Culture Wars

Posted October 23, 2007 at 6:49pm

The Department of Homeland Security under the Bush administration has clashed with the Democratic-led House Homeland Security Committee over all manner of crucial national security issues, including, most recently, the hot-button topic of cheese. The cultured-milk schism between the committee and the department was revealed in a dairy-laden letter from Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the panel’s chairman. [IMGCAP(1)]

Jackson took umbrage at Thompson’s recent pronouncement that vacancies within DHS senior ranks had left its leadership with “more holes than Swiss cheese.” Jackson, who apparently has a more upscale taste in cheeses than his legislative branch colleague, thought another cheese metaphor was more apt to describe his department. “If a cheese metaphor is sought, in truth, DHS’s leadership team would more fairly be compared to a fully intact wheel of the undisputed king of cheeses, Parmigano Reggiano, carefully nurtured to maturity and ripe for superlative service,” he wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to Thompson disputing the staffing problems.

Jackson is right about the supremacy of Parmesan over common Swiss, but we’re going to fact-check him on the “undisputed” part. Some gourmands consider Roquefort, the French blue, to be the “king of cheeses,” Mr. Deputy Secretary.

Quibbling over curds aside, the letter still has the distinction of being the only DHS missive thus far to make us hungry.

Dirty Sexy Money. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (N.Y.) not the only one playing hot potato with campaign donations from Democratic fundraiser-turned-political pariah Norman Hsu. The Democratic National Committee had to figure out what to do with the $10,000 Hsu gave them — and the solution just happened to be to unload it on a personal pet charity of DNC Chairman Howard Dean. According to the DNC’s third-quarter financial filings, in September Dean cut a cool $10,000 check to a favorite project, the Corinne Crawford Endowment Scholarship. Dean helped set up that fund, which was established this fall in memory of a Burlington (Vt.) High School graduate who died earlier this summer after being hit by a car while bicycling.

The charity-bound money stood out among the DNC’s typical politically driven expenses. “The money, originally a contribution from Norman Hsu, was donated to the Corinne Crawford Scholarship fund to help low- and moderate-income students go to college,” DNC spokeswoman Stacie Paxton said.

Bow-Tie Pasta, Sir? HOH has bad news for the glut of out-of-work Republicans and campaign staffers peeling away from faltering presidential bids who may have thought they’d found a dream job as Tucker Carlson’s personal chef: not so fast.

It appeared that Carlson, the MSNBC host and former “Dancing with the Stars” twirler, was seeking a chef for his family, according to a posting on the D.C. government’s public job database.

The job listing names Carlson, who lists his own occupation as “Able Seaman.” The successful applicant would, according to the job-search post, “plan menus, purchase food and supplies and cook, serve and clean-up after meals in domestic household.”

But the ad is no good, alas. Carlson tells HOH through a spokeswoman that he wasn’t aware of its existence. And while it might have sounded cushy, the pay wasn’t so great.

Cooking for the Carlsons was advertised as paying just $7.50 an hour, with no benefits, which is only 50 cents more than D.C.’s minimum wage. Heck, even the lowliest barista at Starbucks makes plenty more than that — and they get health coverage and the perk of listening to jangly world music all day long.

D.K. Phone Home. HOH certainly isn’t alone in wondering on whose advice Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is remaining in the race for his party’s presidential nomination, against all odds. The Cleveland Plain Dealer might have given us the answer: The paper is reporting that Kucinich believes he was visited by a UFO. In her new book, Kucinich pal and New Age diva Shirley MacLaine claims the Congressman spotted the otherworldly visitor while he was staying with her in her home in Graham, Wash. “Dennis found his encounter extremely moving,” the paper cites MacLaine as writing. “The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him. It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn’t comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind.”

Directions to do what, HOH would love to know. Kucinich’s office didn’t return our phone call, or the Plain Dealer’s.

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