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The Average Woman Loses $407,760 Because of the Gender Wage Gap Over Her Lifetime
Equal Pay Day falls on March 31 this year. At the current rate of progress in the U.S., women won't catch up to men when it comes to how much they are paid until 2059. Here's a by-the-numbers look at the persistent gender wage gap.
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newsweek.com
15,000 LA high school students absent from online learning since coronavirus shut down schools
Some 15,000 Los Angeles high school students have not participated in any online learning since schools were forced to shut down in wake of coronavirus, new data shows.
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foxnews.com
Massie calls for Congress to hold virtual public hearings on coronavirus
Massie last week forced over 200 House members to return to Washington, D.C. to pass the coronavirus relief package after he announced he would try to block a voice vote on the measure.
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foxnews.com
For Trump, Power Is for Self-Preservation Only
Seldom, if ever, has a president claimed so much power—and then turned around and done so little with it. Just a few months ago, when Donald Trump was being impeached in the House and tried in the Senate, he and his legal team insisted that presidential power is all but unlimited. Alan Dershowitz, one of Trump’s legal advisers, suggested that if the president believes that his staying in power is best for the country, he cannot be impeached for the actions he takes in hopes of being reelected. So complete is the president’s power, Trump’s legal team insisted at the time, that he can direct federal employees to defy a congressional subpoena—even after they stop working for the White House.These arguments grew out of what constitutional scholars call the unitary-executive theory, which has been cited to justify ever more expansive powers in the office of the presidency. But with his halting response to the coronavirus, Trump has turned the unitary-executive theory on its head.[Peter Wehner: The Trump presidency is over]This theory holds that the president has inherent, implicit authority under Article II of the Constitution that cannot be constrained by Congress—including exclusive power to control all subordinates. In the words of the law professor John Yoo, the author of the infamous Department of Justice memos rationalizing torture under the presidency of George W. Bush, presidents need unitary executive power “to defend the country in times of crisis and emergency.” Proponents of the theory also justify unfettered presidential power as fostering accountability. The public knows where the buck stops if it stops unflinchingly with the president, and it can vote accordingly in every fourth November.Under Trump, though, enhanced presidential powers under the unitary-executive theory have produced neither robust protections for the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic nor accountability for his actions since taking office. After weeks of stalling and misinformation, Trump has declined to use his far-reaching presidential powers to take all necessary steps to protect the public from widespread suffering and death in this unprecedented global health crisis. He has also been unequivocal that “I don’t take responsibility at all” for the federal government’s failures over coronavirus testing, affirming his personal impulse to shirk accountability—not accept it—in the face of criticism.What could Trump be doing with his unitary-executive power to help the nation in this time of crisis? For starters, he could have used the precious weeks of February to marshal widespread testing, which we now know would have saved countless lives, instead of falsely pretending that he had the problem under control. But even in this late moment, at least three things come immediately to mind: Mandate increased domestic production of necessary equipment, comprehensively manage the supply chain for medical equipment, and order everyone in the United States to stay home while the first wave of illness crashes over the U.S. medical system—offering it a fighting chance to stay alive and maybe even catch up with the rate of infection, illness, and death.Late last week, after weeks of intensifying pressure, Trump finally ordered General Motors to prioritize the production of ventilators, pursuant to his Korean War–era powers under the Defense Production Act. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first U.S. case of COVID-19 on January 21, more than nine weeks ago. Although better than nothing, the ventilator-production order might have come too late to save the lives that could have been saved if the ventilator count were higher to date.[Fred Milgrim: A New York doctor’s warning]The United States now has more confirmed infections than any other country on the planet, with no end in sight. Supply-chain intermediaries are capitalizing on the crisis, gouging prices and forcing states and hospitals to compete with one another for protective material and other lifesaving medical supplies. The federal stockpile of equipment is insufficient, with states and health-care professionals complaining that the Trump administration is not delivering promised supplies. Calls from Congress that Trump use the DPA to hasten the production and purchase of millions of N95 masks and other needed equipment for medical personnel and broadly implement a national, coordinated system of disseminating supplies have so far gone unheeded. Beyond approving the GM order, the most Trump has done on this front is to delegate DPA authority to Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services—presumably for use at some point—and put Peter Navarro, an economic adviser who currently heads an obscure trade-policy office, in charge of government-business coordination.On January 31, Azar issued a statement that legally triggered the Public Health Service Act, a 1944 statute that affords the president broad power to mandate and enforce nationwide quarantines. Trump hasn’t used that power either, despite irrefutable evidence that minimizing physical contact is crucial to slowing the virus, as countries like China, Germany, and South Korea have shown by invoking such measures to “flatten” their curves. He threatened Saturday to impose a quarantine in the New York City area, but did not follow through.Even as Trump has largely declined to use his unitary-executive authority to combat COVID-19, he remains stout in his defense of perceived constitutional powers to ignore Congress and thus thwart his own accountability to the public. In a rare stroke of bipartisanship, Congress passed and Trump signed into law a much-needed $2 trillion relief bill for coronavirus aid. The statute provides $500 billion to the Treasury Department for loans and loan guarantees for states, municipalities, and eligible U.S. businesses. It also creates an Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery and a congressional oversight commission to review how federal agencies implement the program. The president has the power to appoint the special inspector general, who must file reports and coordinate efforts with Congress.In his statement accompanying