No Turning Away

We had vowed to take a day off from writing about Obamacare , as all of us anarchist right-wing hostage-taking extremist types have lately been enjoying the debacle to an unseemly extent, but the day’s events left few other choices.
The Drudge Report provided its usual trove of offbeat fare, ranging from a scary story about a savage pack of skateboarders to an hilarious anecdote about the president’s peculiar social media preferences, but nothing quite so frightening or hilarious as the Obamacare saga. There are the usual foreign policy fiascos to take note of, but given America’s indifference to the rest of the world it will go unnoticed until Iran gets its nuclear bombs and detonates one someplace. The economy is just lousy enough to keep the Fed printing money and inflating the stock market bubble, and until that reaches its inevitable popping point the record number of Americans who aren’t participating in the labor market will be regarded as normal and therefore tolerable. Nothing in the news these days seems quite so attention-grabbing as Obamacare, so conservatives might as well revel in the bad news.
Only the most dour among us could have failed to derive some amusement from the president’s remarks on Thursday, when he proudly announced that all those millions of people who had lost their insurance policies even though he repeatedly promised them they could keep their policies if they liked them would be able to keep them after all. The world’s greatest orator assured the aggrieved millions that “I completely get how upsetting this can be,” and proceeded to explain that although he would not countenance any amendments to remove the law’s provisions that caused the cancellations he would be willing to exercise “enforcement discretion” to allow the continuation of what he has previously called “substandard” policies issued by “bad apple” insurers. He seemed confident that this would put to rest one of the law’s more embarrassing storylines, which has forced the poor scribes at The New York Times to describe the “you can keep your plan” lie as an “incorrect promise,” but it is already generating several strains of bad press.
Pretty much every Republican in the country and even such stalwart Democrats as John Dean are wondering if a president really has the “enforcement discretion” to utterly ignore the language of a law more or less duly passed by Congress and signed by the president himself, and one needn’t be an anti-government type such as ourselves to wonder what might happen to the rule of law if he does. Should there ever be another Republican in the White House he might well decide to discretely cease enforcement of the entire Obamacare law, which would be fine by us, but the prospect should give pause to any Democrat. This president can accurately cite numerous precedents for his authority to act in disregard of the law, many of them having to do with Obamacare, but doing so will not be reassuring except to his most ardent admirers.
Should you accept the questionable premise that Obama has the legal ability to allow what is clearly disallowed by the law he signed, there’s still the matter of how insurance companies are supposed to re-enroll all the people they had cut loose as a legal requirement. They’re understandably reluctant to do so, given that it’s still a legal requirement to cut them loose and it’s quite unclear if the administration’s permission to defy the law will soon or later be revoked, and they also have to deal with state insurance commissioners who are already taking a more legalistic view of the matter. At any rate, there’s likely to be a great deal of paperwork involved, and one can only hope that most of it falls on former Obama voters.
If the president is able to get away with changing the law without the messy fuss of actually amending, and if the insurance companies are able to get all those cancelled policies renewed, there is yet another matter of how it will affect the broader scheme of an Obamacare system that had included all those provisions that caused all those cancellations in the first place because it was necessary to get people into more expensive plans to subsidize all the previously uninsured folks who are now being dragged kicking and screaming into the system. The health insurance industry’s trade group, which had cravenly endorsed the whole boondoggle on the promise that it would use governmental force to sign up millions of new customers, is now pointing out the rather obvious fact that somebody’s going to have to pay and it’s likely to be the average consumer. The average consumer was repeatedly promised a $2,500 a year savings by the president, which The New York Times will soon be acknowledging was another “incorrect promise,” and the press will be bad enough that another fix in the law without amending it will be proudly announced.
Perhaps something will come along before the mid-term elections that will be of greater significance than the failure of Obamacare, but we hope not.

