Posted by Michael Kennedy on November 1st, 2013 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
Fernandez begins with a discussion of Obama’s technique with favored columnists.
get him in an off-the-record setting with a small group of opinion columnists — the David Brooks and E.J. Dionne types — and he’ll talk for hours. …
“It’s not an accident who he invites: He reads the people that he thinks matter, and he really likes engaging those people,” said one reporter with knowledge of the meetings. “He reads people carefully — he has a columnist mentality — and he wants to win columnists over,” said another. …
These people are, like him, unsophisticated in technology. They are lawyers or journalists and the numbers of math and science courses represented in the room are few.
The other blog post is titled “Government is magic.”
Our technocracy is detached from competence. It’s not the technocracy of engineers, but of “thinkers” who read Malcolm Gladwell and Thomas Friedman and watch TED talks and savor the flavor of competence, without ever imbibing its substance.
These are the people who love Freakonomics, who enjoy all sorts of mental puzzles, who like to see an idea turned on its head, but who couldn’t fix a toaster.
This strikes me as a huge insight into why this administration doesn’t understand the trouble it is in.
One common criticism of India has been that the British left a tradition of education in Humanities and Medicine but not in auto mechanics and basic trades. The people in the Obama administration are contemptuous of people like “Joe the Plumber” who works at a trade and hopes to save enough to start his own small business. The Obama people like “BIG IDEAS” and don’t know much about implementing them.
The ObamaCare website is the natural spawn of that technocracy who love the idea of using modernity to make things faster and easier, but have no idea what anything costs or how it works.
It’s hard to have a functioning technocracy without engineers. A technocracy made in Silicon Valley with its complete disregard for anything outside its own ego zone would be bad enough. But this is a Bloombergian technocracy of billionaires and activists, of people who think that “progress” makes things work, rather than things working leading to progress.
I wonder how many lines of code Bloomberg has written ?
You have to be special to join the circle, one so high above the madding crowd that you are like the president, who as Valerie Jarrett puts it, was “bored to death his whole life … just too talented to do what ordinary people do.” The question that almost asks itself is how if such people are so smart, so comfortable with ‘grand concepts’ then how could they have gotten so many things wrong in the past 5 years.
Part of the answer may lie in what grand thinkers are consciously believe they are not. Vice President Joe Biden explained why nobody in the White House seemed to know the Obamacare website would not function. “Neither he and I are technology geeks, and we assumed that it was up and ready to run.”
“But the good news is although it’s not, and we apologize for that, we’re confident that by the end of November it will be and there will still be plenty of time for people to register and get online.
They just don’t know how things run and why some things work and some don’t. Don Rumsfeld famously referred to “known unknowns” and he has had experience running a big private company, GD Searle. The Obama people have never run anything. What efforts they have made at running things have been mostly failures. Valerie Jarret, who seems to be Obama’s alter ego, is a slum lord in Chicago.
According to the documents obtained by Judicial Watch from the Illinois Secretary of State, Valerie Jarrett served as a board member for several organizations that provided funding and support for Chicago housing projects operated by real estate developers and Obama financial backers Rezko and Allison Davis. (Davis is also Obama’s former boss.) Jarrett was a member of the Board of Directors for the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation along with several Davis and Rezko associates, as well as the Fund for Community Redevelopment and Revitalization, an organization that worked with Rezko and Davis.
(According to press reports, housing projects operated by Davis and Rezko have been substandard and beset with code violations. The Chicago Sun Times reported that one Rezko-managed housing project was “riddled with problems — including squalid living conditions…lack of heat, squatters and drug dealers.”)
Obama famously failed at asbestos remediation in Chicago slums.
But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies – including several hundred in Obama’s former district – deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.
Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.
Progressive blogger River Daughter put it succinctly:
In terms of concrete accomplishments, Obama and “hundreds of other organizers” were not able to transform the South Side neighborhoods or bring in new industries to provide jobs…
His experience in the Annenberg Challenge was poor.
An August 2003 final technical report of the Chicago Annenberg Research Project by the Consortium on Chicago School Research said that while “student achievement improved across Annenberg Challenge schools as it did across the Chicago Public School system as a whole, results suggest that among the schools it supported, the Challenge had little impact on school improvement and student outcomes, with no statistically significant differences between Annenberg and non-Annenberg schools in rates of achievement gain, classroom behavior, student self-efficacy, and social competence.
Obamacare is about the same in terms of success. Much more expensive, of course.
Modernity has to be built. It has to be constructed brick by bit by rivet by cable by people who know what they are doing. Modernity without competence is as worthless as the ObamaCare website which looked pretty enough to give the illusion of technocratic modernity, but didn’t actually work.
The United States government is the ultimate giant unworkable mess. It is a living cargo cult where everyone marches around following routines that are supposed to yield great prosperity, but never do. The processes themselves are broken and make no sense, but the cargo culturers of the government cannot and will not hear that. They know that the government will magically make everything work.