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State of the disunion

Another thought on the audacity of nope: The constitution itself is something of a collection of nopes. The Bill of Rights is really the Bill of Nopes.

Of course, having a constitution at all was a major step, an initiative of a scale and ambition that we do not see in contemporary America. Washington, Madison, Franklin et al feared that centrifugal forces and a general anarchy and absence of national government would lead to the eventual disintegration of the republic. But they also had to deal with the pervasive fear of despotism. Thus the constitution is loaded with all those checks and balances. And then to make it even more palatable to the public, they loaded it up with the can't-do stuff of the Bill of Rights.

Nothing against bicameralism, but we've just seen a vivid demonstration of how it (along with Senate cloture rules) have made it hard to get a bill into law. Both the Senate and the House passed major, "historic" health-care reform bills. But is it historic if it never actually becomes the law of the land? Or just a waste of time?

And if it did become law, you know what would happen -- a headlong dash by conservatives to get the Supreme Court to nullify it (on the grounds that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, right?).

It's a steep hill out there, is what I'm trying to say. Or, to put it in metaphorical terms, institutional structures combine with partisan obstructionism to create major obstacles to serious reform.


Good comment by bc, in the boodle:

"If it is easier to continously simply complain about what we don't like, and to allow fears to let us subconsciously - or even consciously - sabotage any change we may start, then perhaps we will end up with what we deserve. Bitterness. Social disassociation. Stagnation. Decline. Entropy. But nature has a way of addressing more entropic states by filling it up with more energetic states. Maybe I'll learn to speak Mandarin or Hindi?"

More on the audacity of nope, this time from Mike Allen of Politico:

A senior administration official, from downtown: "It's amazing that Senate Rs can barely muster a majority for a Republican who was named TIME's 'Man of the Year' and who served in the Bush White House, was appointed to his current job by President George W. Bush and has the full support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Main Street American business. And their main complaint is that he saved the world from what Jim Cramer has called the 'financial stone age.' Is the minority leader Ron Paul? Someone's learned the wrong lesson from the MA race and it's not President Obama."


The curse of John Edwards -- from the archives:

At a Shriner's hall here this morning, Edwards walked in with his million-dollar smile, without any obvious hint of the fatigue so evident among some other candidates. He's disciplined on the stump, sticking not only to the standard themes but using identical sentences, even identical stressed syllables, regardless of venue. If there's anything new this morning it may be the extra dollop of sarcasm that drips from his words when he talks about his chief rivals. For example, he took what sounded like a shot at Barack Obama's politics of hope, suggesting that it's naïve to think that the entrenched special interests of Washington can be wooed into changing their ways.

"You can't NICE them to death. It doesn't work. They will drive through you like a freight train."

He mentioned a woman who had to raid her child's college fund to pay for a cancer operation.

"She needs more than a HUG," he said.

Don't replace corporate Republicans with corporate Democrats, he said, because it won't make any difference -- an apparent shot at Hillary Rodham Clinton. The only change, he said, would be that "different people will go to the cocktail parties in Washington."


Here's Gregg Easterbrook on Favre's fatal flaw.

By Joel Achenbach  |  January 27, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
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Oh my. That piece by Eastbrook left me slack jawed in admiration. I understand that both football and many Greek mythologies are linked by a common warrior culture, but to see the connection made so explicitly was a delight. And know I have a brand new vocabulary word: hermatia.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Oops: Hamartia.

Dang fingers.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'll agree with you, butlerguy, on all your points except term limits. I think that reform of the redistricting process would do away with much of the "eternal incumbent" problem. Not all, but much of it.

Virginia has a term limited governor (single term) and it's a terrible system. The office is inherently weakened both in terms of the ability to implement long range programs and in accepting responsibility for past actions. Gov. Allen did away with parole. Gov. Gilmore campaigned to end the property tax on vehicles. Neither was in office when the state dealt with the results of those initiatives- packed prisons and budget deficit.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 27, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Havarti, RD_P?? I prefer a good Cheddar.

Posted by: Scottynuke | January 27, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

As far as the Man From Kiln goes, I have a modest proposal-

I think Favre should retire gradually over the next two seasons. He could hold a tearful news conference each Monday during the season and announce his retirement, then sign with a new team on Tuesday and play one game for that team before retiring again the following Monday. This system has lots of advantages- 29 more chances for Brett to cry on TV, Favre jerseys on sale in every team color, every GM becomes a genius for at least one week of the season, NFL Sunday Ticket sales go through the roof, and Brett locks down the career interception record for all time. What's not to like?

