5 x 8: Killing health care

1) BREAKING GOVERNMENT

Months before the heart of the new health care law was to take effect, another in a long line of GOP attempts to kill it percolated in the last few days. But this one might work. Republicans are now threatening to shut down the government if the health care law isn’t defunded.

The move comes as a new poll in the Washington Post shows moderate Democrats are walking away from the law.

“The best way to get the juices of that right-wing electorate and activist group going is to attack Obamacare – make everything that happens look awful and voters will rebel against it,” said Norman Ornstein, an expert on congressional politics at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, tells Reuters. “It’s a belief that if they highlight this, and sabotage it as much as they can, and if it’s disruptive, that that will work for them in the mid-terms.”

Ornstein, writing in the National Journal, calls the move “contemptible.”

When a law is enacted, representatives who opposed it have some choices (which are not mutually exclusive). They can try to repeal it, which is perfectly acceptable — unless it becomes an effort at grandstanding so overdone that it detracts from other basic responsibilities of governing. They can try to amend it to make it work better—not just perfectly acceptable but desirable, if the goal is to improve a cumbersome law to work better for the betterment of the society and its people.

They can strive to make sure that the law does the most for Americans it is intended to serve, including their own constituents, while doing the least damage to the society and the economy. Or they can step aside and leave the burden of implementation to those who supported the law and got it enacted in the first place.

But to do everything possible to undercut and destroy its implementation—which in this case means finding ways to deny coverage to many who lack any health insurance; to keep millions who might be able to get better and cheaper coverage in the dark about their new options; to create disruption for the health providers who are trying to implement the law, including insurers, hospitals, and physicians; to threaten the even greater disruption via a government shutdown or breach of the debt limit in order to blackmail the president into abandoning the law; and to hope to benefit politically from all the resulting turmoil—is simply unacceptable, even contemptible.

One might expect this kind of behavior from a few grenade-throwing firebrands. That the effort is spearheaded by the Republican leaders of the House and Senate—even if Speaker John Boehner is motivated by fear of his caucus, and McConnell and Cornyn by fear of Kentucky and Texas Republican activists—takes one’s breath away.

Related: Health care overhaul has Minnesota counties scrambling (MPR).

2) IS IT HOT IN HERE?

There’s no longer any question that the Earth will warm considerably by the end of this century. The only questions now are how much will it warm and  how will our landscape be different.

NASA this week released new data showing that even if carbon emissions don’t double, the average temperature will rise by 4.5 degrees. And if it does double, by 8 degrees. That would put the average high temperature for Minnesota in July at 92. It also would mean the average winter temperature — even in the depths of January — would be above freezing.

Who’s primarily responsible for this, LiveScience notes? You are:

The average American emits about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year, according to climate scientist Michael Mann at Penn State University, who was not involved in the assessment.

“If you condensed all of that gas into solid form and placed it on a scale it would weigh the same as two large male African elephants,” Mann told LiveScience. “That’s the huge mass of carbon that each of us is, on average, putting into the atmosphere.”

For comparison, Mann noted that the average emissions across the entire world are closer to 4 metric tons, which amount to the size of one baby elephant.

“If each of us could reduce our annual emissions to a small baby elephant, we’d go a long way towards making the cuts we need to stabilize carbon dioxide below dangerous levels,” Mann said.

And in the Midwest, the carbon dioxide emissions are 20 percent higher than the national average.

A draft of the national climate group’s paper on the subject says CO2 fertilization will increase soybean yield (two-thirds of land in the Midwest is farmland), but that’ll be a short-term thing. The corn crop will continue to wither.

3) CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE MARSHALL COUNTY KIND

It’s a big week for the Marshall County Historical Society Museum in Warren, Minn. It’s county fair week when attendance swells to over 5,000 people, the Fargo Forum says. They’re there to see the artifact from the 1979 UFO encounter — a police cruiser.

The patrol car left skid marks of 800 feet … Johnson suffered “welder-type” burns to his eyes from bright lights … the car’s two antennas bent, one at a 90-degree angle, one at 45 degrees … both the patrol car’s clock and Johnson’s watch stopped for 14 minutes … Johnson remembered nothing during a 40-minute time period … the windshield was cracked, but the force of the damage didn’t seem to come from either outside or inside forces.

A museum worker says when the museum first started displaying the car, people didn’t believe the story; now they do.

4) MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

A Rochester man met another Marine the night before they were to land on Saipan in World War II. The man showed Glenn Miller a picture of his family and two little girls. The next day, the man was dead and Miller had a life-long question, the Rochester Post Bulletin says. Whatever happened to the sergeant he met on the way to Saipan?

Now he knows. He’s discovered them in River Falls.

5)WHY OLD BUILDINGS MATTER

Detroit is the largest city in the U.S., to ever declare bankruptcy, but it’s disintegration could be any major American city. Detroiturbex.com recalls its glory days — and its present day — in a series of composite photographs about its decimated buildings.

Detroiturbex.com

All it took was an abandoned building, and then another. And another.

Communities rot from the inside out. That’s why MPR’s Ground Level project on Minnesota’s relics was significant. Communities are facing the choice of revitalizing its abandoned relics, or let them rot and risk greater damage.

Bonus I: Former President George Bush shaved his head to show support for a young lad with cancer. He’s the son of one of his Secret Service agents.

ABC News via Twitter

Bonus II: Two kids battling cancer get to rule the sky over Flying Cloud. (WCCO)

Bonus III:How A Family Copes With Schizophrenia And Suicide (NPR)

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: How MnSure will work.

Second hour: The future of the NCAA.

Third hour: Daniel Silva, author of The English Girl.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From the Aspen Ideas Festival: New York Times columnist David Brooks speaking about life, character and values. He titled his speech “The Inverse Logic of Life.”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – Congress Rejects Effort to Curb NSA Surveillance | Restoring Faith in the Economy | A Revolutionary Approach to Dementia Care

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - It’s no secret this Congress hasn’t gotten much done. Only 21 mostly small-bore bills have become law this year. Back in January, when Congress began its new session, there were high hopes among many lawmakers that the rancor and ill will of the last Congress would be replaced by more cooperation. Six months later, Congress is just as deadlocked as before. MPR’s Brett Neely will have the story.

An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. It may seem like simple logic that those with criminal records should not be allowed to stay. But after talking with some of them, their lawyers and advocates, the logic and simplicity can become enormously complex. How harshly should we treat undocumented immigrants with criminal records? NPR will have stories of offenses and consequences.