Sunday, March 23, 2014

Obama's Inferno

Good old gaffe-prone Joe Biden thinks his Boss should be canonized for his truly saintly patience with all of us dimwits, so confused by the techno-kludge that is Obamacare.

Coincidentally, the president will be meeting up with the Pope in the Vatican this week. Is Biden hinting that the Boss could set a precedent for pre-mortem sainthood? Even the New York Times, reliable administration mouthpiece that it is, is coincidentally running a largely positive piece about "the Catholic roots of Obama's activism." Apparently, the young Barack started reading St. Augustine back in his college years, a literary habit he now reportedly continues to provide the rationale and the moral cover for his targeted assassinations.

So, not so fast, President Drone.

Because coincidentally, Francis just sent a pointed message to crime Bosses everywhere. They're going straight to Hell.
This life that you live now won't give you pleasure. It won't give you joy or happiness...blood-stained money, blood-stained power, you can't bring it with you to your next life.
Repent. There's still time to not end up in hell, which is what awaits you if you continue on this path.... Men and women of the mafia... change your way of life. Stop doing evil, convert!


James F Traynor said...

Yeah, like the mafia would listen.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I LOVE this pope! Unlike the Nobel Peace Prize committee, I don't think the Pope Francis is going to feel any compunctions about sending Obama a message - mainly that Barry falls FAR SHORT of the kind of leader God wants him to be. I can't wait! Although I am sure all the scolding will be done in private and Obama and Co. will marginalize Francis as a religious idealist and hint that he might be in his dotage.

I think that the Catholic church did an bang up job choosing this pope! After so much shame, the church can really feel proud of their leader. And that is coming from a Protestant!

bluestate said...

I'm appalled at all the news nodes referenced by this post (thank you, Sardoicky! Keep it coming.)

The Pope mentioned 'Hell,' which is not actually in the Bible? I've just lost hope in his papacy. (And yeah, that'll scare 'em.)

But Obama learned much from his reading of Augustine. Though Obama didn;t acquire Augustine's serious Oedipal pathology, Augustine did provide a hefty theological rational for torturing and killing heretics (who are people who exercise their choice [Gr., heresia] to disagree with you).

James F Traynor said...

Valerie Long Tweedie (jeez,that's a great name), I wish Frankie had been that outspoken when he was in Argentina. But then my favorite is John XXIII. A great little roly, poly guy

Zee said...

Government waste and incompetence revisited, Part I.

“Speaking to a conference of community health centers in New York, [Vice-President Joe ('Shotgun Joe')] Biden conceded that enrolling in ObamaCare could be 'tedious,' and early problems with worsened the problem.

'We didn't help you much at the front end here, man,' Biden said,* adding that he wanted to recommend President Obama 'for sainthood' because he maintained his patience through the early technical problems with the website.

'The president and I were as frustrated as anyone you ever knew,' Biden said.”

*Accompanied by audience laughter in the associated video.

The President should be canonized for his patience? How about those Americans who actually believed that ObamaCare was going to be the best thing since canned beer, and the rest of us whose tax dollars are paying for the program and its myriad, on-the-fly, BandAid “fixes?” We are the ones who deserve sainthood (or perhaps a 2014 Darwin Award in the
Epic—But-Non-Fatal—Stupidity category) for our patience (or resignation).

And this dimwit actually considers himself a viable candidate for a 2016 run at the Presidency?

But—continuing on with some remarks on government bureaucracy that I posted a couple of threads ago—what drives me far more mad than Biden's stupidity is the fatalistic way in which Americans now not only accept government waste and incompetence as a way of life, but we laugh along with the perpetrators rather than showering them with rotten tomatoes, tarring and feathering them, and then riding them out of town on a rail.

Obama got a lot of laughs a few years ago when he acknowledged that all those “shovel-ready” projects on which the 2009 “stimulus” was to be spent weren't nearly as shovel-ready as he had guessed/hoped/prayed. The subtext to his remarks at the time might have been: “Wow! Wasn't I stupid? I sure am grateful that you dim-bulbed folks can laugh right along with me at my own incompetence, rather than voting me the hell out of office in 2012 like I deserve! Yuk, yuk!”

So “Shotgun Joe,” politically crafty even if otherwise dumb, was merely following Obama's time-tested, diversionary strategy when he laughed at his own administration's ineptitude and waste, and, once again, we laughed right along with him. Again the subtext might read something like: “Thanks ever so much for letting me play you all for chumps just one more time!”

Please don't interpret my criticism of Obama and Biden to mean that Republican administrations aren't equally incompetent, and that the American people don't laugh off their ineptitude just as quickly. Bush's failed ( “Heckuva job, Brownie!” ) response to Hurricane Katrina's devastation was another example of cosmic governmental waste and incompetence that is nearly fogotten a decade later, at least at the national level.

