Surprise! Words are not always sufficient
Posted by aogSunday, 17 November 2013 at 06:35 TrackBack Ping URL

“Now, let’s face it, a lot of us didn’t realize that passing the law was the easy part.” — President Obama sums up the Modern American Left in one sentence. This is precisely what I mean by “Logo-Realism” and it is, I think, a Kinsley gaffe.

As we look back at a government effort which failed primarily because political considerations were far more important than technical ones to conceal the actual details of the program, some wonder about Obama’s credibility. I don’t see why, Obama has never depended on credibility in the normal sense. For his supports, he was a miracle figure who status did not depend on accomplishment of any sort. This isn’t much difference than the Obama quote at the start — his supporters thought electing Obama was the hard part, all Good Things would simply happen as natural consequence of that. Yet Democratic Party Congressmen wonder “I don’t know how he [Obama] f—-ed this up so badly”. Um, because he, like you, thought only the politics of it mattered, and that implementation was not a serious concern?

UPDATE

It is important to note that POR-care is an entire onion patch of failure. That is, multiple independent failures each of which is itself a nested set of failures. The IT project failure for healthcare.gov is but one layer in all of that.

For parallel IT failures, let us consider

In the onion we have other disasters waiting to be peeled off for POR-care including unsustainable Medicaid expansion and adverse selection problems, probably leading to a massive bailout for insurance companies. This is without even considering the security problems which make the website a target rich environment for black hat hackers, and the failure to vet the “navigators” who will have access to sensitive and private information about consumers.

We can start with how the self-employed losing their insurance is just the start. Even the Obama Administration admits that even people in group health plans will be reeducated forced in to insurance plans the federal government likes, rather than what the consumers or their employers want. This will be followed by the ever growing sticker shock.

But perhaps there is hope — HHS Secretary Sebelius wants an investigation in to the failure of healthcare.gov. Presumably so someone else can explain to her why she’s incompetent.

And of course, to defend the President the race card must be played because it can never, ever, be the fault of the hero.

Meanwhile, illustrating one of my other points, the Obama Administration thinks a blizzard of words can fix all of these problems, in a clap your hands if you believe style of governing. But, it seems, young people increasingly don’t believe and don’t want to join the White House Youth. Maybe due to the massive prevarications needed to fool the public into not punishing the political party that created it. Yet the effort at pep rallies and mass action to “fix” POR-care continues.

But in the end, this effort is shifting public opinion on universal health care, so you have to give the tranzis that.

P.S. I have some additional links about the Logo-Realism on display here, but I want to deal with that in a separate post. This time I wanted to do a link dump to reduce my open browser tabs.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 17 November 2013 at 06:45

This didn’t really fit in the main post, but I have to link to a quote from Senator Diane Feinstein about the “if you like your health plan, you can keep it”. Feinstein says that was true until POR-care was passed and then it wasn’t.

Well, as I understand it, you can keep it [your health care plan] up to the time — and I hope this is correct, but this is what I’ve been told — up to the time the bill was enacted, and after that, it’s a different story. That part of it, if true, was never made clear.

Jeff Guinn Monday, 02 December 2013 at 18:55

Once upon a previous life, I was a software engineer at Ford, working on a project that was conceptually similar to 404care.gov

Except for the 404 part.

And the $631 million dollar part. Ignoring the fact that this was the Costa Concordia of software, $631M seems like at least 4 times more money than a fully functioning system should have cost.

Your expertise in this area dwarfs mine, never mind all the “journolists” “reporting” this story. How much do you think a project of this magnitude should have cost?

(BTW, the project I worked on was famous for being defect ridden, and not meeting requirements. When I got there, Ford had decided to release a new version. I insisted — and won, because I can be an overbearing loudmouth when required — that the programmers would do nothing until I read the requirements for the new version, translated each requirement into a detailed test description, and then took the test descriptions back to management for sign-off that successful testing would meet their stated requirements. Only then did the programmers start work, and their task was to write to the test descriptions. Pretty obvious stuff, I would have thought. We delivered the new version a week early, and it released with zero defects.

The moral of this story, is that the epic failure of 404care.gov is down to progressive hubris — they have yet to learn that saying, in various ways, “make it so” does not make it so. Given that building a web based insurance aggregator is the easy part of fixing healthcare, and they FUBAR’d it, on what a basis can they claim they deserve to run 15% of the economy?)

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 02 December 2013 at 19:34

If they had built out a real, working system the $650M or so would not be unreasonable. For what they did deliver (even if worked), that’s way too much. The front facing part, the actual web site, turns out to be the easy part. It’s the backend stuff that is the real challenge and according to Congressional testimony, they haven’t started on that yet. My field has the “80% rule”, which means “the first 80% of the project takes 80% of the time, and the last 20% also takes 80% of the time”. If you’re good and you plan.

P.S. Sounds like you invented “agile programming” the primary insight of which is “write the tests first” which not only lets you do testing, but you find a lot of the design defects if you have to write tests to use the software. The problem is, from a management point of view, is it appears to frontload the effort and backload the results, even if in a global sense you’re better off.

Jeff Guinn Tuesday, 03 December 2013 at 00:28
P.S. Sounds like you invented “agile programming” the primary insight of which is “write the tests first” which not only lets you do testing, but you find a lot of the design defects if you have to write tests to use the software.

Having been on the customer end of that system, I had noticed that what the system did, and what management thought they wanted it to do were frequently two different things.

So, to the extent I invented anything, it was going through as many loops as required of “based upon what you say you want, and here are the criteria the programmers are going to be held to” until there were no gaps left. Not infrequently, what the program manager actually said wasn’t what she thought she said. That happens, and she was about the best and brightest program manager I ever met. The rest of the time, it was the coders reading the requirements and deciding for themselves what they meant. And they weren’t very good at it.

404care.gov should have been done the same way. That I independently arrived at “agile programming” means that a) it had already been done, and b) it has to be pretty darn obvious.

Just as obvious as lines-of-code per month is useless as a progress metric.

An NYT story on this from last week noted that, among other things, those responsible for 404care were so clueless, they had no idea they had nowhere near enough bandwidth, server capacity, or storage.

Really?

Clovis Wednesday, 04 December 2013 at 20:20

The funny part of it all, from my far away point of view, is how much it tells about priorities.

I mean, the guys at NSA had little problem of bandwidth, server capacity, storage and skill when they need to divert a sizable part of internet’s traffic to their little spying games.

Now, for health care, suddenly everybody is so incompetent…

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 04 December 2013 at 21:58

Clovis;

How do we know the NSA isn’t just as incompetent? They missed Snowden, they missed the Boston bombers, etc.

Skipper;

Of course. But as I noted in the original post, the project wasn’t run to succeed technically, it was run to provide specific political benefits and to reward cronies because Logo-Realism informed the upper management. They wanted it to work, it was in a good cause, they hired bright people, what more could be needed? You probably just laugh to yourself on that, but I think that is really how the Obama Administration perceived reality. Why not, it’s always worked in the past for them.

I have some good clippings on this, I should find the mental energy to dig them up and post them.

Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 04 December 2013 at 22:35

They wanted it to work, it was in a good cause, they hired bright people, what more could be needed?

I have an idea for a sociological study. (Okay, what I really have is a suspicion, and I’ll bet I could, with sufficient funding, create a study to prove it.)

Theory: People who do things that produce actual, tangible, results, are typically not progressives. Of all the pilots I have flown with, I have only met one that could be considered a progressive. I doubt there are many progressive mechanics, woodworkers, programmers, masons, etc. Conversely, people who don’t do such things are far more likely to be progressives.

