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New York Times: Don’t Abandon The Barricades of Serious Journalism!

By James A. Kidney [Ed note:  The New York Times plans to lay off hundreds of copy editors, a sign of financial pressure and a management strategy to beef up digital resources — they say.  The Times also eliminated its Public Editor — the person who entertained reader complaints about reporting and posted occasional columns assessing the Times reporting, sometimes critically.  In its place, the Times is offering up something called the Reader Center to receive comments on these changes.  You can send your comment to readercenter@nytimes.com.  Here is our comment (edited somewhat) sent to the executive editor through the Reader Center email site.] Dear Mr. Baquet, I am a nearly life-long subscriber to The Times (lately, the digital version), a former reporter (UPI, U.S. News) turned lawyer.  I  was married for 38 years to the late Sara Fritz, who I believe you knew from your LA Times days.  So … Read more of this post . . .

A Washington Battle In Which We Are All Winners

By James A. Kidney There is a battle going on in Washington.  No, not health care. Not Democrats and Republicans, either; at least, not the current crop.  It is being fought at two corners of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street, N.W.  It is a battle in which we all are winners. I am speaking of the “battle” between the newly energized Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the nine-month-old Smithsonian Museum of African-American History and Culture.  Don’t let anyone tell you there is not competition among the Smithsonians in Washington.  As a volunteer at both of the aforementioned, I can assure you that, although it is friendly, these museums across 14th Street from each other know they are competing.   It is a grand contest. African-American opened last September with a speech from President Obama and has been pretty much packed ever since — deservedly so.  It is a wonderful … Read more of this post . . .

A Parable for Our Times

  By James A. Kidney I finally decided to buy a new car the other day.  Wow, it is a cumbersome and annoying process.  At the end, I was feeling helpless and victimized, and with no new car. Of course, as with everyone, I first went to the two dominant car dealerships — Regal and Demos.  It was easy to get to them on Metro.  They both have huge, bright dealerships on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.  The salesmen are very cheerful and upbeat, except if you walk out the door without buying a car.  Then you get some flak.  But the dealerships seem to promise all you would ever want in a car. That was the promise, but not the reality.  At Regal, there were only two colors — white and green.  The green was full of special features — satellite radio and tv, and … Read more of this post . . .

What All the Health Plans Are Missing — Doctors!

By James A. Kidney What if you needed a doctor and there was none?  What if you suspected you had cancer, or suffered a stroke, or had a bad lingering cough, and your doctor could only see you in six or seven weeks? For many, whether you have a good insurance plan or no plan at all, this is the case now. A 2014 study reported the average wait time for an appointment with a family physician was 66 days in Boston, 23 in Seattle, 26 in New York and 19 in Houston. A combination of doctor shortage, overwork and low pay for Medicare and Medicaid patients is driving the growth of “concierge care” in which you pay an annual fee to guarantee you talk to a doctor when you need one.  It is creating a multiple-tier system of care in which many physicians reject Medicare patients, or even all … Read more of this post . . .

Can’t Anyone Govern Around Here? (Apologies to Casey Stengel)

By James A. Kidney  “Govern” is a six letter word, but it is treated as a four letter word in Washington, D.C. A strong case can be made that there has been no governance on domestic issues since Newt Gingrich  promoted the “contract with America” back in 1994, turning up the flames on political partisanship.  It is certainly the case that neither party has done much to govern the nation domestically since Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial later in the ’90s.  (Adding pharmaceutical benefits to Medicare and passing Obamacare, both of which had serious defects, are the two major exceptions.) Neither Democrats nor Republicans are interested in governing.  Only in getting elected.  Then the focus is on the next election. Republicans have proven this point for their party. They were in control of Congress beginning in January 2011. They criticized everything President Obama did or tried to do for six years, and … Read more of this post . . .

Deconstructing Bannon’s Baloney

  By James A. Kidney Presidential Rasputin Steve Bannon called for “deconstructing the administrative state” at a convention of those-who-used-to-be-known-as-Reagan-conservatives-but-are-now-just-Trump-nuts Thursday at the new MGM gambling palace in Maryland. “Deconstructing the administrative state” echoes Lenin after a couple bottles of vodka screaming in Red Square, or maybe just a long-haired 19-year-old outside the 1968 Democratic convention. It is both threatening and laughably cracked. The phrase probably is just a word pudding for the old Republican oligarch’s favorite book, A Treasury of Economic Nonsense, a political Kama Sutra coauthored during a fevered coupling of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. These are the erotic (to Republicans) positions that cause enthusiastic ejaculations by Paul Ryan – no taxes, no rules, no government, except to buy military equipment and to protect patents. Give Bannon credit for PR. “Deconstructing administrative excess” certainly is gentler sounding than “gutting the government.” Once you are accustomed to the … Read more of this post . . .

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