one operating in some city-state or sparsely-populated third-world country, but in the largest economy in the world. If it was to be done, it had to be done once, it had to be done without major glitches, and it had to work the first time out.
So who did Obama hire for this task? Yet another underqualified female, Kathleen Sebelius, former governor of that health-care powerhouse, Kansas. Sebelius had no serious experience in health care and her administrative record was limited. But she was a "Catholic" who supported abortion, which transformed her into a multipotent chessboard queen against the Catholic Church, the single most powerful operator in American health care. That alone reveals on exactly what level ObamaCare thinking actually occurred -- low strategy intended to outwit Obama's opponents rather than to construct anything like a workable system.
Obama never considered that at all. Medical treatment and the apparatus surrounding it was one of those things that lesser people do. All that was required of Obama was that he flick his fly whisk and the thing would be done.
Add incompetent personnel to imbecilic premise and you just naturally give rise to error after error.
A Canadian-based company, GCI, was selected as software developer -- that is, a company operating in a country whose national health-care system has been circling the drain for the better part of a decade. Furthermore, a company suspended from doing business with that very same system for failure to meet deadlines three years in a row. (Does anyone have any idea how bad you have to be for the Canadian government to take action against you?)
While developing the system, coders evidently cut and pasted code (largely from an application called DataTables from the British software developer SpryMedia, which is now complaining that its copyright was violated) with no connection to health care. It appears that no integration or testing of this Frankenstein code was carried out. (Coding, it was revealed last weekend, did not begin until the spring of 2013, only six months before O-day.)
The ObamaCare web commerce site was deliberately designed with a bottleneck as the very first step. On sites run by outfits with something worthwhile to sell, browsing and surfing is encouraged to develop and maintain customer interest. The ObamaCare site demands that you fill out the lengthy and complex application before you do anything else, even so much as access another page of the site. This was done out of fear that potential enrollees would take one look at the insurance plans on offer and flee. Instead, they spend an hour or more filling out the ap, take a look at the plans, and then flee. The large numbers of people jammed up simultaneously on the application page results in the site crashing repeatedly. (Complexity in service of a grotesquely inappropriate goal is an unfailing mark of stupidity.) Note that this feature (not a bug) renders it impossible to repair the site -- anything added to that function simply makes it more complicated and apt to fail.
A third point is that even "successful" applications do not mean that a policy has been purchased. It turns out that the application is so complex, the instructions so poor, that the majority of them are unusable by insurance companies. The number of completed applications range from 1% to 50%. Which means that the already pitiful 51,000 applications made in the first week may in truth be as low as 5-10,000. The rest will have to be corrected by hand, after phoning the applicant, on land lines, in the year 2013. (On October 18, New York state revealed that precisely zero individuals had bought insurance though its independent website.)
The end result of all this is an e-commerce effort perpetually frozen at very moment of consumer entry, like a spaceship fallen into a black hole that remains stuck for all eternity. No activity can occur until a process is completed that can't ever be finished because no activity can occur. This is government by squirrel cage, and we're expected to be the squirrels.
And even if all this was repaired, if the rescue teams supposedly being sent by Google were totally successful, it would be still be of no use, because the actual law, above and beyond the software, contains a feature that negates itself, like Ouroboros, the legendary snake that swallows its own tail. Over the past few weeks it has been revealed that the engine driving ObamaCare is comprised of healthy young people buying expensive policies that will in turn pay for the policies of older and poorer applicants. This feature, apparently borrowed from Social Security, is absolutely crucial to the success of the program.
And yet, ObamaCare allows adult children, those very same healthy young people, to remain on their parent's health plans, paying nothing, until age 26.
This is halfwittedness raised to the level of sublimity. No wonder they gave him the Nobel.
The executive behind such a catastrophe should be polishing her résumé. Not Kathleen Sebelius. She was last heard from in Pittsburgh, unveiling the system at the Heinz Arena with the help of the Steelers. (No wonder they're blowing the entire season.) After a speech consisting of standard boilerplate about the system recited in her customary robotic monotone, Sebelius called attention to twenty people on the field with computers, ready to apply. None was even able to get to step one. Sebelius promptly blamed the arena itself -- and by extension the team -- for the failure. Infuriating a million and a half Steelers fans -- now that's good thinking.
After three weeks, Obama felt compelled to come to the rescue of his "signature achievement," by way of a speech in the Rose Garden. His solution was for everyone to call ObamaCare's phone number, which promptly crashed. And that's it -- we shouldn't expect any more. Obama is a bystander at his own train wreck. He directed the train be built, fueled it up, wrote the schedule, got it rolling, sabotaged the tracks, and watched it fling itself halfway across the landscape. Now he's lost interest. It has nothing to do with him. He's going to play golf.
We could go on with this. During the same period O blockaded national monuments; put snipers on the White House roof to fend off enraged vets in wheelchairs; cut death benefits to families of dead soldiers; and cancelled experimental cancer treatment for small children. Another characteristic of stupidity is that it is neverending. Once it starts rolling, it continues onward until it at last finds a cliff to go over.
Back to Cocteau, who had a lot to say about the subject: "The problem with the modern world is that stupidity has begun to think."
Cocteau was referring to the brute ideologies of the 20th century, ideologies that required, first and above all, the truncation of the questing and questioning facets of human nature in order to operate. Liberalism has long since joined that lineup, long enough ago for intellectual sclerosis to have reached its peak. Obama is the perfect representative of this final collapse of the liberal black hole: the leading ideologue who believes just a fervently as his most doltish follower, because he has never been exposed to an alternative. Liberalism today is a collection of slogans vague enough to be slotted into just about any given situation. Obama mastered those slogans long ago, and believes that's all he needs to do. His cult, the media, and half the country believe it too. The chief error of ideologues of this type is that they truly think that they'll remain immune to the consequences of folly. But this is something not granted to any man. Stupidity twinned with arrogance creates its own nemesis. Obama has just about reached that point.