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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The economy is in your hands

The U.S. economy is in citizens hands as they contemplate two things:

1. Which political party they want to lead the government.

2. Which candidate they chose to lead the government.

The first choice has several parts: Who do Americans want to lead the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives? If you feel insecure about the economy today, just look around as the sources of progress and the sources of problems. Tell me what you see?

The greatest opportunity for the America to break away to form a new and vibrant economy will come from leaders that make a sustainable economic performance for all citizens the top priority. Economic sustainability results from a new energy paradigm based on renewable energy replacing fossil fuels as rapidly as it is technologically feasible.

New technology development in renewable energy production, storage and distribution will transform how Americans live, work, and move around. It will require all new products ranging from homes and appliances to transportation, and community designs. That is what should be inspiring geniuses to get to work in invention and innovation. The capital needed to do that is held too tightly by prospective investors. They need stimulation to place some bets.

If what you hear from political leaders is all about fossil fuels, they missed the point completely.

One loyal reader feels that the American economy is ready to tank. It will not if the next president and congress are on the same page to transform to a new energy paradigm.

That sounds like a long shot, because there isn't much creativity coming forth from anyone today.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Why Obamacare is a plus and not a minus

Republicans continue to want Obamacare to be negative and to use that against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. According to most research, Americans like Obamacare and just want the law to be improved and not retired or replaced. Herein lies how Obamacare can become a positive issue.

First, America has and continues to have the challenge to control health care expenses. The issues are making American healthcare competitively affordable and consistently high quality for all.

Second, Americans had a need to insure the uninsured. When neglected or not attended, millions of uninsured persons used the emergency room as the place to get their medical needs attended. Doing that exacerbated the weighting lines at ERs, made triage a burden to hospitals, and incurred costs that were passed onto consumers.

Third, Obamacare is working in that it has led to a sharp reduction of uninsured persons and has produced positive metrics at the ERs. Where trouble remains is controlling costs.

Most Americans know that you can't get something for nothing. Coverage for uninsured persons gets distributed to everyone based upon their means to absorb the cost. The law is intended to reduce the overall cost such that the incremental amount is held to a minimum.

Therein lies the actual issue. The question for political candidates is how do you intend to lower healthcare costs? How much lower can individual premiums be reduced under your ideas?

"A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in January found that 44 percent of the public had an unfavorable view of the law, while 41 percent had a favorable view. That is an improved picture for Democrats from 2010 or even 2014.  
More recently, though, the unfavorables have ticked back up due to Democrats unhappy the law does not go further, the Kaiser Family Foundation found.
Bannon also noted that more of the public wants to improve the law, rather than completely repeal it, as Republicans call for.  
The Kaiser poll found that 30 percent want to expand the law, 14 percent want to keep it as is, 11 percent want to scale it back, and 32 percent want to repeal it completely.
Clinton is with those trying to improve the law, which could give her cover with voters.
Many of her solutions tack to the left. Most prominently, she supports the “public option,” a government-run health insurance alternative to increase competition. 
She said it could take the form of allowing people to buy into Medicare once they reach age 50 or 55 at a roundtable this month. Because the eligible people tend to have higher health costs, shifting them out of the private market and into Medicare could lower costs for everyone else, she noted."

Doing it the Republican way, they had no intention of addressing the need and problems at all.

The Open News photo

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Faked stats and apathy

When I write about "outcome-driven" government, it is not uncommon to hear this type of response:

"'Outcome-driven' is a wonderful concept wrought with problems of definition, faked stats and apathy.

Better still would be legislation aimed at making output-driven really 'output driven.' How can we free it from spin doctors?!"

Let's discuss.

Any social scientist is familiar with program evaluation methods and knows that objective assessment can be manipulated many ways. Those circumstances demand high standards from those performing the evaluation. Citizens who are responsible for their government can't just throw up their hands to accountability and performance measurement.

I addressed that subject in extensive detail in the book, Smart Data, Enterprise Performance Optimization Strategy by James A George and James A Rodger (c) 2019 Wiley Publishing.

The truth detector in evaluating government outcomes, measurements, and performance is from asking the question, "How will the outcome be achieved?" If people can't answer "how" then they will be unlikely to accomplish the objective and to produce the desired or required results.

