Thursday, April 30, 2020

She's a House No One Wants to Live In

New York Magazine is doing the world a favor by giving us less Ask Polly. Yesterday, it ran a letter from a woman who feels unloved. She describes herself as overweight and ugly, unloved and unlovable. Somehow or other the woman thinks she is a philosopher manque, though the evidence of her letter suggests that she is not. She believes that philosophy and the attendant anger has saved her. The letter suggests that she is anything but saved. In truth, she is morbidly obese and, by her account, ugly and lovable and undesirable.

It is a sad letter, but one that screams for an obvious solution. Get a fucking trainer, genius. Spend some time at the gym. Consult with a nutritionist. Get a better haircut. Find someone who can show you how to dress. Get a makeover. Clean your house and rearrange your closet.  This is all so obvious that I hesitate to point it out.

And, if she wants to go out on dates, I suspect that there are dating sites for women who are somewhat overweight. Some men look for women who are not svelte. In today’s world, this should not be so difficult to find.

And yet, the letter writer, who dubs herself Stuck, does not say anything about these points. Nor does dimwitted Polly. After all, Polly is herself living testimony to the mindless drivel that far too many therapists are handing out these days. As always, she tells Stuck to feel her feelings, to feel her desire, and, above and beyond all that-- to tell some new stories.

Yes, indeed, it’s the new therapy culture nostrum: you can change who you are by becoming a more proficient story teller. Tell a different story, like the story of Oedipus or the story of Narcissus, and you will become a new person. It’s so stupid that one hesitates to say so, but it passes as therapeutic these days.

If Polly had not abandoned all common sense, she might have added something about the need for this woman to get a trainer and to engage in the other self-improvement activities I mentioned. She did not. It shows why the magazine has reduced the frequency of her column.

Here are some excerpts from the letter. Dare we mention that this woman feels sorry for herself. And that she ought to get over feeling sorry for herself. Because feeling your feelings for feeling sorry for yourself will just make you sound pathetic. People are rarely drawn to people who present themselves as pathetic.

As you might imagine, Stuck is a big fan of Polly’s columns. I trust you are not surprised. Letters written by people who follow Polly’s lame advice usually testify to how bad it is.


This is going to be a mess, and there is no one problem, and I am an enduring fan of yours. Why? When I read your columns, so often I find a voice that reminds me of the best voice in me….

Ultimately the reason I wanted to write you was because I spend every day of this pandemic looking at my double-chinned face on Google Hangouts, and I think about how my entire life, I have wanted not to be morbidly obese. I feel like I’m damned if I do — because how stupid, right, to want something that I know is rigged, that I know is stupid, that I know is arbitrary, that I have never approved of? And damned if I don’t, because I have never looked the way I wanted, and it’s hard for me to say if the reason I haven’t is because I am actually a coward afraid to look like I tried? Now that I am 31, I wonder if I will ever be … not even beautiful, but something that I want to be. It feels cheap to say, ‘Ah, just want yourself! Just love yourself!’ Just stop wanting what you’ve always wanted! JUST GIVE UP.

Fuck that. I don’t want to buy into patriarchal bullshit, but I don’t want to disown what I want, either. What I want to look like is as much a part of me as what I in fact do look like. That’s the rub.

Sometimes I ask myself how I got here. I’m 31 years old, obese, as I said, and a virgin. No one has ever liked me romantically, and I have to wonder, is it because I save the worst parts of me for those who know me? My fragility, my anger, my demands? I know I don’t have a perfect heart. I find myself trying to figure out how and why to change to keep people around. I’ve been having more difficult conversations about ways I was hurt and trying to own up to the times I hurt others, and I can’t tell if this is growth or if it’s coming from the same part of me that is angry: I hate ambiguity. I think that’s why I’ve walked away from some things....

Polly, sometimes I feel like a house nobody wants to live in. I have this ugly body, this ugly face. I am mean, demanding, loud, self-important, and have only a handful of friends that seem to stand the test of time.

As I said, she thinks she is a philosopher. And, of course, she is in full rebellion against the patriarchy. I will spare you the rest of the letter and will spare you Polly’s seemingly endless commentary.

