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PostRepublicans Triumph in US Mid-Term Elections, Take Control of Senate (Randy Black, USA, 11/06/14 1:27 am)
352 is the number. It's the number of laws passed by the US House of Representatives, 98 percent with the cooperation of both political parties, that rest on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), but which he would not urge his colleagues to bring up out of committee and up for a vote in the Senate. That's as of August 19, 2014.
I'll wager that few in WAIS knew this fact. (RB: Since August, the number is actually now up to about 380.)
The irony? President Obama, the Democratic leadership and the media for the most part recited the popular mantra for the past year that the Republicans were responsible for the gridlock in Congress.
From Congressman Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas):
"The president is fond of referring to the House as the ‘do-nothing Congress.' But we have 352 reasons why it's a ‘do-Nothing Senate.' Three-hundred-fifty-two are sitting on Harry Reid's desk, awaiting action. Ninety-eight percent of them passed with bipartisan support--Republicans and Democrats working together to pass legislation. Fifty percent of the bills passed unanimously, with no opposition. Seventy percent of the bills passed with two-thirds support in the House. And over 55 bills were introduced by Democrats. Three-hundred-fifty-two bills. Why won't Harry Reid act? These are good bills; bills that put the American people back to work, put more money in hardworking Americans pockets, help with education and skills training. We call upon Harry Reid to get to work before he adjourns in August to pass some of these bills. The American people deserve better."
Is it any wonder that Senate Democrats suffered their most serious setback in 65 years? The record demonstrates that the majority of our nation's voters recognized that it was the President and his Senate Democrats who were impeding action in the Senate? Voters corrected this matter Tuesday in a landslide victory for the Republicans in the Senate and the House.
As Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) said yesterday, "This was a real ass-whuppin."
In a brief interview with The Washington Post, he unloaded on his party's leader, saying he's deeply frustrated with President Obama and Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for his stewardship of the Senate in recent years. He openly suggested he might not support Reid to serve as Democratic leader again next year.
"Harry, let us vote, let's do something. It's easier for me to go home and explain what I voted for and against than to explain why I don't vote at all," Manchin said.
One example of the Democrat's "season of denial" might be best illustrated by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer's quote to CNN's Deirdre Walsh three days ago:
"Point[ing] to a fundraising advantage for Democrats, lower poll numbers for congressional Republicans, divisions inside the GOP ranks, and a good recruiting class of Democratic challengers, [Hoyer] said ‘all of those combined in my view give me great optimism that we're going to win back the House.'"
Pardon me, but it's time to go have some gloat for dinner. Reality: On a rainy day when it did not rise above 57 degrees in Dallas, Olga is cooking Pel'meni and Blini with Smetana. Yummy!
JE comments: An ass-whuppin indeed. The GOP victories in the Senate certainly were a referendum on Obama, but the seats up for grabs were also overwhelmingly in red states. Add to this the historic tendency for the opposition party to win during the mid-term, and you have a predictable result. The presumptive new majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was the gracious winner yesterday, promising to work with the president on bi-partisan issues.
Will the next two years see a new harmony on Capitol Hill? Don't hold your breath.
Laws and Bills
(David Duggan, USA
11/06/14 2:20 PM)
In response to Randy Black (5 November), I think they are "bills" when passed by only one House of Congress. See Const. Art I, sec. 7.
Bills become "laws" only when passed by both Houses and then signed by the President, or if he vetoes it, then passed by a two-thirds majority.
JE comments: Absolutely; send us back to Civics 101! Or there's this great lil' ditty, of 1975 vintage. Quoth Bill: "I know I'll be a Law someday!"
- Red States, Blue States and the 2014 Mid-Term Elections (Randy Black, USA 11/07/14 1:22 AM)
When I put together my post on the "do-nothing" Democratic leaders in the US Senate, I expected John Eipper to question my summation from his own political position.
I was surprised when John blithely brushed off the outcome of the November 4th state and national elections as predictable and normal for a mid-term election. The tsunami of dissatisfaction with the Obama agenda by voters across the political spectrum, and across the Red and Blue states, is not to be taken so lightly.
To win to the extent that the Republicans did on Tuesday took a pick-up of millions of voters from the traditional Democratic Party base. That base includes young voters, Blacks, Hispanics, single women, voters on state-sponsored welfare programs and labor unions. The Republicans did exactly that.
