Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Education on Staten Island - Not much has changed...

As some of our studenst approach the state mandated standardized tests, we continue to stare out across the desert that is our education system in search of the oasis, when we should be looking for the ocean. Too many opinions surround the solutions to our education ills...and each person is sure they have the right answer. Not unlike our President's answer to energy policy, we need to take an all of the above approach.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

We are ready now...why weren't we ready then?

I realize this may not be the right time, but it is burning me right now. In the leadup to hurricane Katrina, there was confusion, misdirected orders, last-minute changes, breakdowns in security, communication, and preparedness... the result was that many people died.

Why do we have to wait for deaths to make proper preparations for what most agree is possible and even probable.

Now, as hurricane Irene heads north, we are more prepared than ever AND disaster relief has been pre-positioned, the military has been called up, the mayor is actively,personally informing the people...all of it appreciated, all of it valuable, all of it likely to save thousands of lives, and even mitigate some resultant property damage...but to me, right now, the cost was just....too high.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's "Just a Toy""

The phrase boys love their toys has been somewhat misused over time. Once a simple phrase to relate to how young men don’t easily separate from the toys of their youth, it now includes all manner of objects; cars, tools, and (sorry ladies) women. As the title suggests, I have held on, rather tightly, to one of the toys of my not-so-distant past- Buzz Lightyear of Disney’s Toy Story fame. I purchased “Buzz” at the height of the original Toy Story craze with the hope of squirreling him away for a few decades, until some future collector decides he would be willing to pay handsomely for him.

My Buzz was kept in his original packaging and untouched by human hands since the date of purchase. Buzz spent time in my first solo apartment, the basement of the first home I ever purchased, and until recently the bedroom closet. When I moved, unlike the dilemma he experienced in the first Toy Story movie, Buzz moved. He became a fixture that I had to explain from time to time as he was discovered in his various hiding places. Visiting children and even my own children asked to hold him, “just for a minute”, but the answer was always the same-no. He was a collector’s item, an investment.

In truth, Buzz had become more than his future value to me. I related to him as he attempted to prove to his friends that he was real. I had often felt that I always had to prove that I was who I said I was. My words weren’t enough; I had to show them that I really could fly. My disappointment didn’t materialize into acceptance that I was “just a toy”, rather I accepted that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone; I just had to be me.

Old things becoming new again, at five, my son is infatuated with Toy Story 3. During a trip to the toy store, he wouldn’t leave without a six-inch Buzz Lightyear action figure. He was beyond ecstatic. An errant glance into my closet sealed whatever deal (or remaining youthful attachment) I had for Buzz. You see, his Mommy didn’t share my sense of investment, or the value of an untouched, un-played with toy. She gave it to him while I was at work, hoping to return it to its proper place. Enter my daughter, the 3 year-old who likes to shred boxes like a late night stock handler. Too late to repair, I have resigned to giving Buzz to Malcolm, and I have to admit, I enjoy watching him play with it more than I would have enjoyed the profit from his sale. After all it is “just a toy”.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Can we can expect some actual violence this election....

In the lead up to the midterms, the most repeated word to describe the constituency is angry. People are angry about Health Care reform, entitlements, do nothing politicians and do too much politicians. Some feel powerless and are genuinely frustrated with all of what goes on in Washington. But I believe their numbers are far fewer than media has represented. In truth the largest part of the voting age public is actually apathetic to who is claiming to be in charge and who looks forward to being in charge. The squabbles for political points, gotchas, and pandering have the majority of Americans flatly disinterested.
If we just look at those who are interested we find a few factions...Party Loyalists, Civic Duty voters, genuine (small i) independents, the first (well second) timers, and the Activists...those that are very impassioned about their vote, and their views. The super liberals, especially those upset with arguably the most liberal President ever elected, will grudgingly vote this midterm, and there is no doubt that Tea Partiers and super conservatives will be out en masse, so where will the violence come from?
There are individuals that have been so stirred by the rhetoric and whose values are already on such shaky civic ground that this election is likely to push them over the edge. The 3-second loop of the Black Panthers intimidating voters...in a majority Black district (not that it matters) will be replicated from the opposite side of the color spectrum this election day...and quite frankly, they probably wont be as nice. There are already small stories cropping up around the country about citizens organizing to confront voters at the polls and (illegally) demand identification. The ever-present spectre of voter fraud will rear its ugly head once more with tall tales of busloads of voters going from poll to poll to cast multiple votes throughout multiple counties (who has time for that?). At some point in time during the day, whether due to a broken machine, an untrustworthy poll attendant, misinterpretation, misrepresentation, or misunderstanding...violence may happen.
But in Richmond County we can relax, we know it won't happen here, not in the only county in the nation to experience election night violence on the evening of an historic election... right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The New Political Strategies