Of course, I understand that gyms are not open during the pandemic-- to my personal regret. But perhaps Stuck should unstick herself and get up, get out, go for a walk or a trot or a jog or a run. She should take a step toward better personal habits, habits that manifest a basic concern for the state of her body. Because, right now, she is covering herself with a mask of self-loathing. It is not an attractive look.

Meat Eaters Have Better Mental Health

The Daily Mail has impeccable timing. As President Trump orders meat processing plants to stay open, in the national interest, the London tabloid reports that meat eaters have better mental health than vegetarians.

Eat more meat and you will be less depressed. Eat more vegetables and you will be more likely to take psychiatric medication. Being a vegetarian will also make you more suicidal.

A vegetarian or vegan diet may be increasing the likelihood of depression, a US-based study has found. 

People with a plant-based diet were twice as likely to take prescription drugs for mental illness and nearly three times as likely to contemplate suicide.  

The report, which looked at more than 160,000 people, also found that a shocking one in three vegetarians suffer from depression or anxiety.

The study was reasonably broad based:

Researchers reviewed 18 studies examining the relationship between mental health and eating meat, involving a total of 160,257 participants.

But, you might say, is this about correlation or causation? Might it not be the case that mentally healthy people eat more meat and that depressed people eat more vegetables?

The researchers suggest that avoiding meat may be a 'behavioural marker' indicating people already with poor mental health. 

This is a suggestion that requires more research to back it up, the researchers say.   

University of Alabama researchers write in the study: 'Those who avoided meat consumption had significantly higher rates or risk of depression, anxiety, and/or self-harm behaviours.

'Our study does not support avoiding meat consumption for overall psychological health benefits.'

At the least, the study demonstrates that those who are avoiding meat in order to improve their mental health are making a mistake.

The report concludes:

Dr Edward Archer, from the University of Alabama and one of the study's authors, said: 'While the risks and benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets have been debated for centuries, our results show that meat eaters have better psychological health.

'These findings have implications when defining what constitutes a 'healthy diet'. Mental health may need to be emphasised when evaluating the benefits and risks of particular dietary patterns.'

Echoing the report's findings, Aseem Malhotra, an NHS Consultant Cardiologist, said in a tweet: 'In general, if you want to avoid increased risk of depression, anxiety and self-harm behaviour then do eat meat.

'If you're vegan or vegetarian for ethical reasons, then please personally invest extra in strategies to protect your mental health.'

The study, entitled 'Meat and Mental Health: A systematic review of meat abstention and depression, anxiety and related phenomena', is published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Build That Wall, Between Egypt and Gaza

Do good fences make good neighbors? Your guess is as good as mine. 

At the least, nations around the world do know that building walls is good policy. Israel did it along the West Bank, and it worked. Nations like New Zealand and Australia protected their citizens from the coronavirus by shutting down immigration. The Trump administration is trying to overcome judicial and bureaucratic obstacles, to build a wall along our Southern border.

Now, Egypt is building a wall to separate it from Hamas-controlled Gaza. (via Maggie’s Farm)  Keep in mind, Hamas is funded by Iran. The Obama administration sent a planeload of cash to Tehran, and even admitted that some of the money would go to support Hamas and Hezbollah. It did not bother anyone on the left. Would you expect anything different from Jeremiah Wright’s protege?

Anyway, Egypt is trying to keep Hamas terrorists out of its territory:

Egypt has recently started constructing a steel wall along its 14-kilometer (7-mile) border with Gaza, eyewitnesses said.

The eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that the Egyptian army started the construction of a 7-meter high wall along the Gazan border and will be equipped with electronic sensors.

They added that so far 1 kilometer of the wall has been built from the eastern side of Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom).

The construction of the wall came in parallel with a concrete wall, whose construction started in February and almost half of it has been completed.

So, Egypt continues to reject Palestinian terrorism. In that it has been joined by the Gulf Arab states. Even Saudi Arabia has quietly ceased supporting the Palestinian cause.

