What… *Happened* to Obama?

The guy  ran as, among other things, the first truly Tech Savvy President.  He surrounded himself with Bright Young Things who knew how to exploit the web and do all the cyber razzle dazzle.  And now… in addition to the massive clusterfrack that is the Obamacare website (favorite techie quote from a friend at Microsoft: “$900,000,000?  Really?  For this?  When they could have just hired Amazon to knock something out over the weekend?”), there’s the stupidity of hijacking a meeting with a bunch of tech bigwigs and turning it into a health care website cheer rally (not leaving them very cheery) and, well, the sheer inepitude of this… thing:

This is getting pulverized onTwitter. My favorite meme is "Why yes, these ARE footies."

As you might expect this is getting beaten up and it’s lunch money stolen all over cyberspace:

There’s lots more where that came from. It’s the kind of savage glee you only see in an an R rated version of Lord of the Flies directed by Quentin Tarantino–the sort of cruelty where the mob has thrown off restraint and lost its capacity to even feel regret for the frenzy of violence against the fat kid. The sort of savagery that no longer feels shame but a sort of orgasmic pleasure at the cries of the victim for pity and restraint.  I feel genuine pity for whoever that guy is that they roped into this ad.  He’s bidding fair to become the next poor Star Wars kid of internet memedom.

And, see, the point is: that’s not what you want when you are trying to win hearts and minds. So I gotta wonder who’s in charge at the White House these days that they haved declined from the cyber-savviness of their campaign days to such sheer boneheadedness that they could not foresee the Jar Jar Binks levels of ridicule this ad was obviously, painfully obviously, going to generate? How could they not know?

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com/ priest’s wife

    Jar jar Binks level of ridicule…..ok- I can say I really did ‘laugh out loud’!

  • Elmwood

    Yep, that picture is really gay, but it’s not like the GOP has offered anything of substance to address the seriousness of the rise in health care costs, or for that matter, that of global climate change.

    The GOP live in a world of denial, they only see what they want to see, a world where everything works out as long as the important people, the wealthy, get wealthier, poor, middle class and the environment be damned.

    At least he’s trying to reach out to the “tech savy” youth. Even the Vatican promotes the use of technology and measures which combat global warming.

    Face it, the alternative offers little to address modern problems. GOP styled conservatism is dying–being stupid isn’t going to cut it anymore.

    Focus on what is seriously wrong with Obama and the rest of the democrats: the culture of death, and not health care reform or silly ad campaigns.

    • chezami

      No argument from me. The GOP plan is the one Obama adopted. It was only proposed by the GOP as a way of pretending to care about health care. The real plan of the GOP for the poor is “Don’t get sick and, if you do, try to die quickly and help decrease the surplus population.” But this is not about that. It’s about the sheer ineptitude of the WH in cyberspace.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    “$900,000,000? Really? For this?

    The purpose of a government bureaucracy is to employ government bureaucrats. Whether they accomplish the mission or not is a side-issue.
    + + +
    it’s not like the GOP has offered anything of substance to address the seriousness of the rise in health care costs

    Instead of a massive program from The Center that increases costs faster?
    Obamaramacare was not presented as cost control measure. (Those have to focus on reducing demand or increasing supply.) It was touted as a way to bring insurance to those who did not have it. Much as New Jersey once brought auto insurance to those who did not have it, with the self-same results on the auto insurance pool in one state as this program will have on health insurance across the entire country. (The foolishness of most federal programs is that when the inevitably fail, they affect the entire country. Federalism means we can try 50 different experiments and evaluate which ones work better and why, and when they fail, they affect only one state.)

    People lack health insurance because of pre-existing conditions because the associated underwriting risks to the pool require a larger premium than they can afford. Insurance is a pooling of risks by policy-holders. Everybody throws a bit into the pot, and those who are really sick get to draw on the pot. If everybody draws on the pot at once, the pot goes bust, so actuarial statistics have to balance the probability that X will draw and the expenses of that draw with the money going into the pot. Do we buy auto insurance after we have an accident? What a deal that would be! Even an innumerate could likely see why that would not work.

    If insurance must be issued even to people already sick, the rational individual will respond by foregoing insurance until he does become sick, then run out and buy the must-issue policy, which by law must provide the same coverage to everyone. What idiot would not do that?

    But that would bust insurance pools all over the country, so it was necessary to force everyone to jump in the pool, lest they behave rationally.

