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Milbank on Elmo, Curt Schilling and Vampires on Death Panels

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Dana Milbank
Washington Post Columnist
Friday, September 4, 2009; 12:00 PM

Post columnist Dana Milbank serves as the capital's foremost critic of political theater in his Washington Sketch columns, videos and blog posts.

He was online Friday, Sept. 4 at noon ET to take your questions about how vampires could get involved in health-care reform, how Elmo will protect us from Swine Flu and to sing the praises of Dogfish Ale IPA.

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Dana Milbank:

Good afternoon, chatters, if indeed anybody is out there chatting on this Friday afternoon of a Labor Day weekend. As you may have heard, the Washington Post has gone into diaspora mode while our 5th floor newsroom is being renovated. I mostly operate out of my dining room bureau but at the moment am working from my Nissan bureau. It is equipped with all the essentials: computer, cellular modem, and hand sanitizer.

Tell me what is on your mind.

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Northern Virginia: Welcome back! I hope you had a good vacation and also washed your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time.

Seriously though, did Elmo have any tips for the following situation? Last night I was at the grocery store. A 7- or 8-year-old shopping with his mother was coughing away while talking to her and she was talking back, without ever telling him to cover his mouth. I was ready to lose it, but basically ran away. Elmo advice would be appreciated. Jeesh.

Dana Milbank:

I have washed my hands three times since beginning this chat. Each time I sing the Elmo "wash, wash, wash" song as recommended by HHS/CDC guidelines. My daughter has been going to camp in a hazmat suit and has a Tamiflu juice-box at snacktime.

My advice: Definitely do not shop in a grocery store. Use Peapod or some other service and have them leave the groceries outside your door. Then rinse all the food in Purell before consuming.

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Boston: Dana, care to recommend a good micro brew?

Dana Milbank: As a matter of fact I can. It is called Mad B---

No, no, that's not it. It is called Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA, which I studied in great depth during my vacation. It is brewed not far from here, in Delaware. Drinks like Sauternes, and it better, for $10 a bottle. You could also go with the 90 minute IPA or even the 60 minute IPA, which is about $10 for a six-pack.

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Quantico: There were reports from a recent health-care town hall meeting of one man biting the fingertip off of another man. What exactly were you doing that night and is there any one else who can back up your alibi?

Dana Milbank:

My favorite part of that was the footage of blood drops on the floor, filmed in horror-movie style.

I suspect this incident has less to do with health-care rage than with the new popularity of vampires, particularly my wife's favorite, HBO's "True Blood." In the show, the participants spend the bulk of their time eating each others' flesh and organs and drinking blood, which comes in bottles not to be confused with the Dogfish Head IPAs.

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Anonymous: I heard people interviewed about Michael Jackson's funeral yesterday say that

1) he was the greatest entertainer of all time; and

2) a hero to all of the world.

I'm sure both of these opinions were based on exhaustive surveys of entertainers back to the beginning of time, but aren't CDs made thousands of years ago in pretty bad shape now, making the competition a bit unfair? And if MJ was a hero to all the world, does that include people who don't sleep in beds with children they aren't related to?

Dana Milbank: This is largely true. But we do have some recordings of biblical performers. For example, in Mel Brooks's "History of the World," Gregory Hines performs the Ethiopian Shim Sham to help the Israelites escape from Pharoah, I believe. While this is a solid performance, I think it is not quite at the level of MJ's moonwalk, so there is, in fact, some evidence that he was the greatest entertainer of all time.

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Dallas: Hi Dana, How can the party of the people stand up to the party of corporate money?

Dana Milbank: Please tell me about this party of the people. Is it at Juleanna Glover's house? The only political parties I know of here in Washington are the part of corporate money and the party of more corporate money.

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Washington D.C.: You are doing this while driving? Don't pull a Bob Novak.

Dana Milbank:

I was saddened during my vacation to hear of Bob's passing.

I should add for the benefit of the Metropolitan Police Department that I have left my Nissan bureau and have returned to the dining room bureau.

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: Given the new popularity of vampires, as you cited in one of your previous replies, what do you think the likelihood would be, once health care reform is passed, of some of these vampires actually sitting on one of Obama's Death Panels?

Dana Milbank:

There are many potential uses for vampires in health-care reform, if we follow the "True Blood" script. For example, human beings can overcome most any injury if they are given a sip of vampire blood. So presumably an arrangement could be made whereby the vampires get to run the death panels if they agree to donate blood. This would definitely bend the cost curve in a big way.

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Madisonville, Tenn.: Hi, Dana. Glad you're back and all that jazz. I have a question on a possibly touchy subject: that FishbookDC Klass Klown election thing. In the early going, you had a good lead on everybody but Matt Cooper, but Craig Crawford scored a come-from-behind that seemed to me to be the result of a well-oiled (well-balonied?) machine in operation. Do you think you needed your own well-balonied machine in action? Just sayin'

washingtonpost.com: Your 2009 FishbookDC!!!

Dana Milbank: This is a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.

I was seriously disadvantaged in this competition by being on vacation. Had I been on the job, I believe I could have done many buffoonish things that would have won the prize for sure.

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Baltimore: Swine flu paranoia: I was in England in early July when swine flu was the headline in every paper, every day. A friend I was visiting had the misfortune to catch a cold and, when we were out in public, he would have a coughing jag. People turned, stared, and would slowly back out of the room. You couldn't find hand sanitizer in any chemist's shop. (I know, I know...drugstore). If that's what we have to look forward to this fall, it's not gonna be pretty.

