Tuesday, December 10, 2013

High Noonan

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out exactly how drunk Peggy Noonan was when she barfed up this blog post.
"Uh, no sir, I don't believe you are 'cutting me off.' In fact, I seriously doubt the rules of English grammar even permit one to string those particular words together in that peculiar order.  Produces nothing but gibberish.  Now keep pouring -- and this time leave the fruit out of my Old Fashioned.  That maraschino cherry displaces far too much liquid."

By Keith, World O' Crap's Senior Sozzled Shoe Fetishist Correspondent.
The Accepted Modalities of Incoherence
Here's our gal Peggy, from her blog at WSJ on December 3. Subject: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare.” Peg's been late to the party when it comes to trashing this particular legislation. Let's see what possible wisdom she brings to the contentious and polarizing debate.
The president’s problem right now is that people think he’s smart. They think he’s in command, aware of pitfalls and complexities. That’s his reputation: He’s risen far on his brains. They think he is sophisticated.
Heavens to Betsy, if only this correspondent shared a similar “problem.”
That is his problem in the health insurance debacle.
Really Peg? How so?
People have seen their prices go up, their choices narrow. They have lost coverage. They have lost the comfort of keeping the doctor who knows them and knows they tend to downplay problems and not complain of pain, and so doing more tests might be in order, or tend to be hypochondriacal and probably don’t need an echocardiogram, or at least not a third one this year.
Other people never have the opportunity to see a physician in the first place outside of an ER. But then again this does cut down on unnecessary testing and diagnosis. And that keeps costs down, I suppose.

But how does the perception of President Obama's intelligence qualify as a factor in the debate over the legislation at issue? Concerned Americans demand to know, dear.
At the very least people have been inconvenienced; at the most they’ve been made more anxious in an already anxious world. In a month, at the worst they may be on a gurney in an ER not knowing the answer to the question “Do you have insurance?” and hoping they can get into an exam room before somebody runs the number on the little green plastic card they keep in the back of their wallet.
Why does the card have to be green? Do you have a preference for green or did you mistake your American Express for your insurance card the last time you presented for an unnecessary electrocardiogram, feeling as you were more anxious in an already anxious world?

Still, we're waiting for the answer re: Barry's real or perceived intelligence.
Everyone understands in their own rough way that ObamaCare is a big mess. And that it’s not the website, it’s the law itself. They have seen systems crash. In the past 20 years they’ve seen their own computers crash. They know systems and computers get fixed.
Not my last computer. It caught fire! It melted! How do you fix that?
But they understand a conceptual botch when they see one. They understand this new program was so big and complex and had so many moving parts and was built on so many assumptions that may or may not hold true, and that deals with so many people with so many policies—and they know they themselves have not read their own policies, for who would when the policies, like the law that now controls the policies, are written in a way that is deliberately obscure so as to give maximum flexibility to administrators in offices far away. And that’s just your policy. What about 200 million other policies? The government can’t handle that. The government can barely put up road signs.
I'm beginning to understand a “conceptual botch” and I'm only half-way through.

Please walk us past the road signs. If you're not too dizzy from imagining all those complex bells and whistles achieving steady-state, that is.
The new law seems like just another part of the ongoing shakedown operation that is the relationship of the individual and the federal government, circa 2013.
Now I'm getting a bit worried. When will you arrive to something slightly significant?
But back to the president, and his problem with being known as intelligent—Columbia, Harvard Law, lecturer on constitutional issues at the University of Chicago Law School.
Not such shabby credentials, to be certain. Peggy, darling, in researching your degree from Fairleigh Dickenson I've noticed there is scant information in Noonan biographies on degree earned,  nor any information that provides validation of your qualification as pundit. We're still investigating. (Honest postcript).
The program he created in 2009-10, ran on in 2012, and whose implantation [sic] he delayed until one year after that election—in retrospect, that delay seems meaningful, doesn’t it?—has turned out to be wildly misleading as to its basic facts.
[“Implantation” is just too rich for comment. I'll pass. Scott?]