    It turned out that the “vast numbers” of uninsured were comprised largely of young folks just starting out in life who were taking a gamble that they would not get sick before they became established. The poor were already being handled by Medicaid and the elderly, who were more sickly on the whole, were being handled by Medicare.

    What was most noticeable to those of us with an analytical frame of mind was the dearth of hard facts in the public debate on (e.g.) people being dropped by their insurance when they got sick, people uninsured because they had lost or changed employment, and so on. These are particular problems that could have been addressed with particular, focused “solutions.” Instead, we got a global “solution” rather than specific ones focused on actual causes.

    As for high costs: those are due to two factors, neither one addressed by the new megaprogram.

    • MisterMystery

      Nice, straightforward analysis. Since you explain it so well, please, enlighten me more: what are the two factors which cause high costs?

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        1. Third Party Payment. When you spend other people’s money, price is no object. Example, a former colleague of mine in his youth would get bloody noses. He would go to the pharmacist, who would swab the nose with a cauterizing solution and pack it with cotton for free and send him home. A few years ago, he got a bloody nose just before a scheduled trip. There are no true pharmacists any more and they are forbidden to “practice medicine”, so he went to a doctor. The bill when it came was $1000. He asked for a breakdown: $500 each for “surgical procedure #1″ and “surgical procedure #2″. These were, resp., swabbing and cotton that the neighborhood pharmacist used to do for free. He complained. The answer was: “Why do you care? The insurance is paying it.” He called the insurance company. They gave him the same answer. Hey, it’s someone else’s money. Why not cash in. But prices expand to absorb the money available. When one end of a hose is put into a pot full of government money, the prices at the other end of the hose rise. That’s why the prices began to skyrocket in the wake of Medicare. Now, everyone’s hose will be stuck in the government honeypot.

        2. Complexity. David Warsh (The Idea of Economic Complexity (Viking, 1984)) makes the case that general rises in price levels are the result of social complexification, as the costs of innovations “cascade” throughout an economic “price web” analogous to the food web in ecology. A stay in the hospital, he wrote in 1984, costs more because it is no longer the same thing as a stay in a 1930s hospital. In the 1930s, they could set bones, give you penicillin, remove your appendix, maybe give you one of the new-fangled sulfa drugs (one of which proved deadly and gave us the FDA), and make you comfortable while your immune system went to work. By 1980, there was a great deal more technological gimcrackery available (and the threat of lawsuits made sure it was used). Today, even more so: we have MRIs, CAT scans, robo-surgery, Lipitor, etc. Those costs — not just purchase prices, but costs of development — have to be amortized. Thus, general price rises usually follow periods of intense technological innovation.

        To put a stop to the price rise we have to
        a) shut down scientific research, esp. in medicine
        b) make everyone spend their own money on their own treatment
        But that ain’t never gonna happen, for all sorts of reasons, including the cost of going cold turkey.

    • The Deuce

      Thanks, TOF, for a breath of fresh air and sanity.

      As an aside, what’s with all the Catholics who would never dream of saying that the Church should just disregard the sciences, often to the point of insisting that all her members get on board with every jot and tittle of the latest iteration of the “scientific consensus” on all politically and philosophically contentious issues in particular (lest they be embarrassed in front of their secular left-wing friends), but who think it’s somehow respectable to act as if math and the Law Of Supply And Demand are optional make-believe where it comes to health care and all other economics-related issues?

      Ah, yes, that “embarrassed in front of their secular left-wing friends” thing.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        Hence the distinction between willing the end and willing the means in Gilson’s The Christian Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Sometimes the ends can seem so desirable that we tumble into means that are not only ineffectual but actually counterproductive. Consider the British response to Irish separatism was such police repression as to conjure up the very rebellions they purported to forestall.

  • peggy

    What happened to Obama? Truth. Reality.

    As for the GOP, they should have tended to this while they had the WH and Congress, I would agree. They offered several alternative bills. Ocare is not a GOP plan. I read the original paper by a Heritage guy. It did have a mandate, but I doubt they would have had a mandate for the over-priced full coverage forced by Ocare law and regs. The GOP did not at all have in mind what Ocare did.

    Blame 60+ years of bad state regulation for the mess we are in. Had they been doing their jobs of fostering competitive markets with a variety of price and quality of plans, we might not be here. Insurance has not been unregulated until Ocare. Quite the contrary.

    I participate against my better judgement. But the mis-statements need addressing…now off to real life.

