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January 16, 2006

Judicial Superbowl


By Harley

A few years back, I called my husband from the Burbank courthouse, where I’d been called for jury duty.

“So, did they ding you?” he asked.

(Ding: technical term, meaning reject prospective juror.)

“Yes,” I said. “The defense asked if I personally knew any lawyers and I said my husband’s a lawyer, my sister’s a lawyer, my father was a lawyer, my brother-in-law’s a lawyer, I have a bunch of lawyer friends and my father-in-law’s a federal judge. They thanked me and told me I could go.”

I never found out what made me so rejectable—had the ratty, yet happy-looking defendant burned down a law firm?—but I mention this to explain why I was glued to C-Span this week, the way Payton Manning’s family probably followed the NFL play-offs.

For those of you who don’t watch TV, read papers, or listen to radio, those who in fact depend upon The Lipstick Chronicles for hard news, this week we had the judicial confirmation hearings that will determine whether Samuel “Sam” Alito Jr. will or won’t make it onto the Supreme Court.

I’ll keep my vote (not that I have one) to myself, although the discerning among you will guess where I stand, especially if you’ve known me for longer than five minutes. God knows, if I can zip my political lip on major holidays and my mother-in-law’s birthday, I can do it on the blog.

So here are Harley’s non-partisan notes from C-Span:

1. A lot of senators are as crabby as . . . well, me, when I’m feeling fat, or on the phone to a telemarketer.
2. Some senators must’ve run in uncontested races, or against dead opponents, because they wouldn’t have been elected class treasurer in my high school. Even assuming they had better hair in the 70’s.
3. Some senators ask interesting questions.
4. Some of those questions, and the subsequent answers, required translation by pundits, because even for a viewer raised on Perry Mason, incomprehensibility abounds.
5. Some people have nothing to say, and will happily take a really long time to say it.
6. Think twice about playing poker with Sam Alito, a guy who’s not likely to start break-dancing when he’s holding an ace-high straight.

But my jaundiced attitude fell away on Thursday afternoon. That’s when my father-in-law testified. Even though I was expecting this, had heard several drafts of Pop’s 5-minute speech over Christmas week, I was excited beyond reason, causing the dogs to bark, thinking we were under attack. “Look!” I yelled to my 3-year old, home from preschool with a cold. “Look who it is!”

“Grandpop,” she croaked.

Was he fabulous? He was. Nervous? Nope. He was articulate, dramatic, and funny. Plus, he looked great.  So did my lovely Ma-in-law, in the background, a Capitol Hill natural. Was I proud? I was bustin’ buttons.

On the other hand . . .

I think of my children, and the way the political landscape will have changed by the time they’re grown.  And I worry. I worry like the other side worries about their children, only our worst-case scenarios are different.

Back to the first hand. I think of my children, and how they’re descended from this guy, who not only dotes on them, but who was part of something historic this week, and at no small cost to himself, personally or politically. This guy, who at 86, got to play in the judicial Superbowl. And I think, that is pretty great. That, for the moment, trumps my existential anxiety.

In fact, for a family of transplanted Pennsylvanians, there’s only one thing better . . .

The Steelers won.

Happy Monday!


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Heh! Congratulations to your F-I-L, whichever side he came down on. I'll avoid opening up a big ol' can o' political worms here, but I will say this: I wish if the Senators, both Democratic and Republican, really did have a question, they'd just ask the damn thing instead of prefacing it with ten minutes of bloviating.

As a liberal and a moderately articulate person, I have only one thing to add to this thoughtful political discussion:

GO STILLERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As a diehard Patriot's fan, there is mourning today in the House of Stuart. But, the Steeler's win did lift our spirits. Love to see Peyton Manning get 'that look' on his face. So, okay. Maybe the Pats can't win three in a row. Go Steelers!
Oh, yeah. That judge thing is cool, too.

"Bloviating" -- a word I must add to my lexicon. JD, is there a highly technical definition you can give me?

On the hearings: I wish there had been a judge - any judge - in control of them. Said judge's sole duty would be to force the Senators to ASK the question!!!

The Daily Show did a split-sceen competition to see who took the longest to actually ask a question. My money would've been on Kennedy, but even he lost to a fellow Senator who took over NINE minutes to ask a question. Good grief.

We had some friends and colleagues on TV too - pretty cool - since Alito was on the 3rd Circuit (same as Pittsburgh) we had a bunch of his benchmates (heh - I like that, and will undoubtedly use it again. Isn't it a riot when something just pops onto the screen from your fingers?) Anyhoo, his benchmates were called, so there were a bunch of familiar faces. Pretty cool.

Now - the really important stuff -

Here we go Steelers, here we go!

Good thing I can post today, since I have no voice left.

To quote the great Myron Cope (and to the tune of "Deck the Halls")" Deck the Broncos, they're just Yoncos, falalalalagagagaga.....

P.S. Harley - if you need Steeler stuff for next Sunday, let us know.

Kathy, by "Steeler stuff" do you mean jerseys, pom-poms (sp?) and that sort of thing, or do you mean literary material? And I'm only really a Stiller fan by marriage. I do not dare to encroach upon Nancy's territory. Although born in Pa., I grew up in Nebraska, which makes me a Cornhusker. Yes, forever amateur.

I meant stuff - like Terrible Towels. You think I'm gonna cross Nancy? No way - she knows where they keep the good chocolate.

Really, I'm looking for an excuse to meet Nancy in the Strip District (that's our market district, not the skin district) for lunch at Lidia's. We have all kinds of local entrepreneurs who sell Steeler stuff on the street in the Strip.


