Obamacare and Common Core: when technocrats stumble

Screen shot of Healthcare.gov

Screen shot of Healthcare.gov

I’ve watched with real interest the last couple of months as the launch of the Affordable Care Act nationally and Common Core education standards here in New York careened through potholes and slammed into fire hydrants.

Schroon Lake school board president John Armstrong got it about right last week — and sparked rueful laughter — when he noted that “it appears now that the Common Core roll-out and healthcare roll-out have similar looks and feels.”

The painful muddle culminated in what amounted to “apology and we’ll get it right next time” tours by President Barack Obama and New York Education Commissioner John King.

Both men have acknowledged systemic shortcomings and missteps and they’ve asked for our patience.

There’s a painful irony here.

Barack Obama, a guy who lectured Republicans for driving the national car into the ditch at the beginning of his presidency, finds himself in the position of admitting that he himself has, at the very least, dinged the country’s fender.

John King, meanwhile, promised to continue revamping Common Core based on feedback from school districts and teachers, and he urged local leaders to use the flexibility built into the system to tailor new standards to their own community needs.

What do these two high-profile blunders say about the current state of American politics and policy-making?  Let’s dive in.

It’s Hard To Be A Technocrat

For all the hype from the right about Barack Obama’s secret ideologies (Muslim, socialist, 60s radical, closeted gay, hater of white people, and so on) the guy appears to be, at heart, a tinkerer and not a revolutionary.

He believes in government’s power to help people’s lives and he wants to make it work well.

Which means creating things like a new insurance system that, in theory, will help more people gain access to health care without entirely tossing out the old, much-hated and dysfunctional system.

Same, too, goes for a new nationally-calibrated education system.

Critics have suggested that Common Core is everything from a secret effort to indoctrinate young people into the New World Order to a not-so-secret effort to produce mindless wage-slaves ready to enrich corporate America.

But really, a modern, integrated country like ours is long overdue for a baseline (and a fairly high baseline) of shared knowledge and skills.

For all its increasingly obvious flaws, Common Core represents another baby step toward trying to realize this modest and hardly radical goal.

But in order to sell this kind of policy agenda, you have to get stuff right.  Technocrats can’t rely on ideology or political rhetoric or bluster.

Instead, they have to bring the best and brightest into the room and they have to come up with whiz-bang ideas, and they have to execute them well.

If you’re an egghead, you have to show your math, and then you have to show results.

By contrast, George W. Bush could muck up the Katrina response and bumble us into a quagmire in Iraq and it didn’t shake the foundation of his core ideas, or his political identity — which, I think it’s fair to say, weren’t founded on the idea of competence.

But when technocrats fumble it’s not just a political crisis.  It’s a shock to the core of their raison d’etre, an erosion of the foundation of their brand.

Mr. Obama, in particular, is living this erosion of trust right now. People voted for No Drama Obama.  They didn’t vote for No Results Obama.

Mr. King, too, appears to be on thin ice.  There’s evidence that Governor Andrew Cuomo, once a passionate supporter of education reform, is backing away from Common Core.

Governing In The Age of No

The second take-away from the Affordable Care Act and Common Core debacles is that governing against the headwind of a deeply angry, distrustful populist culture is going to be brutal.

It’s not just the tea party.  You also have liberals and progressives on the left who view an initiative like Common Core as a cynical effort to transform cool, creative teachers and beautiful, natural children into mass-produced cogs in an industrial machine.

There is always a pool of rage somewhere just ready to be tapped.  And in the new age of ideological journalism and blogs and 24/7 televised bitterness, there’s always someone ready to turn that tap into a fire-hose.

A generation ago, you could get away with introducing muddled if well-intentioned social programs and expect to get the details right later.  But in modern America, the knives are out and they’re always sharpened.

We’ve known for years that Obamacare needed tweaking, refining, adjustments.  But because the Republican Party demanded a full-scale dismantling, rather than reform, that proved impossible.

In like fashion, it’s unclear whether more progressive New Yorkers will be patient with Common Core, accepting the kind of steady, small corrections that Commissioner King is promising.

I’m not shifting the blame here.  Team Obama and Team King have known for years that the roll-out of their signature accomplishments would have to be managed in the face of a full-court political press.

That should have motivated them to work harder and do better.  Instead, they’ve made unforced error after unforced error.

