Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Obama blinks and backs down again on Ukraine.

The new round of sanctions against Russia just announced, the supposedly tougher sanctions that Obama had threatened has all the meaning and power of imposing a ban on the sale of peanut butter cups to Russia. And as much of a deterrent.

It has become another embarrassing instance of Obama backing down, blinking,  losing face , losing nerve and looking weak and foolish. Everything Putin counted on.

Not only are the newly announced sanctions almost laughable since they target only 15 people in Russia, but as the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said, it is an example of Obama negotiating down. So what else is new?

Originally Obama threatened tough sanctions against Russia if they didn't pull back the 40,000 troops amassed on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, in a clear attempt at intimidation.

Putin's response to Obama's threat has been to laugh in his face.  The troops are still there and even more special forces have invaded more cities and towns in Ukraine and more government buildings have been taken over by armed Russians sent by Moscow along with more Russian instigated and directed violence.

So now Obama threatens that the really tough sanctions, really, he means it this time, no kidding, it's a red line,  will be imposed by the U.S.,  not if Putin doesn't pull back his troops as originally threatened, but only if Putin actually invades Ukraine with those 40,000 troops.

My guess would be that if Putin did invade, Obama would count the number of troops crossing into Ukraine and if Putin invaded with 39,995 Obama would find a way of trying to sell that as the sanctions worked and it kept Putin's invasion force down. It's foreign policy Obamacare, a fake, a farce, and facade for taking real action. And the Ukrainian government is getting a taste of what its like.And they should reject it the same way 97% of Americans have rejected Obamacare.

More sanctions have been announced by Europe but they were in the same tepid category as Obama's, bringing the total number of individual Russians sanctioned to 60.

The consensus is that Europe, who has wanted Obama to lead, was waiting to see what sanctions were announced by the U.S. first and would then follow Obama's lead. And they did.

Which shows that the problem will  only get worse if  Europe continues to look for Obama to lead. Obama doesn't want to lead, cant lead and wont lead. He is waiting to see what the Europeans do and would prefer to follow them while the Europeans are waiting to see what Obama does. And so they are both like dogs chasing their tails and little or nothing gets done.  Except that Putin gets to take over more towns and government buildings with his armed, masked burglars, robbers, and terrorists, while more paid gangs attack peaceful pro-Ukrainian demonstrators with clubs as they did the other day as local police slinked away.

All this ultimately leaves it up to the government of Ukraine to take the lead where Obama won't,  and to finally use force where force has been long overdue.

There is already evidence that much of the Ukrainian government's attempt at avoiding confrontation and force comes from Obama who is more interested in not having to deal with a Russian invasion than anything  else.

But the Ukraine government needs to look at history and everything that has been the product of Obama's presidency and realize the only way to achieve anything is to ignore Obama and take the lead themselves.

They need to use force decisively against the Russian insurgents both in their streets attacking people,  and the invading forces occupying buildings, and prepare to repel or retaliate against any military action or invasion taken by Putin  and force the hand of Europe and the U.S. to actually do something meaningful and effective if Putin invades. 

There is still the real possibility that Putin is bluffing with those 40,000 troops and Russian justifications for invasion, none of which carry any legality --  that they reserve the right to invade if Russian speakers are threatened or attacked -- are meant more as intimidation since the Russian assertion is absurd.  Ukraine is completely justified in using whatever force necessary against armed insurgents occupying buildings and those in the streets clubbing anyone who opposes a take over by Moscow. As would any other country. And they should start acting that way.

To not use force, to constantly be on the defensive, to be afraid to move forcefully into the crowds of Russian thugs beating pro-Ukrainian demonstrators and use deadly force if necessary to stop them and do what is necessary to clear away the masked armed Russian terrorists occupying government buildings, to do none of those things because of being intimidated by the Russian troops Putin placed on the border,  plays right into Putin's hands. And is the reason those 40,000 troops are there in the first place. To try and intimidate the Ukrainian government and Obama and Europe to back down. And so far it's worked.

The Ukrainian government and Europe needs to realize what France and the UK realized in dealing with Libya and the rebels fight against Ghadaffi -  that waiting for Obama to lead is waiting for a train that will never come. Unless Obama's hand is forced and he realizes that doing nothing will make him look weaker and more foolish than doing something meaningful,  Obama will continue to do nothing that matters, and take meaningless actions in dribs and drabs that leave Putin stronger and more confident every day in his efforts to get what he wants through intimidation.

