Extract from the Comments

Veteran IP/DD reader Tim offered this:

Btw, thought you might be interested to read the comments on a recent anti-Steyn moment from your old pal Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit.

OCTOBER 28, 2013

BUSTING MARK STEYN for doom-mongering. I like Steyn, but more than most, he reminds me of why despair is a sin.

Apparently Glenn loves that same Tamny piece (linked in an earlier comment). Yeah, you had this guy’s number years ago, as do many of his commenters.

I responded:

Good catch. Reynolds is the Henny Youngman of bloggers.

(Don’t be nonplussed. Google and Youtube him. You’ll see what I mean.)

Okay. Don’t hunt. Go here…

Do read the comments at InstaPundit. Maybe the peanut gallery is finally getting tired of him. He’s always been more aggregator than thinker, law professor or no. His wife, Helen Smith, seems more thoughtful and interesting than he is. Cue the Youngman joke, “Take my wife, please!”

Reply ↓

Fly Away Home

The song that undergirds the soundtrack of the movie.

I watched the Sebelius hearing as long as I could. Rush’s first comment on his show said it all. “Were there any Republicans there? Did anyone ask her, if you can’t build a working website, why should we trust you to run one sixth of the American economy?”

Uh, no. They didn’t.

Why I’m offering up a distraction from the post-hearing commentary, which will undoubtedly be even more wearisome, tedious, and annoying than the hearing itself.

Fly Away Home is playing on the Encore Family Channel tonight and is available elsewhere, I’m sure. Girl raises geese, leads them on their first migration. I won’t direct you to the trailer because it’s designed to make you take your kids to a children’s movie. Except that it’s more than that. Here are a couple of comments from IMDB’s user reviews.

One of the reasons I was sucked into this wonderful family movie was the photography. It is National Geographic quality. In fact I was so impressed with the cinematography that I had to look up who did it: Caleb Deschanel. The setting, a farm in Southern Ontario, allowed him to become intimate with the geese and the natural setting. Another reason I couldn’t stop watching the movie was the stunning performance by Anna Paquin, the 16-year old girl who played Amy…

The story, ‘Fly Away Home’ is touching because she’s not the kind of Hollywood-trained child actor you find in most movies. A surprising thing happened as I watched Amy and her geese. I could sense a startling serenity from her as the bond had developed between them. I wondered how she could manage that. She was only a 16-year old actress then but she conveyed a mothering instinct that goes back to the ageless beginnings of life on this planet. When the goslings were following her around, much of the photography was from ground level. Later when they were all flying, the photography was right there in the flying formation. You were seeing the birds, in flight, right next to you. The beauty of motion was unbelievable.

And this one:

I don’t have much in the way of feelings so usually stick to science.

An engineer by trade I used to subscribe to a “tecchie” aviation magazine. One issue had this incredible story by some kindly if eccentric Canadian folks who had raised a gaggle of baby geese, and you know the rest. Details of aviation aside, the story warmed my heart. Most Unusual.

A year or so later I took my kids to see “Flyaway Home” expecting a mildly entertaining nature documentary, like Disney’s old “Prairie Dog Town” with an aviation twist.

What I saw was a superbly crafted and deeply touching little masterpiece. I was in tears by the end.

Metaphors of kindness aside, this film will touch any heart however hardened or scarred.

And the kids liked it too.

A few klunky plot twists aside, it’s a breath of fresh air and a fine escape from the poisoned atmosphere of our national political climate. If there’s no way you can get hold of the movie tonight, here’s a lengthy trailer of the kind I normally despise because it gives away so much of the movie. But there’s no narration, just a sequence of cinematography highlights.

Best I can offer today. Though I recognize the possibility nobody’s up to it. My better half just texted me, “Not in a feel-good kind of mood.”

Raebert’s all growly and grumpy too.

Uplifting cinematography can only do so much.

Lou Reed is dead.

Go listen to his Top Ten songs. My own favorite is shown above.

I won’t make up stuff about what a great guy he was. He probably wasn’t. But when a large, bright candle goes out, there’s an odor of burning wax in the air. I smell it now.

Enjoy your new dirty boulevard, Lou. We’ll be there with you, soon enough.

Our 48th President

President Malia.

Her parents’ daughter, a bored and sullen autocrat. President Malia.

