Food Fight Brings Blogs To A Boil

Gov. Rod Blagojevich meets the media Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2003, in Chicago, to introduce a Web site that includes information about buying prescription drugs from companies in Canada to take advantage of lower prices there.
AP Photo
With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by CBSNews.com's Melissa P. McNamara.

A humble cheese sandwich became the focal point of an online food fight this week. How many U.S. governors think "The Daily Show" is a serious news program? We know of at least one. Check out what the blogs were saying about Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

A Recipe For Blog Banter

A short essay by Pete Wells in a recent issue of Food and Wine put some food bloggers in a frenzy this week. The article, "In the Belly of the Blog" generously praises some interesting food blogs, while criticizing the tendency of some food blogs to focus on "pointless cheese-sandwich meanderings" (i.e. what I ate today).

Wells writes: "First, a good blog needs to communicate passion, and a really good blog will make the reader feel passionate as well. This should be easy when the subject is food, but it does rule out cheese sandwiches. Listen up, bloggers: Nobody cares what you had for lunch today!"

Au contraire, says Dave at The Fumbling Foodie. He blogs: "Wells scoffs at bloggers talking about cheese sandwiches, but the blogosphere is a microcosm of the rest of the world. If bloggers are talking about cheese sandwiches then clearly people are interested in cheese sandwiches. If Wells thinks that cheese sandwiches are not worthy of discussion in his exalted publication, then it's his loss."

"Wells is obviously not a blogger himself… he doesn't understand the nature of the food blogosphere," Kit Pollard at Mango & Ginger writes. "Between regular cooking activities and roundups and the ability to easily contact other like-minded (or not-so-like-minded) food bloggers, I feel as though I'm a part of something larger than myself. Critics might say that the food blogging world is insular and self-congratulatory. I say it's like a big welcoming club," Pollard blogs.

Madeleine also rises in defense of her fellow food bloggers. "I would much rather hear about the cacophonous exploits of bloggers that span a culinary gamut, as I do in real life, than rely on someone that writes solely about the most Fear-Factor food to be consumed in L.A. or everything pizza, hamburger, or likewise narrowly-defined Vietnamese noodle spots," she blogs.

But Wells did inspire some bloggers. "I decided "Hey Pete, here is another blog about what we had for lunch today!," Meeta writes, upon launching her new food blog, The Family Buzz. And Kiplog blogs, "The article wasn't that bad, but my gripe with him is if he could only find 5 or 6 blogs that made him say 'wow,' he didn't do his homework"

While we're on the subject, here …watch out, Frank Bruni. Whether you're looking for the perfect slice of pizza, or all-you-can-eat buffets are your thing, chances are, there's a blogger writing about it. Here are a few fun ones.

Bacontarian: A blog for people "who supplement an otherwise normal diet with large amounts of pork!" It offers instructions, with photos, for how to cook bacon.

SliceNY: If you're obsessed with finding the perfect slice of pizza in a city full of Italian restaurants, check out this blog, which includes an interactive New York City pizza map and reviews.

The Art of the Buffet or All You Can Eat is Not a Challenge: Do you travel around the country in search of the perfect buffet? Apparently, you're not alone. This blog includes reviews of all-you-can-eat buffets, mostly in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Candy Blog: A stylish blog, featuring the latest in candy reviews and analysis of trends in all sorts of candy. It will make you hungry.

Mission Failed?

At what point does sectarian violence become an all-out civil war in Iraq? Bloggers were debating that this week, after hundreds were killed following an attack on a sacred Shiite shrine.

But one unlikely critic of the war in Iraq, William F. Buckley, Jr., riled up the most bloggers across the political spectrum. In a National Review editorial, "It Didn't Work," Buckley writes, "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed… Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans."

"Is this the 'Walter Cronkite moment' for the Iraq war?, David Isenberg asks. "How much longer can the occupation last without the old right's support?"

Reidblog adds, "This had to be a tough editorial for the neocons at National Review to reprint, but they can't exactly say no to their spiritual father."

But many conservative bloggers point out Buckley's position is hardly shocking. "Buckley isn't reversing course; he's expounding an argument that conservatives (paleoconservatives, if you will) have always made in terms of foreign engagement," Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters blogs.

