ComPost Live: Your weekly digest with Dana Milbank and Alexandra Petri

Jan 07, 2011

The Compost, written by Dana Milbank and Alexandra Petri, offers a lighter take on the news and political in(s)anity of the day. If you believe life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it, this is the chat for you. Join us every Friday at 11:30 to laugh, cry, and dish about the moments that amused you, shocked you, or caused you to yell things that frightened the other people on the subway.

Good morning.   In the spirit of the new GOP House majority, I plan to edit and redact your questions to make them more to my liking.  If you write something critical in your question, it will be struck from the record.


I think Justice Scalia would be pretty upset about the edited version read aloud. Those part about slaves and Indians not taxed weren't removed from the official version, they're just amended over. And hiding it, just makes we First Nations all the more invisible. Not a good sign from the 112th Congress about how they'll treat Indian Country.

As soon-to-be-former RNC chairman Michael Steele says, Honest Injun!

I had the same impression that Scalia would not approve of the reading.  Possibly they will ask him about it when he appears before Michele Bachmann's Tea Party Caucus to discuss separation of powers.


Is it bizarre seeing other places citing your work as insightful legitimate social critiques as opposed to your chance to post endless puns and analogies? Not to say it couldn't be both.

The exciting thing about being cited by Mr. Beck was realizing that I must be right!

But seriously, I enjoy being cited as a legitimate social critic, especially at times when the legitimate social criticism includes a pun. In fact, it's been said that inside every  pun is a legitimate social criticism trying to get out.

(Relatedly, something I think a lot about is the preponderance of puns on Twitter. Practically every day there's a new pun thread. Given how much grief puns get from folks like Jon Stewart, it's amazing how tenacious they are. Like fungus.)

Still, puns or not, I usually do try to make a point.  Admittedly, I have a congenital weakness for analogies. I have stated on the record (if my Twitter counts as the record) that they're like cupcakes -- you can't make just one.

I have long been thinking there is not much difference between American politics and World Wide Wrestling events. The Post's raising such a stink about Congress's reading only the parts of the Constitution that currently in force as the supreme law of the land convinces me there is no difference whatsoever. I won't ask if political events are scripted - many years of watching WWF events has taught me the answer. But I will ask: are you and other people in public life actually on the WWF payroll?

Redacted version:




I will ask: are you and other people in public life actually on the WWF payroll?

Answer:  I've been getting this question a lot since I returned to the gym as part of my New Year's resolutions. Thank you for noticing the improvement in my physique.



I thought that the purported intent of the reading (tossing aside all the cynicism of "publicity gimmick," et al) was not to give a history lesson or rehash old wrongs, but to remind the Congress itself under which law they are now bound and sworn to uphold? In that respect, there's no need to read a repealed law other than to say "Amendment 18: Repealed by Amendment 21"..... Besides which, you know what, The Constitution is indeed "living, breathing" under a specific amendment process outlined within its words, not by judicial fiat or a president's signature. The "redactions" made in the reading reflect specific changes made through the processes outline in the Constitution. How come gun control advocates never propose amending the Constitution to eliminate, modify,or clarify the Second Amendment, in spite of claimed widespread public support? That's what the Republicans are doing with regards to the citizenship clause, as stupid and boneheaded a move as I think it is for them.


I was tempted to redact this heavily, but I have an actual answer, which was also in today's column.  It seems to me the redactions were not to show "which law they are now bound and sworn to uphold," because they read out the part about only males age 21 or older being guaranteed the right to vote.  Strikes me that they struck the language not to show the "current" version but to avoid the embarrassment of reading the Three Fifths Compromise aloud on the House floor.





Let's call it pungus!

Or neologorrhea... #maybeastretch

What? I guess I'm out of the loop but we can choose the gender of our offspring?

Yes, apparently, if you use Microsort! You can read more about it here!

The birds are going to get even angrier now that something the humans are doing is causing them to fall from the skies in droves.

I assume you're referring to "reading the Constitution out loud," because that's famously boring to birds.

