The President yesterday made 17 recess appointments to positions requiring Senate approval, which gets the people into office until the Senate can meet.
In other words, the White House knows or has reason to believe that the Senate would not confirm, or would in some other way obstruct, these appointments. So the President just put them into office, where they stay until the Senate can hold confirmation hearings. This gives the Senate the opportunity to allow the appointments to stand without actually having the kind of "up-or-down vote" that the Republicans continually demand—the kind they refused to give more than 100 of Clinton's judicial nominees.
The Washington Post (reg.req.) reports:
President Bush yesterday made a raft of controversial recess appointments, including Julie L. Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau at the Department of Homeland Security, in a maneuver circumventing the need for approval by the Senate.
Myers, a niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers and the wife of the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, had been criticized by Republicans and Democrats who charged that she lacked experience in immigration matters.
Chertoff's chief of staff's wife? Well, I did make my wife my corporate counsel, but the confirmation process didn't involve the U.S. Senate or 50 million voters...
MSNBC is reporting this hour that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has suffered a "significant" stroke:
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a “significant” stroke Wednesday after being brought to the hospital from his ranch in the Negev desert, a hospital official said. Minutes later, a hospital official said Sharon had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.
Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of Hadassah Hospital, said Sharon was put under general anesthetic and was receiving breathing assistance while doctors assessed his condition.
Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon said Sharon’s authorities have been transferred to Vice Premier Ehud Olmert.
More as developments warrant.
My cousin Matt just sent me information about a portable power meter that you can use to see how much electricity your appliances are actually using. It's pretty cool.
It might be interesting to see how much power things use when they're off.
The National Hurricane Center reports this hour that Tropical Storm Zeta, only the second January tropical storm ever recorded, may become a hurricane. It probably won't, but it's already so close as to make the distinction irrelevant to any ships in the area.
I'm putting this in the Politics category as well as the Weather category because I believe it's one more example of the increased tropical activity predicted by the global warming hypothesis and ignored by current U.S. policy.
For those of you dying to know what the next tropical cyclone will be named, the NHC says the naming season begins January 1st, even though the "official" hurricane season begins June 1st. So the next Atlantic tropical storm will be named Alberto, even if it forms tomorrow.
As promised, here is the world's ugliest menorah:
Welcome to another year of the Blog.
Anne and I wound up at the Majestic Hotel right in the middle of our old neighborhood, and then we rang in the New Year at a (relatively) new bar on Clark Street, whose name escapes me. Lots of fun. Forgot the Champagne, though.
New Year's Resolution: 1024 x 768 (I'm using my laptop).
Complaints about the weather: None from me. It's 4°C (40°F) right now, which for a Chicago New Year's Day is delightfully warm. However, this guy that I saw on the way home from the El this morning would probably disagree:
Silliest news story of the day: Yesterday, a pack of chihuahuas attacked a cop in Fremont, Calif. The police officer received bite wounds to the ankle. No word on how far the chihuahuas got punted.
Don't forget, the holidays aren't over yet. Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah. Sunset in Chicago tonight is at 4:31pm; you can use the Weather Now calculator to find your city's sunset time. Check back later for a photo of the world's ugliest menorah in full bloom.
Another good article from the Tribune: Barbara Botman writes about New Orleans at New Year's. I recommend it.
First, from the Strange Editorial Priorities department: these were the headlines on MSNBC's top headlines today:
WP: CIA program withstands furor
The effort President Bush authorized shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, to fight al Qaeda has grown into the largest CIA covert action program since the height of the Cold War. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10644533/
West Coast gets more rain
The West Coast was expected to end 2005 with a bang of winter weather: two storm fronts that could bring as much as 10 inches of rain in Northern California and snowfall of up to six feet in some mountain areas. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10632481/
N. Korea cuts off U.N. food aid
As Pyongyang's Stalinist government moves to reassert control over the food supply, some experts fear that it could lead the isolated country into another famine. By Kari Huus. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10631108/
Now, I like weather, but come on. Maybe these stories could have been re-ordered?
Second, for those of you who missed me, SBC, which has now apparently merged with AT&T (didn't they break up in 1984?), dropped my DSL from 4:09 CT/22:09 UTC until a few minutes ago. Gotta love 'em.
Great column from Krugman today (reg.req.):
A year ago, before "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" became a national punch line, the rising tide of cronyism in government agencies and the rapid replacement of competent professionals with unqualified political appointees attracted hardly any national attention. ...
A year ago, most Americans thought Mr. Bush was honest.
From the Associated Press (published in the Chicago Tribune):
Actor Was Known for Creepy, Eccentric Roles
ROME — Vincent Schiavelli, the droopy-eyed character actor who appeared in scores of movies, including "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Ghost," died Monday at his home in Sicily. He was 57.
He died of lung cancer, said Salvatore Glorioso, mayor of Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian village where Schiavelli lived.
As I'm never one to rise below a little morbid humor at the expense of the living, I would ask, with Schiavelli gone, who will play Dick Cheney in future films?
If you're Christian, merry Christmas!
If you're Jewish, happy Chanukkah!
If you just want to be with your family and share the joys of the holiday season, happy holidays!
Finally, if you believe we athiests have declared war on Christmas, read Michelle Goldberg's column in Salon, then Frank Rich (reg.req.) in the New York Times, then reflect on why any majority group in a democracy, who control the government and the press, would persist in believing that the minority were oppressing it.