Quote of the Day

Richard Fernandez:

But if Obama and his supporters are ruling out the obvious, so too are many of the president’s critics who hope that at some point — perhaps when he misses 500 out of 500 — that he’ll suddenly realize that he’s doing it wrong. They’re hoping for this because the common perception is that the world is stuck with him until 2016. But perhaps he won’t notice he’s missed the last 1,000 shots for the very same reason that caused the blunders already committed.
The one crisis that Peter Baker omits to mention is the inability of the American political system to diagnose and fix itself. It lies in the circumstance that Baker can realize the world is falling apart without being able to put his finger on why. It is exhibited in Alan Dershowitz’s perspicacious insight that Israel has been put in an impossible position while remaining a pillar of the Democratic cheering squad. They can enumerate the problems but they don’t know what it means.
The feedback loop is kaput. That is the key. But no one in Washington seems capable of divining where the smoke on the ceiling is coming from because it’s coming from them. The significance of the dog that did not bark in the night is that nobody in establishment DC is barking. It means things will only come to a head when the theater actually starts to burn.

10 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. Another alternative theory is that Obama isn’t confused or lazy (not too much) or incompetent (OK maybe a little), but just following through on his geopolitical grand strategy which is this:

    withdraw the United States from all overt independent foreign actions not authorized by international organizations like the UN or the EU or the African Union while covertly supporting Neo-Anti-Colonialist insurgents and regimes.

    In this environment, the United States isn’t allowed to triumph in any political, economic, or military encounter (a trend that admittedly started before he came into office, unfortunately) because in this new reductivistic zero sum game that would mean someone would have to suffer defeat. Anyone suffering defeat is a victim and is to be considered morally right.

    If America is to never win anything, then Israel sure can’t be allowed to win either.

  2. Grurray,
    I tend to agree with your theory. In my view, there are enough of those Saul Alinsky disciples to have co-opted the left, plus enough useful idiots who buy the cover story to keep them in power. What might have been previously regarded as significant reverses to our national interests, our core values and our internal national structures and relationships are now simply viewed as either intended or fortuitous events that provide further opportunity to disassemble what was/is fundamental to our social, economic, political and values structures. While these crises are publicly acknowledged and vague promises are made to address them a well as attributions of blame for target opposition groups. The proposed solutions will almost invariably include an increase in government budget and control or deferring to statist international organizations or both. Core statist support constituencies will be carefully fed to keep sufficient support to remain in power no matter how many crises are piled up and exploited.


  3. Fernandez should have written: “The feedback loop is kaput. That is the key. And it is being exploited by subversives who know exactly what they are doing.”

  4. We need to define the scope of the problem. “The feedback loop is kaput” is not something that is fixable because it relies on a shared understanding of what the feedback loop actually is, something that it would not be wise to assume in these days of declining educational quality with regards to civics instruction. Government does something by passing a law, creates metrics of success and data is gathered to show whether the law is working or not. The public judges whether the metrics of success are proper, whether the data is real or fake, and whether performance is acceptable, and then petitions to fix what’s wrong and votes to remove politicians who are not doing a good job.

    In fact, the feedback loop is kaput because we’ve permitted the creation of a number of government functions and agencies that under normal circumstances, fly under the radar of the feedback loop. We simply get no meaningful feedback about them so citizens are incapable of judging their worth and returning any meaningful signal. This is done on the theory that the citizen cannot handle all the inputs, which probably used to be true before so many of us got computers on our desks capable of outperforming the computing power of the entire federal government back when that judgment was originally made. Now, it’s probably not true but instead of saying so in those sorts of terms, we get “the feedback loop is kaput”.

    This is not nearly helpful enough to actually generate positive movement forward. Here’s a big clue, the same feedback loop is kaput for just about every government.

    If you want to fix things, divine how to make the feedback loop work, in a scalable way, for a 20,000 person town. Document the methods, make it into a kit, and sell that kit to every reform movement, left and right in this country. Because surprisingly, the left wingers are sometimes just as upset that the feedback loop is broken. They just surmise a different set of government catastrophes are actually going on than the ones that people on the right guess are happening.

    Fixing the feedback loop is actually not an ideological issue. It’s a country vs elite issue on both sides of the ideological divide.

  5. Good points but I think it mostly comes down to education. My observation of leftists is that they generally misunderstand incentives and feedback mechanisms, and therefore often make inaccurate inferences about causes and effects. They tend also to be more ignorant about history than are non-leftists. You could give them better information and they would still make poor decisions.

