Yesterday evening, the internet lit up with news that a former British intelligence operative claimed to have proof that Russian intelligence gathered kompromat on president-elect Donald Trump, in the form of both financial documents and a video of Trump in a hotel room watching two prostitutes urinate on each other. I think we can agree that is the greatest, most luxurious sex act in the world. Also, I probably shouldn’t have used the word “news” in the first sentence of this post. The memo describing this kompromat has been circulating in the intelligence community and among journalists for months. Yesterday afternoon, CNN reported that intelligence agencies had informed Trump that the Russians had compromising information on him. Their willingness to treat the kompromat story as legitimate seems to have inspired Buzzfeed, which released the two-page memo “so that Americans can make up their own minds.”
Good news, everybody: President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly asked Robert F. Kennedy, Jr to chair a federal commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” In addition to being one of the original Robert F. Kennedy’s 11 children, RFK Jr. is an activist who believes vaccines cause autism—an idea that has been roundly rejected by scientists and doctors, found to have no merit in dozens of experimental trials, and traced to one article published in Lancet 20 years ago and subsequently retracted. But what do scientists know? How many of them are Kennedys? Fucking none, that’s how many—not one Kennedy has become a scientist, because science sucks. It’s not because they couldn’t do it. Why, RFK Jr. himself went to Harvard, even after he flunked out of Milbrook. He’s just naturally right about things, the same way he is naturally rich: by being a Kennedy. I quote the Washington Post:
“President-elect Trump has some doubts about the current vaccine policies, and he has questions about it,” Kennedy said. “His opinion doesn’t matter, but the science does matter, and we ought to be reading the science, and we ought to be debating the science.”
Yeah, when are people going to start reading and debating science? We’ve left the science behind vaccines to doctors and scientists for too long. It’s time to get some famous rich people in there to straighten this out and decide whether polio should come back.
As recently as two months ago, this country was run by elites: latte-sipping, liberal arts degree-holding, pilates-skipping elites. Fortunately, the election of Donald Trump and meteoric re-ascendence of the Republican Party has solved all that. Now that the billionaire son of a millionaire is president, America is going to start working for ordinary people again. And you know who will be leading the charge? Conservative pundits. They’ve broken free of the oppression that confined them to think tanks and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and now they’ve taken up the cry of the real American. Today is Friday, and we’re finally going to do something about the elitists who stopped tax cuts for the rich and saddled the country with burdensome welfare programs. Won’t you go sans culottes with me?
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 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:
I would have done even better in the election, if that is possible, if the winner was based on popular vote – but would campaign differently
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2016
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.