They also needed President Obama to claim that he was not on the ballot. He did not disappoint, as he claimed in an October speech at Northwestern U, that while his name was not on the ballot, his agenda was. It was just what we needed. He reminded voters that the billion dollar Obamacare website debacle was his responsibility. We also needed to hear from his lips that our troops were sent to North Africa two months ago to try to control the Ebola crisis with no protective tools. As a result, our troops are now quarantined in Italy, as our colleague Eugenio Battaglia has reminded us.
Last Tuesday, the Republicans accomplished something they had not done as well as the Democrats had for years: they got out the vote.
Ironically, the Democratic Party leadership, the president, the vice president, Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, Sharpton and a host of impressively pedigreed Democrats predicted a landslide for the Democrats.
Regarding John's assertion that it was mostly the Red States that enjoyed the successes of last Tuesday, one news outlet wrote: Of the four targeted purple-state Senate races, Republicans picked up three, and in a fifth, they came within a hair of ousting Sen. Mark Warner. In Colorado, GOP Senator-elect Cory Gardner comfortably defeated Sen. Mark Udall, in part thanks to besting the GOP's traditional performance among Hispanic voters in the state.
In Iowa (Blue), Republican Joni Ernst comfortably defeated Democrat Bruce Braley, winning by a 7-point margin in a state that Obama carried twice.
Rep. Dan Maffei, representing a Syracuse-based district (Blue) that gave President Obama 57 percent of the vote, lost by 18 points to GOP lawyer John Katko. They elected two African-American Republicans, including one in a solidly Democratic south Texas district.
The governorships provided the biggest surprises of the night, with Republicans nearly running the table, mostly in Democratic/Blue states. The biggest shocker of the night came when Republican Larry Hogan picked up the Maryland governorship.
RB: In each election that asked for and received an appearance from Hillary Clinton, that candidate lost.
To sum up, President Obama is incompetent. He shares guilt with the stumbling foreign policy debacles in the State Department and the criminal actions of the IRS.
His newest IRS appointee yesterday admitted that the thousands of IRS call center employees will only answer about 53% of the phone calls from voters in the approaching tax season. They can employ thousands of armed agents to track down violators of the new Obamacare tax, but are unable to answer the phone calls from taxpayers. He said he would secure our borders six years ago but then ordered the US Border Patrol to "stand down" and release those found sneaking across our borders.
Lawrence J. Peter wrote that "Managers rise to their level of incompetence" in his groundbreaking The Peter Principle. I'm of the mind that the quote might be applied to our current president.
Ask a student if they are able to choke down one of Michelle Obama's "healthy" school lunches. Especially ask a Navy SEAL, many of whom died after Obama "outted" them during his TV appearance when he took credit for their murder of bin Laden.
Ask a physician in private practice. Ask the relatives of our ambassador to Libya about the cover-up when the military was ordered to stand down before it could launch a rescue attempt.
Ask anyone who suffered from the 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood that resulted in the 13 murders and 32 additional victims and the President's minions labeling of that attack "workplace violence." The murderer plead guilty to his crimes with "I did it to prevent attacks on Muslim insurgents overseas."
Ask the family of the murdered US Border Patrol agent in Arizona who died at the hand of a drug cartel using one of the thousands of guns sold during the failed Justice Department's "Fast and Furious" campaign.
God help us if the Republicans cannot field a better candidate than Barack Obama in two years.
JE comments: More than a postmortem on last Tuesday, Randy Black has fired the opening salvo of the 2016 presidential contest. We can expect the longest of the long shots to throw in their hats by year's end. Let's hold a WAIS contest: who's going to declare first? The winner gets a bag of WAIS trinkets and bragging rights for two years.
But seriously, Randy: are you saying that before 2008, it was possible to get a call through to the IRS and school lunches were universally yummy? Or far more seriously, that the Fort Hood attack was Obama's fault?
The last time I tried to call the IRS was probably during the Clinton years, and I don't recall ever getting through to a human.
I'll stop here; don't want to sound too blithe.
Red States, Blue States and the 2014 Mid-Term Elections
(Paul Levine, Denmark
11/07/14 7:36 AM)
I won't dispute the midterm election results with Randy Black (7 November). The Democrats deserved to lose, though the big loser may
be the nation if Republicans prove to be as incompetent as the Democrats. Looking at their leadership and the recurrent
power of the Tea Party faction, we are not hopeful. But I wonder about Randy's conclusion: "To sum up, President Obama is incompetent. He shares guilt with the stumbling foreign policy debacles in the State Department and the criminal actions of the IRS."
If Obama is incompetent and his administration criminal, what does that make his predecessor, George W. Bush, and his cohorts who presided with Texan bravado over a botched war in Iraq and a ruined economy at home? Bush may be living proof that the idea of Intelligent Design is a flawed concept.