— Bud Norman

Too Many Problems

Bashing Obamacare is becoming an difficult chore, as there are so many problems to point out. Any attention paid to one of the law’s myriad flaws is a distraction from another, and the full calamity of the convoluted contraption can be hard to see through all the damning details.
Much well-deserved ridicule has been heaped on the hugely expensive and barely functioning computer system that was supposed to enroll millions of Americans in health insurance plans, but even the harshest criticism left the impression it was all a matter of a few glitches that will quickly be worked out. The latest round of bad press concerns the puny number of people who have signed on to Obamacare, which is even punier when you exclude all the non-paying window-shoppers that the administration have dishonestly tacked on, but that will be attributed to the soon-to-be-fixed computer system. There have also been a slew of stories about the millions of people who have lost the insurance plans they were satisfied with, despite the president’s repeated and unequivocal promises that they would be able to keep their plan if they liked it, but The New York Times has already deemed the president’s misleading words a mere “incorrect promise” and we assured that it will soon be kept with a fix that is likely to cause other problems requiring similarly creative euphemisms.
This is not to mention the sticker shock that those suddenly un-covered citizens are experiencing, or the higher costs that millions more are paying to keep their plans rather than getting the promised the $2,500 windfall, or all the part-time work that employers are offering rather than deal with the costs and paperwork entailed with a full-time job, or the likelihood that all these problems will be exacerbated as the delayed employers’ mandate kicks in after the mid-term elections and more institutions find themselves forced to stop insurance plans. It’s enough to keep every reporter in the country busy, especially the ones who feel obliged to concoct some sort of plausible-sounding excuse for all these problems, and provides an excuse to overlook numerous other problems.
Still, a few intrepid reporters are finding other scandals worth noting. The estimable James O’Keefe, the youthful journalistic prankster who brought down the noxious ACORN community-organizing racket by walking into their offices in a ‘70s-era blaxploitation movie outfit and asking for advice on starting a prostitution business, has recently walked into the offices of the community-organizing rackets that are federally-funded to act as “navigators” through the choppy waters of Obamacare and found them eager to offer advice on committing insurance fraud. The Secretary of Health and Human Services was prodded by a congressional committee to concede that “It’s possible” the people collecting Social Security numbers and dates of birth and other potential identity-thieving information from citizens are felons, and the ones that O’Keefe encountered seem to have at least slightly larcenous natures. Although it’s possible to avoid these unsavory sorts by going on to that barely functioning computer system, but the congressional testimony suggests that the security there is also government-grade.
The billions of funding going to the community-organizing rackets is yet another problem, unless you’re a Democratic candidate hoping to use their information and other help in an upcoming campaign, and it’s well worth noting. Doing so would take notice away from all the other problems, but it seems as if we’ll have forever to grouse about Obamacare.

— Bud Norman

Sex and Obamacare

Obamacare is a tough sell, as the mavens of Madison Avenue might put it, but the American advertising industry seems intent on giving the much-beleaguered health care reform law some sex appeal.
The latest effort comes from Colorado, where an advertising campaign by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado is saying “thanks Obamacare!” with a series of messages clearly aimed at the libidinous and otherwise healthy youngsters who are needed to pay for over-priced coverage they don’t need with jobs they don’t have in order to subsidize all the erectile-dysfunctional baby-boomer geezers who are about to overwhelm the medical system. Selling such a blatant generational transfer of wealth to the generation whose wealth is being transferred would seem to require a better pitch than the great Walter Johnson ever threw, but apparently the folks at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado believe it’s as easy as selling anything else. All you have to do, in keeping with a time-honored advertising tradition, is imply that Obamacare will make you cool and cause you to have sexual relations with numerous attractive people.
All of the ads are tied together by a “Got insurance?” slogan, borrowed from the dairy industry’s “Got milk?” and the countless parodies that have rendered it a hackneyed catchphrase, and are as unoriginal in every other aspect. The first was subtitled “brosurance,” yet another of those faddish and annoying portmanteaus with “bro” smashed against some ironically chosen word, and featured an image of three seemingly virile young men executing a “keg stand.” So far as we can tell a “keg stand” is the latest variation on phone-booth-stuffing or goldfish-swallowing or whatever it is those wacky raccoon-coat-wearing and ukulele-playing college kids are up to these days, but at any rate it’s apparently such a popular activity that the ad campaign seems eager to cash in on the craze. “Keg stands are crazy,” the ad explains to its youthful target market, “but not having health insurance is crazier.”
Lest the keg-standing and beer-addled young people of today stop to consider how crazy it is to pay inflated prices for coverage they’re not likely to need, the next ad offered the pleasantly distracting prospect of casual sex. The ad is subtitled “Let’s Get Physical,” which we vaguely recall as a song by Olivia Newton-John way back in the days of leg-warmers and Ronald Reagan, but it has already been dubbed “ho’surance” by a number of internet wags. The picture shows a reasonably attractive young woman showing off her birth control pills as she stands next to a fashionably un-shaven young man in a fashionably un-tucked shirt , and the copy excitedly exclaims “OMG, he’s hot! Let’s hope he’s as easy to get as this birth control. My health insurance covers the pill, which means all I have to worry about is getting him between the covers.”
Hidebound traditionalists such as ourselves hardly know where to start objecting to such pornographic propaganda. There’s another one of those irritating text-message acronyms, to begin with, but that’s the least of it. More infuriating in the absurd suggestion that enrolling in Obamacare is easier than the absurdly simple task of a reasonably attractive young woman than luring an un-shaven and un-tucked young man “between the covers.” There’s also the unmistakable implication that Obamacare is a good deal for the young folk even if it does transfer the hard-earned wealth of their part-time jobs to a baby-boom generation that screwed everything up because it will encourage their rampant promiscuity and facilitate their loveless one night stands, but such complaints might be construed as a “war on women.”
Most of the young people we know are plenty stupid enough to fall for every word of it, however, and we expect to see more of this seductive salesmanship. The convoluted economics of Obamacare are more complicated than the average young person can comprehend, but the prospect of a consequence-free romp with some comely young Obama voter are more easily understood. Property rights have little meaning to those who have not yet acquired any property, economic freedom is unimportant those with few economic prospects, and freedom of speech means nothing to those with nothing to say, but enough young people intend to exercise the right to fornicate with government-subsidized contraception that it might just seal the deal.

