It’s a number that informed so many of our public policy decisions regarding COVID-19: 3.4 percent.

On March 3, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made a remark during a media briefing that guided how we viewed the threat posed by the novel coronavirus.

“While many people globally have built up immunity to seasonal flu strains, COVID-19 is a new virus to which no one has immunity. That means more people are susceptible to infection, and some will suffer severe disease,” Tedros said during the briefing.

“Globally, about 3.4 percent of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1 percent of those infected.”

Now, was this based on incomplete information? Of course.

At some level, it’s difficult to blame individuals working from a very limited data set.

On the other hand, that limited data set influenced how we approached the disease — and it turns out that, if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current “best estimate” of the COVID-19 death rate is accurate, it’s 13 times lower than the initial WHO claim.

According to statistics “based on data received by CDC prior to 4/29/2020,” the death rate from COVID-19 could be as low as 0.26 percent.

The numbers are based on the newest of “five COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios that are designed to help inform decisions by modelers and public health officials who utilize mathematical modeling,” the CDC said.

“Each scenario is based on a set of numerical values for biological and epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19. These values — called parameter values — can be used to estimate the possible effects of COVID-19 in U.S. states and localities. The parameter values in each scenario will be updated and augmented over time, as we learn more about the epidemiology of COVID-19.”

Scenario 5 — the operative scenario at the moment, at least given the data that we have — has some interesting data regarding the death rates for the novel coronavirus.

According to the CDC’s data, the symptomatic case fatality percentage is 0.4 percent.

Reading further into the data reveals it’s even lower than that.

Scenario 5 includes data on “[p]ercent of infections that are asymptomatic.” That, according to the CDC, is 35 percent.

So, do the math: It turns out that means the death rate is only 0.26 percent, according to the CDC’s own numbers.

Now, does this mean the death rate is truly 0.26 percent? Of course not. Even now, we’re in the early days in terms of statistics for the novel coronavirus. However, what’s clear is that, when all is said and done, we’re going to be nowhere close to the 3.4 percent originally predicted by the World Health Organization.

This was predicted by plenty of people at the beginning — including President Donald Trump, who was criticized when he said March 4 that 3.4 percent was “really a false number” and the actual death rate would be “under 1 percent.”

Now, does this mean that the president or any of the others who predicted this are doctors or epidemiologists? No. However, they had a basic understanding of how statistics work. They knew that, in the early days of the virus, with limited testing and limited data, the numbers were going to seem a lot higher than they actually were.

And yet, Tedros wasn’t the only one who thought the death rate for the coronavirus was an order of magnitude higher than current data says it is. In February, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was 2 percent.

“If you look at the cases that have come to the attention of the medical authorities, in China, and you just do the math — the math is about 2 percent. If you look at certain age groups, certain risk groups, the fatality is much higher,” Fauci told Congress, according to CNBC.

There’s a reason this matters.

If there’s a disease that spreads rapidly and has a death rate of 2 or 3 percent, yes, locking down the populace is a reasonable reaction.

If we’re talking about something closer to 0.26 percent, putting the world into a new Great Depression seems a bit of an overreaction.

We don’t know the final death rate for the novel coronavirus yet. One thing’s for sure, though — it’s not 3.4 percent or anything close to that. It might not be 13 times lower, but it’s a lot closer to that than anything predicted at the beginning.

That has a lot of implications going forward, including when we start second-guessing what we did to our society and economy in order to arrest the spread of the disease.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: CDC’s Latest ‘Best Estimate’ of COVID Death Rate Is 13 Times Lower Than Initial WHO Claim

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made it clear she’s going to work very hard to pin the coronavirus pandemic on President Donald Trump.

Just don’t ask her to find out where the pandemic actually started.

Pelosi, as you may have heard, has put together a committee to oversee the Trump administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. In a “Dear Colleague” letter, she assured everyone this was about ensuring the relief money was spent the way it was supposed to.

“We must make sure that the historic investment of taxpayer dollars made in the CARES Act is being used wisely and efficiently to help those in need, not be exploited by profiteers and price-gougers,” Pelosi wrote in the letter late last month, according to Politico.

However, you can probably tell where this whole thing is headed when you consider that each of the seven members she appointed to the committee were Democrats. The chairman, meanwhile, will be House Majority Whip James Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat best known as the man who pretty much saved Joe Biden’s campaign by endorsing him before the South Carolina primary in February. No conflict of interest there whatsoever.

Just don’t ask Pelosi to join an investigation of the origins of the novel coronavirus.

According to GOP Rep. Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, his attempts to investigate a New York firm that sent money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology — potentially the source of the virus, according to some sources — have been stymied by Pelosi and House Democrats.

During an appearance on “Breitbart News Saturday” this weekend, Reschenthaler talked about a letter he sent to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper regarding a Pentagon grant that went to EcoHealth Alliance, which has given money to the Wuhan institute on a number of occasions. (It’s unclear whether the Pentagon grant went directly to the Wuhan institute.)

Another grant he talked about involved the National Institutes of Health (in particular the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, run by Dr. Anthony Fauci) giving money to the EcoHealth Alliance — which, in turn, gave some of that money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to research coronaviruses in bats.

Just don’t expect much to come of any of this from Congress.

“We should have an investigative body looking at these grants, but Nancy Pelosi is not going to do that,” Reschenthaler said. “So you have myself and House Republicans. I can tell you I’m going to continue to look into these grants. I’m going to continue to look into the Department of Homeland Security as well to see what grants are going from there to China. I’m also looking at defunding the World Health Organization and we can talk about that as well.