The only group that continues to support the Palestinian cause, aside from the neo-Nazis in Iran, are liberal Western Jews. Draw your conclusions.

The Democrats' Woman Problem

Have you noticed that no one, and I mean no one on the left or the right has come out and said, in a time of coronavirus: I wish Hillary were president.

I like to imagine, in optimistic moments, that no one was really fooled by the incompetent fraud named Hillary Rodham Clinton. When the dowager duchess of Chappaqua yesterday declared her support for sexual predator Joe Biden, the stories were all about the fact that hypocrisy is her middle name. She had been there and done that, for her sexual predator of a husband. And she was rewarded richly for it.

America’s left will never have any credibility on the subject of sexual harassment until it comes to terms with its disgraceful dereliction in supporting Bill Clinton and in rewarding the one person who defending him the most fiercely: Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As it happens, Democrats tend to come together when they need to join forces. Even if the cause is appalling, the party loyalty is admirable. Democrats seem not to attract turncoats like Mitt Romney.

When it comes to Tara Reade and her accusations against Joe Biden, we must note that members of the more radical, more socialist left, led by one Nathan Robinson, have been all over the Reade story. While the chickenshit senator from Vermont falls in line, Robinson and his ilk from Current Affairs have been on the case. And have kept the story alive. 

If this were only a right vs. left story it would never have had the legs that it has. Attacks on Biden from the left have kept the story alive.

And, let’s not forget. Mainstream media reporters, in all of their interviews with senile old Joe, have never once asked him about Tara Reade's allegations. Speaking of hypocrisy and corruption. By now, Reade’s allegations have been corroborated by several people, even by her own mother, in a call to Larry King that was more or less contemporaneous with the event.

So now we have the high priestess of impotent rage, one Rebecca Traister, who manages to offer something resembling a sane and rational analysis of the Biden trap. Surely, she is right. If Biden chooses a female vice presidential candidate, the woman will be obliged to offer up her full- throated support for an accused rapist. How will this affect her credibility, and the moral basis for the feminist cause? 

Does Traister somehow wish that Biden becomes so senile that he will feel obliged to resign from the presidency, thereby creating the first woman president, by an act of succession?

Of course, the feminist cause has long since compromised its moral position, by its support for the Clintons. But, don’t tell Traister and her comrades.

So, examine her thought:

And part of what’s sickeningly clear is that if Biden remains the Democratic nominee, whichever woman gets the nod to be his running mate will wind up drinking from a poisoned chalice. Because the promise to choose a woman ensures that whoever she is, she will be forced to answer — over and over again — for Biden’s treatment of other women, including the serious allegations of assault leveled by Tara Reade.

Of course, zany feminists like Traister are so consumed by their hatred of Donald Trump that they would vote for a raccoon, if it would protect them from more Trump. One does not like to use the word hysterical when defining women-- one retains a modicum of decorum-- but the notion that the Trump presidency has or will lead to a “cataclysmic collapse of our environment, etc.” is ridiculously hyperbolic. At the least, it helps Traister retain her position as ranter-in-chief of the feminist left. Girl's got to make a living, don't you think?

But now that he is the presumptive choice, he may in fact be the only presidential bulwark against Donald Trump, who is both murderous and incompetent and whose reelection would lead to further cataclysmic collapse of our environment, health-care system, courts, and democracy, with fatal results that will redound more negatively to women than to men and most negatively of all to women with the fewest resources. In the fight to prevent this, Biden and his campaign will be calling on women — especially the women who have challenged him in the past, including on feminist grounds — to help him build support by rallying other women around him. That rallying will now have to entail somehow papering over the disgust and dismay provoked by multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and alleged assault made against yet another would-be president.

As it happens, any woman who supports Biden will find herself charged with hypocrisy, not to mention with enabling a sexual predator, a man who has been credibly accused of digital rape:

Yet in putting themselves forward as subsidiaries to Biden, in accepting an invitation that he might extend, or even in voicing their support for his campaign, these women wind up imperiling themselves by getting tied to him and the mess of his historical shortcomings, often on exactly the issues that have driven them into politics. In fact, they are quite likely to have their own history of righteous advocacy held up against them, used to make them look like hypocrites for agreeing to be on a ticket with a man who has been credibly accused of behavior they have aggressively condemned, and as sops to a system that they are in fact working hard to change.

