Here’s How to Improve Twitter Without Deleting Likes and Retweets

There are many calls to get rid of Twitter likes and retweets in the name of “improving” user experience. It won’t help.


Depending on whom you talk to, Twitter users have differing views of the platform—both negative and positive.


Democrats and Republican users both agree that the platform sometimes resembles a dumpster fire. Our fellow conservatives will tell you they are persecuted on the platform more, and they aren’t wrong about many of its shady practices. Twitter rightfully rid the platform of some alt-right anti-Semites, but hasn’t applied this same deference and penalties to accounts in radical Islamist and Marxist circles who perpetrate the same bigoted rhetoric. Although there are some serious concerns for banning certain types of speech on Twitter, the company is private and can refer to its Terms and Conditions to restrict certain types of content. It’s understandable to remove accounts that violate rules for obvious reasons, like nutty Alex Jones, but labeling conservative speech as “offensive” in the vein of Jones is wrong-headed and dangerous. Twitter shouldn’t penalize one political persuasion and give another a pass, if they are found in violation of Twitter’s Terms and Conditions.


Also: Bruce Carroll, aka GayPatriot, shouldn’t have been banned either.


Some Democrats argue social media platforms are manipulated to favor and tilt elections towards Republicans, citing the 2016 elections. (Remember: Democrats led in digital efforts in 2008, but we are finally catching up to them.) Some have argued that Twitter shut down President Trump’s account, but even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey doesn’t believe that’s conducive. Some of Trump’s tweets are worthy of criticism, but banning the President of the United States simply because you disagree with his policies is stupid, at best. (Strangely enough, former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tweets are embraced, despite his lengthy track record of anti-Semitism and restricting social media during his reign.) Whether you like it or not, Trump is perhaps the most social media transparent president we’ve ever had, and consequently, Twitter has been given new life as a result of him tweeting. Nevertheless, we all agree that President Trump could tweet more judiciously.


Twitter has been debating ways to improve user experience. While other platforms like Facebook (up until recently) and Instagram have seen steady increases in users, Twitter has lagged behind. Recently, though, they’ve had some indicators of growth. Some argue ridding Twitter of “likes” and removing retweets will foster better discussions. I couldn’t disagree more with these recommendations.


Here’s what ridding “likes” would entail, because a like would trigger social media addiction? More below:


Founder Jack Dorsey last week admitted at a Twitter event that he was not a fan of the heart-shaped button and that it would be getting rid of it “soon”.


The feature was introduced in 2015 to replace “favourites”, a star-shaped button that allowed people to bookmark tweets to read later.


Similar buttons to “like” or show appreciation of people’s status updates, pictures and videos have become a central function of every popular social media service since Facebook introduced them.


But psychologists have suggested that they may be causing social media addiction…

Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.



With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:


Back in March, Twitter enabled “Bookmarks” – which privately save tweets for your liking. It’s helpful to me when I search for articles to incorporate in articles and my weekly newsletter.


With respect to the case for eliminating retweets, here’s one author’s reasoning in doing so:


The quest to accrue retweets regularly drives users to tweet outlandish comments, extremist opinions, fake news, or worse. Many users knowingly tweet false and damaging information and opinions in an effort to go viral via retweets. Entire Twitter accounts have been built on this strategy. If Twitter really wants to control the out-of-control rewards mechanisms it has created, the retweet button should be the first to go.


Retweets prey on users’ worst instincts. They delude Twitter users into thinking that they’re contributing to thoughtful discourse by endlessly amplifying other people’s points—the digital equivalent of shouting “Yeah, what they said!” in the midst of an argument. And because Twitter doesn’t allow for editing tweets, information that goes viral via retweets is also more likely to be false or exaggerated. According to MIT research published in the journal Science, Twitter users retweet fake news almost twice as much as real news. Some Twitter users, desperate for validation, endlessly retweet their own tweets, spamming followers with duplicate information.


If that is the case, what will Twitter become? An obtuse, boring message thread? Twitter came to be Twitter because of tweets, retweets, and other unique features. Who would this benefit—Democrats upset that conservatives and Republicans are using Twitter perhaps more effectively than they are? Yes, the click bait and punchy tweets from activists on both sides can be a bit much. Both sides tweet obscenities and vile threats—although Democrat-leaning accounts get away with it and are never ostracized like their Republican or conservative counterparts are.