The fact that Mr. King’s own children are in private school?  The fact that his program’s teaching materials are flawed to the point of being laughable?   The fact that the White House couldn’t even make a website function?

These freshman bungles have done real harm, not only to the mission of these programs — helping Americans be healthier and better educated — but to our sense of the value and capacity of government itself.

Take a deep breath.

Dr. John King in Schroon Lake (Photo:  Ian lowe)

Dr. John King in Schroon Lake (Photo: Ian lowe)

My final conclusion watching this latest round of turmoil is that we Americans — the citizens, the voters, the “we the people” part of government — are a growing part of the problem.

I know this is an unpopular idea.

Anger and distrust toward government are supposed to be viewed by the media as an eternally valid and validating force.

If people are shaking their fists, they must have a sound argument.

I’m not so sure.  It’s perfectly fine to be wary of government and to demand that technocrats get stuff right.  (See everything I’ve written above.)

But the level of impatience and the degree of vitriol strike me as arguably unwarranted and at times deeply problematic.

The fact that Mr. Obama and Mr. King appear to have mucked this up is worthy of a political response, and possibly a shift in direction.

But I would argue that it’s not worthy of hatred or scorn.

Again, I’ve yet to see a credible argument that either leader is trying to accomplish anything other than what they promised:  improving healthcare and education.

That they’re doing so clumsily matters profoundly, but it’s not a war crime or an indication of anti-Americanness or evidence that either man is trying to Wal-Martize America.

It’s also important that the people criticizing the Affordable Care Act and Common Core acknowledge the difficulties of the tasks at hand — and be required by the rest of us to come up with coherent plans and ideas of their own.

As a journalist in America’s age of rage, I’ve grown skeptical of people who offer themselves up as critics and naysayers and obstructionists, without offering credible and thoughtful alternatives.

The truth is that protests are easy.  It’s harder and a lot less fun to do the slow, steady, and politically risky work of solving America’s problems.

So yes, Mr. Obama and Mr. King have tried our collective patience — sorely, I would say — with their poor execution and sloppy detail-work.

But perhaps this is a moment for sharpened pencils and hard work and perhaps even a cautious amount of patience, rather than pitchforks and effigies?

91 Comments on “Obamacare and Common Core: when technocrats stumble”

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  1. Peter Hahn says:

    The federal government isn’t very good at developing large scale computer programs that don’t have to do with spying. They should get better at it. The FBI data base is supposedly expensive and flawed. Same with the VA. From Obama’s perspective this was a big mistake. It plays into the the Republican’s core belief that the government cant do anything right so they shouldn’t even try. It also resonates with their charge that the ACA is unworkable. It was a political error. But in the greater scheme of things, it isnt a very big deal.
    Education administrative professionals aren’t very good at communication. I dont know why that is. They get hung up on their invented jargon and expect everyone else to be impressed by it. Instead no one can follow what they are talking about.

  2. mervel says:

    Peter is correct, in fact the Federal government is known long before Obama at being very bad at large scale IT projects.

    The concern I have though is much deeper than an IT issue, it is the fact that Obama on health care did not seem or does not seem to grasp the complexities of health care in the US. Of course insurance agencies will drop policies that are out of compliance with a federal law, what did he think would happen?

    If insurance costs go through the roof next year, the whole concept of what he is trying to do will be lost as the majority of people in the US will suffer because of Obama care. So yes competency matters and if you don’t know what you are doing the first thing to do would be DO NO HARM. Which would of course be the conservative approach.

  3. Peter Hahn says:

    Mervel – I think he (Obama) knew that the insurance companies would drop people. The people in the independent market were going to have to pay more but they would get more. His claim that “if you like your plan you can keep it” was sort of true for most people. It sounded good and probably tested well as a soundbite. But the only way the costs go through the roof are if the Republicans can figure out a way to allow young healthy people to not sign up. They are working on all sorts of strategies to make the ACA fail including advertising to get young people to pay the fine instead. Its sad. Its in the same category as the Taliban preventing women from getting an education.

  4. Jim Bullard says:

    It certainly is true that ‘we the people’ are a big part of the problem. It’s as if we have reverted to the middle ages when those who governed were seen as God’s representatives on Earth so we expect miracles from them. And they in turn dare not admit to error for fear of losing their position so we run into the kind of arrogance that happened in another state where, when an error of scientific fact in Common Core teaching materials was pointed out to the commissioner, the teacher was told she had to teach it anyway because the commissioner said so.

