The Bookworm Beat (10/21/14) — Still catching up with email edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingIt’s always the same: Over the weekend, because of family demands, I get almost no time at my computer, and my email starts to back up. By Tuesday, between my two email accounts, I have several hundred unread emails. I then do the logical thing: I cravenly avoid my computer. Finally, late on Tuesday or perhaps by Wednesday, my conscience finally catches up with me and I embark on a frenzy of responding to emails, reading articles, and posting.

I’m heading for my frenzy now, although I’m somewhat hamstrung by the various drives I have to make on behalf of young people who cannot drive themselves. By the time you read this post, I’ll have been working on it intermittently for several hours, so I sure hope it’s good.

An obligatory comment about Monica Lewinsky

She still loves Bill; Drudge destroyed her life; and it’s everyone’s fault but her own that her life imploded when her affair with the president went public. Even the world’s smallest violin is too big and noisy to express how little I feel for Monica Lewinsky.

Lewinsky wasn’t 15 when she embarked on an affair with Clinton, in which case the fault would be entirely his. She was 24, by which time she was old enough to have a moral compass that said “You don’t have an affair with a married man,” and also old enough to have figured out that, considering that her partner in adultery was the president of the United States, when/if the fecal matter finally hit the fan, it would be a Cat 5 fecal storm.

It was not Matt Drudge’s fault; it was not the “bullying” media’s fault; it was not Lucianne Goldberg’s fault; it was not even Hillary’s fault, much as I would love to blame her just because I don’t like her: it was Monica’s fault and Bill’s fault, and neither is excused by the bad behavior of the other. Both behaved immorally, both tempted fate, and both got caught.

The only thing that’s really unfair is that Bill didn’t end up as ignominiously as Monica did. Apparently the party that oh-so-valiantly fights for women everywhere (as long as they’re not in politically correct Muslim countries or homes) was happy to kick Monica to the curb, while feting and enriching and even worshiping the man who let her take the fall.

How the New York Times is spinning WMDs

Up until Bush actually invaded Iraq, everyone and his uncle thought that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Indeed, as the New York Times recently made clear, everyone and his uncle (at least if they worked in the American government) knew that Hussein had WMDs . . . because the US had given them to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. With this knowledge finally out there, Bush ought to be vindicated and the Democrats ought to be ashamed, except that in the looking glass world of American politics, that’s not what’s happening.

Presumably because of embarrassment about having given these WMDs to Hussein, during the Iraq War the Pentagon kept their discovery a secret, even though revealing them would have vindicated the decision to go to war. Meanwhile, back in the present, following Obama’s pullout from Iraq, leaving it ripe for ISIS, the New York Times is saying that these particular WMDs don’t count, precisely because they were old and American, rather than shiny new and Iraqi.  I’m unclear on why they’re less WMD for this reason, but there you have it. (If you see the NYT’s author, C.J. Chivers, on The Colbert Report, he makes this point explicit.)

So, in a swirl of finger-pointing, embarrassment, and misdirection, we once again lose sight of the main point: Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Sure, we gave them to him when he was sort of our ally, but the fear in 2003 was that, when he turned out to be our enemy, he might use our weapons against us — kind of like it’s reasonable to fear now that ISIS will use against us the American weapons that the US military accidentally delivered into its hands (if ISIS reports are accepted as true).

VDH has more on the whole WMD story.

On immigration and amnesty, the only word I can think of is “impeachment”

I don’t need to say anything. Drudge says it all:

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Oh, and I guess impeachment is the word I’m thinking of when it comes to Obama’s attempt to evade Congressional scrutiny of his deal with Iran.  I certainly can’t think of any decent, upright, moral, pro-America, pro-ally reason for him to do that.

A few words about ISIS’s latest video

The latest ISIS-released video gets me back to a point I’ve made before about ISIS. This particular video shows a father leading the charge when it comes to stoning his daughter to death for dishonoring the family through alleged adultery.  Other than those specifics, though, it’s pure ISIS:  Men torturing and murdering women, children, teenagers, and other men.

What makes ISIS different from all other torturers in the modern era is that other bad actors tried to hide their barbarism from the world at large (although they rubbed their own people’s nose in it to make sure the people stayed at heel).

The Soviet Union hid its terrors in the Kremlin basement and in Siberian gulags. When Westerners came to town, the Soviets showed their shiny happy face. The same holds true today when visitors go to Cuba or North Korea: they get taken on the rounds of all the polished, “successful” looking communities, while the government hides the fear, poverty, and despair that underpins its regime. (Think too of the Potemkin walls China put up around ghettos in Beijing for the Olympics.) The Nazis, even though they used fear to control people within their territory, were secretive about their most foul plans.  The most grotesque emanations of their foul ideology took place Gestapo headquarters in occupied territory or in concentration camps.

But not ISIS. The videos we see of beheadings and stonings and crucifixions aren’t copies smuggled out of occupied territory by resistance groups trying to make the world aware that ISIS is a truly terrible entity. Instead, ISIS proudly circulates these videos to the four corners of the earth.

The word “proud” is important. ISIS doesn’t distribute these snuff films merely to strike fear in the hearts of weak Westerners. It does so because, just as we promote the products of our factories, singers, dancers, intellectuals, painters, and architects because our own sensibility says that these products reflect well on us, ISIS believes that it is showing its best face when it crucifies teenagers, beheads babies, or makes a party out of a father stoning his own daughter to death.

To ISIS, snuff films are the good stuff that they have to offer:  “You can go to New York, and all that you’ll see are some big buildings, shows, art work, and a tall green woman on an island. But if you come to Iraq, you’ll get to kill people in the most brutal way possible. ISIS: It’s the Islamic vacation paradise!”

In 2001, Holiday Inn accurately predicted the US response to Ebola:

From Maetenloch, at Ace of Spades:

Mark Steyn was prescient too….

While we’re talking about successful tea-leaf reading, Ed Driscoll says that Mark Steyn accurately, yet satirically, predicted Monica Lewinsky’s retrospective about her moment of infamy.

The Lewinsky essay appears in Steyn’s new book, The [Un]Documented Mark Steyn, a collection of his essays. At $29.95, the autographed hardback isn’t cheap but, if you buy it, you’ll not only get a great book with Steyn’s signature, but you’ll also help fund his continued litigation against unrivaled fraudster, Michael Mann (of the false hockey stick climate change canard).

I have to admit that I’ll be waiting for the Kindle version. Because of the arthritis in my wrists, I no longer want big, heavy books. They’re just too hard to hold. And because of my vision, which is about 20/2000 along with age-related far-sightedness, I like the way Kindle allows me to make my text nice and big. I console myself that, when I buy the Kindle version (assuming there is one) some part of that purchase price will still make it into Steyn’s pocket.

The LGBTQ mafia goes after Robert Oscar Lopez

If the name Robert Oscar Lopez is familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read his articles over at American Thinker. Lopez, a bisexual English professor who was raised by two moms, opted for traditional marriage. Indeed, he and his wife just had their second child. Unfortunately for Lopez, he’s a man of conscience and, with the societal elevation of same-sex couples who adopt, special order, or use egg or sperm donated babies, he’s bravely asserted that same-sex parenting shouldn’t be encouraged. According to Lopez, same-sex homes are not like other homes and it’s unfair to bring a child into that environment. As a result, he’s become one of the most reviled men in America, insofar as the LGBTQ lobby is targeting him in the most vicious and inciteful terms imaginable.

As between bad foster care and a loving same-sex couple, I think it’s a no-brainer. But there’s a lot weirdness about same-sex couples who sort of create their own babies. I know a lesbian couple that had a gay friend inseminate the more feminine half of the couple. The resulting baby was a boy. The moms are good women and very attentive parents, except that the woman who bore him hates men so much that she cannot stand to have her own son touch her. Meanwhile the other partner also hates men with ferocity, so she’s remarkably cool about the kid. What kind of a home life is that?