“But the bottom line of the Democrats’ behavior is this: They hate this president so badly that they would rather side with the Chinese Communist Party than defend Americans and defend our spending and spend wisely and just be honest. That is their hatred for President Trump and disdain for President Trump’s supporters.”

Reschenthaler said he is trying to determine if money from the Pentagon grant went to the Wuhan lab.

“The [Department of Defense] also gave EcoHealth Alliance $6.5 million in a grant, and like you said, that grant was to understand bat-borne zoonotic disease in context with weapons of mass destruction, what I’m trying to find out is whether or not the DOD funding that went to EcoHealth also went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said.

“We know that the NIH funding did, and we also know that all money is fungible, but I want to see if we can trace that money to Wuhan to see how much and to what extent the DOD and American taxpayers actually funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”

His ability to investigate these grants has been blocked specifically because the Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives and have no intention of conducting such an investigation.

They already have a committee to deal with the coronavirus, after all, and they’re going to investigate pretty much nothing else but Trump.

“It’s imperative that we as House Republicans take back the House in this next election because Nancy Pelosi and the far-left Democrats are thwarting everything we do,” Reschenthaler said. “I do have to say I cringe when the media says ‘Nancy Pelosi and the squad’ because that minimizes how far left this party has gone. It’s just not ‘the squad.’ It’s not just Nancy Pelosi. It’s most of their members.

“Look at the Green New Deal. When that was floated, half of their co-sponsors were on the Green New Deal. Most of these Democrats vote 90 plus percent of the time with [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez],” he continued.

“This party has moved drastically to the left to the point of siding with the CCP over Americans. They don’t want to get to the bottom of these grants and they also don’t want my resolution run on the floor about defunding the World Health Organization or at least getting Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the WHO] to resign and getting an international organization to investigate how the World Health Organization was either grossly negligent in dealing with the Wuhan virus or how they worked hand-in-glove with the Chinese Communist Party in trying to cover up the virus early on. But that’s the extent of their hatred, again, of this president and his supporters where they will not run these bills and they will not do these investigations because, again, they would rather side with the CCP than do the right thing.”

Unless Republicans take back control of the House in November, the body isn’t going to be doing much when it comes to investigating how much money went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, much less whether the institute was at all responsible for the accidental release of the coronavirus — something that the American intelligence community hasn’t ruled out and that the president and others in the administration say they’ve seen evidence of, according to NBC News.

“But I think whether or not this disease came from a bat through a wet market or it came from a lab, we’ve got to see where it originated and we’ve got to see what we can do to make sure we stop these pandemics in the future,” Reschenthaler said.

“That could be something like encouraging other nations to stop interactions at wet markets, which should be happening anyhow. If it originated in a lab and somehow leaked from the lab, we shouldn’t be funding labs that study virology and weapons of mass destruction in terms of biological weapons. We shouldn’t fund these labs unless they have procedures in place where the disease won’t leak out and kill 60,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands around the world. This is a very responsible thing to do as good stewards of taxpayer money.”

And, as Reschenthaler pointed out, we don’t know how much data on coronaviruses we got from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

We know that we certainly didn’t get any investigators inside of China after the coronavirus went worldwide. We still haven’t gotten investigators on the ground in Hubei province — and we won’t.

But what we will get is Clyburn’s committee, which features firebrands like Reps. Maxine Waters of California and Nydia Velazquez of New York, among others.

This will certainly be a way for Democrats to go after the Trump administration, at least until the election and possibly beyond. It could even be, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called it, “another impeachment committee.

But the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Don’t expect that to be investigated anytime soon — not until the Democrats are out of power in the House.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: GOP Rep: Pelosi Blocking Wuhan Investigation in Favor of Pinning Pandemic on Trump

So you’re a buzzing node in the liberal media complex. It’s Friday.

You’re huddled at your MacBook in your $4,500-a-month Tribeca studio. A doppio helping of Keurig-made espresso sits in front of you, gathering coldness. This would have been so much better in the little hipster coffee shop where you would usually be creating content. At least the coffee shop is alive because it got a business loan … a loan made possible because of congressional Republicans and signed into law by President Trump.

Republicans. Trump. Those words just stick in your mind like embers of hatred burning up your last neurons of sanity. And as you sit in front of your curved flatscreen, watching the media source you work for, you stew in anger because the politics coverage isn’t just 24 hours of treating those two entities like the Scylla and Charybdis of hatred, loathing, regression and evil anymore. No. You have two more words scorching your gray matter: Tara Reade.

“And today, because we’re forced to report on it, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and beacon of all that is good and holy, Joe Biden, a man clearly not undergoing cognitive diminishing returns, has been accused of sexual assault by a former aide,” the generic reporter with generic emo glasses on the generic news source you work for would theoretically be saying.

“I think her name is Tara Reade. OK, got that? Good, that’s enough time spent on that. Now, stunning news out of Washington as some Republican actually stood up to them when one of our reporters confronted them. We warn you, some of you might find this footage offensive…”

Tara Reade. How could she? She’s supposed to be liberal, right? Didn’t she know this way more important than whatever she says might have happened to her? Well, at least we’ve got Trump on this one — when he condemns Biden, we can bring up the fact that women accused him of sexual assault! I mean, sure, no one can name one of them that’s not E. Jean Carroll now, and none of them decided to pursue their claims — but that’s unimportant. It’s just a trap — we just have to wait for him to speak and the snare goes off, catching him by the leg …

And the generic newsman comes back. And he says President Trump has been asked about the Reade allegation. This is it. A hush — even more palpable than usual, given the lack of activity in the streets below — descends over your apartment.

