Presidential Chaos [you MUST read this]

From:,  by Chet Richards,  on Sep 12, 2018

The Oval Office is in chaos.  Donald Trump is mercurial, scatter-brained, given to changing his opinion every few minutes.  Talks all the time.  Doesn’t listen.  Is opinionated.  Often wrong.  He is interested only in today, not tomorrow.  He lacks caution.  It all adds up to a president who clearly is mentally deficient – insane even.  Or so some say.  They say it is vital for the Nation’s future that Donald Trump be relieved of his office – or at least tightly controlled.

All of the above may, or may not, be true.  Only those in a day-to-day working relationship with the president know the reality, and publicly they say only positive things about the man.

Whatever the truth, the simple fact is that Donald Trump is, thus far, perhaps the most productive president in American history.  Only Teddy Roosevelt is a productive rival, and chaos surrounded him, as well.  How can Trump’s purported chaotic insanity produce such positive results?

The simplest explanation is simple:  Donald Trump may be a genius!  Don’t laugh.  He may be the real thing.  He jokes about it, which suggests he doesn’t realize that he really is (see the Dunning-Kruger effect).  His career record certainly suggests he is a major creative talent – and a gutsy one at that.

Perhaps President Trump is the kind of genius who thrives on turmoil.  If so, that explains the chaos.  In my profession of physics, there have been several brilliant notables with exactly that characteristic.  It is not to say that Donald Trump lacks self-discipline.  He wouldn’t be where he is today if discipline was lacking.  His discipline is probably very different from the norm, but it clearly works.

Creative people understand chaos.  They especially understand it if they have collaborated with other talented people on a difficult problem.  Creative chaos is the norm in such an environment.  Without that chaos, productivity can vanish.

More than half a century ago, equipped with a fresh physics degree, I attracted the attention of a group of professional inventors and was hired.  Most of the time the work was routine.  The real fun came, most days when things were winding down.  Then a few of us would gather together for exercises in pure invention.  We were led by the group’s technical boss, a master inventor.  It was in these sessions that I received my training as a professional inventor.  The most noteworthy things about these sessions were their chaos and their entertainment value – they really were fun.

A problem would be posed.  It didn’t matter what kind of problem as long as there was no known solution.  Then came a great deal of discordant, often simultaneous, often loud, back and forth.  Chaos.  Then, sometimes popping out of the blue, a solution magically appeared.  Almost always these sessions would produce at least one patentable invention (and often more than one).  We usually didn’t file a patent because the invention was seldom relevant to our business and patents are expensive.

Given the creative ferment there it is little wonder that the group produced a series of engineering masterpieces.

Later, after several uninspiring years in graduate school, I found myself working directly for one of the aerospace industry’s great geniuses.  Chaos again.  I was back in my element.  People change, personalities change, but the creative chaos is always the same – provided the talent is there.

Trump faces a problem: the Government.  The Government is not, by its nature, a creative institution.  When it tries to be, it almost invariably gets it wrong.  Just consider all the failed social programs if you doubt this.

Government is good at routine.  Routine minds are repelled by the kind of turbulence that surrounds Donald Trump.  Which, of course, is the reason they have routine minds in routine jobs.  Government is process oriented and rule-bound.  Once a routine is established things tend to go smoothly for a while.  Unfortunately routine breaks down in stressing situations.  Then, creative thinking is required.  But the creativity is usually not there.  Creative people just don’t fit comfortably in a process-oriented organization.

The aerospace industry has many examples where process breaks down.  One program, where I was involved at a senior level, suffered from excessive process.  The program manager was a retired Lieutenant General who had had great success managing a key part of the first Gulf War.  He was highly intelligent and accessible.  But he did not understand the creative chaos required for success in this kind of program.  What he did understand was process.

Key decisions were to be made according to a detailed schedule, not for technical merit.  After an expenditure of more than a billion dollars of government money, and hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate investment, the program was canceled.  Process had killed the program.

The people who thrive at upper levels in Government are mostly highly intelligent conventional thinkers.  Put them in the service of someone like Donald Trump and they may do outstanding work.  Or, they may rebel and engage in subversion.  Such rebellion seems to be a problem today.

