The White Transition Team

November 29, 2007

I normally don’t give a shit about accusations regarding race and bigotry.  I work with far too many people of different nationalities and race to see them as anything other than colleagues, clients, and friends.

But Rod Watson’s commentary in today’s Buffalo News got me fuming.  Based on Chris Collins’ choices for his 31-member transition team chairs, Watson implies that Collins has shunned the African-American and Hispanic communities with his selections.  After all, “95 percent of the slots went to whites”.

Why didn’t Watson just come out and call Collins a racist?  He used every phrase but.

If Watson wants to charge racism against a person who is still 6 weeks away from taking office, then I suggest he seriously look at a group that’s much dearer to the citizens of Western New York, one that is exclusively white:  The Buffalo Sabres.

Go ahead, Watson; tell me that that there aren’t qualified minorities out there who can skate and shoot.  I think you owe us a commentary on how Tom Golisano is carrying on this white supremacy thing.  Tom must be a whitey racist for letting this continue for so long in a community that’s 45% minority.

Racism is clearly still present in Western New York.  People like Watson see to it that the race card gets played regularly.

I wish that people would comment on the qualifications of Collins’ team members, rather than the color of their skin.

Health Care the American Way?

November 26, 2007

Emergency EntranceThis article on Grady Hospital in Atlanta caught my attention.

It’s about the only public hospital in the Atlanta area, and caters mainly to the uninsured poor.  It will lose $55 million this year alone, and may close at the end of the year because of its debt burden.  It needs $300 million in equipment and renovations to bring it up to modern standards.

What caught my eye was this statement:  “Only 7 percent of Grady’s patients have private insurance, and 75 percent are on Medicaid. Because they lack of insurance and have no family doctor, many go to Grady’s emergency room even when they don’t have an emergency. The ER ends up treating sore throats and other ordinary aches and pains.”

This is not uncommon.  Sisters Hospital and ECMC in Buffalo both suffer from this, as does every other hospital in the Buffalo area.  The needy, those who can least afford health care, take what amounts to be the most expensive route to get health care.

Small wonder why health insurance costs are going through the roof.  At what point will this system for doling out health care collapse under its own weight?

The Bush Initiatives – How are they Doing?

November 23, 2007

Mission Accomplished?The President has sponsored or advocated initiatives that advance his agenda, including the Iraq war strategy, education, energy policy, faith-based initiatives, illegal wiretapping, federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, even an initiative to get astronauts back to the moon.  How are these initiatives doing?  Here’s a brief look at a few of them.

The War on Terrorism – $1 trillion and counting.  3900+ military dead, 28,400+ wounded, even more dead and wounded if you count civilian contractors and a whole bunch more if you count Iraqis.  This has not gone well since the mission was declared accomplished back in 2003.  Excepting the fact that no planes have been hijacked and flown into skyscrapers since 9/11, by any measure the war has been mishandled, misjudged and has become a big zit on the face of the President.  The next President will have his/her hands full with this one.  I think we could have done a lot more to protect Americans by focusing on border security, rather than trying to fund a war on some other country’s turf.

Secret tribunals – by Executive order on November 13th – to expand the use of military tribunals and to hold non-citizens indefinitely on sketchy, heresay or no evidence other than suspicion of terrorist activity.  This Administration has used indefinite detention, rendition and alleged torture since 9/11, to the dismay of Europe, Central Asia and other parts of the world.  I personally hope that the next Preisdent denounces and halts these actions before the moral authority of the U.S. erodes any further.  I’m sure I’ll never know if their effectiveness justifies what they’ve done to our global standing, but they sure do smell funny.

Reduction of Greenhouse Gases – In May, President Bush sort of came to the conclusion that maybe global warming wasn’t just hype and announced a round of talks among all major contributors to greenhouse gases.  The first of these were held in late September, so it’s way to soon to determine if anything will come of this.  With only a year left in President Bush’s tenure, it is not likely that much more than a framework will get created, and even less likely that greenhouse reductions will be put into place.

Illegal Logging – President Bush came out strongly in 2002 with a plan to cut illegal logging throughout the world.  Strangely enough, illegal logging within the U.S. was not addressed in this initiative, just all those other countries.

Faith-based Initiatives – Some atheist group took the Bush Administration to the Supreme Court in February, in challenge of his faith-based initiaitve.  In June the Court decided that the atheist group did not have standing in the case, leaving the faith-based initiative – which was created by Executive order and never ratified by Congress – alive and well.  I actually think this is a good thing, as the few faith-based programs that I am peripherally involved with take their cause to heart.

