Monday, 10/28/13, Public Square

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34 Comments

by | October 28, 2013 · 6:00 am

34 responses to “Monday, 10/28/13, Public Square

  1. wicked

    Another day, another ton of Right Wing lies.

  2. The graphic today reminds me of the Randy Travis song about “diggin’ up bones.” I do hope they eat each other whether the sauce is hunger or greed or revenge. Saves us the trouble of incinerating them if the vultures just clean up the mess made by their own.

  3. I agree about the right wing lies, Wicked. Although, I agree that Sebelius needs to be fired. What a cluster f*^#@! They had plenty of time to get ready and they blew it. Sounds like a project with no one in charge. She was too busy out selling the program to make sure it had proper oversight. I agree that the program needed to be sold, but SOMEONE, if not governor “leadership” should have been at the helm.

    617, I agree about the procurement rules, which have actually gotten worse, not better, in the 25 years since I lived in that world. It’s now a good ol’ boys club, and most of the contractors in this project came from the Military Industrial Complex, not the world of medical software or government software. They should have gotten Silicon Valley involved at the start. But the MIC piggies were not done at the trough, so competence had to wait.

    Let me repeat, all the political victories and sales jobs in the world will not compensate for a shitty product. And I think healthcare.gov qualifies as a shitty project. The firing should start with Sebelius and go down from there until the folks who SHOULD have been overseeing this are gone and replaced by, ya know, actual competent people.

    Time to eat your peas, Obama, and get rid of YOUR cronies that effed this up. I don’t care what the red face might be. HUGE mistakes were made and they will never be fixed if you can’t admit it.

    jesus wept

    • wicked

      How does the MIC come into play? Granted, I’ve been dealing with life, during much of this fiasco, but I thought this was a Canadian group of techies who botched the Marketplace.

      I felt the PPACA rollout was poor because of the need to play catch-up with the Republican Lie Machine. Once again, the liberals didn’t get into the game until the third inning. Blindsided again. The ACA has had poor advertising. This thing needed to hit the ground running, before the Rs had a chance to open their mouths and spew their misinformation. The Ds tend to be too damn polite, but at least I’ve seen a few during this who have grown a pair.

      As for Sebellius, I don’t know. There must be a fall guy, and I think she could recover from it as well as anyone. That’s not my worry. All this crap is nothing more than a smokescreen devised by the Rs. Instead of wasting time right now on who to point the finger at, let’s get this program fixed and running as it should.

      The Rs have taken a big hit, and they’re fighting as hard as they can to dismantle anything that doesn’t make their filthy rich owners even richer. Will they succeed? If what should happen does happen—the Marketplace website gets cleaned up and fixed without hassle—those signing up will be the ones who decide. I believe there are enough people who lean right who are curious enough to at least take a look. After all, there are non-rich people who vote against their best interests, but they’re still the ones who need help (and often a handout) the most.

      • I agree, wicked! I also think spineless democrats would be well advised to get really united during this time of the republican civil war. I don’t think that’s truly possible — we’re all used to being exactly what Will Rogers said we are. There’s a good piece I linked below about how we (democrats) should settle down and certainly (at least) not assist the lie machines.

      • Wicked and Fnord, I think the best possible sales job for the ACA would have been to roll out a competent if not close to flawless product. THAT would have shut up the wingnuts and united the liberals. Rolling out an effed up mess like healthcare.gov only gives repukes the ammunition they need to sell THEIR side of the story, which is that government can’t administer shit and turning our healthcare over to the gov is asking for disaster.
        \
        Ok, you and I know that’s a steaming pile, but too many voters already believe those wingnut lies, and rolling out a disaster like this only makes them wonder about what else the repukes might be correct. I also understand that healthcare.gov is a website, not the ACA, but a helluva lot of voters don’t understand that, and also, if this is their first taste of a part of the ACA, they will be more likely to have a negative view of the rest of the law. It was IMPERATIVE that the rollout of healthcare.gov go well. Need I say it did not?

        As to where the MIC fits in, well, in the interest of full disclosure, I did government contracting assistance for small businesses for over 3 years. In fact, I headed up a group that did nothing but help businesses win federal contracts. So I know a little about what I’m saying. Since that time (mid to late 80’s) the rules that encouraged and helped small businesses compete for contracts have been gutted. It was a fat hog, and the big guys, mostly defense contractors, were not going to share with anyone, much less small, minority and women-owned businesses. So, they called on their cronies in D.C. to undo the laws that made for a broader base of contractors. They managed to shrink the lists of approved contractors back to pre-equality days.

