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Ebola, Etc: Depraved Indifference*

19 October 2014 @ 03:23

NOTE: These posts are not an attempt to be comprehensive in coverage of the Ebola story, nor of the Polio story.  They just contain some items that have caught my eye [which is still not hemorrhaging blood, I’m happy to report — that only happens when I look at John Forbes Kerry].

Please understand: Just like you, I’m trying to make sense of this whole situation.

Richard Fernandez:

Of course at this point nothing makes sense any more. The time for sanity is over. If the president had taken some reasonable quarantine measures in the first place, instead of using policy to “message” the principle that West Africa should not be stigmatized, then two nurses might not be sick, dozens of health care workers would not be clapped in isolation, a major hospital would not be paralyzed, and millions or possibly tens of millions of dollars in contact tracing costs could have been saved.

None of which by the way stopped the Dallas specimen handler from getting on the cruise ship.

Under-reacting proved able to backfire as badly as over-reacting.  The policy of permitting flights from West Africa was presented with such overweening confidence that when it failed it demolished what it advocated in the most embarrassing possible manner.  Often, the failure of one extreme  opens the door to its opposite.  After the spectacular humiliation of Obama’s open door policy  nobody — not Belize at least — wants to commit an Obama.  They saw what happened, and whether or not it has any chance of happening to them, whether it makes any medical sense or not, politicians the world over are under pressure to do the opposite of what Obama did.

Nerves are frayed….

‘Obama’ has either no clue or doesn’t care that, despite what many anti-American things many people say around the World, they look to us when situations like this happen.

-Friend In The Either Ernst Schreiber asks a damn good question:

Question for all y’all: If you wanted to appear like you were working to prevent an Ebola outbreak, while in fact doing nothing substantive to prevent that outbreak because you privately wanted that outbreak and the political “crisis” which it would bring, would you be doing anything differently than the regime is presently doing?

Anything, as we’ve learned the hard way, is possible in this Age Of Leftist Hegemony.  A mighty Alinsky is their god / A bastard never failing.

Mark Steyn:

The Centers for Disease Control is one of those elite federal agencies that people hitherto assumed was, so to speak, immune to the pathologies of less glamorous government bureaucracies. It turns out it’s the DMV with test tubes – just the usual “Sorry? Did we say you need two copies of the green form? We meant you need three copies of the pink form” routine with extra lethality. The Protocols of the Elders of Druid Hills have proved to be boundlessly mutable and mostly honored in the breach:

~Don’t worry, the Protocols are in place – except that Thomas Duncan, the original Ebola patient, was left in an open area of the Dallas emergency room for hours and the medical staff treating him did not have protective clothing for the first two days.

~Don’t worry, they did eventually get fully sealed, protective clothing – well, except for their necks, which remained exposed.

~Don’t worry, exposed medical staff aren’t supposed to fly – except that Nurse Amber Vinson got on a flight to Cleveland with a fever.

~Well, okay, but that was totally in breach of the Protocols – except that Nurse Vinson called the CDC to check and they said, “Sure, get on the plane. What’s the worst that can happen? And make sure you share the bag of mini-pretzels…”

~Well, okay, but the next time Nurse Vinson got a flight, everyone followed the Protocols and wore hazmat suits – except for the guy with the clipboard, who works for the CDC and so can’t be expected to know all this Protocol stuff

The good news is Ebola seems to be rather harder to catch than SARS. The bad news is the CDC seems to be doing its best to change that.

I wonder what the metrics on that are.

More, from his latest appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show:

…you get the strange feeling that they’re just winging it, that these elite institutions, I said yesterday or today that they basically, you know, that people think that the CDC and the National Institute for Health, they’re not like the usual government department of paperwork. And when it turns out that when something like this hits, actually, yes, they are. They’re just talking, they’re winging it, they’re talking jibberish, they’re giving out contradictory stuff, and they’re not following their own guidelines….

Michael Walsh on what the appointment of Ron Klain as ‘Ebola Czar’ means and related matters [tip of the fedora to Ernst Schreiber]:

The announcement of Ron Klain as the new Ebola “czar” checks all the boxes: Harvard Law, longtime Democrat party op, veteran of the Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry campaigns. The problem is, it checks all the wrong boxes. The Progressive myth is that we ought to have a government of experts — top men! — to handle the nation’s problems in a calm, deliberative manner. The reality is that we have a nation of unscrupulous lawyers, amoral apparatchiks and political hacks whose only area of expertise is manipulating the electoral and governmental systems and getting rich by doing so.

