Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Is the pandemic over? We asked an economist, an education expert and a public health scholar their views

  President Joe Biden’s declaration that “the pandemic is over” raised eyebrows and the hackles of some experts who think such messaging could be premature and counterproductive.

  But to many Americans who have long since returned to pre-COVID 19 activities and are now being forced back into the office, the remark may ring true.

  The problem is that what “back to normal” feels like may differ from person to person, depending on the individual’s circumstances and by what criteria they are judging the pandemic to be over. The Conversation asked three scholars of different parts of U.S. society affected by the pandemic – public health, education, and the economy – to evaluate just how “over” the pandemic is in their worlds. This is what they said:

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Americans think they know a lot about politics – and it’s bad for democracy that they’re so often wrong in their confidence

  As statewide primaries continue through the summer, many Americans are beginning to think about which candidates they will support in the 2022 general election.

  This decision-making process is fraught with difficulties, especially for inexperienced voters.

  Voters must navigate angry, emotion-laden conversations about politics when trying to sort out whom to vote for. Americans are more likely than ever to view politics in moral terms, meaning their political conversations sometimes feel like epic battles between good and evil.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse - The decibel level story

  Those of us who served a long time in the Alabama Legislature have a lot of stories. I served 16 years from 1982 to 1998, representing my home county of Pike. I chose not to run again in 1998. However, I missed the comradery and friendships of other legislators who became lifelong friends.

  It was apparent that those of us who hailed from smaller towns and rural counties knew our constituents better and were better known by our constituents than those from urban areas.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Religions have long known that getting away from it all is good for the mind, body and spirit

  Summer vacations are coming to an end – though not everyone took one.

  Under federal law, U.S. companies aren’t required to offer a single paid vacation day, compared to the at least 20 required in the European Union. About 1 in 4 U.S. workers don’t receive any, and even among those who do, few make full use of them. More than half leave at least some vacation days untouched, and almost 1 in 5 say they feel guilty leaving the office, according to a 2019 survey by Priceline.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

In states where abortion is banned, children and families already face an uphill battle

  Some proponents of abortion bans and restrictions say they are concerned about “supporting not just life” but what they call “quality of life worth living,” saying they want to promote laws and policies that help families. Three authors from Brigham Young University, for instance, have noted that the overturning of Roe v. Wade provides a “genuine opportunity for pro-lifers to work with people of diverse political persuasions to seek a more just and compassionate world. This world would be not only pro-life, but also pro-child, pro-parent and pro-family.”

Friday, September 23, 2022

Refuse to be afraid

  Tim Wrightman, a former All-American UCLA football player, tells a story about how as a rookie lineman in the National Football League, he was up against the legendary pass rusher Lawrence Taylor. Taylor was not only physically powerful and uncommonly quick but a master at verbal intimidation.

  Looking young Tim in the eye, he said, “Sonny, get ready. I’m going to the left and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Military self-delusion on the U.S. Constitution

  Several former U.S. defense secretaries and retired generals recently published an open letter about the current political environment in America. The letter stated, among other things: “Military officers swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath of fealty to an individual or to an office.”

  That’s just pure nonsense and self-delusion. Oh, sure, technically it’s true that military officers swear such an oath, but they don’t follow it. Instead, they faithfully and blindly follow the orders of the president, which means, as a practical matter, that their oath is one of fealty to the president, not to the Constitution.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott pull from segregationists’ playbook with their anti-immigration stunts

  As a historian of racism and white supremacy in the United States, I’ve become accustomed to callous actions like those of Republican governors who organized transportation for Latin American migrants to states run by their political opponents.

  Governors Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida are following the playbook of segregationists who provided one-way bus tickets to Northern cities for Black Southerners in the 1960s. At that time, the fight for racial equality was attracting national attention and support from many white Americans, inspiring some to join interracial Freedom Rides organized by civil rights groups to challenge segregation on interstate bus lines.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Free preventive care under the ACA is under threat again – a ruling exempting PrEP from insurance coverage may extend nationwide and to other health services

  Many Americans breathed a sigh of relief when the Supreme Court left the Affordable Care Act in place following the law’s third major legal challenge in June 2021. This decision left widely supported policies in place, like ensuring coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, coverage for dependents up to age 26 on their parents’ plan, and removal of annual and lifetime benefit limits.

  But the hits keep coming. One of the most popular benefits offered by the ACA, free preventive care, is under legal threat again by Braidwood Management v. Becerra – originally Kelley v. Becerra. The Braidwood plaintiffs are a mix of individuals and business owners who object to purchasing insurance that covers preexposure prophylaxis – or PrEP – a medicine that is almost 100% effective in preventing HIV infection. One of the plaintiffs claimed that PrEP “facilitates and encourages homosexual behavior, intravenous drug use, and sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman” and that his religious beliefs prevent him from providing insurance that covers PrEP.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Building something better: How community organizing helps people thrive in challenging times

  Americans don’t agree on much these days, but many feel that the U.S. is on the wrong track and the future is bleak. In a time of unprecedented division, rising inequality, and intensifying climate change, it’s easy to feel that progress is impossible.

  In fact, models exist all around us for building safer and more equitable spaces where people can thrive.