— Bud Norman

The Privilege of Paying

One has to admire the steadfastness, if nothing else, of the president’s most die-hard supporters. Lately they must feel like Millerites on the day after the world was supposed to end, still insisting despite The Great Disappointment that all the prophecies were true.
The unfolding Obamacare debacle is especially testing for the true believer’s faith, as it is has now become indisputable that millions who liked their insurance plan their doctors won’t be able to keep them, most will see increased costs rather than a $2,500 annual windfall, millions will remain uninsured, at least one dime will be added to the national debt, and none of the other grandiose promises will ever be kept. Some will go right ahead and dispute it, insisting that it’s all lies told by hateful racists intent on preventing the president from heroically saving the country, but these days even the non-Fox media are reporting the bad news and there are more people with very authentic-looking cancellation letters than could possibly be in on even the vastest right-wing conspiracy. A more inventive apologetics is now required to justify the prophesy of hope and change, and the more inventive apologists seem to have seized on the argument people just don’t realize how lucky they are.
Consider the case of poor Lori Gottlieb, who recently penned an op-ed piece for the notoriously right-wing New York Times to lament that Obamacare had caused her to lose the insurance plan she liked and was promised she could keep and has forced her to pay an extra $5,400 a year for a plan that includes maternity coverage and other features she does not need. Her bigger gripe, though, was that when she posted her complaints on Facebook she found little sympathy for her plight and instead was peppered with comments that she was a selfish shrew who should be grateful for the privilege of contributing to a system that will provide quality medical care to everyone. Gottlieb is apparently a committed liberal, judging by the Facebook friends she keeps and the fact that she doesn’t dispute the preposterous premise that everyone will now be getting quality medical care, but she’s not so commited that she’s willing to shell out an extra $5,400 a year for utopia and she seems rather disappointed that her fellow liberals aren’t a bit more sympathetic to her own workingman’s plight.
Some of the professional Democrats trotted out the same appeal to altruism a while back, but it seems to have polled poorly or the focus groups didn’t like it as they have since moved on to inflating their enrollment numbers and downplaying the technical problems and dismissing all those part time jobs as anecdotal evidence and otherwise insisting that things are not so bad as they might seem. Trying to tell the likes of Lori Gottlieb that she should be happy to cough up a sizeable chun of her family’s income for a system that is going to lower the quality of medical care for everyone and leave millions uninsured was always going to be difficult, and the true believers’ continued efforts to do so reek of desperation.

