ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Jun 19, 2018

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Live chat with Alexandra Petri at 11 a.m. ET. Submit questions and comments for her to respond to now.

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Hello, all! Happy Tuesday/Garfield's 40th birthday! 

Certain trolls are once again trotting out that old canard that supposed victims of some dreadful event are actually just actors -- in the current case, immigrant children. Two thoughts occur to me: These are cases of projection, because the Trump campaign famously paid actors to people his June 2015 candidacy announcement. And maybe it's those trolls who are the real actors.

Not that the reason you assume someone else has done something bad is always that you were thinking of doing it or have done it yourself, but in this case it does seem pretty striking. Also, whenever people say that it Must Be Actors it has the side effect of reassuring you that the terrible thing that is happening is not really happening: these are paid actors, the blood is ketchup, what you see is not real. 

You can't fool me. James Garfield was born 186 years ago. Also, it was in November.


Has it died? Because things sure seem dark. :(

I don't think it's dead yet, but, man, what a bleak prospect it presents these days. 

No doubt this will be today's Bible lesson from Sessions, Huckabee, and Miller.

It sure does suck out there? Where does all this horribleness come from? Things may seem bleak, but just remember, it's going to get a lot worse. Wait, I'm supposed to be keeping things upbeat. Um. Maybe the guilty will burn in eternity? Something to look forward to.

To... burning in eternity?

Well, this continues to be bleak! 


Does your spouse automatically assume co-ownership of your promises to write people sonnets, or does that principle just apply to shoes and accessories?

Oh, that's a good question!  I can state from experience that he writes a solid sonnet. Maybe I should put him on sonnet duty once he finishes the thank-yous for gifts. 

Wait - I'm confused. Are they actors or kids going to summer camps. Maybe they are actors playing kids going to summer camp. Also someone needs to take back Sessions law degree. There is separation of church and state. He needs to be citing the Constitution, not the Bible, to justify actions.

It isn't a cruel and nightmarish policy perpetrated in the name of democracy! We are just sending child actors to summer camp! 

If ever I saw two birds and had but one stone...

maybe I should just sneak them onto the Thank-You Spreadsheet with a note that says (MUST BE SONNET) and see if he notices! 

feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure what to do to remain upbeat.....

I'm with you! Hmm, how about a mindless game? I call it YouTube Kevin Bacon; pick a music video you haven't watched before and see what YouTube thinks logically follows. (This occurred to me because I decided to accompany this chat by turning on some Mika and within TWO songs it was playing Wicked. Thanks, but also, touche, YouTube.)

Saying they are actors is a balm for them, as the alternative is too horrifying. The call is coming from inside the house, they were conned. Sometimes I want to look at my 45-supporting family members and ask them how they sleep at night. Because I heard the audio from the border last night, and let me tell you, I didn't sleep well at all. Ugh - *insert something light hearted here*

Yeah. The worst part is the people who think this is acceptable and aren't ashamed to say they think this is acceptable. I'm really stunned how numerous they are. 


Next weekend! Do not let me forget to pick up the ring! I told my fiance several weeks ago that I had this well in hand, by which I meant that I was doing it today at 1! (Speaking of which, if you notice around 1 that I still seem to be in the chat, prod me gently!)

the internet. By the time I moved to DC (2005) the internet and comment boards and even Washington Post chats were well established. I have no idea how people got through the days without updates on what was going on in past tragic government crises? Little B&W tvs at their desks? Radio? Run out and pick up the afternoon edition of a newspaper? I mean, people were interested in moment to moment news during [pick one or more: McCarthy hearings/ Cuban Missile Crisis/Vietnam hearings/Watergate/etc.], right?

I assume they went to bars or to Clubs of some sort (Elk, Optimist, one of the ones with leather chairs like Trading Places)? Maybe this explains the popularity of Tupperware parties?