JE comments: Yes, the opening salvos of the next presidential election are upon us. I wrote Paul Levine off-Forum that I'd like to remove the "Intelligent Design" quip, but Paul pointed out to me that Randy Black this morning called Obama criminal and incompetent. Paul makes a good point.
Next up: Eugenio Battaglia and Tor Guimaraes. As we march towards 2016, I hope that analysis will prevail over vitriol. You'll probably hear me saying that a lot.
- US Elections 2016 (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 11/07/14 7:51 AM)
Re: Randy Black's post of 7 November.
Looking at the heart of the Empire from the outskirts in Savona, the first impression on the future presidential contest is damn scary. The Republicans, but also Hillary Netanyahu, do not promise anything good.
JE comments: Bill Clinton, as well as Sara Ben-Artzi Netanyahu (just checked, and she's the third Mrs. N) might have a thing to say about this. What really fascinates me in this remark from Eugenio Battaglia is the perception that Hillary is so "intimate" with Israel. Hillary sentiment in the US, both pro and contra, tends to focus on other issues.
So--should we begin discussing the likelihood of Hillary '16, or give it another six months of rest?
US Elections 2016; Catalonia Referendum 9 November
(Enrique Torner, USA
11/08/14 3:03 AM)
Eugenio Battaglia (7 November) stated that the next US presidential elections are scary. I agree with this to a certain degree, though not with Eugenio's political ideology.
However, what I'm really scared about right now is what's going to happen in Catalonia tomorrow (November 9th), the "referendum" day. Are they really going to vote? And, more importantly, if they vote, what's the Spanish government going to do? Is there going to be violence? Another civil war? Check this news:
JE comments: Yes, tomorrow is the much-anticipated November 9th. We've been talking about the Catalonian referendum for well over a year.
As far as I can tell, the vote will go on as planned. It is a high-stakes game, but another Civil War? I'm confident that level heads will prevail.
- Red States, Blue States and the 2014 Mid-Term Elections (Tor Guimaraes, USA 11/07/14 7:45 PM)
Republican partisans like Randy Black (7 November) have been gloating about the triumph of their party in the last round of elections. Unfortunately for the American people, their victory has no apparent short-term or long-term benefits. Looking at the Republican political victory, and recognizing that the Democratic party in the last six years has performed well below what is needed, I am extremely worried about the latest Republican success. As an Independent, I wish I could "not worry and be happy," but I have many good reasons to worry:
1. Obviously, big money bought the election on both sides.
2. Watching many of the debates, I was amazed how deceitful the candidates on both sides were. For example, Republicans who are known to be against saving Social Security would refuse to admit it and explain why. Democrats who voted for Obama's initiatives most of the time refuse to admit it and explain.
3. The two parties talk a lot about the need to get things done, for working together on the enormous problems facing our nation, but each side has its own agenda ideologically very far apart.
4. America is moving fast toward a feudal state with a small percentage controlling most of the wealth. Democrats in power did not improve that. Republicans are even worse in this department.
5. America is moving toward an oligarchic form of government with big money influence destroying our democracy. Both parties are guilty.
6. America is addicted to military power as the vehicle for foreign policy, and that is terribly wasteful in treasure and lives. It creates unexpected enemies, further conflict, and there is no end in sight. Both parties are guilty, but I expect Republicans will be worse.
7. America has become very disrespectful of the law: porous borders, rampant financial fraud, welfare rip offs, vote suppression, etc.
The real victory for the American people is when we can elect leaders who will address these crucial problems. Until then it will be business as usual, further and further into decay. Happy whatever!
JE comments: Business as usual, as Tor Guimaraes phrases it, will likely define the next two years. Still, the ol' USA always manages to muddle through. I will confess to being less of a model citizen than Tor, however: I didn't watch a single political debate during this mid-term election. On Tuesday Michigan elected a Republican governor and a Democratic senator. I'm not really sure why.
