Operation Shiite Storm, and the other contest winners

When President Obama announced his
no-boots-on-the-ground operation in Iraq (we’re sending “advisers”), a member of the armed forces suggested anonymously that the mission be called “Operation Shiite Storm.” That was genius — so inspired that we posed the question to our brilliant Loop fans: What would be the perfect moniker for our Iraq retread?

Of course, you did not disappoint.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Here, listed alphabetically, are the top 10 winners of the Loop’s contest to name Obama’s new Iraq plan. Perhaps the Pentagon will even adopt one. Because every military operation needs a catchy name.

●Operation Baracking Bad, submitted by Mike Bazinet of Connecticut, a public affairs director who had other great submissions: Operation Camel Tiptoe and Operation Feckless Infidel.

● ●Operation Desert Stall, submitted by Robert Walker of Alexandria, an executive at a nonprofit group.

● ●Operation Fool Me Twice, submitted by a retired Foreign Service officer in the District who wished to remain anonymous.

● ●Operation Hard Choices, submitted by Matt Neufeld of Greenbelt, news editor at Carroll Publishing.

●Operation Iraq Reset, submitted by Greg McNeely of New Jersey, a project manager at a consulting company.

● ●Operation Mal Icky, submitted by Lawrence Suda, a retiree in the District, who described the name as “Mal for our French-speaking secretary of state” and “Icky for the rest of us.”

●Operation Microsurge, submitted by Jerry Kurtzweg of Bethesda, a retired federal worker.

● ●Operation Mulligan, submitted by David Church of Florida, a retired retired Defense Intelligence Agency senior intelligence officer.

● ●Operation Sunni Delight, submitted by Michael Gould, a D.C. business owner.

●Operation Tepid Thunder, submitted by Daniel Sagalyn of Arlington, a deputy senior producer for the “PBS NewsHour.”

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks to all for your entries. And a special Loop thanks to our colleagues Matea Gold, Jason Ukman and Craig Whitlock for being judges.

The hardest part

Being an Obama nominee waiting in purgatory must get pretty discouraging sometimes.

At the end of May, the White House’s director of presidential personnel sent a stiff-upper-lip
e-mail to nominees caught up in Congress’s confirmation gridlock, telling them to “hang in there.”

In an e-mail obtained by NBC4’s Scott MacFarlane through a Freedom of Information Act request and shared with the Loop, Jonathan McBride sent a note, with the salutation “Friends,” that thanked them for sticking with the process.

“Thank you so much for continuing to hang in there during such a long and, at times, unfair confirmation process,” McBride wrote. “The President and the entire Administration remain committed to getting you in place as quickly as possible.”

He noted that 210 nominees were awaiting confirmation and said to let him know if “personal or professional situations are changing.”

One of the nominees who received the McBride e-mail was Constance Tobias, who is a nominee for the Department of Veterans Affairs post of chairman of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. She replied to the McBride e-mail two days later with a note that a reporter for In the Loop was seeking comment about “the status of my nomination” but added that she did not speak with said reporter.

The Loop was seeking a list of VA vacancies on the day that Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned.

According to further e-mail exchanges, obtained through the FOIA request, staffers debated which vacancies to share with the Loop. One wrote that it’s been White House policy “not to share our political appointee position vacancies for a multitude of reasons.”

(To their credit, they did provide us a list of VA political appointments later that day.)

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Monday that the e-mails from McBride are “updates that are sent very regularly.”

The White House says 248 Obama nominees are awaiting confirmation — 105 for positions at Cabinet-level agencies, 50 for ambassadorships and 29 for judgeships.

Quote of the week

Sure, it happened Monday night, but the Quote of the Week winner is already sealed.

At a White House reception for LGBT Pride Month, President Obama was praising outgoing executive pastry chef Bill Yosses for his sweet baking skills.

Then the president suggested that perhaps Yosses’s pies were so addictive because of a secret ingredient.

“I don’t know what he does, whether he puts crack in them, or . . . ,” the president said to laughs.

Michelle Obama shot her husband a look, laughed, pursed her lips and shook her head.

“No, he doesn’t,” she said, continung to shake her head for emphasis. Then, straight-faced:“There is no crack in our pie.”

The president didn’t back down, telling the crowd that after the first year in the White House they had to establish a rule: pie only on weekends.

Hearing the president crack a joke about crack is rare enough, but it’s the first lady’s deadpan clarification that wins the Loop honors.

Happy Fourth!

This will be the last column of the week, but we’ll be back in full force next Tuesday. Have a great holiday weekend, Loop fans!

— With Colby Itkowitz

Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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