— Bud Norman

A Deal of Worry

Everything about the deal that the Obama administration is trying to strike with the Iranian government regarding that country’s nuclear ambitions is worrisome. The Secretary of State assures the nation that “We are not blind, and I don’t think we’re stupid,” but it’s worrisome that a man in his position feels obliged to offer such assurances.
Blindness and stupidity are the most likely explanation for the deal, which would ease the international economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for promises of a suspension of some parts of the country’s nuclear program, so perhaps such denials are indeed obligatory. Israel’s Prime Minister has declared the deal “very bad,” which is worrisome because he’s usually right about matters so crucial to country’s continued existence and because it represents yet another example of America’s frayed relationships in the Middle East even if he’s wrong. Even the socialist surrender monkeys of France find the deal too appeasing, and have at least temporarily nixed it as part of the cumbersome six-country negotiating coalition, although it’s worrisome that they are the ones demanding firmness. The Saudis don’t seem at all confident that the deal will so much as delay Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, as they have now made arrangements with Pakistan to acquire some of their own, and the prospect of a nuclear arms race in a region so rife with hatred and fanaticism is about as worrisome as things get.
Although the Secretary of State touts the long experience of his diplomatic team, it is worrisome that a lead role is being played the ex-social worker whose previous experience with nuclear arms negotiations allowed the North Korean nutcases to acquire enough weapons to menace their part of their world. Worrisome, too, is that the ex-community organizer in charge of these negotiations won the presidency mocking his opponent for being concerned about such a “little country” as Iran and has since pursued an “open hand” relationship even as the country celebrates it hostage-taking revolution with clinched fists and shouts of “death to America.”
There’s always a chance that the French will continue to stand steadfast for Israel and all of the Sunni Arab countries that would be endangered by an Iranian nuclear bomb, although it’s worrisome that it has come to that. Enough of Israel’s remaining Democratic friends in the Senate might yet be convinced to the join the Republicans in continuing the sanctions, which have by all accounts seriously hindered Iran’s economy and weakened its increasingly unpopular government, but it is worrisome that many Democrats will happily go along with efforts to bolster the hideous theocracy. Continuing the sanctions is the very least that needs to be done, and it’s worrisome that the most that will be required doesn’t seem even remotely possible with America’s current leadership.

— Bud Norman

The Shutdown, Obamacare, and the Jobs Report

As we write this the latest jobs report has not yet been released, but it is so widely assumed to be horrible that the stock markets took an early plunge on Thursday and the administration has already started blaming the Republicans.
This time around the administration’s rationale is that nobody was hiring because of the government shutdown, which of course was entirely the fault of those mischievous Republicans, but the familiar ploy might prove harder to execute. This time around will require reminding a forgetful public that there was a government shutdown, which went largely unnoticed by anyone who wasn’t so unfortunate as to be taking trip to a national park during the brief interregnum, as well as a plausible explanation for why anyone in the private sector would have been deterred from hiring someone just because some non-essential public sector employees were enjoying a paid vacation at some private sector and happily operating locale. There was a chilling terror of a governmental default and consequent economic apocalypse, we are told, but anyone who had such an irrational fear could have only gotten such a crazy idea from the administration.
Blaming the government shutdown also runs the risk of reminding voters that it had something to do with the Republican’s unified opposition to Obamacare, which the administration is now hoping will be soon forgotten. Even the most loyal media were compelled to concede that the roll-out was a glitch-ridden fiasco, and the resulting ridicule was followed by harrowing stories of disillusioned Obama voters suddenly finding themselves without health insurance and facing exorbitantly higher costs as a result of Obamacare, and attempts to blame the Republicans and their unified opposition to the law have thus far proved unconvincing. The poll numbers have reached such a sorry point that the president went to the endlessly forgiving reporters of the NBC network to say how sorry he was for all the people who liked their insurance but lost it despite his repeated pledges that if they liked it they could keep it, period, even if it is the greedy insurance company’s fault. Even such a half-assed apology, delivered with the apparent arrogant expectation that it somehow will make things right to the president’s screwed-over former voters, amounts to an act of desperation by an administration so disinclined to apologize to anyone but Islamist terror regimes and communist tyrannies.
Today’s dismal jobs report does reflect the economic activity during the government shutdown, a point that will be widely noted in the obligatory news reports, but it also coincided with the botched Obamacare debut. That event also called into question in the full faith and credit of the federal government, and in ways that are seemingly permanent. Obamacare offers incentives for workers to cut back on their hours and earnings in order to qualify for its subsidies, and irresistible incentives for employers to cut back on their workers’ hours and earnings, and the administration is left with the unenviable task of convincing people those workers and companies are to blame to reacting according to their economic self-interests.
As the government shutdown fades further into an already memory, and the consequences of Obamacare linger in the jobs reports, apologies and finger-pointing will prove even less persuasive.