The Ukrainian government needs to take a long look at Obama's presidency and see that in terms of being decisive, having convictions and principles or a backbone and standing up for anything, he has been a fraud and a laughing stock both at home and abroad. Remember, this is the man who, when Iranians protesting a rigged election were being shot in the streets said "I don't want to meddle" and couldn't even manage words of support. And unless they want to end up a laughing stock too,  and as much of an embarrassment as Obama, they need to see that nothing Obama has done, domestically and certainly not in foreign policy, has ever had a successful outcome.  They need to ignore the praise they have gotten from the international community for using restraint in dealing with the Moscow inspired mobs and Russian mobsters taking over Ukraine's buildings. The praise is completely self serving because there are those who would rather not have to deal with the consequences of a blatant invasion by Putin, something Putin has also counted on. They need to stop taking Obama administration advice to constantly back down from  armed confrontations instigated by Moscow, and use whatever force necessary to repel it.

And then force Obama and/or Europe to back them up. One of them will. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Ukraine and the world can use Putin's tactics and rationale against him.

Two days ago,  eight members of the OSCE,  unarmed observers on the ground  in east Ukraine, were captured by the Russian funded, aided and inspired terrorists and separatists who have been holding Ukrainian government buildings, and are being held hostage.

The eight members of the OSCE total four from Germany, and one each from Poland, Denmark, Sweden and a Czech officer.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea and the seizing of government buildings in eastern Ukraine by armed Russian terrorists,  the rationale given by Putin and Lavrov in justifying and warning against overt Russian military intervention by the 40,000 troops assembled on Ukraine's border, was they would act militarily to protect Russian speaking people from being mistreated or attacked by the Ukrainian government,  ( the same rationale Hitler used for invading the Sudetenland in 1938).

Putin and Lavrov and the Russian parliament claimed they reserved the right to invade Ukraine to defend these Russian separatists. Presumably any attack on armed Russian terrorists illegally occupying government buildings by the Ukraine military to restore law and order against the Russian insurgency is, in their view, mistreatment of Russian speaking people and a justification for an invasion and military intervention.

But with these Russian terrorists having now abducted members of  the OSCE who are from NATO countries,  and holding them hostage in violation of international law under the bogus claim that they are spies, these NATO member countries should let Russia know that in light of these abductions, they too reserve the right to use military intervention in response to their mistreatment for being held hostage, and to aid Ukraine in taking whatever military action necessary against the separatists .

NATO member countries, whose citizens are now hostages should give Russia and the separatists an ultimatum and a time frame -- either free their hostages or face military intervention from the OSCE countries these hostages come from. Especially in light of a statement from Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine to The Guardian that the hostages are "prisoners of war".

OSCE countries  whose nationals are now "prisoners of war" should make clear that they will take whatever action necessary in aiding Ukraine unless they are released and  there will be no negotiation or deals.  And make clear that any intervention on the part of Russia to defend the separatists holding the hostages in the event of military action will be taken as an overt act by Russia as the authority holding them as prisoners of war with the attending consequences. Since the separatists are calling them prisoners of war, let the member countries make clear to the separatists that unless they are released they will consider it an act of war by the separatists against the OSCE member countries. And will respond accordingly.

Since Obama is as always, too weak and too concerned about his own domestic political standing to take any kind of meaningful action including military assistance to Ukraine under the 1994 U.S.- Ukraine defense agreement, let other countries, as was the case with Libya, take the lead and use Putin's justification and rationale for the threat of military force as their own.

Let Russia and the separatists know that the capturing of the OSCE members is a hostile act against member countries, a violation of international law and a gross mistreatment of their own citizens.  And, like Russia,  they reserve the right to intervene militarily to aid Ukraine against the separatists holding their citizens as prisoners  and make clear they will hold the separatists accountable for their safety.  And they can start by sending military assistance to Ukraine to show Russia and the separatists they mean business.