…What this appointment — made only under duress, and purely for political reasons, since there is absolutely nothing Ron Klain personally can do to stop the spread of the Ebola virus now that the barn doors at our borders and airports have been left wide open for ideological reasons — tells us is this:

1. If a retread party hack like Klain is the best Obama can do, then the Democrat talent pool is incredibly shallow. Naturally, though, Obama wouldn’t think of going outside it.

2. The President considers Ebola a political/messaging problem, not a medical problem. Klain is an an insider process guy, not an expert in the field.

3. The fact that we need a “Czar” to cut across federal agency red-tape and make things happen expeditiously is an indictment of the federal agencies themselves, although no Democrat would ever dare to suggest such a thing. The choice signals that, as Ronald Reagan said, government itself is the problem, not the solution.

4. The reason they won’t dare is that the federal agencies — unelected hives of beetling bureaucrats, scurrying beneath the media surface — are the sources of their power.  You don’t alienate or fire your most ardent union voters and financial supporters.

5. This is a government devoted to process, not results. Its most deeply held belief — a by-product of its quasi-Marxist belief in the “labor theory of value” — is that putting in hours and hitting “metrics” is the job itself, not whatever it ostensibly happens to be about; hey, even if you die, they get paid. In this sense, bureaucrats are similar to to the education majors who teach our children in the public schools, with no particular expertise in anything but theory. And the results speak for themselves.

6. With theory ascendant over common sense, the government’s adamant refusal so far to ban travel to and from West Africa and its affected nations proves conclusively that Leftists are perfectly willing to have you die for their ideological beliefs.

7. The longer this goes on, the more the panic will spread — look what happened at the Pentagon earlier today, or on this cruise ship. If you haven’t started to panic yet, then read this.

8. Regarding the open borders and open airports, a larger issue: why is the Left so adamantly opposed to the people’s right to defend themselves? There is nothing “racist” about closing the country to travelers from certain countries in west Africa — heck, the Africans have already done it themselves.

9. In twice electing Barack Obama president Americans made a choice: professional politicians over men of integrity. Symbolism over substance (hello, Nobel Peace Prize). Potential over accomplishment. Guilt over responsibility.

10. If the naked malevolence of the Leftist project for America isn’t visible to you now, then you’re beyond help.

-Mr. Walsh links in #7 above to an article by Jonathan Last, entitled: Six Reasons To Panic, which is calm and well-reasoned.

Here are some highlights, including excerpts from each of the six reasons:

As a rule, one should not panic at whatever crisis has momentarily fixed the attention of cable news producers. But the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has migrated to both Europe and America, may be the exception that proves the rule. There are at least six reasons that a controlled, informed panic might be in order.

(1) Start with what we know, and don’t know, about the virus. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government agencies claim that contracting Ebola is relatively difficult because the virus is only transmittable by direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person who has become symptomatic. Which means that, in theory, you can’t get Ebola by riding in the elevator with someone who is carrying the virus, because Ebola is not airborne.

This sounds reassuring. Except that it might not be true….

(2) General infection rates are terrifying, too. In epidemiology, you measure the “R0,” or “reproduction number” of a virus; that is, how many new infections each infected person causes. When R0 is greater than 1, the virus is spreading through a population. When it’s below 1, the contamination is receding. In September the World Health Organization’s Ebola Response Team estimated the R0 to be at 1.71 in Guinea and 2.02 in Sierra Leone. Since then, it seems to have risen so that the average in West Africa is about 2.0. In September the WHO estimated that by October 20, there would be 3,000 total cases in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. As of October 7, the count was 8,376.

In other words, rather than catching up with Ebola, we’re falling further behind. And we’re likely to continue falling behind, because physical and human resources do not scale virally. In order to stop the spread of Ebola, the reproduction number needs to be more than halved from its current rate. Yet reducing the reproduction number only gets harder as the total number of cases increases, because each case requires resources—facilities, beds, doctors, nurses, decontamination, and secure burials—which are already lagging well behind need. The latest WHO projections suggest that by December 1 we are likely to see 10,000 new cases in West Africa per week, at which point the virus could begin spreading geographically within the continent as it nears the border with Ivory Coast.

Thus far, officials have insisted that it will be different in America….