Let’s see how it’s going to go. First, Hillary, 70-something at her inauguration. Then Michelle. She’ll be a peach. Then Chelsea. (Face it. The Bushes are the Plantagenets in this story, and the Kennedys might as well be Aelfric the Obsolete. All those penises and things.) After Chelsea has finished turning the United States into the Politically Correct States of Ghana, Malia can become the new Madonna of Argentina. It’s going to be great.

After she marries Chris Brown and gets beaten to a pulp, the country will rally around her and she can sing…

It will probably replace the Star Splattered Banner at games of the national pastime, girls’ soccerbasket.

By then, thankfully, I’ll be dead as a fucking doornail. Can you make the same boast?

Don’t be fooled.


I am in a state of fury. I may be resorting to old tools of humor and satire, but that’s only to dilute the bile and spleen in my gut.

What is happening in the nation now is a crime of earthshaking moment. This administration has committed so many impeachable offenses their best defense is that no one could agree on which ones should lead the bill of indictment.

This is not politics as usual, not business as usual. This is an atrocity, a hate crime against the people who built and maintain this country.

Turning away is no answer. Silence is no statement. I post and post and post, and post some more, because those of us who know how bad it is must speak. If you can’t speak here, speak somewhere, and be loud. Even if it’s only to the twerp across the table from you in the break room.

We are losing it all. Everything we’ve ever been. Fight for us. Fight for yourselves and your children. Time to be a Furyan.

My wife is especially fond of Furyans. She thinks she married one. which is convenient, because she’s one too.

As is Raebert. Don't mess with us.

As is Raebert. Don’t mess with us. The eyes have it. His middle name begins with an R.

In case you forgot.

Fast on the draw...


Rush is screaming.

I understand.

I understand.

Unfortunately with respect to my conversations with Barbara, what set him off was a Krauthammer interview in which Charles claimed he didn’t know who Obama was until his first state of the union speech. Rush finds this incomprehensible, unspeakable, unforgivable.

Well, I could be just as angry. Here’s what I wrote all the way back in February 2008, long before he got the nomination:

Down to earth. If the Clintons can’t make a dent in the campaign of a coolly ambitious, non-African-American, Ivy League Chicago machine politician, what will any of of us be able to do if he turns out to be inept, short-sighted, vengeful, corrupt, or actively seditious? If some clumsy American politician accidentally says something to offend his 300K-a-year Princetonian executive wife, for example, will we all have to apologize — or pay in some other coin? If he violates his vow to uphold the Constitution, will we have the recourse we would have with mere politicians? Or will every voice — in politics and the press — fall silent, because raising an objection of any kind is tantamount to a hate crime?

What stories will not be pursued by the already horrifyingly cowardly PC media? What legitimate policy objections will not be posed by senators and congressmen who are already living in daily fear that their most inadvertent verbal slip will bring down 400 years worth of resentment on their heads?

Think about it. If the “First Black President” has already been made to look a bigot for daring to promote his wife’s candidacy over Obama’s, what chance do the rest of us have in the next four or eight years if we start to see in Obama a Carter, a Ferrakhan, or Quisling? No matter what he does, he could never be impeached. It’s debatable whether he could ever be criticized. Let alone mauled and mocked and belittled day after day like a Bush or a, uh, Bush.

The first black President must be a politican, not a messiah. We’ve already seen what happens when teflon meets a halo. The halo wins. Without even being responsive. The truth is — and this is not racist, but statistically valid — that the first black president really can’t coast unexamined into office; he has an absolute moral obligation to demonstrate with full candor and understanding that he isn’t Marion Barry, Alcee Hastings, William Jefferson, Ray Nagin, or all the mayors of Newark, Detroit, and Philadelphia who have ridden the horse of jury nullification into sinecures of power only to abuse that power in systematic ways while branding all who objected to their corruption as bigots.

What we cannot afford at this time in our history is a sainted Jimmy Carter, a well educated Huey Long, or a closet Castro..

Inquire of yourselves — again and again — how did a neophyte take down the Clintons?

So. I was right, well in time for the calamity to be prevented. I spelled it out in pitiless detail. In print. (Maybe you should buy a copy and send it to an Obama voter. Just a thought.) Am I screaming now like Limbaugh?

Yes. Silently. Or at least nobody can hear me. Remember the promos for the release of the movie Alien? “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Where I am.

Where Rush is too.

