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.
Donald Trump makes his logical discussion face.
Donald Trump won the presidential election. It was a landslide; it was tremendous, one of the biggest votes in history. He won by every metric imaginable, except the total number of people who voted for him. In that minor regard, the popular vote, Hillary won. It doesn’t matter. She’s not going to be president, and Donald Trump is. Yet winning the electoral college when fewer Americans vote for you seems kind of like winning on a technicality. It’s like Hillary ran faster, but Trump ran the inside of the track. This issue nags at him, as evidenced by this morning’s tweet:
The message here is clear: Trump couldn’t have done better in this election, really, but he would have won the popular vote if that mattered—which it doesn’t. So the popular vote doesn’t reflect his competence, and if it did he would have done differently. Case closed? Close reading after the jump.
Donald Trump asks Apple CEO Tim Cook if his laptop has the internet.
Alert reader/covert breeder John Smick sent me this passage from the transcript of a New York Times interview with Donald Trump. The story that emerged from that interview, in July, focused on his now-infamous refusal to commit to defending NATO allies. But he also had this to say about the importance of cybersecurity:
But certainly cyber has to be a, you know, certainly cyber has to be in our thought process, very strongly in our thought process. Inconceivable that, inconceivable the power of cyber. But as you say, you can take out, you can take out, you can make countries nonfunctioning with a strong use of cyber.
The management would like to remind you that this man is 70 years old. Close reading after the jump.