Which could go some way to accounting for the absolutely gob-smacking failure that is 404care.gov. The people at the top, progressives all, simply have no earthly idea what it is to actually make something that works. Certainly Obama and Sebelius fit that mold.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 08:02

Skipper;

I wouldn’t find such a correlation very surprising although sadly there are quite a few more tranzis in the computer science community than I think reasonable.

However you need to consider that for people like Obama, post-modernism is a viable work strategy. They can “make things work” simply by re-arranging words, e.g. as a lawyer. This is their experience, their gestalt. The problem is how parochial they are, that they are unaware that much of the rest of the world simply doesn’t work that way. It’s also way tranzis get so upset and frustrated with conservative/libertarians like us disputing their plans, because in their view it is the disputation that causes the plans to fail. You can hear this even with POR-care where people claim, apparently in all seriousness, that it failed because of GOP sabotage, by which they mean public dissent.

Clovis Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 12:00

AOG,

I do not think the Snowden or Boston bombing cases are indicative of incompetence by the NSA. There is a limit to how much eavesdropping can help you.

But yours is a good point, the intrinsic secretive nature of the NSA also can hide much incompetence and misdeeds.

Skipper,

There is a problem with your theory. Most people “who do things” with their own hands are also in a relatively low position in the economic ladder. It is much studied how progressives and liberals are distributed in economic terms. So if you focus on an level that already favors conservatives, well, your study will have a problem to discriminate the right correlation order.

That said, and I mean no disrepect here - for I much respect your profession - but I would not include Pilots as people who “do things”. I would hardly include programmers either. In fact, to AOG’s despair, programmers and lawyers have much more in common than he would like to acknowledge :-)

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 14:48

Clovis;

The Snowden case doesn’t show NSA incompetence? Who did he work for, again? From which agency did he steal his data? Who set up the procedures that let him access that data?

Clovis Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 16:14

AOG,

There is a relationship between efficiency and how many safety procedures you implement. A big organization like the NSA would not be functional if it worked in a limit where no employee would ever be able to leak material.

The KGB targets former defectors with polonium to make sure future wanna be defectors will think twice. And they still defect. There is just no 100% efficient system, it is against the laws of thermodynamics.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 16:26

Clovis;

You’re obfuscating through vagueness again. The term “leak material” covers a rather wide range of failures. It’s like “unauthorized use of a weapon” - it matters if it’s a survival knife or a 20 kiloton nuclear device. It is the amount of information Snowden accessed along with the limited time and privileges someone in his position should have had. Snowden was a short term contractor, not a 20 year veteran.

Clovis Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 16:52

AOG,

It is a hacker’s place, isn’t it? They are supposed to be good hackers, which includes the fact that it must be hard to make one of them not to hack themselves if the guy is good enough.

Do you at least recognize that, in this case, if the NSA is really employing competent people, their job of ensuring no defectors gets harder?

Jeff Guinn Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 23:45
[Clovis:] There is a problem with your theory. Most people “who do things” with their own hands are also in a relatively low position in the economic ladder.

Car mechanics make pretty good money. So do plumbers, and HVAC people. Welders, too. I’ll bet there are many hands-on occupations that make as much money as, say, academics.

Besides that, your correlation assertion runs into problems with groups such as pilots, or surgeons. They are both occupy high positions on the economic ladder. Pilots are decidedly not liberal, and I’m guessing surgeons aren’t either.

That said, and I mean no disrepect here - for I much respect your profession - but I would not include Pilots as people who “do things”.

By “doing things” I mean any task that produces concrete results, requires specific knowledge and procedures, and must be applied correctly to get those results. Woodworking is very exacting, or the results will suck. Good programming is very exacting. Flying an airliner is the same — get it wrong, and there will be some very concrete results.

It is the habit of mind that comes from doing things where the only way to avoid expensive failure is through thorough knowledge and discipline that (IMHO) leads to an aversion to progressivism.

Which leads to progressives simply decreeing things shall be so, and expect they will be so. Obama has never done anything in his life that required thorough knowledge and disciplined application in order to avoid expensive failure. Nor has Sebelius, nor any other progressive I can think of offhand.

Clovis Friday, 06 December 2013 at 12:43

Skipper,

Car mechanics make pretty good money. So do plumbers, and HVAC people. Welders, too. I’ll bet there are many hands-on occupations that make as much money as, say, academics.

There are some hands on occupations that make reasonable money, but if you take the average, it does not. Also, to compare it to other area that does not make good money, such as academia, does not help your case. The Academic establishment leans toward liberalism less for economic placement and more for historical association: free thinking did not restart in the occidental world, after medieval times, due to conservatives. Or would you disagree?

And you misread my comment on correlation, I did not imply that all higher positions in the economic ladder are liberals.

By “doing things” I mean any task that produces concrete results, requires specific knowledge and procedures, and must be applied correctly to get those results.

By that too general definition, I doubt you will find the correlation you are looking for. I also do not understand why your definition would exclude lawyers, hence Obama.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 06 December 2013 at 13:55

Clovis;

Lawyers don’t count under Skipper’s definition because they don’t need to be exact, they only need to persuade others. That is, their results are entirely dependent on the opinion of other humans. In contrast, a woodworker’s output depends on physical reality, e.g. it’s stable on plane of gravitic equipotential, or it is not. No human opinion will change that. In Skipper’s case, his plane lands without damage, or it does not. No opinion will change that, either. This is what he means by “concrete results”.

The Academic establishment leans toward liberalism less for economic placement and more for historical association

Ah, you need to be very careful there. The definition of “liberalism” from that period is almost completely the opposite of what is meant by “liberalism” today. The historic roots of academia are far more what we today call “libertarian”. Modern liberalism is neo-feudalistic and its relationship to modern libertarianism/conservatism is quite similar to that between medieval lords and the academy of the time (say, 1600s-1800s).

Clovis Friday, 06 December 2013 at 15:13

AOG,

In order to do their jobs, lawyers do need to be very precise and exact with words, procedures and applications of laws, so I do not think that to focus on “to be exact” help us here. And many hands on jobs also need the opinion of others - it is not enough for a woodworker to procude a stable chair, he needs to comply with a lot of subjective preferences and tastes too, if he wants people to actually buy it.

But to the extent I get you and AOG, you are assuming that the guy’s job need to be connected with physical results. To produce something material or to operate with something material, whose success is relatively independent of subjective opinions.

Do you agree with that? If yes, OK, lawyers do not qualify. Probably most programmers do not either.

Now, are those kind of people mostly conservative? Hmm… weren’t those types the majority behind Russian communist revolution?

Clovis Friday, 06 December 2013 at 15:15

AOG,

BTW, I have no ideia why you state that “Modern liberalism is neo-feudalistic and its relationship to modern libertarianism/conservatism is quite similar to that between medieval lords and the academy of the time (say, 1600s-1800s).”

I know it must be obvious to you, but would you care to make things clearer for my feeble mind?

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 06 December 2013 at 15:42

When I think of the MAL, I think of Neo-Feudalism.

To produce something material or to operate with something material, whose success is relatively independent of subjective opinions.

Yes, that’s a reasonable paraphrase. I think programmers qualify because no amount of clever arguing will convince a compiler to compile your code, or get the right data out of the database, or move the correctly formatted HTML to the user agent. I would agree it’s somewhat less physical than piloting an aircraft or building a house, but still on the physical side.

Lawyers don’t really have to be exact, they have to convince other people they are exact. One needn’t read too many legal rulings (even at the SCOTUS level) to see how fuzzy that “exactness” can be.

weren’t those types the majority behind Russian communist revolution?

No. They were mostly academics and trust funders, people who for various reasons didn’t have to actually produce physically to get by.