        Here’s a great link to what 617 and I have been saying about the contractors. They do not exist to do a good job in their areas of expertise. They exist ONLY to win contracts. Completing them on time and on budget? Eh, not so much.

        http://prospect.org/article/healthcaregov-2-contractors-search-more-money

        An excerpt from the linky about how the MIC rules in ALL areas of procurement.

        “Companies like SAIC and CGI don’t get billions of dollars in contracts because they employ the most brilliant and creative programmers in the world. They get those contracts because they’re experts in working the federal contracting system. In fact, the Healthcare.gov contract was awarded to a CGI subsidiary called CGI Federal, so named because its reason for existing is to win federal contracts. If you’re an NPR listener, you’ve probably heard, “This program is made possible by General Dynamics IT.” You may have thought, “A weapons company does IT? That’s weird.” But if there’s anything weapons manufacturers know, it’s how to get a hold of taxpayer money, and there’s big money there. General Dynamics’ IT division took in $10 billion last year, mostly from the government. Lockheed Martin, the largest government contractor ($37 billion in federal contracts in 2012) has an IT unit as well; its 2012 revenue was $8.8 billion. They were the ones who did the second phase of the FBI’s tech revamp and had to be kicked off the project (and guess who’s the lead contractor on the F-35).”

        I mean, WTF, Lockheed had the contract to do the social services software and employment and training IT for the state of Tx. They don’t know anything about the subject matter, they just know how to bid and win. Lockheed had its fingers in the ACA pie here too. And WTF did Haliburton know about food service? Not much, but they had the contract to do it ALL in Iraq during the gulf war. Just because they knew how to rig the bidding process.

        I could go on. And I will in the next post. This is getting too long. 🙂

      • It’s also a myth that government contracts go to the low bidders. They ALWAYS go to the 1. lowest, 2. responsible and 3. responsive bids. The two R words there are key. Responsible means they are big enough and have deep enough pockets to complete the contracts they bid on. That keeps a lot of smaller, more competent businesses at a disadvantage. It also means they have experience. So, if you’ve completed even one gov. contract, you have a competitive advantage over someone who may have been in business a thousand years but never won or completed a contract. In other words, being part of the club is more important than doing a good job when it comes to winning gov. contracts.

        Responsive means you completed the RFP (request for proposal) and bid process exactly to the gov. request. You may be the low bidder but if you made a mistake on the application, “yeeeer out!” In other words, if you know the tricks, the jargon and how procurement officers like to hear things, you win. No matter if you can do the job or someone less experienced at bidding was better and cheaper. Once again, being in the club rules. I know this because I helped businesses prepare the bids. They paid me a lot of money not because I knew shit from apple butter about weapons or logistics but because I knew how to sling the crap on the application.

        So, winning government contracts has way more to do with schmoozing the procurement officers and engineers, being part of the club, knowing the bullshit they want to hear, and being big enough and rich enough to stomp on the little guys. But, not to worry. The big guys can always SUBCONTRACT to the little guys who know what the phuck they are doing. The big guys just skim off the top by being the prime general contractor and let the little guys do the actual work for less than they would have been paid as the prime contractor instead of the sub. Nice work if you can get it.

        it’s a rigged game, and HHS fell right for the rigging. Instead of hiring competent little guys from Silicon Valley and making them the primes, they hired guys like Lockheed (because they were more expeeerienced) and then did not provide oversight to make sure the job was done right. See the link I posted above.

        There were over 50 contractors who worked on healthcare.gov. Most of them were former or current defense contractors.

        Tell me again the MIC had nothing to do with this…. wherever there are federal dollars you will find the MIC and the procurement whores that follow their camps.

        rant/off.

      • Ok, so… besides just piss moaning and sighing about Sebelius, a frequent pass time of mine (ask fnord about our lake) and piss, moaning and sighing about healthcare.gov (which is a disaster no matter how you slice it) I LOVE the ACA. I support it fully. I support the administration in doing it.

        I just think it does not good to cover up the poop in the cat box. We HAVE to know and name who was responsible for this disaster. Otherwise? We can not ensure that the rest of the law will be implemented and run any better. Just because they are dems does not mean they get a pass when they phuck things up.

        Winning the hearts and minds of voters for the ACA is an uphill slog at best. Rolling out shitting products, done by corrupt people and practices, and doing it before they are ready is NOT going to keep the ACA around. Only doing an excellent job will do that. And on that note, Sebelius failed and failed like a big yellow dog. She need to account for those failures. Without that accountability, anything she does with this law will be more suspect than it already is. And I, for one, DESPERATELY want it to succeed. I need it.

        Had Sebelius not been raised with a silver spoon in her mouth, she’d know that women owned businesses (and women run agencies) HAVE to be twice as competent to be though half as good as the good ol’ boys. That’s what was needed with the ACA and healthcare.gov as the first taste of the law.