his signing of the bill into law, Trump noted that the relief law authorizes the special inspector general to “request information from other government agencies” and requires that person “to report to Congress ‘without delay’ any refusal of such a request that ‘in the judgment of the Special Inspector General’ is unreasonable.” He also noted that the statute conditions federal agencies’ spending or reallocation of funds on consultation with or approval of Congress. In his signing statement, Trump announced that “my administration will continue the practice of treating provisions like these as advisory and nonbinding.”Although prior presidents have used signing statements in controversial ways—particularly during George W. Bush’s War on Terror—Trump’s contemptuous approach to any legislative or judicial oversight whatsoever should make even supporters of the unitary-executive theory shudder. Trump is calling himself a “wartime president” without acting as such. With billions of federal taxpayer dollars newly flooding into the administration for COVID-19 assistance, he is treating Congress as utterly impotent once lawmakers hand off massive powers to federal agencies—which, despite being placed within the president’s chain of command, were set up by Congress in the first place. A unitary executive cannot have it both ways—wielding entrenched and unaccountable power for the sake of self-preservation, but sloughing it off when it comes to protecting the nation from devastation.[Read: Red and blue America agree that now is the time to violate the Constitution]Throughout Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and during the impeachment process, Trump’s legal team relied on notions of unlimited executive power to evade accountability. But now that the public needs a steady, powerful leader to steer us through this terrifying and deadly storm, Trump is telling state governors who are desperate for basic, lifesaving medical supplies that “you can get it yourself.”One could argue, of course, that philosophical consistency is a frequent casualty of major crises across the political spectrum. Many Democratic officials and left-leaning commentators have savaged Trump both for his failure to mount a unified national effort against the coronavirus and dictate terms to private companies and, just this past weekend, for dangling the very opposite suggestion of a federally imposed, tri-state quarantine to slow the national spread of the virus from the New York area.Yet the emergency powers that states have been begging Trump to deploy are not merely legal aspirations. Nor do they hinge on whether one accepts or rejects the unitary-executive theory. Congress has already specifically authorized presidents, in moments of national emergency, to take the kind of decisive steps that Trump has shown such reluctance to take now. Trump being Trump, he continues to exercise the powers of his office in self-interested ways, conditioning states’ access to federal help on obeisance to him personally. “It’s a two-way street” he told Fox News last Tuesday. “They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, ‘Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that.’” On Friday, he said he had instructed Vice President Mike Pence not to communicate with governors who have not been “appreciative” of the administration’s COVID-19 efforts. “Don’t call that woman in Michigan,” he said at a news conference regarding his directive to Pence. He was referring to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That same Friday, she was dealing with an increase of 801 new cases in the state—the biggest one-day jump in the country so far. (The White House subsequently issued a disaster declaration for Michigan, making it eligible for more federal aid.)[Read: How the pandemic will end]As applied by Trump, therefore, the unitary-executive theory has produced the worst of both worlds: a would-be autocrat with absolute power who insists on complete obedience and retaliates if he doesn’t get it—while also blinking at the dire needs of the people he was elected to represent.During the House Judiciary Committee’s proceedings on impeachment, the Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan spoke these words: Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, “I would like you to do us a favor? I’ll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent a criminal.” Wouldn’t you know in your gut that such a president has abused his office? That he’d betrayed the national interest, and that he was trying to corrupt the electoral process? Heard today, these words are chilling.
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theatlantic.com
The kitchen ritual getting my family and me through the pandemic
Whether it's evoking early 20th century immigrants who baked bread and built lasting communities or giving her family a birthday cake and a reason to celebrate during Covid-19 social distancing, Vanessa Hua's sourdough starter -- a tiny bit of yeast -- is giving her constancy during a time of unfathomable chaos and fear, she writes.
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edition.cnn.com
Drink vodka to 'poison the virus': Dubious advice from political strongmen
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edition.cnn.com
Immigration lawyers sue feds over in-person virus hearings risks
They want in-person immigration hearings replaced with remote one until the pandemic ends and remote ways to communicate with immigrant clients.
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cbsnews.com
Kids in foster care? Coronavirus prompts courts to halt family visits, dealing harsh blow.
Dependency courts nationwide cancel hearings and suspend face-to-face family visits for foster kids over coronavirus concerns.      
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usatoday.com
Small businesses fear they won't survive the pandemic
Many small businesses, who employ almost half of the American workforce, are on the brink of losing it all. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.
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edition.cnn.com
Post-Soviet president: Vodka and saunas can fight virus
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has shrugged off concerns about the novel coronavirus, telling his people that hockey, vodka and banya -- a traditional sauna -- are the best cures.
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edition.cnn.com
5 things to know for March 31: Coronavirus, health, economy, trans rights, Hungary
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door.
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edition.cnn.com
31 States Now Have Stay at Home Orders Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak
Other states, including Alabama and Georgia, have only issued the stay at home orders in major cities.
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newsweek.com
Man claiming to have coronavirus kisses police car window after arrest, cops say
Police in Michigan detained a 26-year-old man outside a Mount Morris grocery store after he allegedly claimed he had coronavirus and was pushing several shopping carts inside the store and later allegedly kissed the window of a patrol car following his arrest, a report said.