This might be a question for Hax, but going to throw it out here: how do I cope with everything going on, particularly regarding those poor babies? I'm a new mother (of a darling, sweet, funny 8 month-old boy, not to brag), and all of the stories/pictures/blurbs/tweets/posts simultaneously enrage me and make me want to bawl my eyes out. I have written and called my useless Republican senator (Toomey, who is despicable), but it's hard to get away from the stories. I know maybe I should try to tune out a bit for a few days, but it's pretty pervasive. Do others feel this way? How are people managing?

I saw a very good tweet recently that said, you have a responsibility to pay attention to what's going on, but you do not have a duty to saturate yourself in every horrific detail of it. It is okay to not consume everything. The Internet gives you access to so much more direct horror than even well-informed people in previous generations ever had to cope with, and you are not responsible for absorbing all of it. That is one reason I love print newspapers: you will be well-informed, but there isn't the infinite and vertiginous cascade from one piece of information to another that you have when consuming news online. That's always an option. 

Apparently a cage is not a cage, so is it a confinement enclosure, a holding pen, a summer camp, a kiddie koop, a rectangular ball stop, or an argument with a lot of holes? And doesn't Stephen Miller remind you of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons, gleefully knitting his boney hands and chortling, "EXCELLENT!" (Can "Unleash the Hounds" be next?)

Ugh, that's insulting to Mr. Burns, who is at least fictional. 

The worst one I saw on Fox was, oh, no, it is not a cage, they just built several walls out of chain-link fencing materials.

There are people mobilizing and organizing direct and indirect support for victims of policy.

I think, Alexandra, you have run into the problem that YouTube already knows way too much about you. It knows that sooner or later you are going to want to hear some Wicked. I'd like to suggest an alternate game: see how many weird requests it takes to get YouTube *not* to suggest Wicked. Like, after Mika, click on a Florida Georgia Line song, then Tibetan monks chanting, then Childish Gambino, then J.S. Bach, then Sinatra. *Then* see what you get.

Ah, your mistake is thinking I *haven't*!

earlier AP wrote, "The worst part is the people who think this is acceptable and aren't ashamed to say they think this is acceptable." And this just in: Gallup: Trump's 45% approval rating a record high

Has he picked out his place settings yet?

We finally found some mutually acceptable forks! It was a struggle because he likes a very rectilinear fork and I prefer a curvy fork. 

A Smurf might work.

Wait, do you have to wear the old, new, borrowed, and blue items on your person? I have been saying, "Well, I will have several elderly relatives present!" but I am not sure I could fit any of them around my neck as I walked down the aisle. 

Is "next" weekend the soonest one that has not yet happened, or is that "this" weekend? Also, why is language so dumb?

I meant THIS coming next weekend, because I was more afraid of saying THIS weekend since it would sound like the weekend just past. 

Congratulations are in order! My best to you and your almost spouse, et al. Is it time for you to leave yet? (Just trying to be helpful)

Thank you!

(This chat is a good sampling of the strange dissonance that has characterized my week so far, where there are obviously Much Bigger Problems grinding at the pit of my stomach and blasting hourly out of my phone and laptop screens but also simultaneously it feels strangely urgent to figure out table settings!)

What, you didn't know that?

I am not very good at being a bride! If it were not for a sterling MOH and phalanx of very capable bridesmaids I would be entirely adrift wearing mismatched shoes and arrive at the church maybe eight minutes before the wedding not realizing why this would pose difficulties to anyone. 

Tell your bosses to feature your columns more prominently in the app. Very hard to find your work when other opinion writers are always featured and not you. Your admiring public needs more Petri, not less

I will! But, hey, if you feel motivated, drop them a line! Not that I wouldn't be suitably convincing, but a Reader might be even more so! 

Southwest to Vegas and hi the Elvis Drive-Thru Chapel, then home for a potluck reception in the backyard.

I'm saving that for Wedding Number 2!

(just kidding, Steve! obviously! hey, why are you in the chat? get back to churning out sonnets!) 

As a person who likely should have been married years ago and probably will be at some point, this is why I'm not yet. My style would be to show up in comfy clothes, say some words, eat tacos from a truck, and party. I can't bear the thought of being forced to care about things like place settings and matching shoes, just for a piece of paper that says my relationship is what it is already (minus the paper). Or, to summarize, I have a very very very patient long-term girlfriend.

