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 . . .

Oh, The Secrets We Keep!

government-cloak-of-secrecy-open-governmentBy James A. Kidney

              While media focus was on Donald Trump and terrorism, there was little notice of a new report by the Department of Agriculture, citing new studies from the Center for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, affirming that there is no scientific evidence to support claims that genetically modified produce and meats cause any harm.  To the contrary, the report said, genetic modification will produce great benefits to health and increase substantially the food supply, leading to lower prices.  “A real win-win,” the report concluded.

The reaction from organizations and members of Congress opposing genetically modified organisms (“GMOs”) was immediate.  The Institute for Responsible Technology stated that the research “had to have been bought and paid for by Big Agra.”  The Non-GMO Project demanded an inquiry into the Agriculture report and the sources it relied upon.  Four liberal Democratic senators demanded that the Senate Agriculture Committee issue subpoenas for all information related to the reports and studies.  “We want to see everything,” said Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Committee.

OOOPS.  Fooled ya.

There is no such report from the Department of Agriculture.  But is there any doubt that had one been issued, the reaction from those opposed to GMOs would be as described above?  Instead, we have a leading troglodyte of the Republican Party seeking evidence to contest a study issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) disputing claims published elsewhere that the rate of global warning has slowed in the last few years. Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology and a climate science denier, launched the investigation and issued a subpoena for basically “everything” related to the NOAA study.

NOAA, every science organization you can name and the editorial page of The New York Times lambasted Smith for seeking emails and other records of scientists and bureaucrats paid by the taxpayer to ascertain whether the NOAA report was biased in favor of climate change advocacy.

Read more of this post . . .Oh, The Secrets We Keep!

Meaningless “Debates” Over Nothing — Else the GOP’s Sponsors Would Be Exposed

By James A. Kidney

America is in serious trouble.  It is breaking apart at the seams.  There is no consensus between the progressives and the conservatives on nearly any issue.  Although the blue states contain more voters of a progressive or liberal bent than conservatives, and constitute a plurality of the population, the constitutional structure of the Senate insures that the red states, with an average of 80 people per square mile, will be able to block legislation favored by blue states, with five times the population per square mile and squarely different issues at stake.  But no one will debate these issues.

Tuesday night’s Republican debate will contain no real surprises of substance, only the possibility of a second gop debate cartoongaffe here or there which probably will be treated by the GOP “base” as a one-finger salute to the political leadership.  It doesn’t really matter if each WSJ/Fox News panelist is a model of Edward R. Murrow or Chris Rock (there have been both in the past).  Good questioners grounded in facts will still lack the tools of corporal punishment required to make the candidates actually answer good questions.  There oughta’ be a law at least permitting a cream pie in the face to candidates who just run to their prepared text or “answer” by attacking the questioner.  Still, one hopes for better questions, so that at least those not part of the brainwashed base can more easily defend them in the inevitable finger-pointing aftermath of Wednesday morning.

In any event, the Big Lie is the foundation of the Republican Party philosophy, whether expressed by outliers such as Ted Cruz or Establishment figures such as Jeb Bush.  That lie is that Business, including or especially Big Business, will be the nation’s savior if only Government would get out of the way and taxes were cut for everyone, but especially the wealthy.  It is imperative to the GOP that the Lie not be exposed or even recognized as such.

Let’s see how just the events of the last couple of weeks have tended to show what happens when we rely on businessmen to be responsible for the future of the Republic.

  • Pfizer Pharmaceutical, best known for the drugs Lipitor, Viagra and Zoloft, and non-prescription products Advil, Centrum and ChapStick, is trying for a third time to merge with a nominally “foreign” corporation, Allergan, to take advantage of Ireland’s corporate tax breaks. News of the proposed acquisition of Allergen for this purpose came on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that third quarter 2015 revenues increased 4 percent on a standalone basis and totaled $12.1 billion, including a recent acquisition.  Net income was $2.1 billion, or 17 percent of revenue.  R&D expenses for the quarter were $1.7 billion, or 14 percent of total revenue. In other words, Pfizer is hugely profitable but still spends less on R&D than it receives in net revenue. But Pfizer is a leader in crying how unfairly it is taxed.  The company estimated that its effective tax rate on adjusted income for 2015 would be “approximately 25%.”  This is well under the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent in the U.S., but far less than the 12 percent Pfizer would pay in Ireland.  According to Americans for Tax Fairness, Pfizer paid no U.S. income taxes from 2010 to 2012 while earning $43 billion worldwide.  Instead, it received $2.2 billion in federal tax refunds. For some reason, Pfizer believes federal tax treatment is still unfair.

Read more of this post . . .Meaningless “Debates” Over Nothing — Else the GOP’s Sponsors Would Be Exposed

The War on Wood

From The Congressional Record, March 8, 1820, p. 42, Proceedings of the United States Senate

            Presiding Officer: The chair will recognize the distinguished senator from Kentucky, Micah McConnell.

Sen. McConnell: Thank you, Senator. I wish to spend a few moments on the issue which is most momentous to my constituents and which requires the intervention of this body and our brothers in the House. I mean, of course, the War on Wood. 

Read more of this post . . .The War on Wood

%d bloggers like this: