Tag Archives: United States

How Trump’s Plan to Reorganize Government Could Work

By Steve Goodrich – On March 13, President Trump issued an executive order for a Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch. It calls for the OMB director and agency heads to develop plans for improving the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of agencies, subcomponents and programs within 180 days.

I am not naïve, and yes, I have seen this many times before. But if done right, with a strong foundation and a plan, it could work. It could also be another once-and-done exercise that demonstrates little to no value. Many administrations have conducted similar exercises, most of which faded with the political passing. The Trump executive order runs the risk of having little or negative impact, reducing readiness and demoralizing employees. It also has the potential to do great things for our country.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make it work.

  1. It must involve Congress.
  2. It should begin with a national summit that results in a strategic plan.
  3. Someone must be in charge.
  4. Reorganization must address vertical and horizontal programs.
  5. Reform must cross agency boundaries.
  6. Accept that some investment will be necessary.
  7. Leverage what you have before you throw anything out.
  8. Make hard decisions.
  9. Fix the foundation.
  10. Create a culture of sharing.
  11. Grow people.
  12. Address financial issues

more> https://goo.gl/CGO0zu

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The identity threat

By Teri Takai – The big problem for many government agencies is that most of them still rely on declarative legacy roles, rubber-stamping certifications and manual processes to manage identities and roles — all of which expose them to continual and multiple access risks. External threat actors compromise identities to evade detection from existing defenses, while insiders work under the radar to access data for exfiltration.

To provide a robust defense and protect the identity-based perimeter, government agencies must consider new thinking and approaches.

The core issue is security leaders are not attacking the evolving security landscape through proactive planning and change management. Instead, they are stuck in a reactive mode.

It is not hard to understand why: the user profile is 24-7, global, instantaneous, and rich in consumer-driven IT. more> https://goo.gl/X59JUA

America Needs a Crash Course in Critical Thinking

By Tom Jacobs – Newly published research suggests we need to develop an often-overlooked but vitally important skill: critical thinking.

Two North Carolina State University scholars report that, once students learned to apply healthy skepticism to one realm of knowledge, they were less likely to accept questionable claims in an unrelated field.

The history class “contained direct instruction on critical thinking,” including the use of famed astronomer Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection kit.”

“Students also learned common logical fallacies, fallacies of rhetoric, tropes in historical myths, and then applied them to course topics,” the researchers write.

At the end of the semester, all students were again tested on their belief in scientifically unproven claims. While attitudes did not significantly change among those who took the research methods course, those in the history course were less likely to support baseless assertions. more> https://goo.gl/g1h1km

From bedroom to boardroom, Supreme Court is in your business

By Nancy Benac – The influence of the court’s nine justices is hard to overstate. So pay attention as Congress prepares to take up the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to join the high court.

From the time Americans roll out of bed in the morning until they turn in, the court’s rulings are woven into daily life in ways large and small.

“From the air you breathe and the water you drink to the roof over your head and the person across from you in bed, the Supreme Court touches all of that,” says Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

A walk through daily life on the lookout for Supreme Court fingerprints … more> https://goo.gl/ykUXDt

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The dangers of ultra-long-term bonds

By Judd Gregg – The dollar is the key to world commerce. It is used by most nations as their reserve currency. It is essentially other countries’ insurance against their governments pursuing profligate fiscal policy.

This fact would possibly make the sale of 50- or 100-year U.S. bonds acceptable in the world market. But it should also give us significant pause.

If we want our currency to be the reserve currency of choice around the world, then we need that currency to be respected.

If we start issuing general obligation bonds that have 50- or 100-year terms, we will inevitably call into question the long-term integrity of our nation’s fiscal house. Financing current expenses for 5, 10 or even 30 years may be an accepted practice, but to go out 50 or 100 years is not. more> https://goo.gl/t5bjEg

The century of American global domination of language is over

BOOK REVIEW

That’s the Way it Crumbles—The Americanization of British English, Author: Matthew Engel.

(glasbergen.com)By Cassie Werber – While some argue that the infiltration of American English is constantly speeding up, Lynne Murphy, a reader in linguistics at the University of Sussex, says that in fact the great era of American English as the language of the world was the 20th century, and it’s over.

“American culture (and words) could easily spread in the 20th century because it was hard to produce and distribute recorded entertainment, but the US had the capacity and the economy and the marketing savvy to do so,” Murphy wrote in a recent blog.

What’s changed in the 21st century, she suggests, is that the internet has re-formed our relationship with media, making audiences less purely receptive, and more able to seek out the content that interests them. Ultimately, she argues, there’s more “exchange of words between people, rather than just reception of words from the media.”

