The Daily 750

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The Thinking Woman's
Sexiest Man Alive 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Patrick J. Fitzgerald
Very Special Counsel

from Wikipedia:
"Fitzgerald is unmarried. Reports indicate that despite being universally seen as extremely competent, intelligent, and meticulous in his work, behing the scenes he is ironically messy, scatterbrained, and fun-loving. His desk and his office are kept in permanent disarray, with assistants discovering drawers stuffed with dirty socks. He once forgot to hook up gas to his apartment for several months, and also forgot a lasagna he had cooked in the oven for several months before finally rediscovering it there. He is known to work well past midnight often and to sleep in his office. He enjoys beer, basketball, and practical jokes. Once when a colleague was nervously waiting for an answer for a judge on a motion, Fitzgerald wrote and delivered a goof court opinion to the colleague. He tried for several months to adopt a cat, but was refused due to his work habit. He finally found a friend in Florida with a cat to give away and flew there from New York to pick up the cat."

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Happy Birthday!

Friday, October 28, 2005

P.S. Hooray! It's the fabulous husband's birthday! Love and honor and cake!
Here's the 2005 Ritual Birthday Tie:

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A Separate Peace, 2005

Peggy Noonan writes of America that the wheels have come off the trolley, that it’s up to the elites -- "our educated and successful professionals . . . specifically, the elites of journalism and politics" -- to get the trolley back on the track, and that at least some of the elites have made "a separate peace" – meaning they know things in general are bad, but specific to them things are just dandy; and anyway, there's nothing they can do about anything anyway.

Good but not entirely valid, as David Rensin once said about one of my arguments, but that’s the way most pundits make a living.

Noonan’s "separate peace" refers to the state of Russia from about 1916 to March 1918, when, exhausted from war and civil turmoil, the newly-self-installed Bolsheviks signed a doomed peace treaty with Germany and its Central Powers allies, thus unilaterally withdrawing Russia from World War I. To be similar, the US would have to look like this:

  • The President’s chief advisor would be a literally stinking drunk who never bathes and is convinced that he has divine powers and, despite his disgusting appearance and outrageous manners, has sex with all the Washington society women and the prostitutes of G Street.
  • We -- along with our allies, Britain, France and a few other smaller countries -- would have been at war against Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Saudia Arabia since 2002, when the draft would have been reinstated, with all men and women between the ages of 16 and 66 sent to the Middle East for indefinite tours of duty, armed only with M-16s, a vest full of ammo, a few grenades and enough armored personnel carriers for half the field.
  • They would be commanded by the ineffective and now doddering George Bush Sr.
  • Michael Moore, Al Franken and the entire Air America staff, Bill Maher, Sean Penn, Barbara Boxer, and many other liberal leaders would be arrested. John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Jon Stewart would be detained overnight and released but kept under surveillance.
  • All imports to the US would stop because of general disagreement with the war. Britain, France, Japan and South Korea would urge the US to be more aggressive and devote more resources. Germany, China and North Korea would insist the US halt all military actions immediately.
  • Food riots would break out in Washington, DC and across America.
  • Workers and common soldiers, led by Ed Asner and Cindy Sheehan, would form a massively popular political party and insist on an international peace conference in Stockholm.
  • The President would continue with war, sending even more men and women to battle, untrained, ill-equipped and ineffectively led by George Bush Sr. There would be a massacre of American soldiers when Iran explodes a small nuclear device on a field army at the Iraq/Kuwait border.
  • There would be massive defections from the Army and Marines. Navy and Air Force pilots would refuse to take off in their planes.
  • The President’s fetid and licentious chief advisor would be assassinated in a tortuous plot wherein he survives eating a half-dozen cyanide-laced Krispy Kreme donuts, a gunshot wound to the liver, and a midnight trip to the Potomac wrapped in a carpet and stuffed into the trunk of a car, coming to after being dropped to the frozen ground from the trunk. He is shot in the lung and then, for good measure, the head, this last by a foreign agent who has jumped out from behind a nearby bush. Unsure still whether the rascal is dead, the assassins rewrap the body in the carpet, seal it with duct tape, and drop the whole package into a hole in the icy river. Stories in the Enquirer and the New York Post insist that the vampiric degenerate survived even that, and is in hiding in Arkansas.
  • The President would resign in disgrace. Asner and Sheehan would form a new government.
  • Jesse Jackson would be sent to Baghdad to sign a peace treaty with Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the other Middle Eastern powers, granting them sovereignty over Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan and the remote provinces of Pakistan.
The wheels wouldn’t have come off the trolley. The trolley would have come off the trestle, sailed through the air, crashed into a deep ravine and burst into flames.

