Could Donald Trump get asylum in Greece, where they’ve just finished a border wall?

Democrats in New York are continuing to pursue Donald Trump (see, for example, “Trump Organization Could Face Criminal Charges in D.A. Inquiry” (NYT, June 2021)).

Where could our former leader find like-minded folks who might host him in a sovereign jurisdiction where he could be free from politically-motivated prosecution?

“Greece finishes wall on border with Turkey, amid fears of Afghan migrant crisis” (CNN, August 21, 2021):

Greece has finished building a 40-kilometer (25-mile) wall along its border with Turkey, amid concerns in parts of Europe that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could cause an influx of people seeking asylum.

Greek government ministers toured the fence on Friday and said the overthrow of Afghanistan’s government gave greater urgency to their effort to reduce the flow of migrants across its borders.

“The Afghan crisis is creating new facts in the geopolitical sphere and at the same time it is creating possibilities for migrant flows,” Greece’s Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said in a government statement after touring the completed border wall on Friday. “As a country we cannot remain passive to the possible consequences.”

“It is our decision… to defend and secure our borders,” Chrisochoidis said. “Our borders will remain secure and inviolable. We will not allow uncontrolled and erratic movements and we will not allow any attempt to violate them.”

This raises the question… where in Greece would The Donald most likely live if he did request and receive asylum there? My vote is Meteora, in the old monastery at the top. To get to their prey, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and fellow Democrats would have to scale the cliff as James Bond did.

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When the stability of a nation is in danger, the only solution is, unfortunately, to imprison the leaders of the opposition.

The NYT today (Democrats in New York are prosecuting the Trump Organization):

A 2007 post on this blog, “Idi Amin’s advice to Richard Nixon”:

My friend here in California has Talk of the Devil, Encounters with Seven Dictators by Riccardo Orizio.  The first interview is with Idi Amin.  Orizio reminds us that Amin sent a letter to Richard Nixon during the Watergrate crisis:  “When the stability of a nation is in danger, the only solution is, unfortunately, to imprison the leaders of the opposition.”

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Fact-checking Donald Trump’s predictions regarding COVID vaccine availability

From September 18, 2020, an Unscientific American who was “without evidence” and who contradicted “experts”:

From the linked-to article

President Trump said Friday that every American would have access to a coronavirus vaccine by April, contradicting his own statement of two days earlier and sowing deeper confusion about the process and timing of vaccine approval and distribution.

When Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said earlier in the week that the general public was unlikely to get access to a vaccine until the second and third quarters of 2021, echoing other scientific leaders in the administration, Trump said he’d misspoken.

“I think he made a mistake with that statement,” Trump said Wednesday. “When he said it, I believe he was confused. I’m just telling you we’re ready to go.”

Trump then said a vaccine would be ready in weeks and swiftly made available, despite the fact that no one knows yet when sufficient data will be collected from clinical trials to show that one of the vaccines in late-stage trials is effective or safe.

What do we have from science-guided leadership (and we are assured that leadership is important in determining COVID-19 death rate)? “Biden announces April 19 deadline to make all adults eligible for Covid vaccine” (NBC):

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that all adults in the U.S. should be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine by April 19 … The new deadline to expand eligibility — which is two weeks earlier than Biden had previously targeted — should not be difficult to meet since several states have already begun administering the vaccine to anyone over 16 who wants it.

“The virus is spreading because we have too many people who see the end in sight think we are at the finish line already,” Biden said. “Let me be deadly earnest with you, we aren’t finished. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re still in a life and death race against this virus. Until we get more people vaccinated we need everyone to wash their hands, socially distance and mask up.”

Asked why Biden was announcing the new timeframe when nearly every state has already moved up eligibility to the April date, Psaki said the president wanted to provide clarity and remind seniors to hurry to get their shots before the lines get long.

In case the “Experts say the president’s latest timeline is nearly impossible to confirm since none of the vaccines in development have been proved effective…” is cut off on mobile, here’s a screen shot from the desktop Twitter:

Related:

  • U.S. should approve a saline injection as a Covid-19 vaccine? (my idea from June 2020 that would have reassured a lot of folks)
  • “Italy Pushes Back as Health Care Workers Shun Covid Vaccines” (NYT, March 31): Prime Minister Mario Draghi issued a decree requiring that workers in health care facilities be vaccinated, a move that will test the legal limits of his government’s efforts to stem coronavirus outbreaks. … “Unfortunately there is huge part of doctors who are deeply ignorant,” said Mr. Burioni [a virologist with a Ph.D., but not a “Dr.” like Dr. Jill Biden, M.D.], who suggested that perhaps “the selection process for bringing people to gain a medical degree and then the medical license is not effective enough.” … Salvatore Giuffrida, the director of the hospital, Europe’s fourth largest, said he favored a vaccination requirement because it would also keep medical workers healthy and would strengthen defensive lines as a brutal third wave spreads through northern Italy.
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Trump v. Biden in the New York Times

March 1, 2021. “Trump” occurs 7 times on the nytimes.com home page.