When I read the news, I know that biological mixed sex parents can be pretty horrible too. Nevertheless, history and data tell us that the worst situation happens to the step child or, in our non-marrying age, the child living with a boyfriend who hasn’t even married his mother. Adults in a household with a non-biological child seem to yield to some atavistic imperative to stomp out this vulnerable creature that doesn’t have their genetic lineage. I can’t imagine that doesn’t hold true for same-sex couples too.

And a little child shall lead them

If I were a political candidate, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to a 20-year-old college student giving me advice about employment policies, nuclear negotiations, or executive management. I would definitely listen to that same college student, though, for advice about how to communicate with the youth of his generation. And finally, Republican politicians seem to be figuring out that, when it comes to political messaging, it is indeed a little child who shall lead them.

An Ebola timeline

One of the first things I do when I write a legal brief is create a timeline. Seeing how events relate to each other in time can be quite edifying, and it can expose unexpected strengths and weaknesses in ones case. Sharyl Attkisson has performed this useful task for Ebola, putting together a nice neat timeline showing America’s relationship to the virus since July of this year.

John Wick

I can’t figure out if John Wick is just a garden variety thriller, a trashy blood-fest, or something else. And doesn’t it really matter when it has Keanu? I actually probably won’t see it because I never see movies (Mr. Bookworm frowns on the expense and I’m loath to send money to Hollywood anyway), but a Keanu movie is always tempting….

Pictures

Some are my finds, most are from Caped Crusader, and some are from Sadie:

Charlton Heston political correctness tyranny with manners

Traitors in America join Dem party -- Kerry and Fonda

Sowell on Obama's care for Africans not Americans

Al Sharpton and Jeffrey Dahmer

Liberals investigate traffic jams not assassinations

RG III on political correctness

Reagan Republican extremists win

Kurdish v American feminists

Islam demands beheading

Yesterday's ally is today's enemy

Hazmat suit cartoon

Franklin Graham no sharia in America

JFK opposed high taxes

Truth wasn't included in the equation

The jihad isn't over it's at the infiltration phase

D'Souza I told you so

Are you more likely to be infected or beheaded than you were six years ago

The only two reasons for federal list of gun owners

City of Houston free speech enforcement

Vets before illegals

Obama baloney

Washington Obama and Biden on the truth

Ron Klain covers Obama's butt

Moderate Muslims demonstrating for peace

Ebola Response Team

[VIDEO] Bill Whittle tackles Ebola: information, disinformation, and a missing President (UPDATE)

For more on the confusion about airborne transmission, I think Ace does a great job of clarifying. He’s right that viruses are all airborne if they get in the air. The big deal seems to be how long they remain in the air. Some instantly fall to earth, so you’re only in danger if you got in the way of the spray, while some can just linger there, kind of like mosquitoes and gnats buzzing around at twilight.

Thinking through Ebola at both medical and political levels

Ebola virusIn the ordinary course of things, I’m a rather high-strung, worrying type of person. When it comes to Ebola, however, I find myself more less stressed than I thought I would be. I think part of it is sheer denial. Intellectually, I can envision a pandemic, but emotionally I can’t process something that big. Part of my unusual calm is also due to the differences between the United States and West Africa. In terms of medicine and infrastructure, we at our worst are still better than West Africa at its best.

Calm or not, I still have opinions about what’s going on. First and foremost, for those conservatives who think they’re betraying the faith by calling for stronger government action, my advice would be that they should stop beating themselves up. Even libertarians, who are the people most hostile to government intervention, should acknowledge that one of government’s core functions is to protect people from epidemic illnesses.

Closing borders, monitoring the health of people entering the country, creating no-fly countries, and putting health protocols in place are all features of good government in time of crisis, not bad government. The government becomes bad only if the crisis goes away but the controls stay. (Although I wouldn’t mind continuing to keep our border sealed against illegal aliens, if it ever could be sealed in the first place.)

In other words, acting responsibly to stop a pandemic in its tracks isn’t Big Government overreach; it’s good government’s job.  Which leads me to the second thing I wanted to discuss….

We’re all used to it by now:  When there’s a good government job to do, Obama’s not doing it. The Obama government’s response to Ebola is just more of the same, except this time around the consequences aren’t a flabby economy, porous border, or disordered Middle East but are, instead, an American population that could die by the millions in a welter of blood.  It is unconscionable that the administration is allowing its reflexive anti-Americanism to guide its decisions regarding a potential pandemic.

Aside from the government missteps to date, which could be due simply to inefficiency, how do we know that the administration’s calculus doesn’t include doing what’s best for the American people?  We know because an administration spokesman, Dr. Tom Frieden of the CDC, said as much.  Speaking before Congress, he contended that protecting Americans would be bad for Africa’s “fledgling democracies.” He refused to say who told him to prioritize Africa’s fledging democracies against American’s health and well-being, but I doubt that our educated guesses would be wrong.

Obama tried to overcome the mess Frieden created with his own statement about flight bans and screen. What emerged from his mouth was a swirl of gibberish that seems to boil down to this: if we bar flights from West Africa, West African travelers will just hop other flights to get to our country and we won’t be able to figure out who they are. What Obama really means is that, if we disallow flights from West Africa, we’re going to have to screen all people with African passports more closely to make sure that they didn’t somehow circumvent the West African travel ban while carrying the virus.

Obama’s not afraid of the inconvenience banning flights and interviewing passengers will cause.  Little details such as inconvenience (for example, forcing millions of Americans to give up their health insurance and buy new health insurance) have never bothered him much.  What Obama really fears is that, because a flight ban means that airports can’t just sequester passengers from West African flights, they’re going to have to screen lots and lots of blacks, since there’s no way of knowing whether a black person getting off a foreign flight had contact with West Africa, a part of the world filled with black people. Talk about racist (as MSNBC already has)!

It doesn’t seem to occur to the usual squawking heads (let alone our President) that people of all races, colors, creeds, country of national origins, sexes, and sexual identities would prefer that Ebola stay outside of the US. In this regard, it’s worth remembering that, following 9/11, American blacks were all in favor of profiling Muslims in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

Post-flight screening at airports is, at best, a laborious, time- and labor-consuming job (and at worst, a minimal preventative for contagion).  What’s certain is that it cannot possibly be done as Obama envisions it with all the passengers from West African flights going through the process in every airport. However, it probably can be done at least somewhat better if we substantially decrease flights coming from West Africa, and if we require all passengers carrying African passports, no matter their original point of departure, to prove that they were anywhere but West Africa in the last month or, if they were in or near West Africa, to get screened.  (Giving airport screeners some basic geography lessons would probably help the process.)

That’s my two cents. Here are a few other issues:

Our public institutions, from WHO, to the CDC, to the NIH, have utterly failed. (WHO, to its credit, has admitted its failure, which theoretically enables it to correct its behavior.) Indeed, it turns out that Amber Vinson, the nurse who was carrying Ebola when she got on an airplane called the CDC repeatedly to ask if she should fly despite have an elevation and the CDC just as repeatedly gave her the go-ahead.

Our Western health institutions have been so busy with their studies about tobacco smoke, parrots, hookers, and gender identity (and God alone knows what else) that they’ve rendered themselves incapable of handling their primary responsibilities. The Wall Street Journal says we’re seeing the twilight of these institutions. James Longstreet expands on that, saying that the whole Ebola fiasco generally shows the limits of “liberal fascism” (which he calls “liberalism”) when times are tough. During the fat times, you can obsess about lesbian diets all you want, but you better keep some resources for the lean times.

Meanwhile, even as no Americans have died from Ebola, people are dying from Enterovirus D-68. That’s bad. What’s worse from a political perspective is the way these deaths track so perfectly the path taken by all of those illegal alien children that Obama first admitted into the United States and then, without bothering with silly things like health checks and quarantines, shipped into America’s heartland.  Careless?  Evil?  Cloward-Piven?  Who knows.  But Obama’s beginning to take on the aspect of the Grim Reaper when it comes to letting disease across America’s borders.