    We the people have to make more allowance for getting there (whatever the policies goal) in steps rather than in one swoop. We also have to allocate fault correctly. I note that both Peter and Mervel echo the refrain that government doesn’t do major IT projects well at the same time they forget both that the Internet was a government project and that in our post-Reagan world much, if not most government projects are done by private industry under contract.

    Add to that the fact that they are working on operating systems designed by private industry and probably the fairest criticism is the lack of communication. That (IMO) is not unique to any aspect of our society. It is rampant from the family level all the way to the federal government and even international relations. If we could all learn to communicate more effectively it would do wonders for those wanting “no drama”.

  5. This isn’t surprising. In both cases, the public sector is acting as an agent for private interests. With Obamacare, it is for the health insurance industry. With Common Core, it is the standardized testing industry. The public sector’s job is to act in the PUBLIC interest, on behalf of CITIZENS, not corporations.

    The fundamental problem with Obamacare and, I suspect, Common Core is not that they were implemented improperly. It’s that they are structured in such a flawed way that they CAN’T be implemented properly.

  6. scratchy says:


    You hit on something interesting that I don’t think gets appreciated that much: Obama does not have an in depth knowledge of policy and is not an intellectual heavyweight (though he is smarter than his predecessor).

    I remember during the 2008 campaign when Obama opposed the individual mandate and criticized Hillary Clinton for proposing one. The truth is that every economist and credible health care analyst realizes that a universal health care plan must either have a form of single payer or an individual mandate. The adverse selection problem (whereby only relatively sick individuals purchase insurance, which raises the cost of overall insurance, forcing healthy people to leave the individual market, which in turn raises the cost further thereby becoming a vicious cycle) should have been obvious to Obama during the 2008 campaign, but it either wasn’t or he was lying.

    Similarily with his promise that people could keep their plan, which he should have known (but perhaps did not) was not true.

    I recently read an article (I believe it was the New York Times) that discussed some of Obama’s favorite columnists. It was somewhat discouraging as most of the columnists where intellectual lightweights like Thomas Friedman he embraced the neoliberal Washington Consensus. Not exactly the type of people who provoke deep thinking and certainly not indicative of deep thinking on Obama’s part.

    All of thise would be acceptable if Obama proceeded with simple, easy to understand polices such as single payer or the reimposition of Glass-Steagell. Instead, Obama seems committed to Rube Goldberg type policies (like Obamacare and Dodd-Frank) that he doesn’t seem to fully comprehend. On the positive note, his rising unpopularity probably insures that the truly awful Transpacific Partnership Agreement (which violates so many of the principles he claims to support) is probably dead.

  7. michael owen says:

    I was going along with your proposition Brian until you got to this: “But really, a modern, integrated country like ours is long overdue for a baseline (and a fairly high baseline) of shared knowledge and skills.”

    What your doing is rolling together the apples and oranges of knowledge and skills. To equip a population for any future that looks possible at this point in time I would argue that skills are the key and knowledge is the problem.

    America was shocked by the events 9-11 because the results of our primary/secondary (free and all inclusive) educational system. has systematically misinformed us about the way our government has acted on the international stage.

    Common Core will make this problem worse. Teachers almost universally object to this program because the high stakes testing regiments suck up the time they would spend on the serendipitous explorations that real knowledge is composed of, and yield nothing but statistics that enable the promotion of the next permutation of corporate cookie cutter citizens. What is Common Core but a renaming of No Child Left Behind. A program so despised by teachers it required an entirely new paint job.

    Obamacare in contrast, is a technical problem and is being attacked by politicians who might as well be employees of the corporate wealth accumulation machine.

    And, as Bernie Sanders is demonstrating, ushering in the single payer system that was previously impossible to pass.

  8. thinking says:

    Just wanted to share with you a selection of what the standards actually are — what follows are the standards for reading. I actually think they are designed to encourage thoughtfulness and if implementation were not rushed, could be implemented creatively by practitioners. Perhaps the we all need to do as Brian Mann suggests . . . “take a deep breath!”:
    Common Core Reading Standards:
    Key Ideas and Details
    1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific
    textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting
    details and ideas.
    3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
    Craft and Structure
    4. Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and
    figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g.,
    a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
    6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
    Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
    7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as
    well as in words.*
    8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well
    as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
    9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the
    approaches the authors take.
    Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
    10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

  9. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I don’t think the idea that we the People are a big part of the problem is and unusual idea or unpopular. Seems like one of the few things just about everyone can agree on.