When I rail against “Big Government,” I'm not talking about starving “widders and orphinks,” or lobbying for one party or the other. Rather, I'm pleading that we try to accumulate more money for the least fortunate in our society by finally taking a stand against waste, fraud, abuse and outright incompetence rather than just accepting it as a fact of life—as with corrupt politicians—that we somehow simply must endure as the cost of social justice, a strong national defense, or whatever your pet cause is.

(To be continued...)

Zee said...

Government waste and incompetence, revisited. Part II

My current tirade against government and bureaucratic waste was triggered by this recent article from the WaPo, “Sinkhole of Bureaucracy:”

“In BOYERS, Pa. — The trucks full of paperwork come every day, turning off a country road north of Pittsburgh and descending through a gateway into the earth. Underground, they stop at a metal door decorated with an American flag.

Behind the door, a room opens up as big as a supermarket, full of five-drawer file cabinets and people in business casual. About 230 feet below the surface, there is easy-listening music playing at somebody’s desk.

This is one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government — both for where it is and for what it does.

Here, inside the caverns of an old Pennsylvania limestone mine, there are 600 employees of the Office of Personnel Management. Their task is nothing top-secret. It is to process the retirement papers of the government’s own workers.

But that system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper.

The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records.

This odd place is an example of how hard it is to get a time-wasting bug out of a big bureaucratic system.

Held up by all that paper, work in the mine runs as slowly now as it did in 1977.”


“'The need for automation was clear — in 1981,' said James W. Morrison Jr., who oversaw the retirement-processing system under President Ronald Reagan.”

“During the past 30 years, administrations have spent more than $100 million trying to automate the old-fashioned process in the mine and make it run at the speed of computers.

They couldn’t.

So now the mine continues to run at the speed of human fingers and feet. That failure imposes costs on federal retirees, who have to wait months for their full benefit checks. And it has imposed costs on the taxpayer: The Obama administration has now made the mine run faster, but mainly by paying for more fingers and feet.

The staff working in the mine has increased by at least 200 people in the past five years. And the cost of processing each claim has increased from $82 to $108, as total spending on the retirement system reached $55.8 million.”

Twice now, first in 1987 and then in 1997, the Feds tried to modernize the system, and failed both times.

(To be continued...)

Zee said...

Government waste and incompetence, revisited. Part III

To understand why, perhaps one should look at the personnel who “led” the attempts at “reform:”

“The first time, work began in 1987. Years passed. About $25 million was spent, according to the Government Accountability Office. But within the government, officials started to worry that it wasn’t working.

'The reports [from the contractor] just asserted that they had written X lines of code. . . . For an executive, that’s just invisible; you don’t know what it means,' said Curtis Smith, who oversaw retirement processing from 1989 to 1994. He was a longtime federal employee with a PhD in ENGLISH LITERATURE, supervising a massive technology project.

'I had no idea [if] they were making progress from month to month. And I just sort of took it on faith that they could make it work,' Smith said. 'And they never did.'

In 1996, two years after Smith left the government, officials finally pulled the plug on that project.”

Honest-to-God! A Ph.D. in English Lit leading a $25M technology project? Your Federal government at work!

There was a second attempt at modernization that also failed, but you all can read about it yourselves. A third appears to be in the offing.

But here's the bottom line:

“A recent study by the Standish Group, a firm in Boston that researches failures, found that only 5 percent of large federal IT projects in the last decade fully succeeded.

Of the rest, 41 percent were failures, canceled before they were turned on. The reasons often echoed the problems in the mine: Federal officials either tried to buy a technology they didn’t fully understand because they lacked the technical skill, or they didn’t test what they were getting until it was too late.

Sound at all familiar?

Yes, I know: $100M in waste here, a $100M in waste there on some backwater government program, that's really chickenfeed on the grand scale of Federal spending. “We need to worry about waste in the BIG areas, like the Pentagon,” say Progressives.

Well, I agree.

The Pentagon's annual budget it essentially unauditable, and has been so for decades. It's time for that to end, and to take a hard look at failing weapons programs that serve lawmakers facing re-election, and high-ranking officers looking for cushy private-sector jobs upon retirement, more than national defense.

But it's also time to crack down harshly—very harshly—on Medicare and Medicaid fraud and waste, favorite candidates expansion, according to Progressives:

“Medicare abuse and fraud like this costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or C.M.S., estimated that in 2010, the two programs together made more than $65 billion in improper federal payments. An April 2012 study by a RAND Corporation analyst and former C.M.S. administrator estimated that fraud and abuse cost Medicare and Medicaid as much as $98 billion in 2011.

Now, $68B-$98B per year starts to sound like real money, at least to me, even compared to waste by DoD.

