A Wilderness of Error

Jonathan Gruber explains what's best for us

“The right thing can seem so wrong and the wrong thing seem so right that we easily become lost, to use Poe’s exquisite phrase, in a wilderness of error.” A Dancer in the Dust, Thomas H. Cook

Unless you have been visiting abroad, say in the Galapagos, you read about or watched Jonathan Gruber, an author of Obamacare. If you have been in the Galapagos, here is a two minute synopsis: Grubergate in Two Minutes from “American Commitment.” Former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, crowed once that the bill would have to be passed before we knew what was in it. This was not due solely to the closed door machinations and deals, cobbling together a bill meant to be ironed out in joint committee, but frozen, partially done, by the election of Scott Brown. Nor was it due entirely to being over 2,500 pages long and spawning tens of thousands of pages of regulations. The great majority of Americans and American legislators didn’t know what was in it because a.) Obamacare ACA was calculated to obfuscate, and b.) We were “too stupid” to understand it anyway, which was, after all, just as well. As Dr. Gruber clarified to his elite colleagues in academia, “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

“Speak boastfully no longer, nor let arrogance issue from your mouths.” 1 Samuel 2:3

Obamacare with all its errors in design, the subterfuge in its passage into law and its flawed implementation is a model of progressive mischief, but the ACA is also a metaphor for far more dangerous myopia. Lest we be mistaken, the hubris of the progressive “expert” knows few boundaries. The progressive is willing and able to take us where we ought to go, whether, or perhaps especially, when we do not know enough to want to go there. From their perspective, a stupid and ignorant electorate is best able to be led by those fully prepared to lead them. “Progressive” has become a self-contained oxymoron.

“The trouble is that we always define ‘forward’ as moving in our direction…but not everyone can, and not everyone should.” A Dancer in the Dust, Thomas H. Cook

Norman Angell wrote “The Great Illusion” in 1909 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 1933. His premise was that large scale war in modern times was futile because of the complex economic interdependence of all the major nations; the cost even for the winners would be too great. His work particularly influenced English leadership, convincing them that even the “Hun” would not be so foolish. They remained in hope almost to the day German troops invaded Belgium and headed towards Paris. Treaty bound to Belgium, the United Kingdom watched as they were inexorably drawn into the beginning of World War I, the bloodiest war in human history until that time. The infirmity of purpose that encouraged the Kaiser was repeated with Neville Chamberlain’s vacillations twenty five years later prior to World War II. Adolph Hitler read the signs of his enemy’s hopeful delusion and warmed up with Austria and Poland before striding down the ChampsÉlysées. The butchery exceeded its predecessor. And so it goes.

For leaders to misunderstand their enemies by trusting optimistic and irresolute illusion kills faith in that leadership as well as the best of the youth under its stewardship.

“In the month of August 1914, there was something looming, inescapable, universal that involved us all. Something in that awful gulf between perfect plans and fallible men that makes one tremble.” Barbara Tuchman, “The Guns of August”

This week we were entertained with the administration’s attempt to placate the offended leaders of almost all major nations. The president once again led from behind by failing to send an appropriate level of representation to the solidarity march of those leaders in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo radical Jihadist attack. To make up for the gaffe, Secretary of State John Kerry gave a stiff hug to Francoise Hollande, the French Premier, and Kerry doubled down by bringing along a grinning James Taylor to sing his sappy “You’ve Got a Friend”. Bad sixties coffee shop folk singing to sooth all insults. If we hadn’t been inured to such awkwardness with six years of this tomfoolery, it would be embarrassing. Now it seems like just another day at the White House. One wag suggested in lieu of Taylor, it should have been Judy Collins with “Send in The Clowns.”

The relevance is not only the tone deafness, but the worldview, the progressive desire to see things as they would hope them to be, irrespective of how they are. Whether Hillary is entreating us to empathize with the Jihadists, Howard Dean denying that the Paris murders were carried out by Muslims or Barack Obama persisting in calling the Fort Hood killings “workplace violence” and Jihadist butchery as “radical extremism” not necessarily unlike  Timothy McVeigh or the demented Jim Jones.

Jihadist violence is inherent, and if we refuse to acknowledge that there is a war, we are probably losing. Releasing Gitmo Islamists who immediately resume killing us or negotiating with Iran over their nuclear ambitions are all of a piece. To the committed Jihadist, there is one dichotomy: dar al-Islam (The House of Islam) and dar al-harb (The House of War), the realm of peace and Islam, and the realm of war: that is everybody else. Leaving the rest of us alone, peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance is as impossible and foreign to them as government by, of and for the people, as constitutional law is to sharia, as democracy is to the Caliphate. Conversion or the sword are the options.

 “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah!”  Quran (8:39)

“And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…  Quran (2:191-193)


Filed under Background Perspective, Politics and government

4 responses to “A Wilderness of Error

  1. John O

    Thanks Jack

    Nice job


  2. Anthony Vinson

    Good to have you back. The ACA was, is, and will continue to be a problem for many of us. This includes some of those who were granted a boon last year in the form of subsidies to help pay their health insurance bills. Just wait, when the Tax Man comes a’calling with a bill to account for one of several variables they failed to consider last year there will be a great hue and cry. Thing is, it’s the law. It’s been upheld and even modified by SCOTUS to ensure its right to life. The fact that a majority of We the People were “agin it” didn’t mean boo and the boondoggle grew and grew. Hell, I admire Nancy Pelosi for her brutal honesty; we don’t get much of that from our political leadership. The choices now are limited and the longer nothing is done the narrower those choices become.

    As to the eternal battle between progressives and conservatives, I continue to believe that both sides are equally right and equally wrong, and that between the two stands the only real chance of healing our national wounds. I’ll trade you your JT bad 60’s coffee house folk for a little Haley Mills: “Let’s get together, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Why don’t you and I combine.” Yeah, I know, dream on…

    The War… The problem with the war is the way we’re fighting it. You don’t win by playing constant defense, and that’s all we’ve done from the beginning. Instead of worrying about Islam as a whole, which is what I see many (most?) people doing, we should instead be actively attacking the narrative of the jihadists. Consistently illustrating just how ignorant, silly, and misguided they are. Hammering away relentlessly and enlisting the hearts and minds of Muslims. With American cinema and literature being among our largest exports, numbers two and four I believe, we certainly have the talent to make it happen. Psychological operations directly aimed at the malleable minds of those we wish to control. Marketers do it every day!

    Carry on!


  3. Jim Aelick

    Sad that so many millions of Americans have to fight with 535 folks who just don’t seem to get it.
    Keep it up Jack and here is to a great 2015!
    History seldom repeats itself, but it does Rhyme. So said Mr. Twain.


  4. Greg Parquette


    Glad you are back, great column. I know you know where I line up on this topic. Itis time to take this war to the enemy by what ever means we have at our disposal short of creating a vast glassland in the middle east. By the way, is the Quran that the radical extermists read the same as the millions of peace loving muslims? I assume so and in that I find a great curiousity.
    “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah!” Quran (8:39)
    “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing… Quran (2:191-193)

    Seems like a story only our fabled leader would subscribe too. Can 2017 get here fast enough? I think not, I just hope we are all still here and the US has any stature in the world when that blessed day arrives.

    As he would say Praise Allah and pass the fiddle while we watch the campfire.


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