Six Characters in Search of a Blogger

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 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.

Week 12: Obama’s Cabinet
February 3, 2009, 2:23 pm
Filed under: Obama's Cabinet | Tags: , , ,

600px-us-greatseal-obversesvgThis week, following our look at Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” we’ll take a look at six members of President Obama’s Cabinet.  It’s a fantastic time to be doing so, as we are in the flush of appointment hearings and votes–Hillary Clinton was just sworn into the office of Secretary of State yesterday;  Tom Daschle announced his withdrawal from Secretary of Health and Human Services today;  and Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) was just announced as Obama’s pick for Commerce Secretary earlier this morning (to replace former nominee Governor Bill Richardson [D-AZ]).

Buckle your seatbelts–I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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.

Week 11: Lincoln’s Team of Rivals


Lincoln and his Team of Rivals

Lincoln and his Team of Rivals

In celebration of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States, I’ll be doing two weeks of back-to-back political posts profiling both of the “teams of rivals” we’ve heard so much about for months now.  First, this week, I’ll be looking at the rivals on President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet–their personal and political backgrounds, the roles they served in, and their contributions to the country.  Think of it as the equivalent of Lincolnish “CliffsNotes” (to steal a term from Stephen Colbert) for those of you who haven’t read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals yet (which I highly recommend, by the way.)  These were a fascinating group of people brought together by an extraordinary President at an extraordinary time, and their stories are well worth revisiting.

And next week, we’ll take a look at some of the rivals on Obama’s cabinet–particularly those who are lesser known–and explore their backgrounds and some of the challenges they face in the coming weeks and months (not least, for some of them, simply getting through the confirmation process.)

So, after several weeks of fooling around with claymation characters, movie clips, and pooping logs over the holidays, entertaining visions of my fictional selves during the New Year, and taking a week off while my husband introduced you to the cosmos last week, I’m back where I’m most comfortable–my political stomping grounds.  That’s right, folks, it’s time for a little bit of gravitas, blogga-style.  (That means I talk about serious things while wearing sweatpants.)

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 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.

9.4 I Could Have Been: A Doctor (Bring on the Sex and Tragedy!!!)
January 11, 2009, 9:49 pm
Filed under: The Me's I Could Have Been | Tags: , , , , , ,


This is the doctor they call McDreamy.  If I were a doctor, they would call my McSqueamish.

This is the doctor they call McDreamy. If I were a doctor, they would call me McSqueamish.

Apparently, for people with my name, the medical profession is incredibly popular:  there are pediatricians, neuroligists, and ob/gyns, to name a few.

(Right now, my parents are probably thinking: where did we go wrong?)

But it’s interesting that for someone who has so many namesakes in the medical profession, I don’t actually know much about being a doctor.  I don’t have any friends or family members who are doctors (yet, but there are one or two in training.) And although I have had my fair share of doctor’s appointments, I really have no idea what their lives are like outside of the hospital–how they spend their time, what they do for fun, what they eat, their hopes, their dreams, things like that.

So all I have to go by is what I see on TV.  And from what I can tell, doctors are some of the most highly sexed and unfortunate beings on planet Earth.  Take the show ER, for instance.  It features some beautiful people who keep switching sexual partners (it’s a good thing they don’t have any STDs…oh wait, one of them did.  A long time ago.)  But, for their sins, most don’t seem to enjoy sowing their wild oats for very long: they get killed in ambulance explosions and bizarre helicopter accidents, or get maimed by trucks, suffer from tumors various, get caught in an insane number of hostage crises, or find that their family members have a terrible casualty rate once they start working in the Emergency Room at County General.  Or take the stars of Grey’s Anatomy:  have there ever been so many gorgeous doctors in one place?  I wonder if Seattle is suddenly seeing the health of its citizenry decline as besotted locals attempt to crowd the halls of local hospitals.  Yep, because the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital believe in spreading the love–they sleep with each other and their critically ill patients.  (They are known for their bedside manner.)   Even my favorite doctor, Gregory House (from the FOX channel’s House) who has possibly the worst bedside manner ever documented, and a limp, looks like he’s going to be getting it on soon with his hot boss, Lisa Cuddy, the fantastically stunning Dean of Medicine at the Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital.   But he’s had quite the run of bad luck, too:  he’s been taken hostage a few times.  He’s been shot at close range.  And he was in a near-fatal bus accident last season (that killed his best friend’s lover.)  

I tell you what, folks.  I don’t think I want to be a doctor, even if I do get to sleep with George Clooney.  The mortality rates are just too darn high.

Unless I could be a doctor in the template of my nephew, Garrett, whose alter ego, “Dr. Joe,” is an excellent practitioner of medicine.  He is very efficient:  if you have an ailment, he’ll take out his plastic lunchbox full of plastic medical instruments.  When you tell him where it hurts, he will take a careful look.  Then he’ll dig into the lunchbox, and pull out an implement that looks like a hammer.  Then he’ll strike the injured area with the hammer (usually not that hard), pronounce you “all better” and say “now you have to pay me.”  At a buck a visit, it’s an incredibly reasonable price to pay for healthcare nowadays.  And the best thing is, he sets his own hours.

I think Barack Obama missed a big opportunity by overlooking Dr. Joe for Surgeon General.  Dr. Joe, along with his up-and-coming resident trainee, Dr. Neve (my niece) will soon be releasing their highly acclaimed nutritional weight loss plan (recently praised by Oprah and Dr. Oz), the Sour Patch Kids Diet.  Coming to the children’s section of local bookstores soon, with a special pre-release show on the PBS Sprout network.

The key to the diet is don’t tell your parents.

6.7 The Seventh Day: The Perfect Gift for that Person Who Has Everything
December 20, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Santa and His Posse | Tags: , , , ,


the Barack Obama caganer

Everybody poops: the Barack Obama caganer

Forget about the Barack Obama commemorative plates and coins that keep getting hocked on infomercials all across cable TV.

This Christmas, tell someone you care with the Barack Obama caganer.  No Nativity scene would be complete without the next President of the United States leaving a little bit of history for the Christ child.  

It’s also great as a potty training demo for toddlers:  everybody poops, and so does the President-Elect!  So why not buy this little symbol of “yes we can” for your bathroom?  

But act quickly!  Supplies are limited, and no doubt Republicans will soon be snatching these up while they make jokes about Obama’s effect on the economy.

So visit and buy this very special memento of the 2008 election today!