[From Scott:  All I've got is an entry from Peggy's dream journal -- most of it illegible -- about the lilting sound of Negro spirituals emanating from an In Vitro Fertilization clinic.]
Millions are finding you can’t keep your plan, your premium, your deductible, your doctor. And millions more will discover this when the business mandate kicks in. 
All of this—the fraudulent nature of the program—came as a rolling shock to people the past two months.
[Now I realize why no one else will touch this column. I'm pulling on my hair.] Peggy, this is your last chance to explain why the complexities of expanded health insurance has any connection with the intelligence, real or imagined, of the POTUS. And make it SNAPPY! Make us absolutely roll with shock!
It’s a shock for most people that it’s a shambles. A fellow very friendly to the administration, a longtime supporter, cornered me at a holiday party recently to ask, with true perplexity: “How could any president put his entire reputation on the line with a program and not be on the phone every day pushing people and making sure it will work?
It's not like it was something trivial, like a war, or preparations for a natural disaster.  If those go south, what's the worst that's going to happen?  American casualties would be five figures -- tops!  But if Amazon.com experienced connectivity issues, hundreds of thousands of people would be affected.  There'd be rioting and looting!  And thanks to slow load times, potential rioters might have to sit around for up to 8 minutes waiting to click on the stuff they wanted to loot!  Not to mention the fact that any online retailer with a crappy website can't be trusted to deliver the stuff you've stolen from them in less than 10 to 14 business days.
Do you know of any president who wouldn’t do that?” I couldn’t think of one, and it’s the same question I’d been asking myself. The questioner had been the manager of a great institution, a high stakes 24/7 operation with a lot of moving parts. He knew Murphy’s law—if it can go wrong, it will. Managers—presidents—have to obsess, have to put the fear of God, as Mr. Obama says, into those below them in the line of authority. They don’t have to get down in the weeds every day but they have to know there are weeds, and that things get caught in them.
Finally!  We've found the first evidence of Obama's low intelligence -- he doesn't understand how lawns work.
It’s a leader’s job to be skeptical of grand schemes. Sorry, that’s a conservative leader’s job. It is a liberal leader’s job to be skeptical that grand schemes will work as intended. You have to guide and goad and be careful.
Emphasis added, because when your high-priced Wall Street Journal pundits start to sound like a Nina Hartley tutorial video on anal sex, it is truly the Twilight of the Gods, and you might want to get to Costco and stock up on Ragnarök supplies, like those fifty-roll packs of toilet paper, or a 5-gallon jerry can of Thousand Island Dressing.
And this president wasn’t. I think part of the reason he wasn’t careful is because he sort of lives in words. 
Although what really galls you is that he actually lives in the White House.
That’s been his whole professional life—books, speeches. Say something and it magically exists as something said, and if it’s been said and publicized it must be real. 
Such as magical dolphins!  "It was a miracle a six-year-old boy survived the storm at sea and floated safely in an inner tube for two days and nights toward shore; a miracle that when he tired and began to slip, the dolphins who surrounded him like a contingent of angels pushed him upward..."

This is the same column that included the now classic Internet Tradition, "Is it irresponsible to speculate? It is irresponsible not to. A great and searing tragedy has occurred [a six year old boy was reunited with his father], and none of us knows what drove it, or why the president did what he did. Maybe Congress will investigate. Maybe a few years from now we'll find out what really happened."

In the meantime, hit me again bartender, and make it a double.
He never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it.
Peggy, just buy another one.  Or put it on your Amazon Wish List if you're cheap (but I'd recommend springing for overnight delivery -- you're clearly getting crankier by the minute...)
 It’s all been pretty abstract for him, not concrete. He never had to stock a store, run a sale and see lots of people come but the expenses turn out to be larger than you’d expected and the profits smaller, and you have to figure out what went wrong and do better next time.
I don't want to practice psycho-babble, but isn't the above teetering on  projection? What has the author of this essay accomplished in professional tenure? Books? Speeches? This her gin & tonic?
People say Mr. Obama never had to run anything, but it may be more important that he never worked for the guy who had to run something, and things got fouled up along the way and he had to turn it around. He never had to meet a payroll, never knew that stress. He probably never had to buy insurance! 
Apparently Obama never owned a car or a house, and is the only man in North America who can purchase a major appliance without being pressured to buy the extended warranty.
And you know, his policies were probably gold-plated—at the law firm, through his wife’s considerable hospital job, in the Illinois Legislature, in the U.S. Senate. Those guys know how to take care of themselves! Maybe he felt guilty. Maybe that’s to his credit, knowing he was lucky. Too bad he didn’t know what he didn’t know, like how every part has to work for a complicated machine to work.
So there you go: Providing modest reforms for uninsured Americans comes down, eventually and thankfully, to guilt – the guilt of the POTUS for enjoying continuous insurance coverage. I'm beginning to feel like a real sucker, Madame Peggy Barnum! Your readers salute you! Twice!
Here I will say something harsh
Thanks for the spoiler alert.
and it’s connected to the thing about words but also images. 
From what I have seen the administration is full of young people who’ve seen the movie but not read the book. They act bright, they know the reference, they’re credentialed. But they’ve only seen the movie about, say, the Cuban missile crisis, and then they get into a foreign-policy question and they’re seeing movies in their heads. 
Ah yes, that blockbuster about the Cuban Missile Crisis all the kids were raving about back in the summer of 2000.  It was like Titanic, except with even crappier accents!