I think this is best illustrated by contrasting the American and French Revolutions. The former was driven far more by people who had to actually work with physical reality, vs. the far more academic / trust funders who made the latter. The results are unsurprising given that basis.

Clovis Friday, 06 December 2013 at 20:15

AOG,

On your neo-feudalism link, you make quite a stretch. You show a quote by Rubio complainig of IRS targeting conservative groups. And you want me to deduce from it that “Modern liberalism is neo-feudalistic”, as if the action of a handful of IRS employees means that every Liberal is a neo-feudal lord enabler.

As I have defended welfare multiple times here, I’ll assume I am a Liberal for this blog standards. Now, you want me to believe I am an evil neo-feudal type because… I think people may need help and governmental action is a means for that. And I probably want to enslave the world with such a criminal activism. Not only that, I want to exterminate free thinking because that’s a good way to go back to old good feudal days.

OK, I sometimes wanted to see Lex Luthor beating Superman, I confess. I am that evil.

[On Russian revolution] They were mostly academics and trust funders […]

Please AOG, take a look at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolshevik#Composition_of_the_party

Can you please tell me where am I going wrong here?

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 06 December 2013 at 20:33

Clovis;

you want me to deduce […]

No, I don’t. I expected you to obtain a better understanding of what I meant. It’s an illustrative example, not an exhaustive indictment.

As for the Russian Revolution, I would say where you went wrong was presuming the Bolshevik party membership had any control over the party. I am gobsmacked that you seem to think the Bolsheviks were some sort of democratic / rank and file controlled organization.

P.S. I don’t think of you as evil for being a liberal, but more like all those academics who supported the Iranian Revolution. This gets back to Skipper’s point - you can want whatever you like, but actions have consequences which do not always correspond to such desires.

Jeff Guinn Saturday, 07 December 2013 at 01:29
[Clovis:] The Academic establishment leans toward liberalism less for economic placement and more for historical association: free thinking did not restart in the occidental world, after medieval times, due to conservatives. Or would you disagree?

You are mostly right that the Enlightenment occurred in the face of conservative opposition. However, I think you are making a category mistake. The people who brought us into the realm of rational inquiry were individualists who were seeking explanations that worked, and, by definition, excluding those that didn’t. The result was an intellectual process utterly alien to progressives.

Also, I think your premise is over broad. The academic establishment is not monolithic. Professors in the engineering schools are far less progressive (a word that perhaps should always be in scare quotes, and is a far better choice than “liberalism”, because progressives are the antithesis of liberalism, in the true sense of the word) than in the humanities.

Which pretty much proves my point.

Look at the composition of the Gang of 88 (the group of professors from the University of North Carolina that, in effect, demanded show trials and destroying the lives of lacrosse players who were falsely accused of rape.) and their manifesto. I would provide links, but I am in that socialist paradise aka China, and its Great Wall cripples Google and eliminates Wikipedia. So far as I can remember, every signatory of that foul document came from departments such as English, Anthropology, Sociology, etc. And also, so far as I can remember, after the charges were shown to be comprehensively wrong, not one of them apologized for putting their names to something that should cause anyone with functioning moral sense to reach for the nearest sick sack.

The sine qua non of Progressivism is the self regard of Progressives for their own ideas, which, in turn, requires that they presume to have all the knowledge required to implement those ideas. But the latter presumption is extremely difficult to sustain in the face of actually having to do things where success, or failure, is very objective.

There simply is no other way to explain the cock-up for the ages that is 404care.gov. Obama, and Sebelius, et al, are all progressives who, so far as I can tell, have spent their whole lives engaged in policy and process. So when it came to something as objective as a functioning commodity exchange system, they had utterly no idea, until the instant it blew up in their faces, that their devotion to policy and process had blinded them to actually getting anything done. Indeed, their deliberate obfuscation of what Obamacare actually entailed meant that the people doing the actual work often had no actual goal to work to.

And then there is the other question on its knees begging to be asked: Where was the MSM during the last three years? Harry should have been able to tell us by now how it is that journalists couldn’t, or didn’t, point out frequently, pointedly, and loudly the fraud Obama was perpetrating with his every utterance of “if you like your plan …”.

On the other hand, maybe the answer is here. (h/t Ace of Spades for providing the link I couldn’t get otherwise) I hope you haven’t filled that sick sack.

Lawyers don’t count under Skipper’s definition because they don’t need to be exact, they only need to persuade others.

There is another way lawyers don’t count. They can achieve results that are utterly at odds with objective reality. If AOG did that, he would quickly starve. If pilots do that, lots of people die (imagine a link to my discussion of Air France 447).

Clovis Saturday, 07 December 2013 at 14:32

AOG,

I am gobsmacked that you seem to think the Bolsheviks were some sort of democratic / rank and file controlled organization.

I never implied so, but you have the right of being as gobsmacked as you wish, if that helps you to change targets.

The general topic was the political tendencies of hands on people. Under AOG’s theory, they would tend to be conservatives. I invoked then the mother of all communist revolutions, where the majority of supporters where pretty much hands on people.

Then, the topic is no longer those political tendencies of people who “do things”, but of party leaders. OK. If you bother to take a look at Stalin’s CV, there you see a hands on guy. But you’ll surely have other targets to move on to.

I don’t think of you as evil for being a liberal, but more like all those academics who supported the Iranian Revolution.

I see, if I am not evil, I must be stupid. And sure the Iranian revolution must be my fault too - nevermind I was not even born back then.

The general message behind yours and Skipper’s argument here are indeed all about that: Liberals are evil and/or stupid. They can’t be competent enough to understand much about the real world, they are deluded people who think magic does the trick, if only you recite the right enchantment.

The trademark of a poor political discussion is that kind of ad hominem. You don’t need to actually think through arguments, reason and logic if you can discard the opponent as little more than a monkey.

Skipper:

Also, I think your premise is over broad. The academic establishment is not monolithic. Professors in the engineering schools are far less progressive (a word that perhaps should always be in scare quotes, and is a far better choice than “liberalism”, because progressives are the antithesis of liberalism, in the true sense of the word) than in the humanities.

Actually, I am only playing ball with your own beliefs, particularly the one where Academia is the land of socialism. I am pretty aware that the academic world is very heterogeneous. Still, to the extent it supports liberalism, you need to recognize it has deep roots in the renascence of freedom of thought after middle ages.

BTW, unwittingly you just reinforced my point. You link to the list of books Obama has bought one of these days, and apparently do so to express your repulsion for his books choices. Why does that remind me that Galileu’s book was in the Index Librorum Prohibitorum long after the ptolomaic model was dead? Yeah, scrutinizing books is so Enlighted, Skipper. I imagine you flying around your heavy machine, barely aware how a bunch of do-nothing people discovered and invented much of the stuff that allows you to proudly defy gravity.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 07 December 2013 at 18:04

Skipper, if you want a good Ace of Spades link on this topic, try this one.

Clovis;

The general topic was the political tendencies of hands on people. Under AOG’s theory, they would tend to be conservatives

That’s Skipper’s theory. As for Stalin, you should look at his actual role in the October Revolution, not what he achieved afterwards. I would also note that for me, the term “the people behind X” means the leaders of the movement for X. I have read extensively on the October Revolution and that leads me to conclude what I stated above.

the Iranian revolution must be my fault too

Your view is that any comparison of you to any people in any historic event is equivalent to blaming your for that event? Otherwise your comment makes no sense.

Liberals are evil and/or stupid. They can’t be competent enough to understand much about the real world, they are deluded people who think magic does the trick, if only you recite the right enchantment.