— Bud Norman

What’s Old in New York City

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, according to one of those indisputable old maxims, and after Tuesday’s mayoral election it is likely that the people of New York City are doomed to repeat the bad old days of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Any New Yorker of a certain age should surely well remember that dark era, when taxes skyrocketed and city services went into the clogged and alligator-infested sewers, welfare flourished and crime was rampant, unemployment was high and spirits were low. Although we spent those days in the safe embrace of the peaceable prairie, so far away from New York City that if we were any farther we’d just be that much closer to Los Angeles, we still recall a chilling phone conversation with an old college chum who had moved to the Big Apple and described a daily hell of muggers, panhandlers, passed-out junkies that had to be stepped over on the way through trash-strewn streets to a rare job that didn’t come close to covering the exorbitant cost of living, and tales of political corruption and incompetence awaiting him on the evening news when he finally made his way back to a tiny and astoundingly over-priced apartment. Other friends made the big move to the big city, too, and most soon came back with similar horror stories.
Even the younger New Yorkers should have been reminded by any of the era’s cinematic depictions of the city that still show up on the late show, from “Taxi Driver” to “Death Wish” to “The French Connection,” or even the “Odd Couple” episodes still in re-runs that make light of the ubiquitous street crime and general shabbiness of the city, all of which confirmed an impression of a thoroughly unlivable city. Between all those movies and the vacations that people still spent in New York, as well as the official statistics on crime and tax rates and economic performance, the city had a horrible reputation with that great unwashed swath of the country beyond the Hudson River that was frequently expected to pick up the tab for its profligacy.
It all started in the ‘60s, naturally enough, when the handsome and charismatic Mayor John Lindsey began to fundamentally transform the city with hope and change and every cockamamie scheme that liberalism had ever concocted. It took nearly a decade for the city sink fully into the abyss, but by then the bureaucracy and the dependent vote and the prevailing political climate were so firmly entrenched that it was taken for granted by voters who continued to re-elect the people ruining their city. The reign of Mayor Ed Koch restored some semblance of fiscal sanity to the city’s finances, at least to the point that his famously arrogant city didn’t have to go begging those hicks out in flyover country for bail-outs, but the subsequent brief administration of David Dinkins at long last forced New Yorkers to consider the unthinkable. Dinkins had combined the worst of New York’s utopian liberalism with the mau-mau racialist sensibilities of other city’s black political machines, and the results were so horrible that New Yorkers actually elected a Republican.
The city had been known to elect “progressive” Republicans such as the legendary Fiorello LaGuardia, and even the wildly liberal Lindsey won on a GOP ticket before bolting to his natural home in the Democratic party for a failed presidential bid, but Rudy Giuliani’s win was notable because an actual Republican. The party’s primary voters in flyover country would later reject Giuliani’s presidential ambitions because of his rather northeastern views on guns and abortions and such, but when it came to taxes and regulations and welfare and the coddling of criminals and other governmental impediments to a successful society he was downright Reaganesque.
Our aforementioned college chum who moved to New York City was a die-hard Democrat, despite being a pleasant enough fellow from a small Kansas town, and we still recall the disappointment in his voice as he conceded that the city’s problems were too severe for his brand of liberalism to solve. He noted that the city’s generous welfare state had done nothing to diminish the city’s crime, and that further generosity would require raising taxes to a point that would surely drive away all the taxpayers, so he couldn’t imagine what possible solution there might be. When Giuliani raised taxes and increased revenue with his slightly smaller share of a much larger economy, then spent the money on aggressively policing the streets and drastically reducing the crime rate, even such die-hard Democrats as our friend felt compelled to vote for the Republican’s re-election. New Yorkers continued to elected Senators and Presidents who would happily inflict liberalism on the rest of the country, but in their own backyard they picked a mayor successor was also a Republican, even he quickly switched to independent rather than be embarrassed by the association with those flyover country types, and although his totalitarian instincts led him to such laughed-at initiatives as banning oversized soda cups and salt shakers they also compelled him to continue the successful policies that Giuliani had wrought. Things went well enough that New Yorkers apparently forgot the lessons they had been taught.
The newly-elected mayor, Bill DeBlasio, seems to have never learned those lessons in the first place. Famous for his past support of Nicaragua’s communist Sandinistas and other far-left causes, DeBlasio became New York City’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years by railing against the fact that some New Yorkers are richer than others and by promising to end the “stop and frisk” policy of the police department. He’s not so handsome or charismatic as John Lindsey, but he does have all the hope and change and cockamamie schemes. His jeremiad against the top one percent, currently picking up 43 percent of the city’s tab, is certain to leave the city’s economy and finances in shambles. The “stop and frisk” policy does indeed bump against the Fourth Amendment and is no doubt a burden to many of the law-abiding dark-skinned New Yorkers who are disproportionately stopped and frisked, but it has also played a crucial role in reducing the city’s murder date from six a day to less than one and it will not be the only effective police tactic that DeBlasio halts.
Our guess is that it will be less than a decade before New Yorkers are willing to try another Republican mayor, but more than a decade before they stop trying to impose liberalism on the rest of us.

