- Max Baucus says that Obamacare is a “train wreck“. Harry Reid just wants to spend even more money on it.
- Chuck Schumer admits what rational observers already know – Obamacare is making healthcare more expensive.
- A new, in depth report says that socialized care does not improve individual health.
- Obama’s red line with Syria turns out to be closer to a pink line.
- Obama loses the gun control debate and runs to Mexico to blame America for Mexico’s problems.
- Unemployment falls – but at a rate that would have existed if we had done nothing at all.
- Sequestration FAIL.
All in all, a pretty bad set of circumstances.
Both James Taranto and Charles Krauthammer have pieces noting the incredible downfall of Dear Leader in just a short six month period, as Dr. Krauthammer puts it:
Nonetheless, whatever happens, the screw will surely turn again, if only because of media boredom. But that’s the one constant of Washington political life: There are no straight-line graphs. We live from inflection point to inflection point.
And we’ve just experienced one. From king of the world to dead in the water in six months. Quite a ride.
Taranto examines the “race” angle as an excuse for Obama’s epic FAIL:
The idea that detraction from Obama is racist has been a constant theme since the 2008 campaign. Obama himself has invoked it only occasionally, but it has been an obsession for the left-wing media. Think of the false claims that Tea Party protesters “hurled” racial slurs at members of the Congressional Black Caucus, or the free-association op-eds contending that every negative adjective anyone ever used to describe the president was a synonym of a synonym of a synonym of a synonym of a synonym of “uppity.”
As this column has argued, perpetuating the myth of widespread racism both fulfills a psychological need and serves a political purpose for the left. The psychological need is for identity: for blacks, the identity that comes from a shared sense of adversity or threat; for white liberals, from a sense of moral superiority. The political purpose is twofold: to make it unthinkable for most black Americans to vote Republican, and to divert attention from the failure of liberal policies, especially in education and welfare, to uplift blacks as promised.
Once America had elected a black president, it became much harder to sustain the myth that racism remained widespread. That spurred those who are psychologically and politically dependent on the myth to redouble their efforts at propagating it. That meant misconstruing ordinary partisanship as racism. That’s why people who should have known better ended up coddling Obama by reinforcing his sense that there was anything extraordinary about the opposition.
But I have a better explanation for Obama’s FAIL. He and his party have chosen to solve the wrong problems. Working on or solving the wrong problem does nothing to move the needle. It changes nothing. Obama is working on problems that are only meaningful to he and his supporters – but the clear message is that this agenda has nothing to do with the recovery and success of America, either economically or socially. Some of this agenda may well be effective as defined in their terms but these solutions appear to have exactly zero effect on anything that matters to the country.
I would propose that we need to accept the possibility that the entire Democrat agenda is moot. It doesn’t matter. That’s why Obama is an epic FAIL. This can explain how he can be perceived by his faithful as being awesomely super fantastic and yet be stunningly and totally ineffective at the same time.
I found a great description of this condition here. It is a great story about solving the riddle of human powered flight:
It’s 1959, a time of change. Disney releases their seminal film Sleeping Beauty, Fidel Castro becomes the premier of Cuba, and Eisenhower makes Hawaii an official state. That year, a British industry magnate by the name of Henry Kremer has a vision that leaves a haunting question: Can an airplane fly powered only by the pilot’s body power? Like Da Vinci, Kremer believed it was possible and decided to push his dream into reality. He offered the staggering sum of £50,000 for the first person to build a plane that could fly a figure eight around two markers one half-mile apart. Further, he offered £100,000 for the first person to fly across the channel. In modern US dollars, that’s the equivalent of $1.3 million and $2.5 million. It was the X-Prize of its day.
A decade went by. Dozens of teams tried and failed to build an airplane that could meet the requirements. It looked impossible. Another decade threatened to go by before our hero, MacCready, decided to get involved. He looked at the problem, how the existing solutions failed, and how people iterated their airplanes. He came to the startling realization that people were solving the wrong problem. “The problem is,” he said, “that we don’t understand the problem.”
MacCready’s insight was that everyone working on solving human-powered flight would spend upwards of a year building an airplane on conjecture and theory without the grounding of empirical tests. Triumphantly, they’d complete their plane and wheel it out for a test flight. Minutes later, a years worth of work would smash into the ground. Even in successful flights, a couple hundred meters later the flight would end with the pilot physically exhausted. With that single new data point, the team would work for another year to rebuild, retest, relearn. Progress was slow for obvious reasons, but that was to be expected in pursuit of such a difficult vision. That’s just how it was.
The problem was the problem. Paul realized that what we needed to be solved was not, in fact, human powered flight. That was a red-herring. The problem was the process itself, and along with it the blind pursuit of a goal without a deeper understanding how to tackle deeply difficult challenges. He came up with a new problem that he set out to solve: how can you build a plane that could be rebuilt in hours not months. And he did. He built a plane with Mylar, aluminum tubing, and wire.
The first airplane didn’t work. It was too flimsy. But, because the problem he set out to solve was creating a plane he could fix in hours, he was able to quickly iterate. Sometimes he would fly three or four different planes in a single day. The rebuild, retest, relearn cycle went from months and years to hours and days.
18 years had passed since Henry Kremer opened his wallet for his vision. Nobody could turn that vision into an airplane. Paul MacCready got involved and changed the understanding of the problem to be solved. Half a year later later, MacCready’s Gossamer Condor flew 2,172 meters to win the prize. A bit over a year after that, the Gossamer Albatross flew across the channel.
What’s the take-away? When you are solving a difficult problem re-ask the problem so that your solution helps you learn faster. Find a faster way to fail, recover, and try again. If the problem you are trying to solve involves creating a magnum opus, you are solving the wrong problem.
Our political system and government bureaucracy is not capable of rapid testing of problems and the changes necessary to adjust quickly.
Back in September of last year, I wrote about this type of situation:
The greatest challenge in governance of a free republic is, at the same instance, the greatest feature of the American experiment in freedom and also the greatest danger.
That challenge can be explained in these two propositions:
- Doing something when nothing would yield a better result.
- Doing nothing when action is required to achieve a result.
These two are commonly known in statistics as Type I and Type II errors:
- A Type I error is deciding that something is true when it is false (a false positive), i.e. when the null hypothesis is true but is rejected.
- A Type II error is deciding something is false when it is true (a false negative) or accepting the null hypothesis when it is false.
Knowing which one of these is to avoid would seem to rest on simple logic and adherence to the basic core principles of our Constitution, yet almost without qualification and with unerring accuracy, our elite political class relies on focus groups and current public opinion, flips a coin and chooses wrongly in almost every case.