“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Paul Krugman: The Balloon, the Box and Health Care
Imagine a man who for some reason is determined to stuff a balloon into a box — a box that, aside from being the wrong shape, just isn’t big enough. He starts working at one corner, pushing the balloon into position. But then he realizes that the air he’s squeezed out at one end has caused the balloon to expand elsewhere. So he tries at the opposite corner, but this undoes his original work.
If he’s stupid or obsessive enough, he can spend a long time at this exercise, trying it from various different angles, and maybe even briefly convince himself that he’s making progress. But he’s kidding himself: No matter what he does, the balloon isn’t going to fit in that box.
Now you understand what’s happening to G.O.P. efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Eugene Robinson: The GOP’s latest health-care plan is comically bad
House Republicans are apparently ready for yet another attempt to snatch health insurance away from constituents who need it. Someone should remind Speaker Paul Ryan of a saying often attributed to his legendary predecessor Sam Rayburn: “There’s no education in the second kick of the mule.”
Having failed miserably to win passage of an abomination of a bill — the American Health Care Act — Ryan (R-Wis.) and his minions are back with something even worse. A draft framework being circulated this week would pretend to keep the parts of Obamacare that people like, but allow states to take these benefits away. We see what you’re doing, folks.
This is getting silly. What part of “forget it” do Republicans not understand?
John Nichols: Donald Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Initiative Is a Lie
There is a good argument to be made for so-called “Buy American” initiatives. Done right—as part of a national industrial policy that embraces smart regional development and fair-trade protections—they can play a real role in creating sustainable, long-term prosperity.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump is not doing it right. His combination of crude nationalism and failed conservative economic calculations makes “Buy American” into a bumpersticker slogan on the back of a truck that is hurtling toward the economic low road.
During Tuesday’s swing into the historic Midwestern manufacturing city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, Trump restated the promises of his 2016 campaign without really taking action. It was a full-on populist spectacle. The president even brought along White House “strategist” Steve Bannon—the master manipulator of messaging for the Trump campaign who, despite the “palace intrigue” gossip of the moment, remains the populist puppeteer in the Trump White House. The main act was Trump’s signing of a much-heralded “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.
But it was mostly theater. As with Trump’s campaign promises, the executive order is full of loopholes that are designed to protect Wall Street interests and multinational corporations—at the expense of American workers and communities. The biggest of those loopholes involves the fact that dozens of countries currently get waivers that allow them to avoid following “Buy American” policies.
“It just never ends,” says Donald Trump, referring to the shooting in Paris last night. He is right, but not as he means it. What never ends is the readiness of politicians to rush to publicise and thus enhance and promote terrorist incidents. Once again Islamic State’s useful idiots are turning a violent crime on a Paris street into a global event. French ministers are plunging into their bunker. French election candidates are cancelling their campaigns. The only sane response was from an early jogger in the Champs Élysées. Asked how she could be in such a place, she replied: “Why not? We continue as normal.”
Fat chance. The presumed intention of the now dead attacker was to deflect the news agenda on the eve of the first round of the French election. If he was clever, he was also hoping to boost the fortunes of the rightwinger Marine Le Pen, and thus incur a responsive militancy among the Muslim community. He will have been encouraged by the global publicity given to last month’s stabbing of a policeman in London. By far the greatest risk of similar acts disrupting Britain’s forthcoming election is how far we publicise and react to this one.
The Slims river in northern Canada gained infamy, not for its fishing or pristine waters, but for vanishing in a matter of four days in May 2016. This week we learned that it fell victim to “river piracy” – and climate change was almost certainly to blame.
The river – which stretched up to 150 meters at its widest points and averaged depths around three meters – lost its water source to another nearby river during a period of intense melting affecting one of Canada’s largest glaciers. As a result, the Slims was reduced to a trickle in less than a week.
We can now add river piracy to the growing list of unexpected, dramatic and tragic consequences of human-caused climate change. Although this is the first observed case of river piracy, it likely won’t be the last.