Lie, Avoid, Deny, Attack the character of the accuser, and Dismiss. These are the key word to Tea Party/Republican’s campaign strategy going into the mid-term elections. In years past, any candidate would give his/her right arm for national presence and the opportunity to present their views on the national stage. How did we arrive at candidates running from cameras and refusing interviews? How did we arrive at bigots coming within a stone’s throw of major state office? How did we arrive at otherwise reasonable people willing to follow certifiably nutty candidates?
The press will tell you that the constituency is angered, incensed, and not going to take it anymore. They are so mad they are willing to cut off their noses to spite their faces…and candidates KNOW IT! So rather than present a level measured view to how to correct the issues of the day using either right or left wing principles, we are instead talking about witchcraft. We are talking about a candidate that wants to wean his own mother off of Social Security and reduce her Medicare benefits. We are considering candidates that would force a woman to have the child of a rapist or an family member in cases of incest. People proclaiming to want to change the fiscal responsibility in Washington, are themselves fiscally irresponsible. People that claim to represent the best in American values are enjoying the company of prostitutes, Brazilian lovers, and rented boys. People who decide how government will spend our taxes don’t pay their own. The press keeps saying people are angry…you ask the man on the street, he says he has heard that people are angry…people are angry, people are angry…if you say it often enough, and repeat it every news cycle, it becomes thee standard. If you tell people to go to a meeting and shout down the opposition-because they are angry…well you see the results. This isn’t political discourse, its Junior High School schoolyard shenanigans… barely worthy of mention. But just as sex sells, so does anger and reporters continue to look for the hottest buttons to draw the reader/viewer without regard for the fallout.
The other emotion about to determine who drives the car is fear. We are trying to scare common folks with exotic tales of madrassas, Kenyans, birth certificates, Black Liberation Theology – which most people can’t even define, death panels, draconian gun control, government collusion in 9/11, government takeover of your very ability to breathe, the death of marriage, international vendettas as cause for war, un-American presidents, and lying presidents. Up until now, the right has had complete control over the fear button… but that’s about to change.
The only chance Democrats will have this mid-season is to take control of the fear button and press it hard until November 2nd. Without debating the merits of using fear to incite the constituency, there simply is no other way. Poll after poll shows that the electorate is not satisfied with the first two years of Obama’s administration…wow, what have we come to when a president that has arguably accomplished more in two years than any other, is summarily dismissed as having done too much, not having done enough, over shot the mark, under shot the mark and done nothing, ALL AT THE SAME TIME!
Some Democrats, and more importantly the Independents that voted for change in 2008, are unaware or apathetic to what is about to happen during the midterms. The sea change of the congress will have one, and only one effect on governance – There will e NO governance. In the past, when one side wanted a program or a tax cut or whatever… they would negotiate the merits of their idea while providing some benefit to the other side, that’s over. The negotiation would continue until most settled on a result acceptable to both parties… I think they call it compromise (haven’t seen any of that since the brother took the reins), that’s over now. Well if it didn’t happen before in the 60 or no Senate, you can bet your last dollar that it will never happen now- THAT is something to be feared. America cannot afford a stalemated government, we can’t afford a purely liberal government and we can’t afford a purely conservative government. What has worked, and what will work best for ALL Americans is a balanced approach…social services AND tax cuts, individual liberty AND freedom of expression, a strong Military AND a solid Education system. I don’t know when this cycle of extremes will end, but until it does, or until politicians learn to act sensibly, rather than appealing to their base in the interest of keeping their jobs, the stalemate will continue and the ONLY people that will suffer, is the American people, the American ideal, and many American Dreams.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Haiti NEEDS our help....