I’m not so pessimistic. My TVs, radios, newspapers, magazines and blogs are crammed with elites of every stripe not only opining how they'd change the world, but actually working to change it, through money and action. Sometimes I'd like them to keep their money and their ideas to themselves. C'mon, Peggy, cheer up. It could be worse.

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Harriet Who?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Patrick Fitzgerald turns out not only to be ballsy but considerate. He's holding back news of his indictments for one day, to let the news of Harriet Miers' withdrawal play out. God wouldn't give the Administration more than it can handle.

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Dora, Tate, Manson, Penn & Teller, Fitzgerald

When the Miki Dora book comes out, in spring 2006 I think, you’ll find out why I spent time yesterday googling “charles manson rap sheet” and “charles manson prison”. I knew the dangers and thought I was being careful but still I was caught short, like the drivers of trucks and SUVs who plunge headlong into an intersection after a flood, water flying off to the sides and up over their hoods, and, surprise!, find themselves not on the other side, but floating off in a whole 'nother direction. What on earth were we thinking?

In the 36 years since the Tate and LaBianca murders, on August 8 and 9, 1969 -- watching the trial coverage, reading the books, later watching the parole hearings, I’d never seen a picture of any of the victims – until today. Don’t go looking, you’ll never again think of Sharon Tate as a beautiful young woman with sunny blond hair, big brown eyes rimmed in charcoal liner and a great body. This in the 1960s, when the beautiful and famous exercised by stair-stepping into Hugh Hefner’s Grotto pool.

Miki Dora . . . Charles Manson . . . Sharon Tate . . . Parents of Murdered Children . . . . Murder Is Not Entertainment . . . Penn & Teller do the Death Penalty on “Bullshit!” . . . It's all there in my head, the details, the connections.

But who will care in this morning's light, when a ballsy man, Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor, will tell the world what he has discovered during his two-year investigation into how closely the White House may have been involved in what may have been the illegal exposition of a woman who was at one time a CIA undercover operative. Word is that there will be sealed indictments, most likely meaning that lower level people will be indicted, with Rove and Cheney possibly named as unindicted co-conspirators, and the investigation will continue even though the grand jury will be dismissed on Friday. Toby won't have to resign.

Stay tuned.

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Cats and Dogs and Fish

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last night it rained cats and dogs. Frogs and snakes. Elephants and . . . what doesn’t get along with elephants – crocodiles? A hard, fast, wind-driven rain that beat the last of the dahlias and cosmos into submission and left the streets covered with splats of brown and gold and red. My husband drove home from the airport in this rain. Without windshield wipers. Here’s the thing: the airport is 85 miles thattaway, over a winding, unlit, poorly marked two-lane road through a forested coastal range of midget mountains that hold up signs warning of the mischief-makers loose gravel, falling rocks, and soft shoulders. A two-hour drive after a 10-hour cross-country flight. In elephants and crocodiles of rain. Without windshield wipers, I say again. I asked him what it was like and he said, “Only my determination to come home to you, he bullshitted.” He actually said, “he bullshitted.” He’s lucky to be alive.

While the hubby was driving I was at a dinner at the seafood lab. We started with little meatballs (!) and then went on to a poached rockfish topped with a small scoop of tiny shrimp in butter. Cold butter. Potted shrimp, in other words. I think you have to be English and to have quaffed a half-pint of IPA in a dark-paneled, damp and smoky room with a pitted dartboard hanging on a wall in the far corner to enjoy the taste of very, very small shrimp in plain, cold butter. But I love to have dinner at the seafood lab, where the chef isn’t bothered with pretending that he’s conducting an elaborate chemical experiment on humans. So some of them work, some don’t. Nobody’s died yet.

Dessert was a rich slice of chocolate mousse pie and an update from the woman who is not at all like Geena Davis (gender excepted) and absolutely what I want in a Commander-in-Chief: Betsy Johnson. She’s a no-b.s. crossover politician who delights in debate and uses words like a sushi chef uses a knife; she’s a helicopter pilot who’s richer than God and gives money away rather than solicit for it. In short, she’s everything you’ve always wanted in a politician and almost never gotten. The words “Betsy” and “governor” are being said together more often than “soy” and “latte” – and after that, who knows.

The Oregon legislature is a holdover from the mid-1800s, a “citizen” legislature of strong republican values – read, we don’t need no stinkin’ gummint – that still meets for only six months every two years. Or that’s what it’s supposed to do. In the last two sessions, 2003 and 2005, incompetence and ideology have combined to delay their recess for at least an extra month, costing us, the taxpayers, money we already don’t have to pay for whatever it is they’re fighting about.

