A lovely day. Perfect! Unmatched in its meteorological clemency! However could I consider leaving such a place? We sat outside without feeling the damp poke our joints; I pushed Gnat in the swing and watched her beam at the bright high sky. Opened the window and let the smell of summer – fresh mown grass mixed with gas and 2-stroke oil – waft into the house, driving out the old stale aroma of dog food and bygone fish. This is why we live here; this is why we stay. Because it’s lovely. Also because we are conditioned to turn over the Etch-A-Sketch and erase the memory of last week’s punishment as soon as the bluebirds peep.

Last day of swim class. She didn’t drown, so I assumed she passed. I sat upstairs in the observation area and read a book about Atlantic City – my editor at Crown gave it to me a few years ago, and it’s been in the pile since then. It’s nonfiction, as are most of the books I read nowadays. Fiction seems like a peculiar luxury; I’d rather read a biography of a man who developed Long Island than read Gatsby again. Difference between reading about bones and reading about hair, it seems. When the class was done I went down to the wading pool where the kids end their session. The usual group of Moms, except for one who looked to have transported in from 1957. Then she spoke: Russian. Made sense. She didn’t look like modern Russian overlacquered hussies, but rather an example of the Yuri Gagarin-era defrosted and deposited in this humid room. The skirt looked cheap and chafing, the blouse pattern nothing we ever saw over here, done in Holy Red; the hair was unstylish in a way you’d get if you wanted to cross “glamour” with Soviet practicality. She looked to be 36, 39, and I wondered if this was an example of cultural retro chic, just as hip moms today wear tie-dies or Capri pants. It was really quite fascinating; you could extrapolate the entire pathetic sad 60s Soviet culture from her appearance. She could have been the wife of an inner-party member sitting on a park bench watching the son run around in his Komsomol uniform, drinking in the weak broth of a Leningrad morning sun. And here she was in a suburban Minnesota pool, churning the humid air with those octagonal Slavic consonants.

Then off to Southdale to fight with the eyeglass store. More about that tomorrow. We had our weekly meal in the deserted food court; Gnat got a Dark Vader Kid’s Meal toy. She was stunned to find another toy inside the costume.

Who’s this?

That’s Annakin. He’s the bad boy who became Darth Vader.


Because he was selfish and angry.

Why is he wearing this? She was clearly confused; this was like giving her a Santa figurine that cracks open and reveals Dora the Explora

Because he got in a fight and was hurt, so he had to wear the suit to help him walk and breathe.

Who hurt him? Yoga?

No. Yoda taught the guys who taught him a lesson.

How did he get a light saber?

I think he went to the light saber store.

How did he get there?

By land speeder, I guess.

How did he get a lan speeder?

At the land speeder dealership.

How did he get there?

By Tie Fighter, I imagine.

How did he get a Tiefiter?

I don’t know, hon. By walking onto the flight deck and saying “prepare my Tie Fighter for departure,” I guess. He’s Darth Vader, he could just show up and drive whatever he wanted. People were scared of him

She finished her hamburger and made a little drama where the Dark Vader figure argued with the Annakin figure and had a little duel. Yes, that’s pretty much six movies in a nutshell.

Back home, listening to the radio. Hugh Hewitt was discussing the news – about Deep Throat I couldn’t care less, really. When I was opinion-page editor of the Daily I watched “All the President’s Men” and was filled with Righteous Journalistic Crusading Zeal; the very next day the syndication packet included a piece that named Leonard Garment as DT. I ran it. In news huddle I was very excited. I was alone in my enthusiasm. Nine years after Watergate, and it was already ancient history. Now it turns out to be a guy named Felt. Garment, Felt – at least we were in the fabric neighborhood.

Hugh also discussed this New York Times story about the Secret CIA Airline. I admit I am confused about the reasons for running the story; it would seem an odd thing to reveal in wartime, unless of course you didn’t believe this was wartime. Stories like this come not from the Vietnam template but the 80s template, which is much more vivid to the mind of a modern reporter. This is the sort of story you’d do when you discovered new American perfidy in Central America, a detail from a dirty distant war whose purpose and rationale was held in contempt by all - at least the right-thinking people you had drinks with after work. (I speak as someone who did four years duty in DC happy hours, thank you. It's not so much that all DC journalists are rabid Democrats - it's that they're addicted to cynicism and bemusedly contemptous of anyone who isn't in the press. Except for thier sources, of course. And their spouses who have government jobs. Everyone else is an object of pity or contempt. You think DC journalists are doctrinaire liberals? Get them talking about DC city government, and stand back lest ye be singed.
) No, the CIA airllne story plugs into the general idea that the role of the press is to reveal government secrets, regardless of their nature. That the Republic is served not by men and women in offices figuring out crafty ways to confound headchoppers, but by men in parking garages who tell reporters that funds earmarked for vending machine repair are actually going to airlift terrorists out of foreign capitals without proper extradition documents. Boy! Stop the presses!

Would you have trusted these reporters to keep quiet about the fake build-up of troops that made it appear the Allies would invade Calais instead of Normandy? You can imagine a reporter pitching that story to a Perry White c. 1944 – boss, it’s a cover-up, a huge deception. Public money is at stake as well, and the people have a right to know how the war’s being conducted.


Like I keep saying, it’s not their war. It's a war, to be observed dispassionately.
And many don’t believe it’s a war at all. I can’t tell you how many emails I get accusing me of mad foamy paranoia for thinking that Iran and / or North Korea would want to slip a teeny nuke to some Islamicist cell so they could drive it up Broadway.

Well, if it occurs to me, who loves this country, I imagine it occurs to those who hate it.

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