    Whether ObamaCare or Common Core are right or wrong, good or bad, steps in the right or wrong direction isn’t the most critical thing for me. The fact that we are dealing with issues around improving healthcare and education instead of starting wars is a real relief. While there are those who have been itching to go to war in Syria or to impose even harsher sanctions against Iran to try to get them to end uranium enrichment, most of the rest of us have decided that making people’s lives better is preferable to starting wars.

  10. The Original Larry says:

    “We’ve known for years that Obamacare needed tweaking, refining, adjustments. But because the Republican Party demanded a full-scale dismantling, rather than reform, that proved impossible.”

    A last resort, you can always blame everything on the Republicans. I’m surprised you weren’t able to work Bush into the blame equation. The truth is that Obama is a visionary, hell bent on “transformational change”, who will say or do anything to advance his agenda. At the same time, he is a politician who understands that his radical agenda will cost his party votes and elections if it is put directly and plainly in front of the American people. This Obamacare farce is a poorly disguised attempt to destroy the American health care and insurance system and replace it with some sort of socialist model, which will only be palatable to the people if it is presented as a “last resort” solution. He’s creating a disaster so that he can “rescue” us from it. Scapegoating conservatives and Republicans will provide political benefits as well. Thanks a lot, Brian Mann, for helping that effort.

  11. Michael Ludovici says:

    I agree with knucklehead. At least we are trying to do good stuff.
    You learn from your mistakes.

  12. The Original Larry says:

    Obamacare is either a disingenuous attempt to apply a socialist solution to our health care “problems” by crashing the current system and then proposing a “we have no choice because it’s an emergency” solution that would never be accepted by the American people under “normal” circumstances or a spectacular example of ineptitude and dissimulation. Either way, you can’t just try to do good stuff without some expectation that it will actually work. Most people don’t want to risk their health and financial security on some half-assed experiment.

  13. OL is wrong and right. Obamacare is not socialist, it’s corporatist. The main beneficiary is the private insurance racket, as folks are forced to buy crappy private insurance which may or may not cover what they need when they need it. But he’s right that Obamacare is a half-assed experiment. Medicare for All is the only way this can work.

  14. Mervel says:

    It certainly is important to get a decent risk pool for the health care exchanges. But that is a surface problem. The long term issue is what will be the impact of this law on the overall provision of health care in the United States as a whole. Most of the country will never go onto these exchanges, if you have employer provided insurance you are not allowed to buy on the exchange anyway.

    If the unintended consequence of this law is a severe restriction in the supply of health care and an concurrent increase in insurance costs across the board for the majority of Americans the act is in huge trouble. It is a complex industry that in the US is very hard to understand so you are changing something at a base level; and you don’t know what the outcome of those changes are going to be in the market. Its dangerous business.

    The web site issues will be solved, if they had to they could get rid of the web site and go old school using paper applications, its not about the website its about not understanding healthcare economics in the US which this administration does not seem to have a grasp of.

  15. Mervel says:

    I think we should have just done medicaid expansion to cover the uninsured who want insurance and can’t afford it or have no access to it.

    Then you can work on the entire system which needs a total overhaul. There are free-market ideas which could work, but in reality no one wants those as they will be bad for business for the monopolies currently in place.

  16. The Original Larry says:

    Obamacare’s chances of “success” are dependent upon young, healthy people buying insurance from the exchanges and thereby subsidizing the premiums of unhealthy buyers. Problem is, only unhealthy, older uninsureds will buy this “insurance.” It won’t work because it can’t, actuarially. That’s why I suspect Obamacare is a ruse. When the health insurance crashes and burns, and it will, if the ACA is allowed to go forward unchanged, we’ll see the socialist solution. Obama the politician knows that’s the only way to win elections AND bring about radical change.

  17. Peter Hahn says:

    OLarry – I hope you are right. (but I believe you are wrong).

  18. The Original Larry says:

    Which part do you hope I’m right about?

  19. hermit thrush says:

    from krugman’s column today, about obamacare in california:

    To work as planned, health reform has to produce a balanced risk pool — that is, it must sign up young, healthy Americans as well as their older, less healthy compatriots. And so far, so good: in October, 22.5 percent of California enrollees were between the ages of 18 and 34, slightly above that group’s share of the population.