According to the notorious 9/5/18 New York Times op-ed piece by Anonymous,  there exists an informal Steady State conspiracy at high levels in Trump’s administration.  Reportedly, this group has interfered with the president’s decision process.  It has done so by pilfering documents that were put in front of him to sign.  Implied, this group also biases the information going to the president.  Is this editorial factual?  Or, is it just malicious disinformation from the swamp?  If it is real then substantial housecleaning is in order.  In any case, among a cast of hundreds, or even thousands, there inevitably will be those who will be disaffected.

In time the mix of the people around the president will have evolved to be a buffer between the productive conventional thinkers and their highly unconventional boss.  In engineering terms, Trump’s senior staff should serve as an efficient impedance matching device.  Given Donald Trump’s major talents, and with such a mature staff around the president, we can expect this administration to go down as one history’s greatest.


Has Mr. Richards gone off his meds?

OR, perhaps he’s onto something. His theory would explain a lot.

I, for one, am reluctant to canonize Mr. Trump as a genuine, bona fide genius, especially since I constantly and consistently berated him as a lunatic before he was nominated. But, no one can ignore the success he’s had in all of his varied endeavors.

His brain (obviously) doesn’t work like ‘ordinary’ people’s brain and that alone could explain why we ‘ordinary’ people are put off by the chaos that seems to propel him. If we look at his overall demeanor, especially since occupying the Oval Office, through a ‘genius’ lens, perhaps Mr. Richards has correctly identified why President Trump has been so productive, even while seemingly surrounded by discord and chaos.

I’m going to withhold a final opinion for a bit and see if this immensely productive activity continues. If it does, that will reinforce Mr. Richards’ theory and give us mere mortals confidence that there is indeed, method in Trump’s madness.

In fact, just think of what could be accomplished if he were freed from the shackles of ordinary expectations. 




Categories: Political

14 replies

  1. 21 years in the Active Duty U.S. Navy
    21 years in State of Washington service
    I can attest to pretty much everything aid above. (Not a Trump fan at first, but more and more being one). Look at a fantastic program killed by bureaucratic inertia – PROJECT HIGH FRONTIER. Consider just 2 parts of it: THOR’s HAMMER and ODIN’S SPEAR. I’ll leave it to you to do the research, but both would/could have been darned inexpensive space-based defense systems. Think of a 3 foot long steel rod with fins and a guidance computer about like the Commodore-64 or even the VIC-20. Dropped from space with overhead imagery of a Soviet tank or ship. All it does is match an overhead picture and guide itself by use of the fins – no power source other than gravity – to its target. Catastrophic hit. 2 or 3 would destroy a medium ship. 4-5 an aircraft carrier. 1 would vaporize a tank. A couple of dozen would fit in a small satellite which could ride into space with every launch of another satellite or space mission

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. The first major power to deploy working space-based weaponry will have a distinct and major advantage over everyone else. We need the ability to defend our satellites from being destroyed as well. Without our command and control satellite telemetry, many of our weapons will be impotent. We need the space-based systems for both offensive and defensive purposes. I will check out both Thor’s Hammer and Odin’s Spear, thanks for the heads up, VM.


  2. Mr. Richards has not gone off his meds!

    He may have a reasonable theory. Some people just think better, creatively and productively with much activity and bluster around. If it’s not there they’ll make it.

    I’d love to know for sure!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think everyone sees what my husband and I are seeing. And we each focus on a portion that we’ve figured out a label for. Chet Richards thinks it could be genius; while Garnet isn’t putting on a label, he says what I’ve been thinking, “just think of what could be accomplished if he were freed from the shackles of ordinary expectations”; Kathy points out another truth, “I just wish he had some support from the Rs in Congress”; CW makes another excellent point, “Donald Trump is a problem solver, and very good one for the most part”; and Vapor_sage says, “, I for one think everything President Trump does is calculated even the hyperbole, it gets attention and everything that goes along with his outrageous tweets”…. My husband and I often wonder if those tweets have a two-fold purpose of being transparent and also a bit of smoke and mirrors to distract attention from a hammer, which is about to fall on some denizen of the swamp and/or one of their pet programs.
    One thing is for certain, we’re eating a lot more popcorn while watching the news than we ever have 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, it’s obvious that he’s different things to different people. I’d have an easier time ascribing some sort of ‘genius’ level intellect to him if he didn’t pull so many bone-headed miscues by telling small inconsequential lies and making unnecessary exaggerations – those are all what I call ‘unforced errors’ since they encourage incoming fire from enemies and pseudo-friendlies alike. They are all errors that could be easily avoided if he was just a little more careful.