    • Clare Krishan

      er… “The GOP did not at all have in mind what Ocare did” … a little historical revisionism goin’ on there, may I call “foul” on that pls? Here from 2011: “for Catholics and other pro-life voters, Romneycare holds a different problem. It explicitly provided government funding of abortion.
      The Massachusetts health care reform established a government funded
      program, Commonwealth Care, that includes coverage of abortion.
      Commonwealth Care was made available for free to everyone in the Bay
      State who was below the poverty line and subsidized participation was
      made available to those above the poverty line.”


      And co-incindentally question to the room: Do you know who’s “heritage” it is we can thank for the first use of a healthcare mandate? A: Germany c. 1941 (ie Fascism under Hitler)

      • peggy

        The GOP is NOT MItt Romney. Believe me, he has always been an outsider to the leadership. Although in some ways his squishiness exemplifies what the GOP stands for today–>not much. I am not aware that the GOP has ever supported including abortion and contraceptives in a public health plan. Hyde Amendment prohibits that. So, further reason you cannot extrapolate to the GOP as a whole.

        Yep, I know about the Hitler thing. Whatever Heritage’s first musings, which were very vague in a rather short paper, they were not accepted by any long shot. I was in DC at the time and recall NO call for a mandate from the GOP. So, I question whether the Heritage idea got very far…obviously in the end, it was rejected by the party and its base. It is clear that the Dem plan was remotely close to GOP ideas because not one GOPer (save I think a Korean American in Louisiana) supported it.

        • peggy

          error: “was NOT remotely close…”

  • Dave

    Nothing happened to him. Look at his resume. He never was in charge of anything in his life. Anyone (except apparently 50% of the American populace) could have figured out that he wasn’t qualified for the job.

    • Paxton Reis

      Right on. Clearly he can assemble a crack campaign team and deliver stirring speeches (when well practiced and the teleprompter is working properly), but he had zero executive experience on his resume when elected in 2008.

      • timmaguire

        I don’t even buy that he can assemble a crack team. Let’s just agree that a crack team was assembled. Or that he can deliver a stirring speech. Let’s just agree that his speeches were called stirring.

        The most telling bit of truth that almost leaked out of the 2008 campaign? It was when Obama, while first talking about Hilary Clinton, and again later while talking about Sarah Palin, casually scratched his cheek with his middle finger. That’s all that need be said about Barack Obama the person. Those two moments completely capture his character.

        Barack Obama the candidate is the coolest kid in high school. That’s all he ever was, that’s all he ever will be. And all the geek losers on the school paper drool over him because they think that if they are allowed to stand near him, they might accidentally get invited to the party too.

  • david

    Thanks for posting this Mark. I have been marveling at this ridiculous image of the American male all day. And it seems nobody owned patheticbetas.com…well until now at least!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    He changed PR teams? And hey, what’s wrong with Bronies?

  • said she

    “levels of ridicule this ad was obviously, painfully obviously” demands!

  • Mike the Geek

    Pajama guy’s a model, I assume, who was free to accept or reject the gig. I feel exactly as sorry for him as for the guy who played Darth Vader – it’s a job. He looks like whatever the ad agency wants,, then goes home, cracks open a beer, and feeds his dog.
    Where did anyone get the idea that Obama was tech savvy? He’s never been anything except an empty suit who was carefully crafted to reflect whatever people wanted to project onto a candidate – rather like pajama guy as a matter of fact.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      I was under the impression his campaigns were lauded as models of tech-savvy goodness that destroyed the McCain and Romney campaigns with technological wonder-work.

      • timmaguire

        Obama’s campaigns were, but not Obama himself. Obama has always been the squeaky clean guy, the front man for an organized crime syndicate. The operation was aided and abetted by a journalistic class that bought the story and were unwilling to pull back the curtain because they did not want to see the little man controlling the show. Obama was never the brains behind this operation.

  • Andrew Simons

    And yet . . . today, insurance companies announced they were pushing back the dates for when insurance premiums had to be paid. The reason? Because so many people had successfully signed up for insurance through the exchanges that the insurance companies were not able to keep up with the demand. So, yeah, make fun of the geeky guy in the PJs. He does look silly. But people are buying health insurance and getting health care. Obamacare is working.

    • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

      “…insurance companies [are] pushing back the dates for…premiums. The reason? Because so many people…signed up for insurance through the exchanges that the insurance companies were not able to keep up with the demand.”
      That’s one explanation. Then there’s the real one, which is that the White House asked the insurance companies to roll back premium due dates to avoid coverage gaps caused by the exchange delays.


