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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Trump: BS or liar

Were the cues in Daniel Levitin's piece (Forget the tax returns, show me his brain scans. Boston Globe, February 21, 2017) strong enough to help us decide whether Donald Trump is a liar or a BS artist?

I think he is both.

At one level he tells one big lie: that the press and his opponents are liars purveying false facts. This is a strategic position taken to discredit any opposition.

At another level, he is a BS artist. He doesn't care what he says about immigrants, about Sweden, or about Russia as long as it creates a stir in the political ecosystem.

The BS is easy to deal with, but I do not know how we overcome the big lie.

Sent to Boston Globe

President Trump's next weeks

Op Ed in Cambridge Chronicle

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Changes at the National Security Council

OPEd Metrowest Daily News

Organizing the White House

If I were an organizational advisor to the President, I would suggest that he takes a hard look at how he is running the White House and Cabinet. He is not taking the actions that will make things run effectively.

He seems to be maximizing groupthink.

The President would not let Secretary of State Tillerson appoint his own deputy because Tillerson's choice, Elliot Abrams had opposed him in the election. Just as Trump needs people he can trust, so does Tillerson.

A similar problem seems to have torpedoed the appointment of Admiral Harward to the post of National Security Advisor. It is reported that the Admiral was told that, if appointed, he would not be able to choose members of his staff. That and the current climate in the White House led him to reject the appointment.

If Mr. Trump is to achieve a well running administration, he must encourage and manage productive dissent -- dissent over issues, not interpersonal animosity. Mr. Trump himself is one who personalizes issues. His first task is self-restraint.

Alas, I am not hopeful.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Creativity at the MBTA

Congratulations to the MBTA (Buffeted by snow, MBTA workers found a new way forward. Boston Globe, February 18, 2017: A1). Congratulations to manager, Bill Walsh, for fostering a climate of creativity in  his unit. Congratulations to Bill Haywood for developing the idea of a tractor snow-blower.

This story illustrates the importance of keeping maintenance activities in-house as part of the MBTA. The problem lay with Operations, the solutions with Maintenance.

If the maintenance activities had been outsourced to a contractor, it is unlikely that the contractor would have had the information needed to identify the problem (though his is probably more likely with less visible problems than a giant snow storm). It is unlikely that the contractor would have the incentive to work on a solution to the problem.

For a solution to emerge, close coupling between operations and maintenance is essential. Let us not break that link.

Sent to Boston Globe

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Judge Gorsuch

What Judge Gorasuch should have said:

Mr. President, I am deeply appreciative of the honor that you wish to bestow upon me, but I cannot accept it.

For 11 years, I have been an officer of the court. For nine months, the Senate of the United States has held the Supreme Court in disrespect (and perhaps acted unconstitutionally). I cannot condone, or be party to, or benefit from that disrespect. You should nominate Judge Garland.

Thank you Mr. President.

Sent to Washington Post