Friday, October 17, 2014

Cruising the Web

Tom Bevan does my work for me. I'd just been talking with my husband about all the controversial decisions and actions that the Democrats have put off for after the election: Obamacare rate increases, Keystone Pipeline, immigration action, the report on Bowe Bergdahl's desertion, etc. I couldn't even remember all of them. Well, now Tom Bevan posits that the "Democrats' Kick-the-can strategy" is backfiring. His list adds to mine.
The number of significant issues they have attempted to kick down the road and dodge until after the midterms is substantial -- and growing by the day.

The Keystone XL pipeline, having already been punted by the president in two previous elections, remains in limbo, buried deep within the bowels of the State Department.

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would delay issuing a regulation forcing new power plants to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions until after the midterm elections.

In September, President Obama, at the behest of vulnerable Senate Democrats -- and to the chagrin of many Latinos -- decided to delay taking executive action on immigration until after November.

This week we learned that Obama acquiesced to another request by Senate Democrats: to delay naming a new attorney general until after the election for fear that a “controversial nominee” might harm their 2014 midterm chances.

It was also revealed this week that the enrollment period for Obamacare this year -- when the public will be able to see how premium rates have been affected -- doesn’t begin until Nov. 15, 11 days after voters go to the polls. Last year, the enrollment period began on Oct. 1. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest assured the press political considerations had nothing to do with the date change.
You can add to it all the votes that Reid won't let take place in the Senate even though it is clear that those bills would have had majority support. Reid just didn't want to force his senators to have to take a difficult vote on an issue that would drive a wedge between them and Obama. As Bevan points out, this strategy might not be working because people are waking up to what the Democrats have done. I'm still not sure. As I argued to my husband, most of the key elections will be decided by low-information voters who will have no idea that so many important decisions have been postponed for political reasons. So it won't matter how many bloggers and even MSM columnists point out the Democrats' cynical strategy; the election will be decided by people who just tuned in that there was an election the week before and don't know any of the details. We'll see.

Meet Elbert Guillory, the Democrat-turned-Republican black state senator in Louisiana who has been urging black voters to leave the Democratic Party since they haven't gotten anything for their near unanimous support of Democrats.
Guillory doesn’t think President Obama is any better, accusing him of having a “malevolent” indifference to the plight of the black community.

That charge goes far beyond a complaint made by Representative Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) in 2011, but the substance is much the same. “We’re supportive of the president, but we’re getting tired, ya’ll,” Waters said at a Congressional Black Caucus rally in Detroit. “We want to give the president every opportunity to show what he can do and what he’s prepared to lead on. We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don’t know what the strategy is.”

Obama responded by telling the CBC to “stop complaining, stop grumbling,” adding that his proposed American Jobs Act contained provisions that would help Detroit and similar cities. The bill, regarded at the time as a campaign document in the run-up to the 2012 election, never passed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black unemployment sits at 11 percent, more than double the rate for whites.

“I am not aware of any serious initiative that Obama has come forward with that would address the problem of high unemployment in the black community,” Guillory says. “When he did the car-industry bailouts, he did it on the front pages, and he explained to everybody what he was doing and why he was doing it. If he did something about black unemployment, he needed to do the same thing.”

Jim Geraghty warns us that it doesn't matter how wonderful CDC protocols might be if human beings are the ones who have to carry them out. That is why the spotlight on the inadequacies of the CDC reflect the bigger problem progressives have - putting faith in our bureaucratic overlords to fix all problems.
Thus, we see the familiar pattern, from the VA scandal, from, from insurance cancellations, to our foreign policy crises. Someone notices a problem. The government assures us they’ve got this under control. People outside government publicly express doubts. Government officials scoff and dismiss the critics. And then the critics turn out to be a lot more right than the government admitted.

Rick Wilson’s chilling – and at least somewhat prescient – little story on Twitter from late July stands out for his main point that in a crisis, human beings make mistakes. That is not avoidable, no matter the preparation, the amount of resources, or the leadership. It’s baked in the cake. So a realistic plan has to have contingencies to deal with those inevitable human errors.

So far, it seems that the Centers for Disease Control designed and implemented a plan that would have worked… as long as no one made any mistakes.