  6. “therefore often make inaccurate inferences about causes and effects.”

    The left is heavily into magical thinking. “If you build it they will come.”

    I am convinced that they, and several are my children, are more concerned about self esteem and the assumption of virtue, than they are about how things actually work. It does puzzle me a bit at how left wing programmers are but that may have to do with the virtual reality they work with.

    The “What’s the matter with Kansas” guy is such a good example. He built it and they didn’t come. Guess whose fault that is ?

    When they have power, the failure of complex plans can be rectified with force. The Kim Strassel piece in The Journal today explains how that is done.

    The party had assumed that dangling subsidies before the states would induce them to set up exchanges. When dozens instead refused, the White House was faced with the prospect that citizens in 36 states—two-thirds of the country—would be exposed to the full cost of ObamaCare’s overpriced insurance. The backlash would have been horrific, potentially forcing Democrats to reopen the law, or even costing President Obama re-election.

    The White House viewed it as imperative, therefore, that IRS bureaucrats ignore the law’s text and come up with a politically helpful rule. The evidence shows that career officials at the IRS did indeed do as Treasury Department and Health and Human Services Department officials told them. This, despite the fact that the IRS is supposed to be insulated from political meddling.

    That is the Halbig case and the Court probably can’t ignore this history.

    The office of the IRS chief counsel—one of two positions appointed by the president—drafted a memo telling the group that it should read the text to mean that everyone, in every exchange, got subsidies. At some point between March 10 and March 15, 2011, the reference to “Exchanges established by the State” disappeared from the draft rule.

    Emails viewed by congressional investigators nonetheless showed that Treasury and the IRS remained worried they were breaking the law. An email exchange between Treasury employees in the spring of 2011 expressed concern that they had no statutory authority to deem a federally run exchange the equivalent of a state-run exchange.

    This is law breaking and is documented by emails that didn’t get deleted. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

  7. I think that the right is crazy for not going after the left’s assumption of virtue hammer and tongs. They are not the nice guys and have a tremendous moral problem in that their intellectuals are mostly tainted with marxism and thus they have the stink of the black book of communism hanging around their necks. When it comes to elections the talk is often about “commen sense” and a “nudge” to put people on a better path but that only lasts as long as it has to.

  8. The feedback loop is kaput.

    James Rickard (in Currency Wars) writes about economic complexity. It seems that a system, as it grows in complexity, it becomes increasingly less and less responsive to inputs. Large inputs in very large systems have negligible results.

    He mentions the ancient Roman complex economy (and civilization) around 500 AD. For example; the farmer’s work and food input was devalued and became less rewarding due to central planning and bureaucratic and public rent seeking. Rather than resisting the barbarians, farmers welcomed the new elites that allowed them to farm more prosperously under a simpler and less controlling regime.

  9. It doesn’t matter if feedback loop is working or not. This is clashing interests.

    The Feedback loop is telling them they’re out of money, trust, and have lost the people. They must know they can’t count on the police or military to do their bidding, and the people are too heavily armed in any case.

    The feedback loop=it’s over.

    We have no way at this point of knowing what they know, the open borders is a drastic move. That means something changed. It is most likely that magical money land is ending.

    There is a fundamental and indeed existential clash of interests between the vast nation that is America and it’s government&elites on every issue. Whether they know it or not [they seem to know] knowing it changes nothing. We will have to resolve our differences and the method is becoming inevitable.

  10. Tyouth – The feedback loop isn’t kaput. Have you actually examined what the feedback loop is? It’s 21st century actors on the government side being managed by as old as 19th century control mechanisms. It’s not like 21st century mechanism’s don’t exist. They do. They’re just not being applied. That’s a tremendous opportunity to change the broad dynamic towards nation sustainability but even if it’s a losing fight, fixing this is a worthwhile effort in harm reduction. In other words, it will reduce the amount of time to get on to what’s next and increase the (unfortunately small) chance that what’s next will be better.

    VVXC – I think that you’re over aggregating the government and elites. The guys up top may be secure in their post crash futures but not some GS 11 working in the bowels of Interior. Aggregation helps them. Disaggregation hurts them because it peels off the people that they ultimately need to get stuff done. You’re already recognizing that by saying “they can’t count on the police or military to do their bidding”. In countries that are truly circling the drain irrevocably, the top *can* count on those two forces.

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