Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: The upside of eating fingernails, welcoming the new kids, and picking the scab off Iowa

Matt Labash Columnist
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Editor’s Note: Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here

Dear Matt, Do you have eating problems? I do. I eat too many hearts of palm. Also, my nails. Any advice? Thanks. – Fatso McNulty

Sorry, I have a much healthier relationship with food. That’s not to boast, but to acknowledge that I have a lot of young female readers out there with body image issues. Therefore, I have to choose my words with caution, since many of them look to me as one of their role models, alongside Selena Gomez, that pale chick from the Twilight movies, and Mitt Romney. So basically what I do is eat whatever I want, then politely excuse myself to the lavatory to heave until my ribs go numb. What I lose in esophageal lining, I gain in time not spent doing all that strenuous cardio.

As for your issue, I can’t really speak to hearts of palm. That’s a vegetable, right? I’m not all that familiar with vegetables since they don’t have any meat in them. But I am familiar with fingernails, since I often pick mine and throw them behind the couch. How long do they take to decompose? Hard to say, since Wikipedia has gone black in protest of proposed anti-piracy bills, and since I’m too lazy to do additional research. All I know is from the mounting evidence behind my sofa, it takes a good while. And as any student of medicine will tell you, digestive juices aid decomposition, so eating your fingernails is sort of like cleaning up the environment.

Additionally, fingernails are mostly made of a fibrous protein called keratin. Eat enough protein, and you won’t fill up on all those fatty carbs in vegetables. My suggestion, then, is to ditch the hearts of palm, and eat fingernails until you’re stuffed.

Matt, I’m hearing all about this new organization, the Center for American Freedom, and it’s upcoming news website, The Washington Free Beacon. They seem to have assembled an interesting collection of conservative journalists. What’s your take? Best, Matt

Sometimes, when I push back from a gluttonous afternoon of web-surfing The-Weekly-Standard-Daily-Caller-National-Review-Red-State-American-Spectator-American-Conservative, I think to myself, “What the internet really needs is more conservative commentary.”

Meaning that the debut of the Center for American Freedom is a boon for anyone who likes the point underscored. Such an addition, were it left to less able hands, might ordinarily cause not-another-one-of-those yawns. Except that this new enterprise has a murderer’s row of talent, some of whom are former colleagues and current friends, or who were before they read this plug.

Modeling itself on lefty activist internet gadflies such as Center for American Progress/ThinkProgress, TPM, and the HuffPost Politics page, the Center for American Freedom and its journalistic organ, the Washington Free Beacon, will seek to bring the pain to  lefties of a certain stripe. Those, who in the words of Beacon editor Matthew Continetti, steep themselves in “inside deals, cronyism cloaked in kind intentions, and {the} out-of-the-mainstream shibboleths of contemporary progressivism and its vehicle, the Democratic Party.” Sound scary, o ye lefties of bad faith? I’d buy a protective cup now, before they’re all sold out.

Joining the outfit — which will include a media-monitoring operation — are (among many others) the Washington Times’ longtime national security reporter Bill Gertz, and The Daily Caller’s own C.J. Ciaramella, who Caller readers loved, though not enough to keep him from callously walking out like the cad that he is. (Sorry, ladies. But you’ve still got Jim Treacher, enough man for any woman.)  Also joining the team is my former Weekly Standard colleague Sonny Bunch, who left us to become one of the finest film critics in the land. As any enemy of his could tell you, Sonny is capable of killing men with his bare hands. Though he chooses not to. Words are his weapon. The Center for American Freedom’s chair is another Standard alumnus, Michael Goldfarb, now of the lobbying firm Orion Strategies. Goldfarb is a man so practiced in the dark arts of political and advocacy guerilla warfare, that even Roger Stone and Che Guevara quake in their spats and their grave, respectively. Anchoring the squad is the aforementioned Matthew Continetti, who has most recently left the Standard (I’m seeing a pattern here, Judases), and who is a well-regarded author, editorialist and gimlet-eyed political and cultural commentator. As someone who used to sit two offices away from him, I can testify that Continetti is a man who would be smart enough to conquer any world he entered (be it law, medicine, business or academe). But he chooses journalism. Why? I don’t know. I guess because he likes to feel superior, and journalists aren’t all that bright.

So let’s welcome the new kids on the block, or NKOTB, as their teenage fans already call them. They launch February 1. Bookmark their page now. If you hate double-dealing lefties, you will love them. If you love double-dealing lefties, you will love to hate them. Either way, you’re set.

Editor’s noteAfter Matt Labash pilloried the mediocre state of Iowa two weeks ago, feelings were hurt, passions were stirred, letters were written both for and against. Herewith, a sampling, complete with responses to the responses:

How much do Democrats pay you to be a “journalist”? What’s with the Iowa bashing? Where does your left wing call home? – Jim Hastings

I wasn’t aware that to criticize Iowa was to be a left-wing journalist, since Obama beat McCain in Iowa by over 9 percentage points, and since Iowa has more registered Democrats than Republicans (though in keeping with their wishy-washiness, they have more registered “No Party” voters than either). If I hurt Iowans’  feelings,  good. It’s high time somebody did. If Iowans can’t take a little gentle ribbing after endless election cycles of receiving reach-arounds from every campaign beat reporter and hat-in hand political candidate who harbors presidential ambitions, then perhaps they should move to a less significant state on the electoral map – any state besides Maryland, since that’s where I live.

Which is not to suggest Iowa is significant. Despite the beauty of its covered bridges, its ceaseless acres of genetically modified corn, and its commemorative Field of Dreams baseball diamond in Dyersville (if you build it, gullible tourists will come), the state’s silly little non-binding caucus awards no delegates. And a good thing too, since Iowans seem unable to decide who actually won the Iowa caucuses. While Iowans are good at many things — eating fried stuff on a stick, self-congratulation, overhyping their exports (ethanol, Ashton Kutcher, etc.) – they’re apparently not very good at math.

What’s it like to take it up the a– from chimps, you whiny little c—s—er? – F.  You

While I’m flattered by your proposition, you should know that I love animals, but only platonically. If I were into having congress with a chimp, however, I’d only do so with one that didn’t hail from Iowa. (Since after a year of foreplay, it would still remain 40 percent undecided on whether it wanted to seal the deal.)

Kudos Matt, Your Iowa piece stacks up against some of Dave Barry’s best. Being from Kansas, I acknowledge “sheet cakes and pork products” as the classic zinger it is. Hey Matt, What’s the matter with New York? – Sam Peters

Lots of things. It’s congested. It’s the home of the Yankees. And perhaps worst of all, New Yorkers live there. As my esteemed colleague Chris Caldwell recently touched upon, in the old days, there was an upside to going to New York, because at least upon your return, you could earn the admiration of your heartland friends by reporting that you made it back without getting mugged. But now, in kinder, gentler New York, you still have to endure all the geographic snootiness and superiority from New Yorkers, but are now unable to earn your Combat Action Badge there. I’ve found myself walking through Harlem in the middle of the night, and feel safer there than I would at the Mall of America during a clearance sale at Williams-Sonoma. In fact, go to the Mall of America, then to Times Square, and see if you can tell the difference.

That said, as self-satisfied as New Yorkers are, it could be worse: they could be Iowans.

Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.