What’s the relative importance of the person who actually occupies the White House? “Biden” occurs once:

Separately, the paper tells us how much money a U.S. senator can reasonably expect to accumulate via “public service”:

Warren plans to introduce a wealth tax for individuals with a net worth of over $50 million.

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All-Trump format for NYT continues even without Trump

If you’d been wondering what the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times were going to do with their “All Trump-Hatred All the Time” formats once the hated dictator was gone, here’s today’s NYT front page:

How much longer can they keep selling Donald Trump as the main topic that Americans need to learn more about?

(What else was going on in the world today? A coup in Myanmar. Climate change that is an existential threat to humanity. Chinese purportedly inflicting a “genocide” on a group that contains some separatists and jihadis. Insane volatility in GME stock (a friend sold a bunch of call options with a strike price of $800; when the stock was trading at $340 people were willing to pay $130 for the option, meaning that the buyers expect GME stock to hit $930). Variant coronavirus preparing to attack the masked-and-vaccinated. Lower income BIPOC school-age children across the U.S. are coming up on a full calendar year without any school (private and public schools for rich white kids are generally open, of course). Russians are in the streets to protest the arrest of Alexei Navalny. Fiji is being destroyed by cyclones. Migrant caravans are trying to reach President Biden’s promised land, but having trouble redeeming that promise.)

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Landfill all of the Trump-hatred books?

From our local public library’s new and featured books section:

And, upstairs in the children’s section:

Given the demographics of this Boston suburb, it may not be the right time to #Resist having working-class Black Americans pay higher taxes so that wealthy white families can have their student loans forgiven

Trump is gone, right? Will people still want to read books about Trump, books about resisting Trump, books about a former president’s elderly wife who was defeated by Trump, etc.? Once President Harris is in charge, is there still a market for a book about the shortcomings of “White Male America”?

What happens to Trump hatred once Trump himself escapes to Florida and/or, depending on how intensively he is hunted by Democrats and their attorney generals, beyond the borders of the U.S.?

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Government determines COVID-19 outcomes, so Congress will work on impeachment

Government action determines the death rate from/with COVID-19. With the right laws, and/or female leadership, we could have a death rate of 0 (see Cambodia), in fact. We’re at the height of Plague Wave #2. Californians donned the hijab and observed the sacraments of the Church of Shutdown, yet still the God of Corona was not appeased (NYT):

Plainly we need some different laws. Is Congress right now fully engaged in passing those new laws that would save hundreds of thousands of American lives? “House Democrats plan to vote Wednesday to impeach Trump” (CNN):

House Democrats plan to vote Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democrats on a caucus call Monday, setting up an impeachment vote one week after rioters incited by Trump overran Capitol police and breached some of the most secure areas of the US Capitol.

The House will vote Tuesday evening on a resolution urging Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from power, and then plan to vote Wednesday at 9 a.m. ET on the impeachment resolution, Hoyer said.

Democrats formally introduced their impeachment resolution Monday, charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” as they race toward making him the first president in history to be impeached twice.

In other words, rather than beat COVID-19 with muscular government action, Congress will devote full time to impeaching a president who is already effectively gone (as far as anyone without a Chinese IP address can determine).

Related:

  • “Democrats were for occupying capitols before they were against it” (Washington Post): “Thousands of protesters rushed to the … Capitol Wednesday night, forcing their way through doors, crawling through windows and jamming corridors.” That is how one newspaper described the storming of the Capitol — not the one in Washington last week, but the state Capitol in Madison, Wis., a decade ago. Back then, thousands of pro-union activists — many bused in from out of state — rampaged through the historic building in an effort to stop a vote on collective bargaining reform legislation. … House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the occupiers for an “impressive show of democracy in action” and tweeted as they assaulted the Capitol that she continued “to stand in solidarity” with the union activists. In other words, Democrats were for occupying capitols before they were against it.
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VPN for Americans to get a Chinese IP address and see what Trump and other Deplorables have to say?

Donald Trump has been unpersoned by U.S. tech companies, deplatformed from Twitter and Facebook. Parler, the social media competitor to Facebook that had become popular with Trump supporters, has been deplatformed by Amazon Web Services (AWS, which provides Parler’s servers; the site will go dark tomorrow night). Parler has also been deplatformed by Google/Android from phones and will presumably be banned by Apple from the App Store in due course. Amazon previously deplatformed from their ad network anyone who expressed disagreement with the CDC (post from May; maybe Amazon was right… California’s governor followed the CDC’s guidance (old and new) to the letter and California has not been troubled by coronavirus).