“I would just say to Joe Biden, ‘Just go out and fight it,’” Trump said.

“He’s going to have to make his own decision, I’m not going to be telling him what to do,” he continued. “Biden is going to have to go out and fight his own battles.”

He freaking evaded the trap! He evaded it! There’s another word burning in your mind right now. It’s usually bleeped on your network.

That Trump quote is real, by the way. “Just go out and fight it.”

The rest is obviously my febrile imagination, what members of the media establishment will no doubt identify as my perfervid desire to be one of them.

However, there is a certain brilliance to what Trump said. During the Friday interview with conservative radio host Dan Bongino, Trump said that Reade’s allegation was “credible” but didn’t particularly condemn Biden, according to CNBC.

However, he said the best way to deal with allegations like hers was “to get in front of it and I just deny it.”

In short, no, he didn’t condemn Biden. He didn’t take any position on it. He urged the former vice president to fight and that was it. End of story.

There’s nothing to comment on. No hot takes. No takes at all. Nothing like that.

Want to put this kind of paragraph in the story, like The New York Times did when they reported on Reade’s allegation 19 days after it was made?: “President Trump has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than a dozen women, who have described a pattern of behavior that went far beyond the accusations against Mr. Biden. The president also directed illegal payments, including $130,000 to a pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels, before the 2016 election to silence women about alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, according to federal prosecutors.”

Well, then you have to acknowledge that Trump wants Biden to fight the allegations, too. He doesn’t believe that one should automatically believe all women. You also have to acknowledge that the corroborating evidence for the allegations against Trump was thin at best — and that’s putting it very mildly.

The whole thing with the sexual assault allegations against Biden is that we have to examine the sexual assault allegations against Trump — even though, as I said, try to name one person who made them. This is the brilliance of Trump’s move. This is, to use the shopworn Trump cliché, playing chess while his opponents are playing checkers.

What, if you’re the poor media sap who’s our subject, do you do? Do you agree with the president? Well, then you agree Trump ought to have fought the sexual assault allegations — as he did, and was roundly criticized for it. You also have to admit that there’s just as much corroboration for the Biden allegations as there is for the Trump allegations. You also have to admit that if Biden fights the allegations Reade made, he too should be criticized.

In other words, with just five words of advice to Biden — “go out and fight it” — Trump has is forcing the media to consider taking a course that could destroy the liberals’ current best hope to take on Trump.

Or do you oppose those who fight the allegations? If you do that, you implicate Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — and Biden. There’s no consistent application of facts that doesn’t implicate everyone involved — or give the benefit of the doubt to everyone involved.

For Trump’s enemies, it’s a horrible, no-win situation, and Trump has maneuvered the media right into it.

Or what you can say — and what I guarantee our generic media node will say — is that Biden and Trump are different. You can’t consistently apply logic to the two cases. They’re divergent, because … one is Donald Trump and as for the other, as Nancy Pelosi put it in a masterpiece of logic: “Joe Biden is Joe Biden.”

There you go.

That’s your consistency. Your excuse is set, God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world. Suddenly that cold K-cup coffee tastes a little better. You’re not sure whether or not your spirits are lifted because of the caffeine or the fact you have your angle, but hitting those keys feels easier …

No, there’s no more truth emanating from your fingers. You realize, subconsciously, that Donald Trump has won this round. but he’s won so many of them that you’re numb and indifferent. It’ll be one of those days.

And of course, you subconsciously realize Joe Biden is in deep trouble. The media is paying attention to this, much to their discontent. And Donald Trump is smiling. You aren’t. You’re happier than you were before, but you still make another doppio from the Keurig. Yeah, using two K-cups is expensive, but so’s your apartment and it’s going to be a long day — and a long week. If this persists, it might be a long year, too.

Oh, the pain of being a buzzing media node.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Trump Masterfully Maneuvers Libs into Horrible, No-Win Situation by Advising Biden To Fight Allegations

No, really, reader of The Western Journal. I swear I’ve learned my lesson this time: Don’t give Democratic governors the benefit of the doubt.

I thought I’d learned it the first time. When New York’s Andrew Cuomo looked like he was showing strong leadership in the opening week or two of the coronavirus crisis, I thought maybe we could put aside our petty differences and praise a politician from the other side. In fact, I did just that. And then it all ended in tears.

It wasn’t the rambling, empurpled news conferences that made the much-criticized presidential media briefings look like relative models of restraint. No, for me the moment I made a clean break was when I learned the much-hailed hand sanitizer production program Cuomo was fond of touting consisted of little more than inmates rebottling an outside product inside the Empire State’s prisons in order to make the governor look good.

I figured that’d disabuse me from the practice for a while. But then began my flirtation with Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. And no, not the kind of flirtation that involves having a job for Newsom while being his alcohol-clouded mistress of and married to his best friend.

Instead, I’m talking about the kind of flirtation that involves praise for his work in combating COVID-19 in his state. Unlike Cuomo, who presides over the biggest coronavirus hotspot in the world, Newsom has done an admirable job of keeping his state’s two major metropolises under control in that respect.