Posted by: kguy1 | January 27, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"You can't NICE them to death."
--John Edwards

I am automatically suspicious of anyone who uses the words 'nice' and 'death' in the same sentence. The verbification of 'nice' raises my leery flag, too.

Posted by: MsJS | January 27, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

My ears are burning.

I broke my two month sabbatical today to do a side-by-side comparison of President Cool Jazz and Senator Elect Hottie.

And if corporations have full personhood, avatars, dopplegangers, and sock puppets should too.

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | January 27, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Groucho, channeling the tea-partiers and the Party of No:

Posted by: rashomon | January 27, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else seen the new Live Q&A format? Wow! Monica Hesse's (now) is my first.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. Geez, this dodgy Internet access combined with days of meetings is really cutting down on my Boodling. I missed the whole television Kit and the Politics of No. Reading, I was impressed by how comparatively on-Kit each Boodle stayed. Nice stuff in Politics of No by too-infrequent posters butlerguy and edbyronadams.

Loved the coq au vin recipe, Weed. We're all prospectively cowering here in anticipation of a Winter Storm. I'll need warm tasty comfort food to cook, unless of course the power goes out. They're saying we'll have ice tomorrow; I may fill up the bathtub just in case. No power, no water.

Cassandra, good luck with those crutches. I always find it some relief to have a problem diagnosed, non? I'd rather know why I hurt than just hurt without a clue.

The Boy wanted to talk about the effect of the Mass election on the health care bill for Current Events. I had to explain the gist of the reconciliation process to him, so he could make sense of it for the kids.

Posted by: Ivansmom | January 27, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

To answer the burning question left hanging at the end of the previous boodle, there seems to be ever so slightly wiggle room on the question of whether a proper Reuben sandwich is/must be grilled or not.

The overwhelming majority of online recipes I have just now consulted all agree it should, in fact, be grilled, viz.: "A grilled sandwich made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread. There are a couple of legends or stories involving the creation of the Reuben Sandwich."

Indeed, there are said legends, about four or five of them. In the one that seems to be the most prominent, there is no mention of it being grilled or toasted. In this version, the estimable Arnold Reuben made one up for actress Anna Selos by slapping together roast beef, ham, turkey, etc., on rye bread. Variants of the story say Selos wanted it named after her, but that Reuben changed it and named it (quite properly, methinks) after himself.

So if this version is correct, the original ur-Reuben was raw and uncooked. It is quite clear that the ingredients morphed, with corned beef becoming the now-obvious meat instead of roast beef, ham, whatever.

One notes that the Reuben variant that uses pastrami instead of corned beef is properly called the "Rachel" sandwich. Other variants switch off betwween sauerkraut, Thousand Island or Russian dressing, and coleslaw. I found one (a southern recipe) that thinks you can put mayonnaise on one. Goyim. Jeez.

Myself, I cannot conceive of a Reuben or a Rachel that is NOT grilled or toasted. It'd be like cold french fries.

Warning: if you have not eaten lunch yet, do not read any further or open the link.

The following link displays photos of 135 Reubens, and I submit this is dispositive (as the lawyers say). A very small number seen here may be ungrilled, but it is clear the vast majority are. (There is one shown served on a bagel. One makes allowances for artistic license, but really, this one should be disqualified. Not that it's a bad idea; they just need to rename it.)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 27, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

You notice how many of the ungrilled examples have the cheese melted? That tells me they are the product of a lunch counter (food-court type) that doesn't have a grill. They've been microwaved. It makes me feel a little sick to think of it.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Suddenly I have a huge craving for a Montreal Smoked meat sandwich which I prefer to a Rueben, but I do like Ruebens just with mustard not Russian dressing.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 27, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, my, I love Reubens. Must have corned beef, Russian Dressing, sauerkraut, rye bread, and be grilled. One of the best Reubens I have ever had was in Wichita, Kansas - they used marble rye. I believe it was here:

Posted by: seasea1 | January 27, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

dmd, I actually wept when Ben's closed it doors. Now it is Schwartz's or bust.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I thought Robert Rubin was toast. Not after walking away with $50 million, he's not. I just misunderstood. My bad.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

dmd3, I am absolutely there with you on Mustard. I have a preference for Pastrami, as well.

Posted by: russianthistle | January 27, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't an ungrilled Reuben become too mushy to eat?

Howdy-off to back boodle.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | January 27, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Once again the gap between expectation and reality rears its ugly...rear.

