ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Sep 20, 2011

The Compost, 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 Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. ET 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.

Past ComPost Live Chats

Can we talk about all this organ donation and automated attack drones?

I turn my back on the news for a second, and suddenly it turns all dystopian on me. Or is that dystopic? Whichever it is, hold on to your kidneys.

Here's a quote, from the Post article:

Critics, however, say the move heightens the risk that potential donors will be treated more like tissue banks than like sick people deserving every chance to live, or to die peacefully.

“This is another step towards this idea of hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs,” said Michael A. Grodin, a professor of health law, bioethics and human rights at Boston University.

Hovering, hovering, hovering to get more organs?

Did anyone see "Repo: A Genetic Opera"? I didn't, but I feel as though this must be a song in it somewhere.

On to the questions!

Ron actually named his son Krugerrand, after his favorite gold coin.

Oh, thank heavens! For a few minutes there I thought he was one of those people who chooses strange kids' names for obscure reasons --

Also, why is Velveeta Ron Paul's favorite cheese?



Are you ready for this: We developed a computer analysis for a "generic Republican". Mathematics says the "generic Republican" is Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. We have no idea who he is, but, mathematics is never wrong.

Are you sure that's math? Are you sure it's not class warfare?

Can someone tell the President that math is actually warfare? Or at least I always become violent when faced with word problems.

Why don't you tell Congress?
Keep in mind that Congress is leaving the building on a train with a velocity of 5 mph at 10:00 AM ET and that you are leaving Pittsburgh, which for the purposes of this problem is 500 miles away, on a train traveling at lightspeed and supercooled, so you'll have to schedule accordingly.

Now why did they have to kill off Charlie Harper's character on "Two and a Half Men". You would think the producer Chuck Lorrie would want to keep open the option of enticing Charlie Sheen to come back sometime. Sometimes I just wonder what people are thinking.

I know! They seemed to get along so well!

You should do a post on him, just to see how many of his fanboys (why do they always seem to be boys) take up angry acreage in your comments section.

Paul is one of those figures, like Palin, who has a lot of die-hard supporters who enjoy commenting whenever they see his name mentioned. Even if the comment has no bearing on the actual content of the post! Maybe it's a rite of passage.

I should call the post "Ron Paul's Sarah Palin One Night Stand Bachmann Pornography" because that would attract the maximum possible number of commenters, even if the text turned out to be a picture of a cat looking disappointed by the state of public discourse.

Does this mean we're moving to a "tissue standard" of currency? That's really gotta chafe the TP-ers.


After the debate, a woman came up to Michelle Bachmann and said "my daughter was given the HPV vaccine and it caused mental retardation. You tell people about that." And Michelle said "I can't tell people about that, mom!"

Oddly this isn't the first joke along those lines I've heard this week...

If this is class warfare, when's the food fight going to happen?

Soon! We're trying to get the have-nots more food so the fight will be balanced, but this may take a while.

Now, now. Republicans do not believe in class warfare. We Republicans believe that all poor and middle class people should pay lots of taxes and dream of the ability to someday become wealthy enough not to pay taxes. That is not class warfare, that is the American dream. If you take away that dream, America dies.

That is! It's the Temporarily Embarrassed Millionaire problem! That's why we're all irritated with Warren Buffett for suggesting that he has too much money. "When I have as much money as Warren," we murmur, "I definitely won't think it's too much."

What's the most appropriate way to celebrate?

I actually am a bit sad -- not as a matter of policy, but because DADT was one of the great easy punchlines of our era, and now it's gone and millions of jokes are instantly dated.

I'll do it. I'm not that busy today.


This might also be a good time to tell him that if he says "pass that bill" another time, there's a man in Cleveland who will perish of alcohol poisoning. Just something to keep in mind.

That is why they want to have failing schools. If there is no math then no one understand the rich are getting all the money, because they can't do basic arithmatic! Thus there will be no warfare because everyone will be paying their "fair share."

True! You can't tell if your slice of pie is correctly sized if you didn't take fractions!

Now that Levi Johnston's book is out, we can settle the issue if Bristol is a rape victim. I think the answer is 'ick'.

I'll say this for the guy, he has a vivid prose style. It's somewhere between those romance novels you pick up in the checkout aisle ("The Rogue Billionaire's Virgin Bride") and really, really misheard Fitzgerald.

