Double Dose: Two from
With a long involvement in all news media from print,
to radio, to television Mark Scheinbaum graciously enhances
JosephMind as part of its continuing 'Guest Columnist Series' ...
|INTRODUCTORY NOTES from JOSEPH
It would be some years ago when while having having dinner with friends
in London my ex-Mod, former swinging West Ender companions would become
inquisitive about my friends from American talk radio. This wouldnt
be quite as odd as one might otherwise consider
For this dining ensemble
was often fascinated with all things American and their interest
in The Media States, in particular, conjured the greatest of
I dutifully offered quick and abbreviated assessments, some of which spurred
laughter in my confessional moments. But when I turned to the overview of
Mark Scheinbaum, I distinctly remember my evaluation
There were talk hosts who used Mark as fodder as a subject of ridicule
for ridicule was both their medium and their principle content,
I said. But the actual truth of the matter is, as it relates to most
issues pertinent to this world, Mark has literally forgotten more than most
talk hosts collectively know.
Indeed, Mark had started as a newspaper copy boy in New York at age 11. This
would ultimately gravitate to becoming a newsman for United Press International
as well as securing a highly diverse resume that would also include
yes, a varied talk radio career inclusive of producing commentary,
syndicated on 230 radio stations
as well as a three year directorship
of The National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts. Now add a smattering
of ABC-TV Network News in New York. Mark would also contribute a series of
reports from Bosnia for CNN Radio.
He would additionally be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for investigative
reporting, rounded out by a Political Science Association award for his thesis,
Cuban Foreign Policy in the English-Speaking Caribbean, and an
SBA Media Advocate of the Year Award.
Graciously sharing his knowledge and experience with others, Mark would also
teach Political Science, US Foreign Policy, and The Role of The Press
in Foreign Policy Formulation. And, with all this, he also found the
time to be a top-flight investment analyst. Mark currently writes for The
as well as being Managing Director of LF Financial.
Theres some other shit I cant entirely remember on this day,
but Marks background nevertheless makes most peoples resumes
seem like a Post-It note
Moreover, Mark continues to possess a
journalistic quality, often now forgotten, as it's been more recently replaced
by ego and 'share': A genuine interest in the subject, whether one
would be reporting on it or not. A true and irrepressible intellectual curiosity,
With this, some time back, I asked Mark to pen a piece on the National Healthcare
debate that which would permeate the news in The States and has further
divided the same. But Mark would reply that he felt his ability to offer
an objective work on the subject would not be possible at this time
For Mark would now find himself involuntarily involved with healthcare and
the insurance industry on a very
personal level. As Mark filled me
in on the details, I well understood his reluctance and fully respected his
Three months would since pass and, on this day in my In-Box, I would be greeted
with two written manuscripts ... from Scheinbaum.
Perhaps Mark had come to realize that a lack of objectivity
didnt necessarily lead to erroneous conclusions by simple default.
Or maybe he ultimately recognized that ones personal involvement
with a subject offered the potential of insights more human ... and
less cold in the frigid, blue light of detached analysis. For the issue at
hand by its very nature is a personal one. Perhaps
Mark just needed to get past a specific line and reach a marker ...
In any or all events, Im honored to feature Mark as part of
JosephMinds Guest Columnist Series with two pieces,
Ignore Healthcare Reform ... Unless It's Yours
By Mark Scheinbaum
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK I wonder if a national health plan bordering on
socialism would be a slam dunk if Liberal democrats such as the late Ted
Kennedy had spun the issue so that departed Carolina conservative Senate
icons such as Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond could make it a
Ahem, Ahem now, the power structure of the current Broadway
revival of Finians Rainbow might tell the folks of mythical
Missitucky, We dont want none of that there pinko commie national
health care, just the same darned health and medical protection them fat
cats we bailed out on Wall Street all have for their younguns and
It seems as if serious health reform is someone elses problem, someone
elses issue, someone elses tragedy ... until it is yours.
Charity from a friend puts me in a brownstone in the upscale Park Slope section
of Brooklyn to recuperate from prostate cancer surgery this week at Memorial
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Deficient medical insurance such as mine in New Mexico where $700 plus a
month buys you perhaps a $10,000 deductible and $3,000 and 50% co-pay when
you are still three years too young for Medicare, hits you squarely in the
face with health choices.
Do what I did in a state where there was no bariatric surgeon certified in
the state to perform weight loss surgery which was mandatory precursor to
cancer surgery; and no Davinci laproscopic surgery machine until months after
Take your chances, literally allow watchful waiting with at least
two tumors, or go on hormone therapy with daily pills and quarterly
$1,900 shots. Ask nine urologists in two countries where they would go with
the same cancer and have eight of them tell you Sloan Kettering, and the
ninth would Go to M.D. Andersen in Houston, unless I had more time,
and then Id go to New York to Sloan Kettering.
