Lawless governments and boring tweets do not deserve our notice

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Fellow citizens, we need to take our rulers less seriously. Set up an elliptical playpen near the White House and hang a sign on it that says Oval Office. Stop pretending that the all these institutions that we use to regard as mainstays of our democratic republic are what they say they are. The Wizard of Oz had all this gear to make him sound like a scary gasbag. Trump only needs his Twitter account.

The latest evidence of radical dysfunction in our pretend government is Trump’s charge that President Obama ordered the phones in Trump Tower tapped before the November election. Talk about proof that one man’s fake news is another man’s truth! The media love to take their place as the nation’s fact checkers, but in this case they knew the evidence for this charge, if true, lay far beyond their reach. No Deep Throat would come forward to substantiate this one. So the media immediately went with a standard ‘no evidence’ claim. That is, “no evidence exists to substantiate the president’s charge.”

The problem with the ‘no evidence’ claim is that it only carries weight after you complete your investigation. Normally you would conclude that after you have planned your research, tested hypotheses, compared results, and so on. You would not make a claim like that right off the bat, except for rhetorical reasons. That is, you state the conclusion early if you want to bat down an accusation, or ridicule the people who make the accusation.

The problem with the ‘no evidence’ claim is that it only carries weight after you complete your investigation.

We have seen all that over the last two weeks regarding Trump’s charge that Obama wiretapped the phones in Trump Tower before the November election. I should make two brief points about this accusation. First, it’s trivial, though you could say I contradict myself on that point when I spend quite a number of paragraphs to explain why the charge is not worth our time. If Trump sees something in the news that fits his state of mind at the moment, and he tweets it, why should that draw our attention? Second, the media are right to place the burden of proof on the president, if they want to pursue it at all. When the media did press it, Trump’s people said they saw the story in the news, over at Breitbart. That should be enough. Now we know where it comes from.

Consider how often ‘no evidence’ claims arise in public conversations – and denials – about who did what, and when. It’s essentially an excuse or workaround for not conducting an investigation, for not going through the entire difficult process required to reach valid conclusions. In the wiretapping case, the media want to prove Trump makes unsubstantiated charges, but we already knew that. So why do they want to pursue this accusation with extra vigor?

The fact that he sits in the White House does not give his tweets weight. His office only makes his accusations and other pronouncements more ridiculous, more beneath our notice.

Well, one attractive piece of catnip for the media: Trump called his predecessor ‘sick’ and ‘evil’. Second, the charge feeds into the Russian hacking story, the Michael Flynn story, and all the spy vs. spy stories so well. They regard rumors and horserace politics as newsworthy. Have they not learned their lesson? Trump is not newsworthy. What he says via Twitter is not newsworthy. The fact that he sits in the White House does not give his tweets weight. His office only makes his accusations and other pronouncements more ridiculous, more beneath our notice.

Yet the media crawl all over these stories, especially his formulaic tweets. They’re part of the written record! I’m still trying to figure out why anyone cares what the president says in 140 characters. Let’s say a five-year-old boy slings a threat at his seven-year-old brother: “I’m going to kill you!!” after his older brother does something he doesn’t like. Mother says, “Stop fighting, dear,” or “Play nice, you two.” Now move the five-year-old to the Oval Office, tell him he’s president, and watch him say the same thing. Will your reaction be any different? Are his threats and impulsive declarations any more worth notice just because you told him he’s president?

We have reached a point where our government acts like the Queen of Hearts at Alice’s garden party. “Off with his head!” she yells when someone misplays a shot at croquet.

You’re going to say, “What kind of comparison is that? Trump really is president!” Yes, we had an inauguration and the rest: the chief justice of the Supreme Court installed the man in office. Because it’s official, a lot of people now scheme to remove him from office. My view is different. The whole government has become so lawless that it is not a government anymore. A government unbound by laws is a pretend government, and a pack of parasites to boot. Let the pretend president say what he wants. Who cares? We have better sources of entertainment than a flimflam man who combs his dyed hair back over his ears.

We have reached a point where our government acts like the Queen of Hearts at Alice’s garden party. “Off with his head!” she yells when someone misplays a shot at croquet. It’s the same as the kindergartener who threatens his second-grade brother, or the immature buffoon who calls his predecessor sick. We have way better uses of our time than to track the president’s tweets. Yet Congress plans to hold hearings about them! FBI Director Comey is the first intelligence official up. What do you think he’s going to say, “Yes, sir, President Obama had the phones in Trump Tower tapped. Here’s how we did it.”

Even stranger is that we already know NSA has access to all the phone lines in America to begin with. The media rake through all the legal requirements in place: the president needs a FISA court order to institute a wiretap, and so on. People still pretend the laws surrounding wiretaps matter! Certainly NSA does not care about legal requirements, nor does it routinely listen in to a particular phone – which is what a wiretap implies – unless it decides it wants to listen in.

If you want to make the case that Trump is a loose cannon when it comes to accusations, I think you had plenty of evidence for that before he won the election.

We know that NSA, CIA or FBI can monitor more than telephony metadata anytime they like. We also know that if anyone in Trump Tower talks to someone overseas, or to a foreign agent – such as Russia’s ambassador – those calls are intercepted automatically. So the main issue is whether President Obama personally ordered a wiretap. Does that seem like a good use of our attention to you? Even if it were true, why would it matter in light of government’s overall lawlessness?

If you want to make the case that Trump is a loose cannon when it comes to accusations, I think you had plenty of evidence for that before he won the election. Did you expect him to stop after he stomped into the Oval Office? Why doesn’t someone say, after these tweets, “Oh, that’s just Trump spouting off again”? Do the media have to get so riled up every time he wakes up with something to say? When will someone tell the media – and the president – that they are boring? Would that deflate Trump’s ego? No one tries to be boring, but Trump does a good job of it. When the media respond to him as they do, Trump makes the news boring as well.

He fancies himself a celebrity, but he is washed up. As soon as he was elected, his main job was done. People sent their message to Washington. They had to return to earning money, raising children, dealing with their health problems and getting by. Trump has served his purpose. Now he’s a Twitter-mouth propped at the top of a lawless government. Imagine if the CEO at the company where you work sent tweets like the ones we read from President Trump. Would you even want to work at that company anymore?

He fancies himself a celebrity, but he is washed up.

The deep state must love it, for the time being. They don’t like open feuds, and they do want someone more predictable in the Oval Office, but I think they understand they’ll have to live with the Donald for a time. Have you noticed people no longer call him that, now that he’s president? They must think it’s too disrespectful. You have to call him Mr. President now.

In any case, people who want to see Trump removed from office will have to be patient. Presidents get removed when they lose wars. More particularly, they get removed when the deep state successfully blames the chief executive for losing a war. Sometimes presidents suffer a radical loss of confidence for other reasons, but military matters usually play a big part. None of those factors have come together yet. Meantime, given the taxes the feds collect, we ought to expect more interesting entertainment from them. When you pay $150 to see a Broadway show, they try to give you your money’s worth. We ought to hold the feds to a higher standard for what they offer.


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