House docs get black bags

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and the Congressional Medical and Dental Doctors Caucus last week took their first major step in becoming part of the Capitol’s emergency-response team, or simply being called on to give a colleague first aid.

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and the Congressional Medical and Dental Doctors Caucus last week took their first major step in becoming part of the Capitol’s emergency-response team, or simply being called on to give a colleague first aid.

At a meeting in his Capitol office, Dr. John Eisold, the attending physician to Congress, distributed doctors’ “black bags” to caucus members to ensure they’re adequately equipped in an emergency.

Along with Gingrey, Reps. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Dave Weldon (R-Fla.), Joe Schwarz (R-Mich.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.) took a look at a sample bag, actually made of blue nylon, and made arrangements to have the bags delivered to their offices.

They contain oral airway kits, gloves, cold packs, peroxide, a blood-pressure cuff, a stethoscope, flashlights, emergency medicine and burn dressings, among other items.

As the members crowded around to take a look, one voice came up from the scrum: “Is the medicinal brandy in there?” Another joked, “We’d like to thank Chairman Barton for having a heart attack so we got these.” Rep. Joe Barton, the Republican from Texas who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, was hospitalized for a heart attack last year.

Gingrey, who founded the caucus last year with Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), credited Snyder with the first idea for the bags. They’re part of a larger plan, Gingrey said, to involve House and Senate doctors.

“At least three or four times since I’ve been here we’ve evacuated in a panic,” he said. Now “we have a rendezvous point to join the House physician and his medical team” with the bags, “so we’re not just here as a warm body but to provide some expertise.”

He also said the physician’s office is offering the members updated training in skills like CPR and using a defibrillator.

The members also heard from Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who told them the United States is at least five years from an adequate stockpile of a vaccine against avian flu.



Eric Cantor’s would-be Dem opponent bares all

As Bob Dylan sang, “Even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.”

So too might members of Congress, if a possible November opponent of Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) opponent has anything to say about it.

Brad Blanton, a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 7th District, is a longtime clinical psychologist and a published author famous for his “radical honesty” program, designed to encourage readers and seminar-goers to tell the truth in all cases.

Suffice it to say he’d add a bit of color to Congress.

In an e-mail to supporters obtained by the Culpeper Star-Exponent earlier this month, Blanton wrote, “As I understand it, there is some concern among party members about whether I am a viable candidate because I could be an embarrassment to the party. People are concerned because I have run workshop groups involving nudity, used profanity in my books … and have been arrested a number of times.”

He then explained his eight-day, $2,400 “Course in Honesty”: On the fifth day, we “all take off our clothes, stand up in front of the camera and the other naked people and talk about what we like and what we dislike or are ashamed about our bodies,” Blanton said in his e-mail. “This is also videotaped. Then we tell the story of our sexual history.”

The tapes are ultimately erased.

Blanton’s bid was dealt a blow Saturday when 7th District Democrats chose not to endorse him as their candidate, preferring to endorse no one. Blanton is mulling an independent bid, similar to the one he ran four years ago, when he earned 25 percent of the vote against Cantor.

Some on the left are behind him. A May 8 statement by Progressive Democrats of America endorsing Blanton read, “In the highly fractured political environment of today, Blanton’s approach, we feel, offers the promise of being able to bridge the political divide.”

Really, if getting everyone naked doesn’t work, what will?


Barney Frank goes to bat for anti-gay picketers

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), one of Congress’s few openly gay members, is making common cause with the group of gay-hating religious extremists that has been disrupting military funerals nationwide.

After attending the funeral last Tuesday of a New Bedford, Mass., Marine killed in Iraq, Frank was one of only three members to vote against the Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, which Congress drafted largely in response to a Kansas church group that has been disrupting military funerals with banners and protests, arguing that America is being punished for tolerating homosexuality.

On Thursday, he took to the floor to defend his vote. While calling the protesters a “particularly contemptible group of bigots,” he called the bill “overdrafted” in that it goes so far as to prevent someone from holding up a sign within 500 feet of a funeral.

“The American Constitution, the principle of free speech precisely protects the right of despicable people to be obnoxious,” he said.

“In fact, the particular group of vicious people who have been disrupting the funerals have as their major goal getting rid of people like me, gay men and lesbians. They particularly hate us. But I will not allow their bigotry against me and the reaction against that to be used to reduce the protections of our Constitution.”

Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and David Wu (D-Ore.) also voted against the legislation. Twenty-one members did not vote.


‘Principal’ Manzullo shuts ’em up

Just call him Principal Manzullo.

Last Wednesday, House Small Business Committee Chairman Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) was presiding over a committee hearing in the panel’s Rayburn hearing room when a group of people awaiting an Appropriations subcommittee hearing began to make a racket in the hallway outside.

Not content to let a staffer handle the dirty work, Manzullo himself arose from his seat, marched out into the hall and told the offenders in no uncertain terms that they needed to zip it, a Hill source said.

“He might have gone out there a couple times, actually,” said his spokesman, Rich Carter.

“There are a lot of hearing rooms out there,” Carter explained. “A lot of times it can be quite disruptive, even with the door closed.”

It’s mostly those Appropriations folks, in fact. Four Appropriations subcommittees’ hearing rooms are within shouting distance of the Small Business room.

“It’s not the first time” that Manzullo has marched out there either, said Carter.


Claude Allen: Still a candidate?

Conservatives who venture to the website of Progress for America (PFA) for information on judicial nominations might be surprised to see the first name on their list of circuit-court nominees: Claude Allen, the disgraced former White House domestic adviser who is accused of shoplifting from Target stores in Maryland.

The organization, formed to tout President Bush’s nominations amid Democratic opposition, has lost a bit of steam after the successful Supreme Court confirmations of John Roberts and Sam Alito. In fact, no one could be reached for comment.

But still, there’s Allen’s bio, high atop the group’s “issues” page. And that’s not all: When one scrolls down through nine more names, there’s Allen again, bio and all, just in case you missed it the first time.

With a new round of nominations heading to the floor, PFA might want to review those it thinks should wield a gavel.


Hoop Dreams


Courtesy of Hoop Dreams

Former Washington Bullets center and “My Giant” star Gheorghe Muresan towers over Susie Kay, founder of the Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund. The 7-foot-7-inch Muresan appeared as part of the charity’s annual congressional reception Thursday.