— Bud Norman

The Results are In

Some high-profile elections were held Tuesday, and the results provide political junkies with something to talk but nothing for either party to celebrate.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe eked out a win in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, but the margin of victory does not bode well for his party. The former Democratic National Committee chairman and longtime Clinton family bagman had a lavishly-funded and professionally-run campaign machine, his Republican opponent was an unabashed Tea Party type who was thus easily caricatured as a right-wing nutcase by the state’s helpful press, there was also a Libertarian candidate generously funded by an Obama operative to lure some votes from the right, and with the northern half of the state rapidly swelling with grateful employees of the ever-growing federal government the race was supposed to be a rout. All the polls showed that it was going to be lopsided until Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli started reminding people that he had been the first state Attorney General to oppose Obamacare, at which point the polls tightened to a point McAuliffe wound up winning by far less than the share of the vote snookered by the faux-Libertarian. Had the Libertarian’s source of money been known earlier the race would likely have gone to Cuccinelli, and the dirty trick will be difficult to pull off against all the other Republicans lined up to bash Obamacare in next year’s mid-term elections.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie rolled to landslide reelection victory in New Jersey, which is not intended as a fat joke, but even such an impressive margin of victory in such a Democratic state does not justify all the resultant wild talk about his presidential prospects. After an upset victory over the incredibly sleazy incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and the Democratic machine that had the state on the verge of bankruptcy Christie quickly gained national prominence by taking on the public sector unions to slash an unsustainable budget, and with a colorfully pugnacious style that played well beyond the tough-guy precincts of New Jersey, but conservative enthusiasm waned as it gradually became apparent that on issues ranging from guns to illegal immigration to Islamism he was more a northeasterner than a real Republican, and the straw that broke the conservative camel’s back was Christie’s literal embrace of Obama during the much-hyped phony-baloney Hurricane Sandy recovery effort that reversed the president’s slide in the polls.
Although Christie can claim to have won over blue state voters, much as Mitt Romney did in Massachusetts, and is now every Republican-hating reporter’s favorite Republican, much as John McCain was, these qualifications are unlikely to convince Republican primary voters that he’s a sure-fire winner. He can still boast of having confronted the public sector union beast and set his state’s finances more or less in order, but so can Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, who survived a bruising recall effort and greater liberal vitriol to do so, and Walker isn’t burdened by Christie’s polite northeastern opinions on other important matters. There’s talk of Christie switching parties to get around these difficult political realities, but it’s hard to imagine anyone whose great claim to fame is an in-your-face hostility toward public sector unions ever winning a Democratic primary anywhere. Christie might take a hard turn to the right now that he’s term-limited from another state race, much as Kathleen Sebelius went crazy left after winning her second term as Kansas’ governor in order to win her currently uncomfortable position in the Obama administration, but it will take some doing to make for him to make sufficient amends with the conservatives here in the gun-loving heartland.
Another Democrat won by a landslide in the New York City mayoral election, and a more-or-less outright commie Democrat at that, but that will ultimately be to the party’s detriment. The victory is a bigger deal than the an inland American’s stereotype of New York would suggest, as it has been a hard-to-believe 20 years since a Democrat won in that overwhelmingly Democratic metropolis, but a mayor bent on waging war against the rich folk who pay for the city’s lavish government will soon remind the city why it went so long without Democrats. In the ‘70s and ‘80s New York City descended into a graffiti-covered and trash-strewn state of lawlessness and insolvency, to the point that such an out-and-out Republican as Rudy Giuliani was given two terms to turn things around with aggressive law enforcement and free-market economics. He was succeeded by Michael Bloomberg, a media magnate and Republican who quickly reverted to an independent status lest he be embarrassed at the town’s tonier cocktail parties, and although he became a national laughingstock with his eat-your-broccoli paternalism he retained enough of the pro-business and anti-crime policies of his predecessor to keep the city successful. The new guy won on promises to stop the police department’s controversial “stop and frisk” rules and to somehow make everyone in the city equally impoverished, and apparently there are enough New Yorkers who can’t recall the ‘70s and ‘80s to make this a winning argument. The results should provide Republicans with plenty of object lessons in coming campaigns.
Things have gotten so bad in Detroit that the city elected a white mayor, its first in 40 years. He’s a Democrat, of course, but it’s still a sign that when things get bad enough people will try anything.

