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View Diary: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Obamacare successes; misunderstanding Senate power grabs (131 comments)

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  •  Now Fire Sebelius and Holder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, Buzzer

    Over the past few weeks we've heard in these DKos pages that if Obama fired Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Senate Republicans would never let us get a worthwhile replacement confirmed. So firing her was a non-starter.

    Well, the filibuster is gone, and so is that excuse. She should be fired. She failed to ensure the ACA website worked adequately when rolled out, or to even have any idea once failed what to do or when it would be done (we still don't know that). That has put the entire ACA at risk more than it ever was, a colossal jeopardy considering the odds pushed against the programme since Democrats made it their central legislative priority of Obama's two terms. She has jeopardized Democratic control of the Senate, regaining the House, and even keeping the White House in 2016 - reversing the political gains that were the only silver lining of the shutdown. And the delay and frustration of all the millions of Americans trying to get insurance they need is even worse.

    But now she can be replaced. A Democratic majority (that is entirely possible to diminish or even be lost in a year) can give Obama someone who can finish the ACA and other jobs. Replacing her would regain necessary political credibility. And really, the only excuse for her staying is now eliminated.

    Perhaps the reason Reid nuked the filibuster is because Sebelius has to go to save his own job. That is precisely the way it should work. She must go.

    And take Holder with her, for all those reasons and more.

    In fact, every one of Obama's nominees for the past 4 years should be up for firing. They were all confirmed by a hostile and incompetent filibustering opposition. Now that we can do better, we should. In fact, we must. Who knows whether Republicans, even more Teabaggy, will have the filibuster-proof majority in a year, and possibly that and the White House in only three years. There's little time left for whoever's in Obama's Cabinet. Let's make it count.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:35:59 AM PST

    •  Write up a diary. nt (0+ / 0-)

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:38:49 AM PST

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    •  not wrong but from a practical (8+ / 0-)

      POV, not right. That's because effective (although ultimately futile) delaying tactics still exist and there are still nearly 200 appointees in the queue with not too many session days. For example, (and ask Kagro, not me) each nominee can have 8 hours of discussion (remember McConnell making that point the day of the vote?) so each nominee takes a full day if the GOP wants it to.

      WH isn't going to spend precious time on something he's reluctant to do. He wants the judges and the empty seats filled first.

      PS Sebelius has one skill O wants: she knows the insurance companies form her Gov days and wants her to deal with them.

      "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:42:03 AM PST

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      •  and when you write up the diary (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies, Stude Dude

        address that.  ;-)

        Just saying.

        "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" — Upton Sinclair

        by Greg Dworkin on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:43:49 AM PST

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      •  Two Months (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stude Dude

        The Democrats now actually control the Senate. And thereby the schedule on the floor. If each nominee gets 8 hours of blather, that can be dispatched in two months if held round the clock. Four months if split with other Senate business. The mere threat of that scheduling, especially by forcing Republicans to blather mini filibusters through the night (and round the clock), would shut it down.

        Sebelius will earn many $millions in her private consulting career. She should start it right away.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 06:03:02 AM PST

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        •  Of course, first No Business for the next two (0+ / 0-)

          weeks.  They are all tuckered out and need some rest time. Then comes the contentious military spending bill with dozens of proposed amendments to deal with and next thing you know it is the Christmas break. Other than the other two DC Circuit Court Judges and Mel Watts at Federal Housing Finance Agency I will be pleasantly surprised if we see any other nominations voted on before February.

      •  Senate approval of Obama’s 51 judicial (7+ / 0-)

        nominations that are pending has to be first priority. Then get the President to nominate 42 more solid, progressive (or at least moderate) judges -- so that all 93 judicial vacancies are filled.

        For now, the Judiciary should be at the top of the agenda!

        “The meaning of life is to find it.”

        by ArcticStones on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 06:08:05 AM PST

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      •  I could be wrong (0+ / 0-)

        But can't they still demand 30 hours of post-cloture debate?

        AFAIK, only the number of votes needed for cloture was changed, not the other rules around it.

        The Empire never ended.

        by thejeff on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:42:41 AM PST

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    •  Calling for Cabinet level resignations every time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ruellia

      a system roll out fails would pretty much mean constant churn and is riciculous. I have my own "issues" with several current and previous Obama administration chiefs, but the ACA "website" issue is not one.

      That problem is very common and many are far, far worse than this one. We probably would not have a Cabinet member in place if your suggestion were implemented. Billions have been spent over the last 45 years in systems that completely crashed and were just abandoned. FBI, IRS, DoD and almost all the rest have had spectacular failures. The problem lies with both Congress and those senior levels in the Executive not understanding the problem and not finding and supporting people that can mitigate the problem in place throughout government.