Until then the Ukrainian government can use more effective means to deal with the Russian insurgents holding the buildings. They could surround them,  cut off all power and water to the buidlings and instead of roadblocks and checkpoints 13 miles from where buildings are being held, they could move in militarily and set up a cordon around the buildings preventing the insurgents from having any access to food or water. They should also be prepared for insurgents in other places to attempt more kidnappings to use hostages as blackmail.

It's time for the Ukrainian government to get tough, dismiss any guidance from Obama who up to now has been behind the Ukrainian government restraining their military, and treat these take overs of government buildings the way the FBI would treat them here.Surround them, cut off water and power, and respond to any violent actions by the insurgents with the tactics they deserve.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ukraine's best strategy for success against Russia: Ignore Obama.

Whether you're a Democrat running for re-election, or the Ukrainian government trying to deal with the current crisis caused by Russia, the surest way to fail, as has been proven time and time again, is to follow or take direction  from president Obama on anything.

Two years ago, while Libyan rebels were fighting to overthrow Ghadaffi, Obama continuously waffled over whether to help the rebels militarily because in the end he really didn't want to act at all.

His indecisiveness and refusal to act, a product of a 16 year political career in which he had accomplished virtually nothing and even voted "present" more than 100 times as a legislator  to avoid having to vote for or against anything, became so irritating to France and the UK that they finally decided on their own  to send fighter jets into Libya to assist the rebels and attack Ghadaffi's forces which in the end, proved decisive.

How much France and the UK were fed up with Obama's indecisiveness and inaction with Libya  lies in the fact that when they finally decided to take action on their own and send in their fighter jets they didn't even bother to tell Obama. He found out only after the fact.

When then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in London for what she thought was going to be one more round of talks on Libya, she was informed for the first time,  with news cameras rolling,  that French and British fighter jets were already in Libya supporting the rebels. Anyone who has seen the news footage of that moment saw Clinton's face light up like a Christmas tree showing her delight that France and Great Britain took the lead and decided to actually do something.

This is a lesson the Ukrainian government needs to learn. 

Obama is about avoiding any kind of action or conflict under any circumstances for any reason, foreign or domestic. Principle and conviction never influence an Obama decision.  It's why he gave in to the corporate health insurance lobby and dropped the public option and pushed through their version of health care reform which became Obamacare with all it's predictable resulting failures. Obama thought since this was a solution  created by corporate America it would get the Republicans off his back on healthcare , the effectiveness of the policy aside.  He was wrong on all counts, politically and as a matter of policy.It's why he waffled on Libya. Its why he backed off his own "red line" pledge on chemical weapons in Syria. It's always about politics, not principle.

If Obama couldn't stand up to health insurance lobbyists does anyone think he could stand up to Putin? And does anyone think Putin doesn't know it?

Obama talks as if the 1994 U.S. defense agreement with Ukraine, where the U.S. guaranteed Ukraine's defense in exchange for giving up its Soviet nuclear stockpile,  doesn't even exist. A "high White House official" said they had no plans to send any kind of military assistance, material or otherwise to Ukraine because " if we do that then its our fight and we don't want that".

Of course they don't. And Putin knows it thanks to Obama  inexplicably saying publicly that military assistance to Ukraine was off the table. This was both indefensibly stupid but also unnecessary and just made matters worse,  an assessment echoed by former American ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker who said that Obama's public statements about taking military action off the table, even if it had been privately decided,  did nothing but embolden Putin.

As for the so called  "non-lethal aid" Obama promised to Ukraine, that too has been mocked, this time  by former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan, William Courtney, who in a TV interview called the aid Obama agreed to send to the Ukrainian military "aid that amounts to camping equipment".

The Ukrainian government must keep in mind  that every decision Obama makes is about what's best for Obama politically and his desire to avoid any conflict with any opposition whether it's health care, Wall Street, Republicans, or Putin.  The term throwing someone or something under the bus was coined to describe how Obama conducts himself both in terms of policy and politics. And what gets thrown under the bus are usually those he was supposed to support. He has shown repeatedly throughout his political life that he no leadership skills and the last thing he wants is to have to deal with an attack on Ukraine  by Russia  or to take the kind of firm action or statement of policy that would prevent it.

The news media continues to report that Ukraine has held back because they don't want to risk provoking Putin giving him an excuse to invade. There is not a word of truth in that.  It isn't Ukraine who is afraid of provoking Putin. It's Obama. And the position it would put him in if Russia attacked. It's been the White House that's been telling the Ukrainian government not to do anything that would  give Putin an excuse to invade. Because it's Obama who doesn't want to have to decide what to do in that eventuality. 