- Bruce Rauner Wins in Illinois (David Duggan, USA 11/07/14 8:04 PM)
To Randy Black's list of the table that the Republicans ran on Tuesday night, we should add the deep-blue People's Republic of Illinois, one-time home to Barack Obama, where governor-elect Bruce Rauner (Dartmouth '78) defeated my one-time law school fellow-student Pat Quinn by taking 51% of the vote to Quinn's 45% (a libertarian candidate got the balance). Quinn, who had worked for reform Gov. Dan Walker in the 1970s, got to Northwestern because Walker (a NULS classmate of my father) had placed a phone call (one of several such special admits), and promptly began his political career before turning 30, getting enough signatures on a ballot initiative to reduce the size (and ultimately rig the composition) of the Illinois legislature. (I won't go into the details because they are too difficult to explain without writing a treatise, but for those who heard or watched on-line my presentation on Chicago politics at last year's Adrian WAIS conference, they are suitably Byzantine). This initiative passed, and the Democrats have controlled the Illinois House for 30 of the last 34 years. Since 1980 when Quinn graduated, he's drawn a public paycheck for 90% of those years, from the Citizens' Utilities Board (a "watchdog" group that has tried to prevent "regulatory capture" by the utilities of the rate-setting Illinois Commerce Commission), the Board of Review of property tax assessment appeals, or from the State as treasurer, lieutenant governor or (accidental) Governor, after current guest of the federal government, Rod Blagojevich, was impeached. Oh, and there was a brief time as Mayor Harold Washington's revenue director, but Washington fired him for what amounted to incompetence. Quinn ran for lieutenant governor in the 1990s, and in what seems like a pattern, he contested the primary results by claiming fraud. At a news conference on Wednesday, he refused to concede to Rauner, saying merely that he didn't have the votes. Utterly classless.
I was at Rauner's campaign headquarters Tuesday night at the Hilton downtown (formerly Stevens Hotel, built by the father of now retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens before he went into bankruptcy during the Depression), and the atmosphere and enthusiasm were electric. It's been a long time since I have yelled myself hoarse (certainly the Bears and Cubs have not merited my doing so), and I nearly got to shake the Governor-elect's hand in the sea of humanity, crying "Go Dartmouth" at the top of my lungs. My voice didn't recover for two days. At Rauner's press conference yesterday announcing his "transition team," he sadly included Democratic retreads like Bill Daley (the former mayor's brother, Al Gore's first-mate-on-the-Titanic-campaign manager, Obama's chief of staff, and co-fee-monger with Mayor Rahm Emanuel in putting together the Ameritech-AT&T merger in the late 1990s where they both used their political influence with the Clinton administration), and Ron Huberman (Mayor Daley's head of the CTA, the public schools and LBGT poster child). Only a cynic would say that these appointments were payback to Emanuel, whom former investment banker Rauner employed to grease that telecom merger, and who was conspicuously silent as to his preference in the race (though his PAC wrote a $150K check to Quinn's campaign: that's about 1% of its balance sheet). When will they learn that diversity is not a synonym for competence?
Oh, and did I mention that both Barack and Michelle came to Chicago to raise money for Quinn? Don't be surprised that the next news coming out of Washington will be that the Obama Presidential Library will be going to some other state than Illinois. I hear that Hawaii is lovely this time of year.
JE comments: Is there a US presidential library in Nairobi? (Ha! Randy Black and I don't agree on politics, but he knows I have a sense of humor.)
I didn't know Governor-elect Rauner was a Dartmouth grad; makes me proud. Coincidentally, Jack Ryan, who lost the Senate race to Obama in 2004 because of a sex scandal, is also a fellow Dartmouth alumnus. Ryan is probably more responsible than any individual on this planet for Obama becoming president.
- 2014 Mid-Term Elections (Rodolfo Neirotti, USA 11/08/14 3:22 AM)
In another of his sectarian summations, Randy Black wrote on 7 November, "When I put together my post on the 'do-nothing' Democratic leaders in the US Senate, I expected John Eipper to question my summation from his own political position."
I would rather phrase it as: "When I put together my post on the 'avoiding doing anything' Republican leaders in the US Congress."
I also think that Mr Black constantly forgets the horrors and errors made by his partisans in the recent past, as well as their cost in term of human lives and burden for taxpayers.
JE comments: The Congressional Republicans will be acting come January. First off, we can expect renewed attempts to gut Obamacare. (Undoing is doing something.) The Republicans have a difficult dance to perform over the next two years. How can they chalk up concrete "wins" without allowing too much credit to go to the despised Obama? When they didn't control the Senate, they could simply lay the blame on the Obama-Harry Reid "cabal."
This all points to a political truism: it's far easier to be in the political opposition.
- Mid-Term Elections 2014; on Ebola (Paul Pitlick, USA 11/09/14 9:32 AM)
Given Randy Black's previous posts, I'm not surprised that he would comment favorably about the Republican "ass-whuppin" (7 November). However, I am surprised that he included a reference that labels the information in his own post "half true."
I don't question the veracity of 352, or even of 380 as numbers. I question the blame-game we're playing here. In the above reference, mention is made of the 55 bills with unanimous Democratic support, which were "pretty mundane; ... things like names for federal buildings, minor tweaks to legislation, and even the granting of an immigration visa to an individual." Hardly the stuff of "job-creation" (although I wonder why the Senate didn't go along with the silly games the House played so it would look like they're all doing their jobs in fine fashion and passing these great--sarcasm intended--bills). Rather than just "Harry Reid," I suspect there's a more-concrete explanation--the "Hastert Rule" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastert_Rule ), in which bills will be considered in the House only if they would be passed by a majority of the Republicans. Dare we suggest that Republicans might play partisan politics, and that their bills may not appeal to the partisans of the opposite party who control the Senate? Multiple attempts to repeal of Obamacare come to mind.
Rather than commenting on all of Randy's other points, I would like to address two in particular. One was how badly Obamacare has turned out, based on the horrible (no quibble from me on this point) roll-out of the Federal website. Isn't it time to get over that, and look at something substantial? Once the website was straightened out, it enrolled as many applicants as it was expected to. And people have actually benefited. And nobody died as a result of the botched roll-out. It's not as if, for example, the Secretary of State went and lied to the UN, or that we wasted some unfortunate country based on false information.
Another issue is Randy's comment that "our troops were sent to North Africa two months ago to try to control the Ebola crisis with no protective tools. As a result, our troops are now quarantined in Italy." My opinion (it's "opinion" here; in 2 weeks it may become more fact-based) is that there's much more fear-mongering here than is warranted. My understanding is that most of these troops were sent to build hospitals, not to actually take care of patients: no contact with Ebola patients means no Ebola--period. Maybe Republicans aren't familiar with how medical "science" works. We're at the beginning of an epidemic. If you catch Ebola in Africa, it's pretty bad, mortality >50%. We're beginning to develop some experience with Ebola in the US--our early mortality isn't as high as in Africa, so far. The one death I can remember (the Liberian immigrant) wasn't treated very well in Texas initially, and probably didn't have health insurance. It's also not clear how contagious Ebola will be in the US. For example, my understanding is that none of the family members of either the Liberian patient nor the physician in New York (who is doing well) caught the disease. We'll also know in a few days whether the nurse in Maine will be spared from Ebola. And in another 2 weeks we'll know whether any of the US GIs who went to West Africa actually come down with Ebola and therefore "needed" to be isolated. If the answer is "none," that's 21 man-days each wasted. That's how we learn if we choose to, or we can continue to encourage a climate of fear in which everything is perceived as a problem and it's always the president's fault.
JE comments: I'm especially grateful for Dr. Pitlick's perspective on the Ebola crisis and its treatment. Is the fear-mongering here sincere, or is it largely motivated by xenophobia and the desire to paint Obama in the worst possible light? It could be both things at once.
Emergency Preparedness for Ebola; Stanford Hospitals
(Paul Pitlick, USA
11/10/14 1:22 AM)
As a follow-up to my post of 9 November, I am nowhere near an authority on Ebola, but I'll contribute an anecdotal experience.
I went to a talk about 2 months ago, several weeks before the Liberian gentleman appeared in Texas. The talk was given by the head of the Emergency Room at Stanford, and he described what they are doing in preparation for possible Ebola case(s). The first step was that all visitors, before entering the waiting room, are screened by a guard, with one question--"Have you been to West Africa recently?" If not, they go on in to the regular triage process. However, if they have been to West Africa, they are shunted to an isolation room, not into the regular waiting room. If they have a fever, they are treated as if they have Ebola--the ER personnel are garbed in the complete protective gear, and meticulous care is taken in drawing blood, handling lab samples, etc., until it's proven that they are Ebola-free. Knock on wood, there have been no cases so far; I don't know how many patients they have had to isolate until the tests came back negative.
What made this talk especially impressive is that the same gentleman had given a talk to the same forum about 9 months ago summarizing Stanford's response to the Asiana Airlines crash at SFO on July 13, 2013. It happened around noon on a Saturday, and he happened to be on duty at the time. He said that a nurse was doing something in a room with a patient, and overheard on a TV set that there had a crash at SFO, so she passed that information along, since Stanford is one of the designated trauma sites. Although they were not officially notified by anyone at the airport, they began getting ready--moving non-critical patients out of the ER, figuring out ambulance flow into and out of the ER receiving area, locating gurneys, calling in medical teams, etc.
