Friday, November 14, 2014

"...Free To Be....You And Me...And We..."

Old saying.
We shot a bear...Pa pulled the trigger.
Editor's note: S.E. Cupp is the author of "Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity," co-author of "Why You're Wrong About the Right," a columnist at the New York Daily News and a political commentator for Glenn Beck's The Blaze.
(CNN) -- With a fourth video released, Gruber-gate is now in full swing.

The latest caught-on-tape remarks from economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, has him asserting back in 2010 that the "American public" -- that's you and me -- "doesn't actually care that much about the uninsured." He thinks he knows us so well.
In another video released earlier, he said that to pass new health care legislation, the Obama administration successfully relied on an electorate -- again, you and me -- that didn't really understand it.
"It's a very clever, you know, basic exploitation of the lack of economic understanding of the American voter," he tells the Honors Colloquium 2012 at the University of Rhode Island.
There appears to be a bottomless well of Gruber's greatest hits.
In yet another, from a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013, he explains that the very function of the law -- doing what it was designed to do -- was totally unpalatable to voters (that is, if only we'd turned away from our Cheetos bags and NASCAR races long enough to catch it).
"If you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in -- if you made it explicit that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed."
To hammer the point home, he admits that the sales pitch was one big cover-up operation: "Lack of transparency is a huge advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever. But basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass."
And in still another video he's caught telling Washington University at St. Louis in 2013 that one important provision of the bill passed "because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference."
Let's be clear: Gruber didn't say any of this incredibly arrogant, deeply offensive stuff in a soft whisper at a clandestine meeting of liberal donors. He said these things out loud, at lectures, over and over and over again, without even an attempt at discretion.

