“I have to give Professor Plum credit,” Professor Plum said as he entered the mail room. “He handled himself brilliantly.”

He read the mail…. (More)

Professor Plum and Ms. Scarlet then 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”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor was handling a pair of red Jacks, if not brilliantly, at least by the book. Chef opened with a pot-sized raise and the Squirrel called. As Jacks rarely win multi-player pots, the Professor of Astrology Janitor offered a pot-sized reraise. To his dismay, both Chef and the Squirrel called.

The flop brought the Ace of Diamonds, King of Spades, and Ten of Clubs. Chef and the Squirrel checked to the Professor of Astrology Janitor, who wisely checked with what was now almost certainly the second-best hand.

The Queen of Clubs on the turn revived his hopes, as he now held an Ace-high straight. But so did anyone who held one of the other two Jacks. So when Chef and the Squirrel checked again, the Professor of Astrology Janitor put in only a half-pot-sized bet, not wanting to pump what seemed likely a split pot. Once again to his dismay, both Chef and the Squirrel called.

The Six of Clubs on the river made him nervous yet again, even more so when Chef pushed in a half-pot-sized bet and the Squirrel replied with a pot-sized raise. Had the Squirrel called at the turn with a Club flush draw? Would Chef have bet anything less than a straight? Was it worth calling on the faint hope of splitting the pot three ways?

The Professor of Astrology Janitor decided not, and folded. Chef called and turned over the Jack and Nine of Clubs, for a Jack-high flush … one card short of a Jack-high straight-flush. The Squirrel showed the Ace and King of Clubs, for the winning Ace-high flush.

“At least I didn’t lose as much as I might have,” the Professor of Astrology Janitor said, patting the table.

The Squirrel chittered and tapped at his Blewberry: “Spinning like the God-King, eh?” and adding a wink emoticon.

The Professor of Astrology winked back and began his plaintive mewling, so Chef went to the kitchen to make a Hamburger Breakfast Casserole, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

Both Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and later President Vladimir Putin said that Putin denied Russian involvement in the hack-and-leaking of John Podesta’s and DNC emails, and both said President Trump accepted Putin’s denial. The president refused to speak with U.S. reporters, so we asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster whether the president did indeed accept Putin’s denial. Instead of a yes or no, we got this:

MNUCHIN: Let me just say, first of all, I think President Trump handled the meeting brilliantly, okay? It was very clear what started as a 30-minute meeting – and President Trump made it very clear in addressing the issues around the election. After a very substantive discussion on this, they reached an agreement that they would start a cyber unit to make sure that there was absolutely no interference whatsoever, that they would work on cybersecurity together. And President Trump focused the conversation on Syria and the Ukraine and North Korea.

And I think it’s very important that President Trump had a very substantive dialogue with his counterpart on this. And it is very clear that there are many issues we need to open a dialogue on. And I think President Trump handled it brilliantly.
[…]
McMASTER: What the President and Secretary Tillerson charged us with as they came out of the meeting is what we’re going to do going forward. Secretary Mnuchin mentioned one of those aspects already, which is a recognition of the importance of cybersecurity and the need to make sure that we protect election systems in the United States and in Europe and elsewhere. So that is one of the things we’re going to focus on going forward.

Is this a classic “non-denial denial?”

American Reporters in Hamburg, not to be confused with American Werewolves in London, who weren’t really werewolves and weren’t really in London

Dear American Not-Werewolves in Not-London,

Dear Ms. Crissie,

To clarify, we’re not really in Hamburg anymore either, because the meetings ended yesterday.

American Reporters in Not-Hamburg

Dear American Not-Werewolves in Neither-London-Nor-Hamburg,

Dear Ms. Crissie,

Actually some of us are in London now, because that’s where we’re based. But the not-werewolves aren’t here.

American Reporters Wondering How We Got Lost On This Tangent

Dear American Tangentials Wondering How Reporting Got Eaten by Not-Werewolves,

Dear Ms. Crissie,

That sounds like “The dog ate my homework,” which is not what we said. Or asked. Or whatever we did, back in our first letter.

American Reporters Thinking We’ve Milked This Joke Dry and a Bit More

Dear American Reporters Milking Werewolves,

Dear Ms. Crissie,

Now that’s actually a damn good description of trying to cover the Trump administration. Can we steal it?

American Reporters Milking Werewolves

Dear ARMW,

Yes. You can also steal that acronym, which we think would be pronounced ARM-wuh.

Dear Ms. Crissie,

Ooh, we like that acronym. It sounds like what we mutter to each other whenever the president or his lackeys talk: “Armmm-whuh?”

ARM-WUH

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

Could you please answer their question, so I can ask about Chef’s Hamburger Breakfast Casserole recipe?

Impatient for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Squirrel,

We apologize.

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Dear ARM-WUH,

Yes, we would call that a classic “non-denial denial,” as Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall explains:

Putin and Lavrov both say that Trump appeared to accept Putin’s denials. The fact that Trump’s own National Security Advisor won’t contradict those claims adds a good deal of credibility to them, whatever motives Putin and Lavrov may have to deceive. But also note that accepting a denial needn’t necessarily mean accepting the underlying factual claim of the denial. It can mean something more like ‘I accept that you deny this happened. And we’ll move ahead on that basis.’ That is actually not far at all from what Tillerson said, which was that they agreed that they should be talking about the future and not the past and that it is not clear the two countries will “ever come to some agreed-upon resolution of that question between the two nations.”

They’re not identical. But they’re not far off. I would argue they’re close enough to be different interpretations, albeit perhaps tendentious ones, of the same words.[…]

What about Lavrov’s suggestion that Trump said some people in the US were making “exaggerated” claims about Russian interference for which they have no proof? That’s really not that different from Tillerson’s summary which suggested that Trump pressed the issue of what many Americans think rather than a factual claim based on U.S. intelligence. Not the same, no. But both seem like they could be plausible descriptions of the same conversation.

In this case, it’s very, very hard for me to believe that Trump didn’t say something like what Lavrov claims. Think how many times Trump has claimed the Russia story is “fake news” or a “made up story.” It’s a veritable obsession.[…]

Indeed, I would argue that they are close enough to be reasonable interpretations of the same conversation. Quite simply, both sides descriptions of the conversations are pretty similar. And the conversation they describe is not good at all.

We wish you luck in milking those werewolves.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

Does Chef’s Hamburger Breakfast Casserole include werewolf milk?

Howling for Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Squirrel,

Not quite. Chef notes that the original recipe – linked below – does include Velveeta, which may as well be made from werewolf milk as it bears only a mythical resemblance to cheese. Instead, Chef tops this recipe with shredded cheddar. Bon appétit!

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

American Reporters in Hamburg, aka American Not-Werewolves in Not-London, aka American Reporters in Not-Hamburg, aka American Not-Werewolves in Neither-London-Nor-Hamburg, aka American Reporters Wondering How We Got Lost On This Tangent, aka American Tangentials Wondering How Reporting Got Eaten by Not-Werewolves, aka American Reporters Thinking We’ve Milked This Joke Dry and a Bit More, aka American Reporters Milking Werewolves, aka ARM-WUH … “as Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall explains.”

Hamburger Breakfast Casserole.

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Happy Sunday!