If history is a guide — and on this constantly recurring controversy it usually is — the so-called constitutional showdown under way between the White House and Capitol Hill over “executive privilege” will likely end with a convoluted compromise that decides little.

Every administration has at least one set-to with Congress over “executive privilege,” which the White House says prevents the Hill from compelling an administration official to testify.

After much sturm and drang, the fighting invariably fizzles. Odds are that will happen in the current skirmish over President Bush’s defiance of the Democratic-controlled Congress’ demands for evidence and testimony in the flap over the firing of U.S. attorneys.

That’s because neither side really wants to win. A party that controls Congress today could lose it tomorrow, and the same goes for the presidency.

And it’s not even an explicitly constitutional crisis, since that hallowed document says not a word about executive privilege or congressional oversight.

The fact that the new seats for journalists in the refurbished White House briefing room are a full inch wider than the old has led some wags to wonder if this means coverage will now be broader.

Though President Bush used the occasion of the inauguration of the new facility Wednesday to poke fun at the press, and himself, he either nixed or overlooked one laugh line his speechwriters had included in his prepared remarks, which were distributed to the journalists before he spoke.

The missing jab: “There’s no truth to the rumor some of those new seats can be ejected by pressing a button at Tony’s podium,” referring to press secretary Tony Snow.

Though it’s never contributed to a candidate before, the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee, or X-PAC, might do so in the current presidential race.

Executive Director Stephen Bassett, who said he created the PAC in 1999 to cast light on the government’s cover-up of the existence of space aliens, says his group might support Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Richardson, whom he says are either aware of extraterrestrials or open to serious investigation of them.

It was like something out of a conspiracy theorist’s nightmare (or dream) this past week in a quiet Northern Virginia neighborhood not far from CIA headquarters. At twilight, three imposing helicopters roared out of nowhere and set down right in the middle of a junior high school’s running track, scaring the heck out of the locals, who wondered if this was the landing of those mysterious “black helicopters” we’ve all been warned about.

If it was, they had a good cover story: that one of the three U.S. Army choppers (prominently marked as such) had made a “precautionary” landing in the largest safe space the pilot could find because of mechanical problems. The other two helicopters alighted to remove sensitive instruments and data from the disabled craft, lock it up for the night and take its crew home to Fort Belvoir about 10 miles away.

The growth of America’s Hispanic population could contribute to a serious imbalance in the nation’s blood supply. Experts say Hispanics predominantly have type-O-positive blood, which means there has been a steady rise in the demand for that type in areas of the country where many Latinos live.

But because Hispanics as a whole tend to donate blood less often and in fewer numbers than other U.S. population groups, this could soon lead to a dangerous shortage in the supply of O-positive blood, according to University of Texas Medical Branch professor Alexander Indrikovs. Caucasians account for more than 80 percent of all donations, experts say.

What’s needed is an education and advertising campaign designed to boost donations from Hispanics and other minority groups, Indrikovs said.

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