Whether taxpayer dollars are wasted by the Pentagon or by Medicare, Medicaid or SNAP, it's “red meat” for some one who wants to gore the other guy's fiscal ox. Progressives' ox is the Pentagon, and Conservatives' oxen are the so-called “entitlement” programs.

Enough is enough.

Root out waste and fraud and punish it wherever it occurs. Stop laughing about it. It really is bread out of somebody's mouth.

PS: All bold or CAP emphases above are mine.

Zee said...

I haven't followed the career of Pope Francis at all, either before or after his ascension to the Papacy.

I do note that there seems to have been a great deal of enthusiasm for this Pope from the American Left based on a few pronouncements on his part early in his tenure.

Has Francis yet expressed an opinion to Obama (or the world) on the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate to require--one way or another--insurance coverage for contraception and abortion?

If he hasn't, will the Progressive honeymoon with Francis come to an end if/when he renders an opinion contrary to Leftist dogma?

Just askin', 'cause I seem to faintly recall that Obama was once seen to be "The Way, the Truth and the Life" on the basis of a pretty limited track record, too.

Pearl said...

I hope you will forgive me Valerie and others for not joining the chorus in praise of Pope Francis. Although as a man apart from his position he is a kind and decent human being, nevertheless the Catholic Church he heads and supports is not a kind and decent organization. He speaks of helping the poverty stricken but does nothing to remove the reasons for this poverty,much of which is due to the control of women's reproductive choices which bring forth large families that are hard to support properly. I don't see much activity regarding the sexual behavior of former and present Priests,many of whom are just sent somewhere else to cover up their activities and the attitude to the duties and requirements of Nuns have bred much dissentin the ranks which are not being addressed.

Beliefs of Heaven and Hell and who goes where when they die, is a threat that does not really remove amoral behavior. After all, there is always the Confessional to relieve a believer of their guilt and avoid punishment for their sins which depends on the church's description of what is truly a sin. The Church's financial empire, even if Pope Francis accomplishes the miracle of cleaning up their act, still is a monument to wealth and acquisition which does not trickle down to the membership. It is also a massive structure that affects political thinking and action according to their dictates. I remember when the Pope during WW 11 refused to recognize or help victims of the Holocaust and wondered if there had been a different reaction if Catholics were the victims.

What is sad is that a church or synagogue or other religious refuge becomes the only support for people with little hope in their lives and distracts
from what should be the real sources of help from their governments or
communities without judgment. We need only to observe how other religious
organizations in third world countries closely control the actions,
especially of the women and girls in their countries, and which perpetuate ignorance, poverty and fear accompanied with political and social unrest we read about daily. The differences and competition between religions has created tremendous destruction in people's lives past and present, including interfaith hatred and dissent. I am afraid Pope Francis is not my idea of a role model for humanity nor the church he represents.

Cirze said...

It's a good thing he's not Italian!

Oh, and Zee, I'd call it "normalized stupidity."

Because that has been what has happened in the last 5 years.

Not that the Cheney/Bush years weren't rife with stupidity . . . of course they were . . . just that millions of us waited 8 years to have Obama start cleaning up the stupidity sty to learn that he would mainly be busy building and populating his own.

The subtext to his remarks at the time might have been: “Wow! Wasn't I stupid? I sure am grateful that you dim-bulbed folks can laugh right along with me at my own incompetence, rather than voting me the hell out of office in 2012 like I deserve! Yuk, yuk!”

v said...

James and Pearl - I agree with both of you. But I AM really thrilled that a religious leader of Pope Francis’ status and ability to garner attention in the media is actually speaking out against economic inequality rather than giving platitudes or ignoring the issue altogether.

I know that many outspoken critics of the government in Argentina disappeared and were presumably tortured and killed while Francis was Archbishop. And while I am sure that the Catholic Church told their clerics to keep a low profile, there were many priests and nuns who had the courage and integrity to do the right thing. Clearly, Francis was not one of them. Is Francis a political animal? Of course he is. Did he remain silent out self-interest – probably.

But what Francis is saying is very important to say at this point in history. At a time when it seems like the Christian leadership is totally complicit in the corporatisation of democracy in most western countries, Pope Francis is a powerful voice speaking out against it. Look . . . whether or not you believe in God or Heaven or Hell, the fact that religion is being used to condone injustice should not be unchallenged by believers. If we truly are following the teachings of Jesus, we cannot be silent on this issue. Yet so many of us are – and most of our leaders are.