I think the argument is that people like that become (in modern times) what are called “liberals”. It’s not ad hominem because I start with their actions (e.g., POR-care) and deduce their mental outlook from that. This post started with the objective failure healthcare.gov and asked, “why did it fail so badly?”. Can you suggest how to answer that without addressing the mentality of the people who implemented it?

to the extent it [academia] supports liberalism, you need to recognize it has deep roots in the renascence of freedom of thought after middle ages

My view is that modern liberalism is strongly opposed to the freedom of thought and makes much effort to stamp it out whenever it occurs. Academia tends towards such liberalism because they like to do that too, while pretending to respect it. Look at what types of speakers can shut down through activists on campus, and how the professoriate sees nothing much wrong with that to see what I mean.

Jeff Guinn Saturday, 07 December 2013 at 21:37
The general message behind yours and Skipper’s argument here are indeed all about that: Liberals are evil and/or stupid. They can’t be competent enough to understand much about the real world, they are deluded people who think magic does the trick, if only you recite the right enchantment.

You are putting a message behind my argument that I never even hinted at.

So let me reiterate: my hypothesis is that people whose occupations require producing concrete results which must be consistent with objective reality in order to be successful are less likely to be Progressives than are those whose occupations are independent of objective reality. Controlling for education and occupation, this appears to be true. The portion of academia that belongs to schools of engineering is far less progressive than say, anthropology or sociology, never mind gender or racial departments. The proof of my assertion is the signatories of that Gang of 88 travesty: all of them progressives, and not one of them in a reality refereed field.

By definition Progressives must possess sufficient knowledge of the world to impose their schemes upon the rest of us. Progressives brought us Obamacare, progressives were in charge of its implementation. It was an unmitigated, and very expensive, disaster. What explanation do you have?

BTW, unwittingly you just reinforced my point. You link to the list of books Obama has bought one of these days, and apparently do so to express your repulsion for his books choices …

Apologies; I wasn’t sufficiently clear about why I posted that link. That piece was a complete tongue bath, an example, albeit perhaps a bit extreme, of the worshipful attitude towards Obama that is far too typical of most mainstream journalists. How else to explain the void where reporting on the obvious consequences of Obamacare? How else to define the deafening silence attending Obama’s blatantly fraudulent promises?

(I know absolutely nothing about the books he chose, so I have no opinion either way.)

As I have defended welfare multiple times here, I’ll assume I am a Liberal for this blog standards. Now, you want me to believe I am an evil neo-feudal type because… I think people may need help and governmental action is a means for that.

Ummm, no, that doesn’t follow. In The $317,000 Question (imagine a link), I think I made solid moral argument that even the most ideal and efficient delivery of healthcare would still be too expensive for some people to cover on their own — there will be no escaping cost shifting, which requires government involvement.

Where Progressives become evil (and I have seen no hint of this in anything you have written) is in their hubristic assumption that their preferences are morally correct and realizable in the real world. That means, and there is no escaping this, that Progressives must always view disagreement as a sure sign of both moral and intellectual deficiency. For that very reason, Progressives are unexcelled at demonizing their opponents (Harry is an excellent example).

Clearly you think some social problems require a collective solution; so do I. Just as clearly, you are more collectivist than the rest of us. But near as I can tell, you aren’t a Progressive. Big difference.

Clovis Sunday, 08 December 2013 at 17:43

AOG,

I would also note that for me, the term “the people behind X” means the leaders of the movement for X.

And pray tell me, what used has a leader with no followers? For the followers of that movement were “do things” people.

Your view is that any comparison of you to any people in any historic event is equivalent to blaming your for that event?

My view is that such comparisons ask for very careful context, otherwise they end up being pretty silly. Under the context you provided, your comparison can easily be interpreted as an insult or as non sense.

It’s not ad hominem because I start with their actions (e.g., POR-care) and deduce their mental outlook from that.

Interesting, you “deduce their mental outlook”? And I thought you were against my arguments about computers divining our minds, a little while back there in GreatGuys.

Can you suggest how to answer that without addressing the mentality of the people who implemented it?

I am of the opinion that incompetence is the natural state. It is competence and success that needs explaining.

There were incompetent actions by parts of the US govt. under every presidency I have been watching closely. That website, as far as I can see, looks to be improving and will probably be working reasonably at some point in near future. As much as it is a source of ridicule, it is no big deal in the long run - at least not in terms of defining the success of failure of ACA.

So the best explanation I can offer is that some people were given the task of managing something they did not understand well, nor were qualified for. They end up botching it. Happens every day, everywhere. There are awful woodworkers out there too, and no few cases of pilot errors around. What to say of programmers?

To turn it all in a Narrative over how 51% of the Americans who voted Democratic (hence are progressives, I guess, in your accounting) are either evil or stupid, because, well, you can “deduce their mental outlook”, is indeed non sense. Ironically, I guess I like your country, and his citizens, more than you.

My view is that modern liberalism is strongly opposed to the freedom of thought and makes much effort to stamp it out whenever it occurs. Academia tends towards such liberalism because they like to do that too, while pretending to respect it.

And you justify that view with…?

To the extent an academic setting can sittfle free thinking, it usually happens when you have dogmatic people who detract their opponents to the point of silencing them through bullying. I can tell you, AOG, that you look to be dogmatic enough to achieve those levels - I am already the stupid one in this thread, right?

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 08 December 2013 at 18:07

Clovis;

you were against my arguments about computers divining our minds

I was against the idea that such divination could precisely predict, in every detail, and for every situation, the actions of those mind. Not quite the same thing as my trying to figure out other people’s general mental attributes.

you justify that view with

Years of experience and observation. I cited an example of that in my previous comment. Skipper provided the Eagar example.

I am already the stupid one in this thread, right?

If you say so. It’s not a claim I have made.

Clovis Sunday, 08 December 2013 at 18:19

Skipper,

It was an unmitigated, and very expensive, disaster. What explanation do you have?

I tried one above, directed to AOG. I must comment, though, that it is not reasonable for you to expect much of an explanation for that from me. I did not take time to study every detail of the technical and managerial errors involved (hey, I will never use Obamacare!).

That said, I must also remark that no technical explanations were tried by anyone here too. You are offering only some talk about feelings and mental settings, at the same time complaining how the other side is so much focused on feelings. Maybe you need to take some distance to realize how ironically funny it looks like when seen from afar.

I wasn’t sufficiently clear about why I posted that link.

I sure got it all wrong. But OK, count me among the people who no longer can take one more article on how Obama is awesome.

I was in a Physics workshop in Spain when Obama was first inaugurated. I was sitting in a table with one American Nobel prize, one Canadian whose works I admire more than half the Nobel prizes I know of, and another American very well know in my field too. All of them older, more successful, competent and smarter than I am. After all of them giving their happy praises for Obama’s new era, I made the mistake of saying something like “I do not think it is good when the press so eagerly supports someone. They need to play the part of inspectors of his governenment”.

The looks I’ve got were chilling. One of them went on and on about how Obama was already unfairly criticized every day by those corrupt and racist people at Fox and other right-wing media. I guess I was only pardoned because, well, I was probably some stupid Brazilian.

I tell this little history to show (i) to the extent progressives can stiffle free thinking, AOG and those academic colleagues are not really much different (I am just one stupid guy out there); (ii) I agree the personal cult of Obama went beyond anything reasonable.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 08 December 2013 at 19:12

I must also remark that no technical explanations were tried by anyone here too

Technical explanations of what? This kind of thing?

Jeff Guinn Monday, 09 December 2013 at 01:20

AOG:

From that link, I couldn’t help but notice this:

Meanwhile, this non-working clunker’s waste, likely fraud, and cronyism will almost certainly send its cost over the $1 billion mark — all for a site which some IT experts claim should have cost less than $10 million.

