Sunday, October 27, 2013

Where is the trans-formative presidency?

It is one of the most common sights to observe in a Valley Company needing to get its act together - new incoming managers would promise to "kick out" outdated Waterfall model of Software Development and would promise to bring in the "agile SCRUM based Spiral Model of Software Development". That was the implicit expectation in Obama Presidency - at least among legions of his "techie supporters" when he raised millions upon millions campaign dollars from them.

"We would have done this for a fraction of the price."


There is no better person than Benioff to appraise and comment on this whole miserable show of Healthcare.gov. Salesforce.com is one of the world's most prominent and ultra-competitive websites pulling off all sorts of "complex workflows" what Healthcare.gov needed to pull off. So he is right on that Obama's Washington failed to take advantage of capabilities, skills and technologies of people like Marc and their Valley Organizations. (It is irrelevant how techie savvy Obama Campaign was....)

The scale of incompetence and sense of missed opportunity is hard to miss here. Commentators are right to point out that the whole reason of Obama Presidency - the government can be a good force to change people's lives  - is thoroughly and completely undermined by President Obama's failure to understand the 'gravity' of the situation. When whole of America is flocking to movies like "Gravity"; change in American People is palpable; it is Obama Administration which has failed to deliver on these hopes of people who have supported him to the hilt through thick and thin.

"Obamacare isn't a political abstraction any longer. Its success doesn't depend on spin or solidarity. What matters for the law -- and for the people who are depending on it -- is how well it actually works. So far, it's not working well at all. If and when that changes, our coverage of the health-care law will change, too."


Do we say then betrayal of Progressive Cause by Obama Presidency? It is hard to escape that conclusion when one of most ardent original ObamaCare supporters like Ezra laments this way. 

May be Obama Administration would be unable to use Agile Software Development process at such a late stage of the project. They may very well be stuck with Waterfall Model for this project. But if and when they complete that (else Obama Presidency with be tatters no doubt); what President Obama needs to do is bring America's Federal Procurement process into the 21st century. It is no brainer that tomorrow's Public Infrastructure will be more and more about Information Infrastructure in Digital and Cloud Computing World. The procurement and execution processes which are devised for Military Industry Complex Era and Public Works Administration of FDR Era are no good. This is all mostly "executive reform" arena where President Obama can make substantial improvements without much tangling with Congress. 

Way back in History pages, those emperors and rulers were eulogized who brought in substantive "administrative reforms". Here is an opportunity for Obama Administration to do similar to drag Federal bureaucratic behemoth to  contemporary times - where failures are acceptable, execution is agile and processes are rescued from the corrosive and detrimental influences of legislation and zero-sum politics. 

President Obama failed to grasp importance of such an administrative competence in first five years of his presidency. It was all about legislative agenda and fiscal grand bargains, unfortunately where he came out empty handed. (History does not care though how hard Obama Administration tried for those goals; results matter.) But if he is focused, he can still achieve some redemption for himself in the remaining three years. Otherwise, Healthcare.gov will prove to be his Katrina moment and along with his Presidency he will bring down the whole Progressive Edifice of "Government for People". Regardless of electoral fortunes of Tea Party, that will be the ultimate victory for Nihilists of this country and President Obama will be singularly responsible for that, he will be remembered as the fateful bookend to what FDR started - how to bring Government to help in people's lives. 

Tea Party wants to drive our capable and passionate public employees from Federal Government. They do want to bring chaos to render spectacular failures of government so that it can exploit political advantage. Job for the Progressive Leader is to 'see through' this game plan and understand the importance of getting ObamaCare right. So far President Obama is late and in the danger of failing miserably. With his legislative agenda in tatters due to obdurate GOP, American People wanting him to go 'completely fetal' when it comes to foreign involvements, his own Intelligence Apparatus destroying foundations of truly Open Global Internet (and there by singularly undermining America's unique advantage in computing); holding on to Administration Competence is the last straw for Obama Administration. He better hold that and deliver something to American People.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It can be done

I know, Obama Administration has never been well-known about 'execution'. We all know Obama Campaign has been all about 'big data' and 'execution'; but never Obama Administration; that is the difference. So all this commotion about 'healthcare.gov' is very much anticipated and no surprise.