These videos may seem inflammatory on their face. Here's an Obama adviser gleefully insisting that the administration hoodwinked the American people to pass legislation that otherwise very few would have wanted.
But underneath all this arrogance and hubris is a surprising amount of willful ignorance about what actually happened to pass Obamacare. It isn't that Gruber thinks we're all rubes. It's that he thinks his team of brilliant economists and political spin-doctors were so clever they actually got away with something.
That just isn't the case. For one, it was hardly a secret that the law relied on healthy people to pay in so that sick people would get coverage. Most of us -- even the stupidest -- know that's how insurance works.
And just to be sure it was clear, Republicans and opponents of the law reiterated this fact ad nauseam during the public debate of the Affordable Care Act. Heck, even Obamacare supporters were insistent on explaining this point for the express purpose of getting healthy people to sign up for it. The administration spent millions on a marketing pitch to convince young, healthy millennials to invest in health insurance many didn't appear to want.
For another, despite Gruber's insistence that the administration maintained a necessary opacity about the law, there were plenty of warnings about its potential fundamental problems, and numerous advocacy groups, impartial economists and media outlets were steadily fact-checking the President's rosy predictions about the law.
From them we heard it may not reduce the deficit by $1 trillion.
We heard it would not reduce health care costs.
We heard it would reduce the workforce by an equivalent of 2 million jobs.
We heard premiums would rise.
We heard we might not be able to keep our health plans after all.
Of course, only time will tell whether those warnings will bear out, but opponents of the legislation were making them back then, even though Gruber believes the administration hid them so well, and were vocal about it. And to pretty clear results. According to Kaiser Family tracking polls of the legislation since 2010, the law has never cracked a 51% favorability rating, and has at times plummeted to the low 30s.
Another point: The American people never voted on Obamacare, so I'm not sure what role Gruber thinks the "stupid" electorate played in its passage. In fact, in the first election after the Affordable Care Act passed, Republicans who opposed the legislation retook the House of Representatives and kicked 11 Democrats out of state houses.
Obamacare wasn't a cleverly concealed mystery package that Democrats slipped under the noses of an otherwise bumbling idiocracy. It was passed by a Democratic majority that controlled both houses, without a single Republican vote, pushed through by a White House that cared more about scoring a political victory than if the law would ever work as intended or if Americans would like it.
Gruber's misguided sense of accomplishment reflects not so much elitism as it does the arrogance of liberal "solutionism," or the tendency of technocrats to assume they can solve complex social problems easily.
Technology scholar Evgeny Morozov, author of "To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism," writes that "solutionists err by assuming, rather than investigating, the problems they set out to tackle. [They] do not limit themselves to fixing the problems of individuals; they are as keen to fix the problems of institutions."
This kind of hubris explains why someone like Michael Bloomberg believes he can solve gun crime by banning guns or obesity by banning big sodas. And it's why Jonathan Gruber believed he could solve our health care problems. It's not because he actually wanted to understand the problem, but because he decided what the problem was (in this case, that healthy people were paying too little for insurance) and assumed we were all too dumb to ask any questions.
But we asked plenty of questions. We are still asking questions. And legislators, economists and health care scholars will be trying to fix the mess that Gruber et al created for many years to come. But when this legislation finally collapses under its own weight, Gruber will no doubt find a way to blame stupid Americans for failing to properly implement his vision.
A long time ago, available in record shops far, far away, the British comedy troupe, Monty Python, released an vinyl LP with a fun, gimmicky twist.
Since the sound pressed into long playing records was "retrieved" by a stylus (that's "needle" to those who love them Cheetos and their NASCAR races) that was running in a groove in the vinyl, the Python boys got extra witty and had their album pressed with two grooves, obviously precisely parallel to one another, invisible, of course, to the naked eye but each with different content, so that, in reality, you were getting two entirely different albums. Depending then, on where the stylus (needle) landed at any given time, you were liable to hear one "album" or the other.
I was reminded of that turntable throwback as I read Cupp's piece.
It occurs to me that there are really two, almost entirely different, discussions going on here.
The first, and most obvious, of course, is the ongoing wailing about Obamacare and how it has either transformed American health care to provide for the average joe or jane while fighting a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way...or it is pretty much the end of life on the planet as we know it.
Given Cupp's tenor and tone, I think you'd have to be inarguably obtuse, or a Kardashian, not to figure out which side of the hospital gurney she lies on (provided, of course, that her particular HMO even offers gurneys anymore).
The second topic, though, running parallel to the first groove but, most likely, invisible to the naked eye is the debate about the dreaded "s" word.
More specifically, whether or not the American people are, or are not....stupid.
Frankly, at this point in the chronology, the yammering about Obamacare itself is getting almost as annoying as the state of health care in this country in general. Even if we allow for the point of view that insists that the fix only made the crack bigger.
I don't engage in that discussion anymore. Partly because it's an exercise in intellectual futility. (Cue Taylor Swift : "haters gonna hate/hate/hate/hate/hate...", etc)
And partly because I know that I cant be emotionally objective. see...I lost my insurance in the war.
And am doing my best to find a way to live with that loss, put the pain and grief behind me....and keep my fingers crossed and prayers said nightly that I can go for about 21 more months without any major health issues until I can do a Sheldon-eque banging on Uncle Sam's door.
(knock-knock-knock) Medicare! (knock-knock-knock) Medicare! (knock-knock-knock) Medicare! 
As far as the second issue is concerned, Cupp seems to have her overpriced hospital gown in a twist about not only the labeling of "the American people" as "stupid" but, also, the apparent calling she is hearing to step up and represent the "we" of the world, or, at least, the country, defined, I'm assuming, as those folks she feels have been misunderstood, mistreated and, at the very least, misrepresented, as in......
From them we heard it may not reduce the deficit by $1 trillion.
We heard it would not reduce health care costs.
We heard it would reduce the workforce by an equivalent of 2 million jobs.
We heard premiums would rise.
We heard we might not be able to keep our health plans after all.
It was at about that point that I realized there were two different grooves in this particular platter.
For me, Cupp's articulate and obviously sincere observations come off a little on the Norma Rae side of the aisle, if only because there's an undercurrent of "we, the people" flowing underneath her liberal (sorry, it's a word that has other meanings and uses, from time to time) use of the word "we".
And she clearly takes exception, with her own words, to the "arrogance", "hubris" and "ignorance" exhibited by Gruber and his group.
Okay. I'm not going to even get started on any debate about arrogance. hubris or ignorance when it comes to political parties, affiliations, philosophies or presentations, because, in my o, no one, and no one group, has any kind of corner whatsoever on that market.
And while I get that she is standing up for some folks who she assumes, I asuume, fall into that group that Gruber is dissing, I can't help but think that while she's doing an articulate job of defending the forest, she's overlooking a whole lot of trees.
Or, more to the point, "we's".
Because I'm moved to ask....when it comes to treating them with disrespect, a lack of consideration, even outright contempt, which "we' is she talking about?
Is she talking about the "we" who actively take part in the process of choosing those who will govern by, at best, researching and reading and listening and/or, at least, cast a vote on Election Day?
At current count, that number is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3, 4, max out of 10.
Or she talking about the "we" who probably couldn't name, let's say, the current Senate Majority Leader or, perhaps, the soon to be Senate Majority Leader or, well, hell, who think that Joe Biden is the husband of one of the Real Housewives.
But who could probably correctly identify without hesitation:
Taylor Swift.
Lady Gaga.
Any or all of the Kardashians.
Mama June
Which stores will, or will not, be open Thanksgiving Day.
Is she talking about the "we" who consider discussion and debate about issues essential and beneficial, all the while remembering that effective and productive discourse requires civility, courtesy and, at the very least, the ability to disagree without being disagreeable?
Or the "we" who swarm over the wall at every social media and/or any and all online opportunity like the zombies in "World War Z" full of hate, venom, vitriol, hysteria, demagoguery and....wait for it....stupidity?
Line up one group on one side of the cruise ship and one group on the other and current evidence would pretty much convince anyone that that Carnival be listing over pretty quick.
Is she talking about the "we" who either read her piece thoroughly and regardless of their agree/disagree position have a clear understanding of both the issues discussed and her position on them?
Or is she talking about the "we" who stumbled across the piece while trying to log on to to find out whether there are any brand new, up to the minute pictures of Kim's ass?
Again, crunching those numbers has the potential to send many of us into a spiral of depression from which we might never recover.
S.E. Cupp clearly doesn't think all that much of  Obamacare or, obviously, Jonathan Gruber.
Even "we" can see that.
And if, as she predicts, Obamacare will "collapse under its own weight", then Gruber may, or may not,  "find a way to blame stupid Americans for failing to properly implement his vision."
"We" won't really know until, and unless, that happens.
Not that it will really matter much because, I'm thinking, that compared with the essential task of getting the whole health care thing right once and for all, being concerned with the fact that Jonathan Gruber thinks people are stupid seems......
well, kinda stupid.
By the way, if stupid is either your chosen style, life long goal, occasional hobby or just a curiosity to you, by all means, check out the latest episode of "Kendra On Top"
You'll find it....
on WE TV.