While we wait for the Royals to resume their “win-now” season, there’s a lot of news to distract us.
I’m talking about news that all of us need to know, but which we’re not getting from The Star because it has blinders on to just about anything that isn’t local and isn’t produced by its parent chain, McClatchy Newspapers.
With the gloom and rain this morning, I had plenty of time to read Monday’s New York Times, and I want to call your attention to several interesting stories, none of which you would know about if you were reading The Star.
:: Because Congress is so polarized the Affordable Care Act probably won’t be getting needed amendments.
The lead story in today’s NYT, written Jonathan Weisman and Robert Pear, said that virtually no law “as sprawling and consequential” as the Affordable Care Act has passed without changes known as “technical corrections,” aimed at making sweeping laws more manageable. Not so with the Affordable Care Act, Weisman and Pear said.
“Republicans simply want to see the entire law go away and will not take part in adjusting it,” the reporters wrote. “Democrats are petrified of reopening a politically charged law that threatens to derail careers as the Republicans once again seize on it before an election year.
“As a result a landmark law that almost everyone agrees has flaws is likely to take effect unchanged.”
:: An aide who has totally gained President Obama’s ear during just the last three years is White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, 42.
Among other things, Obama relies on her for advice on judicial nominations, and she coordinated his response to the Boston Marathon bombings.
An inside-the-A-section story by Jackie Calmes said that Ruemmler helped shape the major speech that Obama gave last Thursday, announcing new limits on the use of armed drones and asserting again that he wanted to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
When Obama went to Boston after the bombings in mid-April, Ruemmler went along at Obama’s request. “She came with us because there was information coming in, and he wanted one filter,” an Obama deputy chief of staff was quoted as saying. “He wanted Kathy.”
:: A dangerously wide gap has formed between the American people and their armed forces.
An Op-Ed piece by Karl W. Eikenberry, a retired Army lieutenant general, and David M. Kennedy, a retired history professor, said that the gap began forming after the government’s decision 40 years ago to drop the draft and go to a professional, all-volunteer force.
“For nearly two generations,” Eikenberry and Kennedy said, “No American has been obligated to join up, and few do. Less than .5 percent of the population serves in the armed forces, compared with more than 12 percent during World War II.”
The two men contend that “somehow, soldier and citizen must once again be brought to stand side by side.”
They suggest reinstating a draft lottery: “Americans neither need nor want a vast conscript force, but a lottery that populated part of the ranks with draftees would reintroduce the notion of service as civic obligation.”
:: Houston officials are considering razing the Astrodome, nicknamed the Eighth Wonder of the World after it opened in 1965.
The reason? To provide 1,600 parking spaces for the 2017 Super Bowl, to which Houston recently won the rights.
Jere Longman, a native of southern Louisiana, wrote a first-person story about the Astrodome and its lasting importance to Houston. Demolishing the Astrodome, he wrote, would be a desecration.
“Demolition would be a failure of civic imagination, a betrayal of Houston’s greatness as a city of swaggering ambition, of dreamers who dispensed with zoning laws and any restraint on possibility.”
Longman said that despite the signs of neglect (it was closed in 2008), the Astrodome “continues to summon a city’s innovative past and futuristic promise.”
“By contrast,” Longman said, “Reliant Stadium next door is a dull football arena, designed with all the imagination of a hangar to park a blimp.”
:: This last one might not qualify as “need-to-know” news, but it sure caught my attention.
Staff member Sam Roberts reported that officials with New York hospitals are expecting an upswing in births in late July and early August — nine months after residents stranded in their homes without electricity. You get the picture, don’t you: People had a lot of time on their hands, and a lot couples reached out, literally, to each other.
One couple that is expecting is 34-year-old Rachel DeGregorio, who has a doctoral degree in neuroscience, and her 33-year-old husband Scott, a radiologist. A baby boy, whom they plan to name Jack, is due July 24.
“I have documented the day Jack was conceived,” Rachel was quoted as saying. “We had sex three times.”
All I can say to that is that for just one day I’d like to be 33 again and have a horny girlfriend during a power outage.
P.S. At this writing, shortly after 11 pm. Monday, I see on kansascity.com that Star sports columnist Sam Mellinger has awakened from his long spring nap.
After virtually ignoring the Royals’ three-week-long, downward spiral, Mellinger tonight posted a column (which will be in the morning’s printed edition), saying, “Someone’s got to go.”
He says, among other things:
“The personalities best equipped for leadership may be (Jeff) Francoeur and (Mike) Moustakas, but each have been bad enough that they’re part of the discussion about what needs to change. Along with those two, hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David, (Manager Ned) Yost and Chris Getz could all be sacrifices in an effort to refocus a group that shouldn’t be nearly this bad. If things don’t improve, it won’t be long before owner David Glass looks at (General Manager Dayton) Moore.”
Sam’s in there with too little too late, but at least he — unlike a lot of the sports radio talk-show hosts — has called for heads to roll.
Best analogy I can think of is that when a machine stops working properly, you change out some of the parts to try to get it running pretty well again. You don’t let it continue to go clunk, clunk, clunk.