Shut down this shutdown habit

In the last quarter century, all of us have come to know more than we’d like about petulant shutdowns of the federal government. Lamar Alexander is right. Leveraging the urgency of a moment for political gain is one thing. But using a deadline as a dagger to debilitate even this limited share of federal operations is becoming a bad habit.

How to win friends and not give influenza to people

Cold comfort (sorry) that medical officials remind Americans that the flu shot isn’t completely effective this year or any year. Scientists have to guess which flu virus or viruses will be most prevalent, and they often guess at least partly wrong. Flu is a wily foe.

Paging personnel

WASHINGTON — If the name Taylor Weyeneth rings a tiny bell in your head, then you might be related to him. Otherwise, the 24-year-old was until a week ago an unknown if powerful member of the Trump administration: deputy chief of staff in the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

It’s up to Congress to save the internet

Congressional Republicans breathed new life last year into the all-but-ignored Congressional Review Act, using it to reverse a wide range of Obama administration regulations on the environment, consumer protection and workplace issues. Now Senate Democrats are trotting out the act to undo a Republican effort to let cable and phone companies meddle with the internet. This particular turnabout is most definitely fair play.

The number of uninsured isn’t the only thing about to go up

In what might be the most predictable trend of the Trump era, the uninsured rate appears to be increasing. Because young people (along with African-Americans and Hispanics) saw the biggest declines in coverage, health care premiums will likely rise for most Americans faster than they otherwise would.

Choosing immigration criteria is a Sisyphean task

WASHINGTON — In 1790, the finest mind in the First Congress, and of his generation, addressed in the House of Representatives the immigration issue: “It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us.” Perhaps today’s 115th Congress will resume the Sisyphean task of continuing one of America’s oldest debates, in which James Madison was an early participant: By what criteria should we decide who is worthy to come amongst us?