A valued reader sends a note about photographs taken last week of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who were done in by the answers of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. and the tears of Martha Alito. Reader remarks on the uncanny resemblance of Sen. Dianne Feinstein to one of the sinners in Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel fresco "The Blessed and the Damned of the Last Judgment."
Writes Priscilla J. Felter, "I was struck by the group of photographs, and I instantly thought (of the Michelangelo fresco). It was the picture of Mrs. Feinstein that was particularly perfect - even to the bulging eyes of horror, consigned to the hell of irrelevance and impotence."
Hmmmm. Well, senators are wont to think of themselves as immortal, usually more blessed than damned. We report, you decide.
Washington book, film and theater critic Cynthia Grenier was browsing at Borders Books this week when her eyes caught sight of a new paperback "because of its very handsome Japanese print cover."
"I opened it and found myself looking at a quote of a review I had written," she says. "The book was 'The Apprentice' - its author one Lewis Libby, aka 'Scooter' Libby."
Grenier figures that with the national spotlight currently on Libby - Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted in the CIA-leak probe - his publisher Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press) decided the 2001 book merited a paperback edition.
Originally published by Graywolf in hardcover, "The Apprentice" is Libby's first novel. The story is set in provincial Japan of 1903.
Grenier's critical take on the book, when it was first released in 2001?
"I found it 'an extraordinarily visual book. Mr. Libby makes the reader experience every scene with an intense vividness ... lending a curiously dreamlike quality in which everything seems real, yet somehow magically strange, and one is never sure what may happen next. 'The Apprentice' proves to be a singular and satisfying novel," she tells us, quoting from her own previous review.
NAPA TO KONA
There's a controversy brewing in Washington that is just now beginning to percolate to the surface.
Grounds for concern are why the White House proudly features American-made wines at its official functions, but pointedly ignores serving American coffee (yes, Virginia, Americans produce coffee - Kona coffee, named after Hawaii's coffee belt along the Kona Coast, where one finds 150 coffee-producing farms.)
Freelance travel writer Joel Berliner calls our attention to a story he's writing the Washington Times about the growth of American coffee. While conducting interviews for the story, he suggested to White House officials he spoke with that U.S.-grown coffee be a regular staple at official White House functions.
"They serve coffee with each meal and at many other occasions at the White House, and it should be American-grown," Berliner tells The Beltway Beat. "If they can serve and identify a([California) Stags Leap cabernet sauvignon . . . at a state dinner, then they can also serve and identify a (Hawaii) Da Kine Coffee Bean medium roast or a Langenstein Farm Sea View Estate or a Greenwell Farms Private Reserve Full City Roast.
"Kona is the Napa and Sonoma of coffee, and when coffee is served at the White House, it should be (American)," he says.
(From what beans we can gather, the White House currently serves corporate, institutional or mainstream market ground coffees, covering a vague range of differing qualities and brands exported from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Africa, or a blend of all of the above.)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"So I guess all news reporting by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, who worked for the Clinton administration, and NBC News's Tim Russert, who once worked for former Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, should all be disregarded because they have a Democratic Party background." - Marc Morano, responding yesterday to a New York Times op-ed by former Reagan Navy Secretary James Webb, who sought to discredit the Cybercast News Service reporter after he scrutinized the war record of Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat and outspoken opponent of the Iraqi war, by pointing out that Morano was once a writer and producer for conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.