Think of it: women who support Biden will look like hypocrites. In truth, the women who supported Bill Clinton and his chief enabler were also hypocrites. And yet, it took a Biden to bring feminists to their senses and to make them recognize that when you have two sets of rules, one for your allies and one for your enemies, you are dividing the country against itself.

Even those women will still be asked about Reade — Amy Klobuchar and Gretchen Whitmer, both reportedly on his shortlist, have already been asked about it — and any willingness to defend him or shield him from this story will leave them vulnerable to being held responsible for the misdeeds of the mediocre man to whom they will now be publicly bound.

Then, if Biden chooses a woman vice presidential candidate, Traister opines, the world will blame her for his loss. This is patently untrue, even absurd. Given that senile old Joe shows manifest signs of mental deterioration, the blame for an eventual loss will not fall on his vice presidential candidate:

And make no mistake, if Biden loses, regardless of his running mate, even as feminists are being criticized for hypocrisy in not condemning him more swiftly, it will also be feminists and women who are blamed for his loss, for encouraging an environment in which claims of sexual harm are taken seriously enough to damage a politician.

So, Traister concludes on a pessimistic, but totally fair note. It’s one of those: you made your bed, now lie in it. The feministocracy has a larger problem than Joe Biden. It has a Clinton problem. And until it rids itself of that, its flagrant and misogynistic hypocrisy will be on public display.

But it’s near impossible to imagine prominent Democratic women being able to give voice to this and still wind up with any sway within a potential Biden administration. So as we move closer to the abyss, remember that plenty of Women never wanted to be here, and now that we are, have no good choices in front of us.

The Media's Trump Derangement

From the Babylon Bee, for your edification:


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Common Core Fails American Schoolchildren

All things considered, and especially considering the current pandemic, a story like this will surely be buried. In truth, since it makes the Obama-Biden Common Core education reform look bad, it would have been buried no matter what.

The important point is this: Common Core has damaged educational opportunity for American children. Thanks to Common Core, both math and reading scores are dropping across America. Link here.

Heck of a job, Barack:

A study released Monday by the Boston-based Pioneer Institute reveals a historic drop in national reading and math scores among U.S. students since the adoption of the Common Core Curriculum Standards a decade ago.

“Nearly a decade after states adopted Common Core, the empirical evidence makes it clear that these national standards have yielded underwhelming results for students,” said Pioneer executive director Jim Stergios in a statement. “The proponents of this expensive, legally questionable policy initiative have much to answer for.”

It’s worse for low income children:

Performance in reading and math since the adoption of Common Core has especially declined in the nation’s lowest-achieving students – many of whom come from low-income families and failing public schools – widening the achievement gap and creating further inequality.

Supporters of Common Core, however, touted the Obama-era federally incentivized standards would be “rigorous” and also “level the playing field.” The Common Core State Standards Initiative boasted that the standards are “important” because:

[h]igh standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations to ensure that all students have the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life upon graduation from high school, regardless of where they live. … The standards promote equity by ensuring all students are well prepared to collaborate and compete with their peers in the United States and abroad.

This story does not provide very much of an analysis of why Common Core has failed. But, if we cannot accept that it has failed, we will never be able to get rid of it.

Rebarber observed, however, that while national fourth- and eighth-grade reading scores were rising at about half a point each year from 2003 to 2013, since that time, reading scores have dropped.

“Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance,” Dr. Peggy Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, said in October 2019 following the release of the Nation’s Report Card [National Assessment of Educational Progress] assessments in math and reading for fourth- and eighth-graders.

“The lowest performing students – those readers who struggle the most – have made no progress in reading from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago,” she added:

Dr. Peggy Carr, Associate Commissioner, notes that the lowest performing students–those readers who struggle the most–have made no progress in reading since the first assessment almost 30 years ago. Learn more:
— NAEP (@NAEP_NCES) October 30, 2019

As I noted, this story will certainly be buried by the media. 