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foxnews.com
Should We Wear Masks in Public to Protect Against Coronavirus? Here's What Who, CDC and and Johns Hopkins Experts Advise
The World Health Organization advises against the general public wearing masks unless they are sick or caring for those infected.
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newsweek.com
How I became a ballerina: Misty Copeland
From humble beginnings, Misty Copeland became the African American female principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre in New York.       
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usatoday.com
Letters to the Editor: California got rid of surplus ventilators and mobile hospitals? Outrageous
The decision to pare down California's $200-million stockpile of emergency equipment to save $5 million annually needs to be investigated.
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latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: So now we're finally mad about how unwalkable much of L.A. is?
Now that people have only their streets as a recreation opportunity, they'll realize how much nature we've taken from L.A.'s neighborhoods.
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latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: He's from Indian Country. Now, he worries about COVID-19's impact on his community
A public health graduate school says the effect of COVID-19 on his small community near an Indian reservation will expose deep inequality.
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latimes.com
Op-Ed: If marijuana is essential during the coronavirus shutdown, why not books?
As are bread and milk, gas and aspirin, alcohol and marijuana, books should be available, with safety precautions in place, at the usual places we buy them in our neighborhoods.
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latimes.com
Editorial: Hey, sheriff and supervisors, knock off your squabbling. People are dying out here
The last thing L.A. County needs during a coronavirus pandemic is a turf battle between the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors.
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latimes.com
New rulings amid coronavirus could force Trump to release migrant children and parents
A federal judge in Los Angeles gives the government until April 6 to deliver a plan to handle 6,600 children held in shelters and family detention facilities.
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latimes.com
Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch: Coronavirus spurring Americans to truly live for others
On behalf of my fellow Medal of Honor recipients, I want all Americans to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this serious situation that we are all facing together.
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foxnews.com
Editorial: Migrant children shouldn't be detained, but especially not during a pandemic
A federal judge was right to order the Trump administration to move faster to release detained migrant children from conditions that put them at risk for COVID-19.
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latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: People in China and South Korea wear masks in public. We should too
One of the simple steps we can all take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus is to wear masks in public.
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latimes.com
'What if I am a carrier?' As the coronavirus spreads in Florida, a priest struggles to reach his flock
The Rev. Michael Sahdev, a 28-year-old priest, is caught between the pull to shelter in place and his calling to tend to his congregation.
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latimes.com
My Home Is So Messy Even Marie Kondo Can’t Help. Now What?
To tidy up your home, focus on the family that lives there.
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slate.com
Help! My Boyfriend Deliberately Coughed in My Face.
“He began ridiculing me for wearing a face mask.”
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slate.com
Letters to the Editor: Can anything convince coronavirus skeptics that they're wrong?
If social distancing has the desired effect, coronavirus naysayers will insist we overreacted. Here's how to show they're wrong.
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latimes.com
Op-Ed: Black voters pragmatically support Biden to beat Trump — but we deserve Sanders' big agenda
Trump is forcing black folks to vote defensively. It's too bad: For once mainstream politics, in the form of Bernie Sanders, lets us vote our ideology.
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latimes.com
Fast Carbs Are Killing Us
I stood in the supermarket a couple of years ago examining the Nutrition Facts label on a box of breakfast cereal and realized that it did not tell me all I needed to know about what was inside. In 1992, when I was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, I helped design the now-ubiquitous food label. I believe it has made an important contribution to public health. Given the limits of our knowledge when we introduced it in 1994, we could not have done it differently. But it is no longer enough.[Read: More than half of what Americans eat is ‘ultra-processed’]The first ingredient on the cereal box: whole wheat. But is that wheat truly a whole grain, largely in its natural state? The label is silent on that, but the answer is almost certainly no—the chemical structure of the wheat in most processed foods has been transformed into a “fast carb.” The extremely long chains of starch in a whole grain are pummeled, using industrial techniques, into much shorter chains. When we eat them, they flood our complex digestive system with glucose molecules that are swiftly absorbed by the body. They come to us essentially predigested.This is a big part of the reason that in the 25 years since the Nutrition Facts panel appeared, the average American has continued to gain weight. Obesity rates have doubled, and in 29 states a majority of people are expected to be obese by 2030; more than half of the children living today will be obese by the time they turn 35. As much as I would like to reassure people that they can be both healthy and obese, the truth is that carrying extra weight catches up to us as we age, throwing the body into metabolic chaos. The devastating consequences of diabetes and cardiovascular disease are likely to follow.The Nutrition Facts panel focuses our attention on calories, fat, sugar, and salt. It lists total carbohydrates, but does not distinguish between the fast and the slow carb varieties. Yet the processed starch of fast carbs represents a staggering percentage of the calories we consume. Think of hamburger rolls, pizza dough, and fries. The average American eats more