When one begins to go down this path, government processes are revealed in scope, scale, and complexity. One of the things that need to be understood, of course, are the resources required to produce the outcomes. You can't do that without modeling and attributing processes with resources, cost, and time metrics. Resources include enabling people and technologies that perform the work.

The Department of Defense does this as a matter of routine. The Government Accountability Office  does too (

Cynicism doesn't get the job done. Vigilance and attention help to improve the process.

Not intending to be critical or harsh, I provided the Obama administration with an example of how to improve their outcome statements. The examples appear in pictures from pages of my book.

Selecting the Vice President

Perhaps the most important task of a U.S. President is staffing the cabinet.  That action begins with selecting a vice president. The American political system today has it all wrong about choosing a vice president. Here are some indications:

  1. The act of choosing a vice president is without requirements and standards.
  2. Of course, there are no acceptable standards for selecting a U.S. president either.
  3. Voters have little or no say in the matter. Unlike some states that put the election of lieutenant governor to a vote, the system is uneven. The VP pick is an executive choice, even before voters elect the top executive.

I write about the selection of the vice president in my forthcoming book, How to Select an American President by James George and James Rodger (c) 2016 Archway Publishing.

Many times in history, something happens to the president and the vice president must fill the shoes. Many times in history, the selection of a vice president is political tomfoolery and not a more responsible act.

From the viewpoint of a forward-looking political party, the vice president should be equal to or greater than the president. The vice president should be one generation behind the president such that there is room to grow and to extend the incumbency.

That isn't the way that the process has been done in the past. Improving the process will take much deliberate effort with pressure from voters to make it better. That is a long-term proposition.

“This Is What the US Vice President Actually Does — and How the Job Has Changed 
Jon Levine 
May 27, 2016 
With the final round of the presidential race almost certain to pit Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in contest for the ultimate prize, arm-chair analysts and other peanut gallery stalwarts are now speculating about an almost equally intriguing question: who the presumptive nominees will select as their running mates.  
Will Trump pick an insider like Newt Gingrich, or another brash outsider like himself? Will Hillary Clinton try to eat away at Trump's white, male voter base by tapping, say, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, or will she roll the dice on an all-woman ticket with Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren?"

Many believe that Lyndon Johnson was America's best Vice President.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The GOP platform, what's in it?

The GOP platform, what's in it? The answer is that is is still a piece of work in progress. It is way behind schedule.

Some websites offer candidate comparisons and analysis of their views by labeling their orientation as being more or less liberal or conservative on general issues. This analyst finds them not useful. It is because such labeling fails to get at the essential substance. To generalize about topic categories is a lame and deficient approach that makes voters lazy and candidates inadequate in answering how they intend to produce necessary outcomes.

Show us the platforms and manifestos in such a way that they address how a presidential candidate will optimize return on national resources. Tell the American public how the candidate will attend to producing essential outcomes.

Candidates should be required to provide verifiable evidence about where they have acquired knowledge, skill, and experience that support their views.

The topic here is about the Republican platform for Election 2016? How different is it from that of 2102? What are the emerging issues and priorities from a GOP perspective?

"Inside Gov" is one example of a website that offers a general comparison by labeling candidates as being liberal or conservative. It isn't particularly informative. See for yourself.

What are America’s essential outcomes?

I wrote an article for the Examiner awhile ago that outlines what I believe are American’s top priorities expressed as essential outcomes. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have some ideas to contribute?

“Motivation behind ‘Outcome-Driven Government’” First of all, the concept of automated government is as old as information technology itself. Application of automation to government has lagged behind automation in business and industry. Why?  
The White House leads e-government 
In information technology terminology, it is because the “control architecture” in government is not as advanced, is more recalcitrant than that employed by profit-driven free enterprise. What is “control architecture”? In the Zachman three-schema architecture model, the control architecture includes the business rules, laws and regulations that constrain enterprise activities that are processes required to produce specific outcomes. In government enterprise in the U.S., the Constitution is the overriding “constraint” that is accompanied by all of the laws and regulations that are passed by Congress. Subsequently, plans, budgets and funding regulate the pace of government enterprise performance in a massively complex system.  
Here is a major problem: Congressional representatives, Senators, the President and members of the executive branch don’t see themselves as government technology masters, or masters of e-government. Since laws and regulations are implemented and managed in an automated environment, don’t you believe that the people producing them (engineering them) would have technical competence to do that? 
Unless if by fortunate accident, they don’t. That is because voters don’t require proper skill, knowledge, and experience on their resumes. The control architecture for government is the essential element for managing the automated regulatory environment that is the product of laws and regulations and subsequent government processes, systems and enabling technology. The outcomes that are required of government include those shown on the list in several slides. (See the images).  
What outcomes do you believe are missing from the list? Every government department, agency and organization is an enabler to performing the work of government defined by processes and legislated by Congress and managed by the President. America has a legacy of bureaucracy that was invented at different times. It is the job of President, collaborating with Congress, to keep the entire system current. It is essential to measure effectiveness by focusing on outcomes. Begin with the top priority outcomes. Suggested here is that we have too many organizations whose outcomes are poorly specified or wrong priorities. Performing a top down audit will determine where government needs to be modernized. A story today talks about “hacking”. 
That seems to be a motivator for the DOD to address outcome-driven government. Whatever motivates them to improve is a fine place to begin. “This overwhelming reaction to rapidly re-equip deployed military personnel for battlefield exigencies in Afghanistan and Iraq has further reinforced the view that an expansive and sustained defense rapid innovation enterprise is an extravagance the nation can ill afford now that active combat operations are drawing to a close. But the real lesson to be learned is that the absence of a consistently applied and commonly construed defense innovation strategy has led to inefficiency, redundancy, and even abuse. The dysfunctional system we have contributes to the mistaken idea that doing things better and faster inevitably costs more and can only be accommodated during periods of budget largesse.” 
You will not find many of these things addressed in the party platforms with details and metrics.

How to Select an American President: Party platforms and candidates' manifestos

How to Select an American President: Party platforms and candidates' manifestos: Political party platforms and presidential candidate manifestos are the subjects of a second nearly completed new book. Following the news ...

Party platforms and candidates' manifestos

Political party platforms and presidential candidate manifestos are the subjects of a second nearly completed new book. Following the news and actions of political parties and their candidates in the Election 2016 cycle produces much substance for analysis and consideration.

I have been working on the idea that there are differences between political party platforms and individual candidate manifestos. I segregate the use of "platforms" from "manifestos" for clarity in discussion and comparison.

As political parties approach their respective national conventions from which they select their nominees, they try to reconcile their differences.

Presumably, presidential nominees will align with that of their sponsoring parties, and the result will be a president's management agenda that is in harmony with that of their partners in Congress.

In a democratic, pluralistic government, which is the U.S., a certain degree of elasticity is expected from bipartisanship and negotiated trade-offs.

One might expect that a large part of a political party's platform will represent core values. Some parts will represent responsiveness to current needs. A presidential candidate's manifesto might be expected to contain actionable contents that will constitute priorities, plans, and schedules.

The president's manifesto should be developed well in advance such that citizens have the opportunity to vet the contents and to interrogate candidates about pending policies, priorities, and programs.

What voters witness today is more of a last minute hodge-podge with much misalignment. Such conditions lead to disharmony and dysfunctional government."

Trump's approach, "just let me handle it," is insufficient.

“Donald Trump wants to make America great again. This is how he wants to do it:
If Trump were elected president, he says, he would launch the U.S. government into a massive building project — and a massive manhunt — both at once. 
On the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump would build a long, impenetrable wall. In the rest of the country, he would pressure the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants to “self-deport” — and, if they don't, round them up to deport en masse. Later, Trump says, “the good ones” could come back. 
He also wants to go on a building spree. 
Modern new VA hospitals. Better bridges, highways, railroads. A new floor at LaGuardia Airport, to replace that shabby terrazzo Trump hates. And, to pay for it all, Trump would not raise taxes. He’d lower them. 
Instead, Trump would get other countries to start paying the United States large new sums of money — and agree to receive nothing in return. China, for instance, would pay for new tariffs. Mexico would even pay for America’s new border wall.
“They’re not going to pay for the wall,” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly told Trump this summer. 
“You have to let me handle that, okay?” Trump said.”

No surprises, please.

“Clinton’s platform comes into focus, including some surprises
04/15/15 08:00 AM 
By Steve Benen 
The conventional wisdom suggests Hillary Clinton, lacking a credible primary rival, will effectively run a general-election campaign for the next year and a half. The Democratic frontrunner, who’s never been the most liberal member of the party, will have the luxury of aiming for the center, much to the chagrin of the party’s progressive base. But as Clinton’s campaign gets underway this week, it may be time to reassess those assumptions. Joy-Ann Reid reported from Iowa yesterday: 
Clinton … articulated four pillars of her still-to-come campaign platform; four “big fights” she foresees on the horizon: building “the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday,” strengthening families and communities, fixing “our dysfunctional political system and get[ting] unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if that takes a constitutional amendment,” and protect[ing] our country from the threats that we see, and the ones that are on the horizon.” 
According to a transcript made available to reporters by a campaign aide, Clinton struck a pretty populist tone during her remarks at Kirkwood Community College, emphasizing her concern that the “deck is still stacked in favor of those already at the top.”

Donald Trump

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty

Clinton's email scandal

The context in considering the Clinton email scandal is the backdrop that many other executives, including George W. Bush, have experienced as bad or worse practices. Recall that when Barack Obama first entered the office officials had to wrestle away his Blackberry because it was not secure.

Why do executives not want to follow government rules and regulations governing computer and communication usage?

It has to do with their being powerful people who want the nth degree of freedom. They are fast-moving and dealing with a large volume of matters that demand and require personal attention. They want to act at once. However, government protocols and security regulations slow them down.

That means that some of the actions on which they want to act must be set aside and put into a recurring queue of things to do. Setting aside such matters creates an administrative nightmare because either it requires a manual hand-off or the automated hand-off doesn't work well or further slows the process. They hate it.

Even commanders in the battlefield have this type of problem. Protocols often disrupt timely actions and may result in missed opportunities or worse, i.e. Benghazi.

Executives find themselves in charge of the real constraints that inhibit their behavior. Sometimes, they excuse themselves from following the rules and forget that a larger system of oversight is truly in control.

“The George W. Bush email scandal the media has conveniently forgottenBack in 2007, the White House "lost" more than five million private emails. The story was barely covered 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
AAEC Ref Num: 144873

Friday, May 27, 2016

Call it as you see it

The process that I advocate for selecting a presidential candidate begins with a close examination of candidate resumes. Since American political parties have no standards for candidate resumes and their evaluation, the current approach is ad hoc, deficient, and most risky. The nation deserves better than that.

In my soon to be published book, How to Select an American President by James A. George and James A. Rodger (c) 2016 Archway Publishing division of Simon & Schuster, I describe the process. It comes from the historical analysis; creating a job model for a U.S. president, and derivation of knowledge, skill, experience and proficiency requirements against the backdrop of the U.S. Constitution, of course.

I can tell you something that you can see for yourself, the candidates from which Americans must choose today are not superior in quality. They are measurably flawed. However, there is little that can be done about that now.

The flaws begin with the failing of political parties to serve their constituents with a credible candidate vetting process that is forward-thinking, participative and transparent.

Furthermore, I have another book in the cannon that addresses the next stage in the process, which is the evaluation of candidate's specific policies and ideas. The approach doesn't favor one party or set of ideas over another. It seeks to make important considerations as clear as is possible.

Stay tuned to this blog channel for continuing information and updates.

If you have questions and want to discuss issues, use the messaging at the end of the articles and I will respond to everyone either with a comment or you may even inspire an article. I will give you credit if you inspire an article.

Pass it on.

I am just taking a hike of historic places around the neighborhood in Montgomery, Ohio

Clinton's bold opportunity

Ezra Klein posted a story this morning stating that Clinton has a few choices for VP because her party doesn't want her to dilute the opportunity to regain control of the Senate. She cannot snatch a Senator and decimate the Senate control.

Having written a book studying and evaluating prospective candidates for the presidency, it seems that Clinton should look outside the ranks of the Senate. Better candidates might well come from the private sector. She could ask Al Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, who was also a successful executive at the Boeing Corporation.