(3) Do you really want to be scared? What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car? A flight from Roberts International in Monrovia to JFK in New York is less than $2,000, meaning that the planning and infrastructure needed for such an attack is relatively trivial. This scenario may be highly unlikely. But so were the September 11 attacks and the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing, both of which resulted in the creation of a permanent security apparatus around airports. We take drastic precautions all the time, if the potential losses are serious enough, so long as officials are paying attention to the threat.

(4) Let’s put aside the Ebola-as-weapon scenario—some things are too depressing to contemplate at length—and look at the range of scenarios for what we have in front of us, from best-case to worst-case. The epidemiological protocols for containing Ebola rest on four pillars: contact tracing, case isolation, safe burial, and effective public information. On October 14, the New York Times reported that in Liberia, with “only” 4,000 cases, “Schools have shut down, elections have been postponed, mining and logging companies have withdrawn, farmers have abandoned their fields.” Which means that the baseline for “best-case” is already awful.

In September, the CDC ran a series of models on the spread of the virus and came up with a best-case scenario in which, by January 2015, Liberia alone would have a cumulative 11,000 to 27,000 cases. That’s in a world where all of the aid and personnel gets where it needs to be, the resident population behaves rationally, and everything breaks their way. The worst-case scenario envisioned by the model is anywhere from 537,000 to 1,367,000 cases by January. Just in Liberia. With the fever still raging out of control.

By which point, all might well be lost….

(5) And by the way, things could get worse. All of those worst-case projections assume that the virus stays contained in a relatively small area of West Africa, which, with a million people infected, would be highly unlikely. What happens if and when the virus starts leaking out to other parts of the world?

Marine Corps General John F. Kelly talked about Ebola at the National Defense University two weeks ago and mused about what would happen if Ebola reached Haiti or Central America, which have relatively easy access to America. “If it breaks out, it’s literally ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”

It isn’t crazy to see how a health crisis could beget all sorts of other crises, from humanitarian, to economic, to political, to existential. If you think about Ebola and mutation and aerosolization and R0 for too long, you start to get visions of Mad Max cruising the postapocalyptic landscape with Katniss Everdeen at his side.

(6) While we’re on the subject of political crisis, it’s worth noting that the politics of Ebola are uncertain and dangerous to everyone involved….

At a deeper level, the Ebola outbreak is a crisis not for Obama and his administration, but for elite institutions. Because once more they have been exposed as either corrupt, incompetent, or both….

We have arrived at a moment with our elite institutions where it is impossible to distinguish incompetence from willful misdirection. This can only compound an already dangerous situation.

I urge you to take the time to click here and read the full article.

-Defenders of the CDC have been claiming that a lack of funding is a big part of the problem.  Ernst Schreiber is, rightly, having none of it:

The problem isn’t that there’s not enough money. Quite the opposite in fact. The problem is that there’s so much money that the CDC can afford to indulge in first world problems like lesbian obesity.

But even that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is deference to government “experts” who are anything but, as the case of the second nurse to get Ebola demonstrates. She had enough common sense to question whether she should be travelling or not, but then she deferred to some idiot with a chart full of guidelines instead of trusting her gut.

I can tell you that, from over three decades of working in government, most of the ‘experts’ on staff are hacks who couldn’t make it in the Private Sector.  Never, ever defer to such people.

-While it seems Nigeria has stopped it’s Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever outbreak, we look like fools, as Maetenloch points out [tip of the fedora to Adobe Walls]:

The Obama Administration: Less competent than Nigeria.

At this point I’m not even sure they could pull off even a simple email scam if the fate of the entire US depended on it.

-From Twitter:

  Christ, we’re a fundamentally unserious people…


For Duty And Humanity!


*Tip of the fedora to Adobe Walls for the term.

  1. Adobe_Walls permalink
    19 October 2014 @ 18:55 18:55

    In one of the short vids at RCP last week a reporter is asking Josh Earnest in what way is the airport screening program a success, given that the people who’ve been “pulled” for testing at the various airports have tested negative. Duncan got through and gave at least two people Ebola. Earnest’s reply is telling. He repeats several times that nobody exhibiting Ebola symptoms has gotten into the country without being tested. Apparently the goal isn’t to keep out people with Ebola but rather to keep out people who appear to have Ebola.

  2. William Scales permalink
    20 October 2014 @ 02:26 02:26

    I just don’t see why all of the Ebola Virus people shouldn’t stop by the White House and personally Thank them all for allowing them to come to this great country !!!!!!



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