"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


right, so i have a blog

Hello, gentle readers. Although jet-lagged, sick, and about to head to the airport for the nine millionth time in the last nine weeks, I am, in fact, still alive. In a manner of speaking. La famille Texas in Africa enjoyed our lovely holidays in New Zealand and Australia, where the weather was approximately 50 degrees warmer than the current temperature in Nashvegas. Not only did we take a helicopter to see some glaciers, we also learned to sail in Auckland harbor, tried to convince my father that the large white structure in Sydney harbor is not in fact an "opry," and took enough photos of Japanese tourists doing stupid things that I'll be starting a blog on that subject tout de suite. We also went to a Christmas Eve service at my friend Malie's church that featured a Maori Santa Claus and New Zealand's top rock star singing "Feliz Navidad."

More on all that later. For now, here are a few nuggets to get you through the day:
  • Obama's cabinet picks this week are asinine. Surely they could've found another Indian-American doctor with actual public health credentials to be Surgeon-General. (Being a White House Fellow does not count. I have friends who've been White House Fellows. It's a nice credential if you're 25, but it does not qualify you for a cabinet-level position.) And what are the odds that putting a politico in charge of the CIA will help to depoliticize the agency?
  • Right before hopping a connection in Auckland on Monday (the first of two Mondays this week, lucky us), I got the news that Tom Craddick will not be Speaker of the Texas House. Thank-you, Jesus. I almost sang "Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead" all the way to Los Angeles, which wouldn't have bothered my UT professor and her family seatmates one little bit.
  • Israel has legitimate grievances with Hamas, but they are not fighting a just war. 500 Palestinian deaths in two weeks is not a proportinate response to 20 Israeli deaths in three years. What a mess.


Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I agree with your comments on Israel & /craddick. I disagree with your assessment of Obama's most recent cabinet choices.

First, Panetta: MOST of the CIA chief picks have been politicos. The freaking CIA building is named for George H.W. Bush who had no previous spy experience. When a spy was named head, like Porter Goss, it was a disaster.

Panetta, as a former chief of staff knows what kind of intel presidents need to make decisions. That doesn't mean he'll politicize the intel, like Cheney did with Tenet. Panetta is a huge critic of torture, warrantless wiretapping, etc. His appointment is serving notice that a long overdue housecleaning is needed. I have been critical of some of Obama's picks, but I got his back, here.

His picks at the DoJ are even more impressive--and show that he is definitely going to end the torture and flagrant breaking of the rule of law.

The choice of Sanjay Gupta to be surgeon general is unusual, but understandable if you give it some thought. He's a brilliant neurosurgeon and has worked in the CDC--so he knows health policy. He still writes in the area for respected journals. But his CNN gig means that he also knows media--and will help Obama sell his health care reform. Obama may make his own mistakes, but is determined not to repeat the mistakes that the Clintons made in '93.

BTW, "just war" is an oxymoron.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 3:21:00 PM

Anonymous kirstin said...

yay! an update!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 6:00:00 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

Tonight, Fmr. Gov. (and outgoing DNC Chair) Howard Dean, M.D., thinks the Gupta pick is a good one for similar reasons to what I have said. He says that the key to the Surgeon General's office is to explain health policy in language that everyone can understand, something that Gupta has been doing for years.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 7:41:00 PM

Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

OK, "asinine" may still be too strong, but after reading the criticisms of Rep. Conyers and economist Paul Krugman, I'm having 2nd thoughts about Gupta. I didn't know that he tried to intimidate Michael Moore on air (and CNN had to issue retractions because Moore was right) and was anti-single payer health care. I also didn't know about his ethical conflicts of interests.

Friday, January 09, 2009 6:09:00 AM


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