To the extent Obama pays lip service to limits on his power (“Little old me? Stop flights from Africa? That’s too hard, so just ignore my whole thing about banning flights to Israel”), George Mason University Law School Assistant Dean Richard Kelsey has an interesting statement about Obama’s schizophrenic approach to the limits of his executive power. Let me just add once again that protecting ones country from pandemic disease isn’t some Leftist dream of Big Government. It’s right there on the top of the list of things that even the most libertarian governments are expected to do.

Peggy Noonan sees the administration’s behavior as just more evidence of the great disdain Obama and his team of experts have for the American people.

And speaking of experts, Ace has nothing but disdain for proto-government media outlets such as NPR coming along with half-baked understandings of cavalier “expert” explanations about things that are very, very important — and Ace carefully explains those important things. It’s an epic, informative rant, and well worth your time.

Stephen Green isn’t getting all twisted up about Ebola. In addition to his faith in American medicine on its worst day being better than West African on its best, not to mention the fact that Ebola’s own virulence is its worst enemy, Green also points out that the real worry is the way in which political calculations and political fear constantly overwhelm common sense.

Oh, and one more thing about America: We don’t have West Africa’s Muslim-based burial rituals, which involve whole families cleaning a corpse, both inside and out.

While I’m on the subject of Obama’s deadly racial calculations, even Key & Peele, who like Obama, are beginning to notice something about him:

What do you think of this message from the White House?

I got an email from the White House.  Right off the bat, I was dubious, because it said it can’t spread through air.  It seems to me that if an Ebola person next to me sneezes, and I breathe those particulates, I’m in trouble.  Anyway, here’s what the White House wants you to know.

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I’ll have more thoughts on the government’s Ebola fiasco tomorrow.

The Brimfield Police Department schools the CDC about Ebola

About an hour ago, the Brimfield Police Department (in Ohio) put up a Facebook post educating the CDC about Ebola.  It’s been shared over 6,000 times in that hour.  Now, I’m sharing it with you:

Dear Centers of Disease Control,

Well…I might as well join the crowd, I guess. I am not a doctor nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Since everyone in the government and press is firing up all of our friends over the Ebola cases, I thought that a small town police chief without a medical degree would offer some leadership to your organization. Heaven forbid someone in the government takes a leadership role. Gasp!

By the very name of your organization, you folks control diseases. I have to ask a question, and risk sounding argumentative. Here it goes.

You all REALLY could not isolate and control ONE case of Ebola? It was ONE case on U.S. soil. One!! You are the Centers for Disease CONTROL!!! Now, local authorities are being deluged with calls and have to do your work. That is just fine. We are accustomed to it. It is typical federal behavior. Pass the problem downwards, refuse blame and take credit. I have seen it hundreds of times in my career. No worries. I will offer some facts for the public, as if it were my job.

Ebola is a disease named for the Ebola River in Africa. One of the early cases was near the river. It is transmitted through contact with the body fluids of an infected person or animal. In an illness situation, since there is not usually a lot of smooching going on, we will say do not touch the regurgitation , feces or blood of one who has the disease.

Outbreaks occur every so often and the disease has killed a somewhere around 4,000 people since the discovery in the mid 1970s. As a comparison, about 2,100 people have died from lightning strikes during the same time period. People doing their own home electric work accounted for 5,240 deaths in that period. Animals have killed approximately 9,320 people since the mid 1970s. So, while I have a healthy respect for death, I am more likely to be killed by an elephant or reticulated python than Ebola. Nevertheless, the constant barrage of Ebola information and your inability to control ONE CASE of this illness has everyone on edge.

Here is my plan for stopping this nonsense. Use what you will.

1) Stop flying people here from infected countries. It sounds simple to me. Oh…LIberia to Dallas flight? Cancelled.

2) Isolate the cases you have and listen to your nurses. They are the folks who work most closely with patients. The doctors spend about five seconds with a patient. They sashay in, look around and then leave. It is an expensive runway walk, believe me. Nurses are the police officers of the Ebola world. You all are the congressmen.

3) Stop changing the story. The American people are suspicious by nature, because we have a 200+ year history of the government lying and engaging in cover up. You made that culture, so you have to live with it. Tell us the truth and stop changing the story. The truth is the truth. It is non-negotiable.

Carry on….Chief Oliver.

And here’s the poster someone added to the comments section of the above post:

Have Ebola flights land in D.C. first

The Bookworm Beat (10/15/14) — Looking for the Apocalypse edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingSorry for the downer title, but the news is anything but good, wherever one looks. At the home front we’ve had flat tires, broken bones, and dead phones. (The broken bone belongs to my exchange student, who is disappointed, but not too terribly damaged, thank goodness.)  The past few day’s headlines haven’t done anything to cheer me up, either.

Because I like to share, I’m passing my temporary existential despair on to all of you. And just to make you feel a little worse, let me add that our current administration, rather than trying to pull the rip-cord on the parachute so that we don’t hit bottom, is instead trying to cut the parachute’s suspension lines.

How bad is Obama? So bad that even Democrats view him as toxic

Republicans didn’t run away from Bush until 2008. Here it is, only 2014, and Democrats are treating Obama as if he’s radioactive. (The link is to a Wall Street Journal article. If you can’t read the article, try googling the title for an accessible link.)

Michael Dolan explains how Obama got what he wanted: A partnership with Iran

Obama came into office promising to work with Iran. It turns out that, as is true of all the promises he made that were deleterious to America’s well-being , he kept this one. (It’s a useful yardstick, incidentally: Promises about things that will help Americans? Obama breaks. Promises about things that will hurt Americans, America, and America’s allies? Obama keeps.)

Michael Dolan, who is a senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and was both a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council, has been looking at Obama’s conduct since ISIS appeared on the scene and figured out Obama’s game-plan: Obama is using ISIS as a way to partner with Iran.

Obama is engaging in this de facto partnership with Iran, even though, as Dolan also explains, doing so allows Iran to go nuclear. A nuclear Iran destroys any balance of power in the region, not to mention threatening Israel and Europe. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that as a Shia state, Iran doesn’t just believe in the apocalypse, it believes that it has a mission from Allah to bring about the Apocalypse itself. (In this, Iran is quite distinct from Christians who believe in an Apocalypse, but who dread it and do nothing to cause it.)  There’s nothing like a nuclear bomb to get a little Apocalypsing started.

To go on, Obama partners with Iran even though it means turning our backs on the Saudis who, while horribly rotten, are less horribly rotten than Iran and have been our allies for a long time. He does even though partnering with the mullahs is a slap in the face to those Iranians who are yearning to breathe at least a little more free (just as Obama ignored them during their attempted Green revolution). He does even though Iran has been funding the worst kind of terrorism — much of it aimed at America — for decades. And he does this even though Iran has made it clear that it still has as its goal the destruction of Israel and America, and the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

Obama is Iran’s useful idiot, helping it to make sure that any caliphate the emerges isn’t Sunni and ISIS-controlled, but is instead Shia and Iran-controlled. Put another way, Obama isn’t just another Leftist ideologue; he’s a truly evil man who affirmatively seeks out the devil as a dancing partner.

Media ghasties and ghoulies

If you want to get your scare on before Halloween, watch Andrea Mitchell trying to save Abortion Barbie from her tasteless, desperate, sleazy attacks in Texas on Greg Abbott. You know what I was thinking when I watched that? I was thinking “Mommy, make those mean, scary ladies go away!”

The New York Times uses Britain’s embrace of Hamas as a reason to chastise Israel

When does a media outlet cross over from being partisan and become evil? I actually think the New York Times just rolled across that line with its latest editorial about Israel.

As you may recall, the British Parliament voted endorsing the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state. A media outlet with a decent moral compass would have attacked England for supporting a “state” that has nothing state-like about it: It’s government is run like a mafia institution, it has no economy and no infrastructure, and its idea of “human rights” is to deny women, Jews, Christians, and homosexuals status as humans. Anyone of common decency would recognize that it is a disgusting reflection on modern England that its Parliament would side with a grotesque, corrupt, tyranny with only murder on its mind.

But the Times knows who the bad guy is in this case and it’s Israel — for daring to build more Jewish homes in historically Jewish neighborhoods. Or as the Times editorial board puts it:

The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.