If the screener at the Liberian airport where Duncan got on the plane had detected an elevated temperature, or he had not lied in his answers on the questionnaire, as Liberia’s government claims, the plan would have worked.

If he had clearly communicated he had recently been to West Africa, and the hospital had clearly understood, the plan would have worked, or at least worked better.

If the first nurse indeed made (some yet undetermined) error in removing her protective gear, then yes, the plan could have worked better.

If the second nurse had not made the decision to get on an airliner while “being monitored,” and chosen to get onto a return flight with a 99.5 degree fever, the plan would have worked better.

And then the CDC “dropped the ball,” telling her it was okay to get on that flight.

The problem is that human beings make mistakes, and because of a variety of psychological factors – including fear and denial – they sometimes get worse at assessing risk and reward in circumstances like this one. Even people with a background in medicine and knowledge of the virus take risks that seem unacceptable to others. Nurses get on airplanes. The NBC News medical correspondent goes out for soup. (Links in original)
By the way, read through Rick Wilson's thought experiment about how easy it would be for Ebola to spread throughout the country. He wrote that back in July, but it explains exactly why people today want a ban on travel from West African countries suffering from major Ebola outbreaks. It is both terrifying and realistic, especially given our most recent news.

Yuval Levin expands on this same theme of the overconfidence man have in government bureaucracies.
This crucial process of learning lessons has been hampered so far by a peculiar attitude that often emerges in our politics in times of crisis and imbues our debates with the wrong approach to learning from failure. The attitude is premised on the bizarre assumption that large institutions are hyper-competent by default, so that when they fail we should seek for nefarious causes. Not only liberals (who are at least pretty consistent about making this ridiculous mistake) but also some conservatives who should know better respond with a mix of outrage and disgust to failures of government to contend effortlessly with daunting emergencies. But do we really expect (or even want) our government to have the power and ability to smooth all of life’s edges and be ready in an instant to address the consequences of, say, a major hurricane or massive oil spill or deadly disease outbreak? What do we think that government would be doing with that power the rest of the time? What we should want and expect is a government that can respond to unexpected emergencies by calling upon generally plausible prior planning, quickly building up capacity when it is needed, and learning from unavoidable early mistakes.
Of course, members of the administration and other liberals want to blame insufficiencies on lack of funding even though there is no evidence that more funding would have made any difference today.

Geraghty, whose daily emails are always interesting, also points out a familiar pattern of the administration assuring us that they have everything under control and no one should worry.
At this moment, you may recall that August 29, President Obama assured us, “our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.”

Or you may remember CDC Director Tom Frieden pledging, “We will stop it in its tracks.”

This is a familiar pattern of statements and behavior from this administration, but with much higher consequences. We’re always being assured that the situation isn’t as bad as it looked.

August 9: “Because Israel is so capable militarily, I don’t worry about Israel’s survival.”

In May, “Our ability to mobilize international opinion rapidly has changed the balance and the equation in Ukraine.”

In January, he scoffed, that ISIS is the “JV squad.”

Back in September 24, 2012, he assured us that Benghazi terror attack was a “bump in the road.”

June 8, 2012, the private sector is “doing fine.”

People who already have health insurance “don’t have to worry.”

High gas prices and increases in the unemployment rate are, similarly, just “bumps in the road.”

Sometimes the assurances use the same trite terms…

“The system worked,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano after the attempted bombing of a flight over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

“The system worked,” said Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health after the first nurse tested positive for Ebola. (Links in original)
Of course, one could probably compile similar statements from any administration. Remember Herbert Hoover's efforts to reassure people about the Great Depression.

IBD is wondering why we aren't hearing anything from the woman in the Obama administration who is The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response which includes responding to "public health emergencies." IBD wonders if she's "Leading from behind."

And then there is this story.
The Centers for Disease Control told the incoming Obama administration in 2008 that it should establish 18 regional disease detection centers around the world to adequately safeguard the U.S. from emerging health threats like Ebola, according to an agency memo.

But six years later, as the government struggles to contain the fallout from a deadly Ebola outbreak at home and abroad, the CDC still has only 10 centers — and none of them operates in the western Africa region hardest hit by the deadly virus.