Eat the rich!


Seems like a modest proposal to me.

I like Harvard journalist. You make me go to the dictionary looking up words like "dystopia". All this time I thought it meant looking at things backwards which, considering what the word means, maybe I had it correct all along.

I don't blame you. I think it sounds like a potted plant to which something terrible has happened.

Velveeta was my favorite cheese.....when I was six. I much preferred the grilled cheese sandwiches my mother made with Velveeta to the ones she made with Kraft American. What say you?


Speaking of DC and trains leaving the station, one of my favorite stories was a former Supreme Court Chief Justice who once boarded the train and discovered, when the conductor came around, that he didn't have his ticket. The conductor recognized the Chief Justice and told him not to worry about it. The Chief Justice replied, "you don't understand. Without the ticket, I don't know where I am going."


I hadn't heard that. Do you know which Justice it was?



But all kidding aside, it's a strategy that could earn her $11,000!

I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of the Salahis. Any chance that Michaele and rock boy will have a TV show?

Tareq, what are you doing in this chat?

I assume you're Tareq, because I have never heard anyone say "I can't get enough of the Salahis" who wasn't a Salahi.

My parents also liked Ayn Rand. Still, I don't believe they should have named me Fountainhead.

As someone who narrowly dodged the name Bergliot (I think it was a tribute to a putative great-aunt) I see your point.

How about Atlas?

This reminds me that if anyone wants a bad idea for a business, you are welcome to create a line of objectivist shoulder wraps called Atlas Shrugs and not credit me at all.

is to party your life away. If you use enough drugs, drink enough, and have enough exposure to STDs I bet nobody will want your dirty body tissue and overtaxed organs. Charlie Sheen is on to something.

But it's okay, because the Singularity?Rapture is coming soon and we'll all become one with the robot hive-mind/Jesus, depending on your apocalyptic theology. At least I hope so.

Eat and drink and laugh and lie/Love, the reeling midnight through/For tomorrow we may die/But alas, we never do.

-Dorothy Parker, the Flaw in Paganism

Did you notice the groups of writers who came on stage to accept writers' awards at the Emmys? It seemed like out of the groups of 10-12 people that one, maybe two were women (the one I noticed most prominently was the Jon Stewart show). How hard is it to break into TV or comedy writing as a woman?

Yeah, and Jon Stewart had come under fire from Jezebel in fairly recent memory for not having an adequate enough ratio, so they might have been making an effort to show their whole lady-arsenal.

I think the going wisdom now is that we're past the Dog Preaching On Hind Legs Christopher Hitchens argument that when one sees a woman making jokes one marvels less at the fact that it is done well than that it is done at all. Especially with Bossypants and the somewhat burgeoning number of woman-helmed shows, people have the sense not only that Women Can Be Funny (of course they can; that's no longer the question) but that their funny comes in as many shades and gradations as male funny -- from the bawdy and blue to the subtle and er, un-blue.

So the question is not "Are women funny" or "can women, given the chance, make it in comedy"? Both of those have had answers since Lucille Ball and Dorothy Parker. The question is 1) are women trying? 2) are they succeeding 3) if comedy still looks like a pasty boys' club, why is that?

I think the hardest part is getting from "oh, there's a girl in the room" to "among our writers are John, Matthew, Sarah, Carl, Roberta, and Lucille." I think Twitter is helping in terms of people being judged on "are you a funny writer" as opposed to either "aw, nuts, a woman will ruin our man-cave of camaraderie" or the slightly more progressive  "dang, we require further lady-meat for our arsenal" to eventually the point when it will be exactly as difficult for women to break into TV or comedy writing as it is for men. It's hard! And I think we're closer to that now than we ever have been.

An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one tells the bartender he wants a beer. The second one says he wants half a beer. The third one says he wants a fourth of a beer. The bartender sighs, puts two beers on the bar, and says “You guys need to know your limits.”

That, as Dr. Paul would say, is comedy gold!

(At least, I enjoyed it.)


At least for grilled cheese sandwiches: government cheese. I am not making this up. It's even better than Velveeta--it melts perfectly and has the weirdest, best taste. I'm sorry, free marketeers, but the government is more efficient at creating tasty childhood memories than private corporations on their own (they contract with Land O' Lakes, but the cheese isn't manufactured for retail).