But asking if Buckley is right or wrong is a pointless question, Dale Franks points out. "Maybe Buckley is right and we failed," Franks writes on QandOBlog. "That doesn't mean the attempt wasn't worth the candle. But, if he is right, and we did fail, then the lesson to learn isn't that the invasion of Iraq was wrong, but rather that it was wrong to expect that we could build a decent, multicultural society in its wake."

And some bloggers take issue with the representation of Iraq as dire. Gateway Pundit posts excerpts and photos of peace rallies in Iraq, heading it: "Unity Protests Break Out in Basra, Mosul, Hillah, Al Kut, Karbala. And Iraq the Model posts updates from Baghdad, including corrections to exaggerated violence found in some news reports.

Get The Governor Cable

Ooops! Someone forgot to tell Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich that The Daily Show spoofs the news. Granted, with hundreds of thousands of viewers, the program's mission is hardly secret. But it was news to the governor when he sat down for an interview that ended up poking fun at the Democratic governor.

The interview focused on the governor's executive order requiring pharmacies to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control. But that's where the serious news ended. Interviewer Jason Jones pretended to stumble over Blagojevich's name before calling him "Governor Smith," and urged Blagojevich to explain the contraception issue by playing the role of "a hot 17-year-old." He later asked if he was "the gay governor."

And there's nothing like a story about politics and Jon Stewart to heat up the blogosphere. Blagojevich's Daily Show appearance was the eight most popular news story on the blogs Saturday.

Most bloggers could not understand how the governor was unaware of The Daily Show. "Rod, we live in the same town. I use Comcast…as my cable provider. I bet they wire up your house, too. Come out from under the rock and call them. Might help you stay in touch with things that are going on in the world. Like, the show that informs the majority of voters 18-25…," The Hipster Pit blogs.

Others questioned the quality of the governor's staffers. As Steve Benen of the Carpetbagger Report blogs, "Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) has had some ups and downs lately, but he still has a core group of advisors he can rely on to keep him on track, particularly in this re-election year. Unfortunately, none of them happened to mention what to expect from an interviewer from "The Daily Show."

Many conservative bloggers took note that when CNN.com posted the story from the Associated Press wire, they deleted the reference to the Governor's political party affiliation, Democrat.

GOP Bloggers writes, "How sad. Over something so trivial as this, CNN decided to hide Governor Blagojevich's party affiliation. And we're supposed to believe they're unbiased?"

But the duped governor has some defenders. "As much as it pains me to defend Rod Blagojevich, I have to say he is far from being the only politician to not realize they were not being interviewed by a real reporter for The Daily Show. I am continually amazed at the number of officials, newsmakers and celebrities that have no idea The Daily Show is fake news," The Eleventh Hour blogged.

Psychopolitik is just thankful the governor lifted his spirits. "These days I need something to laugh about. Thank you, Illinois."

Securing The Homeland ... From What?

The Washington Post reported this week on an unusual story out of Bethesda, Maryland. Two uniformed men wearing baseball caps inscribed with the words "Homeland Security" walked in to a library in the Washington, DC suburb, and announced that "the viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden." When one of the men then challenged an Internet user's viewing material and asked him to step outside, a ibrarian intervened. A police officer arrived and in the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

The odd scene left county officials trying to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography, the Washington Post notes.

And bloggers were equally curious. On Feb. 21, it was the ninth most-cited news story floating around the blogosphere, according to Blogpulse. The story amused most bloggers, while others questioned why Homeland Security personnel considered this the best way to spend their time.

Laura Swisher writes on Swisher's Untilted Blog Project, "So when I read about what the Department of Homeland Security is doing to protect us, it's not very comforting. Is this what the fight against terrorism has come to?"

"This is too funny. It's nice to see that America has its priorities straight when it comes to dealing with national security issues," blogs Will Asari. And Alan Willis at Blogging Out Loud adds rhetorically, "I guess they don't have anything better to do, like protecting us from terrorists, right?"

But the Vagabond Scholar seems something more sinister at play. "I'm sure these guys thought they were doing the right thing on some level, but it was unquestionably a flexing of muscle on their part," he blogs. "Personally, I think it's a glimpse into the fascist streak of many of those who claim to be patriots, who simultaneously demonstrate an ignorance of, or disdain for, the principles our country was founded on."