        Welcome to the real world, Kathleen. Hope you enjoy it.

      • Ok, one more thing….

        Most people don’t know that there is a “buy American” clause in most federal contracts. it can be circumvented if there are not sufficient “American” based contractors which is how Airbus kicks Boeings butt.

        CGI Federal was not only created to win federal contracts, but it was created so CGI, a Canadian company, could claim the contract went to an “American” company. That’s how a Canadian company won the contract. Common practice to set up an American subsidiary owned by a foreign entity. It meets the “buy American” clause.

        For example.. the ONLY American company that still makes American flags was in San Antonio. They are out of business now, so all American flags purchased by the government are foreign made. No big deal, but it shows yet again what a sham the federal contracting process is.

        And if you think the feds are bad? Try winning a STATE contract. Any state. Their procurement processes are even worse than the feds.

      • Gaaaaaaaaa! I should just write a damn book about procurement and how the cows really eat the cabbage. Our tax dollars at work.

      • wicked

        Actually, PP, maybe you should write that book. Why not? Of course few publishers would touch it with a 10-foot pole, but you could indie pub it and not only enlighten others, but make a little money. You already have great writing skills, so that roadblock isn’t in the picture. All it would cost is your time. Shoot, I’d design the cover for it and even format the inside for nothing.

      • wicked

        Well! Now I know how the MIC comes into play. (Note: I didn’t say they didn’t, ’cause what do I know?) (Note 2: Sebellius wasn’t our best governor, but she has the current one beat. I didn’t always agree with the things she did. But then I didn’t always agree with the things Democrat presidents have done,either. I don’t expect to always win, but I sure as hell don’t need to be beat into the ground and left for dead by the Rabid Right.)

        I just wanted to clear all that up, in case you got the wrong opinion of what I said/asked/foolishly expounded on. 😉

      • YES YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK!

        Are getting books published and then sold also dependent on who you know and being in the know about the process instead of necessarily what you’ve written about? I’m guessing there is some rigging to that too. Although wicked has been through the process and would know a million times more than me about that subject. Is selling books that are entertaining and fun different than books that are educational?

        I do thank you for taking our little blog group to school — every time you sit down at your keyboard we become better informed citizens! We citizens hardly stand a chance, do we?

    • Aw shucks, Wicked. Thanks. And I’d take you up on the design. Actually, I’ve forgotten more about procurement than many people know. Maybe there is a market for “procurement for dummies” so the average person can understand how we come to have $7000 coffee pots, and that it isn’t a bad thing. There’s a story behind those pots and how they legitimately cost that much. It wasn’t a boondoggle. But then, you have healthcare.gov, that IS a boondoggle and people don’t get it.

      I actually contacted my consultant friend in Austin just a few minutes ago to talk about this tonight. If not a book, maybe some articles. People need to know and, ahem, as you can see, I have a “passion” for it.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Wicked.

      • wicked

        I buy a lot of self/indie-published books on Amazon, both fiction and non-fiction. Consider this: I get almost half of 10% royalties of list price on print books through a publisher. (We aren’t supposed to reveal the exact %, but I know where you can go to find it.) I was getting the same on electronic editions, until it was changed to a larger percentage of net. We don’t know what net is. We’ve never been told. We get what they give us. We’re guessing it may be less than before. That’s fact, not me whining.

        Publish your own (electronic) book through Amazon and others, and you can see 70% of list price…and you can set the price. Print copies are also doable.

        Which sounds better?

        Yes, do-it-yourself means doing some marketing, but word spreads fast. People who can’t write their way out of a paper bag are making money.

  4. Good morning! I must add to the conversation about my driving that I was actually quite proud when I was able to do six-point turns in five! 🙂

    I was reading in the paper about Amtrak lines… There was this phrase: “…the changing relationship between the federal government and the states…” that got me to thinking. If there is a significant change coming, will that work to divide Americans even further? Will the differences become so stark between red and blue states it will influence where those people who can afford to make a choice decide to live? Will it sound the final death knoll for rural living? States aren’t going to put dollars where it doesn’t impact large numbers of people.

    Maybe I won’t live long enough to see the full impact. What does everyone else think? I know that Libertarian values (which I personally find NO value in) are gaining in popularity. It’s so easy to sell hating government to those whose thinking is shallow and short term. Will this relationship change drastically and what will it impact? What are the positives?

    • wicked

      I don’t think most people realize what true Libertarianism encompasses. Sure, they hear “smaller government” and “States Rights” and a number of other things, but they don’t have a clue what’s behind that nor what the outcome to them, personally, would be. It’s not a catch-all word for non-Dem/Repub. It’s basis is pure capitalism, and we all now how that works out.