Clovis:

[Clovis:] That said, I must also remark that no technical explanations were tried by anyone here too. You are offering only some talk about feelings and mental settings, at the same time complaining how the other side is so much focused on feelings. Maybe you need to take some distance to realize how ironically funny it looks like when seen from afar.

The overwhelming feeling I have here is relief, in that the next time I wonder whether I’m about to use the word “ironic” properly, all I have to do is think of the travesty that is Obamacare. As in, “isn’t it ironic, given how Progressives think their ideas should run the world, the way Obamacare turned out?”

Clovis Monday, 09 December 2013 at 04:49

AOG,

So 10 million would be more than enough to implant the whole healthcare.gov site plus the complex exchanging system of 300 million people?

OK, if you believe that - and strangely, up above yourself declared that $650M was not too much - I can only withdrawn from this discussion. Your emotional setting is clouding your judgment (oh, see, I can talk about emotions too! It feels so easy, I do not even need an argument).

Clovis Monday, 09 December 2013 at 05:20

BTW, were you guys to provide me some good answer - instead of feelings talk - on technical problems, I woudl advise you to read this one:

http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/12/07/ludditecare/

It explains it all way better than psychology.

I did not know about the movie he cites in the end with my country’s name. I am reading its plot in Wikipedia and laughing out loud.

It is interesting that the film’s name was not a criticism to my country’s own idiotic bureaucracy, but to one nice music we have. That’s indeed Irony, Skipper.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 09 December 2013 at 09:15

Clovis;

So 10 million would be more than enough to implant the whole healthcare.gov site plus the complex exchanging system of 300 million people?

No, I think that’s a bit low. But I would say $650M (or more, given the last month of spending) is a generous budget.

strangely, up above yourself declared that $650M was not too much

Why strangely? Because some other anonymous “IT experts” made a different estimate? Perhaps, as I noted, those IT experts were basing their estimate on what was delivered, not what was promised. Let me quote me —

For what they did deliver (even if worked), that’s way too much

I had, in fact, read the article you cited. But it hardly answers the question of why the Obama Administration, in the face of facts like that, so clearly believed they were different and would succeed. Or, do you think they understood that and were willing to devastate the health insurance industry for the entire nation, while massively lying about it, in order to … what? I think my view of their faulty psychology is more generous than implying they are deliberately destroying our access to health care.

Jeff Guinn Monday, 09 December 2013 at 22:16

Clovis:

The reason $650 million shocked me is that Healthcare.gov is, in principal, no different than the project I worked on at Ford. It was the IT Management System (ITMS), the goal of which was to get a handle on all the computer hardware and software throughout Ford — it wouldn’t do to phase out a VAX computer system if dynamometer in Germany still needed them, for instance — as well as their budgets. Conceptually, it was similar in complexity the Healthcare.gov.

IIRC, the first version rolled out at $1.2M. The entire development team amounted to a dozen people, and it took about a year and a half.

Based on that limited experience, $10M sounded low to me, but I have no idea how you get much past $100M (excluding server and storage costs). [I said confidently before doing any research …]

As it happens, the California Health exchange cost according to this state document detailing costs, $152M. However, Wall Street Journal article says $359M.

So I think AOG was a heck of a lot closer to what a functioning system should have cost than the IT experts in that link.

And me.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 09 December 2013 at 23:24

Skipper;

The costs go in to the backend and scaling logic. The website itself isn’t that hard. For backend stuff, the big cost driver is cross domain logic. To work as advertised, the main website backend needs to interact with a variety of other systems, spanning both the federal government and private companies. That is extremely difficult to do well or sometimes at all. I have had multiple friends who have been involved in successful start ups where the product did nothing but transfer data between such systems. That is, in fact, how Cisco Systems was started. It’s a combination of technically difficult, grindingly painful, error prone, hard to debug, and yet requires a good amount of creativity.

I will note, however, that according to Congressional testimony that is the part of the project that has not, as of yet, been done. Or possibly even started. Yet the website can’t actually work without it.

Jeff Guinn Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 01:48
The website itself isn’t that hard. For backend stuff, the big cost driver is cross domain logic. To work as advertised, the main website backend needs to interact with a variety of other systems, spanning both the federal government and private companies.

That is precisely the problem ITMS didn’t face at ford. It was de novo, so that even though topographically (it is with some trepidation I use a fancy word like that with a subject matter expert such as you) it was very similar to 404care, the complexity was far less.

And I remember, now that you mention it, backend problems. For reasons the relational database ITMS created was very difficult to use in creating certain reports. So my last project at Ford was to “flatten” the data. And I found that the tool we used to do that picked a fight with SQL and refused to acknowledge a a specific instance of a certain record type that had more than 143 characters. Seriously.

As luck would have it, two things happened roughly simultaneously: Ford cancelled the project (for which I was the manager), and a certain reasonably well known freight company requested my services.

But that still leaves me with the most baffling question of all: how could the Obamsters not seen that coming from a mile off?

It isn’t as if I don’t have some sympathy. Once upon a previous life, I was a flying training squadron commander. So I took on board rather less critically than I should have done the received wisdom that our highest priority was to train pilots.

Until most of my squadron’s Functional Check Flight (FCF) pilots happened to be reassigned at about the same time. It takes time to make an FCF pilot. If you don’t have FCF pilots, who do the first hop after certain types of major maintenance, then you don’t have any airplanes.

If you don’t have planes, you can’t train pilots.

So, in the reality refereed world, the highest priority of a pilot training base is having enough guys to do FCFs. Because I failed to take that on board (in my defense, I was both the last and first), I was left with a very sticky wicket.

The only way to deal with it was to get up in front of the squadron instructor pilots and admit my failure. Then explain to them clearly what was required, which for reasons eventually involved a couple months of 7 day work weeks. Then work every one of those 7 day work weeks.

The first point of that seemingly OT story is that I sort of went with the state of play, and got surprised. It happens. The second point is that I got a little blindsided — the dominoes lined up in exactly the wrong way. The final point is that Obama has never actually taken responsibility for anything.

Which goes back to the first point. Compared to you and the IT world, I am my Golden Retriever faced with the quadratic equation. But at least Rusty would cock his head quizzically and convey confusion. He does that a lot.

So how the [USFW words] do the Progressive Vanguard miss the glaringly, flagrantly, manifestly obvious?

Unlike you, who isn’t nearly as old as AOG would indicate, I remember the 1970s. Despite that, I can’t think of a worse cock-up in my entire life.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 08:07

Skipper;

It’s worse than that, actually. One of the key things you need to deal with cross domain data is a “data model”. This is a description of the fundamental data in the system and serves as a reference when one is trying to communicate with other system X. I think you can see how critical that would be in making the backend work and it was originally scheduled in to the POR-care development. But it was marked optional and when time pressure built the work was abandoned. So, they knew, and then blew it off to make the release schedule. In your story, it would be likely specifically noting you needed FCF pilots and then, when you got busy, deciding “nah, we can skip that”. If you look at this noted paean to the work, you can see mentions of it (e.g., “open data-driven maps” which is techspeak for code that looks at the data model to decide how to operate).

So, with regard to Clovis, it’s not just ignorance, but a willful defiance of reality by the Progressive Vanguard. But I suppose it’s just not right to speculate on the mental state required to be like that.

P.S. Great quote from that Atlantic article —

According to [HHS chief technology officer] Sivak, his team didn’t get directly involved in the new Healthcare.gov until November 2012.

