The War on Ebola

Obama says we must stop the disease at its source.  Maybe.  Or maybe we can just close our borders to people that do not really do much to improve our country.

Regarding Bush’s democratizing strategy on terrorism and Iraq, I wrote (over 10 years ago):  The final problem with the neocon approach has been the whole concept that the Middle East must become liberal and democratic or that we are inevitably and perennially the victims of Islamist terrorism. This is the same “root causes” thinking behind the other liberal crusade, the War on Poverty. Conservatives and other realistic people know that some things can be dealt with more easily and efficiently by treating the symptoms. Crime for example seems best combated by locking up criminals for a long time when we find them, rather than by “draining the swamp” as we are advised to do in the case of Islamic fundamentalism.

I would add that because of the supposed inevitability of open borders, we must now spend billions and risk the health of our own people to stop what may prove unstoppable in both the case of terrorism and Ebola.  And we are told, without much evidence, that we must commit men and resources to disorderly hellholes for decades to fight against perennial conditions that would not affect us, but for open borders, like Islamic extremism or persistent jungle diseases.

Science has become like a magic talisman for the left, even though I suspect very few have spent much time in a lab, could tell you about Poppe’s “falsifiability” definition of science, or could say anything intelligent about Boyle’s Law.  Also, medicine is informed by science, but not every medical decision is the product of science, and various “values” issues come into play, particularly when we’re dealing with public health.  Here’s what is undeniable and no one cay say it’s anti-science or non-science:

1) Ebola is a very serious often deadly disease.
2) Ebola is contagious.
3) This particular strain of Ebola is more contagious than past strains.
4) There is almost no domestic Ebola; it all comes from visitors, whether native Africans or healthcare workers in the Ebola zone.
5) We can’t always or easily tell who has Ebola when they come here.
6) A Quarantine of health care worker would affect a few hundred people, and a travel ban a few tens of thousands of people that are, frankly, not contributing a great deal to our common life.
7) We do not have resources to track tens of thousands of people, and our ability to track and treat people declines as more people get Ebola.
8) Americans will die from the President’s policies that would not otherwise.

On the basis of supposed science, the President is saying troops who have minimal contact with Ebola patients are not there voluntarily should be quarantined, while a handful of admittedly heroic health care workers should be free to go about their business, even though at least four by my count–the two in Dallas, Brantley, and the Maine nurse–have gotten Ebola in Africa when they must deal with vomiting, diarrhea-ridden, dying Ebola patients.

The President looks so terrible on this that it is laughable.  He wants to show he’s sophisticated–as with releasing terrorists from GITMO–but he’s showing, once again, how stupid, anti-American, malicious, and paralyzed by political correctness that he really is.  And all of this, contrary to leftist self-congratulation, has very little to do with science and a lot to do with a basic disregard for the notion that America is a community with the basic right of self defense.

The CDC takes in $6.9B every year, but what is there to show for it?  Why so inept when its core function, preventing epidemics, is put to the test?

Consider the situation at the Dallas Hospital, as noted by Ace:  

Assuming what she says is true [regarding minimal training for dealing with Ebola] — and with two infected nurses, it’s hard to come to any conclusion except that the staff did not properly contain the disease — this is an indictment of the hospital’s administrators and the Texas Department of Health, first of all.

But it’s also an indictment of the CDC. These hospital workers clearly did not know what the hell to do with Thomas Eric Duncan, and yet the CDC seemed content to let untrained staff at a general hospital blunder along, both infecting themselves and possibly infecting other patients.

I always assumed that when a highly-infectious disease like ebola presented itself at a hospital, the CDC would send some experts to either advise the hospital on containment and protocols, or would send actual doctors and nurses, experienced in ebola, to treat the patient properly.

As of yesterday, Obama now says that such ebola threat response teams will be sent to hospitals (after a diagnosed case of ebola).

Again: As of yesterday. Before yesterday, Obama and the CDC were content to let the barely-trained locals figure it out on the fly.

You probably also know that Amber Vinson has now been flown by private medical charter to the CDC’s infectious diseases specialist hospital at Emory.

Again, this is what I assumed would happen from the outset. We are paying billions for the CDC. And yet when Duncan presented himself with full-blown ebola, the CDC did not jump up to take the lead on his treatment, or transfer him to their state-of-the-art containment wing.

Instead, they let untrained personnel out in a local Dallas hospital deal with it.

We see this in so many areas.  Our vast regulatory apparatus does little more than shake down those caught in its net, with little accountability for failing in its core functions, whether it is preventing hijackings, stopping illegal immigration, or protecting citizens from riots.  Instead, our regulators are more like mafia enforcers, people to be dealt with with warily and with a “zero sum” sense than paying them off is easier than resistance, even though the purported benefits of their presence accrue chiefly to the regulators themselves.