      • Andrew Simons

        Two things: (1) The administration asked the companies to roll back the dates and the companies agreed b/c it was in their best interests to do so b/c of the avalanche of enrollees; (2) there was news today (12/20/13) that state enrollments nationwide are huge. Obamacare is, in fact, working. Get used to it. Work to make it better. Pray for some kind of workable conscience exemptions. But stop acting like universal health care is the end of Christendom, b/c it’s not.

        • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

          Let’s grant that enrollment numbers are huge. That only proves that the exchanges are finally working. To say that the ACA itself works based on that data is a massive equivocation.
          In the long run (perhaps even the short term), the ACA simply can’t work. The government has already borrowed more money to run our entitlement programs than our children’s children’s children can repay. Obamacare is projected to increase this debt by over a trillion dollars. It can’t work because we don’t have the money.
          I fully concur that healthcare is a fundamental human right (if you have the right to life, you have a right to the basic necessities of life). What I cannot in good conscience defend is this mad idea that the federal level is the first and only guarantor of rights. Both the left and the GOP are stumbling on this point, with one side saying that only the feds can solve this problem and the other insisting that access to medical care should be income-based.
          We’ve totally forgotten subsidiarity. Start health care at the same level as school districts. Many object, “Look at the unequal distribution of funds to schools.” OK. If a given area can’t support medical services at that level, then escalate it to the county. If the county can’t handle it, then take it to the state. The Federal government is the option of last resort. A setup like this will increase accountability, reduce fraud, and actually make universal health care access affordable.

          • Andrew Simons

            The US Bishops have been calling for nationalized, federally funded health care for almost a century. They have explicitly rejected the kind of subsidiarity arguments you make as being unworkable on this scale of things. There is a place for subsidiarity in health care, but there is also a place for nationalized policy — which the Bishops have recognized. Also, the Congressional Budget Office scored the ACA as being revenue neutral (actually a wee bit on the revenue generating side). Your claims to the ACA costing trillions are simply wrong.

    • peggy

      No, it’s not. Most of those signed up are apparently for Medicaid, to be paid for by the rest of us. O is desperate to get young professionals to sign up to cover those costs…but the kids don’t have jobs, thanks to O’s economy, and don’t need cadillac insurance.

      Millions of other people are losing insurance or paying higher premiums to meet the unnecessary standards of Ocare. Monthly take home is lost to this. And no raises to make up the difference, since employers’ share increased too. Most people will experience high deductibles next year. Further, don’t forget hours reduced since retail business cannot afford to provide cadillac plans to every one. The cost models of such industries cannot afford it…but they could previously afford from low-cost minimal coverage plans for all employees pre-Ocare.

      Yeah, it’s working all right. This law has caused MUCH displacement and lowered household incomes…to put it politely.

      insurance companies are making concessions with a gun to their heads in the hands of O. Let’s not be fooled for goodness sake.

    • Fr. Rob Johansen

      Keep drinkin’ the Kool-Aid, Andrew. If you keep saying “Obamacare is working” often enough, it will surely come true!

      • Andrew Simons

        I assume, Father Rob, that you are a priest, and that as a priest you have health insurance? If that’s the case, I also assume that you are willing to give up your health insurance in order to stand in solidarity with those in your flock who don’t have health care — since you so obviously want to deny them a good that you yourself enjoy. Wanting to deny others a good you enjoy…hmmm…that’s the mortal sin of envy, isn’t it?

        • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

          This is calumnious. Pointing out the ACA’s manifold faults is not equivalent to stating one’s wish that others be denied a good. If the stated aim is ensuring everyone access to the genuine good of medical care, how would Fr. Johansen be helping anyone by giving up his insurance?
          Snide comments like that give me serious doubts that you’re primarily concerned with helping anyone. Do you have health insurance? I don’t, and the last thing I’d want Fr. Johansen to do is forfeit his in a pointless show of “solidarity” with me. I’d ask for his prayers, and to remember the plight of myself and many others when he presides over the Holy Sacrifice.

          • Andrew Simons

            I do not think you know what calumnious means. I said nothing to damage anyone’s reputation, but did point out a fundamental hypocrisy (and the sin of envy) that attends two categories of people who are against the ACA: (1) those who have health insurance plans that include contraceptives; (2) those in religious life who have the luxury of participating in insurance plans that may not include contraceptives, but want to deny the same to others. And for the record: the priest accused me of blinding following Obama on this. He didn’t seem to be aware — as you don’t either — that the U.S. Bishops have been calling for nationalized, federally-underwritten health care for almost a century now. In fact, the USCCB is basically for Obamacare, but for the contraceptive mandate and conscience-provision problems.

            • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

              I’d say that rashly accusing someone of hypocrisy and envy risks harm to his reputation. I’m not prepared to say that support for the ACA grants one the preternatural ability to see into others’ hearts and so justify such accusations.

              The USCCB is not “basically for Obamacare.” They have issued four criteria which any comprehensive healthcare reform policy must meet: true universality with respect to life and dignity, special concern for the poor and immigrants, pursuit of the common good including freedom of conscience, and restraint regarding costs, to be equitably distributed among all payers. The bishops ruled that the ACA fails to meet the first three criteria (which make no mention of nationalization or federal funding; in fact, criterion 4 argues against it in practice). They saw some good in the law (as do I), but in their own words, they ultimately opposed it. http://old.usccb.org/healthcare/2010-USCCB-health-care-reform-summary.pdf

              • Andrew Simons

                Brian, you aren’t allowed to make up facts. The USCCB in numerous places have stated their fundamental support for the ACA, but have serious concerns about some things: This is Bp. Dolan from just a few weeks ago: “We, the bishops of the United States, can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal healthcare. That’s how far back we go in this battle, okay? So we’re not Johnny-come-latelies,” Dolan added. “We’ve been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So, we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, ‘Uh-oh, first of all this isn’t comprehensive, because it’s excluding the undocumented immigrant and it’s excluding the unborn baby,’ so we began to bristle at that.” http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2013/12/dolan-catholic-church-could-have-been-obamacare-cheerleaders-178566.html. I don’t hear any conservatives criticizing the ACA b/c it fails to include illegal immigrants! The Bishops criticisms are bullet-sized: they are concerned about some of the particulars. Conservatives, such as yourself, seem to be opposed to a national, federally underwritten health policy. The Bishops are supportive of that.

                • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

                  Looking over my comments, I see now that some of them were disrespectful and flippant toward you. At heart, we’re both concerned with ensuring that basic human rights are secured for everyone. Please accept my apology.

                  I don’t question any of the quotes you cited. Cdl. Dolan is articulating one of the points mentioned in my last reply, that the ACA doesn’t adequately cover immigrants. That’s one of the reasons the USCCB gave for their current opposition to Obamacare. Appealing to the USCCB’s past support for national healthcare reform doesn’t nullify their current opposition to the ACA.
                  Read the USCCB’s 1981 letter on the topic. http://old.usccb.org/sdwp/national/HEALTH.PDF

                  It calls for national healthcare reform, but it also insists on the need for pluralism and the vital role of the family, local, and state levels in accord with subsidiarity.
                  I’m not against national healthcare reform. I oppose the ACA for the same reason my bishops currently do: it violates conscience rights, fails to welcome the immigrant, and ignores subsidiarity. I would applaud national healthcare reform law that followed the USCCB’s criteria to the letter, but as they themselves have plainly stated, the ACA is not that law.

                  • Andrew Simons

                    Maybe now we’re getting somewhere. This is from your link: “We believe and hope that American society will move toward the establishment of a national policy
                    that guarantees adequate health care for all while maintaining a pluralistic approach. . . Service to the poor is one particularly important way of fulfilling this prophetic role . . . It is the responsibility of the federal government to establish a comprehensive health care system that will ensure a basic level of health care for all Americans. The federal government should also ensure adequate funding
                    for this basic level of care through a national health insurance program.” Please note the reference to the essential role and responsibility of the federal government. The Bishops explicitly do NOT reference subsidiarity a central component to health care (that is a conservative shibboleth). Subsidiarity and pluralism have their place, but they aren’t central in health care policy. Finally, the Bishops are not naive: the reason that undocumented workers are not included in the ACA is b/c it’s politically impossible. The ACA is a good step in the right direction, not the last step.

  • http://brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

    “…who’s in charge at the White House these days[?]”

  • thisismattwade

    I dunno, I wouldn’t say this has all been a TOTAL failure. I did learn a new word today – brony.

    • Lydia

      Just so you know, a brony is a guy who likes the reboot of My Little Pony, which, to be just, is a pretty funny show. Still, I know this because I have a five year old little girl, not a skeevy jammie clad hipster.