Hey Dana, you wrote, "Assange's indiscriminate dump of American government secrets over the last several months - with hardly a care for who might be hurt or what public good was served". I find this incorrect on a few fronts. First, from what i understand he released only a small fraction of what he has and that wikileaks did do some vetting and redaction of certain names. Secondly, he seems geniulely, even if delusionally, concerned about the public's interest. Maybe not the government's but thats not his job. Is it yours?

This is so 2010!  But in the spirit of the new year I will answer by redacting the "in" from "incorrect" and striking everything after "I find this correct on a few fronts."

But in answer to your original(ist) question, it's correct that his most recent dump was much more restrained.  It was his earlier dumps that released sources and methods and things that could cause harm to people trying to help us in nasty parts of the world. 

Does a Height Challenged person have a chance for the GOP nomination? I saw him the other day in an interview with the Wolfman and he had a hard time answering a simple question about how the debt balloned under Bush while he was Bush's budget director. So what is the bigger handicap? Height or Bush?


I think Mitch Daniels would be fine as long as he balanced out the ticket with John Thune.  They'd average about 5'10" I'm guessing.

Should the Dems be sending their best and brightest young minds to Northwestern's marketing/advertising program instead of Yale Law or Harvard's Kennedy School of Government? Why can't Dems come up with the same catchy phrases like "judicial activists", "death panels" or "job killing _______" for any policy espoused by Dems? Maybe they could poach a few people from Proctor and Gamble...

Yeah, so far "the thing we're doing to healthcare that is not perfect by any means but incorporates a lot of provisions and things that will probably, but might not, result in ultimate efficiencies and cost savings" didn't really take off. But at least they haven't accidentally associated the names of their movements with sex practices.

At least not yet.

Just seems more like a Petri dish then usual...

Redacted version:

Q. --- Dana --- seems more ---- than usual.

A.   Thank you.

Rahm was really hot, this Daley guy is so not. What does this say about the second half of the Obama term in office?


Relax.  There is none sexier than Gene Sperling.


It says that this website will probably be a lot less active.

Warning: language.

From the clips I saw not one of Michael Steele's challenger had an ounce of courage. They all dutifully said Palin could win it all. Should the GOP really want so little backbone in that slot or is that spot for jellyfish?

Of course Palin could win it all!

Run, Sarah, run!

The ComPost -- ney, all of journalism -- needs you.

Will she get burned by the election law? Will she replace Gretchan Carlson on Fox and Fiends?

There's a lot at stake here, and it's hard to tell what's brewing, but as anyone who is a familiar with Christine will tell you--

The prolonged silence there was my trying, but failing, to come up with any further Christine-O'Donnell-future-related puns. I must need coffee.

The short answer is I hope she stays visible! Or invisible! But only if the invisibility involves her Craft.

Since this ad is running during your chat I was wondering if you could tell me how many days it would take before you and your belly completely disappeared?

I don't want to make you feel bad, but I think that ad appears only because the "cookies" in your computer indicate that you are a person seeking diets/weight loss/fitness etc.  This happened to me, so I started doing Google searches for "chewing tobacco" and "monster trucks" and "five guys burgers" and the ads stopped appearing on my screen.


All my ads are for cat food, Fast Tips To Break into the Biz, or offers to introduce me to nice Jewish or Catholic boys. Nothing I google seems to change this. They also seem to think I would be interested in shoes that were selected for me by Kim Kardashian.

Oh, is that what's causing all the bird deaths? I thought al-Qaeda was doing some testing down there in Arkansas.

Now that START passed, has anyone reported the sky falling as the good Senator from AZ predicted?


I do believe you have just explained the mass bird and fish deaths.


I've enjoyed reading your work for some time, Mr. Milbank, but I must say that your work this week is something akin to shooting fish in a barrel. You must be pleased as punch that the new Congress is making your job so easy. Who needs Roland Burris, anyway?

Egads! There is a malfunction in my redaction machine. I just ran this question through and got:

"----------Mr. Milbank, ----- You must be-----Roland Burris."

You are quite correct about the fish.  I didn't even have time to weigh in on Gibbs cashing out and the two congressmen who attempted to swear themselves in by watching the proceedings on a TV.

I understand they also removed the N-word. Also, Steele now has to say "honest Indian."

N-word:  Naturalization?

Will the Sketch and Compost be covering the pending Edwards-Hunter nuptuals?