In fact, despite being America’s most populous state by a rather wide margin, California has slightly more than 5 percent of America’s coronavirus cases, and despite having 2.2 times the population of Los Angeles, New York City has 22 times the coronavirus deaths LA does. No. I didn’t misplace a decimal point.

I also didn’t misplace a decimal point when California announced a $1,000,000,000 outlay to purchase N95 respirator masks. And then, alas, reality set in.

How harsh? Consider the fact that conservative Newsmax and the liberal Los Angeles Times both hit him for what he did.

According to the Times, the problem wasn’t the cost of the masks — or where the money was going to, although that was equally problematic — but the lack of any details regarding the deal.

“The governor’s advisors have so far declined requests for information about the agreement with BYD, the Chinese electric car manufacturer hired to produce the masks, though the state has already wired the company the first installment of $495 million,” the Times reported.

“Newsom, who has been praised for his efforts to slow the spread of the disease, bristled on Saturday at suggestions that his administration has been too slow to explain a deal that will cost California taxpayers 30% more than his January budget would spend on infectious disease prevention for an entire fiscal year.”

Furthermore, he hasn’t bothered to brief the California Legislature on what, exactly, he agreed to.

“I must emphasize, that’s a big deal,” GOP state Sen. Jim Nielsen said during a legislative oversight hearing Tuesday. “And what is in the contract that ensures the deliverability — timely — is going to be really, really important. At the least, we cannot be just throwing out a false hope to people.”

The details sound impressive. Newsom’s office says it can buy 200 million N95 masks at an impressive price from BYD, heretofore known for its electric vehicles, using its state buying power. This may, in fact, be an accurate appraisal of how the deal would work — assuming, that is, BYD can convert its plants into N95-producing powerhouses.

“Exactly how BYD has converted some of its manufacturing efforts in China to begin producing protective masks is unclear,” the Times reported.

“On March 13, it touted the creation of ‘the world’s largest mass-produced face masks plant’ in a news release posted on the company’s website. The company announced that it would make 5 million masks a day — far surpassing the 100 million masks a month promised by 3M, the company best known for producing N95 masks, used to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“A spokesman for BYD referred all questions about negotiations over the purchase of masks to Newsom’s office.”

Given that Newsom’s office appears entirely unwilling to share these details with legislators, you may perhaps begin to see the problem here. You may perhaps see a bigger problem when you consider Newsom’s Office of Emergency Services has delayed any response until May 4. But don’t worry, this is all totes legit.

Well, don’t worry. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown gave BYD a massive contract to build electric buses in Southern California and there were no issues with that.

“But there were criticisms of BYD’s work in California,” the Times reported. “Problems with some of the company’s electric buses were chronicled in a Times investigation in 2018. The former chief counsel of a competing company said in a 2013 letter to Long Beach officials that BYD had ‘a history of overpromising and underdelivering.’

“Workplace conditions have also come under scrutiny. California safety officials investigated the BYD facility four times between the summer of 2014 and last spring, according to records reviewed by The Times, alleging 20 different workplace violations.

“Among the violations alleged at the Lancaster electric car plant last year were errors in the proper use of respirators — safety masks — for its employees.

“A company spokesman declined to comment on any of the workplace citations because of pending legal action.

“In the years since it set up shop in California, BYD has quietly but steadily ramped up its governmental and political presence. The company has spent more than $1 million lobbying state officials since 2014 and made a $50,000 contribution to the 2018 ballot measure campaign to keep in place California’s new taxes on gas and diesel sales.

“In 2015, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development awarded BYD a $3-million tax credit to expand its manufacturing in California to other kinds of electric vehicles. But the company forfeited more than $1 million of the incentive.”

But other than that, how was the electric bus factory tour, Mrs. Lincoln?

BYD, in case you were wondering, stands for “Build Your Dreams,” which may well stand for the contracts it’s put together with the state of California as opposed to its vehicles.

And let’s not forget that at a time when we’re trying to diversify our supply chains for surgical and N95 masks away from China, Newsom apparently decided that it was time to put $1 billion of eggs into one very problematic Chinese company.

This is exactly why we realized critical manufacturing industries either can’t be moved out of the United States or need to have diversified supply lines. This is like “A Coronavirus Carol” and the governor is being visited by the Ghost of Don’t-You-Ever-Learn.

So alas, I’ve learned my lesson for real this time.

Yes, Gavin Newsom has done a reasonably good job of ensuring his state wasn’t overrun by coronavirus cases, but he’s still the same old Gavin Newsom who gives taxpayer money to illegal aliens and aims to use the coronavirus as the catalyst for a “new progressive era.”

This is a pitiful job of refusing to learn a critical lesson almost all public officials should have had drilled into them the moment they were unable to obtain personal protective equipment for their state.

This would almost be hilarious were it not — quite literally — deadly serious.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Betrayal? California Gov. Newsom Helps Chinese Get $1 Billion in COVID Aid

In New York’s Suffolk County, officials now have 251,200 protective masks for their stockpile — 51,200 more than were promised to the Long Island jurisdiction by President Donald Trump.

The delivery comes after GOP New York Rep. Lee Zeldin and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone looked for “urgent” assistance from the federal government in what’s quickly becoming one of the New York City-area hotspots for coronavirus infections, reported.

The county’s stockpile was out of a lot of quite a bit of personal protective equipment, including surgical masks, N95 masks, face shields, gowns and body bags.

Zeldin, head of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, had already secured 150,000 surgical masks that were delivered Saturday.