      Regardless, it looks like the foguth household views him as entertainment; I understand that popcorn futures are off the charts!

      Liked by 2 people

      • We also view him has an effective negotiator and good business man.
        I’ve been wondering if those “small inconsequential lies, unnecessary exaggerations and ‘unforced errors’” are either an odd sense of humor or part of a smokescreen to get everyone riled up while he and his team march along like energizer bunnies getting stuff done.

        Liked by 2 people

      • If you will read my recent post, “Sessions Don’t Care!” (also the links) you’ll see these aberrations are a FEATURE not a detriment. They are distraction and disarming techniques!

        Everyone is playing their role so the Show can go on!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If chaos equals genius, then hoarders and 2-year-olds could be geniuses too. Trump is productive, innovative and patriotic, but genius…I don’t think so. If he were, then he could have figured out ways around the problems and the stumbling blocks put it front of him during the past months. I just wish he had some support from the Rs in Congress. If he had just half the support O got from the Ds, our country would be in great shape.

    Liked by 3 people

    • From the comments here (and on other sites) it seems that we don’t all define ‘genius’ the same way. The thing that he doesn’t appear to be very good at is the anticipation of adverse effects associated with his statements and tweets. I’ve said before that many times he’s been his own worst enemy when he commits ‘unforced errors.’

      I agree that the Republicans see him as something akin to an adversary since he won’t play their silly conventional establishment games – he keeps rocking the boat – and they want smooth sailing even if it means that nothing gets done (except that they keep their cushy jobs).

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Forgive me for saying so but the determination to label Trump as a genius always strikes me as a way for people to rationalize their uncritical support.

    Geniuses come in all different kinds: artistic, mathematical, business, creative, strategic, etc., but being a genius does not even remotely guarantee that a person has the wisdom, foresight, temperament, intuition or intelligence that’s needed to be a truly great POTUS. I have no idea whether Trump qualifies in some way as a genius or not, maybe he does, but I think it’s irrelevant. Beethoven was a genius. Does that mean he would have been a great POTUS? Elon Musk, I’ve read, is a genius. Look at what’s happening to him and to his business right now. I just find little comfort in the claim that Trump is a genius.

    IMHO Donald Trump is a problem solver, and very good one for the most part. He saw the mess that the U.S. had become, and he was determined to do something about it. He’s tried to surround himself with other people that he thinks of as problem solvers, and it has been with the help and guidance of MANY people that he has been able to accomplish what he’s accomplished, including cooperative Republicans in congress. But a problem solver (even one who is a genius at it), like anyone else, can be a flawed person even if they are great at solving problems. I don’t know why people want to make it more complicated than that.

    Liked by 5 people

    • You note that geniuses come in lots of flavors and while I’m not ready to elevate him to a Beethoven or Einstein level, at least so far, he has been more successful than most in several disparate endeavors. I don’t expect him to compose a symphony, I just want him to help the country be peaceful and prosperous.

      He does possess some unusual abilities (apparently) and I’m not even sure that I’d like to have a beer with him BUT he has been productive so far, and I’ll concede props to him for that. To be sure, he doesn’t deserve ALL of the credit for his success, since he’s got a sh*tload of smart and savvy advisors to assist him in his decisions, but the buck does stop at his desk.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I understand your sentiment, I for one think everything President Trump does is calculated even the hyperbole, it gets attention and everything that goes along with his outrageous tweets, it almost seems supernatural

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks for the comment, VS!

      I (still) have trouble believing that The Donald is that calculating inside. I’m more likely to believe that he’s naturally reactionary but with great instincts. However we choose to define it, he is somewhat unusual in his embrace of chaos and his ability to work immersed in it.

      Liked by 1 person

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