But hey, at least these Democratic whippersnappers saw it.  Dana Perino was apparently in the multiplex theater next door, watching Chicken Run for the third time:
During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.  
"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "
Anyway, we'd better get back to Peggy before the DTs completely take over the column...
They haven’t read the histories, the texts, which carry more information, more texture, data and subtlety, and different points of view. They’ve only seen the movie—the Cubans had the missiles and Jack said “Not another war” and Bobby said “Pearl Harbor in reverse” and dreadful old Curtis LeMay chomped his cigar and said “We can fry a million of ‘em by this afternoon, Mr. President.” Grrr, grrr, good guys beat bad guys.
I dunno. I read James M. Cain's novel “Mildred Pierce” and thought it was terrific. But liked the Michael Curtiz movie better plus it was Joan's Oscar! The film ending is more satisfying. OTOH “GWTW” cut out a lotta sub-plots and the movie, despite its flaws, has most likely been seen by more folk than have actually read the novel. It's really all a hodgepodge of information, texture and data. Subtlety is disqualified now that we know your main john is Rupert Murdoch.
It’s as if history isn’t real to them. They run around tweeting, all of them, even those in substantial positions.
What is a substantial position? Is it gainful … or just more chicken wings and pedicures? Deep-fried on a stick?
“Darfur government inadequate. Genocide unacceptable.” They share their feelings – that happens to be one of the things they seem to think is real, what they feel. “Unjust treatment of women—scourge that hurts my heart.” This is the dialogue to the movies in their heads.
You know Peggy --- you need an outline to proceed with an essay of this scope. An outline format is available to you in MS word. You just type some critical points and subpoints, then think about them before you or your interns (most likely unpaid) do the typing. Lots of teenagers writing first-time essays have tremendous success with this method.

Let us pause, and review:

1) Murderous, trecherous corrupt govermnent inadequate;

2) Genocide unacceptable;

3) Unjust treatment of women;

4) They share their feelings.

Peggy is moving quickly to somewhere's dark and fearful.
There’s a sense that they’re all freelancing, not really part of anything coherent.
Here! Here! I'm a card-carrying member of the Freelancer's Incoherence Union! (Don't laugh, one day we shall RULE).
For four years I have been told, by those who’ve worked in the administration and those who’ve visited it as volunteers or contractors, that the Obama White House isn’t organized. It’s just full of chatter. Meetings don’t begin on time, there’s no agenda, the list of those invited seems to expand and contract at somebody’s whim.
Well, sometimes you have to go to a meeting with the bullet points you have, and not the bullet points you wish you had.
 There is a tendency to speak of how a problem will look and how its appearance should be handled, as opposed to what the problem is and should be done about it. People speak airily, without point. They scroll down, see a call that has to be returned, pop out and then in again.
They show a basic awareness of how politics works!  They use air to speak, rather than one of those electronic voice boxes like laryngectomy patients!  They return calls!  All classic symptoms of Cuban Missile Crisis movie viewing!
It does not sound like a professional operation. And this is both typical of White Houses and yet on some level extreme. People have always had meetings to arrange meetings, but the lack of focus, the lack of point, the sense that they are operating within accepted levels of incoherence—this all sounds, actually, peculiar.
Got that, kids? Accepted levels of incoherence.