So U.S. officials continue to advise the Ukrainian government to constantly back down. For their own purposes.  And so far the Ukrainian government has mistakenly gone along. And it's only made matters worse. One can decide for themselves what might have happened if Ukraine had used military force in the beginning against the armed Russian insurgents who invaded and took over buildings and TV stations and employed Gestapo  tactics. If Putin knew he was going to face a show of force there might not now be 40,000 Russian troops on the border.

In an interview on CNN  Geoffrey Pyatt the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine insulted everyone's intelligence by trying to claim that it's the Ukrainian government who only requested "non-lethal aid" for it's military. When government officials lie about a policy it's usually because they know the policy is weak. The claim was officially proved bogus when a Ukrainian government official said on Meet the Press that they had in fact requested real military equipment from the United States not water purifiers and MRE's.

Two weeks ago I speculated here that after watching the Ukrainian military constantly back down both in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, including the humiliating surrender of arms and armored vehicles to the Russian terrorists by members of the Ukrainian military, that those acts had Obama's fingerprints all over them. It had all the earmarks of  Obama wanting to avoid a confrontation.

That speculation was confirmed by former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Wesley Clarke who recently returned from Ukraine and said on CNN April 17 that the Ukrainian government issued those orders to their military as the result of "guidance" they had received to "not provoke" and to "avoid bloodshed at all costs" and to do nothing that could  provoke a Russian invasion.

Clark didn't say where the "guidance" was coming from but he didn't have to. It wasn't Dear Abby or Dr.Phil. 

The continued cliched response from the White House is "there is no military solution to the crisis". It's a mantra they keep repeating as if that bails them out of the responsibilities of the 1994 agreement. But the issue of 40,000 Russian troops on Ukraine's border, the issue of Putin having already sent in what amounts to shock troops inside Ukraine to seize government buildings,and that it was Russian troops that annexed Crimea by force, has nothing to do with a military solution to the crisis. It's not about long term solutions now. For Ukraine,  for the U.S. and for Europe it's about Ukraine's right of self defense. The legitimate right of any sovereign nation to militarily defend itself against an armed foreign invasion by a country trying to take it over. 

In eastern Ukraine polls show an overwhelming majority of their citizens do not support the masked Russian thugs, agents and terrorists posing as Ukrainians holding the buildings, nor do they want to be part of Russia. For the Ukrainian government whose first responsibility is defending the country and it's citizens, successful self defense lies in ignoring Obama's "guidance".  And then taking whatever action they feel is necessary against the Russian terrorists to restore order and to defend themselves. And let the Russians know that and let Putin know his plan isn't going to work . 

They should make clear they are not going to allow the undercover Russian invasion that has already taken place to continue and that it is up Putin to pull his forces or face the consequences if he doesn't. And that no amount of lies by Lavrov will change that. In other words, forget Obama and meet tough words with tough words of their own. 

Russia has warned Ukraine it would invade if it's "interests" in Ukraine were  threatened.  Lavrov proved he and Putin have been lying when he said "if we are attacked we will have no choice but to respond". But they can't be attacked, can they? According to Lavrov and Putin there are no Russians in those buildings in Ukraine. So they can't he attacked.  Ukraine should remind them of that then answer back bluntly and clearly that Russia has no "interests" in Ukraine, that Ukraine is a sovereign nation and no part of Russia and none of their  business and warn Russia that any invasion of their territory will be treated as such requiring a military response. 

The Ukrainian government should take the steps it needs now to defend it's people and exert it's right to defend itself. And say so. And as was the case with Libya, they should count on other countries to come to their aid if it's needed. Because they will. Even if Obama, as with Libya and Syria, wastes time continuing to mull what to do.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Obama on 1994 U.S. Ukraine defense agreement: What agreement?

In 1994 after the break up of the old Soviet Union, as an inducement to Ukraine to give up its formidable stockpile of former Soviet nuclear weapons within its borders,  the U.S. and the U.K. offered a defense agreement with Ukraine guaranteeing its soverignity and defense in return for Ukraine giving up all of its nuclear missiles and warheads. Ukraine agreed. 