So with a wife of 40-plus years who takes for better or worse
seriously and the real likelihood of literally losing the ranch because my
insurer changed my New York treatment from in network to out of
network coverage when a new machine was unveiled in Albuquerque after
I had already embarked on a course of treatment in New York, we go forward.
I think I will be able to pay my bills after working and scrimping since
age 11 starting as a copy boy at the New York World-Telegram and Sun. I also
think paying my bills will remove any remaining retirement funds, max out
all credit cards, and with the economic downturn actually flirt with foreclosure
and/or bankruptcy unless things pick up. I am not meeting my financial
obligations to an elderly mom, and not helping out struggling kids and grandkids.
Cest la vie.
Years ago when the Op Ed page of The New York Times published a dispatch
I wrote from Cuba, I remarked to friends that Cuban residents could not
understand parents needing to pay for child care or health care in order
to be secure in a job. Nothing has changed except millions of Americans have
lost their homes because other Americans believe promoters who tell them
its no one elses worry if a mom has to miss work or take an extra
job to pay for a kids ER bill after a soccer injury.
In Park Slope a metal canister with much less than a pound of coffee is $14.99.
Across from Methodist Hospital two burgers at Five Guys and a Coke are $14.10.
The small Breakstone's cottage cheese at Steves discount supermarket
is more than four bucks. And through it all, New Yorkers, New Mexicans and
everyone in between pay hundreds or thousands per month for coverage they
pray they will never need.
The pain after radical prostate surgery is like being in a knife fight which
you lost. One gains a new respect for drug addicts popping pain pills. But
after four days the pain has subsided and thoughts of did they get
it all?, recovery, resumed work, and facing the bills evolve to the
forefront of ones personal health care journey.
Is it really a luxury to guarantee a basic safety net for all Americans?
Does Boeing really and truly play on a level playing field with Airbus Industrie
when airlines bid on planes? Boeings planes include benefits packages
negotiated with, for, and by working people. Airbus low balls prices in a
work environment subsidized by half of the taxpayers of Western Europe.
As I think of this health care debate, I wonder if some of the captains of
Wall Street now scorned, the Guggenheims or an Admiral Josephthal would be
very proud of workers treatments. Cutting my investment teeth at the
end of the golden era of Josephthal & Co., I remember when true leaders
such as Michael DeMarco Sr. and Raymond Mando took care of employees.
Workers who helped the firm survive the Great Depression had a job with benefits
for life. Period.
As a young limited partner and director I learned of at least two cases when
employees children were accepted to medical school and the firm proudly
paid their tuitions.
A coronary attack which killed a worker resulted in $900+ complete physical
exams for all employees paid for by the firm.
Thanksgiving did not only mean a fresh turkey but a choice of an Empire Kosher
Turkey for Jewish workers. I wont even get into the gold plated Seth
Thomas mantel clocks on corporate anniversaries.
Yup, a single payer national universal health care system is pretty bad policy.
Except when it hits home.
- Mark Scheinbaum -
My Apology to Drug Addicts
by Mark Scheinbaum
NEW YORK Full disclosure requires the author to reveal he is currently
whacked out on drugs.
While longtime friends might wonder how this differs from my usual whacked
out state, this time the behavior is really special. It will cause me to
actually apologize to blowhard Rush Limbaugh, and numerous members of the
NBA, NFL and jazz quartets.
There seems to be a reason why people become drug addicts:
They are addicted.
Whoa, Nellie! Lets back this baby up to the loading dock a minute
As an old fart set in his ways, I now have three definitive, public apologies
for totally misguided pronouncements and philosophies for most of my life
as a citizen, parent, writer, and broadcaster, it shakes my self-confidence
a bit, but facts are facts. I was wrong about:
The NCAA and college athletes,
Boozehounds and barflies, and ...
The first one is easy. After debating the ills of college athletes who take
cars, and trips, and bribes from boosters I used to rant and rave that college
sports needs to produce educated genteel men of the world, all playing for
Fergettabout it. For about the last decade I have changed over to
the idea that college football and basketball are entertainment. Big time
stars produce money for schools and their public relations image. An athlete
should be signed to a school which becomes like a minor league team. If the
Lakers want to draft a freshman the school gets a piece of the take. Kids
get stipends and cars and insurance and the same perks a young executive
trainee would get. If we need a crumb to education, the student upon signing
gets a 30 year or lifetime ticket for a bachelors degree. They could
go to school after their sports career. Clear the air, call it what it is:
sports business, not education.
