Leonard Zwelling

I have said it before and I will say it again, this country’s infatuation with firearms is deadly and unnecessary.

The latest evidence, the shooting at a baseball field in Virginia on Wednesday morning, June 14, created yet another frenzy of hand-wringing that will undoubtedly come to nothing with regard to legislation to limit the availability of firearms to citizens—criminal or non. The latest attack was on the Republican legislators who have summarily blocked any progress with regard to gun control, yet still I suspect no additional legislation to limit access of guns to people who would do harm with them will appear. Should all gun sales require background checks? Of course—even the ones at gun shows. Should ammunition be available on the internet? Of course not, but don’t count on that happening. Should people on the no-fly list be on the no-gun list? Of course. Will that occur? Not likely.

Since the shooting in Virginia much has been made of the fact that this may be the birth of a new era of bi-partisanship. This is being said while the Senate Republicans formulate a “mean” health care law behind closed doors. It is likely that the product of these secret negotiations will be harmful to many Americans who currently have health insurance. It will also likely be beneficial to the wealthy as tax breaks for them are almost certain to be part of any health reform legislation or tax reform legislation emanating from GOP-controlled houses of Congress.

The call for bi-partisanship is long overdue. Mr. Obama tried it in 2009. It was unsuccessful and for good reason. He might have meant it, but none of the Democrats on the Hill did. I was there. I saw the scorn with which the Democratic staff greeted their GOP counterparts. Mr. Obama was blowing smoke with his calls for conciliation and common purpose while doing everything within his power and that of his surrogates in Congress to muscle through legislation to their liking without GOP input.

My guess is that after Thursday night’s baseball game and the brief Kumbaya moment of red and blue togetherness, this too will pass and by the end of the week the GOP will be stuffing legislative language down the maws of the Senate Democrats to try to get a health reform bill out of the upper chamber before the July 4 recess. Count on the Senate forcing the House to go along with its bill to avoid a conference committee as well. Shades of 2010 and PelosiCare.

Closer to home, one has to wonder whether or not the naming of a new president at MD Anderson can bring together the so far opposing camps of the administration and the faculty. Like Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, the titular leaders of the org chart and the rank-and-file faculty have little common ground upon which to tread. Can a new president fix this? He or she can IF, he or she recognizes the validity of both faculty and bureaucrat and keeps one out of the realm of the other.

Let’s keep it simple. The administration works in service of the faculty not the other way around. The current leaders below the COO have never figured this out and thus need instant replacement, even before the president is named. The new leader can always name his or her own Provost and Chief Medical Officer, but for now, those positions would be better left vacant than filled by the incumbents. I suspect Hicks and Hahn can handle the day-to- day needs of the faculty without help from those two.

On both Capitol Hill and in the Pickens office tower, a realignment of the interests of those in power would be of benefit. I simply do not see it happening in DC. It could in Houston. It could. After all, the issues on Holcombe are not as volatile as gun control on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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