What? If there's one thing I learned in the last debate, it's that there's private sector cheese that can handle this more efficiently and with greater compassion.

"I walked right up to her. Just "cause. "Cause I couldn't keep away."........thanks for introducing that particular piece of prose to me. Jerk.

I want William Shatner to read this aloud.

We can get plenty of food for the have-nots from the Wonder bread outlet. The bread is only a day old and should be just fine for a food fight. Love, Marie Antoinette

Wow, sounds like Marie Antoinette has suffered a downgrade lately. What happened to apocryphal cake, Marie?

Yeah, but at least they can date openly now.

Ten points, you!

Because you don't force a bunch of lame polls upon us and then harangue us if our answers don't agree with yours. And you're cuter.

But I could never pull off a mustache like Gene!

The name of this organization is a little creepy.

This is definitely Newspeak.

I find that sharing is one of the most creepily misused words in the English language. Whenever anyone says he wants to share something with me, this "sharing" is generally indistinguishable from "telling me something I would as soon not hear." And this organ sharing is just one more layer.

Weird taste = best taste? Really? Usually when I say something tastes weird I'm not complementing the flavor. Maybe it works best if you don't think of it as cheese when you eat it?

Yeah, I also wondered if this government cheese thing was some sort of wildly subtle commentary out on which I was missing. If so, I assume the cheese represents, er, the EPA.

The "cat looking disappointed about the state of public discourse" made me expel my coffee, narrowly missing the keyboard. Thanks for somehow continuing to give us creative ridiculousness in your chats and writings - it's gotta be hard to do since reality is increasingly (and not creatively) ridiculous.


They say life imitates art, and I think these days it's a Hiernonymus Bosch.

I mainly say that because I like the name.

Also, this.

You can now! But act quick because supplies are limited.

Oh, that reminds me that I need to get on this year's topical Halloween costumes!

If anyone needs a last-minute easy one, just go as Michele Bachmann and whenever anyone takes a picture, look slightly to the right as though you have found another camera.

OMG! Can we start a lobbying campaign? It'll be even better than his cover of "Common People."


I'll get on this this afternoon after I get the chance to leaf through my Levi. Anyone want to start the Facebook group?

Yah, but there's never been a recall on tainted government food, only private enterprise food.

But from the sounds of that cheese, perhaps there should have been.

Is just corporate welfare for the dairy industry

Nonsense! The Cheese Stands Alone!

Soylent Green

Spoiler Alert:

Soylent Green is Luke's Father, Rosebud.

I enlisted back in the day when they did ask and if you were, you had to lie. I wasn't, so I didn't have to lie....about that, ha! Anyway, I'm retired now but I think the military would have been so much more awesome with a bunch of openly gay people.

This is probably nudging out George Washington's farewell address as my all-time favorite quote from a retired serviceman: "I think the military would have been so much more awesome with a bunch of openly gay people."

It's just one more thing I'm going to have to add to the list of "things we're not supposed to share" when I tell my toddler that we ARE supposed to share. So far the list includes toothbrushes, germs and now "organs, at least while you're still alive and no sooner than 2 minutes after death."

Can't tell them too early! Also, "anecdotes about your formative times abroad during high school." That's one of those things you have to start drilling into your child's head at an early age.

Harvard journalist/playwright/former writer/correspondent for a not-ready-for-primetime (or any time) Harvard sketch comedy news program, What was your favorite thing about Harvard? Least favorite thing? What is post-Harvard life now like in DC?

My favorite thing is how you managed to incorporate it five times into that question!

My answers are standard on all counts: I loved the people and the chance to work insanely hard outside the classroom on things I loved (in my case, writing/writing for theater/not being ready for primetime); my least favorite thing was the fact that you are only allowed to stay there for four years, which is exactly as long as it takes to make you forget that you are still by most standards a tremendous nerd and leads to an awkward adjustment period of wandering around expecting people to laugh at your Charles Martel jokes.

I love life! DC is a town that atones for sometimes being a little overdressed, over-policy-wonkish, and over-Oxford-shirted by always being absolutely and self-consciously over-educated, which I still find endearing, although when it starts cloying New York is nearby and sells gourmet french fries at 3 AM.

This is actually true. The government stockpiled cheese to assist the dairy industry in keeping prices high. It is basically American Cheese, which is similar to Velveeta.

Wow, I learned something this chat! Thank you!

It was an analogy for the fact that the government manages to do things cheaper and more efficiently than the private sector can on its own, by relying on a combination of cost-saving government bureaucracy operating on an economy of scale for administrative functions and well-placed, well-used public/private partnerships for innovation in production. Or, I suppose it could be an analogy for that, but mostly it was about the cheese itself. If you ever had a grilled cheese sandwich or hot ham & cheese sandwich from a US public school cafeteria in the last twenty years or so (at least), you've had it.

Once more unto the cheese.

No, it sounds like something you end up with after eating too much chili.

Or a Rihanna single. If it isn't now, it will be soon.

Um, you forgot to add "and the terrorists win!"

Right. Take that as assumed! Also I forgot to release the eagle that you usually release after a statement like that.

Well, Friedrich von Steuben was Washington's right hand man in Valley Forge, and...have you seen the statue for that dude in Lafayette Park? It's two naked guys messing with a sword and a cameo portrait of von Steuben's closer personal secretary. It's not really talked about much, but he was gay. He came to the US to escape persecution for his indiscretions in his native Prussia, and ended up turning our ragtag little gaggle of poorly-trained merchants and farmboys into a commanding military presence. So Washington could've might've said something like that, maybe even using the word "awesome."

I'll have to check out that statue! Also, I like that you refer to him as G-Dub.

Last year, I went to the John Stewart rally as Christine O'Donnell. Blue skirt suit, wig and makeup like hers and I had name tags that read things like "HI! I'm not a witch" and "HI! I'm you". I knew all of her stupid lines and would spout them on demand. Did I mention that I'm a guy?

No, you didn't, and I didn't ask --

(See, I can't really make that joke any more. Not that I could make it in the first place.)

I miss Christine O'Donnell. I'd miss her more if I had the sense she were actually going away, but still.


A benevolent Republican president released the government cheese upon the masses. Not long after, a band called the Rainmakers recorded a satirical song called "Government Cheese"... Ah, the 80s.

Thank you for that! I haven't clicked on the link, so if this turns out to actually be just a video of Ron Paul swaying back and forth to the theme from Goldfinger, I apologize.

PS: Hmm, inordinate amount of Ron Paul ribbing today... must be something in the weather.

ThePost's Divine Ms. Lisa de Moraes is "Pookie," while web-etiquette maven Monica Hesse is "Cupcake." How shall we address you, Ms. Petri?

Hmm, a nickname is sort of a thorny bed to make for yourself to lie in. All the ones that spring to mind are awful, like "Dander" and "Muffin," "Not Carolyn Hax," "Jabba" and "Nickname." Is there some process by which these are earned? I picture it as being similar to the process of taming one of those prehistoric birds in Avatar.

Did you get your copy of Star Wars on Blu-Ray yet?

I ordered it, but it hasn't come!


Twenty points!

Alex - do you think you'll ever be a Bridezilla?

Doubtful. Seems like I'm always a zilla, never a bride.

Who's your favorite? Wanna make a wager on this year's winner?

I need to catch up! I did read the headline "Chaz Bono killed on Dancing With The Stars" which for a moment made me worry a horrible accident had occurred...

Actually, Lisa de Moraes started calling some of her online chatters Pookie, but then we started calling HER Pookie instead.

Ah, yes, that's always how it starts, Topanga.

I'm embarassed to say I just got this.

No shame! Only yesterday did I realize that what I had taken to be a handy storage drawer under my oven was in fact the broiler. I kept wondering why I was scalding myself on all the pans.

And on that note, I'm going to go sign one of those notes where you agree to be the kind of organ donor where they make certain your heart doesn't suddenly start back up (also, who knew that this was something that happened? Is it something that happens? I would hate to assume someone was dead and, minutes later, have one of those awkward Denethor moments.) before getting rid of your kidneys. I happen to be attached to my kidneys!


Have a splendid week! Keep reading the Compost! And feel free but unobligated to follow me on Twitter!

In This Chat
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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