— Bud Norman

When Honesty Isn’t the Best Policy

There are urgent moral arguments against lying, such as the risk of imperiling your immortal soul to eternal damnation, but a more persuasive reason not to lie is that you end up looking ridiculous when you are inevitably caught. This is true even for such a practiced and usually effective liar as President Barack Obama, whose ridiculous lies on behalf of his namesake Obamacare have lately forced him to tell even more ridiculous lies.
By now it has been widely noted that Obama and his hired spokespeople repeatedly assured the public that “If you like your health insurance you can keep it” under the Obamacare law, in order to get it passed by a narrow and entirely Democratic margin despite widespread public opposition, and by now it is also indisputably clear to the millions of people who have lost or are going to lose the health insurance they liked as a result of the law that the presidential assurance was not at all true. Obama originally responded to this embarrassing revelation by insisting that his claims were true, the evidence of all those cancellation letters notwithstanding, but that provoked such ridicule that he has since been reduced to insisting that he never made such ridiculous claims at all.
What Obama really said, he now insists, is that you can keep the health insurance you have and like “if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” He’s also insisting you didn’t really like that cancelled plan, or at least you wouldn’t have if you’d had the superior insight into your personal health insurance needs that the all-knowing government has, so you should actually be grateful to him for forcing you to pay more of your evermore-hard-earned money for coverage you won’t ever need.
Obama has achieved a remarkably successful career in politics by spewing such obvious nonsense, and is therefore understandably confident that he can get away with it once again, but these lies will prove especially difficult to defend. Obama’s lies about such matters as the Fast and Furious gun-peddling operation and the investments in the soon-to-be-bankrupt Solyndra boondoggle being Bush-era initiatives, and the overly optimistic promises about the stimulative effects of his “stimulus” spending, and dubious-from-the-start and ultimately disproved claims that the deaths of four Americans in Behnghazi were a spontaneous response to a little-seen YouTube video rather that one of those planned terrorist attacks that his brilliant foreign policy had forever eliminated, were all happily corroborated by a loyal press and widely believed by a public that had no tangible reason to doubt the official storyline. This time there are too many people holding cancellation letters from their insurance companies to refute the official storyline, and even such loyal mass media as the over-the-air broadcast networks are unwilling to sacrifice what’s left of their credibility by saying otherwise.
The claim that you’re too stupid to know what kind of insurance you need, and t that the tee totaling post-menopausal couple of long-married folks should be grateful that they’re now compelled to pay for maternity and substance-abuse rehabilitation coverage, or the lucky-to-be-employed twenty-something should be altruistic enough to cough up a few hundreds bucks a month more to subsidize some old fogy he never met, will require more chutzpah than even Obama and his media acolytes can muster.
The task of putting over the lies is so daunting that the president and his advisors might even be contemplating that they had told truth, that Obamacare is a massive transfer of wealth from former Obama supporters to a few who will be forever grateful, but it seems Obama figured that wouldn’t have been a successful sales pitch. He doesn’t have one now, but at this point Obamacare is the law of the land and it’s just a matter of putting up a good front.

