“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said,” Professor Plum announced, “but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

He read the mail. (More)

He was, of course, quoting a Vietnam-era briefing by State Department spokesman Robert McCloskey, according to CBS News reporter Marvin Kalb. Other sources attribute that sentence to former President Richard Nixon. Ms. Scarlet did not say which she believed, or whether she understood the strangled syntax, before she left with Professor Plum to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library to spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum.

The Professor of Astrology Janitor knew exactly what he meant when he said “Call” after Chef’s final raise. Alas, when Chef said “I’ll bet half the pot” after a third Spade fell on the river, the Professor of Astrology Janitor thought she meant “I’m pretending to have a flush so you’ll fold your two pair.” In fact Chef meant “I do have a flush and I’d like you to pay it off.” Which he did, while beginning his plaintive mewling. Chef left for the kitchen to make a Leek and Zucchini Scramble, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….


Dear Ms. Crissie,

I have a message for Republicans in Congress. Please read Ezra Klein’s blog at the Washington Post and lead. Also, Mr. President, please read Ezra Klein’s blog and ask yourself “Am I working hard enough to communicate with Congress?” Maybe camp on the Hill. And to fellow journalists, when we take absolute stances (one side 100% right, the other all wrong) we give leaders cover not to lead. Don’t enable.

Ron in VA

Dear Ron,

We congratulate you on having mastered the art of false equivalence, and misunderstanding the concept of “enabling.” In 2011, President Obama offered a compromise during the debt ceiling negotiations. House Republicans led by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) rejected that compromise, hoping to defeat President Obama in the 2012 election and deal with a Republican president. Instead, President Obama won the 2012 election, and is now offering the sequester-ending deficit reduction plan on which he campaigned. His plan is a compromise that both closes tax loopholes to increase revenue and also cuts spending, including means testing for Medicare recipients, and a switch to Chained CPI for Social Security. What’s more, polls show most Americans support President Obama’s plan. Oh, and a recent Business Insider poll found that Americans prefer reducing the deficit by closing tax loopholes, or a balanced approach, with 57% opposing the the cuts-only plan being pushed by House Republicans.

In summary, a reelected president has publicly offered the balanced compromise on which he campaigned, a plan that is supported by a majority of Americans. Yet House Republicans demand unconditional surrender, despite losing their political gamble to replace President Obama last year, and despite their plan being opposed by most Americans. And because he won’t “camp on the Hill,” he’s not communicating enough and journalists who say otherwise are “enabling” him?

We suggest that journalists who insist on framing the sequester with both sides at fault, despite one party’s evident willingness to compromise, are enabling the party that refuses to compromise. Your narrative leads Americans to believe that “government is broken,” when the truth is that Republicans are breaking it.


Dear Ms. Crissie,

That’s just ridiculous. As I wrote last month, six magic words can unlock the door to the votes inside the Republican fortress: “some beneficiaries pay more” and “chained CPI,” budgetary code for slightly lowering benefit increases over time. He has only offered means testing, a good start but not enough. And why refuse Chained CPI as part of the fiscal cliff deal? His Chained CPI offer is a small beans gimmick: only with big revenue increases and no increase in Medicare eligibility age, despite our aging population. Republicans also don’t trust him, and there’s history to justify this mistrust. I think if President Obama went to a silent monastery for three months and gave Vice President Biden total control, a decent deal would be had.

Mike in CA

Dear Mike,

We congratulate you on proving Jonathan Chait’s thesis. Chait predicted that the Republican response to learning that President Obama has proposed means testing for Medicare and Chained CPI for Social Security as part of his balanced deficit reduction package would be to say “the cuts aren’t real, or the taxes are awful, or they can’t trust Obama to carry them out, or something.” In fact you offered all four responses …

… and added that the newly-reelected President of the United States should abdicate his office for three months so your party can negotiate with someone else. We are confident that, were President Obama foolish enough to do as you asked, you would demand that he abdicate again when the next political debate arises, and the next, for the remainder of his second term.

We suggest the problem is not a failure to communicate, but your party’s stubborn refusal to accept the outcome of the 2012 election.


Dear Ms. Crissie,

The media are certainly scrambling the Republicans’ message. I hope Chef’s Leek and Zucchini Scramble is better. How do I make it?

Scrambling for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Scrambling for Breakfast,

To make Chef’s Leek and Zucchini Scramble, first sauté ½ cup each of thinly-sliced leeks and finely-diced zucchini, lightly seasoned with salt and black pepper, in 4 Tablespoons of butter until softened. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the butter, then whisk 4 beaten eggs into the pan. When the eggs begin to set up, stir in the vegetables along with ½ cup of home-fried potatoes and 4 fried and crumbled strips of bacon. Top with ½ cup grated cheddar cheese and put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese melts. Bon appétit!



Robert McCloskey quote; or Richard Nixon.

Ron in VA on House Republicans; on President Obama; on journalists; President Obama’s plan; Business Insider poll.

Mike in CA; silent monastery for three months; Jonathan Chait’s thesis.


Happy Sunday!