ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Oct 01, 2013

Join us next Tuesday 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.

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How goes it? If you want actual correct information about the shutdown, you're in the wrong chat, but if you want commiseration and vague prophecies of doom, look no further!

what do you say about the difference between Ted Cruz and someone like Wendy Davis? Is the filibuster only admirable if you agree with the goal? (I say this as someone who loathes the Tea Party.)

Well the difference is that Wendy Davis's filibuster was actually a filibuster -- under the rules of order, if she spoke long enough, the session would end without a vote. Filibustering wasn't a grandstanding exercise -- it was the only option for the minority to stop the legislation. With Cruz, it was just a long speech -- when he stopped talking, the vote proceeded, as it would have had he not talked at all. The filibuster is only admirable if it's actually a filibuster.

Do women greet each other by hugging so much because they're trying to analyze one another's scent, like dogs do?

I don't think so?

Oscar Wilde compared it to "prizefighters shaking hands," if that helps.

How come women never win?

Women keep winning the Twain! Not sure what's going on with the Thurber. Patricia Marx was a finalist last year!

In case Congress shuts them down ...

I stand by Hawkeye, my original answer to this question.

Although we could probably stand to lose a green lantern or two.


Alexandra, do you think the National Zoo pandas pressured Boehner to do the shutdown just for turning off the panda cams? I can see the need for SOME occasional privacy and peace / quiet. Or perhaps, as your awesome colleague Karen Tumulty tweeted, it might give the red panda another chance to escape.

My theory on the pandas is that, deprived of human attention even for a few minutes, they will forget how to breathe, keel over, and die. of the DEA would be nonessential and Hank would wind up at home spending all day arguing with Marie about rocks vs. minerals. Of course, this benefits Walt and Jesse as it buys them time, or at least gives Walt the chance to get his copy of Leaves of Grass out of the bathroom. Then again, at least Skyler could visit the Four Corners since it's run by the Navaho Nation. If Marie would allow Hank to brew beer all day, he'd wind up Breaking Beer a lot and would probably have to sell it through Gus' distributors.

(whispers) I haven't watched Breaking Bad! Is this accurate?

Are we really all that bad? Couldn't you do some sort of Old Testament deal where if you find ten decent internet commenters you won't destroy them all?

Nose game for who gets turned into a pillar of salt!

(You great folks and the actual community of commenters isn't the problem! You are the residents and homeowners whose turf gets periodically destroyed by giant floods of sewage. I was complaining about the giant floods of sewage!)

Why furlough Hawkeye and let Aquaman stay on the payroll?


Who will protect us from zombies? Or asteroids?

Did we really think the government was capable of protecting us from zombies and asteroids?

Now that parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone are closed and current visitors have 48 hours to leave, do the bears have to leave too?

Last one to leave, turn off the geyser. I missed the point in this song where it says if you hold your breath and kick and scream enough, a bill stops being law.

Huh, yeah, I can't spot it either. Maybe it's in "Amendment to Be"? No, I think not.

Thanks for tweeting your earlier concerns about Area 51 (and moon landing). You make a valid point: furloughed workers = unhappy workers = likely to talk. I'd also be worried about who will take care of the aliens during the shutdown.

A hungry alien is an unruly alien!

Just so you folks don't think DC is the only one suffering from the shutdown. I work at a large state university with a number of federal labs that are now closed. Especially disturbing is the vet med one where they have to freeze or destroy lab specimens since they don't know when they will be able to work on them. Though it's good for those pigs who were going to be "sacrificed" today and now have been granted a reprieve!

There's almost always a silver lining for the pigs.

Spiderman, at least the version in the newspaper strip. He usually doesn't do anything other than stand around until someone else solves the problem for him.

I was going to suggest that!

What is going on with him and the Tarantula?

Also, weren't the strips where he sat on a plane, took a nap, and stopped a kid from unmasking him among the GREATEST of all time?

Nah, let's lose the Flash.

We probably could get by without Bruce Banner as long as we furlough him with utmost delicacy.

But the constant scrutiny has made them forget how to reproduce. Or maybe China only sends us the ones who don't want to reproduce.

If they purposely sent us the only two pandas lacking any real impulse to continue the species, and back at home surrounded by bamboo the pandas are proverbial for their lustiness and competence, why I'll - -well -- I don't know what I'll do, actually. Let me think on it.

Now she knew how to run a shutdown.

+10, you!

I have seen a bunch of posts on Facebook basically saying "if the government is shut down and they aren't paying salaries, when do they start sending rebates to taxpayers for the money they are saving?" I've thought about trying to explain how tax revenues and budgets work (and that, oh, by the way, currently tax revenues are less than expenditures) and letting these people know they shouldn't hold their breath waiting for the rebate check. Instead, I've just clicked "like". Is that just as effective?

I generally find it so. "Like" is another way of saying "this is wrong but I don't have time to explain," "your life milestone makes a little something in me die" or "Please continue self-destructing in this public forum; I don't have a tv."

are we talking DC or Marvel superheroes? And which is Hawkeye, DC or Marvel?

Hawkeye's Marvel.

I was sort of flopping between the two, although we could just ditch all the DC superheroes on the ground that everyone in DC is out of work these days (and also they've been pretty lousy to their ladies lately.)