    What we have in California, then, is a proof of concept. Yes, Obamacare is workable — in fact, done right, it works just fine.

  20. Paul says:

    “Again, I’ve yet to see a credible argument that either leader is trying to accomplish anything other than what they promised: improving healthcare” “That they’re doing so clumsily matters profoundly”

    Brian, do you think this is accurate, the second part I mean, I don’t doubt the first part the intentions were good. I think that there is a very real possibility that this isn’t “clumsiness” but something that is fundamentally flawed. We will have to see what happens moving forward but I think it is very possible that this will be a genuine disaster. The Administration will try and say (like we are already seeing) that this is due to some kind of GOP non-cooperation. But in the end the folks that voted against this may have been making the right decision. Being against something that couldn’t work has been vilified, I wonder if it should have been seen for what it might actually be, the best stance to take for the country. Time will tell.

  21. Peter Hahn says:

    Im hoping for a socialist solution like medicare for all. But I truly dont think than is the goal for Obamacare or the likely result. The young people will sign up. Why should they put their parents’ life savings at risk?

  22. Paul says:

    “or to impose even harsher sanctions against Iran to try to get them to end uranium enrichment” Knuck why don’t you think this is a good stance? I was surprised to see some of these folks embrace the diplomatic tract? Putting the real screws to Iran may be the only way to make sure there is a non-military solution. The point that Israel makes in that Iran can now take this break from sanctions to set aside the enrichment while they an work full speed on the delivery systems they will need seems like a fair point? Once this falls apart then they can go back full speed to enrichment using the funds they brought in while the screws were loosened. I hope we know what we are doing and it works but I can see the point of those who think now is not the time to ease up just when we might make some real progress.

  23. hermit thrush says:

    I think that there is a very real possibility that this isn’t “clumsiness” but something that is fundamentally flawed.

    sure there’s a possibility, but that’s not how it’s looking so far. from krugman’s column again:

    At a time like this, you really want a controlled experiment. What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website?

    Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California.

    read the whole thing for more details, but here’s the conclusion:

    Again, Obamacare’s rollout was a disaster. But in California we can see what health reform will look like, beyond the glitches. And it’s going to work.

  24. hermit thrush says:

    oops, let’s try that again with better formatting!

    I think that there is a very real possibility that this isn’t “clumsiness” but something that is fundamentally flawed.

    sure there’s a possibility, but that’s not how it’s looking so far. from krugman’s column again:

    At a time like this, you really want a controlled experiment. What would happen if we unveiled a program that looked like Obamacare, in a place that looked like America, but with competent project management that produced a working website?

    Well, your wish is granted. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you California.

    read the whole thing for more details, but here’s the conclusion:

    Again, Obamacare’s rollout was a disaster. But in California we can see what health reform will look like, beyond the glitches. And it’s going to work.

  25. Paul says:

    HT, yes, his opinion may be correct. And I hope it is. But so far all signs seem to point to problems that could sink the program. I hope at least the promise that the website will be working (now with the new caveat “for most people”) by the beginning of next week can be kept.

    The Krugman article seems like a very good argument for Mitt Romeny’s position during the election that a state by state solution is best:

    “A number of states that are running their own online health exchanges instead of relying on HealthCare.gov are doing well. Kentucky’s Kynect is a huge success; so is Access Health CT in Connecticut. New York is doing O.K. And we shouldn’t forget that Massachusetts has had an Obamacare-like program since 2006, put into effect by a guy named Mitt Romney.”

    What is the current price tag for the program and what are the costs associated with what we need to do to fix the problems? This is also important for us to consider.

  26. Mervel says:

    How is success measured though?

    Do we mean the relatively small percentage (although certainly large in number) of people who will get health care through the exchanges and how they fare or do we mean the health care experience for the majority of Americans? Even if the exchanges are successful, yet they cause severe price increases in the private non-exchange market, or policy cancellations or severe restrictions in supply,(i.e. things like North Country Hospitals closing or doctors leaving the field or areas like the North country), that will be how Obama care would be judged. What was the point of health care reform? Was it to make our overall health care system and market better and more affordable or was it to create something that works for 10% of the people in the US who are currently uninsured? Both are important and connected, but if you make most people’s health insurance and healthcare worse to help a small percentage of people get insurance, the program will fail.


  27. Paul says:

    Simple really. If it insures the uninsured and does not affect or improves those who already had existing insurance as promised than it is successful. If it does not then it was not.