Somewhere like 20 or 30 minutes later, the ER got a call from the guard at the helipad on the roof of the hospital. A helicopter had just landed with 2 critically injured patients, and nobody had alerted him. About that time, the ER did receive an official call to expect more patients, and then ambulances, and even buses with less-injured patients, began rolling in, and the medical teams went to work. Very impressive. However, what was even more impressive was an added wrinkle. The plane had started in Seoul. Many of the passengers were not American--many spoke no English, and there were several Chinese school groups of minor children, whose parents were still home, as well as passengers from Japan and Korea. Passports and other identifications had been left behind on the burning plane. So into a virtual Babel, we insert unaccompanied minors, with no identification, probably no health insurance, and anyone who has ever had any involvement with the INS can imagine how they reacted. Eventually, a command and control center was set up with interpreters, hospital administrators, representatives of various consulates, etc., etc. I recall that Stanford took care of more than 100 plane-crash victims that (very long) day.
To prepare for emergencies, the hospital runs occasional mock drills, to practice what to do with respect to the medical stuff, lines of authority, communication, etc. I don't know how many of the legal, language, health insurance, and immigration problems related to the plane crash had been anticipated, but the ER folks are smart, resourceful people, and they were able to improvise to solve the problems. The recent Ebola talk was not just a description of what the ER is doing; it was also intended to educate the medical staff about what we need to know if we are involved in the care of possible Ebola patients.
My point here? Whether it's an airplane crash or Ebola, there is no place for hysteria. Preparation is everything. Learn from your experiences. At some point, you have to trust people who know what they're doing, and you can ignore the rest; it is important to figure out the difference.
JE comments: No place for hysteria: that's good advice for all of life's unexpected dramas. Let us hope that smaller hospitals, with far fewer resources than Stanford, are able to emulate this level of preparedness.
(Rodolfo Neirotti, USA
11/11/14 6:57 AM)
"Preparation is everything"
This recommendation emphasizes the importance of the five Ps: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Because history is shaped by "Black Swans," events that seem impossible until they happen, this approach is applicable to almost everything in life. So why do the leaders of some organizations fail to identify key problems and act before things turn catastrophic? They don't want to see, they can't see, because the group isn't designed to see, and there are other people who are doing their best to keep them from seeing--motivated blindness.
As described by Paul Pitlick (10 November), Stanford's response is an example of good crisis management and adaptive leadership--the capacity to adapt that enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes to the time (when), location (where), and manner (how) in which people work. This attitude requires flexibility, a mindset that allows leaders to adapt, to react and to operate according to the needs of different contexts and to move fast. These are the most difficult things to do when handling uncertainty in the first hours and days.
Adding estimative intelligence to gauge uncertainty and make assumptions about different scenarios, to anticipate the consequences and probabilities, can improve analytic capabilities and outcomes. Another important element in this situations is honesty. Accurate and correct information is crucial. Misinformation invariably backfires.
Imagine applying these concepts to Iraq and Afghanistan. It would have prevented loosing many lives and saved billions of dollars.
JE comments: The CYA (cover your ass) phenomenon is what defines most organizations. It prevents people from sticking their necks out to make the changes necessary to prepare for contingencies. CYA isn't just limited to the military (full disclosure: I've been listening to Catch-22 on my commute during the last couple of weeks). One can imagine, for example, how individual actors in that Dallas hospital were more motivated by self-preservation than by identifying and treating Ebola patient #1.
Thoughts on Emergency Preparedness, Organizational Change
(Tor Guimaraes, USA
11/16/14 5:32 AM)
The 11 November posting from Rodolfo Neirotti addressed a subject close to home: "Business Innovation and the Management of Change." Indeed, "preparation is everything," and this wisdom "is applicable to almost everything in life." Rodolfo stated, "the leaders of some organizations fail to identify key problems and act before things turn catastrophic," because "they don't want to see, they can't see, because the group isn't designed to see, and there are other people who are doing their best to keep them from seeing--motivated blindness."
Based on my 50 years of experience studying the management of organization change, trying to integrate the academic knowledge with what actually goes on in practice, I have noted one critical dimension which Rodolfo does not address in his posting: the degree or intensity of the change required. Ranging from the slow and continuous change needed for organizations to improve under the prescriptions of Total Quality Management (TQM), to more "dramatic changes" prescribed under Business Process Reengineering, to the even more dramatic changes necessary under severe crisis management, where many people are risking death, such as in the last Ebola crisis.
My most effective model (empirically tested in the manufacturing, hospital, and banking sectors) indicates that the likelihood of success in change management can be improved by preparation in four major areas: the right kind of leadership, awareness/knowledge of the environment surrounding the organization, the organization's ability to manage relevant technology broadly defined, and the characteristics of the change process used to implement the required changes. I have not studied severe crisis management, but I venture to say some new factors may be important. Similarly, most of what is relevant to manage slow change has also been found important for increasing success managing more dramatic changes. The main difference is as the uncertainty, risk, and intensity of required change grow, so does the importance of leadership at the strategic and project levels.
Trust in the leaders and other group members is not sufficient for success in managing change, but it has been found to be absolutely critical for efficient (quick) implementation of solutions. Please note that trust is the antithesis of the CYA syndrome discussed by John Eipper, of poor communication within the group, and of perceived dishonesty.
Last, Rodolfo mused about "applying these concepts to Iraq and Afghanistan," and how "it would have [saved] many lives and saved billions of dollars." For these disasters our leaders indeed failed "to identify key problems and act before things turn catastrophic."
However, it is not applicable that "they don't want to see, they can't see, because the group isn't designed to see." The American people told the Bush/Cheney neocons not to stay in Afghanistan and not to invade Iraq, but the American people were lied to and deliberately ignored. Finally, regarding "there are other people who are doing their best to keep them from seeing--motivated blindness," the statement in this case is spot-on: the media chicken hawks did their best to fool the American people but failed, but the neocons went ahead anyway. In the case of war, President Eisenhower was right: beware of the military-industrial complex. I like to add: beware of being a pawn for global business interests disguised as American companies.
JE comments: Has anyone bought President George W. Bush's new book, 41: A Portrait of My Father? I heard a couple of GWB interviews last week on National Public Radio, and it appears that after a six-year sabbatical, Bush 43 is now energetically working on his legacy. From the snippets I heard, GWB is willing to offer a few "mistakes were made" half-excuses, but he stands firmly by his position that in the wake of 9/11, US national security absolutely required the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Organizational behavior under crisis is a fascinating topic. It always gets me thinking: what would happen to WAIS if IT Director Roman Zhovtulya and I were hit by the same bus, or by different buses at the same time? David Duggan, it's time for more training on the care and feeding of our website. (I don't plan to go near any buses, but it's best to fix the roof while the sun shines: does anyone else volunteer for potential WAIS crisis management?)
- Republicans Triumph in US Mid-Term Elections (Bienvenido Macario, USA 11/07/14 2:05 AM)
First how much money did the media industry earn from these mid-term elections?
A Republican majority in the Senate is nothing new. But if there is any chance to rescind the 1946 Treaty of Manila that prematurely, irresponsibly and unjustly granted independence to the Philippines, it would be from a GOP-controlled senate.
It would be interesting if the bill or law repealing the 1946 Treaty of Manila would be vetoed by Pres. Obama. The Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act of 1933 giving independence to the Philippines was vetoed by President Hoover. The The Democrats simply waited for Hoover to leave the White House and then introduced the Tydings-McDuffie Law (Philippine Commonwealth Act), which FDR eagerly signed.
FDR funded the New Deal (NRA) programs, which cut 51% of the military's budget. MacArthur, then the Chief of Staff of the US Army, opposed this move and warned FDR that war is coming. Japan and Germany were rearming. When the NRA failed and the war came, maybe FDR realized MacArthur was right. Maybe this is why the President didn't even reprimand MacArthur when Manila was caught by surprise ten hours after Pearl Harbor. However, Admiral Kimmel and General Short were relieved of their respective commands.
I know it's a long shot for the Philippines to seek parity with other US territories at this stage. The World Bank, IMF and the UN will have to present a full accounting of all the funds given to the Philippines from 1946 to the present. And I'm sure the US Senate listens only to money. Money talks, the poor suffer.
Maybe just maybe this is the US Senate's last chance to redeem their honor.
The GOP and Democrats should also look at other issues. I'm not saying the GOP should stop looking after their pet issues.
Or maybe we should keep score of which pet GOP issues would be debated and will be in the news. They are, in alphabetical order:
3) Gun control
4) Illegal immigration
5) Religion, i.e. defending the most powerful entity of all, God.
6) Same-sex marriage
7) Welfare and entitlements
8) None of the above.
By the way the grandson of Manuel A. Roxas I, Manuel Roxas II, is running for president of the Philippines.
JE comments: To the above, we should add a 9 and 10: ISIS and Ebola. I guess these fall under Bienvenido Macario's category 8: "none of the above."
WAISers will recall that this semester I've been teaching the Cervantes masterpiece Don Quixote. Some WAISers might see Bienvenido Macario's quest to re-colonize the Philippines as Quixotic, but I will admit that over the years, Bienvenido has taught me a great deal about his homeland. Richard Hancock added one interesting statistic a few days ago: since the Peace Corps began in 1962, the Philippines has hosted more volunteers than any other nation.