Apple announced their new gizmo, the iPad. Shares in Apple fell $2.75, or 1.3 percent, to $203.19 in afternoon trading Wednesday. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company's shares have more than doubled over the past year, partly on anticipation of the tablet computer.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 27, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I think we are jumping the gun on the ascendancy of India and China implied by bc. I mean, where else but in the good old U. S. of A could one create the iPad? I mean, sure at first it looks to be nothing more than an oversized iPhone. But on closer examination one discovers that..

Nope. That seems to be pretty much it.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | January 27, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Good homes wanted for:
Wagging haiku litter, all
Purebred doggerels.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 27, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Wow, I wander off Shane-like to a few meetings, and when I check back on the Boodle, there's a new Kit.

Had to rub my eyes with my fists and blink a few times to make sure I wasn't halucinating my own words in it. I'm honored, Joel -- glad you liked that bit.

I've been reading Easterbook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback for the better part of a decade now, and as much as I disagree with the man's politics, TMQ is a spectacularly (and consistently) great football column. And I don't mean that just because he cranks out 4000+ words a week (some of them large and obscure).

Reeling back on Kit for a moment, is obstructionism the new social activism?

The Bill of Rights put me in mind of sports rule books (I've read many). They're typically filled with specifications and thou-shalt-nots. Folks who read them and see nothing but obstructions and roadblocks come up with plans based on what they *can't* do. Some folks who read them do so thinking about what they can do - formulating a plan to achieve their goals. Or, win, if you prefer.

The losing team's plays worried about what the Other Guys are doing, paying more attention to the Other Guys than trying to *get their own game better.*

Complaining about the Other Guys may be warranted if they're cheating. But continously paying attention to, grousing about - and possibly obstructing - what everyone else is doing takes attention, energy, and resources away from the one thing they *can* change for the better.



Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

But, RDP -- you know -- it's BIGGER. Isn't that what we 'mericans want, need, you know, ferever???? My iPad is bigger than yer iPhone?

Well, you win some and you lose some. I'd certainly like to win sumpin one of these days.

Posted by: -ftb- | January 27, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Not the dad.
Vet took care of that one detail
Long since; still mourning.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 27, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

For Wilbrodog-

We'll start passing the hat as soon as we know your size. I'm assuming that you want the Ultraplus model.

Posted by: kguy1 | January 27, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Rubber test*cles
Don't equal real sperm count-- and
My step bounces enough.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | January 27, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I’m amused the photo gallery contains a Reuben’s from Canmore AB and no sandwich from Montreal. Here is Montreal’s Reuben’s restaurant description of their namesake sandwich:
“A savory grilled sandwich served on a thick sliced pumpernickel, piled high with ½ lb. of sliced smoked meat, melted Swiss cheese, sauerkraut & Reuben’ secret sauce.”
They don’t pretend to have invented the Reuben’s but it’s their “signature” sandwich.

The Mounties know how to do a good send-off. Today was the funeral for Superintendent Coates who died in the collapse of the UN building in Haiti. I first noted during my walk there was 1 Crown Vic of one colour or another for every other car downtown. They I saw why.
The funeral procession started with four mounted officers bearing the flags, all four mounting one of RCMP's typical dark horses. Then there was the hearse followed by Mounties in ceremonial garb, including the high riding brown boots with the polished brass spurs, four-abreast and at least 50 row long. They were at the slow walk, tempo given by two drummers. Followed by at least that many Mounties, retired and active, in more subdued uniforms. Then a large contingent of MPs, OPP and SQ provincial police, city police, etc were following. Quite the display of solidarity.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 27, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

dmd, that is sooo unfair. I don't know what a Montreal smoked meat sandwich is, but it sounds interesting. 'Splain, please, Lucy?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 27, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, SD.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | January 27, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Similar to pastrami or corned beef, but with different spicing and handling (and much better than either). From Wikipedia:


Along with bagels, smoked meat has been popular in Montreal since the nineteenth century, and has taken such strong root in that city that many Montrealers, and even many non-Montrealers, identify it as emblematic of the city's cuisine. Current and former residents and tourists make a point of visiting Montreal's best-known smoked meat establishments, even taking whole briskets away as take-out. Despite the food's origins in, and association with, Montreal's Jewish community, and contrary to what is sometimes asserted, these delis are not certified as kosher.[citation needed]

The primary producer of Montreal smoked meat is Lesters Foods, which had its origins as a Jewish delicatessen in 1931 on the historic St. Laurent boulevard, better known as "the Main", dividing Montreal into east and west. Lesters Foods supplies Montreal smoked meat to many restaurants, delis and grocery stores throughout Canada. Other famous shops include Schwartz's, Reuben's, Dunn's, Jay C's Express, Jarry Smoked Meat, Lester's, Abie's Smoked Meat, Chenoy's, Pete's Smoked Meat, the Main Deli, the Snowdon Deli, and Stanley Diner (formerly Ben's Deli) which was a Montreal institution for 98 years until its closure in late 2006.