than 1,000 calories of rapidly digestible starches and sugars every day, and gets 500 more from the fats and oils added to many of these products. Starch serves as the carrier for much of the fat, sugar, and salt that we ingest, and like sugar, it is converted into rapidly absorbable glucose.This article was adapted from Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs: The Simple Truth about Food, Weight, and Disease by David Kessler.All of this undermines what should have been an American success story. We became an agricultural powerhouse because of the nation’s abundance of fertile grasslands, ideal for growing grain, and the industrial infrastructure that refines that grain into starch. But the processed carbs that became our main food source have also proved to be a missing link between obesity and metabolic dysfunction. That story has largely gone untold. Despite all the research on nutrition and disease in recent years, the effects of inundating our bodies with a constant stream of rapidly absorbable glucose—a poison hiding in plain sight—has not been well examined.Modern processing techniques involve intense heat and mechanical forces that destroy the structure of food. In addition, food manufacturers add fat and salt to highly processed carbs to increase their palatability, making them much softer and easier to chew and swallow. We thus eat more and we eat it faster. Because the nutrients never reach the lower part of the gastrointestinal tract, hormones that should trigger signals of fullness don’t get stimulated. (By contrast, less-processed foods retain their tight structure so that enzymes don’t break them down completely; we can still digest the food, but may not absorb all of its calories.)Fast carbs elevate blood glucose, and with it, insulin levels. When this happens repeatedly, especially in people who are overweight, metabolic pathways can become dysfunctional: Insulin stops working effectively, leading to insulin resistance, and eventually, diabetes and other disorders. Our bodies become intolerant to fast carbs, and by continuing to eat them, we further accelerate metabolic dysfunction.[Read: The startling link between sugar and Alzheimer’s]The dangers of processed carbs are amplified in an environment of positive energy balance—that is, a world in which bodies take in more calories than they burn. Historically, humans had to work hard to find food and were lucky to get enough calories to match their energy expenditures. When we burned at least as much as we consumed, processed carbs didn’t present the same problems—especially when those carbs weren’t as highly processed, because we didn’t have industrial techniques to shatter the food matrix so completely. But today, when many of us struggle with weight and confront disorders like prediabetes or worse, processed carbs are a disaster. It is shocking, but perhaps no surprise, that only about 12.2 percent of Americans are cardio-metabolically healthy, their blood pressure, lipid levels, blood glucose, and weight falling within current guidelines, a repercussion of these changes.If the physiology of all of this seems complex, the solution is not. The first step is to reduce your consumption of fast carbs and add legumes, intact whole grains, and other slow carbs to your diet. The second step is to engage in moderate-intensity exercise to ensure proper insulin control.[Read: Why whole wheat is better than white]Finally, be cautious about what you substitute for fast carbs. Generally, people who follow a low-carb diet by substituting saturated fat increase their levels of LDL particles—a form of cholesterol that can build up in the arteries—by an average of 10 percent. Given that we know the number of LDL particles are associated with atherosclerotic cardiac disease, that’s the wrong approach: Our goal should be to bring everyone’s LDL level down. Unfortunately, clinical trials tell us more about how to lower these levels through drugs than through diet. On a population-wide scale, though, we know the majority of heart disease can be eliminated by reducing people’s LDL level.From a tangle of intricate science, then, a simple strategy emerges. Our best path to health comprises three basic steps: limit fast carbs, exercise with moderate intensity, and lower LDL levels. Following these recommendations will change our nation’s health as significantly as reducing tobacco use has done.
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theatlantic.com
Dear Care and Feeding: I Despise Toddlers. Does That Mean I Shouldn’t Have Kids?
Parenting advice on becoming parents, social distancing from family, and father-son bonding.
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slate.com
Today is Equal Pay Day for women and it's not a day to celebrate
March 31, 2020 is Equal Pay Day for many women, but it's not a day to celebrate.
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edition.cnn.com
Why the U.S. Is Running Out of Medical Supplies
Health care is a private industry in the U.S., and hospitals are businesses designed to maximize profit, not respond to a pandemic.
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nytimes.com
POLITICO Playbook: What they told us about the coronavirus
And the latest on a potential Phase Four bill.
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politico.com
The NBA could lose billions this season. Who will eat that loss?
The NBA is one of the world's wealthiest sports leagues affected by the coronavirus, and the disease's economic impact on it could be fierce.
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edition.cnn.com
How to Create the Perfect Home Office: Ideas From Home Depot, IKEA, Office Depot and More
We share tips from experts on how to achieve the perfect professional space in your home, as well as advice on where to buy office essentials.
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newsweek.com
Coronavirus, Stay-at-Home, Zoom: Your Tuesday Briefing
Here's what you need to know.
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nytimes.com
My Girlfriend Has Bizarrely Strict “Rules” for How We Have Sex
I call it “the protocol.”
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slate.com
Prince Harry and Meghan start their non-royal life. Here's what that will look like
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edition.cnn.com
China State Media Says Coronavirus Death Toll Cover-up Accusations Are 'Nonsense'
China appears to have almost stopped the spread of CVID-19 within its borders, but Western leaders have accused Beijing of hiding the true scale of the outbreak.
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newsweek.com
Pandemic heading for middle America as deaths rise
While much of the attention is on New York, experts are predicting deaths from the coronavirus pandemic to rise across the United States. CNN's Nick Watt reports.