Yet today and for the past month,  with Russian troops within Ukraine's borders and eastern cities disguised as local militia, seizing buildings, fomenting violence and acts of terrorism, trying to give Putin a pretext to invade, and with Russian troops, armour and air power massed on Ukraine's eastern border   one would think to hear Obama talk, that agreement doesn't even exist. Which is exactly what Putin is trying to find out.

 With Russia annexing Crimea mostly with Russian troops thinly, almost comically disguised as local militia, and with 40,000 Russian troops now sitting on Ukraine's eastern border, and with more armed Russian troops and agents wearing local militia fatigues without insignias as if anyone is being fooled, staging armed take overs of Ukrainian government buildings, Obama talks sanctions.

Its safe to say that the Gambino Family did a better job guaranteeing the safety of its members than the U.S. is doing in living up to its 1994 agreement with Ukraine.

There is little doubt Putin feels he can steam roll Obama and doesn't take anything Obama says seriously. And why should he? Obama couldn't stand up to the health insurance lobby, caved in on his own red line in Syria which only compounded the disaster there, waffled so much on Libya that the UK and France decided to act on their own sending in fighter jets, the agreement with Iran is becoming a farce and it is fairly common knowledge Obama has been a laughing stock around the world regarding foreign policy and for good reason. It is hard to think of any president, even the disastrous Bush and his misuse of American military, who was weaker and more indecisive than Obama.

So the last thing Putin is worried about is Obama living up to the 1994 agreement and assisting Ukraine militarily even if only with weapons and material.

His history aside, another reason Putin has no fear of Obama, is that for absolutely no useful reason, Obama publicly declared that  there would be no U.S. military involvement  or response and that the U.S.  living up to its defense obligations with Ukraine was off the table. It was, typically,  incredibly stupid and served no purpose except to embolden Putin.

Even if  an internal decision was made to not act militarily there was no reason to tell that to Putin. There was no useful rational reason to tell Putin that no matter what he did, he could do it with impunity  and not have to be concerned about any U.S. intervention. Sanctions? Hardship? After everything the Russian people have been through the last 100 years? If sanctions is the price Putin feels he has to pay to reclaim Ukraine even if it means doing it militarily he is prepared to do it.

It is one more misfiring and miscalculation by Obama which can almost  be expected since he's done the same repeatedly both in domestic policy as well as foreign.

Putin continues to show no fear militarily as his troop build up on the eastern end of Ukraine's border continues and the American NATO commander, a U.S. Air Force General is convinced the Russians are going to cross.

Obama will be quick to try and claim he is living up to the 1994 defense agreement while at the same time throwing it under the bus,  by saying defense can take many forms and that more sanctions are a form of defense and will hurt Russia.

 But it should be obvious by now that the sanctions imposed after Crimea did nothing to deter Putin from instigating more violence inside Ukraine. He has already set up his pretext for invasion and is waiting to see if the Ukrainian government has the temerity to actually fight back against the Russian plants inside Ukraine posing as local militia taking over government buildings and intimidating unarmed local officials, and then claim Ukraine is attacking civilians ( as if armed civilian terrorists would be any less  criminal and dangerous)  then use that as  his pretext to invade. The recent buzzing of a U.S. warship by an unarmed Russian military jet shows Putin is not afraid of Obama and that was a clear example of Putin probing Obama's weaknesses.

The Ukrainians have good reason to be nervous. Russia continues a massive troop build up on its borders and Obama just talks.  And talks.

There have been ultimatums laid down by the Ukrainian government for the Russian troops posing as militia and their protestors to surrender and leave the buildings or face being removed by force. These are ultimatums that have come and gone without action being taking and one can only hope that the government in Ukraine is not being coached by Obama since giving ultimatums and not living up to them has Obama's fingerprints all over them.

(NOTE: This last supposition has proved to be accurate. On April 17, appearing on CNN, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Wesley Clark, having just returned from Ukraine said that the Ukraine government and military has been following advice and "guidance" it had been given in surrendering their weapons and military vehicles to the Russian thugs and terrorists in Crimea and in other Ukrainian cities in order "not to provoke" and "to avoid bloodshed at any cost". The result has been the Ukrainian military suffering one humiliation after another emboldening the Russian terrorists and giving Putin propaganda victories. Though Clarke wouldn't say, there is only one place that "guidance" could have come from.)