If only this President was 'really' focused on the execution like 'laser like precision'.

But then I had expected Nancy Pelosi's resignation from the leadership position when Dem's lost 60+ seats in 2010 election. So Obama male Supporter's like me will have to reconcile to the fact that HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius will continue even if she failed singularly to deliver the most important administrative piece of Obama Administration. Unfortunately, that is what 'gender equality' means in Obama Times. I like Sec. Sebelius and I respect her for all her service to Obama Administration. But that has nothing to do with 'political accountability'. (Come on folks, President Bush had to kick out Donald Rumsfeld after Nancy becoming Speaker in 2006; even he - who Progressives vile most - had the proper sense of political accountability; then why is Obama MIA here? I know kicking out Sebelius in the midst of fire fighting would not achieve anything; but President must hold folks responsible. Else all his 'anger' is useless and no point in blaming 'bloggers' for the same.) I am in all for 'female governance' and love to see ladies bringing some 'sanity' to the town of Washington. But alas, there is no magic wand...just because there are ladies in charge does not mean fundamental results would follow automatically. Just ask Yahoo Board of Directors....

However, President Obama does not need to be so desperate. He needs to be lot more forthright. Because the good news is, all these are 'fixable problems'. Believe me, believe legions of programmers and software professionals. Given time, discipline and complete focus on details - anyone can master a software. I have some experience in that....What is needed is President Obama to bring in right folks, empower them and in the end this all be fixed. Just that it is a race against time in Politics.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In Times of Obama Presidency

No, it is not necessary you agree with the powerful 'writing' of a world class thinker Andrew Sullivan. The claim to read "Tea Party Activism as another 'avatar' of religious rebellion" - that can be taken neither lightly nor discoursed in one single blog post. But still, there is no other way than to get impressed by the power of thinking and writing of one Andrew here when he says:

"My rule of thumb is pretty simple: whenever you hear a quote about Obamacare, it’s more illuminating to remove the “care” part....

They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now. That balancing it now would tip the whole world into a second depression sounds like elite cant to them.....

This is a religion – but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion. And such a form of religion is the antithesis of the mainline Protestantism that once dominated the Republican party as well, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party.
It also brooks no distinction between religion and politics, seeing them as fused in the same cultural and religious battle."


Andrew Sullivan is partial to President Barack Obama is no secret. Sorry, it may sound 'party popping' statement on the day when President is riding high, all for right causes; but we cannot forget - no matter obduracy of your political opponent and their intransigence; job of a White House occupant is always pull 'together we all Americans'. That is what Abe did even after killing of thousands of American brothers and sisters during Civil War and that is how the founder George Washington showed the road for this great country. 

In not realizing earlier inability of Speaker John Boehner to carry his wright with his caucus, or how GOP has gerrymandered their Congressional districts to produce a crop of total 'hacks', or not to realize earlier the value of carrying his Democratic caucus so united in the service of larger purpose, or not undertaking much of more schmoozing with individual Congress Member; Barack Obama indeed came short there.

But may be, just may be; when he proves that he indeed 'does not need any transplant of any vital male organs', when he keeps on repeating rightly that no one has 'won' when Americans have indeed paid the avoidable price, when he judiciously makes the call to be firm and unyielding but at the same time open for negotiations in what is good for Americans; we might be seeing a new and wiser President. 

For every contemporary Democratic President, it is a 'rite of passage' that they withstand the severe attempt of 'de-legitimization' by shutting down the government. That is when Bill Clinton soared in his presidency to seed his second term victory. Barack Obama, being the first Black President, faced even harsher challenge of 'default'. But now that he has averted it in the second attempt (in the first attempt he had to cave), it should put in some serious foundation for remaining years in the office; regardless of whether those years are of far consequential or little consequential

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Not So Easy

Last week it was given that Senate would broker the deal. Today was supposed to be the culmination point, but Speaker Boehner thought to play again his 'hand' and it came a cropper.

Unless Speaker comes to terms that he is as good as 'zero power leader / speaker' with these shenanigans, unless he is ready to relinquish his position to anyone who wants to don this mantle of thrones - and he says so publicly; there is no governance possible. Path to Leadership goes through relinquishing the formal power. Unless people see your fearlessness, unless they have evaluated that you are not doing all this 'power for the sake of power'; he would not be in the position to 'govern USA'.

Speaker Boehner must answer the question what job of Speaker-ship is important to him - to carry the will of majority of majority or to serve this country by siding with silent 'true majority of America' who do not want this nihilism and governance by crisis after crisis. Until he resolves this tension - neither he will be able to serve this country nor even fulfill expectations of suicidal 'majority of majority' GOP of today.

Unless Speaker Boehner states flatly that he will pass 'right legislation' (in this case Harry Reid - McConnell deal as brokered in Senate) as many times as needed on the back of Democrats whenever he thinks that is what this 'nation needs', America is unlikely to come out of this governance by crisis.

What worse is going to happen? Eric Cantor replacing John Boehner? How all that is going to solve America's immediate legislative challenges? None. What needs to happen - and Boehner and his friends can help here - is to display 'futility of changing the GOP leader'. Only after that any eventual GOP House Leader is going to have a spine to face the 'craziness going on'. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Squeezing Through

Pretend you are 'negotiating' while actually you are conceding to the President, keep your 'hard public posture' while quietly coming to the table to start negotiations; that all seems to be a way out of this quagmire American political system finds itself.

Considering the 11th hour of our Default, this is one choice to avoid our total destruction. After all as Jennifer Rubin said for a while - domestic politics is not WAR where you completely annihilate the Opposition. It is the same Opposition you have to deal next day. President Obama should be calculating, if only he buys some peace on Domestic front and let resilient American Economy grow by saving it from suicidal politics of Tea Party; he will have the whole globe to make the difference in his second term - trade deals with Pacific Nations and Europe, Iran problem and Arab-Israeli Conflict while prosperity coming to America in old fashioned way (politicians not meddling in between). You name a pressing global problem and President Obama with his lieutenant Kerry have an ample opportunity to pursue diplomacy while continuing the hard edged war on Terrorism.

So as most observers have claimed, we are in for :
- 4 to 6 weeks deal to raise Debt Ceiling,
- that time will be utilized to negotiate a budget mini-deal, as Rep. Ryan calls it, 
- to pass a budget and fund the government to finally open.

Survival is the current extinct. Who benefits, what happens to personalities and what future holds to which political party; there will be time and place to have that 'time pass' conversation. Going away from the compulsive obsessive syndrome of hating ObamaCare at any cost, that may be the immediate side effect of all this. May be not that bad after all, notwithstanding still some 'grand standing' by few Republicans. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Destruction of USA in Sight

Reading Maureen Dowd's column in NYT, I understood how destruction of USA would look like; but felt it was all hyperbola. But when I read Speaker John Boehner saying this:

"We're not going to pass a clean debt limit increase"

it is clear that Default will happen. With Ted Cruz saying "they are winning" and Boehner saying he joined Tea Party to fight united; GOP game plan is clear now. On Gov Shutdown, they will keep passing 'piecemeal' bills funding most of the government except ObamaCare. For Debt Ceiling, again they will start going after 'prioritization technique' i.e. ordering of which items to be paid first as revenue comes in. Again they will 'de-fund' ObamaCare and then start telling to the public that they have done their work for both Debt Ceiling and Budget. That is the route Tea Party wanted to take when it claimed they wanted to 'change the Washington' - slice and dice expenses and re-order how tax collected money is paid. It will be a remarkable revolution to pull off with so little actual political representation in Washington. In the process they would have achieved their other twin goals too - destroy ObamaCare and make Obama Presidency illegitimate. It will be a political loss of colossal proportion for Democrats - despite having White House, Senate majority and more combined actual votes than Republicans for Democratic candidates in House; they would have allowed essentially complete subversion of American Political System. That is not what America was designed for (even through there are some erudite arguments otherwise; those are wrong).