Illegal Wiretapping – The NSA Warrantless Wiretapping initiative, grounded (more or less) by the Supreme Court in 2006, received a reprieve through Congress, which passed the Protect America Act in August of this year to allow warrantless wiretapping.  Many would argue that the law as written created too many loopholes for the Administration.  The law is set to expire in January, 2008 although the Administration is pushing for it to be made permanent.

No Child Left Behind – Lots of kids are still being left behind.  You need look no further than the City of Buffalo.

I understand that the space program to build the next rocket to the moon is going well.

Tchotchkes on the Brain

November 23, 2007

I’m confused and tired.

I’m confused and tired

I had hoped that this Thanksgiving week would become a much-needed respite from my day-to-day mental clutter.  It’s not gonna happen.  My brain has too much stuff in it right now, just like my house, and everything is everywhere.  There are a half-dozen unfinished projects building up anxiety in one corner of my mind, end-of-year challenges like performance reviews, budgets and business strategy that keep coalescing into an angry cloud behind my left eye, five or six personal goals just hanging around waiting to get some attention.  There’s my management class clinic next Wednesday that’s festering in some mental compartment, and I haven’t even begun to rehease my part in a quartet to be sung next Saturday.  (Or is it Sunday?  I don’t really remember right now.)

Then there’s my cluttered basement, with my workbench in desperate need of a cleanup.  There are leaves to be raked, my closet is a mess and there are at least a half-dozen Tshirts on top of my dresser rather than in it.

Right now there are so many important things needing attention that nothing seems important and even the slightest motion toward resolving them gives me a headache..  My brain feels like it’s full of Tchotchkes but nothing much of any real value.

Can’t wait to find out what the mad rush around Christmastime will be like.

Release the Funny

November 18, 2007

Release the FunnyRelease the Funny premiered tonight at the Riveria Theatre.

It was great. Done as professionally as they come. I busted a gut. Filmed in and around Buffalo, it has nothing to do with Buffalo (except, perhaps for some Sabres references) and contains none of the self-deprecating humor we often see in Buffalo-made films.

The movie is actually a bunch of shorts (ten of them), uniquely creative and all of them chuckle-funny, some of them outright hilarious. I marveled at the originality of the little plots; Anyone who watched last season’s episodes of “24” will so get the movie “120“, and fans of Star Trek are in for a treat.

This is well worth going to see. And if you don’t see it, buy or rent the DVD when it comes out. Buffalo Rising has a small writeup here.

Salivation Salvation

November 17, 2007

Charismatic PreacherLast Thursday I went to dinner with an acquaintence – a Palestinian Christian (talk about two words that just don’t seem to fit together!) – who described the historical aspects of the Palestinian conflict in great detail:  Its beginnings as a sort of partitioned British experiment, the growth of fundamentalist Islam, its use as a pawn by neighboring Arab states, and the mess that it’s in today.  It was a fascinating discussion.

One comment that stuck with me related the current Middle East Arab-Islamic fundamentalism to 15th century Christian fundamentalism.  He felt that’s about where many radical Muslims are today, set in their absolute belief that Islam is the only true faith, that all others are demonic and must be eliminated.  My dinner guest pointed out that neighbors who have been friends for years will attack each other if the local Imam decrees that they should because “It’s in the Koran”.  His experience, and his reason for leaving the Middle East, was that no one could be trusted not to turn on you tomorrow.

It got me thinking about how many times I’ve heard some Christian fundamentalist say basically the same thing – “It’s in the Bible” – without regard to asking even the simplest of questions:  Does that belief have any foundation in reality?  Is it subject to interpretation?  Is it supported by other theologians?  Does it do more harm than good? 

I am an advocate for those with strong faith who act genuinely on their beliefs, but acting in the name of God has also produced such recent heroes as James Kopp, David Koresh and even Ernest Ainsley, all of whom preyed (pun intended) in one way or another on the ignorant.  

For far too many it is easier to muster acceptance of a charismatic charlatan than to put the effort into finding truth. 

Obesity Vs. Malnutrition

November 12, 2007

Obese childrenThere is a short but interesting article in today’s British press about obesity striking not just the U.S. but the rest of the world as well.  In fact, the article goes on to say that “There are more dangerously obese people in the world (over 1 billion) than there are people starving (800,000,000).”  This article backs that up with a reference to the World Health Organization’s web site, containing a plethora of reports and statistics.

In the midst of greed, politics, war and indifference the distribution of food is a real problem for those people lacking it, and barely on the radars of those getting fat.  [This should be yet another Pro-Life movement issue (see previous blog), since about 6 million children die from malnutrition every year.  Where are the Pro-lifers on this?]

Becoming fat, dumb and indifferent is no way to remain a world leader, and it appears that the rest of the world is learning some really bad habits from us.