coronavirus

The Delta Variant

Here’s what we can (probably) expect.

The Delta Variant sounds like the title of one of those Robert Ludlum thrillers, like The Bourne Identity. Actually, though, it’s a lot scarier.  The Delta variant of the coronavirus is rapidly becoming dominant. What are its characteristics and what can we expect from its spread? The first thing to know is that the Delta …

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Vaccination, Enlightenment Values, and the Founders

Anti-vaxxers and climate deniers are abandoning America’s founding values.

Ironically, those who most trumpet their allegiance to the Founders often have least in common with their values. The Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment. They shared a belief that reason, free inquiry, and science would better the human condition. They looked to reason as a guide. They sought, in Jefferson’s words, to expunge …

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How Harmful Was Trump’s COVID Response?

We know it was bad, but how much of the U.S. death rate can be attributed to him rather than circumstances?

The U.S. COVID response went badly in 2020. How much was because Trump was Trump? That is, if Trump had been a moderately competent but imperfect leader, facing a diverse population with a significant resistance to public health measures, how many lives would have been saved? That’s not a question that anyone can answer with …

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When “Stay In Your Lane” Is Wrong

Technical policy questions often involve ethical political questions that the public must have a say in

As vaccination for the coronavirus in the United States ramps up, I want to take a look back to a policy dispute over the initial plans for vaccine distribution at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 – in part because that fight (like “follow the science,” which I blogged about recently) also …

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Conservative Judicial Activism Strikes Again

A wild-eyed misinterpretation of the commerce clause

A federal district judge ruled today that the federal government’s moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. The judge’s theory is that evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent isn’t an “economic” activity. Therefore, it’s beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. I know that sounds nuts, but that actually it is what the judge said. The judge’s theory …

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The problem with “follow the science”

Science is necessary, but not sufficient, for good policymaking

In the wake of the poor performance of the Trump Administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, there has been advice that the Biden Administration should “follow the science” in developing its coronavirus policies and strategies.  While an emphasis on a clean break from the prior Administration’s rejection of the nature …

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Herd Immunity

What Could Possibly Go Wrong with Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Idea?

“Herd immunity” seems to be gaining ground in the White House as a coronavirus strategy. The idea is to protect the vulnerable population, while letting the virus run its course among the rest.  The disease then dies out because so many people are immune.  What could possibly go wrong? In theory, this idea would work, …

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Hurricanes, Wildfires, Climate Change and the Republican “Platform” and Convention

No Acknowledgment of the Biggest Environmental Existential Threat We’ve Ever Faced

Hurricane Laura is  barreling down on Louisiana and Texas, bringing with it “unsurvivable storm surges” and “life-threatening hazards” to parts of the Gulf Coast.  Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards is imploring residents to evacuate: “This is a very serious storm — I don’t think I have ever held a press conference to take something as seriously …

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Pandemic Lessons in Governance

What have we learned about dealing with mega-risks?

The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven home some lessons about governance. Those lessons have broader application — for instance, to climate governance.  We can’t afford for the federal government to flunk Crisis Management 101 again. Here are five key lessons: 1. Effective leadership from the top is indispensable. Major problems require action by …

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Coal Takes a Nosedive

Despite Trump’s efforts to save it, the most environmentally destructive fuel is fading quickly.

In the 2016 election, Trump pledged to save coal. Since then, his Administration has pulled out all the stops in this effort, including repeal of dozens of environmental regulations.  All for naught. In 2021, U.S. coal use will be 30% below what it is when Trump took office. Coal’s immediate situation is even worse, due …

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