Dana Milbank:

Don't ask me how I know this, but my local CVS is already running low on Tamiflu.

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Slammer, Ohio: Did Jim Traficant get his hair back upon being released from prison?

Dana Milbank:

Happily it was in the bag of belongings handed him before he was beamed up.

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Boston: So erstwhile Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling thinks he maybe might want to run for Teddy's Senate seat. While I may think that is a sign of the apocalypse, it would make from some great, Sketch material, no?

Dana Milbank: It's the least they can do for me after taking away Jim Bunning, who, I'll admit, has lost something off the old fastball.

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Woman who has practiced birth control within marriage: According to Bob McDonnell when he wrote his Master's thesis at age 34, I'm immoral for taking responsibility for my fertility via artificial contraception. How many women like me do you think will cross over to vote for Creigh Deeds because of this insult?

Dana Milbank:

I am scandalized that you have admitted in this chat to using birth control. As Sen. Franken pointed out during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings, the words "birth control" do not appear in the Constitution.

Of course, chemical birth control is unnecessary in my house, owing to the hazmat suits we all wear.

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Chicago: Great column on Monday. Every couple months you churn out a real tear jerker. That and George Will's piece should be required reading.

washingtonpost.com: A Hero's Death in Afghanistan, and the Question 'Why?'

Dana Milbank:

Thanks. I'd write these more often, but they ruin my standing in the Fishbowl clown competition.

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Atlanta: I'm here! Just had to say that. I really have nothing else to say. We're going to visit family this weekend, leaving tomorrow. Might be fun, just causing me stress right now.

Dana Milbank: Thank you -- and thank you for sending in all these questions with different datelines. It gives the impression people are actually participating in this chat.

Or maybe I miscalculated, and a lot of people are still putting in time at their desks even though there's no work to be done this afternoon -- so they're pretending to work while actually doing online chats.

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Welcome Back!: I spent your cruel absence reading "Homo Politicus." Thanks! Now I'm going to drink Doghead in your honor and get smashmouthed.

Dana Milbank: You will be Smashmouthed in a hurry if you drink the 120-minute IPA. It's 17% alcohol.

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Death panels: I think the vampire community would be considered a special interest group in this context. I would like to advocate for the inclusion of zombies on the death panels as they are likely to have more empathy for "end-of-life" decision making.

Dana Milbank:

I see this proposal coming together nicely just in time for Halloween. This, and not the Snowe public-option trigger, could be the big breakthrough. With any luck, Axelrod will see this chat and include it in Wednesday's speech.

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Remote outposts: Cillizza works from his coffee shop bureau. Why should we care that your cubicle is out of order due to "renovations?"

And are these going to be like your standard bailed-out banker office renovation? If so, I wonder what the ombudsman would say!

Dana Milbank:

I think the renovation is more like musical chairs. When we return, there will be only half as many cubicles as there were when we left, and those who do not find a seat will be severed.

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Hamilton, Va.: You gonna do a sketch on the evil indoctrination of the nation's young by The One. I can't believe any parent would let their children listen to that man.

Dana Milbank: It's a big week next week, with the Supreme Court hearing campaign finance, the return of our representatives, the speech to Congress, and the indoctrination of our youth.

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Prince: If Bob Novak was the Prince of Darkness does that make you the prince of snarkness?

Dana Milbank: Well, since I lost the clown competition. . .

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washing hands: Funny, I'm pretty good about washing hands and would think of myself as a pretty smart cookie. Then today I stopped myself as I dipped my hand into the communal potato chip bag at work and realized how many germy hands had been in there before me! And I wonder why I had a 12-hour bug yesterday (to put it delicately). New awareness.

Dana Milbank:

You can thank HHS Secretary Elmo for that. And remember: sneeze into your sleeve, not the potato chip bag.

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Chattanooga, Tenn.: I seem to remember that Swine Flu made a pretty big splash in the news and then seemed to fade away for a while after you did a chat where you were drinking the Purell and sanitizing your hands with the Tamiflu. Do you think this novel regimen had anything to do with the easing of the pandemic at the time?

washingtonpost.com: Dana Milbank: Covered in Tamiflu, Chugging Purell, Swine Flu by Any Other Name, More

Dana Milbank:

I think this really will be the year I get the Pulitzer for public service. Take THAT, Fishbowl.

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Rockville: Do you realize that the Post is hosting EIGHT CHATS right now? Eight!! Have you, at long last, no decency? (Anyway, you're all just the warmup act for Tom Ridge at 2:15, who obviously wants to wait until tonight, when the Bay Bridge is clear and secure.)

washingtonpost.com: It's actually down to just six right now. These things happen sometimes.

Dana Milbank: You don't know the half of it. We each have to contribute questions to all the other chats so it looks like people are actually participating.

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Evanston, Ill.: What are you going to do next to anger the liberal blogosphere?

Dana Milbank: Excellent question, Evanston.

I was thinking I would attack Obama, but while I was on vacation it became fashionable on the left to attack Obama, so that won't work.

Possibly I could praise Obama for abandoning the public option? Or criticize George Will for surrendering to terrorists? It is all getting so complicated. . .

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Doghead: Ith's thrue, im drinkin alreadys

Dana Milbank:

And I'm right behind you.

Enjoy the weekend no matter what you decide to do: the 60 minute IPA, the 90 minute IPA, or the 120 minute IPA.

And whatever your choice, please be responsible: do not chat and drive.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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