“It is important also to consider, that the surest means of avoiding war is to be prepared for it in peace.” —Joseph Story (1833)
IN TODAY’S DIGEST
- Cuomo’s Fateful Decision
- NYC Mayor Calls for Life as Usual, Blames Trump for Disastrous Results
- Pelosi’s Tax Cuts for the Rich
- This Is Not the Financial Crisis
- IG Finds Pervasive FBI Abuse of FISA
- The Political Cover-Up
- Daily Features: News Executive Summary, Videos, Best of Right Opinion, Short Cuts, Memes, and Cartoons.
In 2015, New York’s Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo was faced with a decision: purchase a recommended 16,000 ventilators to add to the state’s pandemic preparation stockpile, or spend the millions elsewhere. Cuomo chose to go the latter route, commissioning a task force led by his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, to come up with a rationing plan for using the state’s existing ventilators should a pandemic scenario ever become reality. In other words, create a death panel that will determine who gets the state’s limited number of ventilators.
Furthermore, instead of spending $576 million on 16,000 ventilators, Cuomo elected to waste $750 million of the state’s budget on a solar-panel boondoggle known as the Buffalo Billion.
Now, five short years later, that unthinkable pandemic is here and New York, the state hardest hit by the China Virus, has been caught unprepared. Cuomo daily begs the federal government for more ventilators as if it was the job of the federal government to ensure that states were fully prepared for whatever crisis may come along.
Former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey recently blasted Cuomo’s decision to forgo the advice to stockpile ventilators, writing, “In New York, rationing ventilators should be unnecessary. The state knew of the shortage, had the money, and should have bought the lifesaving equipment, instead of making a plan on who should live or die.”
What is truly amazing is that, despite his glaring mismanagement on an issue after direct warnings, Cuomo’s favorability has increased during this crisis. There are now many Democrats calling for him to be the party’s presidential nominee as opposed to the increasingly frail Joe Biden. Much of Cuomo’s current popularity can be tied directly to a fawning media — led by his brother. As the Washington Examiner’s Eddie Scarry observes, “It’s weird watching CNN’s Chris Cuomo interview his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, almost every single night, but it’s even more weird that the national media are treating the governor like a hero. He has done nothing remarkable in managing his state’s response to the coronavirus.” In fact, Cuomo’s decision five years ago has likely cost New York lives.
Watching New York City’s response to the coronavirus pandemic provides an enlightening display of leftist hypocrisy, as well as the brilliance of the Founders’ federalist system of government.
While no one is to blame for the existence of the virus itself, we can certainly assess various leaders’ responses to the outbreak. The media and the Democrats hold President Donald Trump to a very high standard — a standard to which they exempt themselves.
Among President Trump’s most vocal critics has been New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. At 8.6 million residents, the Big Apple is America’s largest city — more than twice the population of Los Angeles. And at more than 28,000 people per square mile, its residents are like sheep crammed in a pen, which has facilitated the rapid spread of the virus.
De Blasio’s words and actions have been the epitome of progressive arrogance and bureaucratic incompetence, and the people of NYC — and all of America — are paying the price. NYC is home to nearly half of all U.S. coronavirus cases, with infection rates far higher than the rest of the country.
As New Yorkers realized the magnitude of the pandemic, and the ineptitude of the mayor’s response, many fled the state, carrying the virus to other parts of the country.
Yet just two weeks ago, de Blasio was publicly contradicting his own health officials and resisting his aides’ recommendation to shut down the city’s schools and businesses. Many threatened to resign over his refusal, with one aid calling his actions “inexcusable and reckless.”
On January 24, de Blasio told New Yorkers to “pursue their everyday activities and routines, but to remain aware of the facts about coronavirus.” On January 28, de Blasio said, “What we now know is this virus was underestimated by the Chinese government. … It’s probably here already.”
On February 13, he told the city, “[COVID-19] should not stop you from going about your life. It should not stop you from going to Chinatown and going out to eat.” On March 2, he again told New Yorkers to “go on with your lives [and] get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” even making movie recommendations.
On March 11, he said, “This disease, even if you were to get it, basically acts like a common cold or flu.” That same day, after accusing President Trump of “minimizing … a global pandemic,” de Blasio advised people “to not avoid restaurants,” adding, “If you’re not sick, you should be going about your life.”
Unbelievably, it took five more days before de Blasio announced the indefinite closing of all schools and nonessential businesses. Yet he still found time to go to his gym hours before it closed, a decision that infuriated his staffers. Meanwhile, he’s released 650 inmates from Rikers Island prison to avoid spreading coronavirus among them.
