“Support Professor Plum for Faculty Senate,” the dollar bill finger puppet said. Someone read the mail. (More)

We recognized Professor Plum’s voice despite the falsetto. Ms. Scarlet confirmed his identity by removing his ski mask before they left to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”). The Professor of Astrology Janitor tried to join the spirit during the staff poker game, by sneaking a bet onto the table while no one was looking. Chef saw the Squirrel tapping away on his Blewberry and Pootie the Precious chasing her spongee ball, their cards already folded. Chef raised, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor could no longer deny his bet. He looked again at the Seven and Deuce of Clubs, not the worst-possible hand but close to it, then folded and began his plaintive mewling. Chef left for the Kitchen to make Hidden Bacon and Mushroom Wraps, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

One of the things that has always distinguished Americans as a people is the eagerness with which they’ve organized around issues and causes they believe in. As Alexis de Tocqueville put it more than a century and a half ago, “In no country in the world has the principle of association been more successfully used or applied to a greater multitude of objects than in America.”

And yet today, this principle faces a grave external threat. The danger comes from a political movement that’s uncomfortable with the idea of groups it doesn’t like speaking freely, and from an administration that has shown an alarming willingness itself to use the powers of government to silence these groups. This dangerous alliance threatens the character of America. And that’s why it is critically important for all conservatives – and indeed all Americans – to stand up and unite in defense of the freedom to organize around the causes we believe in, and against any effort that would constrain our ability to do so. The bulwark of this freedom is the First Amendment. And defending it is what I’d like to talk about today. It’s hard to imagine a more broadly accepted proposition than the fact that Americans are free, above all else, to speak their minds openly and freely, without fear of punishment or reprisal from government authorities.

Mitch in KY

Dear Mitch,

We applaud your commitment to the U.S. Constitution – or at least the parts and interpretations you like – and we agree that Americans must be free “to speak their minds openly and freely, without fear of punishment or reprisal by government.” We also agree that freedom of speech is especially important in political issues. That said, the DISCLOSE Act is not about whether people can speak their minds “openly and freely,” but whether they should be allowed to dominate the political dialogue while acting in secret and at great expense.

The DISCLOSE Act, suggested by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United, would require Super-PAC contributions to be made public, so voters know who is paying for which messages. Yes, some voters may use that information to criticize corporations and businesses who back messages with which they disagree, or may organize protests or boycotts of those corporations and businesses. We note that those criticisms and protests – if peaceful – are also protected by the First Amendment, and that boycotts are ‘free market protests’ of the sort conservatives should applaud.

Despite your rhetorical sleight-of-hand – referring to those who criticize, protest, or boycott conservative donors as “Obama allies” – none of those is “punishment or reprisal by government.” Progressive activists and groups who speak in support of President Obama and other elected Democrats, or who speak in support of progressive issues, are still private actors. This may come as a shock, but the First Amendment does not protect only the wealthy. If conservative donors decide the social and market reactions to their speech impose too great a cost … that resistance and their decisions to curtail their campaign donations are part of the “marketplace of ideas.”

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

Did Chef come up with the recipe for Hidden Bacon and Mushroom Wraps on her own, or was that recipe sponsored by a corporation?

Disclosingly Hungry in Blogistan

Dear Disclosingly Hungry,

Chef found two sources for this recipe, one sponsored by a corporation and another by an individual claiming to have found the recipe in a family collection purchased at an estate sale. The only differences in the two recipes are the presence or lack of specific brand names, and the baking times. To make Hidden Bacon and Mushroom Wraps, first separate the biscuits in a can of We Won’t Include Brand Names Refrigerated Biscuits, then roll each biscuit into a 3″ circle. Place one-half strip of cooked bacon on each, top with a whole mushroom and another strip of bacon, then wrap the biscuit around the bacon and mushroom and pinch the edges to seal it. Place the wraps seam side down on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 450° for 7-10 minutes, until golden brown. Chef uses the baking time for the corporate-sponsored recipe, as that is also the suggested baking time for We Won’t Include Brand Names Refrigerated Biscuits. Bon appétit!

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Mitch in KY.

Recipe sponsored by corporation; recipe found in a family collection.

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Happy Sunday!