This would be the only wedding in history where all the attendees tried to give away both the bride and groom.

Let's say Obama doesn't have a substantial challenger for the bid. What will the process look like? Will Obama debate a couple of nobody's. That sounds bad for Obama yet great for the Sketch. I want to see Obama vs Cynthia McKinney.

No, I want Dennis Kucinich. He actually sat in a seat on the House floor yesterday that was already occupied by Congressman David Scott.  He appeared to be spooning.

First Gwyneth Paltrow sings "Forget You" to Cee-Lo Green's song, then some so-called scholar sanitizes "Huck Finn," now the House of Representatives omits the 3/5 provision for slaves during a public reading of the Constitution. What do you predict will be Bowdlerized next?

Constitution aside, I think the only response to this trend is to start adding controversial bits to things that didn't include them before. Like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but with uncomfortable revelations about American history -- like Little House on the Prairie During An Era When There Was Slavery, Which We Must Never Forget.

Was in Union Station yesterday frantically trying to catch the 4:40 MARC train to Baltimore and, when I got there, the cops were barring the public from the platform as very official looking men in dark suits walked toward an AMTRAK train. One of my herd called out, "Hey, there goes Eric Cantor." Glad he needed to be protected from people wanting to go to Odenton. And what, in the name of heaven, is the deal with reading the Constitution and holding a purely symbolic vote on health care repeal. I thought the Republicans were serious this time? Ah well, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, huh?

I'm redacting your French but I like the Cantor story.

Dana, CPAC is reaching out to Muslims and gays. Where does this go? Fun times?


I'll ride that train over the 4:40 to Odenton anyday.

Jon Stewart lambasted McCain pretty thoroughly the other night. He said he had gone full on "Gran Torino". How crushing was his presidential loss?

I think part of this is also the fact that as people age they tend somewhat to ossify into self-parodies.

Why haven't they asked that homeless guy from Columbus, Ohio with the great voice to take over for Gibbs? He would be a direct rebuttal to the accusations of job-killing, since he would be removed from the unemployment rolls.

They haven't, but I have! And someone made a Facebook group!

Oh, so THIS is the real explanation for all those fish deaths in MD. And Milbank wanted us to believe it had something to do with the START treaty.

How can a lawyer be the director of the National Economic Council?

He is not a lawyer. He is a fashion model.

I'm getting those too. But I was looking up exercise stuff. If I've just looked at the Pottery Barn website I get their ads. Sometimes it makes me feel paranoid.


After participating in this chat, you will soon begin to see ads appear for psychiatrists and special education. 

Well, it appears it's that time again.  Please come back and see us next week, when we finally reveal this 1 weird old tip for cutting belly fat.

Wait a second, I've heard that phrase somewhere else recently. Are you plagiarizing?

"I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation." -George Bernard Shaw

Song of Myself, Even Though I should Really Be Talking about Women's Suffrage


Judicial Activist is some kind of sex practice? Really does not conjur up an exciting image for me, but I'm not really into all that role playing.

This is where I mutter something about banging gavels and Dana redacts it.

Thanks for joining us this week! Keep reading the Compost! And for anyone responsible for this week's news stories, thank you for making our jobs easier!

In This Chat
Dana Milbank
Dana Milbank writes the Washington Sketch column about political theater in the capital. He joined The Post as a political reporter in 2000, after two years as a senior editor of The New Republic and eight years with the Wall Street Journal. He is also author of two political books, Homo Politicus (Doubleday, 2008) and Smashmouth (Basic Books, 2001). He lives in Washington with his wife and daughter. • Dana Milbank Bio & Archive
• Milbank Q&As
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost, a lighter take on the news and issues of the day, and she contributes to the Post editorial page. Her work has appeared in venues such as The Huffington Post, The Week,,, Collegehumor, and The Harvard Crimson. She has appeared on Jeopardy!, Showbiz Tonight and Canadian radio, and she has performed at Boston's Comedy Studio and Comedy Connection. She would love to be on your TV show, radio show, Daily Show, HBO special, or to be an honored guest (or regular guest) at your Bar Mitzvah. She is the author of two books (unpublished, but contact her!), two screenplays, three plays, one musical, and one memoir (Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast.)
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