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: Self-Inflicted Medical Misery
Red America’s homemade rural health crisis.
Over the weekend The Washington Post published a heart-rending description of a pop-up medical clinic in Cleveland, Tenn. — a temporary installation providing free care for two days on a first-come-first-served basis. Hundreds of people showed up many hours before the clinic opened, because rural America is suffering from a severe crisis of health care availability, with hospitals closing and doctors leaving.
Since the focus of the report was on personal experience, not policy, it’s understandable that the article mentioned only in passing the fact that Tennessee is one of the 14 states that still refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. So I’m not sure how many readers grasped the reality that America’s rural health care crisis is largely — not entirely, but largely — a direct result of political decisions.
The simple fact is that the Republicans who run Tennessee and other “non-expansion” states have chosen to inflict misery on many of their constituents, rural residents in particular. And it’s not even about money: The federal government would have paid for Medicaid expansion.
So if rural America is suffering, a large part of the explanation is gratuitous political cruelty. This cruelty has denied health insurance to millions who could have had it with a stroke of the pen. And rural hospitals are closing, rural doctors leaving, in large part because people can’t afford to pay for care.
Eugene Robinson: This is the reality of Trump’s America
He panders to his base by cruelly treating brown-skinned migrant children like subhumans.
President Trump’s immigration policy has crossed the line from gratuitous cruelty to flat-out sadism. Perhaps he enjoys seeing innocent children warehoused in filth and squalor. Perhaps he thinks that’s what America is all about. Is he right, Trump supporters? Is he right, Republicans in Congress? Is this what you want?
A team of lawyers, tasked with monitoring the administration’s compliance with a consent decree on the treatment of migrant children, managed to gain access to a Customs and Border Protection detention center in Clint, Tex., last week. The lawyers were not allowed to tour the facility but were able to interview more than 50 of the estimated 350 children being held there. [..]
Dolly Lucio Sevier, a physician who was able to assess 39 children at a different detention facility in McAllen, Tex., described conditions there as including “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food,” according to a document obtained by ABC News.
“The conditions within which they are held could be compared to torture facilities,” Lucio Sevier wrote.
Trump and Vice President Pence responded with lies (blaming the Obama administration), deflection (blaming Democrats in Congress) and lots of oleaginous faux concern. But this is a humanitarian crisis of Trump’s making. A president who panders to his base by seizing billions of dollars from other programs to build a “big, beautiful wall” also panders to his base by cruelly treating brown-skinned migrant children like subhumans.
Do not look away. This is the reality of Trump’s America. Deal with it.
Michelle Goldberg: Joe Biden Doesn’t Look So Electable in Person
He may be a likable white man, but his performance on the trail doesn’t inspire confidence.
On Saturday, Joe Biden was one of 20 presidential candidates to speak at a Planned Parenthood forum in Columbia, S.C., held right next door to the state’s Democratic convention. It was just a couple of weeks after he’d reversed his longtime support for the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortion. One of the moderators asked him what he’d say to pro-choice voters who have concerns about his mixed record on the issue.
This was part of his answer: “The fact of the matter is that we’re in a situation where mortality rate for poor women and black women, here in this state, 26.5 percent of the, 24, 25.6 people, who of 100,000 who need, who end up dying as a consequence of birth, it’s absolutely absurd.” (He was referring to South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate, which is 26.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.)
Seeing Biden on the stump often feels like watching an actor who can’t quite remember his lines. Even if you don’t support him, it’s hard not to feel anxious on his behalf.
Catherine Rampell: We should be concerned about emails in 2020 — just not Hillary Clinton’s
Messages between a GOP strategist and a Census Bureau official make clear the politics and bias behind the proposed citizenship census question.
President Trump would like to make someone’s email a central issue in the 2020 election, just as it was in 2016.
I’m on board — though I disagree with which someone we’re talking about.
We should be laser-focused on newly discovered private emails between a high-ranking census official and a GOP operative, and what they reveal about a long-term Republican conspiracy to rip political representation and financial resources from Democrats and people of color.
Thanks to recent court filings, we’ve learned that the late Thomas Hofeller, a Republican strategist and gerrymandering savant, helped devise a scheme to rig the political system in favor of his party for years, perhaps decades. The plan hinged on an innocuous-sounding addition to the decennial census — a new question about citizenship. [..]
And then, in another recent court filing, plaintiffs challenging the citizenship question dropped another bombshell: Hofeller had been emailing with Christa Jones, now the chief of staff to the deputy director at census. For years.
The messages show that Jones, while a census employee, communicated with Hofeller from both her government email and a separate private account about census-related and redistricting issues since at least 2010. (So much for that pro-Obama deep state.) At one point, shortly before the 2015 study was done, she specifically flagged a Federal Register notice for comment on the Census Bureau’s 2015 Content Test, saying that it could “be an opportunity to mention citizenship.”
Jones and Hofeller were also on emails discussing redistricting with other GOP operatives.
Carroll Muffett: The Earth’s climate is paying for our addiction to plastic
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle releases harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating
Plastics are among the most ubiquitous materials in our economy, our lives, and our environment. They are also among the most pervasive and persistent pollutants on Earth.
In recent years, stark images of beaches, waterways, and wildlife filled with plastic have spurred demands for action to address plastic pollution. These calls are coupled with growing concern that plastic and its toxic additives pose serious risks to human health at every stage of the plastic lifecycle. Far less attention has been paid to the impacts of this same lifecycle on the earth’s climate. This is a dangerous oversight. [..]
Whether measured by its impacts on the climate, environment, or human health, the rising flood of disposable plastic creates risks humanity can no longer accept.
Just as the roots of the climate and plastic crises are interlinked, so too are their solutions. Simply put, it’s time to break free from plastic. We must end the production of single-use, disposable plastic, stop the development of new oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure, and accelerate the transition to sustainable, circular economies and zero-waste communities.