Bienvenido's is an important voice crying out in the desert. But will the Philippines ever rise higher in the US foreign policy agenda? Not likely. One harsh truism for the ages: unless you're economically powerful, sitting on oil deposits, and/or dysfunctional and violent, the US won't pay attention to you.
- Mid-Term Elections in Wisconsin: Scott Walker Re-Elected (Mike Bonnie, USA 11/10/14 3:20 AM)
I'm elated that the US mid-term elections are over. That means I no longer need to hold the TV channel changer in my hand to mute out political ads. It's exciting that Wisconsin for the third time in four years has voted for Scott Walker as governor. During his appearance on Sunday's MSNBC Meet the Press (9 November), he demurred on the question of running for president in 2016. Perhaps he'll choose former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan as his running mate. A Walker win in 2016 would be a first for Wisconsin, and he would be the first since 1953 to win the presidency without having earned a bachelors degree.
Walker's win is hardly a mandate. Voter turnout for this election was the second highest on record (2.4 million), 54% of total eligible voters. The attempted Walker recall in 2012 produced the highest, 58%. Of the votes this cycle, 1,259,031 went to Walker (52.3%). Mary Burke, his Democratic challenger, garnered 1,121,490 votes (46.6%). http://wisconsinvote.org/election-results . That nearly half of eligible voters did not show up at the polls is a statement in itself, perhaps a protest or resignation to a state of ill-being. During the upcoming term, Walker will enjoy a stronger majority in the state Senate and Assembly. New additions include more conservative members.
In Wisconsin, referendums on the ballot on raising the minimum wage (living wage), accepting federal monies for Medicaid, an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution creating a transportation fund (restricting use of fund monies for general purposes) and a statement rejecting the language of Citizens United all won favor. Transportation may not sound like an economy issue, but not extending the county network of bus lines from the inner urban center of Milwaukee to the suburbs, where the greater expansion of new jobs is being created, and rejecting federal money to build a rail line between Milwaukee and Madison (the state capital) has cost tax revenue and contract cancelation expenses.
On a personal level, consider family income. As an indication of recovery of the national economy, in recent months the Dow Jones Industrial Average has broken all-time highs. Investors are optimistic that corporate profits have and will continue to increase. Disproportionally, growth in personal wealth has gone to those able to invest, to the detriment of those of limited means. "This year, employers have added more than 2 million jobs, including 214,000 in October. Yet meaningful pay raises remain scarce. Wages averaged $20.70 an hour for most workers last month, a tepid 2.2 percent gain over the past 12 months. The picture looks bleaker still for workers at auto plants, steel mills, and similar factories. If you go back to October 2009 and adjust for inflation, these workers are now earning on average $1 less an hour, according to the Labor Department. People in the professional services sector--everyone from managers to temporary workers--now earn on average 80 cents less an hour over the same period. An average construction worker makes 59 cents less an hour. Retail employees earn a penny less." http://news.yahoo.com/unemployment-5-8-number-really-150800787.html;_ylt=awrbjr8zzf5u9acauynqtdmd
What success in the mid-term election means is, what can a Republican trifecta do for Wisconsinites? Governor Walker rejects an increase in Wisconsin's $7.25/hour minimum wage. "The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage Calculator allows Americans to calculate what that might mean in cities, villages and towns across the United States. In Milwaukee, for instance, the living wage for a single working adult is $9.48 an hour, while the family-friendly living wage--for a single working parent with a child--is $20.85 an hour. In Racine [Wisconsin], it's $8.75 an hour for a working adult and $19.97 an hour for a working parent with a child. In Madison, it's $9.54 an hour for a working adult and $21.17 an hour for a working parent with a child." http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/john_nichols/john-nichols-scott-walker-rejects-wisconsin-s-living-wage-legacy/article_c888414a-b9e7-53b2-a326-6d87b1a02485.html#ixzz3iar4nvlu
JE comments: A few days ago I asked for WAISer spectulation on who will be the first candidate out of the gate for 2016. Wisconsin's Scott Walker may be the guy. He's survived three attempts to get rid of him in four years. The indestructibility factor says a lot. If Walker runs, he'll probably remind us that George Washington, Lincoln, and Harry S. Truman didn't go to college either. It's unlikely he'll add Millard Fillmore and Andrew Johnson to his list. Another certainty: Paul Ryan won't be his running mate.
I can hear Hillary now: "You, Sir, are no Harry Truman."
I've never met a Wisconsinite who doesn't loathe Scott Walker. But somehow he keeps getting elected. I'm not sure how to interpret that.
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