This year things were going along okay, given that the House and Senate leaders had decided even before the session began that everything the state wants would have to fit into a 12-point-X billion dollar budget and no more, not one penny, with 5-point-X already dedicated to K-12 education. It was wrangling over the “X” after the 5-point for K-12 education that caused the impulsive Speaker of the House to walk in one day and demand her fellow Republicans stop speaking with their Democrat cohorts on the Ways and Means Committee. Huge problem because, you see, the Ways and Means Committee is made up of an equal number of people from both parties whose single task is to find -- get this -- ways and means of coming to agreement over budgets. With the committee room doors locked, there was nowhere for the committee members to go except to their separate corners, with the effect of “putting partisanship ahead of citizenship,” as Betsy said, and delaying the session more than a month.

You have to have met Betsy or have visited her website to truly enjoy some of what she says. Oregon is the 9th largest state in area, but its nearly 3.6 million people place it 28th in population. More than half of all Oregonians are squeezed into the 110 miles up and down the I-5 corridor from Portland to Eugene, so that’s where the power lies. Getting those legislators to give five minutes of attention much less any money at all to rural issues isn’t easy and requires a sort of vigilance and persistence generally left to farm dogs.

I suppose if, when I lived in LA, someone had said the words “net pens” to me I would have thought something along the lines of: subtract 4 pens from 10 pens and you have 6 net pens. Here on the Upper Left Edge a net pen is what Keiko lived in when he moved to Iceland, and it’s what keeps the rivers and the ocean stocked with enough salmon, trout and other fish species to keep more than five fishing crews busy for a three-day season once a year. Entire towns depend on the economies of pen-raised fish, towns represented by Betsy Johnson, who spent some time in the legislative halls “running around like a border collie and saying, ‘How ‘bout them net pens, How ‘bout them net pens??’”

The fisheries got their net pens, ensuring the seafood lab an abundant supply of material for me to enjoy Chef Eric's next experiment, sheltered once again from the driving rain.

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Very Good and Goof Proof

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Did you know that the White House hosts an online forum? Yep, you can Ask the White House, and an administration official or a friend of the administration will answer. The President himself has yet to participate, but Sean Astin has, and he was here on the Upper Left Edge! In Person! For the 20th anniversary of The Goonies!

Yes, it’s a trifle. When the air cools and crisps and hints of fire, wood and wind, when the light leans back in the sky, leaves go its hard grasp and relies on a caress to get through the day, one's thoughts can momentary relax into a picayune.

Ask the White House is so inconsequential even Harriet Miers has hosted the column, twice. She’s said she's for a National Day of Remembrance and for everything else George Bush has ever proposed. She thinks the President is “a great leader!”. She was with him on September 11th, “making sure the remarks he prepared to give to the Nation from Louisiana were properly prepared for him. It took some time, and the President saw me hurrying to give them to him. He said, ‘Good hustle!’ He made me feel good that I was contributing.” I'm trying to imagine a 56-year-old woman in panty hose and pumps, in the late summer heat and humidity of Louisiana, in training for Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, being thrilled to have been praised for her "good hustle" while acting as a copyboy, but I can't. It's one of the thousands of small, everyday events that might go into a Stephen King book and, followed only by the words "Thanks, honey," create an overall sense of forboding and even horror.

The forum is also comprised of the sort of questions and answers that readers of Walter Scott’s “Personality Parade,” taking up Page 2 of Sunday’s Parade magazine for as long as any of us can remember, will recognize.

PARADE: Since Katrina hit, I’ve worried about Emeril Lagasse. Is the Big Easy’s famed restaurateur OK?
ATWH: Did NBC use the real Camp David to film THE WEST WING? They have shown Camp David for the past two episodes.

Note the similarities: Concise questions that could easily be answered with a Yes or a No, with any additional exposition a pure gift to the reader. Questions can be answered happily and with exclamation marks: “Why, yes, Emeril is fine! He told us!” “No, I understand it isn’t the real Camp David, which is a beautiful, serene place!” Questions that, if answered incorrectly, hardly merit a correction. “Emeril’s publicist hasn’t heard from the famed restaurateur since September 29, but NoLa has reopened and is serving its fine Cajun food nightly.” “Yes, NBC did use the real Camp David, and donated $1 million to the preservation fund for the privilege.” And, each forum has been used by its writers as propaganda machines.

Now the differences. Most obviously, there really is a President. Ask The White House really is hosted by said friends and officials, although the forum is about as interactive as presidential debates are, well, debates.

But there is no Walter Scott the journalist. Never was. The journalist Lloyd Shearer wrote the column from 1958 to 1991 when, presumably, he was overwhelmed by the Parkinson’s that took his life ten years later. Since then the page has been written by journalist and author Edward Klein, famous recently for the many errors in his book The Truth About Hillary.

