Patterico's Pontifications


No Good Deed Goes Untaxed

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:04 pm

[guest post by JVW]

At his regular news conference yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York addressed the issue of taxing those health workers from out of state who have come to New York to provide badly-needed aid at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States:

[transcript with embedded video]

Reporter: Governor, this President specifically said the Democrat led states, “Have been mismanaged over a long period of time.” What’s your reaction to that? What role do you want the President to try to get to to tango? And have you considered waiving the state tax on emergency workers who volunteered to come here from out of state?

Gov. Cuomo: Yeah. We’re not in a position to provide any more subsidies right now because we have a $13 billion deficit. So there’s a lot of good things I would like to do, and if we get federal funding, we can do. But it would be irresponsible for me to sit here looking at a $13 billion deficit and say I’m going to spend more money when I can’t even pay the essential services. If we don’t get money from Washington, we can’t fund schools at the rate we want to fund them. So, we are in dire financial need.

For the life of me I don’t understand why Andrew Cuomo was almost immediately hailed as a hero in the early days of this pandemic. True, the far-far left continues to voice skepticism of a man who they believe (justifiably) is at heart a crony capitalist, but the last remaining Democrats who don’t worship at the altar of Bernie Sanders somehow have managed to turn a compromised fixer from a wretched machine into a Tiger Beat heartthrob and a viable replacement for the befuddled old codger that they are on the verge of nominating.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the hard part for blue state governors (and, frankly, red state governors too) might not be managing the pandemic and health aspects of the crisis, it could well be managing the budgetary fallouts from the business closures that they have staunchly — even if reluctantly — supported. Already school districts across the country trying to plan for the 2020-21 academic year are facing budget cuts which will likely lead to teacher layoffs, so Ms. Soccer Mom and Mr. PTA Dad will quickly be made aware of the impact that the “if it saves just one life” mindset has on their communities and, inevitably, their own pocketbooks.


Coronavirus In France Before First Case Identified In China?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:36 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This certainly changes the coronavirus timeline:

Coronavirus appears to have infected people in France weeks before the disease was detected in Europe and possibly before the first cases of pneumonia of unknown origin were announced in China in December, according to scientists and doctors who have analysed virus samples. 

Retesting of samples from patients with influenza-like symptoms at a hospital north of Paris found one that tested positive for coronavirus from the end of last year, a finding described in a paper for the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents published this week.

“We had a positive Covid-19 case on December 27 who was hospitalised with us at Jean-Verdier [hospital],” Yves Cohen, head of intensive care for two hospitals in Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, told France’s BFMTV. He was one of the contributors to the paper. 

“It’s not surprising when you consider that the World Health Organization has announced that it was circulating in China from December 8 at least. Given the amount of travel, it’s normal that the virus appeared quickly in France.” 

The report goes on to note that on February 15, France reported its first COVID-19 death. The victim was a Chinese tourist who arrived in France on January 25.


The French Covid-19 patient, whose infection was confirmed with two separate types of genetic test, was a 42-year-old man born in Algeria who had not travelled abroad since July 2019 but one of whose children had earlier reported influenza-like symptoms. The father recovered. 

“Identifying the first infected patient is of great epidemiological interest as it changes dramatically our knowledge regarding Sars-Cov-2 and its spreading in the country,” the paper said. “Moreover, the absence of a link [from the patient] with China and the lack of recent travel suggest that the disease was already spreading among the French population at the end of December 2019.” 

In the meantime, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to hold fast to his claim that the novel coronavirus originally infected a human in a lab in China:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doubled down on his assertion that there’s “significant evidence” the novel coronavirus first infected a human in a biomedical laboratory in China, even after other senior U.S. officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have said scientific evidence suggests otherwise.

Pressed on his comment…that the U.S. has “enormous evidence” supporting the lab theory, the top U.S. diplomat lashed out at reporters and said his position was “entirely consistent” with Fauci and others — instead, a difference in “confidence.”

“I’m not sure what it is about that grammar that you can’t get. We don’t have certainty, and there’s significant evidence that this came from the laboratory. Those statements can both be true,”

On Monday, Dr. Fauci countered Pompeo’s claims, saying that the scientific evidence “strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature,” dismissing the unproven theory that it first infected a human being in a lab.”

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement saying that they were in agreement that the “wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified…” They will, however, keep investigating the matter.

Also, Pompeo did not tell reporters what the “significant evidence” was. Moreover, the report notes that Pompeo “brushed aside any differences with Fauci or Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who said Tuesday the U.S. doesn’t “have conclusive evidence on any of that.”


New Political Campaign Ad: “American Comeback”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:53 am

[guest post by Dana]

As you know, I have been posting current political ads from various campaigns and political groups. I don’t know to what degree they actually influence voters, but the good ones tap into the mood of America, whether righteous anger, providing a needed dose of hope, or attacking the president . Today’s ad is from the Trump re-election campaign:

In response to the ad, CNN is claiming that it misrepresents their coverage:

A lawyer for CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia has written a cease-and-desist letter to President Trump’s re-election campaign over the misleading contents of a new campaign ad.

WarnerMedia says the Trump ad is misusing CNN news coverage in a way that’s “false, misleading and deceptive.”

In response to a request for comment from CNN Business, the campaign claimed that the ad is accurate and attacked the network’s editorial decisions.

Rick D. McMurtry, associate general counsel for WarnerMedia, wrote in a letter to Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, that “the advertisement purposely and deceptively edits the clip to imply that Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were crediting the President’s travel ban policy issued in January for saving millions of American lives, when in fact Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were discussing recently implemented social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments.”

Murtaugh responded: “No discussion of efforts to prevent American deaths from the coronavirus can be had without the understanding that President Trump restricted travel from China in January. Based on that alone, the ad is accurate.”

(h/t Paul Montagu)

On the surface, it’s a compelling ad, and Trump supporters will love it, as will viewers less concerned about accuracy and more emotionally tuned-in. But as I’ve said before, I am not sure if these curated mini-stories actually change anyone’s mind. When leading Democratic women say that they support Joe Biden, in spite of Tara Reade’s allegations of sexual misconduct, and when a majority of Republicans have already voted for Donald Trump, in spite of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, it seems that nothing short of a nominee being caught on video committing a horrendous act will change anyone’s mind. My sense of the political climate right now is that voters, including Independents, are already solidly planted in their respective positions: Anyone but Trump. Anyone but a Democrat. And no political ad is going to move the needle to any noticeable degree.

[Ed. Not ignoring Justin Amash here, but he’s just getting started, and it’s too soon to say if he’ll pull in any significant number of voters.]


Kushner’s Bumbling PPE Acquisition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

A whistleblower says Jared Kushner’s efforts to get PPE has been a clown show:

The coronavirus response being spearheaded by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has relied in part on volunteers from consulting and private equity firms with little expertise in the tasks they were assigned, exacerbating chronic problems in obtaining supplies for hospitals and other needs, according to numerous government officials and a volunteer involved in the effort.

About two dozen employees from Boston Consulting Group, Insight, McKinsey and other firms have volunteered their time — some on paid vacation leave from their jobs and others without pay — to aid the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials and others familiar with the arrangement.

Although some of the volunteers have relevant backgrounds and experience, many others were poorly matched with their assigned jobs, including those given the task of securing personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals nationwide, according to a complaint filed last month with the House Oversight Committee.

But at least everyone talks the talk — corporate talk, that is:

I, for one, believe Kushner has appropriately actualized a collaborative array of methodologies to leverage his multidisciplinary “outside the box” approach, with real-time integrated solutions that have empowered infrastructures. Also, he fast-tracks suggestions from Trump buddies:

Supply-chain volunteers were instructed to fast-track protective equipment leads from “VIPs,” including conservative journalists friendly to the White House, according to the complaint and one senior administration official.

“Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade, for example, called two people he knew in the administration to pass along a lead about PPE in an effort to be helpful, said two people familiar with the outreach. Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro also repeatedly lobbied the administration for a specific New York hospital to receive a large quantity of masks, one of the people said.

The New York Times says “100,000 masks were sent to a hospital [Pirro] favored.” There is no truth to the rumor that the hospital rewarded Pirro with a lifetime supply of Franzia. (Nobody can afford that much Franzia.)

I don’t see the problem. All Kushner did was maximize client-centric deliverables and functionalities to dynamically generate cross-platform and collaborative customer service for stakeholders, as well as formulate an expanded array of metrics to maintain a stable of frictionless partnerships that will optimize our core competencies going forward.

He’s done a crap job with the PPE but you can’t win ’em all.

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