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edition.cnn.com
This Isn’t All Trump’s Fault (But He Isn’t Helping Either)
How much of America’s present coronavirus crisis is President Donald Trump’s fault?Answering this question is, of course, impossible. We have no way to see some alternative timeline in which another president handles the crisis flawlessly. Thus, we have no way to determine the additional death toll caused by Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis.Here’s what we can say with some degree of confidence: The coronavirus was always going to hit the United States hard, but it is hitting the country far harder because of the president than it would have otherwise.Let’s deal with these two points in turn.First, much about this situation is not the president’s fault. Perfect leadership would likely not have shielded the country from the disease; no government anywhere has been able to do so. Even the countries that are managing the virus best—such as South Korea—have had thousands of cases, though the most successful governments have managed to keep deaths relatively low. Other larger democratic countries—Germany, France, the United Kingdom—have all had more than 20,000 cases. And all are facing exponential growth in cases as well. So there’s no reason to think that the United States was going to avoid a great deal of suffering and death and major economic fallout from the virus. The whole of the picture cannot be laid at Trump’s feet.[Peter Wehner: The president is trapped]What’s more, even with capable management of the crisis, the U.S. may not have been able to perform as South Korea has. Big differences between the U.S. and South Korea—beyond Trump—account for some of their performance variation on the coronavirus. Perhaps the most important is South Korea’s relatively recent experiences with SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2015, and the resulting legal regime the country has in place to deal with infectious disease. Brian Kim—writing in Lawfare—describes this regime as “a custom-made legal apparatus that has empowered authorities to collect and disseminate private information in aggressive ways.” No similar legal authority exists in the United States, which has not experienced comparable recent epidemics that would have prompted it to create a similar legal framework.Moreover, the United States has a federal system, which divides the power to respond to an epidemic among federal and state authorities—meaning that even a perfect federal administration would have only some of the necessary powers. Idiot governors at the state level and lousy administrators at the local level might still encourage people to go to restaurants or might not comply with federal requests for an aggressive response.To make matters still worse, the United States is a highly mobile country with an extraordinary number of ports of entry. Unlike smaller countries, which have only a few ways in and out, it’s actually a tricky business restricting American mobility, either internally or externally. And the patchwork nature of the American health-care system—which limits access to care for many people, and which is not set up to deal with a surge of patients—doesn’t help things, either.[Francis Fukuyama: The thing that determines a country’s resistance to the coronavirus]There’s one additional factor for which one cannot reasonably blame Trump: The United States is not run by the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government, which initially allowed the problem to fester and then tried to cover it up, is now getting plaudits for having apparently gotten the pandemic under control by implementing aggressive lockdowns and domestic surveillance. Even assuming one accepts the case numbers China has released—and there is reason to doubt their integrity and suspect that the coronavirus crisis in mainland China may have been far worse than the government has acknowledged—no American presidential administration has the authority to wield the unchecked coercive powers China used to beat the virus. Nor should any administration have that authority.For all these reasons, there was no way the virus was going to fail to enter the country and spread. Even with perfect leadership, the situation was going to be bad.And all that conceded up front, the Trump administration—and Trump himself—undoubtedly have made it far worse.The first big problem was that the administration wasted time. The Washington Post reports that intelligence agencies were warning of the threat posed by the virus as early as January—but White House staffers couldn’t get the president to “take the virus seriously.” Apart from imposing some limitations on entry into the United States in late January, it took the White House until mid-March to ramp up measures to constrain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. But Trump was still insisting as of March 12 that the disease would magically “go away.” And while the White House sat on its hands, public-health agencies were also dawdling. Experts agree that widespread early testing would have been key to containing the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA bungled the rollout of tests thanks to a bad early batch and enforcement of agency rules that restricted both who could be tested and the private sector’s ability to roll out new tests. Tests produced by the World Health Organization couldn’t be used either as a result of a lack of FDA approval—ironically because of rules meant to protect public safety.Reporting on the confusion over testing by both The New York Times and ProPublica does not draw a straight line between any action by Trump and the failure of the CDC and FDA to implement speedy testing; the president didn’t tell the agencies to slow-walk the process, for example. But the testing disaster seems to have grown in large part out of the absence of leadership pushing the agencies to treat the situation like the emergency it was. Instead, bureaucracies muddled along as usual, with the FDA forcing private laboratories to clear multiple hurdles—and thus waste precious days and weeks—before their tests were approved. If Trump had moved aggressively early on to make addressing COVID-19 a priority, the CDC and FDA might have received the prodding they needed to speed the testing process.