“The existing centers have already proven their effectiveness and impact on detecting and responding to outbreaks including avian influenza, aflatoxin poisoning, Rift Valley fever, Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks,” the CDC said in its memo to the Obama transition team, which The Washington Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

At the time, the CDC had five centers set up, and has only added five more of the 13 the agency had proposed “to complete the network and properly protect the nation.”

The memo sheds new light on the problems dealing with the current Ebola crisis, which intensified with the revelations Wednesday that a second Texas nurse had tested positive for the disease and President Obama used a White House Cabinet meeting to promise a “more aggressive” federal response to the threat.

The CDC’s plan outlined in the transition memo was based on the notion that the U.S. shouldn’t wait for a disease to enter the country but rather monitor threats in hot spots overseas to try to help local public health authorities control outbreaks before then.
Hmmm. I wonder how the Washington Times knew to submit a FOIA request for this information. Could it be that someone from the CDC leaked to them about the memo's existence in order to strike back at all the bad press the CDC has been receiving recently and sought to cast a little blame on the administration?

Charles Krauthammer discusses the balance between civil liberties and protecting people from a deadly disease. It's a discussion that authorities don't seem to want to tackle.
President Obama, in his messianic period, declared that choosing between security and liberty was a false choice. On the contrary. It is the eternal dilemma of every free society. Politics is the very process of finding some equilibrium between these two competing values.

Regarding terrorism, we’ve developed a fairly reasonable balance. But it took time. With Ebola, we don’t have time. Viruses don’t wait. The sooner we reset the balance — the sooner we get serious — the safer we will be.

Peggy Noonan asks "Who do they think we are?"
All of which returns me to my thoughts the past few weeks. Back then I’d hear the official wordage that doesn’t amount to a logical thought, and the unspoken air of “We don’t want to panic you savages,” and I’d look at various public officials and muse: “Who do you think you are?”

Now I think, “Who do they think we are?”

Does the government think if America is made to feel safer, she will forget the needs of the Ebola nations? But Americans, more than anyone else, are the volunteers, altruists and in a few cases saints who go to the Ebola nations to help. And they were doing it long before the Western media was talking about the disease, and long before America was experiencing it.

At the Ebola hearings Thursday, Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) said, I guess to the American people: “Don’t panic.” No one’s panicking—except perhaps the administration, which might explain its decisions.

Is it always the most frightened people who run around telling others to calm down?

This week the president canceled a fundraiser and returned to the White House to deal with the crisis. He made a statement and came across as about three days behind the story—“rapid response teams” and so forth. It reminded some people of the statement in July, during another crisis, of the president’s communications director, who said that when a president rushes back to Washington, it “can have the unintended consequence of unduly alarming the American people.” Yes, we’re such sissies. Actually, when Mr. Obama eschews a fundraiser to go to his office to deal with a public problem we are not scared, only surprised.

But again, who do they think we are? You gather they see us as poor, panic-stricken people who want a travel ban because we’re beside ourselves with fear and loathing. Instead of practical, realistic people who are way ahead of our government.

Here is some interesting information on which cable networks are favored by which party for political ads.

Could this be a world game changer? Of course, that would mean that fearmongers would let it go forward.
Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

Bloomberg terms the governor's race in Florida as the "worst campaign in America." The most recent controversy was over whether Crist could have a fan on him during their debate. Really? Please. could Governor Scott might not be inspirational, but if Floridians vote for Charlie Crist, they deserve him. What an opportunistic poseur he is. This GOP ad sums him up.
Though I do like this recommendation on how Rick Scott should have handled Crist's rule-breaking fan.
“What Rick Scott should have done is walk on the stage, shake [Crist’s] hand, bend down, pull the cord out, and say, ‘This is how rules work, bitch,’” said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based GOP consultant.
But apparently, Charlie Crist always requires a fan. He doesn't want to have a Nixon-like moment during any public appearance.

After much outrage and ridicule, Houston is backing down from subpoenaing pastors for their sermons and notes

That Deadspin supposed blockbuster story on Cory Gardner sure backfired, didn't it?

The Washington Post details how Democratic candidates are getting tripped up by Obama. Given that those incumbents running this year are ones who got swept into office on Obama's coattails, it does seem like a sort of divine retribution.

So it seems that every member of Congress who has enrolled in Obamacare has broken the law.