For whatever economic sanctions Obama and the G7 now threaten to impose on Russia,  it still  would have been a good idea for Obama to keep Putin guessing about what the U.S. military response might be if  he invaded Ukraine. Obama could have done so simply by bringing up the 1994 agreement and leaving open all possibilities as opposed to making a point of saying the U.S. had no intention of living up to it militarily.  But Putin probably already knows that since,   as Obama has shown in the past, any agreement or pledge Obama makes is  never worth the paper its printed on anyway. And so far it looks as if Putin is acting accordingly.


In an interview on Al-Jazeera America on  April 17, former American NATO amabassador Kurt Volker reiterated the point made above:  that Obama's publicly taking military aid to Ukraine in any form off the table in spite of the 1994 defense agreement,  was not only uncessary but has emboldened Putin giving him one less thing to worry about knowing that Obama will avoid any military confrontation at all costs,  and in the end has made the crisis worse.

The decision for Obama to say publicly that military aid was "off the table" can only be called stupid and has proved once again, as was proved by Yale graduate George W. Bush, that being educated and being smart are two entirely different things.

And so the possibility of another defeat looms, more chaos is assured,  perhaps another victory for Putin, and all because of Obama's weakness, his fears, the weakness of his advisors, inexplicable stupidity and one more failure by Obama to live up to an agreement.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Obamacare numbers prove failure not success.

The Obama administration did a victory lap last week pointing to the 7 million enrollees claimed as having signed up for health insurance through Obamacare and touted it as vindication and proof of Obamacare's success. But a closer look at the numbers, all the numbers related to Obamcare, including the effects of the policy as a whole on the problem it was supposed to solve, and the numbers show a major policy failure, not success.

Contrary to being something to crow about, the Obamacare numbers actually confirms the dire predictions of failure originally made about Obamacare by such right wing zealots as Howard Dean who called Obamacare junk,  and Warren Buffet who in 2010 predicted it would fail.

On the other side are the dependably out of touch with reality Republicans who charge the Obama administration with "cooking the books", a specious and unsubstantiated charge that on its face is as preposterous as  claims that the numbers prove Obamacare is a success.
The irony for Republicans is that they've been so busy lying about Obamacare, they miss the facts and the truth that points to Obamacare's failure .

The first thing to keep in mind regarding the original goal of 7 million set by the Obama administration is that it was more politics than healthcare, a goal so ridiculously low given the problem it was supposed to solve, that to have not hit it would in and of itself been  a monumental failure.  It was the equivalent of setting a limbo stick two inches above the ground and stepping over it and thinking you've accomplished something.

Remember that the U.S. has 50 million people without health insurance and of those, 32 million are in the category of the younger, healthier uninsured Obamacare needs to be sustainable.

Given that, and the importance of healthcare in  general, the number of people who enrolled after 6 months as the result of a program that was supposed to make healthcare more affordable and more widely available for everyone is pitifully small.

And enrollments do not equal people who have actually bought insurance. There are numbers already in the books based on the first 5 1/2 months that shows 15-20% of those who enroll never send in the check for the first premium. Blue Cross and Blue Shield just released up to date numbers that include the final day of enrollment showing that 15-20% of those who enrolled in their policies never paid the first month's premium.  If that percentage holds true across the board as it has in the  past,  the actual number of people who have purchased insurance through  Obamacare will be a little under 6 million not the 7.1 million the White House touted, missing an already artificially low projection.

And based on data already provided by the insurance companies, 75% of those who enrolled either already had insurance and switched to new policies so weren't part of the uninsured or belonged to the older, sicker group who didn't previously qualify for insurance.  Of the remaining enrollees, those in the vital younger, healthier group,  only 25%, or a little over 1 million of the 32 million needed in the insurance pools for Obamacare to be sustainable,  enrolled and it remains to be seen how many of those actually purchased policies.

Those numbers  show that Obamacare won't come close to solving the problem healthcare reform was supposed to solve which was to make healthcare more widely available and more affordable for everyone, especially for the tens of millions without it, and second,  to bring down the overall costs of healthcare which have been insanely out of control.