Is there a business opportunity here? How about VPNs for Americans to get a Chinese IP address and surf the Internet from inside the Great Firewall so that they can see all of the stuff that has been banned in the U.S.? If they want to do this with apps they can get a Huawei phone (top-rated for camera performance by dxomark), which will soon run software free from American control.

What’s a good name for our VPN-to-China service? “FreePeking”? “YunnanGonnaBeBlocked”?

Separately, I think this is the time to admit that I was wrong about Docker (“platform as a service”). From a senior software engineer friend:

Docker is a form of Kool-Aid. Think Jim Jones. We all drink it here in the Valley.

If Parler wants to spin itself up somewhere other than Amazon (is that feasible given the 24 hours of notice that Amazon gave Parler? They must have a crazy amount of photos/videos to transfer), Docker could actually be useful!

During my November 2019 trip to Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (awesome!), the U.S.-educated MBAs with whom I talked said that (a) they preferred living in China to living in the U.S. (they’d previously worked in Manhattan), and (b) they had more freedom of speech in China than in the U.S. (there was a clear line of permissible/impermissible drawn by the Party for published speech (they felt free to say whatever they wanted to at a restaurant table)). I wonder if Americans would experience more practical freedom on the Chinese-run Internet than on the Amazon/Google/Apple/Facebook-run Internet.

From Shanghai:

Finally, is it fair to say that Donald Trump is the new Hannibal Lecter and even the most casual contact with him, such as reading some words that he has written, could be dangerous? This Hannibal Lecter-style power is why my Facebook friends are talking nonstop about all of the ways that Trump can be imprisoned forever. It isn’t enough that Trump will disappear in 11 days. They need him inside a Supermax prison solitary cell in order to feel secure.

The Trump Twitter Archive captured some of the hated dictator’s tweets before Twitter put them into the memory hole. Here’s what he wrote just as the Capitol was being trashed:

  • Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!
  • I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!

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Time for graduate school in Trump hatred

If we regard the lead-up to the election as a Bachelor’s degree in Trump-hatred, can the post-election activity be thought of as grad school? From “Voting Trump Out is Not Enough,” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (New Yorker):

Like tens of millions of Americans, I voted to end the miserable reign of Donald J. Trump, but we cannot perpetuate the election-year fiction that the deep and bewildering problems facing millions of people in this country will simply end with the Trump Administration. They are embedded in “the system,” in systemic racism, and the other social inequities that are the focus of continued activism and budding social movements. Viewing the solution to these problems as simply electing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both underestimates the depth of the problems and trivializes the remedies necessary to undo the damage. That view may also confuse popular support for fundamental change, as evidenced by Trump’s one-term Presidency, with what the Democratic Party is willing or even able to deliver.

The hated dictator’s name appears more than 20 times in this article.

With Trump gone, it is apparently time to listen to the scientists who said that the shutdown would cost more lives than would be saved from Covid-19:

Today, in Philadelphia, where I live, there is not a single aspect of life that the pandemic has not upended, from work and school to housing and health care, pulling poor and working-class African-Americans, in particular, deeper into debt and despair. The uncertainty of the moment, let alone the future, feeds fear, frustration, hopelessness, and dread. In Philadelphia, shootings are on the rise, and the murder rate is growing. … African-Americans make up eighty-five per cent of the city’s shooting victims. Even before the pandemic, drug overdoses in Black Philadelphia were on the rise. In the first three months of shelter-in-place orders, a hundred and forty-seven Black residents died by accidental drug overdose, forty-seven per cent of drug deaths in the city. … Job losses have overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers. Since May, as many as eight million people have been pushed into poverty, with Black families overrepresented among them. … Thousands of people have already been evicted during this crisis, and nearly one out of six renters have fallen behind on their rent. Nearly one in four renters who live with children report that they are not up-to-date with the rent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s unprecedented moratorium on evictions was too good to be true: the Trump Administration recently signalled to landlords that it would allow them to challenge the eligibility of tenants. This leaves the viability of the C.D.C. moratorium up to the discretion of individual judges, who may or may not honor it. Local organizers and activists have tried to fill the gap created by federal neglect with relentless mutual-aid organizing, but it is hardly sufficient.

Our cities are actually run by good people:

It is not a Trumpian slur to observe that many of the cities where Black suffering takes place are also governed by proud members of the Democratic Party. Instead, it illuminates the depth of the bipartisan failure to address the tangled roots of racism, poverty, and inequality.