How many times have certain mainstream outlets tweeted false news stories, with their retractions getting fewer retweets and likes than the factually incorrect ones?


Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Here’s what I recommend instead of removing likes and retweets:

Tweet with a purpose and foster civil discourse


Eliminating likes and retweets will undermine Twitter’s very existence. It’ll become obsolete and worthless. Instead, Twitter should encourage — not mandate — us Twitter users to lead the charge of improving discourse on the platform. Why not start with tweeting with a purpose?


I recently had a Twitter conversation with a gentleman about managed bear hunts. He was genuinely curious about the implications of a federal judge in Montana’s ruling about grizzly bears. I explained to him, politely, of course, that a select population of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem aren’t endangered and that wildlife biologists want hunters to help cull this herd for the betterment of the species and ungulate species. He told me he was grateful for the information and said he’ll keep an open mind. These conversations are enjoyable and productive.


Alternatively, I don’t respond to tweets that resort to name-calling or gross mischaracterizations. There’s a mute button for that now. Phew!


When I first started out on Twitter in January 2010, I’ll admit: I tweeted some rather punchy tweets about every pressing issue of the day and responded to a lot of mean tweets. I used to encourage my followers to retweet (RT) some tweets if they were in agreement. I wanted to grow my following among conservatives and replicated the tactics of the day. As I matured over the years, I learned that this tactic accomplishes little. It may bring some quick followers short-term, but doesn’t make your account unique if everyone is doing it. Now I tweet more purposely, don’t feel compelled to respond to every issue that’s trending in the news, and guess what? I think my user experience is FAR more positive than when I first started out on the platform.


For those of us who are conservative, be selective with what you tweet. Be strategic in your Twitter posting strategy: Don’t always feel compelled to tweet about EVERY issue.

Post fewer click bait tweets, more informative content


I’ve grown to dislike clickbait tweets. It’s a cheap tactic to grow follower counts and get “ratio’d” in the hopes of going viral. This tactic allows users to manipulate and conflate their influence. A lot of conservatives, sadly, engage in this cheap tactic too—though Democrats aren’t angels in this regard, either.


Is there a news story that is facts-based that’s deserving of attention? Tweet an excerpt and an accompanying link for your followers to click on. Did a good guy or gal with a gun deter a bad guy or gal with a gun? Post those good news stories. Did your elected officials vote for bills or policies that are antithetical to freedom? Retweet or tweet content that’s constructive and action-oriented without name-calling and threatening people.


Post a call-to-action (CTA) and get people inspired to participate in voting, reading, or the exchange of ideas. You never know whom you can influence for the better!

Post positive tweets and retweet more feel-good stories


Want to improve your user experience on Twitter? Start with some self-assessment as to what kind of content you’re posting. Is the tone of your tweets always negative? Add some positive content into your Timeline.


Retweet feel-good stories. Post about a restaurant you visited and the good experience you had there. Brag about that fish you caught—make sure it’s legally caught and kept or handled, of course. Post about someone interesting you met—especially if you had a civil political discussion.


It starts with us – Twitter users – to promote positive content. Amidst the crummy things happening in society, there’s still a lot of good in this country. Contrast the bad with the good—which exists more readily out there than one would believe!


We have free will and can dictate what we do. Exercise that more often in your tweeting habits and you’ll feel better about your Twitter experience. Trust me!

What are your thoughts on some of these recommendations to “improve” Twitter? Would you want to see the ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ features done away with? Should they stay? Weight in and let me know!

The Greatest Tweet of All

When it comes to Twitter trolling, there are some who are simply in a class by themselves.  Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, with his unconditional love of the movie Sucker Punch and his defense of Miracle Whip, comes to mind.  Then there’s Comfortably Smug, who’s the kind of guy who probably would have taken up for Tonya Harding if social media had been around in those days, just because nobody else would.  It’s feeds like theirs that make Twitter—which daily manages to drain yet more water from the shallow pool that is my remaining faith in humanity—somewhat bearable and sometimes fun.

But even these giants cannot hold a candle to the Once and Future King of Twitter—the one man who, through the sheer force of his epic trollery, just might be mankind’s last, best hope against the coming AI singularity.  Not only that, he also happens to be President of the United States.

