It’s been a week since I’ve seen anything in the news about Last Tango in Paris. I thought we were supposed to be outraged about that movie. That’s one of the things I hate about Twitter and celebrities. It amplifies nonsense because once one celebrity tweets their outrage, every other celebrity with a Twitter account had better join in or they look like assholes, but only for a couple of days or so. And then it’s on to the next outrage. I don’t even use Twitter, but I’m aware of Twitter outrage and Twitter wars and everything else because half the news articles on the web these days are recounts of what people have tweeted.
On the subject of Twitter, there have been numerous pundits calling on Twitter to ban Donald Trump’s account because his tweets incite bullying against his critics, in seeming violation of Twitter’s rules of conduct. Of course Twitter should kick Trump off of their service, but not for that reason. He is the president-elect, soon to be the president. It is a dangerous thing for the president to have an unfiltered means of speaking to the masses. Every word a president says in public matters, meaning that all those words need thought and consideration put into them. The words of a president have the power to start wars. During our worst days, the calm and measured words of a president do as much to combat anxiety and fear as a nationwide dose of Xanax. Since Trump seems both unwilling and unable to think before he tweets, Twitter should ban his account for the good of the nation. Twitter doesn’t even need to justify such an action. Twitter is not a government agency. Twitter is a business. But there won’t be any sort of ban until Trump tweets something that gets someone killed. Because he brings eyes to the site, and because the amount of Twitter outrage that would follow from banning Trump would hurt Twitter’s bottom line. That’s too bad, because it would be nice if Twitter did something good for society for once.
After the story broke this past weekend that Russia had been using its hacking to influence the election in Trump’s favor, one of his coming nominees, John Bolton, said in an interview on Fox News, “It’s not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation.”
Put simply, for those who don’t know, a false flag operation is a covert operation in which the perpetrators are posing as enemies of the state. Bolton’s ill-considered statement on television seems to suggest that the CIA, the Obama administration, or some unknown actor had carried out the hacking against the two major parties in order to either incriminate Russia or to undermine the results of the election. That is an astounding insinuation from someone in line to be Deputy Secretary of State. In a normal political atmosphere, it would be a disqualifying statement. Then again, in a normal political atmosphere, John Bolton wouldn’t be saying such things, nor getting the TV time in which to say them.
Bolton didn’t implicitly blame anyone for his ‘false flag’ idea, possibly because he was speaking off the cuff, but the fact the idea came to his mind at all is indicative of the poison infecting American politics from the right wing. Conspiracy theories and the cranks that push them undermine legitimate facts and occurrences by obscuring the truth. Overwhelming truth with disinformation is a favored tactic of Russia, in fact. And it works. Without all the conspiracies about President Obama — his place of birth, his religion, his supposed anti-Americanism, his supposedly being the antichrist, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera — and the people willing to believe them, Trump would never have been in the position to win the Republican nomination. Conspiracy theories are part of the disease infecting the American polity, and it becomes all the more frightening when those in power are either too stupid to recognize these lies for what they are, or are willing to use those lies to stay in power.
There’s also a further consideration. Bolton, without naming names, has basically accused someone in the government of treason. That’s all well and good if he were just some citizen yelling into the wind, but he’s not. He is a public figure who will once again have influence on American foreign policy, should he be confirmed. When someone in his position utters baseless accusations of treason, that in itself is treasonous behavior, because it undermines the authority of government. Bolton is an awful man who should never be allowed in government again. I hope his nomination dies a quick death.
Finally, we are less than a week away from the electors gathering in state houses across the nation and casting the only votes for president that matter. 538 men and women will decide who will lead this nation of 320 million. A few electors from states Trump won have said they will not cast their ballots for him. There is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about that. Electors were given the discretion to vote for whom they choose by our founding set of laws, despite state laws acting to the contrary. Were I to place a bet on the electoral college outcome, I would still bet on Trump. He would have to lose 37 electors to throw the vote to the House. Even if that did happen, I’m not convinced that House Republicans wouldn’t cave and vote him in anyway.
But there is still that slim hope, isn’t there? Trump is firmly ensconced in what former sportswriter Bill Simmons calls ‘the Tyson zone.’ That is, no matter how fantastical or crazy the story one hears about Trump, nothing would be surprising at this point. Nothing is off the table with this man, including him never taking office.
Ironically, if the electoral college did its constitutional duty and protected us from a proto-fascist Trump administration, there might finally be action to abolish the electoral college because it defied the will of the states. Yet we wouldn’t be in this mess at all if we just elected the president by popular vote. Hillary Clinton, as things currently stand, is up by more than two and a half million in the popular vote. To put that in perspective, there are over 90 countries whose total populations are less than Clinton’s popular vote lead. It’s absurd that she won’t be taking the oath of office on January 20th.