Sorry, Rush. Not suggesting you look like the Predator. Just that you’re equivalently armed. Screaming isn’t quitting. Sometimes it’s attacking.

The Debate Continues

Speaking of Valerie Jarrett...

Speaking of Valerie Jarrett…

I keep seeing cartoons, and Raebert sees, well, mostly dogs.


So who’s right? This time I think I am. It just seems to fit somehow.

HOWEVER… It’s possible that we’re both right. As it turns out, in the very first Betty Boop cartoon, she was actually a dog.

(About 2 1/2 minutes in.)

Not that Betty, or Valerie, was, you know, a dog. Both cute as a button. So, I guess I’m right after all. As usual.

ALTHOUGH (Pipe down, Raebert, I’m getting to it!)… Valerie did go to the University of Michigan Law School, which would make her technically less humanoid than wolverine.


Hmmm. What do you think? (No, I’m not asking who has bigger pecs.)

Quit laughing, Raebert.


I mean it.

Buckeyes! What do I know from Dartmouth? Thinking we'll win anyway. Boss says so. He cuts the grass. It'll be good.

Whatever you say, Boss.


Daffy’s not happy.

Some required reading. Let’s do the technical piece first and get it out of the way.

Healthcare.gov has a significant data problem that won’t be fixed simply. That means no patches or rewrites are likely to fix it. Reports are emerging that focus on these ‘834’ forms. These forms are used in the process of direct enrollment, and it appears that they are filled with incorrect information, making purchasing plans for many impossible. The data that is coming to insurers from healthcare.gov is corrupted or sending ‘questionable’ data.

“The data’s pretty bad,” the executive said. And even if the data was not corrupted, the number of enrollments the insurers are getting from HealthCare.gov is “pretty low.”

The data is pretty bad. How can that be? The answer is clear if you consider the role of the site in the first place. At its core the most fundamental function of the site is to access and manage data from a variety of massive databases, from sources like the IRS, Veterans Administration, insurance carriers, the DHS, and Medicare. We are talking about a lot of incongruent and varied information that has to be extracted, transformed and analyzed, ideally on the fly. Does that sound like anything? To our dedicated readers, that’s a classic Big Data use case. So where has this gone wrong?
Creating and imposing the required data structuring onto this variety of sizable databases means a tremendous, effective effort should have taken place. Data from these systems needs to be identified, correlated, and processed in accordance with the target system. It would be nice if that was automated, but the truth is that many, many data points would have had to been manually evaluated, then categorized. It is quite likely that there are massive variations from one database to the next, from one instance to the next, even from within the same system. Differences in syntax, standards, data types, the list of information has got to be tremendously long.

Another challenge, these databases – who knows how dated they are. Government systems are famously several revisions behind all the time as they are always awaiting security validation and certification or believe it or not ($634 Billion), behind revisions because of budget. In light of all those challenges – given what we know about CGI Federal and CMS that was running this thing, the misinformation that purposely was put on display so that the public and congress would believe this site was ready to go, does anybody really think this crew would be able to pull this off? Or that we’re a couple of handful of patches away from fixing this thing?

Let me paraphrase this – bad data mapping leads to this exact problem – error-filled code and bad end data. That’s your 834 issue. Hacks and workarounds can only stack so high. There is a foundational flaw with the entire thing, and as we can all see the website was just the beginning…

Now for a pair of cultural essays that make more sense of the bits and bytes above. First, from Mark Steyn, an account of the development effort from inside:

“We were working in a very very nimble hyper-consumer-focused way,” explained Todd Park, the chief technology officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “all fused in this kind of maelstrom of pizza, Mountain Dew, and all-nighters . . . and, you know, idealism. That kind of led to the magic that was produced.”

Wow. Think of the magic that Madison, Hamilton, and the rest of those schlubs could have produced if they’d only had pizza and Mountain Dew and been willing to pull a few all-nighters at Philadelphia in 1787. Somewhere between the idealism and the curling slice of last night’s pepperoni, Macon Phillips, the administration’s director of new media, happened to come across a tweet by Edward Mullen of Jersey City in which he twitpiced his design for what a health-insurance exchange could look like. So Phillips printed it out to show his fellow administration officials: “Look, this is the sort of creativity that is out there,” he said. “One thing led to another and he left Jersey City to come to D.C. and helped push us through an information architectural process.”