That’s right, I’m talking about none other than Donald J. Trump.  Don’t mess with this bull, fellas, because if you do you’ll get the horns—especially if you’re a little boy dictator with body image problems.

Case in point:  one Kim Jong-un, son of the wacky North Korean despot Kim Jong-il.  Junior took over running the joint when his daddy bought the corner lot in one of hell’s seedier neighborhoods, and has since become known for his taste in Western whiskey and his penchant for executing relatives in rather creative ways.  He also likes to pal around with Dennis Rodman when he’s not threatening to rain down fiery destruction on the United States—kind of like a toddler screaming for attention, but with nuclear weapons.  Barack Obama seemed content to coddle this kind of behavior when he was president, but since Trump moved into the White House he’s been somewhat less indulgent.  This has led to a war of words between the two leaders, with Kim reportedly dinging the Donald over their respective age differences.

Trump, meanwhile, fired back with a rejoinder for the ages:

That’s weapons grade trolling, folks.  The only thing that would make it better is if Trump shipped a case of Jenny Craig to Pyongyang and had it delivered to Li’l Kim with his regards.

Liberals, of course, scoffed at the president’s mockery, screaming that Obama would have never done this and that Trump is leading us into war, blah, blah, blah—but my favorite response came from the satirical news feed DPRK News Service, which was so good that some Democrat detractors probably took it seriously:

Get your popcorn ready and let the games begin!

How Twitter Sows Division

Yesterday morning as is my custom, I grabbed a cup of coffee, fed my dogs and retreated to my porch to review my newsfeeds on Twitter. One of the first things I saw was that Rose McGowan’s Twitter account had been locked in the midst the Harvey Weinstein scandal. When I first noted it was still dark. By lunchtime, feminist groups were calling for boycotts of Twitter over Rose’s account being locked and after about 100 articles on the interruption to Rose’s account, Twitter finally said why they did it. Apparently, Rose had posted a private phone number, which is and has been a term of service violation since I joined the platform five years ago.

Because of stature and scrutiny, Rose was made aware of the specific thing that resulted in being locked out and Twitter unlocked her account. Quite frankly posting someone else’s private phone number or address without permission should have consequences for the person who does it on any public platform. Do I think putting Rose in a timeout for 12 hours like a toddler who misbehaved is necessary? No. A simple “delete this tweet because…….to begin tweeting again” would seem to be a rational way to deal with adults.

Rose is lucky. Most Twitter users never find out the reason their specific tweet is in violation of Twitter rules when asked to delete. Worse than that, many are never told why their accounts are permanently suspended by the platform after seemingly normal interactions. Here are two examples.

A user who went by the name @orneryyg had his 2100 follower account suspended. He was a regular Twitter user who blogged for Misfit Politics, Halsey News, and The New Americana and would engage in what were sometimes heated Twitter political debates. He admits sometimes they became contentious and he might have used profanity from time to time, but nothing out of the ordinary from what he has seen on the platform. The account had been locked a few times for what he assumes was language, but because Twitter doesn’t offer an explanation, he is not sure. He has appealed his original suspension over a dozen times offering to delete any required tweets and still has no idea why his account can not be returned.

He does know that several accounts have claimed responsibility for getting his original account and subsequent accounts he created suspended by using coordinated reporting mass reporting. The same users posted screenshots celebrating getting the account of popular Twitchy editor Sam Janney (@Politibunny) being locked out. Because Twitter lacks transparency in the administration of it’s TOS many users believe that coordinated reporting from a number of accounts or using script designed for Twitter can affect a suspension or lockout without a significant TOS violation.

Rick Canton who tweeted under the handle @RickCanton beginning in 2012 was a very popular Conservative account with over 70,000 followers. As a political activist in Virginia and new blogger, he used his Twitter account in conjunction with his very popular Facebook account to promote his writing and his causes. He tweeted a tweet critical of the Black Lives Matter narrative. He used the word “retarded”. He admits it and while I may have used a different word it is surely not shocking for Twitter. Another user responded admonishing him for using the word and he pointed out a case where she had used it a tweet herself. When Rick refused to capitulate to her criticism she blocked him, posted a screen cap of the tweet she found offensive and reported Rick for harassment. Yup. She responded to his tweet, but he was harassing her? Rick has appealed over 20 times for the return of his account has only been told he engaged in “targeted harassment” in an auto-reply.