The argument President Obama would have is Republicans are trying to 'negotiate and manage fiscal issues' outside of the established 'budget process' and by thuggery - by not allowing Clean CR bills in House when there are clear votes and filibustering bills in Senate while Democratic majority rendered useless.

Destruction of America, destruction of Republicans as a Political Party - those are all irrelevant to House GOP members. November 2014 election is far away for these folks when clear victory seems possible to them 'now'. Stock Market Crash, world Economy tremors; all those are irrelevant to these folks.

President and Democrats would really have to decide whether they are going to succumb to this outright defeat of representational democracy and be the principle failed political force to allow 'thuggery to rule this land'. They are united today, but that unity can wilt down under the impeding pressure. What they need to tell to American People clearly is that - 

they have already put forward 'budget' which has ways to manage our finances and they are perfectly open for any normal negotiations under that process. With 'Gun to the Head'; that is not the process they want to get involved into because the destruction what GOP is threatening is of 'common wealth and common property' called United States of America. Republicans are equally accountable to that Property and American People as much as Democrats. No one is more patriotic than the other nor no one has any less responsibility

Seems like President and Democrats need to communicate this very clearly and incessantly; otherwise cacophony of marauders will overwhelm and the path of destruction will open.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Appraisal - Healthcare.gov

I share Paul Smith's assessment in an extremely lucid and solid piece of appraisal of Healthcare.gov Web site and back end implementation for the same. The key points are - though eventually all kinks will be worked out, if there are architectural shortcomings; we may be living with those for a long time to come. Also, October 1st was a known date in advance and possible high traffic. So not being able to 'handle that' reflects poorly on those Software Engineers who executed this website.

I say this confidently because 'designing and implementing a-synchronous software systems' is what I do for living and we have been fairly capable at that.

So it is alright for President Obama to urge some patience in these regards; but 'administrative execution' has never been a strong point of his Administration. His political troubles will be lot less if he and his Administration pull up their socks in these regards and execute 'flawlessly' where the beast is known.

Update - One area of transparency Obama Administration can undertake is to publish architecture of Healthcare.gov and essentially 'crowd source' it; barring security details. (Google shares specifications of their system without compromising security.) I would go a step further and say that we must achieve security even when core architectural pieces are known - that is the 'transparency' Obama Administration should strive for. Because what needs to be secure is 'data and personal information' of folks and not how encrypted information moves from one module to other.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Let us mess with Texas

I want Wendy to run a humble but honest and competent campaign to do few things:
- of course propose to solve problems of Texas folks in most pragmatic and believable ways, that is the number one priority;
- never get caught up with 'one issue candidacy' as she tries to put forward a consistent policy setup; and
- keep underlying the 'out size' influence of that Lone Star State.

This Union is never going to be a prosperous, stable and peaceful nation unless all Americans make up to live with Texas more or less as it is. In some sense, Texas is indispensable to America and that is the 'proud' campaign I want Wendy to run without neglecting things which Texas needs to improve (she needs to talk to Gail Collins of New York Times for that)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sane Vatican?

With this new Pope Francis, there is something serious going on...

“very little was done in that direction [second Vatican]. I have the humility and the ambition to want to do something,” 


Now this is something. Following destruction of Europe in WWII, Roman Catholic Church held the second Vatican in order to come to terms with contemporary world. That reform attempt was killed in between by last two conservative popes of Catholicism - Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. This pope is showing every sign of reforming the Church, taking it to its root of 'serving poor' and bringing it to contemporary world.

Looking at today's GOP, one would feel all Conservative forces in Western World are retrograde. Not so fast...those who wish to help weaker parts of a society; they would do so even in most conservative setups too like this pope and unlike GOP which is all there to make life of poor harder.