Funnily enough, the editorial makes no mention of the fact that the Palestinians have contributed exactly nothing to peace talks, negotiations, and compromise. In Times-land, this one is all on the Jews.

I used to say that the Times was good only for lining bird cages. It’s dropped in my estimation. It might, just might, be useful as a repository for the blood, vomit, and diarrhea of an Ebola patient, but I suspect it would perform even that most basic waste-collection function badly.

The New York Times also brings its evilness to the subject of chemical weapons in Iraq

When the Iraq War was Bush’s war, the New York Times led the charge of those claiming that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. Now, without even a blink at its volte face, it’s leading the charge to claim that Bush is evil because he exposed American troops to Saddam Hussein’s store of chemical weapons — i.e., weapons of mass destruction — in Iraq.

I’m not letting the Times perfidy blind me to the fact that American troops have suffered because the Bush Pentagon left them ill-prepared to come across WMDS. After all, if you’re claiming a war to wipe out WMDs, you should probably have systems in place to protect your troops. The Pentagon’s failings, though, don’t make me any less disgusted with the Times.

Let me count the ways in which the Democrat party is the party of death

Democrats may get all teary eyed when cold-blooded murderers meet their makers in a gas chamber after due process, but they’re pretty cavalier about most other deaths. They don’t mind a steely-eyed Obama sending drones to attack Pakistani and Yemenite civilians. They’re okay with grandma being sidelined by the Obama death panel. They assume that the vets who died on the VA’s watch were probably baby killers.  They’re copacetic with suicide if life is just too tough.

Oh, and one more thing:  abortion is empowering. Not just a necessary evil, which is an argument many Americans might support, but empowering and a “social good.” I’m betting that’s exactly the way Heinrich Himmler felt when he organized the Holocaust.

If you ever wondered why knowing geography matters….

Marin General Hospital had an Ebola scare because its staff confused the Middle East with West Africa. The country’s in the very best of hands….

Pigs are flying because I agree with Paul Krugman

Don’t worry, I don’t agree with Krugman about anything substantive. I do, however, think he’s correct when he says “Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, he is a consequential president.”

Where Krugman and I part ways is that Krugman thinks Obama is consequential in a good way, whereas I think Obama’ss consequential status relates to the fact that he’s inflicted such terrible damage on our once-thriving capitalist, constitutional, sovereign nation that we may take decades to recover, assuming we ever can. There’s no saying, after all, whether it’s possible to recover from a wrecked economy, socialized medicine, destroyed borders, a dysfunctional military facing an existential threat, and diseases that resist modern medicine, especially when such medicine is ineptly administered.

The Washington Post says Ebola isn’t really all that bad

Trying to strike an optimistic tone, the Washington Post says that Ebola isn’t as bad as it could be. It notes that (so far, at least), not everyone who came into contact with the Liberian who brought the disease to Dallas has gotten infected, and we definitely have better ways to treat symptoms than they do in West Africa. Still, even though the WaPo is trying to make lemonade from lemons, our broken borders and the Democrats’ funding priorities (which did not include focusing on plague-like infectious diseases) all mean that I’m not sanguine.

When it comes to Ebola and the media, I agree with Benjamin Shapiro

To follow-up on my point about the WaPo’s peculiar optimism, Benjamin Shapiro sums up the media’s relationship to Ebola, which is that it matters only when it affects the media itself. His starting point is media personality Nancy Snyderman’s decision to get herself some soup, despite the fact that she was technically quarantined, along with a crew member:

It’s one thing for Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan to carry around an Ebola-ridden woman, get on an airplane to Dallas, walk into a hospital with symptoms, and then walk out again. Such behavior can be attributed, at least in part, to ignorance. It’s another thing entirely for a highly educated medical professional to endanger those around her for some miso.

But that’s the world of the media, where the proper response to the possibility of contracting Ebola is, “Don’t you know who I am?” Double standards abound here; media members lather Americans into a frenzy over the threat of a disease that has, to date, claimed a grand total of one life in the United States. Then they go out for lunch in public after being told that they could be carrying the virus.