“Rep. Zeldin quickly received multiple direct offers to help, including one within minutes of his plea from Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner,” Zeldin said in a Sunday news release.

“Mr. Kushner informed Congressman Zeldin he was interested in helping Suffolk County secure all PPE needs for the next 30 days.

“Working with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and his office, Rep. Zeldin sent details of all needed PPE directly to Mr. Kushner last night, and also communicated the details of Suffolk County’s situation directly to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.”

That included a promise of 200,000 masks for Suffolk County. The Trump administration delivered with a bit of extra.

“The President promised Sunday he’d immediately deliver Suffolk County 200,000 N95 masks,” Zeldin tweeted Tuesday.

“The even better news…251,200 N95 masks have arrived to Suffolk PLUS another 100,000 N95 masks for @NorthwellHealth west of Suffolk!”

As of Thursday, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, Suffolk County had 17,008 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 323 deaths.

In an appearance on MSNBC, Bellone called the impact the virus had on his county and Long Island — which has seen over 1,000 deaths — “extraordinary.”

“To think back a month ago, we didn’t have a single confirmed case,” the Suffolk County executive said, according to Newsday.

“Now we have more confirmed cases than every other state in this country except for New York and New Jersey,” Bellone said.

He said the early lack of testing was the problem in tackling it at the beginning.

“We didn’t know about those cases because testing wasn’t available,” Bellone said. “Now the tens of thousands of tests done have revealed the truth: This virus has spread everywhere.”

And even with the masks and the 136 ventilators Suffolk County received, he said, “staffing is really the toughest challenge right now.”

“We have hundreds of health care workers who have contracted the virus,” Bellone said.

“It really brings it home the dangers they are facing,” he added, saying that medical staff are in “the medical equivalent of a war zone.”

On Saturday, Zeldin had put out a call for help.

Well, Trump underpromised, overdelivered and got it there with great response time. Not a bad job.

In his statement on Sunday, Zeldin emphasized the importance of PPE for those on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.

“We must do everything in our power to ensure our medical professionals, first responders, law enforcement and other essential workers are able to do their jobs while being able to protect their own health, and the health of others, including their precious family members, and I thank President Trump and Jared Kushner for stepping up to the plate for Suffolk County,” Zeldin said.

“We are all in this fight together, and I am encouraged by the Administration’s swift, effective and immediate response to Suffolk County’s urgent need of PPE. I look forward to continuing to work with every level of government from Suffolk County Executive Bellone to the President to continue to deliver for Suffolk County.”

Suffolk, like many places in New York, seems to be flattening the curve. According to RiverheadLOCAL, there were 68 hospitalizations on Wednesday with 130 people discharged from the hospital.

“We will get through this,” Bellone said. And hopefully sooner rather than later.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: NY County Finds Trump Delivered Not Only 200k Masks He Promised but 50k Extra in Just 2 Days

It’s rare that Barack Obama tweets a direct criticism at the Trump administration.

However, on Tuesday, the former president laid into a decision from Trump’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency to roll back Obama-era federal vehicle fuel efficiency standards, comparing it — sigh — to coronavirus.

“We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic,” Obama tweeted after the new standards were announced on Tuesday.

“We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial. All of us, especially young people, have to demand better of our government at every level and vote this fall.”

It’s good to see the former president is staying limber with his attacks. In under 280 characters, he managed to not only trash Trump on coronavirus but also fuel efficiency standards as well. Yes he can.

However, it’s probably worth looking at the rule in question — which, if you were paying attention, actually deals with fuel economy and not emissions, although the two are closely related.

According to Fox News, the new regulations, which will be effective from model years 2021 through 2026, will only require automakers to increase their fleet fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent a year.

Under previous regulations, in effect from 2012, automakers needed to improve their fuel economy by 5 percent each year.

That was “unrealistic,” officials said.

“This strikes the right balance between environmental considerations, health considerations and economic considerations,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler told reporters during a call.

“This rule reflects the Department’s No. 1 priority — safety — by making newer, safer, cleaner vehicles more accessible for Americans who are, on average, driving 12-year-old cars. By making newer, safer, and cleaner vehicles more accessible for American families, more lives will be saved and more jobs will be created,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The old regulations would have meant that fleet fuel economy — defined as the average in fuel economy across all vehicles an automaker sells — would have been 55 miles per gallon in 2026. The new regulations will mean the fleet fuel economy will only have to be slightly above 40 miles per gallon by 2026.

According to The Hill, that’s a number the manufacturers think they can meet. In fact, they already estimate they can make a 2.4 percent yearly fuel economy increase without regulation.

You can guess the advantages here: cheaper cars, more flexibility for automakers and more room for innovation.

But what about the costs? After all, you’ll be spending more at the pump, to say nothing of the externalities affecting the environment.

David Friedman, vice president for advocacy with Consumer Reports, probably synthesized the argument against rolling back the standards as well as anyone: “Unemployment claims skyrocketed to more than 3 million last week, so millions of Americans are now going without a paycheck, and our nation is at risk of a recession because of the COVID crisis,” he told reporters.

“So it’s absolutely stunning the administration would finalize a plan that will cost drivers more money at the pump for years to come. Consumers, workers, small business owners are the engine of America’s economy. And the last thing they need is to get stuck spending more on gas.”

However, what that discounts is the fact that the average car on the road now is older than it’s ever been: 12 years. And there’s a reason for that.