By the way, don't think that we can just wave a magic wand and bring jobs back to America. As noted on previous occasions, we seem to be sorely lacking in the brainpower needed to do the jobs. The American school system is producing aggrieved social justice warriors, not children who can do tomorrow's jobs.

Obamacare and the Pandemic

If you want to force American companies to manufacture overseas, one way is to increase taxes on them. It’s not the only way, but it certainly works well.

At issue today is the medical device tax imposed by Obamacare. The program's architects decided that they could help pay for the program by increasing taxes on business.

Unfortunately, businesses responded by moving production overseas-- to China, for instance. Does the same principle apply to pharmaceuticals, nearly all of which are now produced outside of the country?

Anyway, Daniel John Sobieski explains it in The American Thinker. For the record, the opening paragraph is crying out for an editor. Be that as it may:

As lawmakers ponder ways to bring back U.S. manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, their raw materials, medical supplies, and devices, it must be remembered a major part of this problem which has come back to bite us was created by the Obama/Biden administration and the medical device tax that was included in ObamaCare that was supposed to defray the costs of this doomed-to-failure new entitlement program.

As part of the Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act, sales of medical devices from implants to MRIs, research equipment and surgical instruments were to bear a 2.3 percent tax. The tax would be on gross sales and not just profits. Even packaging, shipping, and warranties were included when calculating what was to be taxed.

The results were highly predictable:

Health care equipment manufacturers were not amused and there were predictions that this onerous tax on medical devices would for makers overseas and into the welcoming arms of China. As Bill Flax wrote in Forbes in October 2012:

Cook Medical, America’s largest privately-owned medical device manufacturer has been adamant that shrinking margins may force investment overseas. “Cook will no longer be able to expand our manufacturing in the United States,” said company spokeswoman Allison Giles. “We’ve always resisted going abroad” but due to diminished returns “decisions will have to be made.”

Cook scuttled plans for five additional plants across the Midwest. It expects the device tax could cost $30 million annually, roughly equivalent to constructing its new Canton, IL factory. Says the company, “that’s one less facility per year that we’re going to be able to use because of the tax.”

So, the tax was put on hiatus. But still, the threat remained:

Even when it was in hiatus, the Obama/Biden medical device tax hung over the medical device industry like the proverbial sword of Damocles. Outsourcing didn’t seem such a bad thing. As Rush Limbaugh has noted, liberal progressives like Obama and Biden employ a static analysis that says you can raise taxes and human and corporate behavior won’t change:

Do you all remember this thing called Obamacare? I’m sure you do. Do you remember the medical device tax that Obamacare instituted? Like all liberals, Obama believed that people that make things will pay anything. You put a tax on ’em, they’ll just keep paying the tax and they’ll just keep making the device. You put a tax on yachts, and people will pay the tax…

Well, guess what? The people that manufacture medical devices fled the USA, and they went overseas to various places to get ’em made. One of the places they went was China. They also went to Mexico. They went to places in Europe. And now people complain about a shortage. They want to chalk it up to somehow a fault or a deficiency of capitalism or of the United States. No siree, Bob. It was a by-product of a tax increase called Obamacare on medical devices.

It's just a footnote in the current crisis, but at least it tells us how to encourage business to move back onshore. And it tells us that it’s well past time that we repeal and replace Obamacare. But that would require us to note that the failure to do so lies at the feet of Congressional Republicans.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Proper Way to Address a Female Waitperson

Even in the time of coronavirus some people are so guilt-ridden than they torment their mini-minds with questions of how to address female waitpersons. They are especially torqued over the question of how to address a female waitperson. Miss seems derogatory. Mrs. seems presumptuous. Ma’am might work, but only for women of a certain age. And, Ms sounds like a buzzing sound, probably not the sound anyone wants to hear during dinner.

But, we are now tormenting ourselves over our overly punctilious concern for not offending people. 

So, a person of indeterminate gender, writes to Miss Manners:

How exactly does one address a server these days, particularly those who are female, without wandering into a minefield of words that could be considered outdated at best and offensive at worst? Normally, I ask people how they'd like to be addressed but doing so while being served dinner does not seem appropriate, either.