By March 27, with refrigerated trailers being converted into makeshift morgues, an emergency field hospital constructed in Central Park, and NYC doctors complaining that “the system is overwhelmed” and describing the situation as “hell” and “worse than 9/11,” de Blasio finally acquired some humility.
On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out de Blasio’s harsh criticism of President Trump before asking if he accepts any blame for NYC’s disastrous response, including his failure to order any protective gear for medical personnel until March 6. Naturally, de Blasio deflected, saying, “We should not be focusing … on anything looking back on any level of government right now.” Of course.
Moments later he admitted that President Trump and his team have been incredibly responsive to the mayor’s pleas for help. This was just days after he went on TV claiming President Trump would not “lift a finger” to help NYC, an obvious lie meant to distract from his repeated statements and actions (or failures to act) leading directly to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
De Blasio was right when he said COVID-19 “moves very, very fast, in a way none of us have ever experienced in our lives.” Yet that reality has not stopped him and other Democrats from blasting President Trump at every turn. The hypocrisy is as galling as it is blatant.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is, if nothing else, totally shameless. As the coronavirus threat was just beginning, she was busy impeaching President Donald Trump. When he enacted travel bans to prevent the spread, she ripped it as “outrageous” and “un-American.” When Republicans and Democrats in the Senate came together to draft a massive relief package for the U.S. economy, Pelosi tried to load it up with totally unrelated left-wing wish-list items and delayed a House vote for nearly a week. Now, she’s ready for relief Round 4, and one of her big ideas is … drumroll please … tax cuts for wealthy blue staters. Shameless.
When Republicans passed the 2017 tax cuts without a single Democrat vote, one of the things leftists carped about loudest was “tax cuts for the rich.” (Never mind that most cuts went to the middle class.) But, ironically, Democrats also objected to the $10,000 cap to the federal deduction for state and local taxes (SALT). This most heavily impacted high-income residents of high-tax blue states because they couldn’t deduct all those taxes on their federal returns. Republicans had grown tired of low-tax red states effectively subsidizing high-tax blue ones, like Pelosi’s California. Ever since, Democrats have been trying to repeal that cap, have courts strike it down, or implement accounting gimmicks at the state level to undermine it.
Now, Pelosi wants to not only end that cap but make repeal retroactive. “We could reverse that for 2018 and 2019 so that people could refile their taxes,” Pelosi argued. “They’d have more disposable income, which is the lifeblood of our economy, a consumer economy that we are.” Listen to her try to sound like a free marketeer.
In truth, what she’s calling for is a favor to the Democrat donor class at the expense of the vast majority of working Americans. “It’s almost the exact opposite of what Congress was trying to do with the phase three rebates,” says Joshua McCabe, a welfare policy expert and professor at Endicott College. “Rather than provide relief to the bottom 85 percent of Americans, this proposal would shower almost all the benefits on the top 15 percent of taxpayers — those who need it least.”
On a final note, one thing Pelosi and Trump will likely agree on in the next relief bill is massive spending on infrastructure. Both have pitched roughly $2 trillion in such spending. There’s no doubt the nation needs a big infusion of true infrastructure spending (as opposed to Barack Obama’s bogus “shovel-ready jobs”), but we also don’t exactly trust Pelosi to allocate that money for the best and most-needed projects. Now where would we get the idea that she’s not to be trusted?
Many Patriots worry (rightly, to some degree) about the $2.2 trillion relief bill passed to address some of the economic fallout from the Wuhan coronavirus. Some classify that aid package in the same vein as the bailout in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While the big money is something to be worried about, we should keep some important distinctions in mind.
First of all, unlike the financial crisis, the pandemic came about largely through the misconduct of a factor outside the United States — the ongoing cover-up from the “People’s Republic” of China. How bad was this cover-up? If China had acted more appropriately, one study says the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak could have been reduced by 95%.
Unfortunately, because of the cover-up, we have a pandemic on our hands, and to slow its spread, we have had to largely shut down the country for at least six weeks (to April 30), possibly longer in some places. These decisions are hurting millions of Americans through no fault of their own.
One can argue that we’re seeing the most massive and widespread regulatory “taking” in this country’s history, and under the Fifth Amendment, takings require “just compensation.” So, in one sense, Congress’s relief package was part of a constitutional duty to the American people.
Another point to keep in mind: Since this damage was caused by Beijing, it now becomes imperative that the costs of keeping Americans afloat come out of Beijing’s hide economically and geopolitically, but at a minimum in terms of public perception.