It's almost time for another session for repose and bullet-points, but I'm anxious for the next shoe. In my newly-acquired “airily” fashion.
And when you apply this to the ObamaCare debacle, suddenly it seems to make sense. The White House is so unformed and chaotic that they probably didn’t ignore the problem, they probably held a million meetings on it. People probably said things like, “We’re experiencing some technological challenges but we’re sure we’ll be up by October,”
Just like...The Missiles of October!
and other people said, “Yes, it’s important we launch strong,” and others said, “The Republicans will have a field day if we’re not.” And then everyone went to their next meeting. And no one did anything. 
Simply because Obama could present as a sentient being capable of a comma,  all freak and leave early for lunch.
And the president went off and made speeches. Because the doing isn’t that important, the talking is.
“The doing isn't that important”

to be continued …


Chris Vosburg said...

If there's anything that is clear about Peggy's writing, it is that no one, not a single goddam person at the WSJ, bothers to perform the task of editing her endlessly repetitive gibberish, which I assume is because it is so very painful to read.

I look forward to the inevitable blog post, consisting entirely of:


Li'l Innocent said...

Try not to let her creep into your brain, Scott. Stay strong. Feed the cats.

Doc Logan said...

Might it be that Nooners is busy throwing trash at the current president to distract us from the fact that her sainted Ronald Reagan was an enthusiastic supporter of the apartheid government of South Africa, and that the passing of Nelson Mandela is reminding everyone that Reagan couldn't possibly have been more wrong?

Horrible, horrible president. A supporter of institutionalized racism and someone who actually made jokes about AIDS.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'm with Li'l Innocent.

Both Scott and Keith should feed the cats.

Bogie said...

Scott's "implantation" comment truly cracked me up.

Scott said...

Now I've got that "Feed the Birds" song from "Mary Poppins" stuck in my head. Maybe I could compromise and feed a bird to the cats, although both Riley and Moondoggie are vegetarians, and invariably decline, if not disdain, my occasional offer of a slice from the pressed, processed turkey roll. (But perhaps it's not a moral or dietary matter, but a question of professional pride; as hunters who have many laser pointer dot kills to their credit, they can't help but gaze at my offering and sneer, "Turkey roll. How hard was that to catch?")

grouchomarxist said...


I find "The Lumberjack Song" usually works well as psychic Drano for a brain-looping song. (Although in this particular case, "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" might be a more appropriate antidote.)

Anyway, holy hoppin' Yahweh, that's-a some spicy gobbledegook!

The tale of how Nooners snaffled her very own All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto to peer into the inner workings of the White House would no doubt make for interesting -- no ... what's that other word? oh yeah -- interminable reading, but what makes this column really special is her exquisite muddle of Gen X and slacker stereotypes.

... did you mistake your American Express for your insurance card the last time you presented for an unnecessary electrocardiogram

I know that was just a typo, but Nooners presenting? Ick. Triple-distilled quintessence of ick.

grouchomarxist said...

Sorry to double-post, but:

[Obama] never had to push a lever, see the machine not respond, puzzle it out and fix it.

Reagan, however, could field-strip an M4 Sherman tank, using nothing but his Boy Scout knife, clean and reassemble it in under half an hour. Well into his 70s.

Keith said...

The post is in two parts. There are eight more paragraphs. (A double-spaced non-sequitur counts as a paragraph here). Similar to a cadenza to a piano or violin concerto, Peggy's virtuosity will amaze.

After I feed and water the cat we'll get back to it.

Li'l Innocent said...

thunder: Whup, that's right, it's Keith who is endangering himself here, not so much Scott.

But whatever: possibly if the turkey roll could be made to squeak a little?

On a serious feline note, I trust Daddy Scott is joshing about the cats being vegetarians, cats being obligate meat-eaters as they are. (Those two sure don't look like they eat a lot o' lettuce.)

Carl said...

[“Implantation” is just too rich for comment. I'll pass. Scott?]

You gets a l'il drunk and you lands in jail, Ol' Man Whiskeeeeeeeee....

Fearguth said...

Darkness at Noonan

Mike said...

Oh, that last photo... she's got him in that treacherously painful finger-clasp handshake.

I'll bet she is telling him "this is what you will say and this is how you will say it".

"... her exquisite muddle of Gen X and slacker stereotypes."

Excellent. Somehow she missed that other stereotype (coughed up like a hair ball) that went with the photo of Obama with his feet on his desk.