A seemingly unconscious passenger is dragged off UA flight 3411.
It’s a good thing United Airlines recently changed its slogan from “fly the friendly skies” to “get knocked unconscious and dragged off the plane,” or they might be vulnerable to ribbing. Last night, passengers on flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville were asked to volunteer f0r a later flight so that four members of another United flight crew could take their seats. Two passengers volunteered and received $800 vouchers. The airline randomly selected another passenger for removal: a man who said he was as a physician scheduled to see patients in Louisville the next day and refused. Eventually, security officers pulled the man screaming from his seat, apparently knocking him unconscious before dragging his limp body down the aisle. Seriously. Here’s a statement from United:
Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville was overbooked. After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate. We apologize for the overbook situation. Further details on the removed customer should be directed to authorities.
Classic use of the passive voice here: The flight “was overbooked,” so law enforcement “was asked” to manhandle one of United’s customers. By whom we cannot know—probably the same disembodied forces that created the “overbook situation.” But perhaps the most thrilling part of this statement is its bold new use of the words “volunteer” and “voluntarily.” Close reading and fairly disturbing video after the jump.
A freak of nature that simultaneously fascinates and repels, and a caterpillar
Remember when Franklin Roosevelt entranced the nation with his fireside chats? Me neither, but I’m told it was nice. I bet our grandparents did not feel the same apprehension, gathering around the radio, that I feel opening Twitter each morning. I wonder what the president will say today, I think, unlocking my phone with the same demeanor a daylight alcoholic brings to unscrewing a bottle. Here’s what the leader of the free world tweeted today to 27 million followers, including me:
Kombat! kids: Can you find everything that’s wrong with this tweet? Just use a marker to circle the errors right on the screen. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Close reading after the jump.
Remember a few months ago when we said Combat! blog wasn’t going to be about politics anymore? That was before a cartoon character got elected president. Not the good kind of cartoon character, either—Donald Trump is like a character in one of those nineties cartoons where everyone is bored and sarcastic. He’s the guy who doesn’t move the plot forward but says what we’re all thinking, i.e. what a marketing team thinks children are thinking. In that vein, the President of the United States executed a “not” joke on Twitter yesterday:
Although he does not play the “not” joke strictly according to Hoyle, this tweet is a significant achievement. He manages to make “not!” into a Trumpian exclamation. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on, too, and that’s why this tweet is the subject of today’s Close Reading.
A screenshot of a promoted Twitter ad
I did not click on the Twitter ad pictured above, out of fear for my soul. There’s something about the come-on “Tiger Woods’ daughter was adorable as a child, but what she looks like today is insane” that leaves me cold. Probably, it’s the part where I get ready to see how insane someone looks. That’s just the kind of thing I want to see, and also just the kind of thing I want to stop wanting to see. All it took to push me over the edge into decent behavior, in this case, was a chubby-cheked little girl. I submit that our visceral revulsion to clicking on the link in this advertisement tells us something about our values. It gives us a glimpse of our urges and the flickering scruples that hold them back, and it’s the subject of today’s Close Reading.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) remembers some coffee he drank on a plane.
Update: Midway through writing this post, I learned that House Republicans had reversed course and decided to strike the Goodlatte Amendment from their rules changes. As of this writing, the OCE will remain the same. I stand by the Close Reading.
Yesterday, over the objections of Speaker Paul Ryan, the House Republican Conference voted to curtail the power of the Office of Congressional Ethics and bring it under control of the House Ethics Committee. The change was not debated and only publicly announced late Monday afternoon—to almost universal condemnation, including from president-elect Donald Trump. You can see why he objected. If your promise is to “drain the swamp” of Washington corruption, weakening the office of ethics on the day before the new Congress starts is a bad look. But what if restricting the authority of the OCE to investigate, making its findings secret, and making it subject to a partisan committee actually strengthened it? You could convince people that’s what you were doing, if you framed it just right. Or you could just erect a wall of bullshit to hide behind. Rep. Bob Goodlatte went with option two in his statement on the change, which is the subject of today’s Close Reading.