Feb. 4th, 2017

My tweets

Feb. 4th, 2017 12:00 pm
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Recently Donald Trump tweeted the following:


Note the "so-called" flag. This is one in a series of rants, which included


What we're seeing here is a President beginning to learn that his authority is not unlimited. That the US has a series of "checks and balances" and that even he has to follow the rule of law, as defined by the Constitution. As President he has access to more power than he's ever had before, but may also be more constrained in the exercise of that power than he's ever been before.

There are three paths I can see this taking....

1: The courts start agreeing with him.
2: He learns to work within the restrictions
3: An "outside context" event occurs

Court agreement


I think this might happen, especially when he gets a majority on the Supreme Court. We may see battles in the lower courts but, ultimately the SC will rule in his favour. We'll see some of the most interesting interpretations of the Constitution.

Display learning behaviour


This one doesn't fill me with a lot of hope. I've seen no real evidence of this in the past decade. Maybe some of his staff will push back, but we're gonna see more Executive Orders from Trump than we've seen in a long time, and it's gonna be a disaster.

Outside Context Event


This is what worries we. Trump will notice "Hey, in times of crisis the President is given massive leeway to do whatever he wants!" and think back to 9/11. "Wow, look at the powers Bush had!"

What I fear is that we're gonna see is some monstrosity occur on American soil. Not a 9/11 level event, but something big enough that Trump will jump up and down and scream "Told ya so!" and every EO he writes will be enacted with little to no oversight. That the event will ultimately turn out to have been caused by a group of "Patriots" wanting to "Make America Great Again" will come to light too late. By this point the damage to America will have been done.

No, I don't believe Trump nor anyone in the government will do this; it will be the actions of a small group of Americans. But the result will be exactly what they want; unlimited power to Trump.

But terrorism!


You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about actual terrorism and the need to defend the country. That's because I think existing controls are already excessive.

I grew up in England during the IRA mainland bombing campaign. My mum was at the Ideal Home Exhibition when that was bombed; friends of friends died at the Baltic Exchange bombings; there have been bomb threats on roads I was on (I got locked into a pub once due to one; yes the IRA forced me to have another beer!). I was working on Wall Street (just a few blocks from the World Trade Center) when 9/11 happened.

I'm not unaware of terrorism and the impact it can have. I'm also aware of what can happen to try and stop it; how personal liberties and freedoms can be curtailed in the name of safety. We saw this after 9/11 and it became the "new normal".

Conclusion


I really really hope I'm wrong here. I have a habit of predicting worst case scenarios and preparing for them. At work this is valuable because it helps ensure that projects are prepared for edge-cases and so are more stable. At home it means that I'm not normally caught unprepared.

But this scenario... I have no mitigation strategy; I have no way of preventing it and nothing I can't plan around it if it happens.

This is my worst case scenario, and I'm afraid of it.

But don't be surprised if we see a "terrorist" attack within 6 months.

May 2017

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