Think about that — the CTO of the HHS didn’t get involved until after the 2012 elections, over two years after the legislation was enacted. That’s not incompetence, that’s actively planning for failure for political reasons. This bit is particularly rich in irony

Government websites have not, historically, been sterling examples of design or usability. Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re also built at great expense, given the dependence of government agencies on contractors and systems integrators, and use technologies that are years behind the rest of the web.

Healthcare.gov could have gone in the same direction, but for the influence of its young chief technology officer [Sivak]

Luckily Sivak was on the job and prevented that sort of thing.

Clovis Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 13:14

Skipper,

Once upon a previous life, I was a flying training squadron commander.

Wow. I did not know you were a pilot at the Air Force.

You flew fighter jets then? That makes me envious to a limit you can not conceive. Damn it, you must have had a lifetime of pure adrenaline.

Clovis Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 13:58

AOG,

So, with regard to Clovis, it’s not just ignorance, but a willful defiance of reality by the Progressive Vanguard. But I suppose it’s just not right to speculate on the mental state required to be like that.

Contrary to that Ed Driscoll piece I linked above, I do not blame your president for trying to set up the ACA in the face of the technological challenge involved. It looks to be a tough nut to crack, but we are talking about the nation who fathered our modern IT revolution, and this looks to be perfectly feasible for you guys.

In fact, were I part of your government, I would have used the above challenge to advance the possibility of upgrading all those old systems working with caveman technology - it would cost some bucks now, but probably pay by itself over time. That’s something even Republicans could agree on.

If you ask me why your president did not see that, well, I have no idea. It is probably overwhelming to be president of any nation, what to say of the USA, and it is easy to imagine how hard it is for him to get briefed on all this IT technical stuff. So this is more about his responsibility as a leader and manager (e.g. for getting the wrong people working under him, and not checking how the work was going) than his IT prowess.

My main point is: yes, he was unbelievably incompetent on this one, and yes, a good part of the media protects him even in the face of such huge mistake - but that is not an indictment on how Liberals are able or not to read reality, it is only an indicment on how dishonest much of the media/govt. relationship is.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 14:54

Clovis;

I would have used the above challenge to advance the possibility of upgrading all those old systems working with caveman technology - it would cost some bucks now, but probably pay by itself over time. That’s something even Republicans could agree on.

But he didn’t, did he? And not just the President - no one connected with this tried or suggested that.

On the other hand, it’s been tried, many times, and has resulted in almost uniform failure. So it’s unclear if such efforts actually pay for themselves. They certainly don’t if the effort is massively expensive and abandoned.

The problem in your view is that you see this as a unique thing, done by the President. But there’s a reason I use the term “POR-care” instead of Obamacare and that’s because Obama was, and is, to a large extent just being there. Look at that Atlantic article — that’s the mindset I am writing about and it’s not just Obama who has it.

Clovis Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 17:20

AOG,

I was not aware of that previous large scale failures of IT modernization in the US. It is quite surprising to see that amidst such a tech savvy country. What’s happening with you guys?

Now, on Obama’s lack of mature management… well, it could be worse, it is not like he is a teenager taking pictures with his mobile in the middle of a mourning memorial. Ops.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 19:24

Or hogging the camera

I have to say, I wouldn’t spend so much time mocking Obama if his worshippers didn’t spend so much time lauding his intrinsic greatness. Such as Valerie Jarrett’s description

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 been challenged intellectually. … He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.

Jeff Guinn Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 21:42
Wow. I did not know you were a pilot at the Air Force.

And the Navy.

You flew fighter jets then?

The F-111.

Contrary to that Ed Driscoll piece I linked above, I do not blame your president for trying to set up the ACA in the face of the technological challenge involved. It looks to be a tough nut to crack, but we are talking about the nation who fathered our modern IT revolution, and this looks to be perfectly feasible for you guys.

AOG may very well correct me here, but I don’t think the data model was uniquely challenging, it just had to be accounted for and managed properly. It isn’t like this sort of issue has never happened before, and even my dog has enough sense to realize Obamacare required accessing data stored on systems still using COBOL. Heck, I know that, and I’m just a glorified heavy equipment operator.

In fact, were I part of your government, I would have used the above challenge to advance the possibility of upgrading all those old systems working with caveman technology - it would cost some bucks now, but probably pay by itself over time. That’s something even Republicans could agree on. If you ask me why your president did not see that, well, I have no idea. It is probably overwhelming to be president of any nation, what to say of the USA, and it is easy to imagine how hard it is for him to get briefed on all this IT technical stuff.

I don’t think it is overwhelming to be President, provided you do it right. When I was a squadron commander, and at another time the base’s chief of safety, there were all kinds of things I didn’t know the answers to. But I had people who did, and when issues arose, they told me what the problem was, what the options were, the costs and benefits of each option, and what they thought the best choice was.

Of course, in one regard, my job was easier: it largely dealt with reality refereed subjects, which politics is not.

But that is why I’m so mystified with the epic 404care.gov failure. That was something objective. I’ll bet that given a month, AOG could have laid out a detailed project plan that would have accurately scoped the time, personnel, and hardware involved. And a President who is even remotely as smart as Valerie Jarett insisted would have made time on his calendar to be up to speed on the issues and the options. Or if the President had advisors even remotely as smart as they think themselves to be, they would have taken that task on themselves.

To be clear, I don’t think Obama is necessarily unique in this regard. Bush, particularly when it came to Hurricane Katrina, completely gooned up. He picked a bozo to be in charge, and apparently didn’t even think about what he needed to do to avoid looking like a complete incompetent.

If self-annointed intellectuals had any capacity for introspection, they would realize that this whole 404care.gov fiasco is a fatal indictment of Progressivism. If Progressives can’t get the easy stuff right, why should we trust them with anything else?

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 at 22:28

Skipper;

I don’t think the data model was uniquely challenging, it just had to be accounted for and managed properly

It was more than usually challenging but certainly not unique. There are well known approaches (such as a canonical data model) for dealing with it. It’s just a lot of careful thinking and tedious implementation.

What I would have done is brought the system up in November 2012 to give myself a year to work out the problems before it was required to be online for real. Which just points out how much fail there is here — they brought a mission critical system up the day it was required to be operational. No pilot efforts, no beta, just “ship it”. That is precisely the kind of thing that leads to believe they are simply out of touch with reality.

P.S. I know this will derail the thread, but I think Bush did OK with Hurricane Katrina. Most of the problems were exaggerated if not invented out of thin air by Old Media. Let us remember that disaster response such as that is a duty of state and local officials, FEMA is designed to show up to help clean up 48-72 hours afterwards.

For instance, it took five days for National Guard troops to arrive in strength on the scene in Homestead, Fla. after Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992. But after Katrina, there was a significant National Guard presence in the afflicted region in three.

Clovis Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 06:49

Skipper,

I’ll bet that given a month, AOG could have laid out a detailed project plan that would have accurately scoped the time, personnel, and hardware involved.

Maybe that explains it all. They gave the project to some right-winger who hated the ACA and he masterminded a plan to implode it all trhough sheer incompetence. Brilliant.

Bush, particularly when it came to Hurricane Katrina, completely gooned up. He picked a bozo to be in charge, and apparently didn’t even think about what he needed to do to avoid looking like a complete incompetent.

Well, I do not want to dispute here to what extent Katrina was or not a fiasco for the Federal govt, but I sure think the Iraq (second) war was. All the premise used by Bush et al was that it would be a short war, for you would be welcomed as the Liberators by a happy, free and smiling Iraq population. Are you sure only Obama and Progressives suffer from lack of contact with reality?

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 09:38

They gave the project to some right-winger who hated the ACA and he masterminded a plan to implode it all trhough sheer incompetence

I’ve seen people say that seriously, on both sides of the spectrum.