    • wicked

      Fnord, I think things have to get bad enough for people to wake up and see reality. How bad does that have to be? A possible near split in the country? Secession? I wouldn’t be surprised. But I’m not sure we’ll be (un)lucky enough to see it. Then again, it would be interesting. Oregon, here I come!

  5. (from the link):

    Politico’s Ben White wants to explain “How Washington Is Killing The Economy.” Reuters’s Andy Sullivan reports, “Washington Becomes The Biggest Risk To The U.S. Economy,” and Reuters’s Jason Lange follows up with “Is Washington Infighting Hurting The Economy?” A Tampa Tribune editorial grumbles, “Washington Shenanigans Killing Economy.” The Motley Fool’s Travis Hoium and MarketWatch’s Anthony Mirhaydari saw it coming, describing “How Washington Could Kill The Economy” and how “Washington Is About To Kill The Economy” on the eve of the government shutdown.

    Nearly all the stories described the (very real) threat that government actions posed to the economy as emanating from some undifferentiated blob called “Washington.” But polls taken during the past month have consistently shown that most Americans understand a dimension to this problem that many in the press dare not say out loud. “Washington” isn’t killing the economy. The Republican party is.

    Don’t blame ‘Washington’ for the economy
    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/dont-blame-washington-the-economy

  6. Great piece! It’s concise and factual, a short read that boils it down.

    The Big Kludge
    By PAUL KRUGMAN

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/28/opinion/krugman-the-big-kludge.html

  7. Let’s stop the madness and put the website in the proper context. The Affordable Care Act is helping millions. Please read.

    Hyperventilating Liberals Scaring Those Most In Need Of Obamacare
    http://egbertowillies.com/2013/10/25/hyperventilating/

    • wicked

      Definitely spot on.

      I did see where the author of the article used the word ‘new’ instead of ‘knew.’ I feel much better now. LOL

    • Fnord, like I said above, I want the ACA to live long and prosper. But we can’t be like the bushies and put our heads in the sand when things go wrong. We can’t protect the incompetents and the wrongdoers because they are part of OUR tribe. We have to call a spade a bloody fucking shovel. We have to admit our mistakes and lay out a plan to do better. If we don’t, the law will die by a thousand cuts. And it won’t be cuts from liberal critics as one of the articles suggested. It will die by its own hand as those thousand cuts will be self inflicted and then pounced upon by the repukes. We HAVE to be better. Because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

  8. And now, for a little good news, Wendy Davis et al were correct.

    http://news.yahoo.com/fed-judge-texas-abortion-limits-unconstitutional-190525066.html

    As for Wendy, now THAT is how Democrats, with a big freakin’ D, should operate!

  9. I hereby add my total agreement with what PP has posted about the government procurement process, AND the need to terminate beginning with Sebelius.

  10. Kansas doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, so that’s why it is not on the list. But this is what governor brownstain is doing. Stomping his widdle feet and giving Kansas’ share of expanded Medicaid money to… wait for it… BLUE STATES! Fnord, this is to your point about the changing relationship between fed and state and how red states will soon be unlivable and blue states will reap the benefits. Gonna be damned hard to do economic development in red states. You might get businesses interested in moving to their ” no business tax” environments, but no humans, (read: employees) will want to move there. And, they will be environmentally dirty with no red state regulation. A perfect storm for an economic disaster, with western Kansas leading the way.

    I picked this up at DU

    The Great Medicaid Transfer From Red States to Blue States
    ACA: self imposed redistribution from poor to rich states

    According to an analysis I have done using Kaiser Family Foundation data—in 2016 alone—the 24 expanding states will receive $30.3 Billion additional federal dollars, while those not expanding will forego an additional $35.0 Billion they could have had.

    ….States that are not expanding Medicaid have historically received more in federal spending per dollar of federal taxes paid by the state ($2.18) as compared to States that are expanding ($1.85)….While the Medicaid program is not the only means through which richer states have cross subsidized poorer ones, it has been a large and consistent source of such flows. By choosing not to expand Medicaid, the poorer, mostly politically “red” states are redistributing money toward the richer, mostly politically “blue” ones.

    ….The bottom line is that if the current State Medicaid expansion decisions persist, the unintended story of the ACA will turn out to be the redistribution of money from poorer States, to richer ones, an outcome imposed by the poorer states, upon themselves. I will write more about what I think this means for the future of health reform over the next few days.

    http://www.samefacts.com/2013/10/affordable-care-act/aca-self-imposed-redistribution-from-poor-to-rich-states/
    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/great-medicaid-transfer-red-states-blue-states