Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Here we go again with the imperial Tweedict.
Two White House officials said an executive order is being drafted and that Trump could sign it as soon as Tuesday. The order, which was discussed among senior staff members Monday [sure, Jan], would suspend nearly all immigration under the rationale of preventing the spread of infection by foreigners arriving from abroad.
Oh, sure, but

The president’s announcement caught some senior Department of Homeland Security officials off guard, and the agency did not respond to questions and requests to explain Trump’s plan late Monday.
In other words, it's Trump (and presumably Stephen Miller, and probably Sean Hannity, who Trump likes to call every weeknight after watching the show, which ends at 10:00 PM, or in this case six minutes before the tweet was issued) popping off, and the White House scrambling to make his words true in some sense, because that's their job now: whatever Trump says, try to find a way to make it look like he knows what he's talking about and is in control.

But the responsible news media are officially doing their best to take it seriously. (I'm listening to BBC World Service as I type—they've gone to the pro-immigration rightwing Cato Institute for commentary, and to be fair Cato doesn't sound a lot more impressed than I am.)

It's idiotic in this case in the first instance because immigration to the US is more or less totally shut off already by previous presidential decrees, and air traffic to the US has virtually ceased anyway. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that the US is now the global epicenter of a worldwide pandemic where the disease is expanding faster and steeper than almost anywhere else? Just saying. If you were a Canadian would you choose this moment to drive to Buffalo or Detroit or Seattle to apply for permanent residence?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the shared extension during a public address on April 18 and said he expected the border restrictions to remain in place for at "many weeks" to come. The two countries first announced the travel restrictions in March, and this is the second time the policy has been extended.
During a COVID-19 briefing earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Canada and the U.S. were "doing well" and their shared border could be one of the first to fully reopen for recreational travel.
And one speculation is that Trump is just saving face in response to his former buddy Trudeau contradicting him in public in this hurtful way.

In any event, it's going to be hard for the minions to come up with a reason, on the same account, that the excuses he comes up with in the tweet are completely disconnected from reality.
I assume the basic reason is to impress his base with how "strong" he is, because he's been looking like a flounder on the deck in recent weeks.

On Hannity's role, I should emphasize that according to the best authority, Matt Gertz, the immigration Tweedict was not a "live tweet", i.e., not a response to something Trump saw on TV, but I still think it's possible that Hannity on the phone had something to do with it. Meanwhile, scientists have found evidence that watching Hannity is not only dangerous but may be literally lethal in some cases, reports The Chicago Tribune:
A new study published by the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics makes a claim that will strike many as incendiary: “Greater viewership of ‘Hannity’ relative to ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ is strongly associated with a greater number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the early stages of the pandemic,” says the paper.
The working paper is called “Misinformation During a Pandemic,” and it derives from the authors’ finding that Carlson and Sean Hannity, the two most popular hosts on the right-wing Fox News Network, initially treated coronavirus very differently.
“Carlson warned viewers about the threat posed by the coronavirus from early February, while Hannity originally dismissed the risks associated with the virus before gradually adjusting his position starting late February,” Leonardo Bursztyn of the University of Chicago and his co-authors Aakaash Rao, Christopher Roth and David Yanagizawa-Drott wrote in the paper released Sunday evening.

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