  28. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, this isn’t a post on Iran or Syria, just trying to make a point about a welcome change in direction. We will likely have a chance to discuss these events more as the success of negotiations becomes more apparent. But to answer your question in brief, Iran has been working for a long time toward rapprochement with the US.

    Not to get too far out into the weeds here, but Cuba might be another good place to try to bury the hatchet.

  29. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I guess maybe if the Common Core standards include becoming informed on international policy, then I am for it.
    Somehow I doubt if Iran, Syria, or Cuba will end up in the Core. George Washington and the cherry tree might.

  30. JDM says:

    Obamacare: meant to give health insurance to 15 million? 25 million? 45 million? uninsured.

    Instead, it takes away insurance from 15 million, this week, and 100 million when the employer-provided insurance loses theirs.

    Wow! What a winner of a program.

    Brian Mann: “tossing out the old, much-hated and dysfunctional system”.

    No. You call it that. The people losing their insurance “liked” their policies. Just because you hate it, doesn’t mean they did. (my mom lost her insurance, which she thought was “great”).

    Brian Mann: “He believes in government’s power to help people’s lives and he wants to make it work well”.

    Let’s ask the 15 million people who lost their insurance about that.

    Brian Mann: “and be required by the rest of us to come up with coherent plans and ideas of their own”

    Oh, there are many better plans. You’re use of the word “coherent” begs the question, “who determines coherent?” You?

  31. Paul says:

    “I guess maybe if the Common Core standards include becoming informed on international policy, then I am for it.”

    I think it very may well do this. That is part of the challenge, US students are poorly prepared for this wake up call.

    Knuck, we can discuss whatever we want. I was just surprised to see Israel and others decide that diplomacy (sanctions are designed to drive that point) is something that should be embraced. If they thought that a military option was the only possibility they would have struck years ago. This looks like a George Bush style (in this case non-military) unilateral action of sorts. Here we don’t even have support from one of our own NYS senators.

  32. Paul says:

    Sorry maybe one NYS senator does I am not sure what her position is on this.

  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Did I miss a statement from Netanyahu saying this is a good track? And Schumer can’t be trusted on this since many of his most vocal constituents send their family members to become settlers in the West Bank.
    This is NOTHING like George Bush who failed to take the opportunity of Iran’s help in the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Then he proclaimed Iran part of the Axis of Evil, which was incentive for Iran to step up its enrichment program not slow it down especially after Bush invaded Iraq putting US military forces on Iran’s east, south and western fronts. Iran drew the conclusion based on our history with N Korea that the US wouldn’t attack a country with the Bomb. Doesn’t anyone pay attention?

  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Now that we have withdrawn from Iraq, are making positive work at leaving Afghanistan, and are making earnest efforts at diplomacy ( not to mention that we haven’t taken the opportunity to engage militarily to any great extent in Syria) Iran may feel a bit safer and willing to engage with us in talks that would at once make life easier for their people through decreased sanctions and step back from ever increasing violence, terrorism, proxy wars, and secret assassinations that have been supported by many actors including Iran, the US, Israel, Pakistan, Arab states, and non-state actors.

  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And we get to eliminate Iran as the number one state supporter of terrorism in the world. Which is good for us because we can’t stand to be number two.

  36. The Original Larry says:

    I’m so relieved now that Krugman has said Obamcare works.

  37. The Original Larry says:

    That will be a big consolation to those who lost their insurance or can’t pay their premiums.

  38. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Hey Larry, you’ll be happy to know that I got one of those letters that said I was going to lose my health plan because of ObamaCare. Thing is though, Obama wasn’t lying because I didn’t like my plan – it was crap! but it was cheap and I couldn’t afford the better plan that I had the year before, or the even better plan I had the year before that that I had to drop because it was too expensive, or the even better plan I had the previous year … Okay, you get the pattern.

    Here is what the reporters haven’t covered. Obama wasn’t lying when he said, if you like your plan you get to keep it, because nobody really liked their plan. In fact, it’s been a really long time since I had a plan I really liked and I doubt there are very many people who lost their plan who could truthfully say they liked it.

  39. Paul says:

    Knuck, it just seems that everyone seems to agree that it is the sanctions that have “brought Iran to the table”. Now let’s negotiate. I think that is step forward as far as Israel’s position is concerned. To isolate them now does not seem like a smart move.