[Read: How the pandemic will end]Second, the administration helped create this leadership vacuum in the first place—in ways that go beyond the president’s own lack of concern. Trump has repeatedly blamed the Obama administration, with unclear reasoning, for his own failures in responding to the pandemic. But after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, President Barack Obama created a dedicated corner of the National Security Council for preparing and responding to pandemics. The Trump administration dismantled the unit in 2018. It also got rid of the position of homeland security adviser, the aide who would have been accountable to the president for responding to events like the arrival of a pandemic. (Trump’s last homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, has been stolidly producing tweets and op-eds on how the U.S. should be handling the coronavirus and offering words of encouragement to the president when Trump takes action.) If the administration had kept these positions—which is to say, if Trump had heeded the wisdom of his predecessors in recognizing the dangers of pandemic disease—it might well have been in a better position to respond today.Third, the administration has also dawdled when it comes to the supply chain. Hospitals are now fatally short on ventilators, the key piece of equipment needed to keep alive COVID-19 patients in serious condition. The flood of new patients means that doctors and nurses are running out of personal protective equipment like masks and gowns, without which they will also be at risk for contracting the disease. And if health-care workers fall sick en masse, and hospitals are overrun with more patients than there are ventilators, the health-care system will face a terrible crisis that will itself lead to a spike in deaths. Trump could have helped address this danger by forcing private companies to manufacture ventilators and masks under the Defense Production Act. Indeed, the administration could have pushed to scale up production months ago. But Trump instead has hesitated for weeks on end, making noise about how he might invoke those authorities rather than actually pulling the trigger. As a result, shortages that might have been avoided or at least mitigated are becoming acute as the number of cases explodes.Finally, the president’s messaging to the public about the virus has been an unmitigated disaster. Even after he stopped insisting that COVID-19 was nothing to worry about, he has lurched back and forth between tepid endorsements of the slogans put forward by the public-health experts working with the White House and—with more enthusiasm—declarations of the importance of reopening the economy above all else; groundless promises that the country would be back to work by Easter; insistence on referring to the pandemic as the “Chinese virus,” in a clumsy effort to deflect blame onto Beijing for his own administration’s failures; and, more recently, suggestions that the virus is primarily a problem for blue states rather than for his own supporters.Writing off these outbursts as just “Trump being Trump” is tempting. But rhetoric like this has consequences. It can discourage government officials and aides from advocating for more aggressive action to combat the pandemic, lest they be frozen out by the president. Particularly because of the degree to which it has been amplified and repeated by the right-wing media, it has also likely caused many average Americans to take the virus less seriously—because, after all, the president isn’t taking it seriously either—and discouraged them from following social-distancing measures that could save their life and the lives of many others. In a similar vein, it has likely motivated some Republican governors who take their cues from Trump to play down the risks of the pandemic and resist lockdown measures—such as Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, who has refused to order state residents to shelter in place and even overrode local lockdown measures.[Read: Martial law would sweep the country into a great legal unknown]The cumulative impact of Trump’s leadership has been to allow the out-of-control spread of the virus throughout the United States. This was not inevitable. And the U.S. may well face the bulk of COVID-19 cases in a sudden wave that will overwhelm the health-care system even while supplies are in production. If the Trump administration had acted sooner, the U.S. would have had better odds of “flattening the curve”—which means not just decreasing the number of overall cases but, crucially, pushing the peak back, giving hospitals more time to prepare and manufacturers more time to supply them.It’s impossible to say how much of a difference the Trump administration could have made by taking action early and decisively. But the lack of testing and of protective equipment have already caused serious problems, and the weeks ahead are likely to be grim. If it’s too much to expect the United States to have performed like South Korea, it’s not too much to have expected it to perform in line with other countries—like Germany, for example, which so far seems to have kept deaths low through an aggressive testing program. Trump’s performance could mean the difference between tragic but limited suffering and a true national catastrophe.But as this disaster plays out, the president remains focused on the important things. On Sunday, as more than 20,000 additional cases were confirmed in the United States and as 463 people died, the president tweeted, “It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada. Now they have left Canada for the U.S. however, the U.S. will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!” And, of course, he commented on the viewership of his daily press conferences: “Because the ‘Ratings’ of my News Conferences etc. are so high, ‘Bachelor finale, Monday Night Football type numbers’ according to the @nytimes, the Lamestream Media is going CRAZY. ‘Trump is reaching too many people, we must stop him.’ said one lunatic. See you at 5:00 P.M.!”Those concerned about the economic fallout from the virus will no doubt take heart that while Congress is spending $2 trillion to stimulate the economy, the president is at least ensuring that the United States is not on the hook for Harry and Meghan’s security costs. And the sick and the dying will, we are confident, be gratified that at least the president’s ratings remain high.
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theatlantic.com
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time.com
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newsweek.com
A Genetic Test For A Microscopic Problem Came With A Jumbo Price Tag
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The Right Constitutional Philosophy for This Moment
In recent years, allegiance to the constitutional theory known as originalism has become all but mandatory for American legal conservatives. Every justice and almost every judge nominated by recent Republican administrations has pledged adherence to the faith. At the Federalist Society, the influential association of legal conservatives, speakers talk and think of little else. Even some luminaries of the left-liberal legal academy have moved away from speaking about “living constitutionalism,” “fundamental fairness,” and “evolving standards of decency,” and have instead justified their views in originalist terms. One often hears the catchphrase “We are all originalists now.”Originalism comes in several varieties (baroque debates about key theoretical ideas rage among its proponents), but their common core is the view that constitutional meaning was fixed at the time of the Constitution’s enactment. This approach served legal conservatives well in the hostile environment in which originalism was first developed, and for some time afterward.[Jeffrey Rosen: The fourth battle for the Constitution]But originalism has now outlived its utility, and has become an obstacle to the development of a robust, substantively conservative approach to constitutional law and interpretation. Such an approach—one might call it “common-good constitutionalism”—should be based on the principles that government helps direct persons, associations, and society generally toward the common good, and that strong rule in the interest of attaining the common good is entirely legitimate. In this time of global pandemic, the need for such an approach is all the greater, as it has become clear that a just governing order must have ample power to cope with large-scale crises of public health and well-being—reading “health” in many senses, not only literal and physical but also metaphorical and social.Alternatives to originalism have always existed on the right, loosely defined. One is libertarian (or “classical liberal”) constitutionalism, which emphasizes principles of individual freedom that are often in uneasy tension with the Constitution’s original meaning and the founding generation’s norms. The founding era was hardly libertarian on a number of fronts that loom large today, such as the freedom of speech and freedom of religion; consider that in 1811, the New York courts, in an opinion written by the influential early jurist Chancellor James Kent, upheld a conviction for blasphemy against Jesus Christ as an offense against the public peace and morals. Another alternative is Burkean traditionalism, which tries to slow the pace of legal innovation. Here, too, the difference with originalism is clear, because originalism is sometimes revolutionary; consider the Court’s originalist opinion declaring a constitutional right to own guns, a startling break with the Court’s long-standing precedents.These alternatives still have scattered adherents, but originalism has prevailed, mainly because it has met the political and rhetorical needs of legal conservatives struggling against an overwhelmingly left-liberal legal culture. The theory of originalism, initially developed in the 1970s and ’80s, enjoyed its initial growth because it helped legal conservatives survive and even flourish in a hostile environment, all without fundamentally challenging the premises of the legal liberalism that dominated both the courts and the academy. It enabled conservatives to oppose constitutional innovations by the Warren and Burger Courts, appealing over the heads of the justices to the putative true meaning of the Constitution itself. When, in recent years, legal conservatism has won the upper hand in the Court and then in the judiciary generally, originalism was the natural coordinating point for a creed, something to which potential nominees could pledge fidelity.But circumstances have now changed. The hostile environment that made originalism a useful rhetorical and political expedient is now gone. Outside the legal academy, at least, legal conservatism is no longer besieged. If President Donald Trump is reelected, some version of legal conservatism will become the law’s animating spirit for a generation or more; and even if he is not, the reconstruction of the judiciary has proceeded far enough that legal conservatism will remain a potent force, not a beleaguered and eccentric view.Assured of this, conservatives ought to turn their attention to developing new and more robust alternatives to both originalism and left-liberal constitutionalism. It is now possible to imagine a substantive moral constitutionalism that, although not enslaved to the original meaning of the Constitution, is also liberated from the left-liberals’ overarching sacramental narrative, the relentless expansion of individualistic autonomy. Alternatively, in a formulation I prefer, one can imagine an illiberal legalism that is not “conservative” at all, insofar as standard conservatism is content to play defensively within the procedural rules of the liberal order.[Julian E. Zelizer: How conservatives won the battle over the courts]This approach should take as its starting point substantive moral principles that conduce to the common good, principles that officials (including, but by no means limited to, judges) should read into the majestic generalities and ambiguities of the written Constitution. These principles include respect for the authority of rule and of rulers; respect for the hierarchies needed for society to function; solidarity within and among families, social groups, and workers’ unions, trade associations, and professions; appropriate subsidiarity, or respect for the legitimate roles of public bodies and associations at all levels of government and society; and a candid willingness to “legislate morality”—indeed, a recognition that all legislation is necessarily founded on some substantive conception of morality, and that the promotion of morality is a core and legitimate function of authority. Such principles promote the common good and make for a just and well-ordered society.To be sure, some have attempted to ground an idea of the common good on an originalist understanding, taking advantage of the natural-rights orientation of the founding era. Yet that approach leaves originalism in ultimate control, hoping that the original understanding will happen to be morally appealing. I am talking about a different, more ambitious project, one that abandons the defensive crouch of originalism and that refuses any longer to play within the terms set by legal liberalism. Ronald Dworkin, the legal scholar and philosopher, used to urge “moral readings of the Constitution.” Common-good constitutionalism is methodologically Dworkinian, but advocates a very different set of substantive moral commitments and priorities from Dworkin’s, which were of a conventionally left-liberal bent. Common-good constitutionalism is not legal positivism, meaning that it is not tethered to particular written instruments of civil law or the will of the legislators who created them. Instead it draws upon an immemorial tradition that includes, in addition to positive law, sources such as the ius gentium—the law of nations or the “general law” common to all civilized legal systems—and principles of objective natural morality, including legal morality in the sense used by the American legal theorist Lon Fuller: the inner logic that the activity of law should follow in order to function well as law.Common-good constitutionalism is also not legal liberalism or libertarianism. Its main aim is certainly not to maximize individual autonomy or to minimize the abuse of power (an incoherent goal in any event), but instead to ensure that the ruler has the power needed to rule well. A corollary is that to act outside or against inherent norms of good rule is to act tyrannically, forfeiting the right to rule, but the central aim of the constitutional order is to promote good rule, not to “protect liberty” as an end in itself. Constraints on power are good only derivatively, insofar as they contribute to the common good; the emphasis should not be on liberty as an abstract object of quasi-religious devotion, but on particular human liberties whose protection is a duty of justice or prudence on the part of the ruler.Finally, unlike legal liberalism, common-good constitutionalism does not suffer from a horror of political domination and hierarchy, because it sees that law is parental, a wise teacher and an inculcator of good habits. Just authority in rulers can be exercised for the good of subjects, if necessary even against the subjects’ own perceptions of what is best for them—perceptions that may change over time anyway, as the law teaches, habituates, and re-forms them. Subjects will come to thank the ruler whose legal strictures, possibly experienced at first as coercive, encourage subjects to form more authentic desires for the individual and common goods, better habits, and beliefs that better track and promote communal well-being.Common-good constitutionalism draws inspiration from the early modern theory of ragion di stato—“reason of state,” which, despite the connotations that have become attached to its name, is not at all a tradition of unscrupulous machination. (Indeed, it was formulated precisely to combat amoral technocratic visions of rule as the maximization of princely power.) Instead the ragion di stato tradition elaborates a set of principles for the just exercise of authority. Promoting a substantive vision of the good is, always and everywhere, the proper function of rulers. Every act of public-regarding government has been founded on such a vision; any contrary view is an illusion. Liberal and libertarian constitutional decisions that claim to rule out “morality” as a ground for public action are incoherent, even fraudulent, for they rest on merely a particular account of morality, an implausible account.