Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Doctor Was Always In


We’ve all heard the story of the selfless, peripatetic, country doctor trudging through the chilly night to tend to one of his patients in need. Well, during a now bygone era, there were also many urban doctors who were equally dedicated  to their profession  who  put their patients and Hippocratic oath before all monetary emoluments.

One such doctor was Dr. Herbert E. Poch, a local legend, who passed last week at the age of 86. Dr. Poch was a caring, loving,  pediatrician. He was also a great teacher of young parents of which I was one when I made his acquaintance shortly after  the birth of our first child. He came highly recommended from everyone we asked. And my wife and  I will forever be in his debt.

 When my oldest daughter collapsed into a seizure one early spring morning, we panicked. I grabbed the  five-year-old, strapped her  into her car seat and rushed her  to the emergency room at our local hospital.

My anxiety level continued to spike upon my arrival. The emergency room doctors were unknown to me. And facing a serious situation of which I knew nothing, I began raising my voice for assistance. After a seemingly inordinate amount of time  had passed, they took my daughter into an examining room and suggested a spinal tap. At that point I really knew it was serious. As I paced the waiting room with my wife who met me there, both of us had no idea of the extent of the danger. As we stared at the door waiting for someone to come out and  tell us what was going on, we both were imagining worst case scenarios. Until the door opened and out came Dr. Poch. No one had summoned him. He was just making his normal rounds when he heard about the little girl who was brought in by a frantic father. The girl just happened to be his patient.

He was wearing a surgical gown and had been present for the procedure. The first thing out of his mouth, “she’s out of danger; she’s going to be alright.” A quarter century has gone by but I still vividly remember his reassuring image. And indeed, everything was alright – thanks to him.

We were sad when he retired. No other pediatrician could follow that act. But he went on to do so much more after he retired from practice. He began teaching full-time, disseminating his wisdom to post-graduate medical residents. He remained active in charitable work, being honored with several awards. He was even honored  with a proclamation on the floor of the U.S. Congress for his extraordinary service to children and his community.

Every once in a while you meet a real life saint. Dr. Poch was such a man. Early mornings on my way to work, passing his office, I’d see him enjoying a walk with his dog. Such a soothing sight. After his walk, he would sit at his desk for an hour or so to field questions over the phone  from parents, dispensing  advice and setting worried minds at ease. If I hadn’t known him in the flesh, Norman Rockwell would surely have created him.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Melo and the Messiah


Phil Jackson was recently hired by the New York Knicks to head up a floundering franchise which last won a championship in 1973. Everyone has trumpeted his arrival as some cataclysmic event -- indeed there were  standing ovations at the Garden when he was first introduced as the new president of the Knicks. I don’t think the desired results -- another championship --  will be attained in the new Jacksonian era despite blanket approval for the hire.

Unless I’m missing something this guy looks way too laid back to navigate the alleyways  of Manhattan. He’d be much more comfortable in sandals and cutoffs in Santa Monica or Venice Beach.

Yeah, he’s been part of 11 championships. And yes he did play for the  Knicks under Red Holzman  his esteemed mentor. And has dealt with mercurial characters: Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Shaq and Dennis Rodman. And he has produced results, monumental results. But that was as a coach, not an executive who will have to make personnel  and financial decisions. Of course, he and GM Steve Mills will be able to hire other executives to handle the  mundane chores of running a franchise. While  he pockets a cool $12 plus million a year.

To Phil Jackson, this is a win-win. He gets the money, snubs his nose at the Lakers for passing him over for a similar role, most notably by the brother of his fiancée, Jeanie Buss. (By the way how long has she been his fiancée, anyway?) 

This whole affair looks like one big ego stroking for a guy who hasn’t been in the spotlight for a while but loves it. And going against the grain here, I don’t see any championships down the road in the term of Jackson’s contract. The Knicks were much better off with Donnie Walsh running the franchise. He was astute enough to know that trading for Carmelo Anthony was a stupid move, when he could have been gotten him as a free agent in the off season without sacrificing young talent. But Knicks’ owner James Dolan insisted on getting Carmelo which hastened the departure of Walsh, whose Pacers, by the way, are vying for a championship THIS year. And to his credit Walsh had the sense to know that Anthony  is toxic to a championship team.