Don’t you just love it! This is way cooler than the decline and fall of the Roman Empire: The only “architectural process” they had was crumbling viaducts. I think we can all agree that Barack Obama is hipper than all other government leaders anywhere, ever, combined. Unfortunately, the dogs bark and the pizza-delivery bike moves on, and, in the cold grey morning after of the grease-stained cardboard box with the rubberized cheese stuck to it, Obamacare wound up somewhat less hipper…

Next up, Virginia Postrel, the country’s leading expert on glamour. Huh?, you say. No, I assure you it’s relevant.

We imagine that software is a kind of magic — all the more so if it’s software we’ve never actually experienced. We expect it to be effortless. We don’t think about how it got there or what its limitations might be. Instead of imagining future technologies as works in progress, improving over time, we picture them as perfect from day one.

The most successful companies encourage that illusion. “We feel our job is to try to solve tough, difficult problems,” Jony Ive, head of design for Apple Inc., said in a recent interview, “but we don’t make the complexity of the problem apparent in its resolution.” His company regularly describes its products as “magic,” and the illusion of ease is essential to their glamour. They promise a world in which, contrary to the frustrations of everyday experience, computers “just work.”

Freed from real-world technical constraints, Hollywood amplifies that promise. “The police on the CBS show ‘Hawaii Five-O’ have these amazing computer databases at their disposal where images … can be digitally thrown from a digital table onto a giant wall screen with the flick of the officer’s hand into space,” says Tom Simon, a special agent with the FBI in Honolulu. In real life, “we work in a Microsoft Windows environment with all its benefits and limitations.”

Glamorous Hollywood visions make us forget that effortlessly informative, endlessly flexible databases represent the world as we wish it were — or fear it might be — not as it actually is. “TV computer hackers, especially those employed by the police, can instantly tap into any video feed, satellite imagery, internal database, or record ever created by man, even though the record exists only on paper and has never been digitized,” retired police officer Tim Dees wrote on a Quora thread about ludicrous crime-show conventions.

And much easier is the political dish that explains (maybe) why the president is such an ignorant outsider in his own government.

(Valerie) Jarrett, an old Chicago friend of both Barack and Michelle Obama, appears to exercise such extraordinary influence she is sometimes quietly referred to as “Rasputin” on Capitol Hill, a reference to the mystical monk who held sway over Russia’s Czar Nicholas as he increasingly lost touch with reality during World War I.

Darrell Delamaide, a columnist for Dow Jones’s MarketWatch, says that “what has baffled many observers is how Jarrett, a former cog in the Chicago political machine and a real-estate executive, can exert such influence on policy despite her lack of qualifications in national security, foreign policy, economics, legislation or any of the other myriad specialties the president needs in an adviser.”

Delamaide believes the term “vacuous cipher” that was applied to Jarrett stung so much because it could be used as a metaphor for the administration in general. He writes that what “has remained consistent about the Obama administration is that vacuity — the slow response in a crisis, the hesitant and contradictory communication, a lack of conviction and engagement amid constant political calculation.” The stunning revelation that President Obama wasn’t kept properly apprised of problems with Obamacare’s website is just the latest example of how dysfunctional Obama World can be.

Whether Jarrett’s influence is all too real or exaggerated is unknowable. What is known is the extent to which she has long been a peerless enabler of Barack Obama’s inflated opinion of himself. Consider this quote from New Yorker editor David Remnick’s interview with her for his 2010 book The Bridge.

“I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

Up against a court flatterer of that caliber it’s no surprise that Jarrett has outlasted almost everyone who was in Obama’s original White House team — from chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to political guru David Axelrod to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. All are known to have crossed her, and all are gone. As one former Obama aide once told me: “Valerie is ‘She Who Must Not be Challenged.’”

Finally, a horrifying bit of context that illustrates why all of this is such an unmitigated catastrophe.

Waving the bloody shirt is not only about making an emotional appeal — it’s a strategy for distraction. It became a bitter joke in the Soviet Union — whether the issue was the crimes of Stalin or the fact that the Lada was a piece of junk, the answer was always the same: A u vas negrov linchuyut. The same principle is at work in today’s Democratic commentariat: As Americans start to notice what a fiasco Obamacare is . . . Oh, look! A Confederate flag! There is really nothing more satisfying to liberals than a Confederate flag sighting, though I wonder what they’d make of the fact that in my corner of Texas it is not unheard-of to see black men wearing Dixie belt buckles or T-shirts. (All of our necks are just different shades of red.) When Brad Paisley sings about the Confederate flag, it’s like Christmas morning for Touré. Yet, despite the daft insistence of Joan Walsh and the Affiliated Suburban Pearl-Clutchers of America, there is no neo-Confederate revanche just around the corner. The idea is, however, a useful distraction. But a distraction from what?