Alcohol addition attitudes changed for this observer when a zillion diets,
trainers, nutritionists, and warnings failed. It took bariatric surgery to
make me admit I was addicted to food, bad food, good food, all food. Especially
to carbs. To fast forward the catalyst for good behavior a surgeon gave me
the choice: You now have the stomach the size of the egg. Here is the
diet for the rest of your life. Your lifetime intake of alcoholic beverages,
carbonated beverages, and - in fact - any beverages with your meal is
zero. Shovel in the old crap and the nut-raisin Cadbury bars as usual and,
if youre lucky, youll puke, or gag, or have horrible pains, or
start hemorrhaging. If youre not particularly lucky youll just
die. So, follow the program now or die. The old way before surgery you would
just die of a stroke or a clot, or diabetes or something in a month or a
year or a decade. Play games now and youll probably cut the process
down to a few minutes or a few hours. Your choice, good luck, see you every
six months forever.
An alcoholic is never cured. A food addict is never cured. It
took not a family cozy, fuzzy intervention but a surgical
intervention to get me to realize that my addiction to food and concomitant
behavior has little different from a boozer. I thus make my mea culpa to
all people who regularly get bombed or blasted or call themselves
An apology to Rush Limbaugh is tougher. Recreational drugs for the wealthy,
or addictive drugs for the once healthy, seemed to call for tough love.
Dont tell me that a poor addict could buy three hundred or three
thousand pills a months.
Dont tell me that 20,000 pills in a month are just for
personal use, put these people in jail, I remember dictating
to a national radio audience, many of who agreed in their calls to the show.
Boy, was I wrong.
After big time surgery last week which made the bariatric procedure in January
seem like having a wart removed in comparison, I awoke with these instructions
from a Hungarian-born angel of mercy:
Weve loaded you up with some stuff for the pain, but if you need
more pain killers just press this button a few times.
She pressed the remote clicker into my palm, smiled, and left the room.
The little clicker made me happier than a kid handed the remote switch for
the Jumbotron screen at Yankee Stadium.
Through the night every few hours ... click, click, click ... drip, drip,
drip ... sleep, sleep, sleep. When another angel appeared late the next morning
and said, looks like you're feeling better and well remove the IV and
the button in about an hour, she kind of winked.
My hand-button coordination was accelerated in that hour.
Discharged from the hospital with a bag of drugs, I studied the one container
Hydrocodone / Acetaminophen 5mg-500mg
The Rx said to take one or two pills every four hours as needed but not to
take more than eight in one day ...
The first two days out of the hospital I took one pill before going to bed.
I did not take the sleeping pills they gave me. The next two days I took
Now keep in mind the bariatric surgery meant no aspirin, ever, even the
prophylactic heart healthy kind. In 9 months I, perhaps, have taken two Tylenol
or Advil for a pain or strain.
Around 4 AM, what I will politely call, well, er, catheter pain.
hit. No rearrangement of pillows or position helped. I took a pain pill,
no relief. About an hour later I took another pain pill. Things started feeling
better, so three hours later I took two more, and now feel totally calm,
relaxed and pain free.
I dont mean to be a smart ass or poetically cute, but apparently the
main trouble with drugs and addiction is that the good stuff that works is
both addictive and tolerated fairly well. In booze terms, the Bourbon Old
Fashioned quickly gives way to throwing down double shots of Jim Beam.
The website, AddictionSearch, (what else would you go to?) says:
The major concern with the use of Oxycodone and its derivatives is tolerance
and physical dependence which can occur after several weeks to months of
use. Oxycodone has almost similar effects to morphine, and thus appeals to
the same community who abuse morphine and heroin. Reports of pharmacies being
broken in for Oxycodone are not uncommon.
My closest friend who, through many a year of serious study and hard work
in that direction, has become my expert on street scum, beach bums, and sleaze
balls. He pooh-poohs my pills and says the stuff the hospital gave me is
the mild form and not that strong" ... "The really good
stuff could fetch $80 a pill on the street", he says. "Your stuff is just
jacked up Tylenol.
Okay, thats actually making my point.
Joe Blow who is addicted to nothing more than White Castle and any form of
legal sex, is in a car wreck. Or he trips on the ski slope. Or he forgets
to bend his knees lifting the rebuilt InterState battery into his truck.
Or he gets out of his car the wrong way and twists his spine. Or he wakes
up one morning and every bone in his body hurts and the doctors say,
Ummmmm we all concur, it is nonspecific, take four of these daily
as they scribble on the Rx pad.
Rush, you are a big guy. Almost as big as I was last year. Could the pills
that allowed you to function at four a day today require fourteen a day next
week? Or four an hour next month? I dont know, Im not a
pharmacologist and I dont play one on TV. Yet I surely think it is
more plausible than I did a few months ago.
When people are in pain but still need and want to function or earn a living,
or make excuses for their real problems, things that work for them become
So, to the NFL draft pick who never finished college and cant read
the ?Wendys menu; to the social drinker who picks up a case of Tecate
every night enroute home, and to Rush Limbaugh
- Mark Scheinbaum -
Epilogue: Mark, now out of Sloan Kettering,
tells me that the pathologist reports absolutely no indication that
the cancer escaped the prostrate or has, in any way, metastasized.
- Joseph -