To which Miss Manners replies:

Etiquette exists to solve such problems, which is why Miss Manners slaps the hands (metaphorically) of people who actively seek reasons to be offended. A waitress who takes offense at being called “miss” — a perfectly proper and respectful form of address — should steel herself for less pleasant alternatives.

One notes, as Judith Martin occasionally does, that she did not change her title to: Ms. Manners or even Mrs. Manners. But she point out that the problem lies in the overly sensitive younger generation, with people are are too quickly triggered, who take offense too easily.

Inimitably, Miss Manners points out that those who take offense too easily are likely to provoke other people to address them in terms that really are insulting. I will not mention which alternatives are crossing her mind, and that are probably crossing your mind too. 

If the question is still eating at you, try using the first name that you see on the name tag that is pinned to her top.

Seattle and New York: A Tale of Two Cities.

The article, by Charles Duhigg in The New Yorker is long and detailed and comprehensive. It addresses a question I have occasionally raised: how has it happened that New York State, under the much lauded leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo has become the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak? How has New York State become the nation’s leader in coronavirus deaths? 

If people still believe that Cuomo and New York City Mayor de Blasio are portraits in great political leadership, it shows how propaganda can create reputations out of nothing.

So, Duhigg compares the New York leaders with those in Seattle, Washington. He finds, unsurprisingly, that the Seattle response was more effective, by a great deal.

He offer this observation about the situation in the state of Washington:

Today, Washington State has less than two per cent of coronavirus cases in the U.S. At EvergreenHealth, hospital administrators have stopped daily crisis meetings, because the rate of incoming patients has slowed. They have empty beds and extra ventilators. The administrators remain worried, but are cautiously optimistic. “It feels like we might have stopped the tsunami before it hit,” Riedo told me. “I don’t want to tempt fate, but it seems like it’s working. Which is what makes it so much harder when I look at places like New York.”

In New York City and State the response was radically different:

The initial coronavirus outbreaks in New York City emerged at roughly the same time as those in Seattle. But the cities’ experiences with the disease have markedly differed. By the second week of April, Washington State had roughly one recorded fatality per fourteen thousand residents. New York’s rate of death was nearly six times higher.
There are many explanations for this divergence. New York is denser than Seattle and relies more heavily on public transportation, which forces commuters into close contact. 

In Seattle, efforts at social distancing may have been aided by local attitudes—newcomers are warned of the Seattle Freeze, which one local columnist compared to the popular girl in high school who “always smiles and says hello” but “doesn’t know your name and doesn’t care to.” New Yorkers are in your face, whether you like it or not. (“Stand back at least six feet, playa,” a sign in the window of a Bronx bodega cautioned. “covid-19 is some real shit!”) New York also has more poverty and inequality than Seattle, and more international travellers. Moreover, as Mike Famulare, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling, put it to me, “There’s always some element of good luck and bad luck in a pandemic.”

On the one hand, it was about effective communication.

It’s also true, however, that the cities’ leaders acted and communicated very differently in the early stages of the pandemic. Seattle’s leaders moved fast to persuade people to stay home and follow the scientists’ advice; New York’s leaders, despite having a highly esteemed public-health department, moved more slowly, offered more muddied messages, and let politicians’ voices dominate.

In New York City the incompetent leftist Bill de Blasio botched his job:

New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, has long had a fraught relationship with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which, though technically under his control, seeks to function independently and avoid political fights. “There’s always a bit of a split between the political appointees, whose jobs are to make a mayor look good, and public-health professionals, who sometimes have to make unpopular recommendations,” a former head of the Department of Health told me. “But, with the de Blasio people, that antagonism is ten times worse. They are so much more impossible to work with than other administrations.” In 2015, when Legionnaires’ disease sickened at least a hundred and thirty New Yorkers and killed at least twelve, tensions between de Blasio and the Health Department came to a head. After de Blasio ordered health officials to force their way into buildings in the Bronx to test cooling towers for contamination, even though the outbreak’s source had already been identified, the officials complained that the Mayor was wasting their time in order to brag to reporters that he’d done everything possible to stamp out the disease. When the deputy commissioner for environmental health, Daniel Kass, refused City Hall’s demands, one of the city’s deputy mayors urged the commissioner of health, Mary Bassett, to fire Kass. She ignored the suggestion, but Kass eventually resigned. He later told colleagues he felt that his rebellion had made coƶperation with City Hall impossible.