      This story, "HealthCare.gov contractor had high confidence but low success" has and is, somewhere else this week or month, playing out in some other agency or department. My comment yesterday has some links that might be useful to anyone actually interested in the problem—and we all should be because significant  funds are expended and considerable pain is experienced as a result.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:37:53 AM PST

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      •  Not Just Any Failure (0+ / 0-)

        The ACA rollout failure wasn't just any old system rollout failure. You're not really saying "if any system failure means firing the Cabinet member then that much churn means no system failure means firing the Cabinet member". Really you're saying "if even the worst system failure means not firing the Cabinet member, then no system failure means firing the Cabinet member".

        In fact yours is a justification for never firing any Cabinet member for failure, no matter how bad. The NSA problems aren't rollout failures, they're policy failures and criminal (including repeatedly lying to Congressional oversight, violating the 4th Amendment). That indeed are grounds for impeachment (just as they were for Nixon - which is one of the reasons I'm so angry at what Obama has done to the country by presiding over it). Holder, who I also mentioned should be fired now, isn't guilty of a system rollout either.

        Sebelius did a terrible job on this defining programme. We were (plausibly) told she couldn't be fired because the filibuster meant she couldn't be replaced with better. That excuse is gone. The others don't even have the merit of being practically true, let alone any management validity. She should be gone as soon as possible.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 08:26:50 AM PST

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        •  System failures abound in government and even (0+ / 0-)

          private sectors. Further this has zilch to do with NSA. Where you got that from I haven't a clue (we don't know much about NSA system failures).

          Obviously you don't know much about the history of just the government failures that are highly public—private sector ones are often hushed—and involve almost every agency. Literally billions have gone into systems that were essentially scrap. ACA's system problems just have more to do with the public, are high profile at the moment and thus that is getting the attention. Your "solution" would just leave a string of high level "firings" or "resignations" while not fixing a complex problem few understand—and many spout off about (particularly in Congress).

          Just a few I have at immediate hand on my system:

          New York Times, January 14, 2005:

          WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is on the verge of scrapping a $170 million computer overhaul that is considered critical to the campaign against terrorism but has been riddled with technical and planning problems, F.B.I. officials said on Thursday.
          More on that at this Washington Post article.

          New York Times, December 8, 2012:

          For the United States Air Force, installing a new software system has certainly proved to be a wicked problem. Last month, it canceled a six-year-old modernization effort that had eaten up more than $1 billion. When the Air Force realized that it would cost another $1 billion just to achieve one-quarter of the capabilities originally planned — and that even then the system would not be fully ready before 2020 — it decided to decamp.
          And that was integrating commercial software:
          Installing COTS to run an enterprise is not a straightforward matter. The Air Force would have to make myriad adjustments to accommodate its individual needs, and in a military setting that would mean meetings and more meetings, unlike anything ever experienced in a Silicon Valley company. Still, it is hard to understand how the Defense Department blew a billion dollars before the plug was pulled.
          C/NET April 12, 2007:
          The Internal Revenue Service has been trying for years to upgrade its antiquated mainframe computers, which process Americans' tax returns by churning through millions of lines of assembly code written by hand in the early 1960s.

          But after more than 20 years and over $5 billion, there's still no end in sight. Not all computer systems can talk to each other, information isn't available in real time, and tax returns filed on paper are often manually entered by typists.

          I could put up dozens more, each for a different department or agency, but this should give a clue.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 10:06:48 AM PST

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          •  Biggest Failure (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't say there weren't other failures. Indeed I just agreed there have been. There will be.

            The ACA rollout is a half $billion failure, bigger than those. But it's not the dollar value that makes it so big. It's the failure to implement the biggest legislative accomplishment of the administration - while it's still the hottest target for attack by the opposition. Which makes it the biggest failure policywise as well as politically.

            I mentioned the NSA because that is another example of failure (even if by design) that demands firing the people at the top.

            You keep arguing about lesser failures. Tell me: what kind of failure justifies firing the Cabinet member who's responsible? So far you're saying none do.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 02:15:20 PM PST

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            •  Just a sample. You must have missed the little bit (0+ / 0-)

              in the USAF one "$1 billion" eaten up.

              Cabinet members don't "do IT" developments. That is done by career staff. Where the top political appointees should focus is on that staff's expertise—and by the time you are into development, after contracts are let, it is too damn late. A likely problem with the ACA thing is the very fact the development was withing HHS. That organization is not among the top rank in complex IT developments. Unfortunately the system in place pretty much requires developments take place in the administratively responsible department even if it is not something the organization does frequently or well.

              Not going to "argue" any more, but the idea of firing Cabinet members over any particular IT fiasco, and some have run to billions that were never fixed, is nonsense. The reality is that it is an across the government problem and needs fixing by Congress and the Executive, possibly by establishing an independent, fully professional IT development organization such agencies are required to use.

              The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

              by pelagicray on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 04:48:27 PM PST

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