Friday, October 9, 2009

...except win the Nobel Peace Prize!

Less than a week after Saturday Night Live satirically spoofed the president's record of accomplishment, painting a laughable picture of a zero sum total, it appears there is one accomplishment no one expected;

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why is everyone so upset? He hasn't done anything yet.

This is funny enough to share although admittedly tragic if it continues...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

45,000 Die Yearly for a lack of health care....

that's one every 12 minutes...

read the following abstract from the Harvard Study:

Objectives. A 1993 study found a 25% higher risk of death among uninsured compared with privately insured adults. We analyzed the relationship between uninsurance and death with more recent data.

Methods. We conducted a survival analysis with data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We analyzed participants aged 17 to 64 years to determine whether uninsurance at the time of interview predicted death.

Results. Among all participants, 3.1% (95% confidence interval [CI]=2.5%, 3.7%) died. The hazard ratio for mortality among the uninsured compared with the insured, with adjustment for age and gender only, was 1.80 (95% CI=1.44, 2.26). After additional adjustment for race/ethnicity, income, education, self- and physician-rated health status, body mass index, leisure exercise, smoking, and regular alcohol use, the uninsured were more likely to die (hazard ratio=1.40; 95% CI=1.06, 1.84) than those with insurance.

Conclusions. Uninsurance is associated with mortality. The strength of that association appears similar to that from a study that evaluated data from the mid-1980s, despite changes in medical therapeutics and the demography of the uninsured since that time.

Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults

Andrew P. Wilper 1*, Steffie Woolhandler 2, Karen E. Lasser 2, Danny McCormick 2, David H. Bor 2, David U. Himmelstein 2

1 University of Washington School of Medicine
2 Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School

We are literally locked in a life and death struggle... people without adequate health care cannot afford to live...literally.

These invisible numbers are our neighbors, our former classmates, our friends, and relatives... one day....maybe even ourselves. One every 12 minutes. My question is simple...to the right; not who will pay, not government fear mongering, not anti-Obama rhetoric, not liberal vs. conservative...I am asking a simple question...a human question...and here it is:

Is it okay for people to die in this country simply for a lack of adequate health care?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

An Open letter to Congressman Michael McMahon

I would like to begin by thanking you for having the courage to hold the town hall meeting. I’m relatively sure it met your expectations. The purpose of this letter is to let you know where I stand, unlike many of those that attended last night’s town hall, I voted for you. I voted for you as my Congressman, and I voted for you as my councilman. I will be voting for you again in 200, and my vote is NOT conditional, short of a major moral disaster.

I am a Staten Islander. I have lived on the North Shore my entire life. I have personally been on EVERY side of this issue. As the son of a single parent, my mother went on welfare for a short period. When she got work, and joined the union, our health care got better too. When she changed jobs, and went to work with a less powerful union, we were practically no better off than when she was on welfare. I joined the service, and enjoyed the best health care our country has to offer (probably even better than the care you now receive). When I returned from the service, I went without any insurance for a considerable amount of time. Luckily, I was still healthy, and short of a simple bloody nose that wouldn’t stop, I didn’t need emergency health care. I ran my own business for 5 years with 6 employees…providing zero benefits. I worked as a consultant, where there were no benefits, even as I started a family. I now work for a company where I started out in the union, so I have seen that side, with the constant bargaining that ALWAYS results in increased costs, and fewer benefits. I am now a part of management, so I see the other side of the fence. I say all of this to let you know that I am familiar with EVERY SIDE of the issue you now face. I have kept up with most of the issues regarding the proposed health care legislation, and I have come to a conclusion.

I support health care reform. I support reform that includes a public option (knowing that I will help foot that bill). I support future reasonable tort reform. I support a plan that is deficit neutral. I support a plan that does NOT adversely affect the current care our seniors are receiving. I support a plan that may be PURCHASED by illegal aliens, similar to the way it is now. I support a plan that mandates coverage (however, with fines & without the threat of prison). I support a plan that covers every American. I support a plan that removes stipulations regarding pre-existing conditions.

And I hope you do too.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, I look forward to your affirmative vote for Health Care reform.