Tauscher declares victory over cancer

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher (Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher

I had breakfast with U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher earlier this week and the former East Bay congresswoman shared the compelling and inspiring story of her remarkable triumph over esophageal cancer.

Read the full story here.

I didn’t have space in the piece but I shared with Ellen that morning about how her experience had already helped me in a very personal way.

Last March, the Washington Post wrote a lovely story about her recovery and as I read through the text, I keyed in on Ellen’s description of the early symptoms: Trouble swallowing bulky foods, a sensation of something blocking her esophagus.

My husband had been experiencing the very same symptoms for months. He had recently suffered a painful episode while eating a salad at a restaurant.

I showed him the news story and he made an appointment.

The initial examination revealed a potential problem and his doctor scheduled an endoscopy. Fortunately, the scope found a highly treatable inflammation and not cancer.

But for all we knew at the time, the symptoms could have been associated with a far more serious health problem. And early detection is a good thing when it comes to the successful treatment of cancer.

So, take Ellen’s advice: Even if you think all you need is another roll of Tums, go see your doctor.  Do it for the people who love you.


Garamendi headed to Netroots Nation



Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who has become very vocal in recent weeks about what he views as an unsustainable and undesirable U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, will be a panelist on Friday at one of the biggest progressive gatherings in the nation.

Garamendi is a panelist at Netroots Nation being held in Minneapolis eduring the next few days. Many of the movers and shakers behind the event helped President Barack Obama seize the grassroots power of the Internet during his successful presidential campaign.

The congressman is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and he recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he was treated to an insider’s tour of U.S. special operations units.

Garamendi has repeatedly said the the U.S. must move away from a military anti-terrorism strategy and and turn to its highly trained special operations teams.

That’s a message likely to resonate at Netroots Nation.


Garamendi appears on Colbert show

No one can say Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, lacks hutzpah: He appeared on superstar comedian Stephen Colbert’s show last night. Watch it here.

Colbert introduced Garamendi as the man with the “popcorn-flavored jelly beans and a name rejected as a Microsoft word font,” referring in the first example to the Jelly Belly Factory located in the 10th District.

Colbert repeatedly and mercilessly poked fun at the fact that Garamendi doesn’t actually live in the 10th District.

Colbert even proposed marriage.

“You aren’t my type,” Garamendi deadpanned. (The congressman has many attributes but funny guy isn’t one of them.)

And when Colbert asked the congressman for his “pass” to see photos of the dead Osama bin Laden, Garamendi politely declined.

By and large, Garamendi didn’t embarrass himself, which is a major accomplishment when faced with Colbert’s wildly unpredictable and over-the-top comedy.


McNerney returns to science committee



In yet another fall-out after the Democrats’ loss of majority status in the House of Representatives, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will lose his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

He will return to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, his first assignment after he was initially elected in 2006. McNerney will remain on the Veterans Affairs Committee, his signature policy area. He had served on Energy and Commerce just one term.

“The congressman enjoyed his time on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but he is very excited about going back to the Science, Space and Technology Committee,” said spokeswoman Sarah Hersh.

A PHd mathematician who designed wind turbines, McNerney has a keen interest in green technology and science.

McNerney’s shift is the result of the GOP takeover of the House of Representatives. Not only does the majority party hold more seats on committees but the GOP leaders also cut the overall size of the committees.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, lost his seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leaving the Bay Area with no direct representation on the committee.  And Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, will leave the House Natural Resources Committee after more than 35 years on the panel.


East Bay reps host senior aid workshops

The boys are back in town.

And I’m betting the three East Bay congressional representatives don’t mind being called “boys.”

Despite a quick trip to Washington, D.C., for a Tuesday emergency vote on a state aid bill, reps. George Miller, John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney — all voted yes on the state aid legislation — have announced series of public events in their home districts during Congress’ annual August recess:


Miller, D-Martinez, will host a 75th birthday party for Social Security from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at the Richmond Annex Senior Center, 5801 Huntington Ave., Richmond. Speakers include representatives of AARP, West County Senior Coalition, Richmond Commission on Aging and others.

Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will host a senior resources fair from 9 a.m.-noon at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, 213 F Street in Antioch. The congressman will also cut a birthday cake for Social Security’s 75th anniversary. Booths with staff from federal, state and county service offices will offer information about medical care, nutrition and health screenings.


McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will host a senior assistance workshop from 10 am. to noon at the Brentwood Senior Activity Center, 193 Griffith Lane, Brentwood. On hand will be representatives from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security and Contra Costa County Aging and Adult Services.


McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will host a grants workshop from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., San Ramon Community Center, 12501 Alcosta Blvd., San Ramon. Government, education and nonprofits are encouraged to attend and learn how to apply for federal and foundation grants. Speakers include representatives from the Department of Education and Federal Emergency Management Agency.