Monday, October 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

Well, it's been an interesting few days as the public has gotten to see the curtain pulled back on how the government behaves. And, contrary to the progressive ideals, the people who work in the government are no more infallible than ordinary blokes. Just as the public has learned from the VA scandal, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, Obamacare, the stimulus, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Katrina, and on and on. You think that it would eventually sink in that the government is composed of ordinary people with no real incentives to get things right. Why they should be trusted with more and more portions of our economy and daily lives escapes me.

And the administration's actions have been so unimpressive that the White House has been reduced to leaking a story about absolutely miffed the President is. He is said to "seethe." But at least he got to relax by playing golf with Tony Kornheiser on Saturday.

I remember when he was angry at the launch of Obamacare, at the news of the IRS scandal, about the VA scandal. He must be one really angry man by now. Funny how all that incompetence just leads him to want the government to do more and more.

Jonah Goldberg points to Obama's habit of overpromising what he is capable of. The man has always had an oversized opinion of both his own abilities and the power of government. That is not a healthy combination.
liberals believe in government as a source of meaning, as a shaper of souls (though don’t ask them to use the word “soul”), a creator of values, and a reliable tool for the guiding hand of progressive experts to rightly order our lives. As the opening video at the Democratic convention proclaimed without a sense of irony: “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

And this is why government incompetence, or even mere government fallibility and error, present a unique problem for the Party of Government. To be fair, plenty of smart liberals can concede that government gets stuff wrong. But it’s always a difficult concession to make. And if you divide up such concessions between instances where liberals place the blame squarely on government itself and instances where they blame politicians for not going “all the way” with government, you find that the vast majority fall into the category of “if only we had more government.” The overwhelming majority of liberal critiques of Obamacare, for instance, hinge on the complaint that it didn’t go far enough. If only we went with single payer, and completely chased the moneychangers out of the temple of health care, everything would be fine. The War on Poverty failed because $20 trillion amounts to woeful underfunding when measured against the yardstick of the infinite funding liberals desire.

In crude Marxist terms, liberals have a theory of infallible government that is constantly at war with the reality of life. Hence the old joke(s): “Sure it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

Which brings us to the administration’s Ebola response. As I wrote yesterday (and earlier this week), the Obama administration and the various spokespeople for the public-health agencies seem to care more about the theory of government omnicompetence than about the practice of government competence. I understand that the challenge presented by this disease is complex. And I sympathize with the desire to forestall panic by giving an air of confidence and professionalism. And, whether I like it or not, I understand that politics must play a role in every major government effort, particularly so close to the midterms. But even with all of these caveats, it’s still stunning to watch the government cling to the theory of government infallibility....

Obama set himself up for this reaction. I agree that conservatives shouldn’t buy into liberal assumptions, but when liberals elevate the State to the Divine, it’s perfectly acceptable to point out how far short of their own standard they’ve fallen. I mean a month ago, Obama might as well have promised we wouldn’t see a “smidgen of Ebola.”

Meanwhile, when you divinize the State and then fail to demonstrate divine competence, you necessarily invite the secular version of a theodical crisis. Why would the God-State let such things happen? In such crises, liberals grow desperate. They ridicule the public for being fearful. They cast blame on underfunding in a way that sounds like, “If only we sacrificed more of our livestock to God!” They tweet idiocies that are greeted as wisdom by the faithful. Here’s Joy Reid of MSNBC: “To the anti-government wingers in my thread: so far, the only ‘spread of Ebola’ in the U.S. was caused by a private hospital in a red state.”

The Week magazine, no libertarian redoubt, ponders the same theme of how American institutions are failing.
Over the past 14 years, we've endured a series of stunning institutional failures. Going backwards in time, we have:

The Secret Service failure to stop a knife-wielding, fence-jumping intruder from making it into the White House before being subdued — or to keep an armed former convict from getting into an elevator with the president of the United States.
The badly botched ObamaCare rollout.
The failure of numerous regulatory bodies leading up to the financial crisis of 2008.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's utterly inept response to Hurricane Katrina.
The ruinous occupation of Iraq — a blunder so catastrophic that it destabilized the entire region and led to well over 100,000 deaths (and counting).
The monumental intelligence failure that precipitated the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the first place.
And, of course, the equally monumental intelligence failure leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.
I'm sure I've missed a few more dropped balls. But you get the point. Government is failing, over and over again, to accomplish the goals we set for it, regardless of which party is running the show.

And just in case that sounds like a set-up for a libertarian manifesto in favor of privatization, note that institutional failures haven't been limited to government. From the banks and other financial institutions that nearly wrecked the global economy in 2008, to the sex-abuse scandals that have been rocking the Catholic Church for over a decade, to General Motors' deadly ignition-switch cover-up, big organizations, whether private or public, have been behaving badly and ineptly.
Damon Linker, the author of this piece doesn't know what the solution is, but sure hopes we find one. I wouldn't hold my breath.

And now the fix is to appoint a political operative whose most recent experience was handing out bundles of money in the stimulus. Yeah, that's a great recommendation for someone to have the problem-solving skills to oversee our reactions to Ebola. And his insights are so valuable that he didn't even have to be at the White House meeting on Ebola.

Look for Kay Hagan flip-flop ads on how she's reversed her position on whether there should be a travel ban on flights from the countries most plagued with Ebola.

And...of course. Just as the Ebola epidemic was getting worse in West Africa, the Obama administration expedited the immigration and visa process for people wanting to come to the U.S.

Mickey Kaus verifies the cocoon in which those who work for the NYT live.

Matthew Continetti marvels that this year it is the Democrats who are making the gaffes. He calls them the "Macaca Democrats." Sorry, they can be called that once the Washington Post writes over 100 articles and editorials about Democratic gaffes as they did about George Allen and that absurd macaca story. Until then, they haven't earned the title. But I will agree with Continetti that it is a change not to be seeing Republican candidates saying dumb things about "legitimate rape" or denying that they're witches. But, as he adds, we still have a couple of weeks to go. Still time for Republicans do embrace their internal duncecaps.

As an example, Mark Pryor has stumbled in the past week lessening his own reelection chances.
In Tuesday’s debate he said the middle class extended up to families making $200,000 a year — nearly four times the median household income of the Natural State. Days earlier, he’d struggled to come up with a response when asked about the Obama administration’s handling of Ebola.
Picture to yourself the outrage if Mitt Romney had said that $200,000 was the middle class.

Obama's standing among women is falling just at a time when Democrats have placed so many of their hopes on women falling in line for the election since they're already losing the male vote.

The Daily Mail profiles the ordinary young women who are joined the army fighting ISIS in Kobane. They sound like any young university students except they're battling for their lives and carrying guns to kill themselves in case they are captured by ISIS.

And now that genius diplomat John Kerry is blaming Israel for the rise of ISIS. I like the response from the Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett,
"Turns out that even when a British Muslim beheads a British Christian there will always be someone who blames the Jews," Bennett said. "The assertion that the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians is helping the Islamic State group provides a tail wind to support global terrorism."

"I propose listening to ISIS and believing them: These are terrorists who want to take control over the entire Middle East. We can fight it or we can explain it away. The choice is in the hands of the world, and the world will bear the consequences," Bennett added.

Guess what? We still have no idea how much Obamacare is going to cost. Remember when the President was promising us that it would not raise the deficit one dime? I guess that really meant it would raise the deficits by tens of billions of dimes.

One advantage to having a Republican House and Senate is that President Obama would have to use the pen he brags about to veto a whole lot of bills instead of depending on Harry Reid to bury them.

Eliana Johnson details how Harry Reid's Super PAC has been such an advantage for the Democrats this election year. And one reason is that the Democrats are willing to donate to a partisan Super PAC for which they are required to make public their names while Republicans, after some stories of retaliation against donors to Republican groups, has made them prefer giving to groups which can keep their donor lists privates but which can spend only 50% of their money on electioneering.

Don't believe Democratic candidates when they say that they are "Clinton Democrats."

Local governments sure can be dumb. Just in case you didn't believe that people who work for government cannot be as stupid as those who work in the private sector, check out these two stories :
"City demands girl tear down her playground..that she received from Make-a-Wish Foundation."
Tiffany Miranda is a 10-year-old girl from Santa Fe Springs, Calif., who suffers from a rare, serious and incurable disease called Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Because of this condition, she frequently experiences seizures. Some can last all day.

Her parents, Jessica Torres and Felix Miranda, were concerned about bringing her to public parks. So they were thrilled when the Make-A-Wish Foundation provided them with playground equipment so Tiffany could play in the safety of her home.

“She’s gone through so much,” Tiffany’s dad said. “It really touches both my wife and I,” Tiffany’s grandfather remarked, “It’s a dream come true for her. I just love to see that smile.”

But not everyone loved to see her smile.

According to CBS Los Angeles, the city government of Santa Fe Springs issued citations that ordered Tiffany’s parents to tear down her playground–claiming the storage of items in the front yard and backyard playground area were a “public nuisance” (which is different from an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool without a fence around it).

“When I asked the city, ‘So where do you expect my daughter to play?’ they said ‘Well, the city’s not responsible for your daughter’s disability,’” Tiffany’s mother, recalled. “They said ‘Your Tiffany is not our problem.’”

After media reports of the incident began circulating, the city government quickly backtracked. Santa Fe Springs city manager Thaddeus McCormack told CBS Los Angeles that the city just wanted the family to clean up around the play set.
And then there is this: "5 year old who drew a gun in crayon forced to sign no-suicide contract with school."
A Mobile, Ala., mom says school officials forced her daughter to sign a contract promising not to commit suicide or harm others after the kindergartner "drew something that resembled a gun," then pointed a crayon at another kid and said "pew, pew!"

5-year-old Elizabeth was sent home after school officials made her take a questionnaire to evaluating her for suicidal thoughts, then had her sign the safety contract promising to contact an adult if she was thinking of suicide or homicide. This all happened while her mom waited in the lobby to pick her up, the upset parent told WPMI.

According to her mom, Elizabeth didn't know most of the words on the contract she signed. "Suicide," in particular, was a new one for her.

"Mommy, daddy, what is suicide?" Elizabeth's mother says she asked.

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