Coronavirus

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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The Opioid Epidemic and Vaccine Hesitancy

The places hit hardest by opioids are often skeptical of vaccines. That’s probably not a coincidence.

The opioid crisis was the product of corporate greed run amok and a corrupted regulatory process. That crisis may have amplified deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and its government watchdogs — distrust that may now be reflected in vaccine skepticism. First, a little history. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma,  aggressively promoted the use of oxycontin, …

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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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Trump Finds His Medical Rasputin

The newest addition to Trump’s coronavirus task force is a faux expert who just happens to share all of Trump’s views.

President Trump has added a new member to his coronavirus task force, Dr. Scott Atlas.  It’s no wonder that Trump loves Dr. Atlas, a retired Stanford radiologist who frequently appears on Fox.  Atlas thinks  “we are committing national suicide” if we continue serious health precautions against the coronavirus. Here are more of Dr. Atlas’s dubious …

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Managing a Pandemic, Enron-Style

The Administration’s management harkens back to a spectacular business collapse at the turn of the century.

Think of this as a parable. I’ll draw out some parallels at the end with the Trump Administration’s handling of the coronavirus, as detailed in a story in Sunday’s Washington Post. But first I’ll let you make some of the connections yourself. The Trump team’s triumph in 2016 was one of the great upsets in …

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Constitutional Rights in a Pandemic

When does public health override individual rights?

Lockdowns and social distancing impinge on activities that are protected by the Constitution. That’s been true in many states of church services and in some states of abortion. When the cases have come before they courts, they have often turned to a 1905 Supreme Court case decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a state law …

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What was Trump’s Role in Premature Reopening?

Yes, he was at fault, but it’s complicated.

In a column about a week ago, Paul Krugman pointed to the dire consequences of the reopenings in the Sunbelt and laid the blame entirely on Trump.  He viewed it as “case of Republican governors following Trump’s lead.” The “main driving force,” he said, was Trump’s reelection strategy.  There’s some truth to that, but it’s …

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The Kudlow Inversion

Trump’s key advisor on the economy, the coronavirus, and regulation, with a gift for getting everything wrong.

“Only the best people,” Trump said. Let’s talk about his chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow. Kudlow seems to live in an inverted, upside-down world. He somehow manages to be wrong about everything — wrong about the economy, wrong about deregulation, wrong about climate change, wrong about the coronavirus. A full sweep, in other words. It’s …

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July Fourth at Mt. Rushmore: What about the “unalienable rights” of the Lakota?

In the limbo game of the 45th presidency: no matter how far the bar descends, Trump clears it by going under. Just two weeks after political furor over a planned Juneteenth support rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—site of the 1921 Race Massacre, in which white mobs killed up to 300 Black people in 48 hours, and …

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