Washington Babylon — March 16, 2009, 8:39 am

Pork Gallery

From the Washington Post:

Just because there’s still a Justice Department investigation rattling around you doesn’t mean lobbyists can’t contribute to buying a portrait for you to hang in your congressional committee’s hearing room. But don’t reach for those checkbooks. The effort to raise $30,000 for a portrait of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), former chairman and now ranking GOP member of the House Appropriations Committee, has met its goal, we hear.

The investigation, a subset of the probe of disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, apparently has been dormant for a while, indicating Lewis is in pretty good legal shape. And even if the investigation heats up, there’s no worry that Lewis’s portrait won’t be hanging soon in the hearing room — even if he’s indicted and convicted. After all, former House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud in the House Post Office scandal and did over a year in the slammer, and his portrait proudly hangs in that hearing room.

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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.

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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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