More than a few interesting columns in the N&R past couple of days.

For starters, we have Leonard Pitts —always a good way to start the week (thank you, N&R) — who weighs in on Fort Mill S.C. resident Luis Lang, who needs expensive medical care after turning his back on Obamacare (emphasis mine):

It seems Lang, who is a Republican, knew the Affordable Care Act — the dreaded “Obamacare” — required him to buy health insurance, but he refused to do so. He figured he was making a pretty good living as a self-employed handyman and prided himself on paying his own medical bills.

Then came 10 days of grinding headaches, an emergency-room visit and a diagnosis that he’d suffered a series of mini-strokes. Then came $9,000 in medical bills, an empty savings account, bleeding in his eyes, a partially detached retina and an inability to work.

At which point he tried to buy him some “Obamacare” only to discover that he was outside the open enrollment period and that with zero income, he makes too little to get a federal subsidy that would help him buy a private policy. “Obamacare” offers expanded Medicaid coverage to help people like him, but South Carolina is one of 21 Republican-led states that have refused to participate in that program.

So Lang is, well…screwed. And who does he blame for that state of affairs? Well obviously, it’s President Obama’s fault for passing flawed legislation.

Maybe it’s me, but I pick up a little contempt in Mr. Pitts’ tone there. Look —Luis Lang may indeed fall victim to his personal choices—smoking, failure to properly monitor his diabetes and, yes, his decision not to purchase healthcare. But since when do liberal columnists like Leonard Pitts hold people responsible for their personal choices? Even more striking is reader response to Lang’s plight —as Pitts puts it, Lang’s public plight raised quite a bit of traction from ” liberals taking the occasion to rip his and his party’s failings. Pitts seems to be taking a bit of smug joy as well.

Next we have Charles Krauthammer, who weighs in on fast-track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

The trade deal itself will likely pass the Senate eventually, there being eight or so Democrats (out of 46) who support the deal but wanted to extract certain guarantees before fast-tracking it. (They got the guarantees and on Thursday broke the filibuster on fast track.) The problem is the House. Very few House Democrats will vote yes. House passage will require Republican near-unanimity. And it’s not there.

….As for the merits, the TPP is a boon for America. It reduces tariff barriers to vast Asian markets and strengthens protection for intellectual property, America’s forte. To be sure, any trade deal, while a net plus overall, produces winners and losers. But the TPP will be accompanied by so-called Trade Adjustment Assistance, training and subsidies to help those negatively affected.

Moreover, the overall gain is more than just economic. In our deadly serious competition with China for influence in the region, the TPP would anchor our relations with Pacific Rim nations. If we walk away, they will inevitably gravitate to China’s orbit. The question is (as Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz succinctly put it in The Wall Street Journal): Who is going to write the rules for the global economy — America or China?

Krauthammer convincingly put forth the argument that it’s up to the U.S. to fill world power vacuums in his 1990 essay The Unipolar Moment. Yes the world has changed a helluva lot in the 25 years since but the same principle applies –if not America, then …..who?

Indeed, near-unanimity in the House on TPP is not there, and which way 6th District Rep. Mark Walker will vote remains to be seen.

Speaking of Mark Walker we have –last but not least —N&R columnist Susan Ladd, who says if Walker “wants to represent all the people of the 6th District, he must remember that no one party and no one religion holds the patent on doing what’s best for the country and its people.”

Nice thought, unless of course you’re a 6th District constituent who dares disagree with Ladd on— for example, abortion on demand. Then watch out.