But I’m late to the personality parade. Writer Tod Goldberg admits to a deep, unnatural obsession with the column, and writes about it with the same enthusiasm and revulsion a child has about a parade -- love the bands and the floats and the chance to stand on the street and scream, hate the scary clowns.

Ask The White House was hosted on July 24, 2004 by outgoing Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier. Mesnier was born into a family of nine children in the village of Bonnay, in the Burgundy region of France. Snails, coq au vin, beef Bourguignon, pinot grigio – all the great hearty foods and wines of France come from the Bourgogne. Roland had no formal training but started an apprenticeship at 14 and worked his way through Europe, to Bermuda, and then to Virginia, where he was discovered by Rosaylnn Carter, who hired him in 1979.

Roland’s first question during his Ask the White House session was from "lovin", in, not surprisingly, California: "how can i make amazing crème brule?"

"Creme Brulee really is simple to make," Roland responded. "I have used a recipe that I created in the White House for years which is stove top creme brulee. Unfortunately, it would take too long to explain it here. But it is very good and goof proof."

The former pastry chef and the current nominee for the Supreme Court both rose through the ranks from little formal training. Both are admired by the White House for their "perfection" and "dedication." And both claim to be peerless without offering any details.

I think I’m on to something. Or maybe I'm comparing sweets and honeys.

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Weather Update

Monday, October 24, 2005

A tidbit for the morning anyway, just an excuse to post today's picture.

Watching multiple news channels and wondering how my sister, her husband and my niece, the five-year-old Katy Bug, are faring in an aunt's condo in Boynton Beach, Florida, just south of Palm Beach and directly on the Intercoastal Waterway, which looked to be directly in the center of the eye about 12:30EDT. They evacuated there from their home in Key Largo, where the sun is already starting to return. Here on the Upper Left Edge the night began with a showing of stars from horizon to horizon, lending credence to the old idea that the earth is flat and the sky covers it like a bell jar. Sometime around midnight the fogged rolled in. Long before you see any fog, you can hear it from the ships' horns, one long blast every 60 to 90 seconds, at first faintly from several miles out to sea, gliding closer and closer until they are directly in front of us, their horn echoing through the north hills of the city, then fading again as the ships continue upriver, past the old red net barn and the Maritime Museum, past Alderbrook lagoon, past the buoy tenders harbored at Tongue Point, and then around the eagles' nests high on the Point itself, past the abandoned dairy farms on Puget Island, on upriver 40 miles to harbor at Longview, or another 25 to the port of Portland. Our morning is completely enveloped in a Category 3 of fog.

Best website of the day is in the six-foot tall and wide "Omurayama" Japanese maple in the backyard. Nine Araneus diadematii have erected their webs in the top branches, overnight spinning a high-rise condo for pregnant girls. Common garden spiders indeed. Camera does them no justice.

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The Dujail Massacre Trial

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Here's Saddam and his seven co-defendents in their Baghdad courtroom cage in the building that was the National Command Headquarters of the Baath Party.

Sitting to Saddam's right is a former chief "judge" of the Revolutionary "Court", Awad Hamad Al-Bander Al-S'adun. He is charged with sentencing 143 Dujail residents to death following a 1982 attempt on Saddam's life. It is Awad's attorney, Saadoun Janabi, who was kidnapped on Thursday and found dead on Friday, in his own execution style, with gunshots to his chest and head.

Hard to believe it now, but this man, Muhammad Hamza al-Zubaydi, was Saddam's Prime Minister and "Shia thug". He always looks like this now -- eyes closed, mouth open.

The leader of the pack as he listens to one of the bravest men on the planet.

And here's that brave man, Jaafar al-Mousawi, chief prosecutor in the Dujail case. Good luck finding any biographical information on him; until the trial was broadcast, his name had been kept secret, for security reasons.

The name and face of the judge, Rizgar Mohammed Amin, had also been kept secret. After the three-hour session last Wednesday, Amin adjourned the proceedings until November 28, telling Reuters nearly three dozen witnesses had not dared appear in Baghdad for the trial. "They were too scared to be public witnesses," he said. "We're going to work on this issue for the next sessions."

Sound TV would show the entirety of the three-hour session (not just the 45 minutes carried by C-SPAN, half of which were pre-empted today for a FEMA press conference on Hurricane Wilma preparations), and would show it weekly until the trial resumes. The trial would, of course, be subtitled so that we could hear the tone -- the defiance, the anger, the fear, the judicial competence -- of all speakers in their own tongue; a second audio channel would carry an English translation for the visually impaired. American men and women are risking their lives right now to free the world of these men. The least we can do is watch and understand.

The Daily 750 will take Monday off to readjust its schedule so that East Coast readers will have new content in the mornings rather than 3pm or so, and to return to longer essays. Wilmaaaa! -- pass gently and with haste. See you on Tuesday.