Like @orneryyg, the interaction for which he was permanently suspended was not even notable or unusual until he was unable to log into his account. Both users believe they were suspended for what is commonly called “Tweeting while Conservative”. I believe based on my own experience and observations it is an utter failure in the Twitter algorithm combined with the fact that Twitter Support does not do a personal review of most reports or appeals. They simply can’t. If numbered sequentially, one report I received was nearing 7 million cases.

I have referred to Twitter’s new guidelines as “The 500 Dirty Words” (H/T to George Carlin) that they simply refuse to articulate. Combined with an algorithm that seems to respond to mass reporting, and a seeming 3 strikes and you’re out rule, the perception of political reasons for why some users are locked or suspended more often will persist. When Conservatives see garbage like this flow through our mentions from verified Liberals with no consequences it only reinforces the perception. These tweets are still live.


Maybe I’m simple, but rather than create elaborate algorithms that create a perception of political favoritism in a country already divided, perhaps the Technocrats at Twitter could consider the following:

  1. While the majority of users endeavor to be respectful even if they are snarky, if there really are words you don’t want us to use on your platform, tell your user base what they are and apply your standard consistently.
  2. Political debate can get contentious. If emotions run high and someone tweets in anger or makes a prohibited statement that you have clearly said is not allowed, keep it simple. Say “Delete this tweet because (insert reason here) to resume tweeting.
  3. Stop using the algorithm to infer “targeted harassment”. A few users on the Conservative side have told me they are starting to figure it out. If someone tweets them multiple insulting tweets, they report them for targeted harassment. And they have observed the accounts be affected. This doesn’t need to be a game of three-dimensional chess where everyone is trying to figure out how to negatively impact another user using your reporting function.
  4. Focus on actual threats of physical harm, posting of personal information, revenge porn and contacting people’s employers. The worst Twitter is the Twitter that stomps into your personal life and tries to ruin you or do you harm. These are far less common and may be able to be reviewed by an actual person.
  5. Treat your users like adults. I have spent years using both my “Block” and “Mute” buttons with great success. I have only made reports in the most egregious circumstances.
  6. If scripts and bots are used on your service to harass users, find them, eliminate them and prevent it from happening again.

In case you didn’t notice Twitter, feminists, one of the key groups you developed these new tools for are calling for a boycott of your service because Ms. McGowan got locked out for what is, always has been and always should be a clear violation of your terms. They think you shouldn’t have because she is a victim who in anger broke the rules. By trying to police every interaction for hurt feelings and words people don’t like, you have created an environment that is the antithesis of the free exchange of ideas the platform was founded on.

Sasse Responds To Trump’s Attacks On First Amendment

Ben Sasse’s last name has a silent “e,” but Twitter users can be forgiven for thinking the Nebraska Republican’s name is pronounced “sassy.” The adjective is an accurate description of the Sasse on the popular social media platform. Sasse most recently turned his sharp retorts toward President Trump after the president launched into what can only be described as a series of attacks on the First Amendment freedom of the press.

While attacking “fake news” has proven a popular shtick for the president, he reached a new level on Tuesday with a tweet that suggested that NBC News’ license should be “challenged” on the basis of their report that Trump had said that he wanted to increase the US nuclear weapons arsenal by a factor of 10 in a July meeting. The meeting prompted Secretary of State Tillerson to allegedly call the president a “f—ing moron.”

On a day when the sitting president of the United States directly attacked the First Amendment, the response from Republican officials was underwhelming. While Republicans lined up to denounce NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, it was extremely difficult to find anyone in the GOP who was willing to go on record criticizing Trump’s statements. A piece in The Hill describing the backlash fails to cite a single sitting Republican. In fact, there seemed to be only one Republican responding to the president’s shocking remarks, the sassy Sasse.

It has only been a few weeks since Sasse wowed the non-alternative-right with his Twitter takedown of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. The viral series of tweets brought adulation from traditional conservatives who felt left behind by the new Republican Party and the lack of condemnation for race-baiters like Spencer, who was an organizer of the riotous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Given his history of using Twitter to communicate a strong conservative and pro-freedom message effectively, it should be no surprise that Sasse was the one to put the president’s remarks into constitutional perspective.

“Mr. President,” Sasse tweeted, “Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment?”


[Mic drop.]