With regard to Iraq, you could go back and read what I wrote about it at the time to verify, but that certainly wasn’t what I expected (although, to a large extent, that is what happened among the Kurds). Also, it was a short war. I would agree, however, that there was quite a bit of over-optimistic views on the ability / willingness for the Iraqis to adopt to modern liberal democracy. Using the Clovis’ definition, though, the Bush Administration did change course once its initial expectations failed. Still waiting for that on POR-care…

Bret Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 13:09

aog wrote: “I’ve seen people say that seriously, on both sides of the spectrum.

Yes, I was one of those (or at least I thought that there was some chance of it).

Now, I’m pretty confident that it was a result of the political process, coupled with a little bit of incompetence of the part of the contractors.

Off topic: aog, why do I get dozens of spam messages coming from your comments? I didn’t even notice that y’all were having a discussion.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 14:15

Bret;

Because this weblog is currently under siege from some bot farm spammer. I’m getting 200-300 a day currently, but I have a plugin I wrote that will automatically ban the IP addresses from which I get those junk comments. If you look at the front page, on the right, under “ARS TECHNICA”, you can see the current state of play in that regard. You can see there are somewhat over 8000 junk comments, which are kept in the database for 6 months before being deleted (so the plugin can harvest the IP addresses).

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 19:19

I updated the original post with some additional points and links, relevant to the discussion here.

erp Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 19:23

Clovis: Katrina was reinvented as it was happening. Another example of everything you know about it is wrong.

erp Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 19:27

Of course, this whole fiasco has been orchestrated to disrupt the entire country’s health care so we’ll all sit still for single payer which was the point all along.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 19:52

erp;

That’s always a possibility, but I think if so it was done incompetently :-). If that were true then they would have intended it to fail later, on one of the other layers of fail I put in my update, by which time it would have been too late to go back. But to fail right out of the gate — that’s going to make it much harder to push through socialized medicine.

erp Wednesday, 11 December 2013 at 20:56

I may be wrong, but building up the hysteria and allowing people to go without needed medical attention will create panic leading to a complete takeover which was the goal all along — and believe it, that system will work perfectly.

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 06:42

AOG,

Using the Clovis’ definition, though, the Bush Administration did change course once its initial expectations failed. Still waiting for that on POR-care.

I do not quite know what is my own definition, but I think your call that Iraq’s war was short is a pretty good example of non-reality based views of your own.

Erp,

The funny thing is, I never gave my opinion on Katrina, neither here nor at GreatGuys. Actually, if you call your NSA buddies to turn over my trash bin and check my emails, I do not think you’ll find me talking about Katrina as a demonstration of Bush failures.

At the time, I did think that FEMA director looked like pretty clumsy and was not up to the job. Yet, even then, I realized Katrina as a scape goat rather than a catastrofic failure of the federal govt.

Almost every presidency has a expiring period, after which former allies start jumping ships and enemies take the chance to focus their fire. Katrina was Bush’s expiration mark. Maybe healthcare.gov will be Omaba’s.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 07:18

Clovis;

20 March 2003 — Invasion of Iraq begins.

10 April 2003 — Fall of Baghdad and the Ba’athist regime.

So, 20 days of war isn’t short?

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 08:50

AOG,

Oh yes, sure, the other 10 years your army stayed there was just to enjoy the nice beaches and wonderful weather.

Before you start bending and shaping words to fit your description of a short war (hey, isn’t this the kind of thing you so much decry about Progressives?), just tell me: were the US Army to completely withdraw from Iraq on 11 April 2003, would the mission be acomplished?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 09:45

Clovis;

That’s an occupation, not a war. Do you think the USA is still at war in Europe, since we have troops there?

Before you start bending and shaping words to fit your description of a short war

No, I am using words with the standard definitions, and it for precisely that reason I object to tranzis (and you) using the term “war” for something that isn’t.

were the US Army to completely withdraw from Iraq on 11 April 2003, would the mission be acomplished?

Define the mission and I’ll answer. If you mean the Iraq Liberation Act which made regime change in Iraq the official policy of the USA then yes it was. Note this Act was signed in to law by President Clinton in 1998.

You might also note that the “Mission Accomplished” meme is yet another falsehood promoted by Old Media. The sign was put there by the crew of the carrier, not by President Bush or any of his people. What Bush said was “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”, which was accurate and true. But the tranzis bent and shaped it to their Narrative.

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 10:48

AOG,

Pray tell me, how many combats have you been fighting in Europe lately?

Heavy combats have been fought in Iraq long after what you set as the end of the war, or that Bush little theater. Major combat operations, mind you.

If you invade a country and break down their army, but they turn to guerrilla strategies, you do not claim the war is over. Unless you are as disconnected of reality as much of Bush’s team was.

Thinking about it, disregard for facts is as much true for Republicans these days as it is for progressives. It is a wonderful and colorful make-believe world.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 11:20

Hey, let’s see what Paul Krugman had to say on POR-care, if we’re talking about bending and shaping. As it turns out, I’m completely wrong here and POR-care is going to be a resounding success. I only think otherwise, according to Krugman, because I’m a reality denying conservative with “near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive”.

The most amusing bit was this —

Mr. Barrasso is predicting sticker shock precisely when serious fears of such a shock are fading fast. Why would he do that?

Well, one likely answer is that he hasn’t heard any of the good news. Think about it: Who would tell him?

Kind of like that federal health insurance web site roll out. President Obama didn’t know because he hadn’t heard any of the bad news. Think about it: Who would tell him?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 11:31

Clovis;

Your claim was based on the presence of troops. Now it’s about the level of combat? Such things happened in Germany as well, after the fall of the Nazi regime, yet all the history books list that surrender as the end of WWII in Europe. Are they all wrong too?

As for major combat operations, I disagree. The biggest operation was the assault on Fallujah which one might make an argument for, but it was not nearly the scope of the operations during the invasion. But perhaps you could provide your definition of “major combat operation”. I consider it to be a combined arms set piece battle against an organized opponent.

I’d ask you to define “that Bush little theater” too but we’d just end up arguing about “theater”.

Let me end by noting your claim about my “disregard for facts” is essentially that we disagree on the definition for “major combat operations”. Well, that’s certainly a hard, objective fact and not a somewhat vague, debatable description.

erp Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 13:03

Clovis, you’re right. I apologize, it was Skipper I should have taken to task. The people to blame for New Orleans Katrina problems are the mayor who left town and the governor who immediately started the drum beat to blame Bush. The former was re-elected and the latter is now a senator. Mindless leftwing voters triumph again.

aog is right about the mission accomplished sign which referred to the ship’s mission, not the Iraqi war and I disagree about Obama. The media will keep him alive and well and not even report his egregious mistakes while they made up stuff about Bush whom they hated almost as much as Nixon which I always thought hilarious because Nixon was one of them.

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 13:20

AOG,

It is not only about combat levels, and it was you who introduced it by stressing Bush’s claim that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”.

What are the other option to characterize the war was not off?

Let us see the casuality, for we can easily argue they should stop if the war ended. Did they? Oh, quite not:

http://usiraq.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000671

And what about money, when war ends we surely stop paying for it, right? Ops:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/03/an-800-billion-war-the-immense-cost-of-invading-iraq-in-charts/274290/

Hey, that graph may be misleading, he is showing total costs. Do you want to know Iraq only?

http://www.statista.com/statistics/271526/us-war-costs-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/

Resources for Iraq only start declining after 2008 (when you spent 3 times what you spent in 2003), five years after you date the end of the war. And only in 2011 (almost 8 years after!) you spent less than in 2003.