Can Carmelo sacrifice his game for the good of a team concept? The Knicks are not missing role players they’re missing weight-supporting columns. Players like those don’t like prima donnas who think the game revolves around them. Who, as soon as they get their hands on the ball crossing half court monopolize it. How many last second shots has Carmelo missed this season with the game on the line? When the chips are down in the fourth quarter, great players find a way to win.

Well here’s hoping good luck to the long suffering Knick fans. Hope it works out but I doubt it will.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

We Need A Re-Re-Set Button

Guess we need a re-re-set button now that apparently our president has exhausted all his promised flexibility with his good friend Vladimir Putin. From the very beginning this administration had all the trappings of the high school kids who take over the city council for a day and go through the motions of running the town until the grown ups  re-assume their rightful places. Unfortunately there aren’t any grown-ups  in the Obama administration who can step in and make things right.

Indeed they’ve been taken to school by Vlad and his merry regime. In the 2012 presidential debates President Obama ridiculed Mr. Romney for pointing out the grave dangers Russia and her expansionist oligarchs posed in the world. He was oblivious to  Romney's superior insight and said the former Massachusetts governor was  locked in a 1980’s time warp. The president’s naiveté  knows no bounds.

Obviously the administration wasn't prepared for the conflagration going on in the Ukraine. Just as they never seemed to be prepared for any unforeseen situation. They give new meaning to “ad hoc.” The administration’s cigar store Indian, dressed up as secretary of state seems equally inept  when he invokes phrases that the Russians are using anachronistic methods in the 21st century. Doesn’t seem to bother the Russians. They have  long coveted a warm weather port and now are on the verge of getting one in the Crimea and the Russian-speaking population there is siding with the aggressors.

The Oblivicrats: Reid, Pelosi, Wasserman Schulz will continue to see wisdom when the majority of Americans see ineptitude. Even many media outlets are distancing themselves from the president  because there’s still too much time left in his term and there is nothing positive in sight: the continued displeasure with Obamacare, the lethargic economy;  high unemployment, gas and food prices; no immigration reform. Indeed the administration seems more concerned about the sovereignty of the Ukraine than ours.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed as we eliminate one day at a time when the mid-term elections arrive next November and hope we can re-set our own course.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Kennedy Defense


“I’m very, very happy justice was served,” so said a jubilant Kerry Kennedy after a six-member jury handed down a not guilty verdict in her driving under the influence court case. Not much of a shocker. We have been conditioned to think there is no Kennedy on planet earth who can ever be held responsible for their own behavior. There seems to be extenuating circumstances that lurk everywhere like amateurish detectives when the Kennedy clan is involved.

A couple of years ago her brother was acquitted for an altercation with two nurses because they would not let him take his newborn son out of the hospital  for some fresh air. Her cousin William Smith was cleared of rape charges in 1992; her cousin Michael Skakel is awaiting a new trial for his conviction in the murder of Martha Moxley; her Uncle Ted had a little accident in Chappaquiddick in 1969. In 2006, her cousin Patrick, a Rhode Island congressman at the time was also found dazed and confused, though no charges were brought, when his car was involved in an accident at 2:45 A.M. in the Capitol. Again, like Kerry, a medical mix-up was the cause. You would think  educations  at prestigious universities  would enable them to discern  the differences between pill bottles and pills since pill popping seems to have replaced touch football as a Kennedy family  sport.

No one will believe Kerry was targeted because of her  family name, as her attorney claimed after the  acquittal.  If she was just an average single mom would she have been able to summon expert testimony to support her claim from a pharmacologist who had worked on the clinical trials for Ambien one of the drugs  allegedly taken in error. Would your average single mom engage the services of a top tier attorney. Would the average single mom have access to a propaganda machine extolling her virtues   as a globe-trotting activist superwoman?

To say she was targeted because of who she is, is absurd. The next time we hear  a similar case of a person slumped over the steering wheel of a car asleep after careening another vehicle, and leaving the scene, do you believe  the Kennedy defense  will stand up in that case?