P.S. How does one spell-check these blog entries?

I'm not sure what a Terrible Towel is, but I'm fairly sure I need one.

Kathy, I couldn't help thinking the namby pamby white towels those sorry Indianapolis people were waving looked a lot like flags of surrender, don't you?

Gee, Harley, this whole blog started out in a very promising, intellectual vein, and here we've hijacked it completely. Sorry. We'll send you a Terrible Towel as compensation.

Well, if the Senate Judiciary Committee now strikes you as promising and intellectual, then . . . great!
Or were you referring to the Stillers?

I have to confess that I, too, watched the hearings, only via webfeed. How do these guys stay in office? Oh yeah! Because these hearings are so bloody boring that the average Joe does not sit down and watch just what a blowhard their local senator is. (Which is a sad, sad statement on my life that I found the whole thing quite interesting.)

I also agree with you about the Steelers. I'm glad they won. But only because I think Denver has a better chance of beating them on their home turf. Sorry. ;-)

I liked Dave Barry's suggestion, that they replace the nominee with some kind of mannequin or inflatable doll so he can go out and play golf or something while the bloviators are doing their thing, and only call him back in when they get to the actual question.

Only 43 days until Spring Training!

Harley: from dictionary.com:

bloviate \BLOH-vee-ayt\, intransitive verb:
To speak or write at length in a pompous or boastful manner.


I did not watch the hearings. I had to work. Therefore, I missed your FiL, and I'm sorry. That would have been fun to see.

On the more important topic at hand, I have no opinion. I'm the only guy you will probably ever meet who hates watching sports and feels following a team is a waste of time I could be using to do other things like read.


No, Mark, I know of another male in America who doesn't watch sports, but when he dies, it will probably be just . . . you.
I have one thought as to why these guys stay in office: it's a lousy job. The pay isn't enough to keep you in wingtip shoes, considering you have to live in the D.C. area. Plus, if you can't have fabulous vacations, courtesy of the lobbyists, what the hell's the point? Oh -- they do get free postage stamps, I think.

Uh, cancel that last post. It doesn't make an iota of sense, someone staying in office because it's a lousy job.

No,you're right, Harley. I've always felt we're getting what we pay for.

Who wants a job like that? Somebody who needs to feed his ego more than his family. And they tend to stay in the job because it demands so little.

My mother says she's never met a politician who left office a poor man. Hmm....

Which begs the question, how many politicians did your mother know personally, Nancy?

Well, a lot, as a matter of fact.

Wait, you mean in the Biblical sense??? HARLEY!!!! This is my mother we're talking about!!!!!!!!!!!!

Assuming your mind is not in the gutter: Among others, Gerald Ford & his wife had dinner at my parents' home once. Uhm, we all know about PAC money, right? You can Google it, if you like. I don't think you'll find my father's name too many places.

Harley said, "No, Mark, I know of another male in America who doesn't watch sports, but when he dies, it will probably be just . . . you."

You know my dad?


Is your F-I-L Lawrence Tribe? Because that's just too cool.

No, Phyllis. My marital surname is not Tribe. Which IS, by the way, a very interesting name. But not as unusual as mine. A free box of (remaindered) books to anyone who figures it out.

Ruggero John Aldisert. Appointed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals by Lyndon Johnson.

Probably not in favor of this Alito character, at least over dinner. Maybe more diplomatic on C-Span.

Darn, I posted that biographical note before Harley's last post--plus, I bought the book for real money a couple of weeks ago.

I only caught one question, and that on the news, because the Senator is ours. Diane Feinstein asked her question. Alito bloviated about a bunch of stuff. She said something like, but more polite than, "That's nice, but now answer my question, Bucko." Heh. I quit watching political debates/interviews etc. because no one ever calls the person to order when they babble aimlessly rather than answering the question. Go, Diane. Maybe it takes a woman, used to dealing with rampaging children, to notice the evasiveness.

Darn, I posted that biographical note before Harley's last post--plus, I bought the book for real money a couple of weeks ago.

I checked. He was more diplomatic on C-Span.

Ruthie, I missed Di Fei calling him "Bucko" -- I'd have paid money to see that. Josh, you win the Name That Father-in-Law prize, and the box of books is yours, if you want it. Oh, heck. I'll send ANYONE a box of books! The catch is, you have to take a whole box. None of this "one book only, please" stuff.

Small world - Judge Aldisert lectured at my law school.

And I'll bet he has at least one Terrible Towel.

Small world indeed. I'm positive he has no Terrible Towels. My mother-in-law rules the kitchen with a velvet fist or an iron glove or whatever that is, and she wouldn't let a Terrible Anything darken the doorway to it.
Or are these bath towels we're discussing?

Oh, Harley, you are culturally deprived. I am *certain* Hizzoner has owned at least one Terrible Towel in his lifetime. It would never, never appear in a kitchen unless someone spilled the rigatoni or the pierogies. It was probably a gift from an acquaintance who faniced himself a wit. Check his golf bag. Or his gym locker. Or the secret drawer in his desk.

I just have to say this: GO SEAHAWKS!

back to our regularly scheduled program....

I couldn't bear to watch the hearings. It's all too depressing.

Here I am, having one of the best years of my writing career and I look at what's going on around us and just want to cry.

Go ahead, Rob. Have a good cry.
I'm off to Santa Barbara, to break into my father-in-law's golf bag, in search of Terrible Towels.
Do they have Miserable Oven Mitts too?

You guys have time to watch tv? WOW! I want your lives!

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