Beyond the delis listed here, smoked meat, (French: "sandwich à la viande fumée" or "smoked-meat"),[1] is offered in many Montreal diners and fast food chains. Smoked meat has become popularized beyond its Jewish origins into the general population of Quebec, where smoked meat has been integrated into popular dishes, such as, for example, "smoked meat poutine" or "Québécois-style pizza."

Smoked meat can similarly be found across Canada (see Shopsy's of Toronto), although proponents of Montreal's smoked meat claim that it cannot be obtained in its tastiest, or most authentic form, outside of Montreal. Several restaurateurs have offered to franchise Schwartz's in cities across North America. Its owners, however, have always refused; but do deliver by mail-order, though not at present outside of Canada.

Montreal smoked meat is always sliced by hand in order to maintain its temperature. Since it is so popular, whole briskets are kept steaming and sliced up on demand. Restaurants outside of Montreal do not have the volume of smoked meat customers to justify this practice, and usually only have cold pre-sliced meat on hand, and re-heated when a customer orders one sandwich.That negatively affects the taste and texture of the meat.

Posted by: Yoki | January 27, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Sad, SD. RCMP's have very impressive uniforms, always was partial to the look, especially on horseback.

Unfortunately I don't like smoked anything, it upsets my delicate tummy. Alas.

Posted by: badsneakers | January 27, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Ah, so it's a smoked brisket, then. And better than pastrami or CB? Interesting.

OK, we have the smoked meat. Is there then a "traditional" kind of sandwich you make, as in a Reuben or do you just mix it up a variety of ways (white bread, rolls, dif kinds of cheese, etc.)?

If I walked into a deli in Montreal, how would the menu describe it? What would I order?

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | January 27, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

had to laugh at the heading that the iPad is "...more intimate than a laptop..." sounds like a chris miller story.

Posted by: -jack- | January 27, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Good thing dinner's already in the crock pot, Yoki, or I'd be dying now.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, this is what I remembered reading when I saw the posts about a Rueben sandwich, Monteal Smoke meat and Montreal bagels - so good.

Related articles detail the difference.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 27, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

TMQ is a good column. Like good Google-worthy columns it stretches for the hyberbole on occasion.

I think too much is being made of that one turnover.

Minnesota led in just about every offensive stat, but they also led in the one stat I'd like to see added to the box score, 'missed opportunities'. There were at least three prior to Favre's Fatal Flaw.

There was the great kickoff return by the Saints to open the second half. Minnesota had a chance to make the tackle at about the New Orleans 25, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the Saints got to start their first offensive drive of the half from the Vikings 37. Two minutes later, a quick Saints touchdown and no need to slog through a five-to-eight minute drive from deep in their own territory.

Oh yeah, and that fumble by Harvin early in the 4th quarter deep in Viking territory. The Saints recovered on the Vikings 7 and scored another quick TD.

Going back to the first half, Favre fumbled on the Saints 10-yard line with about a minute left. The Saints didn’t score off that turnover, but it probably cost the Vikes at least 3 points, maybe 7.

My point is the Vikings had ample opportunity to be leading at the 59:53 mark in the game and Favre would have just taken a knee.

Posted by: MsJS | January 27, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The brisket is cured in spices, then smoked.
A smoked meat ordered just like that will come on warm rye bread, not toasted, medium-lean meat, with bright yellow mustard and a pickle.
Options usually include pumpernickel bread, sometimes other bread, hot mustard, ordering the meat lean or fat, more pickles, etc
The monster cheesecake slice to follow the sandwich is optional.

In my young days I could do the big smoked meat easily but I had to share the cake. It's so rich it hurts.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | January 27, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | January 27, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Shriek, excellent description of the funeral procession, brought tears to my eyes.

Posted by: dmd3 | January 27, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Looks to me like they are WAY over on the diminishing returns side of the curve.

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 27, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

RD, Apple did indeed create the iPad, just as they created the iPod.

However, I believe that most, if not all, of any individual iPod is produced in China, and the iPhone produced from components sourced here in the US, Korea, and Taiwan (over objections from Indian companies, IIRC). Could be wrong about that, though. No idea what/where production of iPads will be.


Posted by: -bc- | January 27, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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