Oh, but surely “Such things happened in Germany as well”, you may have spent a lot there after the end of WWII. Well, not so, in 1948 - 3 years after it ended - the expenses where almost 10 times less:

http://www.cfr.org/defense-budget/trends-us-military-spending/p28855 (check the ninth graph)

So no, AOG, we do not disagree only on the definition for “major combat operations”.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 13:38

Clovis;

you who introduced it by stressing Bush’s claim that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”.

No, I was contrasting it to “mission accomplished”, which you brought up.

What are the other option to characterize the war was not off?

The standard definition for the end of a war is a peace treaty or the governments of one side surrendering / falling. That’s the definition I use as well. You’re free to bend and shape other definitions if you want, but those are not binding on me.

So no, AOG, we do not disagree only on the definition for “major combat operations”.

What else? The definition of ending a war? As noted, you’re kind of out there on that one.

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 18:48

AOG,

No, I was contrasting it to “mission accomplished”, which you brought up.

Nope, wrong again. You brought up the Bush mission accomplished episode. Read up there.

The standard definition for the end of a war is a peace treaty or the governments of one side surrendering / falling.

Really? You just deleted guerrilla-like warfare from the books. Bending and shaping you go. Have you thought about going to politics?

What else? The definition of ending a war? As noted, you’re kind of out there on that one.

Yeah, sure, no matter the rest of the world call that a war and recognize it as taking quite some time to end. But were I to invoke the rest of world’s opinion, that would make me a shameless colectivist. The fact that you did only shows how desperate you argument is by now…

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 20:30

Clovis;

First mention of “mission accomplished”, which precedes my mention, that latter of which is a direct response to the former.

You just deleted guerrilla-like warfare from the books

Um, no. The map is not the territory. If I don’t call that “war” that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen (that’s very LogoRealist of you). The fact that you need a qualifier tells the tale, precisely because it’s not what is normally meant by “war”.

Yeah, sure, no matter the rest of the world call that a war

As far as I can tell, my definition is consonant with the standard definition, as used in history books. I am going by what the rest of the world calls a war.

Clovis Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 20:50

AOG,

I repeat: You brought up the Bush mission accomplished episode.

I did not first use the words “mission accomplished” to make reference to Bush at all.

Now, there are many kinds of wars, they may differ by thousands of details. Some of them are nuclear wars, some of them are icrecream wars, some of them are guerrilla wars. The last one is pretty much the standard when you have one side hugely more powerful than the other. But make no mistake, it can be quite effective to delay, or even partially defeat, the big guy - the Romans knew it very well.

If you want to pick and choose what you call war, OK, I am tired of playing word games. The joke is on you, though, who helped to pay a 1 trillion (guerrilla) war and think it was, well, not even you know what. I guess even Logo-Realism is better than your Bozo-Realism.

Jeff Guinn Friday, 13 December 2013 at 15:37
[Clovis:] Well, I do not want to dispute here to what extent Katrina was or not a fiasco for the Federal govt, but I sure think the Iraq (second) war was. All the premise used by Bush et al was that it would be a short war, for you would be welcomed as the Liberators by a happy, free and smiling Iraq population. Are you sure only Obama and Progressives suffer from lack of contact with reality?

The war was short.

As for the post-war, surely you must remember what happened in Eastern Europe a dozen years before when the Wall fell: nothing much, except profound relief at seeing the back of communism. So it is, IMHO, a forgivable mistake to presume that once Saddam had been given the bum’s rush, Iraqis would promptly turn to building a civil society. And as AOG noted regarding the Kurds, there was no mistake.

What we lost sight of, since we couldn’t comprehend it, was the pervasive pre-modern religiosity; that as soon as Saddam was gone the Sunni and Shia would kill as many of each other as they possibly could, simply for being Sunni and Shia.

Of course, what is worth noting, although progressives never do, is that slaughter-fest was already baked in. Saddam was going to be gone eventually, which means the slaughter was going to happen anyway. Indeed, it is possible that our presence made it less bad than it would have been otherwise.

See Syria for the counterexample.

[erp:] Clovis, you’re right. I apologize, it was Skipper I should have taken to task. The people to blame for New Orleans Katrina problems are the mayor who left town and the governor who immediately started the drum beat to blame Bush.

The reason I blame Bush is not because he was to blame for the New Orleans failures, but rather that FEMA was completely unaware of them. I attribute that to Bozo Brownie — if he had been anything other than a worthless placeholder, he would have had a good working knowledge of what New Orleans had in mind well before Katrina made landfall.

Jeff Guinn Friday, 13 December 2013 at 15:42

Forgot about this part:

Are you sure only Obama and Progressives suffer from lack of contact with reality?

Yes, because progressives are the party of logo-realism, of which the ACA is not only a perfectly foreseeable example, there were feasible alternatives that would have been reality based.

The comparison fails with respect to Operation Iraqi Freedom because there were no alternatives which were not likely to be far worse. That is a reality which I have never heard a progressive address.

erp Friday, 13 December 2013 at 18:03

The war in Iraq collapsed for the same reason the Vietnam war was “lost” and that is the media’s relentless promotion of leftwing politics. Our ill-informed citizenry has and has had no real idea what’s going on. Every single day during the years Bush was president there was a score box in the top right hand corner of the front page of our local liberal rag. It kept track of the war casualties. It disappeared when Obama took office and never appeared again. As far as most people know, there have been no military deaths since then.

If the Shia and Sunni want to kill each other, that’s none of our business as long as they keep it local. It only concerns us, when they and their co-religionists take their wars to our shores as they did ten years ago.

Skipper: I understand about Brown and FEMA, but what people who aren’t well informed don’t know is that the president is by law forbidden to send federal troops into a state even for natural disasters unless invited to do so by the governor and the governor of Louisiana didn’t make that request in a timely manner and neither did she take any of the local actions she could have taken.

It was an early example of not letting a good crisis go to waste.

Clovis Saturday, 14 December 2013 at 05:34

Skipper,

The comparison fails with respect to Operation Iraqi Freedom because there were no alternatives which were not likely to be far worse. That is a reality which I have never heard a progressive address.

So let me introduce you to the best answer to that, from a Conservative: “If the Shia and Sunni want to kill each other, that’s none of our business as long as they keep it local.” - Erp, 13/12/2013, in a rare demonstration of wisdom.

That’s it, the best alternative was the by far cheapest one: to do nothing until really needed. Calculate costs and benefits rationally - and let me remind you that it is not rational to assume you know the future.

There is absolutely no reason to believe that we are in a better world today thanks to the Iraq war.

Jeff Guinn Saturday, 14 December 2013 at 12:32
That’s it, the best alternative was the by far cheapest one: to do nothing until really needed. Calculate costs and benefits rationally - and let me remind you that it is not rational to assume you know the future. There is absolutely no reason to believe that we are in a better world today thanks to the Iraq war.

Nothing was not an option. The status quo ante was collapsing. Your prescription, to do nothing until absolutely needed is foolish, because when something is absolutely needed, then it is almost always too late.

So, given the status quo ante, what would your policy recommendation have been? Take into account all the relevant actors, and describe not only the advantages, but the possible downsides, as well.

I think it is ludicrous to assume that a world where we quit the field would be a better world than the one we have today.

Clearly you disagree, but until you offer something other than nothing as an alternative, that isn’t an argument, it is merely a pose.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 14 December 2013 at 13:15

Skipper;

One option was the “more rubble, less trouble” option where the USA executes operation Desert Storm and then just leaves. But I somehow doubt the results of that would be any more acceptable.

I should put up a new post for this discussion, or we could move over to your link. Here, if Clovis wants to talk about Krugman, I left him a nice lead in an earlier comment .

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