This is a crucial point. The financial crisis came about because of bad Democrat regulations followed by poor judgment on Wall Street. Thus, the Troubled Assets Relief Program was money changing hands among the very people who caused the problem in the first place. It was a moral hazard, and one from which the country is still struggling to recover.
The other big difference between 2008’s financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic is that in this case, we’re going to be making some long-lasting and long-needed adjustments. We will be reducing our dependence on China for a lot of things, from medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to manufactured goods. More Americans will also see more clearly the utter and total lack of reputability of the Beijing regime. We will also see regulations become less burdensome. The loosening that began as an emergency measure will not be easily reversed. Unfortunately, neither will some of the tightening.
The after-action will also require a plan to bolster our infrastructure — especially for medical treatment, but also for everything from the demands of more telecommuting to streaming entertainment at home. We also need to update it for the increased manufacturing that will come home and to rebuild stockpiles that were allowed to dwindle. What President Donald Trump started out of a desire to end America being screwed in trade deals is going to accelerate because restoring our manufacturing base has become a matter of life or death.
No, this will not be cheap. But the fact is, unlike the financial crisis, America seems to be willing to take the steps to fix the vulnerabilities and make the necessary changes to withstand the next outbreak. This will be a good thing over the long term.
On Tuesday, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his audit of the FBI’s FISA applications and what he found was not a pretty sight. To put it bluntly, there appears to be a widespread culture within the FBI of failing to follow the bureau’s own rules (known as the Woods Procedures) for handling FISA applications. In the 29 FISA applications reviewed, the IG “identified an average of about 20 issues per application reviewed, with a high of approximately 65 issues in one application and less than 5 issues in another application.” The IG reviewed applications from eight different FBI field offices over a span of five years covering 2014 to 2019. It turns out Donald Trump isn’t the only one with a right to complain.
The primary issue Horowitz uncovered was a consistent lack of supporting evidence mandated for FISA applications. Woods Files are supposed to contain “scrupulously accurate” supporting documentation “for every factual assertion contained in a FISA application,” as well as “supporting documentation and the results of required database searches and other verifications.”
However, as the IG report notes, “for all 25 FISA applications with Woods Files that we have reviewed to date, we identified facts stated in the FISA application that were: (a) not supported by any documentation in the Woods File, (b) not clearly corroborated by the supporting documentation in the Woods File, or (c) inconsistent with the supporting documentation in the Woods File.” Furthermore, of the four remaining FISA applications the IG reviewed, no Woods File was found.
So, what does this mean? Well, it now appears that the FBI’s mishandling of the Carter Page FISA application was far from an anomaly. On the one hand, that seemingly undercuts the claim that the deep state was intentionally targeting President Donald Trump’s campaign. Yet on the other hand, this pervasive lack of following FISA application standards made it even easier for deep-state actors to abuse the system. As Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey observes, “It makes it much easier to argue that the FBI routinely abuses its authority and misleads the FISC in order to pursue its own purposes, whatever they are.”
Finally, it’s important to note here that Horowitz does not make any determination or conclusion regarding the material substance of the issues he uncovered. To put it simply, Horowitz’s job was to determine if rules were followed or broken, not why they may have been broken. Nevertheless, this pervasive abuse by the FBI of FISA applications raises red flags over the whole FISC system.
Grassroots perspective by Willie Richardson
In 2012, the movie “Jack Reacher” was released and became a hit at the box office. In the opening scene of the movie, a man drives a white van to the top of the parking garage across the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He loads a sniper rifle and scopes the area to find his target. He ends up killing five people from long range on the North Shore Trail of the river.
Although five people were shot and killed, there was only one person who was the intended victim — the other four victims served as a cover-up. A man who happened to be waiting for his mistress was shot like a sitting duck on a bench. His mistress was shot while walking toward him in shock. Another woman who took off running was shot, while the fourth victim was killed while running with her child in her arms. The intended victim was the owner of a local construction company headed into a building ready to sign a lucrative construction contract. Obviously, the counterfeit construction firm led by a former Soviet political prisoner wanted her dead to gain the spoils.
For selfish gain, the former political prisoner ordered a sniper to sacrifice the lives of innocent people just to mask his greedy agenda.
Today, there is a cover-up brewing in Congress. The COVID-19 media-driven hysteria is being used to smokescreen a hidden agenda of the Left. From pastors being arrested in Florida to churches in New York being threatened by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, there is something deeper to this. Even the “reformed” stimulus orchestrated by the Democrats included only $10,000,000 set aside for infrastructure to fight infectious disease, while $25,000,000 is for cleaning supplies for the Capitol Building. What?
