No Comment — July 26, 2007, 10:00 am

A Congressional Escalation

Shortly after noon yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee, led by chairman John Conyers (D-MI), voted to issue contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten, both of whom refused to appear before the Committee to answer questioning about the US attorneys scandal. The Washington Post sums up the details nicely:

The vote represents the first concrete step toward finding Bolten and Miers in criminal contempt of Congress. The issue will next be considered by the entire House, and if a similar vote occurs there, the citations could be referred to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. But a floor vote appears unlikely before the end of next week, when the House recesses for a five-week summer break.

Should a floor vote actually come about, it will be the first since 1983, when EPA official Rita Lavelle was indicted for perjury and sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment.

It appears that September will be one of the most memorable months in recent political memory. The President’s pending report on Iraq is due in mid-month, and a possible historic showdown between the will of Congress and the will of the Executive will likely demonstrate the Bush administration’s continued resistance to legislative oversight. No Comment salutes Chairman Conyers’ exercise of his Congressional prerogatives, and hopes that he has begun the process of bringing the branches of the federal government back into balance.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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