Wednesday January 18, 2006
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A "howler," according to my pepes at Merriam-Webster's is an idiomatic term for something which is ironically and, often, unintentionally funny. They define it as "a glaringly stupid and ridiculous blunder especially in the use of words."
For those of you who are not Harry Potter fans, "Howler" has a second meaning which I will now explain: In the wizarding world, mail is not delivered by people dressed in dreary blue outfits, but by owls.
If you misbehave, you are likely to receive, via an owl, what is known as a "Howler." This is often your mother (or Director of Standards & Practices) shrieking at you that you have either done something you shouldn't have, or (more likely in my case) haven't done something you should have, and if this circumstance recurs you won't need Professor Trelawney to tell you there will be detention with Professor Snape (or worse) in your future.
So, to Senator Kennedy. You know the story, Sam Alito belonged (read, paid dues to) some outfit known as the "Concerned Alumni of Princeton" which was, according to Kennedy and the Dems on the Senate Judiciary Committee) reeeeeaaallly bad on the issues of women and minorities.
Kennedy got into a dustup with Committee Chairman Arlen Specter over whether the committee should subpoena certain records relating to the CAP which are sitting across the street at the Library of Congress.
Here's a question: The Library of Congress is so named because it is a library owned by � the Congress. Why, then, would the US Senate (which claims to be half of the Congress by virtue of occupying half of the Capitol building) need to subpoena records residing in an institution it already owns?
Where was I? Oh, yes the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. So, Kennedy pretends to get himself worked up into a projectile sweat over Alito's membership in this group and - in spite of 15 years of writing as a Federal Appeals Court Judge during which no evidence of bias ever crept into his word, written or oral - demanded Alito prove he was not a bigot.
In one of those delicious moments of divine retribution (about which, more on Friday), it turns out that Kennedy, when he (A) was at Harvard, but (B) wasn't being suspended for cheating, belonged to some outfit named the "Owl Club" which discriminated against women.
To the point that they were thrown off campus for refusing to change their bigoted and biased ways.
OK, so Paul Begala (CNN) and Bob Beckel (Fox) will tell me that Kennedy joined this club 50 years ago, and it was a different time, and standards were different, and blah, blah, blah.
But wait! It turns out that Kennedy has been paying $100 per year to maintain his membership in the Owl Club and, according to some reports, updated his information as recently as this past September.
The ironies abound. First of all, Kennedy leading the charge against Alito on the CAP business when he knew he had the Owl Club issue perched on his shoulder; second, the notion of Kennedy joining any club which didn't allow women. That would be like Norm Peterson (as long as we're in a Boston frame of mind) going to a bar which didn't serve beer.
The performance of the Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee was generally revolting.
Kenney's performance was a howler (in the first sense), and it deserves a Howler (in the second).
New Topic: In a front-pager in the Washington Post, reporter Jonathan Weisman again shows what happens when editors become bookkeepers. In a piece about Speaker Dennis Hastert and the scandals which are growing around Members of Congress, Weisman writes (badly) in the lead graf:
"Congress-watchers say the speaker bears some responsibility for the troubles which have developed on his watch."
Who are these "Congress-watchers?" Do they include anyone other than Mr. Weisman's cube-mates in the WashPost city room? Shouldn't there have been at least a passing attempt at a quotable source?
Also, using the word "watch" twice in the same sentence is plain laziness. Laziness. Twice.
Send in my owl, please.
On a the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Washington Times coverage of the Harvard Owl Club; Links to Hogwarts professors Trelawney and Snape; a pretty good Mullfoto; and a Catchy Caption of the Day which will make you green with envy.
Copyright © 2006 Richard A. Galen
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