Our ADHD media and political class have moved from hating Assad, to hating Putin, to hating ISIS, to now hating Ebola in about a year’s time.  It’s as if the very recent past didn’t happen.  Maybe Ebola will be on page 19 below the fold before long.  As for one of these events, while a “ceasfire” brokered by Putin and Poroshenko has permitted both sides a breather, more or less, fighting is still going on, particularly around the Donetsk Airport, though it does not appear likely that a major new Ukrainian offensive is even possible.  It is on the road to becoming one of the world’s “frozen conflict zones.”

The entire incident was a bit of power play by both nationalist Ukrainians who deposed Yanukovich, and Russians, who have peculiar regional notions of “human rights” and justice, and, finally, both for the rebels and Russia, it was a big stick in the eye to the West. It showed NATO is sensibly going to stay in its lane and avoid a war with a nuclear power for non-treaty signatories, and it showed that Obama is good only for undermining US prestige by talking big and carrying a nonexistent stick.

The propaganda that was levied against the Donetsk separatists was incredibly extreme, culminating in the attempt to label the shootdown of MH17 terrorism, even though we’ve heard surprisingly little about that since then, and it was almost certainly what we would call, when our forces do it, collateral damage.  (Surely, there are satellite and other images that may reveal something . . . perhaps that the Ukrainians shot it down by accident, which they once did before).

In any case, the fighting of these two nationalist groups–ethnic Ukrainians and Russians–has been mercifully reduced.  Yet it persists, in low grade, while being totally ignored by the media.  Major civilian center continues to get shelled, much like Sarajevo was, and yet the West has here designated the shellers as the good guys, while the Serbs were deemed the epitome of evil and the main story on CNN night after night some 20 years ago.

What is at work, quite obviously, is a reflexive European and American anti-Russian impulse and realpolitik dressed up as human rights talk.  Yet this kind of “human rights” is a formula for permanent war, as it makes everyone else’s business our own.  The real formula for peace is not constant opposition to Russia or other nations, but some sensible recognition of each nation’s and region’s appropriate spheres of influence.

Just as the US would rightly go ballistic if China or Russia or some other nation tried to undermine our interests by fomenting a coup in Mexico, Russia predictably does not want to see Western-backed coups on its contiguous neighbor, which several million ethnic Russians call home.  It’s common sense.  The false analogies to the Sudetenland or the Cold War fall flat, as we’re not dealing with a messianic anti-Christian ideology like Communism or Nazism, nor an ideology that demands world conquest.  We’re dealing with a nation that is reasonably powerful and cannot be treated like a bit player.  Indeed, it is the West’s peculiar notions of New World Order that make events in places like Mosul or Donetsk or Jenin our business, when they have no obvious relationship to our nation other than through the kaleidoscope of ideology.

YOLO Ebola!

Really thought this was a brilliant little blog post, observing the ways language is used to add to our collective confusion:

Everyone knows that America has become a rich tapestry. Rich in the myriad and manifold ways that idiocy now finds expression. This tapestry is woven daily in manners large and small. For sake of completeness, we’ll mention both. In regard to the latter, have you noticed the new fashion for subjects of public adulation to remark on how “humbled” they are by spectacle? It’s almost become as ubiquitous as the more passe “Thank You.” Yet they aren’t actually humbled, are they? Because that isn’t exactly the sensation one feels at being cheered and adored by throngs of slavish votaries. No, humbled would be waking up hung-over in the gutter with your wallet empty except for the phone number of a transvestite prostitute. I suppose the more honestly felt I am a God! would reflect poorly in the morning newspaper. So “humbled” it is. Though because its usage has become an inversion of reality, we can expect it to proliferate in the soup of western society. Before long PUAs will be penning blog posts like Just banged this super-hot, hard-body 9.5 last night. God it was humbling!

I think a similar formulation is the YOLO acronym which has become quite popular with the youths of all ages. You Only Live Once. It seems this has become a customary invocation before engaging in high risk activities. Should I consume a liter of vodka before driving 150mph down the wrong side of a highway? Why not? YOLO! Surely the rhetorical flaw in this philosophy is readily apparent. Because observing that one is burdened with only one available life is a cautionarystatement, not a justification for recklessness. If you have only one, then YOLO! would suggest you treat it carefully. In contrast, living lots of lives (YOLL!) would offer greater latitude in justifying the type of behavior for which American youths have become renowned. Though as mentioned, this is a stupidity ideal for our age.

And as rhetorical gibberish exists on one flank of the moron bell curve, a possible Ebola epidemic in America does on the other. Strangely enough, there’s a predictable symmetry in the two.

Ebola: You Only Eat Once

While we may only live once, virus mutations are not so constrained. And the gentleman above was, appropriately enough, photographed at the home of the diseased Liberian national that we could have in no good conscience prevented from entering the country. Fortunately enough, Western aid organizations are stockpiling enough food for the “Liberian community” in Dallas to subsist for the next century. And to express their gratitude for our oppressive supplies and healthcare, several family members promptly violated the initial quarantine order.

One thing that is striking about political correctness and the various shibboleths that it entails–for equality, mostly–is that it can be deadly, and yet it masquerades as if this suicidal impulse were the most obvious, righteous, and, at once, sophisticated and common sense thing on Earth.  It is nearly a religious impulse, immune from appeals to reason, even the appeal of saving lives, and we see this manifest in the refusal of western countries to stop travel from the Ebola-ridden countries of West Africa.

