11/06/2005

The STINK

Stung by the Harriet Miers debacle, President Bush nominated - gasp - an actual judge, Samuel A. Alito, Jr., aka “Scalito,” for the highest court in the land. It’s as if he had searched for the one with the longest, densest record he could find, just to get back at those ungrateful legislators who had not appreciated how easy it was going to be to go through Ms. Miers’ seven shoeboxes of post-it notes and Hallmark cards. Scooter Libby pleaded defiantly not guilty while his evil master Darth Cheney appointed David Addington to replace him as his chief of staff. Addington, who reportedly authored the White House memo justifying the torture of terrorism suspects, is at least as deeply immersed in the scandal that forced Libby out as Libby is. Democrats grew some backbone, and, citing little-known Rule 21, shut down The Senate for a couple of hours Monday. Bill Frist threw a hissy fit and called Democrats un-American. Eventually the lights were turned back on, but only after Republicans agreed, very reluctantly, to allow further investigation into pre-war intelligence handling, and the decision to invade Iraq. The ubiquitous David Brooks blamed Clinton for W’s warped WMD intelligence, using the typical last ditch option of the right. Meanwhile, Michael “Brownie” Brown’s emails during Katrina were made public by The House panel investigating the government’s slow response to the storm, revealing a stupid, sophomoric sleazebag, improbably obsessed with his looks and wardrobe, appointed to head FEMA, a position the President obviously saw as a sinecure. The Senate approved drilling in the Arctic Wilderness. The provision was attached to a budget, also approved by the Senate, which penalized the poor, elderly and infirm, punishing them for acting up after Katrina. Take that, granny! At roughly the same time Congress was trimming the budget, Mr. Bush pledged 7+ Billion dollars to combat avian flu, although it was not entirely clear where the 7+ billion figure came from, or where the money itself would come from. According to the NY Times, “Under the administration's plan, states will have to pay 75 percent of the cost of [antiviral] drugs.” Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa, was quoted as saying: "It almost seems… that [doses of antiviral drugs] will be allocated based upon a state's ability to pay. How are you going to ask Louisiana right now to come up with the money for that. Take Mississippi. They've been hit hard." I'm sure the President's working on that one. Maybe he'll appoint Brownie to oversee the process. [Note to Brownie: This time, roll up your sleeves, bro!] In one of his last appearances before Congress, the beloved Alan Greenspan, who retires in January after seven-hundred and fifty years as Fed chairman, wagged his finger and said he had concerns about inflation and the federal budget deficit. Oh, OK. Good to know. The Postal Rate Commission recommended approval of the United States Postal Service's request to raise the price of a first-class stamp to 39 cents from 37 cents, as part of a 5.4 percent overall rate increase, sometime early next year. The Postal Service has signaled that it will ask for another rate increase next year, one that is probably even larger than this year's. Rosa Parks, who died October 25th at 92, become the first woman whose body was laid out in state in the U.S. Capitol. Charles and Camilla came for a visit. No one seemed to mind. Voters in Denver approved legalizing small amounts of marijuana, although state law still makes possession illegal. In the Imploding Administration Department: PBS chief Ken Tomlinson, an avowed Bush operative, was forced to resign after questions about deliberate and systematic media bias arose, but never fear, he has left the CPB in the very able hands of underlings who share his vision of PBS as the mouthpiece of our much-beloved would-be totalitarian regime. The existence of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe was discovered. The EU plans to investigate. Towards the end of the week, Mr. Bush attended The Summit of the Americas, a two-day, 34-nation gathering in Argentina, where he was greeted by tens of thousands of protesters, some of whom became violent. Oil-rich Venezuela’s nutty “new Castro,” Hugo Chavez warned: “if it occurs to U.S. imperialism, in its desperation, to invade Venezuela, a 100-years' war will begin!” Bush was called "human trash" by Argentinean football legend Diego Maradona. While the mayor of Mar del Plata, the city which hosted the summit, was slightly more generous, calling Bush: “The most disagreeable man on the planet.” The week’s best headline: from The Independent (London): “Bush rebuked by the hand of God.” Riots in Paris entered their second week, showing no signs of abating. President Jacques Chirac appealed for calm, and offered free weekend passes to EuroDisney to all rioters, if they would stop rioting, no questions asked. The US death toll in Iraq climbed to 2,047. A big offensive is underway near the Syrian border, guaranteeing more to come. Locally: Theo, Theo, Theo. Oh, and by the way, Astronomers announced they now have reason to believe that the center of galaxy is massive black hole. Have a nice day.

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