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  INCOMING! MAY 9, 2005.  


It's a brand new week, kids. So to start things off with a bang, we're going to hit the ground running with a topic that never fails to excite and titillate. Social Security!

On this day in 1977, President Jimmy Carter set his sights on a Social Security system threatened by growing unemployment and a failing economy, proposing as a solution something that, under the current administration, would be unheard of: a big ol' tax hike. The legislation passed later that year, allowing Carter to get on with the more important executive business of looking for UFOs. Now, once again, our president has informed us of a looming Social Security crisis, citing as evidence the 40 million retirees currently receiving benefits. According to President Bush, by the time today's baby boomers retire, there will be more than 72 million Americans drawing from the system. Assuming the elderly population continues to expand at that rate, then by the end of the century, Social Security will be paying more than 600 million beneficiaries -- well over twice the population of the United States.

In honor of President Carter's efforts to save Social Security, the Black Table presents the Incoming! Social Security Quiz. Match each description of Social Security with the man who defined it thusly:

Social Security Pop Quiz



1. "a pact between workers and their employers"
2. "the third rail of American politics"
"a lockbox"
4. "protection against the vicissitudes of modern life"
5. "whorin' around money"


a. President Franklin Roosevelt
b. President Jimmy Carter
c. my grandfather
d. Vice President Al Gore
e. President George W. Bush



The famed golden spike completing the nation's first transcontinental railroad was pounded into place on this day in 1869. With the railway finished, a cross country trip could be completed in mere days, allowing resources to be easily shipped and, if HBO is to be believed, paving the way for pioneers to begin settling in small outlaw camps and start calling each other "cocksucker."

The project's completion marked the beginning of a dramatic transformation for the United States. By stimulating the economy and moving thousands of emigrants towards homestead land, the new railway was a vital factor in the American conquest and settlement of the West. One hundred thirty-six years later, faulty brakes would force Amtrak to cancel its flagship Acela rail service and replace it with slower trains running on limited schedules. And progress marches inexorably on.

Today is also Trust Your Intuition Day. Or is it? Yeah, that's right, tough guy. You're so intuitive, you tell me whether or not today is Trust Your Intuition Day.





Hey, have you seen XXX: State of the Union yet? Did you think it was awesome? You did? Then skip ahead to tomorrow, friend, because today is the first day of the 58th Cannes Film Festival. Six English-language films from North America are among the 20 competing for Cannes' top prize, the coveted Palme d'Or, which is French for "Oh, yeah, I heard about that movie. Didn't see it, though."

This year marks the first time in Cannes history that an Iraqi film is included in the competition, which, as we all know, is only additional evidence that freedom is on the march and that the al-Qaeda terror network is crumbling. (Lest you forget, we must view these terrorist films overseas so that we do not need to watch them on our own shores.) Organizers have also confirmed that the festival will feature the May 15 world premiere of Star Wars Episode III: Return of the Sith, which French critics are already anticipating will "le suck." Of course, audiences who see the final Star Wars installment at Cannes will view an alternative "French cut" of the film, in which the young Anakin Skywalker gets seduced by the Dark Side, then spends the rest of the movie hanging out in interstellar cafes with the Sith Lords, smoking and discussing the absurdity of human existence.

Also on this day in 1997, IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeated chess champion Garry Kasparov in the second meeting between man and machine. An embarrassed Kasparov suggested that Deep Blue had, in fact, received human assistance, while IBM programmers claimed that Kasparov's earlier



victory was only due to his asking the computer, "Sure, you can play chess, but tell me…what is love?"




What do you get for the man who has everything, including an imminent Congressional investigation? A $2,000-a-table tribute dinner, that's what.

We speak, of course, of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, currently under intense scrutiny for ethical lapses in fundraising and travel expenditures. Today, at the Washington Hilton, fellow conservatives gather to celebrate the man described on the invitation as "a stalwart champion on conservative principles in the Congress," right above the check box to indicate whether you want chicken, fish, or consideration to be DeLay's replacement when the inevitable axe falls.

Political insiders say that while some leaders are feted at the height of their powers, for many others, the honor is dubious at best. Recent politicians who found themselves celebrated on their way down include ousted California governor Gray Davis, and former New Jersey governor and noted Gay American Jim McGreevey. So while both Republicans and Democrats await further news of the ethics investigation, DeLay and his cronies will be enjoying what some might consider a condemned man's last meal. Eat up, Tommy, and don't let the shrimp puffs hit your ass on the way




Today is also National Limerick Day, a day to create poetic five-line masterpieces about guys with huge dicks who hail from an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Alternatively, enjoy the day by composing a ditty about tonight's guest of honor at the Washington Hilton. A modest contribution:

A congressional leader from Texas,
Used constituents' money to excess.
But there's just one more perk
We would give to this jerk.
It's a shot to the guy's solar plexus.

The Black Table insists you do better than that.




Bad news for all you paraskevidekatriaphobics. Not only does nobody have a damn clue what you're talking about when you tell them you have paraskevidekatriaphobia, but today is the exact thing you're terrified of: Friday the 13th -- the first one of 2005, to be precise. According to the Urban Legend Reference Pages at while the number 13 is generally considered to be a bad omen, there are number of other activities it would be ill-advised to engage in today. Among them: needleworking, harvesting, launching a ship, beginning a sea voyage and giving birth. So watch for that.

Also today, Arizona Senator John McCain delivers the commencement address at the University of Oklahoma, a small consolation for the school's disappointing performance in this year's NCAA tourney. Sen. McCain's name is already being bandied about as a popular Republican candidate



for president in 2008, with one poll saying McCain could defeat New York Senator Hilary Clinton in a theoretical head-to-head contest. Yes, this is all speculative and more than three years away, but seriously, with all the activities you're not supposed to engage in today, what else is there to do but sit around and take polls?

The first Friday the 13th of the year is also traditionally International Skeptics Day. Or is it? Whatever, man, you probably didn't believe me when I told you it was Trust Your Intuition Day, either.


Jason Reich is a two-time Emmy winning writer for The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.