From $4,955.

Fifty years into the Democrats’ declaration of a war on poverty and President Kennedy’s first executive order for affirmative action, while spending $300 million a year on worthless diversity workshops and singing endless verses of “We Shall Overcome,” after enduring endless posturing from Barack Obama and the moral preening of his admirers, that is what black American families have to show for themselves: an average household net worth of $4,955. The average white household in these United States has a net worth of $110,729. Black Americans’ median net worth is less than 5 percent that of white Americans.

By way of comparison, black South Africans under apartheid had a median net worth about 6.8 percent that of white South Africans. Repeating: Black Americans are worse off relative to their white countrymen than black South Africans under apartheid were to theirs, a fact to which former Washington Post reporter Jon Jeter has drawn attention and from which he has drawn all the wrong conclusions. (Muppet News Flash: Washington Post straight-news reporter turns out to be a garden-variety liberal.) Philadelphia mayor John Street used to brag that “the brothers and sisters are running the city,” which would be more of a boast in a city with less criminal governance. Mayor Ray Nagin, whose fraud/conspiracy/money-laundering/bribery/tax-evasion trial should be getting under way any moment now, liked to promise that New Orleans would remain a “chocolate city.” A generation of one-party rule based on racial politics was enough to doom Detroit. Outside of the womb, the most dangerous place for a black American to be is in a city run by Democrats.

This is the bottom line of the ongoing sick tragedy called liberalism. It’s not about helping people because it doesn’t. It’s about power, and, yes, glamour, and the moral midgets who seek them at the cost of their souls and our freedom.

Is he small? Or tinier than that?

Is he small? Or tinier than that?

Raebert’s Heffalump

Raebert's elephant is smarter than the G..O.P.'s.

Raebert’s elephant is smarter than the G..O.P.’s. Way smarter.

He’s not feeling well today. Why he got on my lap clutching his favorite toy.

But it got me thinking. While he was snoozing, the local station that carries Limbaugh and then Hannity came on. Only Hannity wasn’t there. The fill-in was the morning person from WILM in Wilmington. She surprised me.

She asked, right out of the box, “Are the Republicans ready to apologize to Ted Cruz yet?”

According to Raebert, Not every dog has the heart to kick ass. Cruz does.

According to Raebert, not every dog has the heart to kick ass. Cruz does.

Holy smokes. How does a local radio host know more than Krauthammer, Will, Goldberg, and the editors of the Weekly Standard and National Review?

Then I remembered. The same way I do. Open eyes and a perspective from outside DC and New York City.

Fact is, it’s the Democrats who are facing a Catch 22. They villainized Cruz for wanting to defund what immediately became a nightmare. How do you run against the shutdown when the shutdown was a boy with a finger in the dike sounding an alarm in a real emergency?

The road to good intentions is paved by Hell.

The road to good intentions is paved by Hell.

For the Republicans it’s just embarrassing. They’ll wind up quoting Cruz’s filibuster and pretending they supported it.

That’s how bad ObamaCare is.

Bad news? Raebert still feels poorly. He threw up this morning and spent most of the day passed out and grumbling on my lap.

I don't feel good, daddy.

I don’t feel good, daddy.

Maybe that will move some of you to comment. Or not.

Krauthammer on The Five

He's mad at everybody like us.

He’s mad at everybody like us.

Raebert isn’t as concerned about Charles as I am.

As I watch The Five, he’s right. Krauthammer’s not the Grinch. He’s a charming guy who is just somehow deeply sad. I have never seen him shift in his chair like this. I do know how smart he is. And I am learning what physical fatigue can do to, well, everything. Once again, Raebert is right.

He's the only hound in the pundit world.

He’s the only hound in the pundit world.

I know he has a book out. But it’s great to see him so gregarious and lighthearted. Even though you can see that he’s a sad man.

Friendship doesn’t save a man like this. Love doesn’t either. Don’t ask me how I know. Maybe admiration will take the tarnish off the shine of his genius.

Oh yes. He is that. Even when I disagree with him, I know he is that.