The tweet also contained a somewhat longer statement released by Senator Sasse. The full statement reads, “Mr. President: Words spoken by the President of the United States matter. Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment?”

Trump did not respond directly to Sasse, but later in the day, the president doubled down on his attack on the freedom of the press, saying in a White House press conference, “It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.”

Another tweet from the president on Tuesday night was even more specific. “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” the man sworn to defend the Constitution said.


As a refresher, the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” The Bill of Rights makes no exception for “fake news,” biased reporting or even outright lies.

FCC rules do “prohibit holders of broadcast licenses from broadcasting false information concerning a crime or a catastrophe if the licensee knows the information is false; and the licensee knows beforehand that broadcasting the information will cause substantial ‘public harm.’” Stories critical of President Trump would not fall under this category.

As the president becomes increasingly bold in his attacks on the First Amendment, the big question for conservatives is where the other defenders of the Constitution are. The silence from other Republicans is deafening.

Nancy Sinatra: These Tweets Are Made For Hatin’

Back in 1967, Nancy Sinatra hit number one on the Billboard Top 100 by singing “Something Stupid” with her dad Frank.  Today, Nancy is topping the Twitter charts but just saying something stupid, like this:

Nancy must have got into high dudgeon after reading a Daily Kos article entitled, “The Burden of Proof is Squarely on the NRA:  How the Hell Are You Making Us Safer?”  There’s a link to the article in the tweet if you want to read it for yourself, but be warned:  It has the power to render the thoughts of an aging chanteuse all but incoherent, so heaven knows what it might do if loosed upon an unsuspecting world.  Better to just leave it in the fever swamps from whence it came.

Dana Loesch, a spokeswoman for the NRA, summed up the reaction of people who aren’t bat-guano crazy when she tweeted back:

Sadly, it’s a reaction typical of the left:  Whenever there’s a mass shooting, they want to take away guns from people who didn’t commit the crime—only this time, Nancy adds the twist of wanting to execute the people who didn’t do it as well.  Like I said, that Daily Kos is dangerous stuff.  Perhaps Congress should close the internet loophole so the emotionally unstable can’t access it so easily.

Or perhaps the left could just focus less on casting the NRA as the boogeyman and more on acknowledging that these mass shootings are a complex issue, involving not only access to guns but also mental illness, the role of the media in driving violence and the general breakdown in the moral fabric of the country.  Then there’s the delicate balancing of liberty and safety—you can have some of one and some of the other, but never one hundred percent of both at the same time.  Blaming the NRA for everything, while politically expedient, won’t change any of that.

Plus you can’t squeeze it all into a 140-character tweet—which seems to be the limit of Nancy Sinatra’s understanding of the issue.  On the bright side, though, at least Hillary Clinton can be happy.  Her tweets about Las Vegas are no longer the stupidest ones on Twitter.


Nancy With the Hating Face must be getting some heat over her tweet, because she’s now saying it was all a joke:

Um, okay.  So I guess people should only be lined up and shot if they took her literally, or something?  Gallows humor really is in the eye of the beholder.

Actor Makes Incredibly Uninformed Tweet After Vegas Shootings

It isn’t all that uncommon for entertainment personalities to spout off on issues about which they know nothing and quickly find themselves looking stupid, but actor Boris Kodjoe took the prize for the most uninformed and ill-timed tweet about the Las Vegas massacre. Kodjoe managed to tweet an even worse message than Hillary Clinton’s blatantly partisan and tone deaf tweet about silencers Monday morning.

Kodjoe, whose IMDB page lists few credits that you’ve probably heard of, tweeted, “My 10 year old asked me how the shooter was able to get his machine gun. I told him that pretty much anyone in the US can. ‘But why daddy’?”

A user called “Heimish Conservative” responded best with the retort, “So you lied to your kid?”

Kodjoe, who was born in Vienna, Austria to German and Ghanaian parents, is obviously ignorant of American gun laws, despite having spent more than two decades in the United States. Kodjoe’s tweet is blatantly false. Not everyone in the US can get a gun and “machine guns” are extremely difficult to get.

In 1986, the National Firearms Act banned the possession by private individuals of fully automatic weapons, “machine guns” to Boris Kodjoe, manufactured after May 18, 1986. The Federalist points out that there are no exceptions to this law and the penalty is stiff, a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.

