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Don’t let Trump divert you with his Twitter attack and call to violence

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- Commentary
David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

In his latest bids to override our Constitution, wannabe dictator Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday attacking First Amendment rights on social media and then called for state violence against people suspected of committing property crimes.

In doing so, Trump diverted news coverage from the significant news of the day — his incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his encouragement of violence against people of color and Muslims.

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So, let’s get to the real news and then his diversionary tactics: more than 103,000 confirmed American coronavirus deaths as of noon on May 29. That’s 28% of global deaths even though America has only about 4% of the planet’s nearly 7.8 billion human beings.

Don’t dismiss this as just another crazy-making Trump action, it reveals his real intent – to muzzle criticism, which is as anti-American as it gets.

The American death count is more than our undeclared wars in Korea (about 37,000) and Vietnam ( about 58,000), combined.

Of course, the American death count is a significant understatement. Total deaths are up significantly from the average of the last five years. Many of the unexplained deaths – reported as heart attack, stroke, unknown cause – are almost certainly from untested coronavirus infections.

Deaths Surge Beyond Official Figures

In seven states with large numbers of reported coronavirus infections, total deaths rose 50% above long-term averages in the 34 days from March 8 to April 11.

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Meanwhile, Trump issued an idiotic executive order. He has no power to change the law, known as Section 230, that shields social media companies from liability for most of the crazy stuff he and others post. Only Congress can make law – at least so long as our Constitution remains in place.

And then there’s the absurdity of Trump using Twitter to complain that Twitter is unfair for simply flagging some of his tweets as false, questionable or inciting violence.

Don’t dismiss this as just another crazy-making Trump action, it reveals his real intent – to muzzle criticism, which is as anti-American as it gets.

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Hong Kong Autonomy Scrapped

And while Trump is flaming angry about Twitter, Beijing is breaking its agreement to treat Hong Kong as a largely autonomous zone. The Chinese dictatorship is emboldened by the ineffectual Trump administration and Trump’s personal embrace, sometimes literally, of many dictators, including President Xi.

A competent president who understands diplomacy and the levels of international pressure, say, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, would be applying maximum nonlethal pressure on Beijing to back off in Hong Kong. But all we get from this administration is empty words on Twitter and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notifying Congress that Hong Kong no longer is semi-independent.

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Also significant is our Great Depression job market with almost 41 million people having applied for jobless benefits since mid-March, many of whom have yet to see a dollar. And in turn, the loss of jobs means landlords not collecting rents they need to pay their mortgages, utilities not collecting money for electricity, natural gas and water. The damage list goes on and on, but so long as Trump can gin up Twitter troubles, he lessens the focus on his failure to cope with the virus or the economic toll it is taking.

Now let’s look at the tweets from both Trump and the official White House twitter account:

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More disturbing, Trump’s looting and shooting tweet channeled a statement by the racist police chief of Miami, who called for the police to kill suspected looters who were black.

Miami Herald, Dec. 27, 1967.

 

Presidents take an oath to uphold the law and defend our Constitution. Trump clearly doesn’t know what’s in our Constitution and doesn’t care, either. Extrajudicial killings happen, they may on rare occasions even be necessary, but White House calls for violence, either by the police or mobs, are impeachable offenses.

Let’s stay focused and not let Trump distract us from his failings and his dictatorial ambitions.

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