Friday, June 12, 2009

First call

*Sarah Palin, likely the nation's single least qualified candidate for national office, is not going away. That much is clear from her recent media interviews, fund-raising appearances and, now, this ridiculous brouhaha with David Letterman, in which she is intellectually overmatched and is simply using to play to her hard right base. Yes, even Letterman acknowledges bad taste in a couple of his one-liners about Palin and family. But for her to invoke "statuatory rape" and insinuate it wouldn't be safe for her 14-year-old to be around him, is the kind of reactionary rhetoric that's helping to kill the Republican Party - sort of like calling a Supreme Court nominee a racist.

*I'm not big on movie remakes, particularly those based on films I've enjoyed. So I haven't been holding out much hope for "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3". For me, the 1974 Walter Matthau-Robert Shaw-Jerry Stiller-Hector Elizondo original is the gold standard New York City thriller. But I've read decent reviews in several papers this morning of the newDenzel Washington-John Travolta version. Negative notices would have kept me out of the theater. Now, I'm willing to give this remake a look.

*TV sports broadcasting technology is highly advanced, so much so that directors refuse to let one or two replays suffice when they have a half-dozen more queued up (even if the others don't provide any additional insight). But the single biggest waste of your time is the "pitch-by-pitch" replay of a baseball at-bat. I know the games are long and down time is such that TV has to come up with some movement in between live action. But as a baseball observer with a modicum of sophistication accumulated over a half-century of watching and reporting, I'm here to tell you that the "pitch-by-pitch" replays offer nothing to the telecasts.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Health care reform

The president has health care reform on his agenda, so let's brainstorm. No, not about all-access and affordability and other really important matters. I have something far less crucial to bring up. I do it tongue in cheek, but I'm betting it will be met with knowing nods of approval.

When I go to the doctor's office, here's who I want to see and here's who I want to see me: the receptionists, the nurses and the doctors. Nobody else.

I don't want to walk into the waiting room and be confronted with a sea of faces, some familiar, most not, all naturally concerned with their own well-being and not interested in seeing me, either. I want my privacy. They want theirs.

I don't like sitting in a common waiting area and overhearing the receptionist say to the woman at the desk, "Oh, you must be here for the pap smear." Too much information.

I don't want to be at a common treatment station and learn the complete medical history of the person to my right. Nor do I want them to hear mine.

Here's another thing: If you're getting treatment in a common area, no talking and no TV! Give me my book and IPod or let me nap. If you're accompanied by a friend or family member, hold hands. Peace and quiet are wonderful healing agents. Incessant, innocuous chatter is intrusive.

Mr. President, please consider all of the above in the fine print of your health care reform package.

Friday, June 5, 2009


*Mark Thursday, Oct. 22 on your calendar. That's the date of the annual Ulster County Chamber of Commerce-Ulster County Development Corp. Business Awards presentations at Wiltwyck Golf Club. It's always a classy affair, the Academy Awards of Ulster County business.

*I guess I was too kind in my negative assessment of Ulster County Legislature GOP Minority Leader Glenn Noonan. According to a quote from county Republican Chairman Mario Catalano in the Kingston Times , Noonan is an "idiot." Ouch!

*Isn't comparing Barack Obama with al-Qaida over the top, even for that gasbag Rush Limbaugh? And you thought Wanda Sykes' cracks about Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner went too far.

*Give my pal and colleague Alan Chartock a breather and fork up some dough to help end the WAMC Fund Drive. You know the number: 1-800-323-9262.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Still here

In and out of the office lately without much time to opine. Here are some quickies:

*Ulster County Republicans in his district spurned Legislature Minority Leader Glenn Noonan at their convention last night. He says a fix was perpetrated by unnamed political leaders and that he'll take his case to the voters in a primary. I don't know about any fixing, but I do know that if Noonan prevails and ultimately finds his way back to the Legislature, the GOP caucus would be wise to seek a more articulate spokesman as leader of the loyal minority.

*My respect for NBC News is diminishing. Promoting NBC programs on other NBC news broadcasts has reached epidemic proportions. All broadcasters and print outlets promote, some better than others. But running "NBC infomercials" as real news is too much.

*That said, the first part of Brian Williams' day at the White House last night made for interesting viewing. It was the "West Wing" series come to life. Part 2 airs tonight.

*More NBC: David Gregory is capable as host of "Meet the Press," but the late Tim Russert set the bar high, so the new program lacks the spark he generated. George Stephanapoulos on ABC has come on strong, and CBS' Bob Schieffer remains a solid alternative, too.

*One more on NBC: Conan O'Brien's version of "The Tonight Show" was creative on Night 1. Haven't caught up to last night yet. I'll take Conan over Jay Leno, but David Letterman on CBS remains the gold standard.

*Hard to read the minds of professional athletes. But even given the history of hit-by-pitches he cited, how could Mark Teixeira think Texas pitcher Vicente Padilla plunked on purpose last night when it loaded the bases with A-Rod coming up? Bring back the days of Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale decking Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. No injuries intended. Just a reminder not to get too comfortable in the batter's box. It's part of the game. (And in those days, batters didn't have to wear helmets.)