A few weeks ago, comedian John Oliver had as the theme for his weekly HBO comedy show the plight of the postal service. In this episode, he explained the situation and offered a remedy of sorts for the post office’s woes—buy more stamps. After all, it is through the sale of postage that the mail service sustains itself. Leading by example, he went one better, when he advertised the sale of his own brand of vanity stamps. Who knew that vanity stamps were a thing? Not I. His show airs on Sunday, but it wasn’t until the following Thursday that I watched it. By that time, when I attempted to order a sheet of his special stamps they were already backordered, which actually tickled me pink. This being a clear demonstration of the power of liberal slacker activism.
The reason that Oliver chose the post office’s problems as his show’s subject is that the president has decided to lambast this institution, because it would be the servant of something that Trump fears, vote-by-mail balloting. Something that in this time of pandemic would allow Americans to safely use to express their political will. He claims to fear voter fraud, but disenfranchisement is his real goal. He wants to limit the vote of older, poorer, blacker Americans and aid his own reelection this November. To this end, he has been tweeting of late baseless lies about voting-by-mail and voter fraud. These lies have been accompanied by others, most pointedly involving the unfortunate death of a woman who had been working for then congressman Joe Scarborough, now of MSNBC. In his tweets, Trump dredged up twenty year old conspiracy theories, in an attempt to smear a political opponent.
What he did though was to elicit a heartfelt plea from the woman’s widower, asking Twitter, not Trump to cease and desist. The resulting kerfuffle so embarrassed the execs at Twitter that when Trump returned to the subject of his voter fraud lies, Twitter had the temerity to add an “asterisk” on to his posts. This minor recrimination of course triggered another Trumpian temper tantrum.
Never one to hold on to a thought for long, last night Trump tweeted about the ongoing civil unrest that is occurring in Minneapolis and is the direct result of the apparent murder of Floyd George, a black man, by city police officers. His tweet echoed verbatim the threat made in 1967 by former Miami police chief Walter Headley, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Obviously, Trump did not get the hint, causing Twitter to nuke that tweet for “glorifying violence.” Twitter later explained that it was in part the historical connection of that tweet’s last line that caused the company to take action.
Is there a new sheriff in twitter-town? I doubt it, but perhaps this moderating action will result is some small measure of moderation, before people get shot. I am reminded of the tale of the troll and the three Billy-goats Gruff. One-by-one, the troll threatens the three goats, only in the end to butted on down the river This week one-by-one, Scarborough, voter fraud and Minneapolis, Trump has employed his bully pulpit to threaten others. Only to learn, he is just a user.