On the last issue, Obama claimed in his victory lap that the ACA was responsible for "bringing down the rate of growth of healthcare costs".  Having the highest costs in the world (with only the 29th best outcomes) that continue to get higher only at a slower rate is not success. Having an insane situation get more insane but at a slower rate is Cukoo's Nest reform. Not the reform the public option would have been. And healthcare reform that's been overwhelmingly rejected by the very people it was supposed to help most.

And the numbers that prove it, the numbers that matter most,  are those from the recent Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index on the overall impact of Obamacare, an index many consider authoritative and more accurate than government figures since it's compiled from many different reliable sources including the health insurance companies themselves, medical professionals, polls, over 28,000  interviews and government statistics.

The first and most striking number is that in the previous year,  before Obamacare was implemented, 17. 1% of U.S. adults were uninsured. That number has dropped to 15.9%. Though some actually try to spin that as somehow proof of success, even factoring in web site glitches, after 5 1/2 months, that the Affordable Care Act has brought down the total number of uninsured by only 1.2%  can only be called significant failure, not success. Even worse,  that number includes those who have signed up for expanded Medicaid and children who can now stay on their parents policies till the age of 26.

The index states in summary and without editorializing,  that the 15.9% uninsured is the lowest number of uninsured in six years, since 2008. But since Obamacare didn't exist in 2008,  it could be fairly asked,  after all the political angst and bloodletting, after all the country has been through, after one Obamacare mess after another from web site glitches to "If you like your insurance you can keep it", after all the scrambling Democrats have had to do to defend it,after all of Obama's speeches and dog and pony shows and celebrity commercials, what kind of healthcare reform is it that the number of uninsured now is almost the same as it was in the year before Obama even took office?

 In that year, 2008,the percentage of uninsured was 14.9%. It is testimony to current level of accepted mediocrity that a major healthcare reform overhaul which shows a net 1% increase  in the number of people who are uninsured since the year before Obama took office, could be called a success by anyone.  That more people had health insurance in 2008 before the Affordable Care Act shows how affordable health insurance under Obamacare really is no matter how many times Nancy Pelosi wants to say the word "affordable". That's not healthcare reform, that's snake oil. And chanting.

The index also shows that the biggest decline in the uninsured was among those making $36,000 a year or less. This is the group most eligible for subsides and the total number without insurance is 27.8%.  But  even among that group, according to the index, the decline in the number of uninsured was only 2.8%. 
Which means conversely 97.1% of the uninsured making $36,000 a year or less and most eligible for subsidies, rejected what was offered by the insurance companies under the ACA.

And no wonder. The low end silver and bronze policies aimed at the uninsured can run as high as $600 a month with $6,000 deductibles and 40% co-pays  in such diverse places as New York city, rural Georgia and Colorado. In Montana where there is only one insurance provider because most companies consider the population too small to set up business, it can run higher.  Premiums in other places fall somewhere in between but are generally too expensive and offer much too little in the way of coverage and accessibility to appeal to the younger healthier uninsured Obamacare needs to succeed.

It's something the White House has quietly admitted. In an article in the NY Times which didn't get much play, "White House Tightens Health Plans Standards After Consumers Complain", the Obama administration acknowledged, after receiving a barrage of consumer complaints, that the lower end health insurance plans are too expensive and offered anemic coverage .Which shouldn't be a surprise since Obamacare is a law written by the health insurance lobby themselves, the product of Obama's most significant cave in to corporate interests which amounted to Obama handing the keys to the healthcare reform chicken coop to the foxes who were part of the problem in the first place after they successfully pressured him to drop the public option.

The White House doesn't say how the problem can be fixed. Because the only way to fix it is to convince the insurance companies not just to charge less, but a lot less and offer a lot more . Don't hold your breath. The other fix is to replace Obamacare with what should have and would have been passed in the first place had it not been for Obama's lack of integrity, conviction and principle --  the public option.

For now there is talk of creating policies below the silver and bronze level called Copper policies ( really, no kidding - copper).  If that doesn't work, what's next? Wooden Nickel policies?  Most people think that's exactly what's being offered now.

If nothing changes Obamacare is headed for the oft quoted "Death Spiral" where the lack of young healthy uninsured substantially drives up  already high premiums (by 20-50% by some estimates) which will cause the entire program to collapse.

