The State Department and a multilateral coalition has negotiated an agreement with Iran in an effort to stem Iran’s effort to develop a nuclear weapon. The hardliners are against the agreement. The opposition party is against the agreement for no other reason than it represents a success for the Administration. This can mean only one thing: it’s a good agreement and a good first step in normalizing relations with Iran.
Fifty years ago President Kennedy was killed by an assassin. Or more than one if you believe the conspiracy theorists. While there are outstanding questions as to who killed Kennedy and why, a larger question is what would the world have been like had he lived.
During the recent congressional hearings on the healthcare.gov roll-out Republicans grilled HHS on a number of things, but one thing they kept asking was how many people had enrolled. HHS kept saying the numbers would be available in mid-November. Incredulous, Republicans asked why the numbers weren’t available now. To understand what’s behind this kerfuffle, it’s important to understand what the enrollment numbers mean.
First it’s important to understand that the number of the majority of self-insured individuals and families is ephemeral They may be unemployed or employed by a company that doesn’t provide health insurance. The rest are self-employed, early retirees, etc.
For most who shop for big ticket items, and health insurance is a big ticket item, a little comparison shopping is in order before you buy. So it’s not surprising that October numbers are meaningless. And then there’s those of us who tend to procrastinate. The deadline for those who want coverage to start on the first of January December 15th. The deadline for the uninsured is March 15th. Enrollment numbers at those dates are meaningful. The rest are meaningless. So from this, we can only assume that the kerfuffle is purely political. If low early enrollment numbers are reported, then it’s something the ACA opponents will use, even though it’s meaningless. The Administration undoubtedly has figured this out, hence their refusal to release early enrollment numbers.
The shoddy roll-out of the national Obama-care web site has critics howling that this is a harbinger of troubles with the Act to come. There are plenty of problems with the web site. The user interface is not too user friendly. The ability to scale to demand has failed. What goes on when the user information is input has had problems.
But the underlying problem has little to do with the technical glitches of the web site or the law. The real problem is with the GAO procurement process. It limits procurement to a relatively small group of government contractors who may not be experienced in such endeavors. Plus there were over 50 sub-contractors working on the web site. Lots of contractors in lots of Congressional districts made lots and lots of money, but the American people got a failed product at an outrageous price. Had the bid gone out to Amazon.com or Google or Microsoft, etc., companies that have a little experience with large scale web experiences, the web site would have worked splendidly at roll-out.
The classic text on software engineering and project management is The Mythical Man-Month.
By the observations in this essay, the government contractors did everything wrong.
The House Republicans are having a difficult time these days. Thinking they had a plan to de-fund Obamacare by threatening not to pass a continuing resolution. Pretty clever Tea party Ted. Well it hasn’t worked. People are suffering because of the shutdown and rightfully blaming the Republicans.
So they’ve changed the message. Now it’s cutting debt and “entitlement” reform (entitlement is in quotes because we pay into it, so we’re owed it, it’s not free money from the government). They’re trotting out Ayn Ryan disciple Paul Ryan to be the “reasonable” Tea party darling. He’s proposing to raise the debt ceiling until a week before Christmas while they negotiate over Medicare reform. Really clever. They’ll do nothing until the deadline and then make ridiculous demands once again.
And where is Speaker Boehner? Screaming that the President refuses to negotiate over the C.R. or debt ceiling. Speaker Boehner should know that U.S. policy is not to negotiate with hostage takers.
The crisis in Syria came to a head when 1,400 people were killed with chemical weapons. The “Red Line” was crossed. Aside from this horrific tragedy, American pols and talking heads used this as yet an another opportunity to criticize the President. First it was the announcement to strike. Some complained that the effort was not enough, others said it would start WWIII. Then when President Obama returned from the G20 and went on that infamous 45 minute walk with his Chief of Staff and decided to go to Congress, which many in Congress had demanded, they said he was weak and could not make a decision. That he threw Secretary Kerry under the bus after Kerry’s impassioned speech on the Syria strike. Finally when Putin announced an agreement with Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons, the President couldn’t achieve squat and that Putin was the great peacemaker. Even after the President said he preferred a diplomatic solution they said that his bumbling actions caused the world to question his credibility.
Well maybe Obama was playing chess while everyone else was playing checkers. Maybe, just maybe when Obama went to the G20, he told Putin he was serious about a strike and the only way to avoid it was for Putin to tell Assad the the chemical weapons had to go or there would be hell to pay. Maybe Putin got the message. Maybe Obama gave Kerry a call and told him to keep the pressure on for a strike in a speech. And maybe when he went on his walk with his Chief of Staff he told him they needed a stalling tactic until Putin can convince Assad to get rid of the chemical weapons.
And now Assad has agreed. It appears that President Obama feels the same way as President Truman when he said: ”It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
The President’s critics say he is a bumbling incompetent who lacks credibility. What the critics don’t realize is that using any petty excuse to criticize the President, especially when he is successful, makes them look like petty, bumbling incompetents who lack any shred of credibility.