Is this the beginning of an agenda to rid Americans of their religious rights? Is this an agenda to economically destroy what our country has built the last four years under the Trump administration? I’m usually not a conspiracy theorist, but I think many Americans are tired and ready to get back to Making America Great Again.
The Latest on Coronavirus
“This could be a hell of a bad two weeks”: White House projects 100,000 to 240,000 coronavirus deaths as Trump tells U.S. to prepare (Fox News)
Stocks close historically bad quarter with losses; Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all down between 15% and 24% (The Hill)
Larry Hogan and Gretchen Whitmer: What governors need from Washington during this health emergency (The Washington Post)
How South Korea reined in the outbreak without shutting everything down (NPR)
New Jersey backs down on gun-store closures (The Washington Free Beacon)
Christian round-ups continue: Seven arrested for praying near Greensboro abortion clinic during stay-at-home order (PJ Media)
Government & Politics
An answer to China? Trump calls for $2 trillion infrastructure bill as “Phase 4” of coronavirus response (Fox News)
GOP congressman introduces bill to rescind $25 million bailout after Kennedy Center lays off employees (National Review)
For the record: Ten insanely wasteful spending items in the relief bill (The Federalist)
“Millionaires don’t need a new tax break”: In ironic turnabout, Grassley blasts Pelosi’s attempt to eliminate SALT deduction cap (National Review)
The rule of men: DOJ IG checked 29 more FBI spy warrants and found problems with all of them (The Daily Caller)
Unconstitutional ban? District court finds bump-stock proscription may constitute a taking, because the federal government lacks a police power (The Volokh Conspiracy)
“Preparing for worst-case scenarios”: The U.S. military’s dealing with the virus — but keep it a secret (RealClearInvestigations)
With friends like these, who needs enemies? Chinese propaganda is now citing U.S. journalists’ and Democrats’ coronavirus rhetoric (Washington Examiner)
Marine Corps plans to cut tanks, shrinks F-35 squadrons to confront China (Naval Technology)
Policy: Even during these dark days, it’s not all bad news in the jobs market (New York Post)
Policy: Why it’s so hard to escape anti-poverty programs (Foundation for Economic Education)
Humor: BREAKING: Congress given permanent stay-at-home order for the safety of the country (Genesius Times)
For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.
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Video: Unsung Heroes of the Coronavirus Pandemic — The real unsung heroes are free individuals.
Video: The Press Can’t Stop Lying — Media manipulates data to attack Trump.
Humor Video: A Teleconference Call in Real Life — Zoom has made social distancing from work much more…
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.
Upright: “The most powerful weapon against fear during a crisis is gratitude. When we intentionally look for reasons to be thankful, we do not deny the reality of the situation.” —Paul Tripp
Observations: “I don’t think we need to jump into the middle of another stimulus package right now. … There are some in Washington, DC, that just spent $2 trillion and it’s like a teenager getting off a roller coaster saying, ‘That was fun. Let’s do that again.’” —Sen. James Lankford
Nailed it: “We have to focus on keeping people employed. … I don’t believe we can wait until the end of April. I just don’t know of any economy that’s ever survived where you unplug the entire economy and expect things to go back and be normal.” —Rep. Devin Nunes
For the record I: “This could be a hell of a bad two weeks.” —Donald Trump
For the record II: “In a perfect world, it would have been nice to know what was going on [in China]. We didn’t, but I believe … that we acted very, very early.” —Dr. Anthony Fauci
The BIG Lie: “Everybody saw this coming in early January.” —MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (“Number of [Scarborough] tweets in January by topic: Impeachment - 29. Election - 11. Sports - 7. Coronavirus - 0.” —Glenn Greenwald)
Non compos mentis: “We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. 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.” —Barack Obama on Donald Trump undoing his mileage standards (“This is why Trump wins, even when all odds are seemingly stacked against him. Dems, for the life of them, cannot figure out what normal people care about and why.” —Allie Beth Stuckey)
Braying jackass: “Basically what’s happening in America is whatever happens when a family has, like, an alcoholic dad and the kids just have to raise themselves. That’s what’s going on in the U.S. right now.” —Trevor Noah
And last… “I’m baffled by the people acting like what’s happening exposes some sort of fatal flaw in capitalism. That’s like thinking it’s a fatal flaw that a car won’t run without gas.” —Frank J. Fleming
For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.
For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.
Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis