Category: Government

Nov 13 2008

A Few Requests for President-elect Obama

I’ve been an unabashed Obama supporter for a while.  I’m glad he’s going to be our next president and am optimistic about his leadership.  I’ve been enjoying listening to some of the punditry ricocheting around about his coming administration now that I don’t have to listen (or – in my case – try to ignore) the endless analysis about the campaign.  A few requests on my part have come to mind as I start to synthesize what I’m hearing.  Of course, I’m not so arrogant to believe that President-elect Obama – or for that matter – anyone in the administration – will care about my specific requests, but since this is my blog afterall I thought I’d toss my thoughts out into the wild.

1. Appoint Some High Profile Republicans to Your Cabinet.  I believe we need to eliminate the extreme partisan divide that exists in the US today.  The best way to start to do that is from the top – if President Obama makes it clear that he has no interest in perpetuating the "partisan politics as usual" dynamic, we actually have a chance to start to change it.  The biggest, loudest way to send this message would be to get the absolute smartest and most capable people in the cabinet, regardless of their party affiliation.

2. Veto The First Pork Laden Bill.  I continue to be baffled by the dynamics around Pork in Congress.  I want my politicians to become vegetarians and reject Pork.  TARP is such a disgusting example of this – as far as I can tell, the only major difference between the TARP bill that failed the House and the one that came back from the Senate and passed was the addition of a bunch of Pork.  Disgusting.  When the first bill hits Obama’s desk that has one key issue in it that is covered with Pork, he should Veto it.  He should then get on TV and explain the bill in clear English to the American population.  He should describe the single issue in the bill, and then list the Pork – state by state, Congressman by Congressman.  He should then insist that Congress revisit the bill, take all the Pork out, and send it back to him for approval. 

3. Continue Being Confident But Not Certain: Amy and I had a great brunch in Chicago over the weekend with a bunch of folks from Wellesley.  The guest of honor was Madeleine Albright (Wellesley ’59) who was the US Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001.  Secretary Albright was amazing and it was so humbling to get to spend some time with her.  When asked what advice she’d give Obama, she said two things.  First – "listen".  Second – "be confident, but not certain."  She described Bush as a president who has been too "certain" – he’s "certain that he is correct on all issues and then never listens."  In contrast, she wants a president who is "confident" yet willing to listen, learn, and adjust his point of view based on the data presented.  That resonated with me – being confident but willing to listen is a key tenant of a great leader in my book.

Now – go download Zynga’s Live Poker on your iPhone and play a hand or two.  If you made it through this blog post, you deserve a break.

Nov 11 2008

Tom Evslin for FCC Chairman

I didn’t come up with this idea – Om Malik did.  But he’s absolutely right – Obama needs to look outside the beltway for many key positions, including FCC Chair.  Tom Evslin is an absolute star in my book and as Om states:

"Tom Evslin, who is a retired telecom executive, is the kind of person I would expect to be in the FCC. He knows the machinations of the big companies and at the same time is an Internet liberal who can keep broadband providers and their anti-consumer tricks under check."

While Tom graciously responded in his post The Importance of the FCC that "[he’s] flattered although neither a likely choice (that’s an understatement) nor a candidate" help me and Om start a real drumbeat.  Obama was elected on a platform of change – let’s bring some completely fresh leadership and thinking into the mix.

Nov 5 2008

Wake Up. Be Optimistic. Lead.

Fred Wilson has the best post I’ve read so far from the 700 of so feeds I follow on how he feels about the election.  It’s titled Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States.  Fred – like me – decided a while ago to believe in Barack Obama and I’m sure he’s as happy as I am to see him elected president of the United States.

Fred states clearly the six things he thinks we’ll get from an Obama administration. 

  1. A world class management team
  2. Honesty
  3. A steady hand
  4. Diplomacy
  5. Fairness
  6. Leadership

I won’t repeat the details of each here – go read Fred’s post.  But – I’ll add one thing.  If you are an entrepreneur, an executive in a company, or in any leadership position at any level, these same six principles apply to you.  As Fred so clearly stated, "Like everyone else, I am dying for a leader we can believe in and get in line behind and follow."  Reflect on that statement as you go about your day.

Oct 6 2008

It’s The Economy, Stupid

Where is James Carville when you need him

Finally, Obama is taking a line from Clinton’s playbook.

Sep 10 2008

It’s Probably More Complicated Than You Think

Santo Politi has a great post up today titled Election 2008 and Price of Crude.  We were in a meeting together today and he mentioned it (but didn’t mention the content.)  Santo’s cynicism is right on the money as well as his concerns.  It’s definitely worth a read.

Sep 3 2008

Palin in Church

I’m speechless.  I don’t think I even know how to process this anymore. 

Aug 26 2008

Solving the H-1B Visa Issue

One of the big topics that came up on the panel I was on today at the DNC was the issue surrounding the labor supply in the US in computer science and IT.  There is a growing shortage of software engineers in the US that is getting worse as every year passes.  I’ve talked about this in the past as my main motivation for being involved in the National Center for Women & Information Technology as one of the ways to build the long term labor pipeline is to encourage more women and girls to get involved in careers in computer science and IT.

I think the Bush administration has completely missed the boat when it comes to dealing with temporary work visas and permanent residency for high tech software / IT workers.  This issue has come up repeatedly over the past few years as large software and technology companies have finally weighed in to try to impact some of our inane policies.

I think the solution to the problem is really simple.  The US should grant permanent residency to anyone who graduates from a qualified four year university with a computer science degree.  If you are concerned about people gaming the system, you can start out by limiting it to people that receive a post-graduate degree.  Of course, you can easily extend this beyond computer science (e.g. physics, chemistry, etc.)

When I was an undergraduate at MIT, a meaningful percentage of the student body was from other countries.  It never even occurred to me that these folks were "different" and didn’t "belong in our country."  Some of my best friends in college weren’t US citizens and I was baffled by the hoops they had to jump through even back then to work in the US.  In the past eight years, this has gotten dramatically worse and it’s time we got in front of this.

Everyone on the panel seemed to agree that this was a huge issue surrounding innovation in the US over the long term.  Most people seemed to agree that this was a simple solution that would not require a huge bureaucracy to administer.  With your diploma, you get permanent residence status. 

I don’t understand why there would be any rational resistance to something like this – after all, wasn’t the United States built on immigrants?

Aug 26 2008

2008 Technology Roundtable at the DNC

I’m having my half day DNC experience this morning.  At 10am I’m on a panel creatively titled 2008 Technology RoundtableIt’s limited attendee (200 people at the Ricketson Theater) but appears to being broadcast live on the web.

It’s an interesting experience. I really didn’t want to deal with the traffic and people around the DNC, especially after running a marathon this weekend (and still being in a recovery phase), so I took advantage of my early wake up time and drove to downtown Boulder around 6:30.  I’m now sitting all alone in the breakfast room (green room equivalent) waiting for them to pull together the coffee service.  It’s kind of tranquil in a weird way.

My session (one of three) – titled "Promoting the Next Wave of Innovation" – covers the following:

The second session will address the question of what strategies that the federal government can use to promote technological development and innovation. In particular, it will evaluate what public policies can best spur capital formation and protect the U.S. advantage in that area; what educations reforms, particularly as to math and science education, can prepare a next generation of engineers and business persons; and what innovation policies, be they support for basic research or patent law reform can spur greater levels of technological development.

My co-panelists are John Seely Brown (Deloitte Center for Edge Innovation), Charlie Ergen (CEO – Echostar), Bill Kennard (Carlyle Group, Former Chairman FCC), Honorable Zoe Lofgren (Congresswoman – U.S. House of Representatives), Don Rosenberg (General Counsel and EVP – Qualcomm), and David Thompson (Group President of Information Technology and Services – Symantec). 

It’ll either be really interesting or really dull.  I’ll work on "interesting" but I’ve been told "no swearing."

Aug 19 2008

Political Joke of the Day

I have no idea where this joke came from, but I couldn’t resist posting it because it combined Alaska, Massachusetts, Democrats, Republicans, Guns, the Pope, and a Grizzly Bear.

The Pope took a couple of days off to visit the rugged mountains of Alaska for some sightseeing. He was cruising along the campground in the PopeMobile when there was a frantic commotion just at the edge of the woods.

A helpless Democrat, wearing sandals, shorts, a ‘Save the Whales’ hat and a ‘To Hell with Bush’ T-shirt, was screaming while struggling frantically and thrashing around trying to free himself from the grasp of a 10-foot grizzly.

As the Pope watched in horror, a group of Republican loggers came racing up. One quickly fired a 44 magnum into the bear’s chest. The other two reached up and pulled the bleeding, semiconscious Democrat from the bear’s grasp. Then using long clubs, the three loggers finished off the bear and two of them threw it onto the bed of their truck while the other tenderly placed the injured Democrat in the back seat.

As they prepared to leave, the Pope summoned them to come over. ‘I give you my blessing for your brave actions!’ he told them. ‘I heard there was a bitter hatred between Republican loggers and Democratic environmental activists but now I’ve seen with my own eyes that this is not true.’

As the Pope drove off, one logger asked his buddies ‘Who was that guy?’

‘It was the Pope,’ another replied. ‘He’s in direct contact with Heaven and has access to all wisdom.

‘Well,’ the logger said, ‘he may have access to all wisdom but he doesn’t know squat about bear hunting! By the way, is the bait still alive, or do we need to go back to Massachusetts and get another one?’

Did anyone mention that the DNC is happening in Denver next week?  Egads.

Jul 20 2008

Brilliant Op-Ed Crushing McCain On The Economy

My Sunday morning online scan of the New York Times turned up an awesome Op-Ed by Frank Rich titled It’s the Economic Stupidity, Stupid.  It’s a scathing (er – "fucking brutal") criticism of McCain and his total lack of understanding of "the economy", how it actually works, and what he would do about it were he to be president.

While Rich takes a few cheap shots (hey – it wouldn’t be a political Op-Ed without some gratuitous things) I think it’s right on the money.

At the end, Rich makes a good argument for Michael Bloomberg as the VP Candidate.  He also dismantles Carly Fiorina as a potential VP and suggests Romney would be a slightly less bad idea.  I can’t imagine either Fiorina or Romney as VP’s – my mind just boggles.  Bloomberg – now that’s someone I could get excited about – for EITHER party.  I hope the dude is at least answering his phone when it rings.

But the real message of the Op-Ed is how out to lunch McCain is on the economy.  Taken at face value, it’s terrifying.  Of course, it’s an Op-Ed so you can’t take it at face value, but it’s politics so that’s what you get.

Time to go for a run and think about birds, the ocean, and happy thoughts.  I’ll drink some Pixie Maté first to fuel me while giving thanks to my latest 50 by 50 Marathon sponsor.