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It was early 1983, I believe, that the private investigative agency I worked for was hired to conduct surveillance at a campground on Panama City Beach. My boss and I were meeting with the gentleman who hired us, giving him an overview of how we would conduct the surveillance that evening. Since it was almost time to take up our respective positions, we stood up to leave the office when the gentleman, and I kid you not, asked, “Aren’t we going to coincide our watches?” I think I must have tilted my head like a puppy hearing a strange noise, but my boss missed not a beat, saying with impeccable diplomacy, “Yes, of course.”
So we all stared at our watches while the owner counted, “five, …four, …three, …two, …one, …Mark!” “It’s a coincidence!” I blurted, while my boss practically pushed me out of the office, explaining that we really needed to be on our way. Outside, he observed that I hadn’t been that discreet since the time I tried to fit in at a lounge we were working by trying to casually light my cigarette and, instead, lit the filter, which flared up in glorious, attention-grabbing flames. “So it’s not a coincidence?” I asked. He just shook his head and we went to work.
To read the day’s news, however, is to see a blurring of the distinction between coincidence on one hand, and cause and effect on the other. For example:
* Obamacare’s requirement that health insurance providers must accept people with pre-existing conditions also forces providers to put high-risk customers, e.g., alcoholics and drug addicts, into the same risk group with healthy customers. Result: Last week, Democratic National Committee Vice Chair-person Donna Brazille took to Twitter to announce, “Just got off the phone with my health care provider asking them to explain why my premium jumped up. No good answer!” Coincidence or an appeal to economic ignorance?
* Not long ago, the Education Department labeled the Head Start program down in Kanawha County, West Virginia as “deficient,” the ramifications of which are that the county must compete for Head Start funding in the future, rather than getting an automatic renewal of the funding. Consequently, county school officials sent transfer notices to some of the teachers who could be effected and stated that approximately half a dozen teachers could lose their jobs due to the Obama administration’s “deficient” assessment. Result: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan faced the nation on CBS last Sunday and declared, of sequestration, that, “It means a lot more children will not get the kinds of services and opportunities they need, and as many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. …There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” Coincidence or bald-faced lie?
* The Environmental Protection Agency has announced it may have to shut down for all of three days as a result of the budget sequester, thereby allowing the nation’s energy producers a short respite from the harassment of federal busybodies. Coincidence or proof of God’s existence?
* Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-CA) warned that sequestration would cost some 170 million American jobs. Result: We learn that there are only 135 million to 143 million jobs to be had in America. Coincidence or a typical appeal to her constituents?
* Announcing that sequestration would have disastrous effects on the nation, the administration preemptively released incarcerated illegal aliens into the United States general population. Coincidence or an act of aggression against citizens who believe in the rule of law?
* Attorney General Eric Holder has gone on record saying that budget cutting mandated by sequestration, “…is something that is going to have an impact on the safety of this country.” Holder warned that the Justice Department will lose nine percent of its budget by September 30, 2013, and that, “There are not going to be as many FBI agents, ATF agents, DEA agents, … They’re going to be furloughed. They’re going to spend time out of their offices, not doing their jobs.” Meanwhile: A GAO report finds that the Justice Department spent $11.4 million on luxury jet travel, unrelated to the Department’s mission, for the Attorney General and the FBI Director. Specifically, “[T]hree individuals who served as Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation accounted for 95 percent (659 out of 697 flights) for all Department of Justice executive non mission flights using DOJ aircraft at a total cost of $11.4 million.” Coincidence or appalling hubris?
* Under the Obama administration, the Veterans Administration Secretary Eric Shinseki promised speedier service for the nation’s veterans. The backlog of VA claims has risen 7 percent in the last year alone. These are claims for health services and related assistance to help these people put their lives back together in the aftermath of their selfless service in our defense. In Boston, veterans wait an average of 333 days, in Chicago they wait 431 days, and the average wait time in Los Angeles is 506 days. Simultaneously: Uniformed personnel are used as unacknowledged stage props while the First Lady announced who won the Oscar. Coincidence or a glimpse into priorities?
* The administration has stated that, “Narrowing the income gap is essential for ensuring social justice and harmony. We need to raise income levels of the poor and adjust taxes on the excessively wealthy.” The reality: That statement was made by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, in accordance with principles of the Communist Party of China and, by inference, with those of Karl Marx. Yet it reads like a Barack Obama speech or the Democratic National Committee’s platform. Coincidence or a common cause?
* Just today, Bloomberg reports that US incomes, in what is now the fifth year of President Obama’s economic policies, have experienced the biggest drop in 20 years. Coincidence or an entirely predictable result?