Jan. 31st, 2017

hudebnik: (rant)
In any security system, the central policy question is how to balance false positives against false negatives. Any chucklehead can come up with a system with no false negatives: don't let anybody in. And any chucklehead can come up with a system with no false positives: let everybody in. The tricky stuff is in between. So in a sense, Trump's order simply weights the danger of false positives less, and the danger of false negatives more, than the previous system, as everybody would expect of a Republican, "law-and-order" administration.

But if you were really trying to "make America safe from terrorism," you would start by examining the existing vetting procedure and any bad guys known to have slipped through it, and adjust it accordingly, while maintaining whatever balance you've chosen against the danger of false positives.

I don't think that's Trump's goal. If he really is the infantile, ignorant narcissist most people think he is, the goal of this order is to "keep his campaign promise": he said on the campaign trail (as usual, with no evidence) that the current vetting system is inadequate, and that he would impose "extreme" vetting, much stricter and stronger and manlier and más macho than the current system. I suspect he has very little idea what the current system is, but his is going to be more. Without actually analyzing the current system, the only policy guaranteed to be more is the "first chucklehead's" system -- don't let anybody in -- so that's what he's ordered temporarily. The way the order was issued, with little or no consultation with the departments and secretaries who would need to implement it, makes this very plausible.

On the other hand, if he (or, more likely, Steve "Wormtongue" Bannon) is sufficiently Machiavellian, the goal may be to instigate Moslem terrorists to attack the U.S. in order to justify a state of emergency giving him dictatorial powers.

The latter is of course a wacky paranoid conspiracy theory, and I honestly think it's less likely than the former. But the two scenarios are not mutually exclusive.

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