Six Characters in Search of a Blogger


Author’s Comment: You’ve Got to Be Sh**ting Me.
February 3, 2009, 3:50 pm
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PLEASE put down the mic, Joe.  Seriously.  We don't want to hear it.

PLEASE put down the mic, Joe. Seriously.

Republicans are digging in their heels about the stimulus plan.  They are taking shots at the tax woes of Democratic political appointees.  They are indulging in a little political copycat strategy with the recent appointment of the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele.  And they are seeking economic advice from…Joe the Plumber?

That’s right, folks.  Sam Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the (unlicensed) Plumber,” “Joe the Gaza War Correspondent,” “Joe the Country Singer,” and “Joe the Author with a Ghostwriter” (yup, he already has a book), is in Washington this week to offer his thoughts on the economic stimulus plan to GOP Congressional aides.

Does anybody else feel like they are in the middle of a big historical punch line?



Author’s Comment: Another One Bites the Dust
February 3, 2009, 2:59 pm
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Former Senator Tom Daschle

Former Senator Tom Daschle

Former Senator Tom Daschle announced today that he was withdrawing his name from the nomination for the Secretary of Health and Human Services position, as well as stepping down from his place as “White House health care czar.”

Daschle cited a piece he read in the New York Times as part of his decision; it comes after several days’ worth of controversy about his failure to pay taxes on free chauffeur services he received from a friend over the course of several years.  There is some conjecture that his decision to withdraw his candidacy may also have been influenced by his close ties to lobbyists in the health care industry, and the damage that might have inflicted on his status and agenda in the Cabinet-level post (especially given Obama’s negative stance on lobbyists in his Administration.)

I am starting to wonder if Daschle may have finally read blogger Matt Taibbi’s diatribe against him in “The Whore Factor,” published on rollingstone.com in early December.  Here’s some classic Taibbi:  “In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle.”  Oh, snap.

Do I think Tom Daschle is a horrible person?  No.  Do I think he might have done a good job in the position?  Yes.  Does it bother me that he worked closely with health care lobby firms, and earned a great deal of money from these relationships?  Of course.  But I am beginning to wonder how many people in Washington–i.e., those with experience— don’t have skeletons in their closets.



Author’s Comment: Congratulations, President Obama
January 20, 2009, 9:55 pm
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225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obamaThe dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

 Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1862  (Message to Congress)

 

Congratulations, Mr. President.  After months of waiting, it’s finally time to begin.



Author’s Comment: Scratch That, Blame Britain Instead
January 19, 2009, 5:15 pm
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about_britain_big111You know, I was thinking about it, and Ireland wouldn’t have nearly as complicated a history if it wasn’t for Britain.  Britain–well, England at the time–was like an historical Ike to Ireland’s Tina Turner.  

Yeah.  That bad.

So please forgive me, my British family and friends, J.K. Rowling, Richard Armitage, Jane Austen, Judi Dench, Cadbury’s chocolate, Maggie Smith, Stephen Fry, Underground lady who says “mind the gap,” David Tennant, James May, MiniCooper, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Shakespeare, guy who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner (oh, Dyson, I guess), Gordon Ramsay, Ricky Gervais, Coldplay, JRR Tolkien, and the legions of other British people and institutions I love and admire.  I think Britain has to take the hit on this one.

So Britain:  you screwed up.  Maybe it’s time for a little payback.  You ruled Ireland with an Iron Fist for a few centuries, and messed them up pretty good–how about we send you a certain unemployed leader called George W. Bush to take the helm for a while?  Let’s say, 8 years?  And then we’ll call it quits.  I think that’s payback enough.

He may want to wear a crown, but you won’t have to change your Constitutional Monarchy for that–just let him wear it.  And you will have to endure his attempt to mock an English accent (you can always get him a West Country dialect coach.)

Oh, and if you want to keep him quiet, just try to find some brush for him to clear.  He likes clearing brush.



Author’s Comment: Blame Ireland
January 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
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200px-ireland-capitalsOK, folks.  So my post for today will most likely come…very late tomorrow.  Because I have this paper due within the next 24 hours on the rise of print culture in Ireland, and it’s long, and I am trying to sprint to the finish so I can at least enjoy some of the inauguration festivities on television.

So blame Ireland.  If it didn’t have such a complicated history, I would be done with the paper by now.  And you would have been enjoying the brilliance of my post while sipping a very nice Pinot Noir,  nibbling a homemade chocolate chip cookie from your Obama Inaugural Commemorative plate, and savoring this brief shining moment of national optimism before we get flushed down the economic toilet.



Author’s Comment: What’s Next for NASA under the Obama Administration?

 

could NASA's Constellation program be in jeopardy under the Obama Administration?

Uh oh, spaghettios: could NASA's Constellation program be in jeopardy under the Obama Administration?

NASA chief Mike Griffin caused a bit of a ruckus several weeks ago when the Obama Administration transition team came a knockin’.  Griffin, whose baby is the Constellation program (which was a direct result of President George W. Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration policy in 2004) has gotten very testy during questioning by Obama representatives about the state of the project.  

Check out Dvorak Uncensored’s “NASA resisting Obama efforts to ‘check under the hood’.”   It looks like change may not be such a welcome thing in some government agencies.

And apparently NASA has some competition.  An article on popularmechanics.com suggests that the incoming Administration has met with “a group of renegade space vehicle designers” who are offering a less expensive alternative to the Constellation project.  This, the Jupiter DIRECT initiative, proposes to recycle parts from the retired Space Shuttle program, thereby saving tens of millions of dollars, as well as trimming years off the timeline for launch.  For a more detailed view on the origins of this “renegade” plan, see David Noland’s great article in Popular Mechanics magazine, “NASA & Its Discontents:  Frustrated Engineers Battle with NASA over the Future of Spaceflight.”

Of course, President-Elect Obama has made his discontentment with the Bush Administration’s position on NASA quite public.  In a letter to Congressional leaders in September 2008, he outlined steps Congress should take to preserve the United States’ investment in the International Space Station, as well as called for preservation of the Space Shuttle program beyond 2010 (the proposed year of its retirement) to avoid the U.S. being dependent upon–and paying–Russia for transporting U.S. astronauts aboard Soyuz for some years until a viable NASA alternative was available.



Merry Christmas!
December 25, 2008, 10:30 am
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Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday!  Judy Garland said it better than I ever could: