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 . . .

When Does Paranoia Become Realistic Fear — Trump and the Military

By James A. Kidney One challenge in this vicious, unsatisfying presidential campaign is for the average voter to separate legitimate worries about either candidate from paranoia. The Trump side of the campaign thus far has had more trouble keeping to boundaries of reason than Clinton supporters. Egged on by Fox News and Trump allies from Breitbart News, as well as the Rasputins of Clinton conspiracies, such as broadcaster Alex Jones, right wing bomb thrower Roger Stone (who, like Trump, learned nastiness from the late Roy Cohn) and David Bossie (author of, among other things, Hillary:  The Politics of Personal Destruction), the Trump camp is actively promoting long-time crazy notions such as that Clinton is responsible for the death of Arkansas state troopers and the suicide of White House aide Vince Foster.  They also are supplementing the oldies but goodies with newer tropes, such as that Clinton failed to protect U.S. … Read more of this post . . .

Savor the Moment, Oh Beautiful America

By James A. Kidney Whether you are a reluctant or die-hard supporter of Hillary Clinton, or even an increasingly rare “undecided” voter, take the weekend to savor the just-concluded Democratic convention.  Enjoy your own post-convention “bounce”.  Set aside your serious worries about the Republican candidate, though by-all-means enjoy the dark humor his candidacy has engendered.  If you think about presidential politics at all, be sunny.  If necessary, suspend your disbelief.  The hard and fearful events of the campaign will come again soon, if they have not already begun. Savor the warm recollections of our gorgeous First Lady and her thanks to the American people for providing love and confidence as she, her husband and two beautiful daughters weathered vicious attacks on their Americanism, heritage and hope from politicians and people who have not a flicker of their good spirit. Remember the vice president’s speech.  He knows the disappointments of life … Read more of this post . . .

Why I (Belatedly) Blew the Whistle on the SEC’s Failure to Properly Investigate Goldman Sachs

By James A. Kidney The New Yorker and Pro Publica websites today posted an article by Pro Publica’s Jesse Eisinger about the de minimis investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the conduct of Goldman Sachs in the sale of derivatives based on mortgage-backed securities during the run-up to the Great Recession of 2008.  The details of the SEC’s failure to aggressively pursue Goldman in the particular investigation, Abacus, and its refusal to investigate fully misconduct by Goldman and other “Too Big to Fail” banks, stands not only as a historic misstep by the SEC and its Division of Enforcement, but undermines the claim that the Obama Administration has been “tough on Wall Street.”  The Pro Publica version contains links to a few of the documents I provided. No one in authority who was involved in the Goldman investigation ever gave me an explanation for why the effort was so slight. … Read more of this post . . .

Money, Meritocracy and the Loss of Representative Political Parties

By James A. Kidney

Two recently published books which differ significantly in both quality and subject matter nevertheless make a strong case that both of our political parties have failed to serve the needs of the country’s citizens — and have been failing for a long, long time.

One book — well-researched and reported in ways that are rare today even for the most respected journals — shows how Republicans at every level of government, as well as many academic institutions, have been bought by a relative handful of the uber wealthy.  Dark Money (Doubleday, 2016, 380 pp. plus extensive notes and index), by Jane Mayer, a reporter for The New Yorker Magazine, also discloses how much of the money spent by highly conservative families and their companies on politics has been treated as deductible “contributions” — and therefore subsidized by you and me.  This is so even though the organizations they create and fund work hard to attack and defeat proposals contrary to their business interests.  In other words, it is tax deductible lobbying.

Listen Liberal coverListen Liberal, or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (Metropolitan Books, 2016, 257 pp. excluding notes and index), by Thomas Frank, takes Democrats to task for abandoning their traditional working class base in favor of an unrealistic and in some ways harmful devotion to meritocracy.  Frank, author of several political books and a columnist for Salon, does a good job pointing out how presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama selected policy makers from an extremely narrow range of backgrounds.  Thus, for example, Obama’s picks to run the economy came from the same Wall Street and Ivy League incubators as those selected by Clinton.

Frank’s main point, among many, is that these products of meritocracy have left behind in attitudes and policy many Americans unlikely to duplicate their histories of being born on third base or being fortunate enough, through good genes, responsible parenting, hard work and good grades, to lift themselves from poverty or the lower middle class to positions of power and affluence.  Many of the issues closest to the Democratic Party elite, therefore, reflect what is important in the lives of the policy makers, including the “glass ceiling” in big corporations, transgender rights (applicable to a miniscule part of the population) and other issues of identity politics.

Read more of this post . . .Money, Meritocracy and the Loss of Representative Political Parties

Why Hillary?

    By James A. Kidney            We can blame Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Establishment for the fact that Clinton’s only opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination is a 74-year-old Democratic Socialist instead of a younger liberal such as Elizabeth Warren.  Clinton (or, better, the Clintons) and her allies, of whom there are many among the Democratic elite, discouraged others in the party from running, either specifically and directly (“It’s Hillary’s turn.”) or more indirectly (“Hillary is the only one with the financial support to win against the GOP oligarchy.”)  Plus, of course, “There is a special place in Hell for women who don’t support women.” Coronation for Hillary.  Attractive alternatives were never heard from, much less nurtured for the future. But nobody thought about Bernie Sanders. As we predicted (Jan. 20 post, “The Week of the Long Knives”), the Democratic Establishment clubs dropped on … Read more of this post . . .

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