Now that I'm off for the day, do you know where I can get a bamboo latte?

Try the Starbucks across from the zoo! It might be on the secret menu!

Baked, broiled or fried? We can make panda jerky.

Run, Panda, run!

Day 1 and counting ...

I'm going to try to grow a mustache! I won't succeed, but this way I'll have the dual benefits of Taking A Facial-Hair-Based Stand and Not Having Facial Hair.

Convert them into underground food trucks?

Not sure I'd patronize an underground food truck, unless of course they had mac & cheese, but I know some quadrupeds who would.

Especially since he would never really get past TSA to get on the plane. Comics are our greatest escape from life's depressing realities. Wait...if the gov't is shut down, who's doing patdowns at the airports?

No, no, as a rule of thumb, all the things that the government does that you actively dislike continue unabated during sequesters and shutdowns. It's the visa processing and NASA that get slowed.

Even though you can't watch Mei Lan and the baby now, you can go to the Atlanta Zoo website and see Lun Lun and her twin cubs on their cam. Or the San Diego Zoo where they don't have a baby, but do have a toddler cub who wrestles with his mom Bai Yun.

"You see, the states and the private sector have already stepped up to fill the void!" --someone somewhere, probably

It would have been better (well, less ironic) if he hadn't read a story where the moral is "don't knock it until you try it" when talking about the Affordable Care Act. Maybe Cruz should try it before saying it is bad.

What I also don't understand is: if you're absolutely convinced that it will be terrible and the American people will hate it, why not... let yourself be proven right? Don't push it. Just sit there with your arms folded waiting for everyone to crawl back to you at the midterms. As long as you're sure...

The one who turns into water was pretty much useless. Also, too many Smurfs.

Do they really count as superheroes? I thought superheroes had to be at least people.

At least now the elk can have some privacy while rutting, instead of having all those voyeurs with binoculars and telephotos lenses ogling them. is this a problem we've been having? Elk voyeurs?

Maybe we could finally make a decent French film. Can you look forlorn and stare off into space? "This is your Red Line train to Silver Spring. Next stop, Nowhere."

"Following stop, The Existential Void. End of the line, Crippling Ennui."

*Godot boards the train and just stands there silently, reading a newspaper*

And why do they walk around in a circle before they lie down?

And what's up with airplane food?

Save us Jeff, you're our only hope!


I just read (at WaPo, of course) that air traffic controllers will be forced to work without pay. Oh, THAT makes me feel comfy and peachy about flying, you betcha. Think Breaking Bad. (oh, sorry, Alexandra, forgot you hadn't seen it - the reference (for real) is when Jesse's girlfriend Jane died, her father was an air traffic controller whose mourning led to distraction that caused a mid-air collision over Albuquerque. Imagine ATC's distracted over lack of pay and bills piling up.)

Oh gosh, I think I'll be traveling by train from now on...

They took away the Ewok cam and look what happened

I still haven't been able to load this, but I think it's relevant!

It wasn't a filibuster, it was a fili-bluster!

Or, depending on whom on the Internet you ask, a fauxlibuster, foolibuster, filthibuster, and Kilibuster from one guy who was confused what we were punning on and thought Hobbit jokes were a safe bet.

Can I send you some PowerPoint?

I think the NSA is still in full force.

No, but enough of you are that the few good ones have been buried. The few sensible ones need to start composing Letters to the Editor.

That's what I should have said! (re:comments)

Eat, drink and be merry. And die brave! To save on resources during the shutdown we can use the taverns as jails.

Let's save even more resources and just use the taverns as everything! I think it'd be a great improvement on most workplaces!

Is Jonh Boehner's tanning spa open during a government shutdown?

Shhhh, he'll hear you, and then he might retaliate by doing something unthinkable like shutting the -- never mind. Say what you will!

And not only was it NOT a filibuster, but when they did the vote right after his blowing smoke, the bill passed 100-0. Which means that even the numbskull Ted Cruz voted for it. Sheesh.

It's Mr. Smith goes to Washington all over again, really.

Once they put up that pole at Yellowstone, they've been attracting the wrong crowd.


Is there actually an elk voyeur epidemic that I've been missing out on?

Today is the 123rd anniversary of Yosemite National Park! Happy Birthday! What, you are closed? Bummer!!!

Hey, when 123 years old you reach, you deserve to spend a day or two without strangers wandering all over you ogling your elk.

Let's all throw tea bags into the fountain in front of the Capitol!

I was going to say "but that doesn't make any sense" but -- it didn't even make sense in the 1770s, really.

Nobody has the gumption to secede anymore.

If at first you don't secede...

Think the shutdown will result in many more people visiting Yellowstone to see the elk bugle next year, the piece on NBC news last night sure made visiting the park seem like a cool fall ritual, not as good as a PSL but still.

Is "bugle" a euphemism?

I don't think withholding sex is the right solution. That plays right into the hands of the rightwingers. I think the opposite response is more appropriate, to treat this as a blizzard or power outage. Government Slutdown, that'll show those prudes what we do when we have no money but lots of free time!

This is definitely a bad comment to use as a transition to, "Well, on that note, I should skedaddle," but I really do have to skedaddle. Got to see an elk about a panda.

Keep reading the Compost and feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I go silent for days at a time and then barrage you with things that occcurred to me on the train.

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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