Pearl, I completely agree that the Catholic Church is in great part - due to their ridiculous position on contraception - responsible for a lot of poverty in the world, particularly in South America. They have and always have had an agenda that put preserving the institution of the Catholic Church above the people in their congregations. But allow me to hope that this Pope is sincere in his desire to make things better for the poor. The Catholic Church must change if it is to survive. It is not out of the question that this Pope might make some progressive changes in the future – perhaps even the near future – that benefits women. When I look at my comfortable Protestant upbringing, I can't see much activism amongst our ranks - be they leaders or fellow congregants. To me, having a religious leader speak truth to power is a good thing.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

@Zee, I don't totally disagree that government couldn't be more efficient. But turning things over to the private sector is a worse alternative. We should work to improve out government, not get rid of it altogether. Without a strong government to push back against the tide of corporatism in America, we little guys and gals, haven't got a chance. I don't want to go back to the times of the Industrial Revolution when human beings were nothing more important to those in power than cogs in a wheel. I really can't get excited about government waste when government corruption is the big problem.

BTW - V is mein the previous comment., I just didn't hit the right button

Jay - Ottawa said...

After a couple of years of hanging around an irreverent lefty blog site what does the conservative sincerely open to conviction keep coming up with?

Yet another jaw-dropping variation on: “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Patience, comrades, patience.

Jay - Ottawa said...

As an interested observer of Catholicism, I find that Pope Francis has indeed introduced a fresh spirit of change. He appears to stand well apart from Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. He keeps sounding notes that echo the founder, but so far only on a few issues, like capitalism and openness to people of other convictions. At the same time, he stands pat on most of the big issues properly raised above by other commenters.

To date, Francis has only resituated the “church administrative” about one or two mini-clicks of the micrometer over to the side of serious reform. The American Catholic hierarchy is of little help to a would-be reformer. They are mostly block-headed right-wingers appointed by Francis’s predecessors. The nuns’ groups in the US are still under unsympathetic review for being too energetic in their good works targeted on the social gospel.

In sum, Francis still has a long, long way to go before he begins to take that perpetually embarrassed element of his membership still hanging on -- not to mention less patient former Catholics -- over to the hopeful views of generous outside observers.

James F Traynor said...

Brooks: The Republic of Fear.

Normally, at least for the past 30 years or so, I don't read conservative columns, nor most 'liberal' ones either, but the title of this one piqued what killed the cat. Which republic did he have in mind?

And what a wonder it is! A beautiful working definition of hypocrisy by one of the best. And the amazing thing is the man apparently is totally unaware of the irony. I wonder what Jonathan Swift would think?

Zee said...

A couple of additional and final thoughts on the relationship between needlessly oversized government and government corruption, and then I'll give it a rest.


I don't believe that at any point during my latest harangue against big government and associated government waste that I said anything—either explicitly or implicitly—that would suggest that I was advocating for privatization of any government functions.

You state that you are concerned not with government waste, but rather with government corruption. I am trying to argue—without apparent success despite the obvious evidence—that any huge, faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy, left largely untended, provides cover not only for inexcusable governmental waste, but corruption ranging from the piddling to the monstrous, and everything else in between.

Progressives seem unable to acknowledge that human beings are seriously flawed critters, with a significant fraction of us ready at any time to cross the line into corruption given the slightest temptation, opportunity, and reasonable hope for success. The bigger the bureaucracy to hide within, the greater the opportunity and likelihood to escape detection when temptation presents itself, don't you think? Well, that's my instinctive prejudice, anyway.

Which brings me to


Yes, IMHO, needlessly large government bureacracy mixed with human nature can be a large part of the problem rather than the solution to whatever problem you think ails us.

As I have tried to suggest before, no matter how perfect the form of government that we might adopt, it will always be populated by imperfect human beings. Within that large, faceless, unaccountable and unwatched bureaucracy there will be individuals eager to either to line their pockets on their own, or to serve “others” who will help them line their pockets under cover of law, patriotism, or whatever.

Those “others”—politicians and high-ranking government officials—whom these bureaucrats serve doubtless use the bureaucrats to various ends. Clearly—to me at least—one of these “ends” is the accumulation of total power over the American people via our new surveillance and security state.

You know, that out-of-control bureacracy that you and I are urging our politicians to “defund.” That same bureaucracy that is populated by people who are more than willing to spy on and thereby control their neighbors because they need the job, they are told that it's in the national interest, or, perhaps, because they just plain enjoy the power. Certainly, not all of them will be “good” people.

As long as people are people, needlessly large government bureaucracies—regardless of the purpose that they serve, will be a threat to democracy. Some agencies more than others, to be sure, but none should ever be larger than the people are willing to oversee themselves.

And given the (non-)involvement of the average American citizen with her/his government today, that means that our government should be rather smaller than it is today.

Progressives seem to believe that if we just have the “right” people in government it can safely be as big as need be—whatever that means. But we will never have only the “right” people in government, and the bigger it is, the greater the absolute number of “wrong” people we will have in government, all ready to do mischief at the first opportunity.