Now, Britain is seeing “a huge torrent” of language from the US, and being constantly changed by it. more> https://goo.gl/L84Ikg

Web of war

BOOK REVIEW

The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency that Changed the World, Author: Sharon Weinberger.
The Manchurian Candidate, Author: Richard Condon.
The Romance of American Psychology, Author: Ellen Herman.

By Sharon Weinberger – Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider – JCR, or simply Lick to his friends – spent much of his time at the Pentagon hiding. In a building where most bureaucrats measured their importance by proximity to the secretary of defense, Licklider was relieved when the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA, assigned him an office in the D‑Ring, one of the Pentagon’s windowless inner circles. There, he could work in peace.

One time, Licklider invited ARPA employees to a meeting at the Marriott hotel between the Pentagon and the Potomac River, to demonstrate how someone in the future would use a computer to access information. As the chief proselytizer for interactive computing, Licklider first wanted people to understand the concept. He was trying to demonstrate how, in the future, everyone would have a computer, people would interact directly with those computers, and the computers would all be connected together. He was demonstrating personal computing and the modern internet, years before they existed.

ARPA was established in 1958 to help the United States catch up with the Soviets in the space race, but by the early 1960s, it had branched off into new research areas, including command and control. The internet would likely not have been born without the military’s need to wage war, or at least it would not have been born at ARPA. Tracing the origins of computer networking at ARPA requires understanding what motivated the Pentagon to hire someone like Licklider in the first place.

It started with brainwashing. more> https://goo.gl/0HwrXh

The Global War on Tourism

By Daniel Benaim – Initial data suggests that a “Trump slump” in tourism may well be materializing: Oxford Economics predicts that foreign travel to the U.S. could drop by 8 percent, or 6.3 million visitors, this coming year. Travel sites have reported massive declines in searches from the UK for travel to Tampa, Orlando, Miami, San Diego, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The Global Business Travel Association estimates that Trump’s policies have already cost the U.S. travel industry nearly $200 million. Meanwhile, New York City is predicting 300,000 fewer foreign tourists than last year at a cost of $600 million – a figure revised sharply down after Trump won.

The irony in all of this is that America’s marketer-in-chief is damaging America’s brand – and the self-declared “America-first” president is keeping foreigners’ money out of Americans’ hands. Foreign tourists do not get to vote in American elections, but they will vote with their feet. Let’s hope that President Obama’s record tourism numbers do not give way to a “Trump slump.” more> https://goo.gl/kOz8Eq

The Republican Health-Care Bill Is Not Designed to Actually Work

By Jonathan Bernstein – In other words, it’s not exactly designed to pass and become a law that actually works.

Speaker Paul Ryan might get the necessary 218 Republicans to close their eyes, hold hands, and jump over a cliff in order to get the bill to the Senate. It’s still unlikely that the bill will pass in the Senate, where Republicans have a much slimmer majority. And that majority includes some senators who simply won’t vote for significant cuts in Medicaid, since that would mean stripping health care away from people (voters!) who currently have it.

Indeed, the bill is hardly certain to pass the House, where many Republicans want (among other things) much deeper Medicaid cuts.

So, as Ezra Klein asks, what’s the point? What’s the problem the bill is supposed to solve? more> https://goo.gl/uDcmwc

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When Bankers Started Playing With Other People’s Money

By William D. Cohan – On April 10, 1970, nearly a year after first filing its IPO prospectus with the SEC, DLJ pulled it off, raising $12 million from the public and as a result fundamentally altering how Wall Street has functioned ever since. “Going public changed Wall Street permanently and forever,” Richard Jenrette (the J in DLJ) told the Times.

On April 10, 1970, nearly a year after first filing its IPO prospectus with the SEC, DLJ pulled it off, raising $12 million from the public and as a result fundamentally altering how Wall Street has functioned ever since. “Going public changed Wall Street permanently and forever,” Richard Jenrette (the J in DLJ) told the Times.

The truth was going public made perfect sense for DLJ and the many Wall Street firms—nearly every one—that followed its lead.

The problem is that the country is still dealing with the unintended consequences of the DLJ IPO to this day. And, of course, back in 1970, very few people, if any, were paying attention to what a small private partnership on Wall Street was trying to do to change the system. And honestly, the importance of the DLJ IPO has still not been fully appreciated. But it was a seminal event.

Ultimately, the unintended consequences of the DLJ IPO would be devastating. In October 1970, Weeden & Co. followed DLJ’s lead and went public. Then the floodgates opened. more> https://goo.gl/z6MzwK