True, every choice that saves lives is not an obvious one.  There are cost-benefit analyses to be performed.  We allow various “deadly” freedoms, whether guns or swimming pools or motorcycles.  But here there is little benefit obtained for the cost.  We are told, with little evidence, that stopping travel would be a chimera that “isolates” the affected countries. Indeed, it would. That’s the point!  Surely we can restrict all non-essential travel from these countries until this epidemic is under control. Surely we can allow a handful of health care professionals to travel under controlled conditions without allowing every random Liberian to travel back to their menial jobs in the US.

There is something elemental and ancient needed here:  primitive, hard-headed, masculine decision-making. We need the old code:  the separation of the few and the many, mine and thine, us and them, that is, the most fundamental of human distinctions, understandable to toddlers, but apparently alien to our leadership class.*  In any case, the stuff of rationing, conscription, curfews, and quarantines is the stuff of survival. It is the rawest of raw political power in the service of the most basic need:  to protect our people from deadly diseases that cannot otherwise be stopped.

Something went awry with public health–which is really one of the chief sources of prolonging life in the western world–around the time of the AIDS epidemic.  Combating that disease also would have benefited from an early, strict quarantine.  But instead there was hand-wringing on whether or not to shut down bath houses and the expressive freedoms of those concerned.  The public apparatus that took on Polio in the 50s became defanged in the 80s through the same political correctness that defangs our armed forces and tries to make the rest of us geldings at work and at home.

In college, I divined the roots of this insanity when I was exposed to Carol Gilligan’s famous essay “In a Different Voice,” summarized by good old wikipedia as follows:  “[M]en typically think in formulas of peoples’ rights, like a math problem. And in turn, women are more uncomfortable responding to ethical dilemmas. When looking at a situation, men will ask of themselves what is the ‘right’ answer. On the other hand, women will tend to solve an ethical dilemma without trying to hurt anyone. . . . That equates to two very different types of moral reasoning, namely that of rights and that of ‘sympathies.'”  The former is supposedly more masculine and the latter more feminine and, Gilligan would argue, equally “valid.” Regardless, the latter is inferior and useless for making difficult, political decisions.  It purports to be the same tool, but it can’t do the job, because, at the end of the day, everyone has feelings, even the guy who wants to hurt you, your family, and your community.  One feeling is the same as another, and, without some means of adjudicating these competing “hurts,” you’re paralyzed by the equal and opposite claims, or, alternately, the loudest, whiniest, or most media-savvy voice wins.

Empathy and attunement to others may be useful for dealing with squabbling toddlers or keeping the peace with your in-laws or even in navigating the modern corporate environment, but an Ebola problem–like an al Qaeda problem or a broken borders problem or a debt bomb problem–requires people to be hurt.  There is no way around it.  In war, the enemy must be hurt and, in some cases, as in deadly communicable diseases, some of our own must be hurt.  It’s unpleasant.  It’s a power capable of being abused.  But all power can be abused, and no power short of a robust state wielding the power of the state in the service of the community can really be of use in this kind of situation.

But instead we have the head of the CDC, Thomas Friedan, saying, “Though we might wish we can seal ourselves off from the world, there are Americans who have the right of return and many other people that have the right to enter this country . . . We’re not going to be able to get to zero risk no matter what we do unless we control the outbreak in West Africa.”  This bastard is a liar who is insulting our intelligence.  We can send medical personnel to help without keeping the incoming gates wide open and risking the lives of ordinary Americans.  Our own public health infrastructure can work better that he claims will save us can work if we have fewer potential Ebola cases running around; on the other hand, it may be overwhelmed if too many of these people come too quickly.  Also, we can allow travel, if we quarantine people from these countries for 7-14 days upon their return.  That will separate through self-selection casual from necessary travel.  More important, it will save lives and save our country from this awful exotic import.  But we don’t do it. Instead, our own lives and our own freedoms are diminished one again by the false freedom of open borders.

We are being treated worse than a nation under enemy occupation.  Even the Nazis inoculated the people whom they occupied from communicable diseases out of naked self-interest!  But leftism, after all, is an ideology of suicide.  Both its intent and its effect is to make us think our collective suicide is the advance of justice.  Now the mushy majority will see in stark relief just how sincere their masters are regarding exactly that.

* Or maybe for them, it is “us and them,” and the rest of us–whites, Americans, redneck rubes from the Red States, and other hated classes–don’t count as part of their narrow, transnational community of interest.  Unfortunately for them, viruses don’t care about any of that.

With all the handwringing over the Ebola guy in Dallas, one must ask:  Why is anyone allowed into our country from these disease infested shitholes?  It’s a serious question.  We treat “open borders” as if it were a law of physics, but it’s not.  It’s a policy choice with significant costs.  And that choice entails 9/11 attacks, diseases, lower levels of human capital, and other assorted miseries that we must now share with the Third World.


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