“The current standards have been a factor in the rising cost of new automobiles to an average of $35,000 or more — out of reach for many American families, the agencies said,” IndustryWeek reported in 2018.

“Compared to the preferred alternative in the proposal, keeping in place the standards finalized in 2012 would add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car, and impose more than $500 billion in societal costs on the U.S. economy over the next 50 years.”

That, Chao says, represents an opportunity to get consumers into newer cars — ones that are more environmentally friendly as well as safer.

“It will make newer vehicles more affordable to consumers, safer for passengers and cleaner for the environment,” Chao said. “It’s a win-win-win solution.”

Furthermore, there’s nothing to say car buyers don’t value fuel economy.

From a 2016 study in the Journal of Public Economics: “By seeing how price differences across high and low mileage vehicles of different fuel economies change in response to shocks to the price of gasoline, we estimate the relationship between vehicle prices and future fuel costs. Our data suggest that used automobile prices move one for one with changes in present discounted future fuel costs, which implies that consumers fully value fuel economy.”

The rule will be subject to court challenges, especially given tougher regulations that were drafted by California and enacted by a number of other states.

It’ll also be subject to rhetoric like the former president’s. He’s not alone, either. California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris also somehow found a way to incorporate coronavirus-related politicking into her response.

“Hospitals are in desperate need of ventilators for people with respiratory illnesses, millions have applied for unemployment, and families across the nation are struggling to make ends meet,” she said in a statement. “This administration’s own analysis has shown this is a bad deal for Americans. During this time of crisis, we should have every federal policy — including bold clean car standards — in place to make our air clean, create jobs, and save consumers money.”

Aside from Obamacare, this is one of the most prominent vestiges of the Obama years — and one that doesn’t take legislation to ditch.

At the point where we don’t get new cars out on the road, we don’t actually get any benefit from increased fuel economy standards.

The Trump administration has estimated that there’ll be an estimated savings of $1,400 per vehicle and 2.7 million new cars out on the road.

Whether that materializes is another question entirely, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or auto engineer, for that matter — to see that this will get newer cars out on the streets.

It may not be making news, but it’s undoubtedly a big step in the right direction.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Trump Cuts Through More Obama Red Tape, Rolls Back Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Regulations

There was plenty of sturm und drang about who ended up getting what in the massive $2 trillion relief package Congress passed before it was finally signed by President Donald Trump on Saturday.

There’ll still be plenty of debate over whether or not the money is going to the right place. There’s one thing I think we all should agree on, though: The relief package should only include checks to American citizens.

We should. We don’t. And while it’s some of our politicians that are saying this, there are also a lot of non-governmental organizations that are saying it, as well.

If you think it’s fringe voices putting this forth, it’s also probably worth noting that fringe voices are taking more and more oxygen when it comes to politics on the left.

Take New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a member of the House Financial Services Committee and star of the freshman class of 2019 — if more in terms of media coverage than in actual achievement — who protested that immigrants both legally and illegally in this country don’t get a $1,200 check from the plan.

“To clarify, $1200 checks are ONLY going to some w/social sec numbers, NOT immigrants w/ tax IDs (ITINs),” she tweeted Thursday, referring to individual taxpayer identification numbers, a program that allows immigrants — including those here illegally — to pay their federal income taxes.

“Thanks to GOP, these checks will be cut off the backs of *taxpaying immigrants,* who get nothing. Many are essential workers who pay more taxes than Amazon. Wall St gets $4T.”

At least she kept her protest to immigrants paying federal taxes, however. Fellow “squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan came up with her own plan that would give $2,000 on a debit card, with $1,000 added for every month until a year after the crisis ends, to individuals “including undocumented people, permanent residents, and temporary visitors whose stay exceeds three months.”

That wasn’t the most insane part of the plan, though: She wanted to pay for it with two $1 trillion coins.

You would think, given those tweets, that she was hiding how she planned to pay for the bill. On the contrary, she practically invented (or, your dad might say, coined) the hashtag #MintTheCoin to promote it:

These were two of the voices in Congress who were promoting relief checks to illegal immigrants. There were plenty of extra-governmental organizations promoting the idea, as well. Breitbart managed to collect a few of these gems, including one from Marielena Hincapié of the George Soros-backed United We Dream:

Some of these individuals thought the money should go to illegal immigrants who had individual taxpayer identification numbers. Some of them didn’t. The general tenor of everything was, however, that it was time to put more non-Americans on the dole, regardless of whether they were in the country legally.

The Democratic mainstream understood, at a basic level, that this would be unacceptable to the average voter. Even in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s wish list plan, this was never an option. That ought to have told everyone just how toxic this idea is — which is why all but the fringes of the Democratic Party avoided it.

The new left is free to say this, however. AOC and Tlaib are likely to be re-elected in their districts in perpetuity, unappetizing as that prospect might be. Nobody votes for groups like the National Immigrant Justice Center and United We Dream. They’re able to say the quiet part as loud as they like.

Whether or not you agree with the sprawling aid package passed by Congress last weeek, one thing should be clear: This package ought to be for American citizens. We’ll be the ones who end up paying for it, after all. We also have a legal right to be in the country.

This isn’t xenophobia, merely facts.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Congress Can’t Even Hand Cash to Americans Without Leftists Demanding Illegals Get Some, Too

Are you an Elizabeth Warren fan who missed the post-debate coverage of her on Friday? Don’t worry. You probably saw all of her best lines before.