“Dan Kass is one of the best environmental-health experts in the country,” Bassett, who now teaches at Harvard, said. “New York has one of the best health departments in the United States, possibly the world. We’d all be better off if we were listening really closely to them right now.”

So, compare and contrast, especially the way that de Blasio and Cuomo were minimizing the risk at a time when Washington State officials were sounding alarms::

In early March, as Dow Constantine was asking Microsoft to close its offices and putting scientists in front of news cameras, de Blasio and New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, were giving speeches that deĆ«mphasized the risks of the pandemic, even as the city was announcing its first official cases. De Blasio initially voiced caution, saying that “no one should take the coronavirus situation lightly,” but soon told residents to keep helping the city’s economy. “Go on with your lives + get out on the town despite Coronavirus,” he tweeted on March 2nd—one day after the first covid-19 diagnosis in New York. He urged people to see a movie at Lincoln Center. On the day that Seattle schools closed, de Blasio said at a press conference that “if you are not sick, if you are not in the vulnerable category, you should be going about your life.” Cuomo, meanwhile, had told reporters that “we should relax.” He said that most infected people would recover with few problems, adding, “We don’t even think it’s going to be as bad as it was in other countries.”

And, of course de Blasio and Cuomo often talked at cross purposes:

On March 17th, de Blasio told residents to “be prepared right now for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order.” The same day, Cuomo told a reporter, “There’s not going to be any ‘you must stay in your house’ rule.” Cuomo’s staff quietly told reporters that de Blasio was acting “psychotic.” Three days later, though, Cuomo announced an executive order putting the state on “pause”—which was essentially indistinguishable from stay-at-home orders issued by cities in Washington State, California, and elsewhere. (A spokesperson for de Blasio said that City Hall’s “messaging changed as the situation and the science changed” and that there was “no dithering.” A spokesperson for Cuomo said that “the Governor communicated clearly the seriousness of this pandemic” and that “the Governor has been laser focused on communicating his actions in a way that doesn’t scare people.”)

Eventually, New York caught up:

Today, New York City has the same social-distancing policies and business-closure rules as Seattle. But because New York’s recommendations came later than Seattle’s—and because communication was less consistent—it took longer to influence how people behaved. According to data collected by Google from cell phones, nearly a quarter of Seattleites were avoiding their workplaces by March 6th. In New York City, another week passed until an equivalent percentage did the same. Tom Frieden, the former C.D.C. director, has estimated that, if New York had started implementing stay-at-home orders ten days earlier than it did, it might have reduced covid-19 deaths by fifty to eighty per cent. Another former New York City health commissioner told me that “de Blasio was just horrible,” adding, “Maybe it was unintentional, maybe it was his arrogance. But, if you tell people to stay home and then you go to the gym, you can’t really be surprised when people keep going outside.”

New York had more than twenty times the fatalities than Washington:

More than fifteen thousand people in New York are believed to have died from covid-19. Last week in Washington State, the estimate was fewer than seven hundred people. New Yorkers now hear constant ambulance sirens, which remind them of the invisible viral threat; residents are currently staying home at even higher rates than in Seattle. And de Blasio and Cuomo—even as they continue to squabble over, say, who gets to reopen schools—have become more forceful in their warnings. Rasmussen said, “It seems silly, but all these rules and sohcos and telling people again and again to wash their hands—they make a huge difference. That’s why we study it and teach it.” She continued, “It’s really easy, with the best of intentions, to say the wrong thing or send the wrong message. And then more people die.” 

When you look at the de Blasio and Cuomo leadership, you start thinking that Fredo’s brother is not going to be running for president any time soon.