 Recently a host on MSNBC did a montage that mocked the "death spiral".They sounded like conservatives mocking climate change.And just as ignorant.  "Death spiral" wasn't coined by Republicans. It was coined by healthcare insurance economists who actually know what they're talking about who made the analysis long  before the Obamacare roll out that if the 32 million younger healthier uninsured didnt enter the insurance pools Obamacare would eventually collapse. And they didnt.

What Democrats and their  supporters need to start being honest about is that the only thing that kept the country from having the public option was Barrack Obama himself and his lack of conviction, principles and integrity.  The public option had already passed the House and days before the vote on healthcare reform 55 Democratic senators went public and said they'd vote for the public option in an attempt to give Obama a backbone transplant. The operation failed.

The solution for Democrats running in 2014 and the country is not how to defend Obamacare which can always show some minor anecdotal successes, but the public option which based on 2009 polls as many as 76% of Americans supported and in a June 2009 CBS/New York Times poll 72% supported and an astounding  66% said they were willing to  pay higher taxes to get. This is what Democrats threw overboard for Obamacare.And why senators Tom Harkin and Bernie Sanders said after the initial Obamacare vote that it was "better than nothing".  And they wonder why they were wiped out in the 2010 elections.

It's not a choice between Obamacare or nothing. That's Obama's defense when he rebuts Republican threats of repeal by saying " we can't go back to the way it was".  Those are false choices. Democrats need to start thinking about running on the pledge to replace Obamacare with the public option instead of defending Obamacare's failures with promises of endless fixing and repairing of what was a lemon of  a healthcare law to begin with. Running on "are you going to believe what we tell you or your own lying eyes" isn't going to work.

So if it's the numbers that matter,  Democrats need to be honest with themselves about Obamacare and run on replacing it with  the public option.  And do it before they see numbers related to Obamacare that are the same numbers Democrats saw after the 2010 elections. And for all the same reasons.


 The CBO recently issued numbers saying that Obamacare, while still expensive will be less expensive in the future.  This is based on primarily on government subsidies costing less and is being spun by Obamacare supporters as evidence of success. It isn't.

The reason  for the government paying out less than projected in subsidies should be obvious.  With the all numbers in for the year and 97% of those eligible for subsidies not buying policies and  no reason to think that will change,  it stands to reason the government will pay out less for subsidies in the future than originally projected. Because so few people are applying for them. Agan, more evidence of failure than success.


Obama called a press conference on April 17 to once again tout what he calls success based on updated enrollment figures of 8 million. While politically he has every right to rub the numbers into the faces of Republicans who from the beginning made specious and unsubstantiated claims because they were against any kind of reform, Obamacare is still a complete failure as a policy and what it was supposed to accomplish as already described.

 The 8 million now claimed as having enrolled is still pitifully small given the problem healthcare reform was supposed to solve and what the public option would have solved, and will be reduced even further to about 6.4 million since the 20% of those enrolling but not paying premiums has been consistant from the beginning. And Obama knows it.  As have the other percentages. Which still means that 75% of those who enrolled via the exchanges are people who already had health insurance and of the 50 million in the United States who had no health insurance at all, that number as a result of Obamacare will be reduced by a paltry and insignificant 1.5%.

His other claim, that of the 8 million (soon to be 6.4) 35% are under 35 is also, as one would expect, vastly misleading. What Obamacare needs to be sustainable, as pointed out above and by health insurance economists, is all 32 million younger healthier people who currently do not have health insurance buying in to the insurance pools. If the percentages remain consistant as they have all along, of those 35%, or 2.2 million (still a paltry number considered what's needed) only 25% of those, or about 600,000 will be those who were previously uninsured, leaving 31.4 million of those 32 million needed who are still without insurance.

Every other measure of Obamacare including the cost of healthcare which will keep going up, making it more widely accessible to people who didn't have it,and making it more affordable for everyone  is as an abysmal a failure of public policy compared to what should have been -- the public option --  as one can get. Under the public option option, everyone who didnt have healthcare coverage would now have it. Everyone. And those who had insurance through private insurance companies would have had the option of getting a much better deal through the public option.  If Democrats refuse to recognize this,and do nothing to address it,  there are still 48 million people without health insurance, and millions of others who will see their premiums go up significantly, who will remind them in the fall.