If you think I’m just a conservative pulling some ruse, some cunning trick upon you, I’m merely extrapolating from two separate interviews she gave after Friday’s debate in New Hampshire.

Warren is nothing if not an energetic, spry septuagenarian and she managed to make time for both MSNBC and CBS News during the backstage press free-for-all.

Time for different answers for different networks? That wasn’t really in the (peace) pipe, however.

Take a look at this side-by-side assemblage, posted to Twitter by the fine folks from Townhall, which showed her interviews with the two outlets.

It might sound like this would produce some discordant melange of sound, the kind of squawking cross-talk you’re used to hearing on a contentious political chat show. For reasons you’ll quickly grok, it didn’t:

It started with a word-for-word recitation of the “Nevertheless, she persisted” story, totally unrehearsed.

Then a talk about how she’s been “fighting unwinnable fights all my life” — like getting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a massively interventionist consumer financial “watchdog” that acts as a pit bull for the left’s agenda while being almost entirely (and arguably unconstitutionally) unaccountable to elected officials.

Another unwinnable fight: Her battle to “take back a Senate seat from a popular incumbent Republican.”

Just so we’re clear on what this entails: In the wake of Ted Kennedy’s death, a special election for his seat was held in 2010, shortly after his 2009 passing.

In the most aberrational Senate election result of the 21st century, Brown scored a win in America’s most arguably liberal state over uninspiring Democrat candidate Martha Coakley because of a poor campaign, Democrat voter apathy and anger over Obamacare. Two years later, no one in the Democratic Party made those same mistakes again and Warren became an incredibly unsurprising winner.

But the best commentary is this: It almost feels like you’re listening to this in stereo at times. The words are almost exact — and you get the feeling she’s used them before. This isn’t someone hitting the same points, she’s hitting the same syllables. I understand the use of talking points — every candidate does it, even Donald Trump — but at some level your reactions can’t be mental cut-and-pasting of material that probably didn’t originate from you.

Some of the reactions:

Ironically, the comparisons with Hillary-esque disingenuousness aren’t new. In a slightly different faux pas, Warren seems to have lifted one of her jokes from the next-to-last debate from the 2016 standard-bearer.

I have to admit even I was brought to, if not laughter, a chuckle over that one. It turns out, however, she might have been pulling a Joe Biden and lifting the line from someone else:

“I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States,” Hillary said as she kicked off her 2016 campaign in 2015. “You won’t see my hair turn white in the White House. I’ve been coloring my hair for years.”

When it comes to disingenuousness, all I can say is this: Warren learned from the master.

At least Warren didn’t do it word-for-word then. As for Friday, eh. It’s not like anyone was going to notice, right?

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Side-by-Side Video Proves Warren Is Least Genuine Candidate Since Hillary

I think we can officially call a moratorium on the use of the three-word construction “rare bipartisan moment” in discussing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement that’ll almost certainly be passing the House and moving on to the Senate for ratification.

President Donald Trump declared victory on the proposal, which will replace what he has called the “worst trade deal ever made.”

So has House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “This deal is much better than the original NAFTA — and infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” the California Democrat said.

In fact, if there was going to be any organized resistance, you’d probably predict it would come from Republican quarters. GOP Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey said the current deal was a “complete capitulation to Pelosi.”

However, Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, while saying that the deal was “imperfect, and some people are concerned about the more recent negotiations,” said the “vast majority” of Republicans would support it in the upper house.

So, Trump happy, Republicans grumbling but content, Pelosi happy. It’s a win for American businesses and American workers. That sounds like something that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could get behind, right?

Nope. The New York Democrat told a community town hall in New York on Saturday she was probably going to vote against the historic agreement.

“I am leaning and intending to vote no,” she said, according to the New York Post.

“Folks who, because of our shameful health care system in the United States, cross the border into Canada to try to purchase insulin to bring back” would be threatened by the deal, Ocasio-Cortez told the audience.

This isn’t the first time that Ocasio-Cortez has spoken out against the deal. Back in June, she was one of nine House Democrats who voiced their opposition to the USMCA, writing in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that it “is essentially NAFTA 2.0: while it includes some important improvements from the original NAFTA, critical unfinished business would perpetuate NAFTA’s damage.

“The new text also includes new terms that we oppose, including some that would lock in high U.S. drug prices,” the lawmakers said.

It’s worth noting that only the opinions of eight of the signatories actually matter anymore; former Rep. Katie Hill has returned to California after resigning due to an inappropriate relationship with a young campaign employee, where she’ll presumedly continue railing against revenge porn to anyone who will still listen.

However, the other hard-left Dem who signed the letter along with AOC — fellow “squad” member Ilhan Omar of Minnesota — has also expressed reservations about the plan.

“We have engaged our stakeholders in Minnesota and still have concerns,” Omar said in an email to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. If those stakeholder concerns were enumerated in that email, they remained unshared in the article.

It’s worth noting that the current version of the USMCA, however, omits intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies, something that prompted no small amount of querulousness from pharma groups.

I’m not entirely sure what AOC wanted aside from the wholesale importation of Canada’s health care system.

Whatever it is, it’s clear she wasn’t going to get it.

This is essentially the Ocasio-Cortez way — she’s not in Washington to actually vote on things that might be beneficial for people in her district; she wants every high-profile bill to be the Platonic ideal of the perfect piece of legislation from the progressive perspective.

If it isn’t, well, it’s threatening those people who drive to Canada to get insulin. Or something.

The great irony is that when Pelosi did bring a bill to the floor that Democrats said would have lowered insulin prices — H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act — Ocasio-Cortez told members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus that they shouldn’t vote for it until her demands were met.

“I think we need to flex our muscle,” Ocasio-Cortez told reporters about the bill.

They ended up increasing the number of drugs covered under the plan from 35 to 50, according to Stat, reducing the chances of it clearing the Senate from 0 percent to 0 percent. Good work, I guess.

That won’t be replicated here, since everyone else in her caucus is more or less basking in that rare bipartisan glow.

In neither case is she pursuing something that will end in any sort of victory for her constituents. This is all about positioning.

It’s worth noting that the major worry from Democrats thus far seems to be that passing the plan might give Trump an election-year advantage. That’s probably why you see Democrats like Pelosi talking about how “[w]e ate their lunch” in terms of the deal.

That’s not where Ocasio-Cortez is, though. She’s flexing her muscle — and, much like when she flexed her muscle on Amazon, she basically wants to cost American workers jobs.

Thankfully, she probably won’t get anywhere fast.

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: AOC ‘Intending To Vote No’ on Trump’s Historic USMCA Trade Deal

Normally, the Democratic presidential frontrunner would be celebrating like mad if the incumbent president was potentially facing impeachment.

In Joe Biden’s case, I’d imagine the whole matter has brought him to ordering Pepto-Bismol by the case and sucking it down as if it were Diet Coke.

Almost the whole investigation — as you’re no doubt aware — revolves around whether the Trump administration acted improperly when it asked the Ukrainians to investigate the Bidens.

The reason the Trump administration did this, of course, was the fact that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, was paid tens of thousands of dollars per month to sit on the board of a company called Burisma Holdings — and then his father played a part in pressuring the Ukrainians to fire the prosecutor who once investigated the firm.

This may have been coincidental, but it’s also a massive conflict of interest. It’s also the least of Hunter Biden’s issues, at least as a public relations disaster. The ensuing attention brought up his fondness for illicit powders, gentlemen’s clubs, romantic relations with women he probably should have done best to avoid and other faux pas.

This isn’t to say that it’ll necessarily sink Joe Biden’s campaign. In terms of ne’er-do-well political relatives, however, it makes one yearn for the days of Billy Carter or Neil Bush.

Hunter’s latest imprecation involves allegedly fathering a child out of wedlock with a former college basketball player named Lunden Roberts who worked at a strip club in Washington, D.C.

The Western Journal confirmed that a DNA test taken by Biden showed he was almost certainly the father of the 1-year-old.

Now, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, Biden will have to turn over his financial records for the last five years, and Roberts will have to turn over records of the tips she received at the Mpire strip club in D.C., which is the place where the two of them met.

The Arkansas judge had originally ruled that only three years of records needed to be turned over. He also said that Hunter, 49, and Roberts, 28, needed to come up with the records within 10 days.

“I have viewed Ms Roberts affidavit of financial means online and saw that she is employed at a family business probably for a salary of less than minimum wage,” Judge Don McSpadden said in a letter to the attorneys in the case.

“I do not want to have this [drag] out nor do I want to have to drag out the monies these individuals may have received in any form or fashion.”

“I anticipate paternity as well as custody, support and visitation being established at our next hearing,” he added. The next hearing will be Jan. 7.

“I will do what I believe is in the best interest of the child,” he added.

“This matter has been filed in this court. Again, my major and main if not only concern is this child,” McSpadden added. “Issues are no longer up to the parties.”

“I am going to treat this case like any other paternity case that comes before the court. Hopefully the parties will see fit to look out for the interest of this child.”

The Arkansas Times and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette confirmed the substance of the Daily Mail’s reporting.

In short, the court will learn quite a bit more about Hunter Biden’s Burisma money in a short while, given the window in which the documents are meant to be filed. You won’t, however, given that McSpadden has filed a motion requesting that the documents remain sealed.

“The likelihood that [Biden’s] private records will be used in an inappropriate or malicious manner for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with these proceedings is exceedingly high and should not be tolerated by the court,” he said in the filing.

In terms of the Burisma financial records, I don’t think I particularly need to tell you what that means, even if we don’t see them. In terms of Roberts’ strip club tips, this could also reignite speculation about Hunter Biden’s spending in certain gentlemen’s establishments.

It came out late last month that Biden was suspected of smoking crack at a strip club in D.C. where he had dropped “thousands of dollars” in the VIP room, according to the New York Post’s Page Six.

It was also claimed he settled up using “credit cards that didn’t have his name on it” — generally a no-no in strip clubs, but a partner in the establishment said that “Hunter was a bit of an exception.”

So clearly, America’s father of the year is in a bit of a bother. He did, after all, sit on Burisma’s board between 2014 and 2019 and earned a lot of money while he was at it — up to $50,000 a month, even though he had no experience when it came to Ukraine or the energy sector.

There are plenty of travails of being a new father, although this one is, well, unusual. But at least he’s got some people handing him some well-deserved congratulations.

It’s a long way to next November, and one feels this won’t be the end of the Hunter Biden-related issues.

Of course, if he’d just taken responsibility for his child in the first place, financial and otherwise, none of this would have happened.

Is this the last time we see this kind of irresponsibility on display by Hunter? Is Kamala Harris still a threat to Joe Biden capturing the nomination?

Author: C. Douglas Golden

Source: Western Journal: Father of the Year Hunter Biden Must Now Give Burisma Financials to Court

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