    This according to the Washington Post:

    “In return, the P5+1 agreed to pause in efforts to reduce Iran’s oil sales for the next six months and suspend sanctions on oil insurance and transportation services. In addition, Iran will have about $4.2 billion in frozen oil earnings released on a timed schedule. Sanctions also will be suspended on gold and precious metals and on Iran’s auto and petrochemical exports so Tehran can earn about $1.5 billion.”

    What do we think they will do with the money? Give it to the suffering populace? I hope so.

  40. Paul says:

    “Thing is though, Obama wasn’t lying because I didn’t like my plan – it was crap! but it was cheap and I couldn’t afford the better plan that I had the year before, or the even better plan I had the year before that that I had to drop because it was too expensive, or the even better plan I had the previous year “.

    So he should have just said this. Since he did not it was as the post has defined it a whopper! It was a lie there is no debating that. Even he apologized.


  41. Paul says:

    Forget about Israel. The French call this a “sucker deal”. That is disturbing to say the least.

  42. The Original Larry says:

    KHL, let the people who are unhappy speak for themselves. If you like your Obamacare plan, good for you. If your post was an attempt at humor, it failed.

  43. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, the sanctions were one of many factors. The fact that is not being reported in heavy rotation is that Iran has been making small attempts to ease relations for a very long time. And all of a sudden people are interested in what the French say!?! What happened to the Surrender Monkey meme?

  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Larry, I don’t have an ObamaCare plan.

    And I’m just calling out all the people who are lying to the exact same extent that Obama is accused of lying. The people who say they like their plans are misrepresenting their true feelings. Let’s have some reporters ask them exactly what it is they like about their current plan.

  45. michael owen says:

    I’ve known a few diplomats and by their own admission I think it’s safe to assume everybody is “advocating”, That’s lawyer talk for the thing humans call lying. So sticking a microphone is some advocate’s face is not the same as investigative journalism.

    I’m not too sure how we got from ACA and Common Core to Iran’s mythical nukes, but I’ll run with it.

    The question nobody seems to want to ask is why Iran wants nukes if indeed they do?

    Let’s back up a few short years and see that they got put on a list by the most powerful nuclear nation on earth and the only one who has a history of actually using them. that same country then attacked a couple countries on that list ( I’m counting Libya as one of ours) and one of those countries borders Iran. Plus, we had to boycott Durban 2 because most of the nations participating were calling Israel another pre Mandela South Africa.

    Obama told Netanyahu not to build more settlements. He ignored that. Then as things heated up he went to Russia. Then he asked congress to invade Syria, betting they would turn him down even though they loved the idea, because they turn down everything he wants. Then Putin flew in on a wire and saved the day. Now Iran extends an olive branch.

    This can only be called brilliant diplomacy.

    Is it a good idea? Not unless you think the US should run the world.

  46. The Original Larry says:

    “The people who say they like their plans are misrepresenting their true feelings.”

    Yeah, they are probably all part of the vast right wing conspiracy.

  47. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    michael owen, I just want to be on the record against going off on a tangent. It’s all Paul’s fault:

    “Knuck, we can discuss whatever we want.”

  48. Mervel says:

    I don’t have a problem with people not being able to keep their plans, this is normal it happens all of the time, plans get canceled, changed, insurance companies drop entire regions of the country sometimes based on their assessments. People get their plans cancelled everyday in this country.

    The broader issue is the impact that the law is having on the overall healthcare market and in that regard no one knows, and to me that is kind of scary that you have major changes going on to a huge industry without knowing what will happen.

  49. Mervel says:

    Its the difference between political advocacy, Obama’s field and expertise, and actually getting something done and being in the nuts and bolts of true changes.

    There is nothing wrong with Obama’s expertise either, I don’t think he assembled a good team however and that is the problem. Particularly if he never wants to hear bad news, which seems to be the culture in the White House.

  50. JDM says:

    Until Obamacare, you didn’t really know what I had for my personal health coverage, and frankly, you didn’t care.

    That’s what big government is – an intrusion.

    It’s really none of your business characterizing my health care as good, bad, or indifferent.

    It’s really none of your business.

    To say 15 million people don’t like their insurance is ludicrous.

    No one knows what 15 million people think about anything.

    Obama has to divide us to stay in power. He has to make things bad, so he can “fix” them by taking away our money and giving it to others.

    He is not a good president.

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