[Read: How to revive Madison’s Constitution]Given that it is legitimate for rulers to pursue the common good, constitutional law should elaborate subsidiary principles that make such rule efficacious. Constitutional law must afford broad scope for rulers to promote—as the ragion di stato put it, in a famous trinity of principles—peace, justice, and abundance. Today, we may add health and safety to that list, in very much the same spirit. In a globalized world that relates to the natural and biological environment in a deeply disordered way, a just state is a state that has ample authority to protect the vulnerable from the ravages of pandemics, natural disasters, and climate change, and from the underlying structures of corporate power that contribute to these events. Because the ragion di stato is not ashamed of strong rule, does not see it as presumptively suspect in the way liberalism does, a further corollary is that authority and hierarchy are also principles of constitutionalism. Finally, and perhaps most important, just rule emphasizes solidarity and subsidiarity. Authority is held in trust for and exercised on behalf of the community and the subsidiary groups that make up a community, not for the benefit of individuals taken one by one.How, if at all, are these principles to be grounded in the constitutional text and in conventional legal sources? The sweeping generalities and famous ambiguities of our Constitution, an old and in places obscure document, afford ample space for substantive moral readings that promote peace, justice, abundance, health, and safety, by means of just authority, hierarchy, solidarity, and subsidiarity. The general-welfare clause, which gives Congress “power to … provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States,” is an obvious place to ground principles of common-good constitutionalism (despite a liberal tradition of reading the clause in a cramped fashion), as is the Constitution’s preamble, with its references to general welfare and domestic tranquility, to the perfection of the union, and to justice. Constitutional words such as freedom and liberty need not be given libertarian readings; instead they can be read in light of a better conception of liberty as the natural human capacity to act in accordance with reasoned morality.More important still, thinking that the common good and its corollary principles have to be grounded in specific texts is a mistake; they can be grounded in the general structure of the constitutional order and in the nature and purposes of government. The Supreme Court, like Congress and the presidency, has often drawn upon broad structural and natural-law principles to determine the just authority of the state. “Police power,” which, despite its misleading name, refers to the general power of state governments to protect health, safety, order, and public morality, is nowhere mentioned in the written Constitution. America’s real, “efficient” Constitution is largely unwritten or uncodified, as is true of constitutions everywhere.This is not the occasion to offer a bill of particulars about how constitutional law might change under this approach, but a few broad strokes can be sketched. The Court’s jurisprudence on free speech, abortion, sexual liberties, and related matters will prove vulnerable under a regime of common-good constitutionalism. The claim, from the notorious joint opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that each individual may “define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” should be not only rejected but stamped as abominable, beyond the realm of the acceptable forever after. So too should the libertarian assumptions central to free-speech law and free-speech ideology—that government is forbidden to judge the quality and moral worth of public speech, that “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric,” and so on—fall under the ax. Libertarian conceptions of property rights and economic rights will also have to go, insofar as they bar the state from enforcing duties of community and solidarity in the use and distribution of resources.As for the structure and distribution of authority within government, common-good constitutionalism will favor a powerful presidency ruling over a powerful bureaucracy, the latter acting through principles of administrative law’s inner morality with a view to promoting solidarity and subsidiarity. The bureaucracy will be seen not as an enemy, but as the strong hand of legitimate rule. The state is to be entrusted with the authority to protect the populace from the vagaries and injustices of market forces, from employers who would exploit them as atomized individuals, and from corporate exploitation and destruction of the natural environment. Unions, guilds and crafts, cities and localities, and other solidaristic associations will benefit from the presumptive favor of the law, as will the traditional family; in virtue of subsidiarity, the aim of rule will be not to displace these associations, but to help them function well. Elaborating on the common-good principle that no constitutional right to refuse vaccination exists, constitutional law will define in broad terms the authority of the state to protect the public’s health and well-being, protecting the weak from pandemics and scourges of many kinds—biological, social, and economic—even when doing so requires overriding the selfish claims of individuals to private “rights.” Thus the state will enjoy authority to curb the social and economic pretensions of the urban-gentry liberals who so often place their own satisfactions (financial and sexual) and the good of their class or social milieu above the common good.In this sense, common-good constitutionalism promises to expand and fulfill, in new circumstances and with a new emphasis, the Constitution’s commitments to promoting the general welfare and human dignity. Overall, constitutionalism will become more direct, more openly moral, less tied to tendentious law-office history and endless litigation of dubious claims about events centuries in the past. Originalism has done useful work, and can now give way to a new confidence in authoritative rule for the common good.
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theatlantic.com