— Bud Norman

A Moment of Doubt

A great despondency has descended over conservatives over for the past five years or so, and with good reason, but it might cheer them to consider how very dispirited a liberal must now feel.
The conservatives’ despair is one of powerlessness, most acutely felt in the aftermath of the recent failed government shutdown battle to de-fund Obamacare and wound up with the right-wing insurgents getting bad press and battered poll numbers and plenty of Obamacare, but there’s always a chance another election cycle or two could restore them some power. The liberals’ despair derives from having power and finding that nothing they do with it works as promised, which is most abundantly evident from the aftermath of the Republicans’ failure to de-fund Obamacare, and this cannot be so easily rectified.
Such is the cocksureness of modern liberalism that even the manifest failures of Obamacare have not shaken the faith of the true believers, nor lowered the upturned chins of the president and his administration as they assure a rate-shocked nation that it will come to love paying more of its ever more hard-earned money for coverage they don’t want or need in order to subsidize the poor choices of people they don’t know and probably wouldn’t like, but among the less stridently faithful signs of doubt are beginning to appear. First-person stories by reporters who have lost the health insurance coverage that they liked and were promised by the president that they could keep are now a staple of even the most reliably liberal press organs, formerly loyal mass media satirists from Jon Stewart to Saturday Night Live are now mocking the administration’s ineptitude in implementing Obamacare, and it’s likely that millions of suddenly un-covered Obama supporters without printing presses or television cameras have reached the same angry conclusions. A few hardy journalists and entertainers have dug in to make the argument that Obama might have lied about people keeping their coverage and saving a bunch of money on it but only because people are too stupid to understand that losing their coverage and paying more for less is a better deal, but they can’t be enjoying it.
Liberalism in general doesn’t seem to be much to fun these days. The increasingly evident problems with Obamacare are the most depressing, given that it was supposed to the greatest achievement of the greatest president of all time, but none of the rest seems to be working as planned. When the pork-laden and deficit-swelling “stimulus” bill objectively failed to make good on any of its promises the true believers could argue that at least it kept the economy from sliding into depression and the earth from sliding out of its orbit and into the sun. but four years and seven trillion dollars of debt and millions of discouraged workers later the president’s economic record requires even more inventive defenses. Scandals ranging from Fast and Furious to the Pigford settlement to Solyndra to the president’s extravagantly expensive lifestyle to the Internal Revenue Service’s assaults on free speech and the right to petition for grievances can be easily ignored, given the media’s eager complicity, but it still makes a holier-than-Bush attitude harder to maintain. Increased drone strikes and pointless Afghanistan troop surges and a national security snooping apparatus that exceeds the wildest dreams of crazed Dick Cheney also make the Obama administration’s foreign policy hard to defend the earnest Bush-hater, and the “lead from behind” maneuvers that have handed the Middle East over to Vladimir Putin’s Russia and a soon-to-be-nuclear-armed Iranian theocracy make it hard to explain how a more Nobel Peace-prize winning appeasement strategy would have fared any better.
Things have gotten so bad that even the gray-bearded and hidebound liberal columnist for the local “alternative weekly” that caters to the hipster crowd is grousing about Obama. He seems to believe that the only problem with Obama are a computer glitch that should have been fixed, and overly protective Nation Security Agency, and that uncharacteristic itch to go to war with Syria a while back, but at least he’s willing to admit to some dissatisfaction with his great leader. At the hipster coffee bar where we pick up the “alternative weekly” most of the regulars don’t evince any interest in politics at all. Five years ago the same hip and tattooed denizens of the bistro were all abuzz about hope and change, and were committed to occupying this or that, but these days they seem more preoccupied by whatever gossipy text messages are flashing on their cell phones. All of the liberals of our acquaintance seem eager to talk about something other politics, and less certain that they can deliver on their promises of utopia anymore than their great leader could deliver on a promise that people could keep their insurance, and the great liberal moment seems to have passed.
This does not mean the conservatives’ moment has arrived, of course, and it will be another year before any political power can be restored to their movement, but it seems likely that the conservatives’ anger will grow stronger and the liberals’ cocksureness weaker in the meantime.

— Bud Norman