THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: ‘I coulda’ been a contender’

A LOT HAS TO DO with circumstances, luck and timing. Hillary Clinton could have been president, but for a phony, lying, despicable jerk who came along at the right time and conned a lot of people who were unhappy with what might be called the American malaise. Of course, Hillary got the most votes by a lot, but the one-time television huckster got lucky because of the way our electoral rules are structured. Ironically, the man who will always claim that the American electoral system is rigged has done everything in his power to make that happen.

In any case, we recently heard that New York State Attorney General Letitia James has dropped out of the race for governor. In my opinion, that is too bad because she has shown herself to be a top drawer AG. I suspect that had Andrew Cuomo not resigned, James would have ended up as the state’s governor, just as two former attorneys general (Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer) who preceded her did. But no, that’s not the way it happened. Seeing her accession to the top job foiled by Hochul’s becoming governor, she jumped into the race, maybe waiting just a bit too long. Then a series of polls came out, predicting that Kathy Hochul would trounce Letitia James in the coming primary.

We know that a lot of centrist Democrats and even Republicans in New York were wildly behind Hochul. After the inevitable unhappiness following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation, New Yorkers were looking for some political peace. They needed a rest and with Hochul, they got it. A whole bunch of Democratic and Republican political people got together and made it clear that Hochul was the new hope. I called the new governor “competent” and I heard from one senior and impressive business leader that the word “competent” was a put down. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: What’s a brother to do?

I KEEP WONDERING what Papa Cuomo is thinking as he floats up there among the clouds. Both of his boys have been subjected to terrible epithets by their enemies. Andrew got his because he is and always has been a bully and that finally caught up with him. His brother, Chris, seems to be a nice guy who people instinctively liked.

Andrew was accused of doing things that people in the public eye are not supposed to do, with sex at the top of that list. He is also being investigated by the feds and the legislature for possibly not telling the truth about hospital admissions and nursing homes deaths at the onset of the Covid pandemic. It seems to me that Christopher is being tarred for having been born a brother to an important person, stepping beyond journalistic boundaries by giving his brother advice and then, maybe, lying to his bosses at CNN about having done so. I guess that must rank pretty high in the in the statute book, somewhere near “murder.” Look, when your political enemies come after you, they Really come after you. I’ll bet a lot of politicians are shaking in their shoes for having given or taken advice from people associated with the press. Maybe a few of them are worried about having been involved in inappropriate touching.

It could be that CNN and its chief, Jeff Zucker, didn’t have much of a choice. They were taking it on the chin from all of their news rivals. The incoming was so brutal that they gave up defending the younger Cuomo brother and instead, fired him. Don’t cry too hard, though—Chris and his family will not starve. CNN will make its way forward. But this has to be a tough time for the Cuomo clan. Andrew must be crying in his beer. I keep wondering what happened to the now famous $5 million-plus book deal. At the center of that deal was a boast about all of his accomplishments when he so favorably occupied the public eye. Let’s try to remember all of those months when Cuomo would appear on CNN practically every day, acting as the heroic and sensible alternative to Trump. If you think about it, the disappearance of Trump may have been the worst thing for Andrew. The former governor went from being a knight of the roundtable to a thug. Read more…

KNOW THE VAX FAX: Omicron—the great unknown

The Omicron variant has me worried. I’ll be honest—Covid has terrified me from the start. I wasn’t worried so much about me as I was about my team. I was an oncologist for 35 years (six of those locally after moving to Columbia County) before I became a hospice physician. By a quirk of fate, when the pandemic started I was recovering from chemotherapy for cancer (I am now happily in complete remission). My treatment included a drug that suppresses the immune system, but I had completed it more than 6 months earlier, so I knew my immune system was back to normal (or so I kept reassuring myself). I started work a few weeks earlier than I had planned, when I found out that one of my colleagues had a fever and, sure enough, tested positive for Covid-19 (he was able to return to work without requiring hospitalization).

Fortunately, my duties allowed me to work completely from home, but the nurses and aides were out there every day visiting patients and families in their homes, nursing homes and hospitals. I listened to stories about their patients. It sounded like every other patient had Covid—I was concerned for the patients and my team! The nurses and aides are wonderful people doing so much good. I felt guilty that I was safe at home. It was such a relief when the vaccines were finally approved.

And then came the Delta variant. After vaccination, I was finally feeling safe enough to consider going to a restaurant, and Delta pulled me up short. Who was I kidding? That virus was still running around. I just got over cancer treatment. I could have a recurrence. But I was relatively safe—what about my former cancer patients? How were they feeling? Many of them still had weakened immune systems, either from their cancer or their treatment. After vaccination they might not be able to make the antibodies needed to protect against Covid. And their disease put them at high risk. They must really be frightened

Now Omicron. Is it worse than Delta or just a scare? We’ll probably know in a few weeks. In the meantime, we have to be considerate by wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. But I can’t stop worrying about all those patients at risk for whom getting a vaccine themselves might not be enough. They need everyone else to get vaccinated to protect them. Imagine surviving cancer and dying from Covid because someone else didn’t realize that they need to get a vaccine to protect others? That’s a tragedy.

Covid is bad enough. Cancer is bad enough. Let’s all protect each other to prevent tragedies. Let’s all get vaccinated and boosted. We owe it to each other.

Carl Atkins, MD

East Chatham