The thing is, I'm sure she knows all this about you and still likes you, and that is more important than an Exciting Paper Ceremony That Meets Wedding Magazine Standards! The trouble is that, as I've discovered, sometimes NOT caring about details actually just creates more work for everyone. If you specify "everyone should wear a grey suit" you don't wind up having to field requests to wear a custom banana ensemble. 

is easy if you borrow something that is old and blue. Your dress or shoes can count as the new thing.

Am I correctly perceiving that there is a movement towards calling out lies in headlines and such, rather that just reporting (i.e., repeating and spreading) what was said? There needs to be so much more of this.

It seems as though there is, though it has taken its time in coming. I hope we're getting better at it. 

I highly recommend Vegas for the first wedding. My husband's first wedding was in Vegas, no one was invited, and his parents LOVED me for having a church wedding that they were invited to.

Will it help if just start saying TWSS to everything?

The sad thing is that I read that and my first thought was "is that some international agreement we've pulled out of?" before I remembered Michael Scott... 

What color are the bridesmaid dresses? Will there be cake?

I had to double-check with the bridesmaid groupchat to make sure this egg thing wasn't a tradition, just to reconfirm how knowledgeable a bride I am! 

Navy and yes! 

My niece got married last year and it was catered by the couple's two favorite food trucks. They had matching dinnerware because they sprang for the good ones from Chinet. My point is, weddings can and should be about what the couple wants, not what "somebody" thinks they have to have. Don't put off marrying that wonderful woman just because you think weddings have to have matching shoes.

Apparently is an old British equivalent to TWSS, and was used by Ricky Gervais in the BBC version of The Office. Also "as the girl said to the soldier."

Everything you're planning for your wedding is wrong and here's what you should do instead. (1/482)

Your wedding is a bit of good news for the day . . . may you have sunshine, zero humidity, and comfy shoes.

It looks like we will have RAIN and THUNDERSTORMS but I think that is good luck? Or maybe just "something mentioned in the lyrics of the song Ironic." One of the two. 

Also "as the lady said to the sailor."

I will always remember the look the deacon gave me when he asked where the rings were and I just shrugged. His face said "I hoped for better", "this is what I expected would happen" and "my congregation is full of morons like you" all at the same time. I borrowed my dad's ring which barely fit on my fat finger.

Congrats and go get your ring. Also perhaps 45 should be referred to as he who shall not be named.

Wait, what copyrights? 

Plenty of time.

That's what I've always maintained! 

"I mean, people were interested in moment to moment news during [pick one or more: McCarthy hearings/ Cuban Missile Crisis/Vietnam hearings/Watergate/etc.], right?" I suppose we were, but radio, afternoon newspapers, and evening tv news was what we had, and it was plenty. Yes, I HATE the never-ending news cycle.

Will you be back next week, or wasting your life away at some sort of "honeymoon" nonsense?

I'll be back next week! We are going to wait to organize the mooning until after we have recovered from organizing the wedding! 

I can't tell if it's this weekend or next weekend, but either way, it's too early to worry about the weather. Any weather forecast more than 48 hours from now is worthless.

Horrible ambiguity - I wasn’t referring to you violating copyrights- it was I. Separate topic. Got your attention, though. Enjoy your friends and larger family at your wedding!

Ahhh! Thank you!

We didn't have the internet, or TV, or radio, or the telegraph, or papyrus, or farming, or lungs, or multiple cells, ... I may have forgotten where I was going with this.

but I sure hope the WaPo nominates you for a Pulitzer. Your columns these past few months have been wonderful! Have a great wedding, have fun, laugh, smile, see old friends, relax. Remember, despite what the magazines say, it is only one day and the rest of your life begins "right now!"

Thank you! And now I should probably go and get that ring. See you all next week! In the interim, I'll be on Twitter (@petridishes) and the blog ( 

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Alexandra Petri
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