Pre-1986 automatic weapons can be legally purchased, but it isn’t easy. Prospective owners of an automatic must submit to a thorough federal background check that includes submitting fingerprints and a photo. The purchaser must pay $200 in taxes and both the gun and its owner will be listed in a federal registry.

It isn’t even accurate to say that “anyone” can buy a semi-automatic (one bullet fired for one trigger pull) gun. There are age limits and other restrictions on the ability to purchase guns. Background checks have been required under federal law since 1994. Many states have even more stringent requirements.

Stephen Paddock’s guns were not fully automatic and he had passed the background checks required to own semi-automatic weapons. At least one of Paddock’s 23 guns was modified with a “bump stock,” a legal modification that increases the rate of fire to simulate an automatic. Paddock apparently broke no laws until he started killing people.

Actors like Boris Kodjoe and Jimmy Kimmel are entitled to voice their opinions on political issues, but they don’t have the right to put out false and misleading information without being corrected. Like any other citizens, Kodjoe and Kimmel should learn about both sides of the issues to make informed comments and avoid embarrassing themselves.





Trump’s Creepy ‘Condolences’ Tweet on Las Vegas

After a night of carnage in Las Vegas, President Trump tweeted his response to the worst shooting in U.S. history.

There’s something really off about this. Who tweets “warmest condolences” and “God bless you!” to families of the now-50 (and possibly more) dead from this horrible act? This is the kind of sentiment you offer to the family of a person who just died at a ripe old age of natural causes, not people gunned down in the street.

But nobody ever said Trump as “good with words.” Or that he had “normal human empathy.” As one Twitter user responded to me.

Other world leaders who have responded on Twitter offered similar sentiments, including those who Trump slammed when mass killings happened in their own country.


Remember what the “law and order” presidential candidate tweeted after the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting (that’s now the second deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil)?

As I covered this story, I fought tears. I don’t think Trump cries over these kinds of things. I don’t think he sees the human angle. Not in Puerto Rico, and not in Las Vegas. When people die in horrible ways, he reacts like an automaton.

This evidence of a basic lack of empathy, along with his penchant for choosing words poorly, does not give much hope to Americans looking for compassion. These are not just faults we can ignore. They are core issues of Trump’s qualifications–or fitness, you could say–to do the job of the office he occupies.

We should be very concerned.

Why Is Donald Trump Undermining Rex Tillerson on Twitter?

Rex Tillerson was picked by Donald Trump to be his Secretary of State. Tillerson represents the president in foreign policy matters and serves at the pleasure of the president. So, why then, is President Trump publicly undermining his handpicked representative in a pair of tweets today?

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Trump tweeted.

A second tweet followed a short time later, saying, “Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”

The pair of tweets raise many questions about the inner workings of the Trump Administration. Has Rex Tillerson gone rogue in his negotiations with North Korea? If President Trump does not support the negotiations with North Korea then why is Tillerson conducting them? Why is Trump raising the issue in a public forum like Twitter rather than in private?

If President Trump doesn’t have faith in his Secretary of State or if Tillerson is disobeying the president’s instructions then why keep him on the job? For that matter, why would Tillerson want to continue to serve a president who publicly undercuts him in such a humiliating fashion?

Has President Trump given up on negotiations? Is he signaling the North Koreans that he doesn’t want a deal and is ready to turn to a military option?

The most likely answer is that Trump’s tweets are a clumsy attempt at a good cop-bad cop routine. Trump is playing the bad cop who is eager to attack North Korea. Tillerson is the good cop who is attempting to restrain Trump and find a diplomatic solution.

It’s easy to imagine the scene in a police interrogation room. Trump turns over a table in a fit of rage and storms out, slamming the door behind him. Tillerson, sleeves rolled up and wearing a shoulder holster turns to a shackled Kim Jong Un.

“He’s crazy,” Tillerson says. “He’s going to go nuclear on you. I’m trying to help you, but you’ve got to give me something to work with. I need some concessions.”

Tillerson, who is in China, has not responded publicly to Trump’s tweets. In a press conference on Saturday, Tillerson told CNN that the United States was pursuing a peaceful resolution to the dispute with North Korea.

When asked about President Trump’s warnings to Kim Jong Un, Tillerson answered, “I think the whole situation is a bit overheated right now. I think everyone would like for it to calm down.”