Mulally knows how to succeed in the international marketplace and would provide stellar leadership in places where Clinton needs help. It doesn't matter what is politics are; it is his profile for achievements that would make a huge difference for the nation.

"The real reason Hillary Clinton's VP shortlist is so short."

Getty Image

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Where Did Candidates Acquire Knowledge and Skills?

This is just a teaser for how to examine candidate resumes, and only a beginning to assess general knowledge requirements. More specific knowledge requirements are yet to come.

Look at resumes for evidence of where presidential candidates acquired knowledge and skills. But first, what are voters looking for?

Having considered the job model for president of the United States, consider the associated knowledge, skill, and proficiency requirements.

For each task and associated subtasks, list the knowledge and skills to do the tasks as well as describe the required proficiency to perform them.

To accomplish this as rigorously as necessary, many voters will throw up their hands and exclaim how difficult it is to do that. Which is why political parties need to provide a service to their constituents to vet candidates with due diligence to ensure that candidates have superior qualifications. That doesn’t mean that voters can sit back and wait for the work to be done for them, because voters must monitor and be vigilant about the process. Today, the burden rests mostly on voters.
  • Task
  • Knowledge List
  • Skill List
  • Proficiency Description

Let’s try it.

Task 1: Planning, staffing, organizing, and scheduling Presidential work and government functions
Subtask 1.1: Recruit and staff the cabinet and department and agency appointments
Subtask 1.2: Conduct cabinet meetings to develop and implement strategies and policies for accomplishing the nation’s workload and issues
Subtask 1.3: Define the nation’s outcomes and priorities for each major department and agency to produce the nation’s strategic plan

T1 Knowledge (What)
  • Planning
  • Staffing
  • Recruiting Cabinet positions
  • Departments
  • Agencies
  • Organizing
  • Scheduling
  • Presidential work
  • Government functions
  • Conduct meetings
  • Strategizing
  • Policymaking
  • Nation’s workload
  • Government performance issues
  • Required performance outcomes, as legislated
  • Prioritizing
  • Strategic planning

T1 Skill (Performing)

Evidence of having performed the same or similar tasks that required the knowledge above.

Managerial skills in a contemporary paradigm include the following:

  •  Planning and scheduling
  • Budgeting
  • Strategizing
  • Predicting and forecasting
  • Decision making
  • Sensemaking
  • Integrating
  • Collaborating and facilitating (aka organizing)
  • Acquisition, logistics, procurement
  • Financing
  • Safety and security

T1 Proficiency

Evidence that the candidate has been successful at applying knowledge and performing these skills in a comparable environment.

Task 2: Develop the President’s management agenda and budget and reconcile with Congress
Subtask 2.1: Assume responsibility for the legacy agenda and make adjustments to align with the President’s management agenda or equivalent
Subtask 2.2: Work with cabinet heads to develop performance plans and schedules
Subtask 2.3: Work with Congressional leadership and collaborate to implement the nation’s strategy, plans, and programs

T2 Knowledge

Management agenda
Government budget cycle and process
Government legacy obligations
Performance review and planning
National strategies, policies, plans and programs

T2 Skills (As defined above)

T2 Proficiency (As defined above)

Task 3: Initiate and approve legislation
Subtask 3.1: Propose bills to Congress
Subtask 3.2: Consult and advise Congress
Subtask 3.3: Collaborate with industry and business leaders in the development of policies and regulations of all kinds Subtask
3.4: Approve or veto legislationSubtask
3.5: Request a declaration for war from Congress

T3 Knowledge
Constitutional law and process
War planning
National Defense

T3 Skills

Collaboration and Consensus

Task 4: Implement plans and manage on-going operations
Subtask 4.1: Review and evaluate programs that include new acquisitions and on-going operations
Subtask 4.2: Evaluate programs including legacy processes and engineer new ones for accomplishing and producing required and promised outcomes
4.3: Continuously improve

Task 5: Report progress and discuss issues with the American public to keep them informed

Task 6: Meet with heads of state and participate in international meetings and conferences for heads of state
Subtask 6.1: Participate in international economic conferences 
Subtask 6.2: Respond to international crises and requests for assistance

Subtask 6.3: Promote democratic process and reforms

You get the idea.

President Obama at Work