But they have been let down by the U.S. economy, which is only about half as large as it needs to be to support the subsidies that low-skill and/or non-working Americans require:

In Philadelphia, which, ignobly, has among the highest proportion of poor residents of any big city in the country, thousands stand on the cusp of eviction. Twenty-two per cent of households in the city are severely cost-burdened, meaning that they are spending half or more of their income on housing costs, which is well above the national average. Before this downturn, sixty-one per cent of households headed by Black women in Philadelphia were spending at least thirty per cent of their income on rent, compared with fifty-three per cent of households headed by white women and forty-four per cent of households headed by white men.

(The author doesn’t mention this, but what will really help these folks is 45 million immigrants to compete with them in the rental market:

(from Migration Policy Institute). Econ 101 tells us that when demand is boosted by 45 million, prices for scarce rentals will inevitably fall.)

Not enough money is being diverted from rural America (i.e., the counties that voted Republican) to the cities (i.e., the counties that voted Democrat):

The likely gridlock in Congress next year will lead to more stagnation in local government, as communities become hamstrung by a lack of federal funding.

(I should do a separate blog post on this. I wonder if the reason that people in low-density parts of the U.S. vote for smaller government is that big government spends nearly all of its money in cities. Hospitals, federal buildings, central post offices, community centers, concert halls, courthouses, etc. all tend to be built in downtown areas. The bigger the government, the larger the transfer from rural counties to urban counties.)

The core problem is the existence of Republicans:

That conclusion may seem to be supported by the shocking fact that upward of seventy million people voted to reëlect the most corrupt, venal, and brazenly racist President in modern American history. … The insistence on unity between the two parties almost always comes at the expense of those whose needs are greatest. How would a Biden Administration incorporate the views of a Republican Party that has supported a white-supremacist President, voted for Trump’s plutocratic tax cuts, advocated for the separation of families at the border, and facilitated the heist of a Supreme Court seat in hopes of fulfilling the right’s fantasy of ending access to abortion and destroying any hint of government-backed health insurance? We were told that this Presidential race was the most consequential of our lifetimes, that it was a contest between democracy and budding fascism. Why would Biden welcome the foot soldiers of Trump’s authoritarian politics into his coalition?

And the struggle will continue even if Trump disappears in his Boeing 757, beyond the reach of even the most vindictive Democrats:

The need in this country dwarfs the best of what Biden has put on the table for changing our current condition. But the demonstrations of the summer, the ongoing campaigns for mutual aid, and the growing movement against evictions are demonstrable proof that power is not only generated in mainstream politics but can be garnered through collective organizing and acts of solidarity. They also foretell a future in which the country does not return to a long-forgotten normal but is animated by protests, strikes, occupations, and the ongoing struggle for food, medicine, care, housing, justice, and democracy.

One reason that I voted for Bernie Sanders (twice!) was his logical consistency. In my opinion, we shouldn’t run a country that says housing is a “right” and then provide subsidized housing to only one quarter of those who qualify. At the same time, building the 7 million additional low-income housing units that are required (NLIHC) will cost roughly $5 trillion. Not only don’t we have an extra $5 trillion lying around, but every year an additional million or so low-skill immigrants arrive whose correspondingly low income would entitle them to subsidized housing (i.e., even if we got 7 million new units built by the end of 2021, we’d still have a substantial shortfall).

The Democrats actually did have control of the Presidency and Congress in the first two years of the Obama Administration, right? And they couldn’t find enough money in the U.S. economy to achieve their policy goals? If the Democrats’ huge advantage in funding is sufficient to take control of the Senate via the Georgia runoff votes, will they be able to fund their dream programs in 2021 and 2022? Or will they discover that the U.S. economy has grown at a much slower per-capita rate than their dreams?

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What can we appreciate about Trump?

Now that Donald Trump appears to be definitively headed for retirement from politics, maybe it is worth revisiting a question that a negotiation expert asked a group of Harvard alumni: What can we appreciate about Donald Trump? (the guy was trying to teach these folks that you will be a more effective negotiator if you can find some common ground)

The assembled righteous, of course, answered that there was absolutely not a shred of goodness in the Bad Orange Man and certainly he had never done anything that they could possibly appreciate.

Readers: What about you? (no need to highlight or dissect the failures; every U.S. president has been limited by Congress, the states, and/or the American people)

(My personal list:

  1. started no wars
  2. aligned corporate tax rates with Europe so that it no longer made obvious sense for corporations to flee
  3. limited the unfair subsidization of inefficient states by residents of efficient states (SALT deduction limit; note that this increased my personal tax payments)
  4. motivated the FAA to be a little less inefficient and a little less unresponsive
  5. a couple of peace/trade deals between Israel and the Arabs
  6. appointed a fellow Honda minivan driver to the Supreme Court

)

Related:

  • https://www.whitehouse.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments/ (does not seem to have been updated in a couple of years, as Kavanaugh is listed as a nominee only)

Serving suggestion if you’re hosting a Trump Appreciation party (Goya-brand olive oil):

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