Create Outrage. Redirect Attention. Repeat. | Photo: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0
Normally, on Mondays, I point to the most insane thing I’ve seen on the internet in the past week. This week is no different, but I’m genuinely unsure whether it’s Donald Trump living in a fact-free universe, or just pretending to in order to distract us from his massive (likely unconstitutional at this point, and certainly a threat to national sovereignty) conflicts of interest.
Yesterday, America’s liar-in-chief-elect tweeted this:
If that’s not loading, it’s a tweet from The Donald that reads “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Setting aside the 78,768 people who are either stupid or delusional enough to “like” such a statement — a thing in itself that makes me despair for the future of the human race and finally explains those “do not use toaster in bath” stickers — it’s just a lie. There is zero evidence of “millions of people” voting illegally.
Get that? Zero evidence. None. Zip. Zilch.
The recount in Wisconsin as well as the potential ones in Pennsylvania and Michigan that the Green Party has half-promised will not find millions of illegal votes. In all likelihood they won’t find much at all that’s different from the published numbers, but it’s probably still worth doing in order to send a message to those who would tamper with our elections (coughRussiacough) that we do occasionally double-check.
Millions of people did not vote illegally, and it is, in actual fact, impossible for millions of people to vote illegally in this country. It’s such a stunningly blatant falsehood that it makes you wonder whether the fascist-in-waiting has suffered a stroke. But then you remember just who Donald J. is, and you think “oh wait no, lying is what this guy does” and you move on.
But the timing of this whopper, combined with the lack of response from his handlers, suggests instead that this is just another example of the Trump Outrage Distraction Machine (patent pending). Just like the way his utterly bizarre Hamilton-bashing tweetstorm shortened the media lifespan of the fact that Donald J. Trump paid twenty five million dollars to people because he defrauded them, this little mind-bogglingly-stupid tantrum is probably designed to distract the media from this:
This is a New York Times deep-dive into the many, many conflicts of interest of our business-failure-in-chief-to-be. The envoy to the United States from the Philippines, Jose Antonio, is a business partner of The Donald. Donald “has business interests in at least twenty countries” around the world, from the more innocuous (but challenging to renegotiate NAFTA impartially) Canada, to the country that stands to gain the most from canceling the TPP, China, to countries like Turkey, whose president’s calls for Trump’s name to be removed from his Turkish tower have mysteriously stopped now that The Donald is buddy-buddy with Putin.
So yeah, Trump’s a rich liar who doesn’t pay his taxes and says the dumbest goddamn things I’ve ever heard of on the internet with a degree of frequency that beggars belief. But that’s not the story.
Donald Trump is a man whose arm can be twisted by targeting his businesses, and everybody knows it.
Happy Monday, everyone.
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Richard Ford Burley is a human, writer, and doctoral candidate at Boston College, as well as an editor at Ledger, the first academic journal devoted to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In his spare time he writes about science, skepticism, feminism, and futurism here at This Week In Tomorrow.