The Snyderman story is truly part of a broader egocentrism in the media. The media didn’t give one whit about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative non-profit applicants — but they went absolutely batty over the Department of Justice targeting reporters. The media don’t seem to care very much about demands for transparency from the Obama administration by the American public — but they’re fighting mad about the Obama administration’s refusal to let them photograph him golfing. After all, it’s one thing for normal Americans to get stiffed, and quite another for our betters to feel the effects of government’s heavy hand.

Canada’s Supreme Court says quoting the Bible re homosexuality is a hate crime

Yes, the Bible is not nice about homosexuals. Indeed, it’s so not nice that Canada’s Supreme Court has determined that someone who cites to the Bible in opposition to homosexual conduct is guilty of a hate crime.

Here’s the acid test, though: Would the Supreme Court reach the same ruling if it was asked to determine whether someone quoting from the Quar’an in opposition to Jews is also guilty of a hate crime? Somehow I doubt it, but maybe I’m just too cynical for my own good.

Paul Kengor is right that conservative radio is committing suicide by greed

I only listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car . . . but lately I’m never able to listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car. The reason for my inability to listen is because I’m usually in the car for short hauls and, when I tune in to the local talk radio stations, all I get is advertisements.

From the top of the hour until seven minutes past the hour . . . advertisements. From nineteen minutes past the hour until thirty-five minutes past the hour . . . advertisements (including the show’s host saying “Welcome back, and now for a word from our sponsors.”) The same pattern applies in the second half of the hour. Because I usually need to be at places on the hour or the half-hour, I invariably find myself tuning in to those fourteen or so minutes of advertising at the top or the bottom of the clock face. So lately, I haven’t even bothered to try. I just listen to music or call my sister.

And why are we in this terrible situation? Greed, says Paul Kengor:

Why so much junk? To pay the costs, of course. But more specifically, to pay the gigantic, unsustainable fees these shows demand.

[skip]

Of course, it’s a free market. Rush and other hosts are free to earn whatever they receive. But also because it’s a free market, their stations and listeners are free to bolt. What surprises me is the degree to which some conservative hosts are willing to let their stations and listeners bolt, even as they rake in piles of money. I’m especially surprised at how these hosts are willing to allow their excellent product to be diluted and damaged by an intolerable stream of annoying advertisements.

It seems to me that these conservative hosts—champions of the free market—are not listening to the free market. In my local market, Rush and Hannity and Glenn Beck have lost a 50,000-watt blow-torch in favor of a vastly inferior 7,000-watt signal that will be heard by far fewer listeners.

I love Rush, but even he’s not worth listening to ten minutes of commercials during a 15 minute drive.

I leased an electric car, so oil prices dropped

I’m never kidding when I say that the moment I enter the stock market the market drops and the moment I pull out the market rises. I just have that kind of timing.

My timing means it’s no surprise to me at all that, now that I’ve leased an electric car so as not to run up huge gas bills driving a minivan around for local errands, oil prices are plummeting. At our nearest ARCO, which sells the cheapest gas in Southern Marin, prices have dropped by about 20 cents per gallon in the past two weeks. That’s huge.

Power Line wonders if the Saudis are doing this on purpose in an effort to undercut America’s booming oil business. Could be. I’m not sure, though, that the Saudis have the oil resources to play this kind of price-cutting game. I recall from a discussion at my blog many years ago someone who worked in the oil industry saying that Saudi wells are finally running try. It seems to be a perilous game to drop prices when you’re running out of product to sell.

Will all these oil and electric cars soon be obsolete anyway?

Remember how, in Back to the Future, Doc perfected time travel using the energy from nuclear fusion? Well, we may soon be doing a little time travel ourselves, because Lockheed says the future is now (or at least just ten years from now):

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

Anything that will break the back of the Muslim oil nations and silences the stupidity of the environ-mental-ists can’t come soon enough for me.

Lovely Lena leans . . . and so do several other old-time Hollywood beauties

Robert Avrech isn’t just a brilliant writer and thinker. He’s also extraordinarily knowledgeable about old Hollywood — the Hollywood of the Turner Classic Movies I watch with so much love.

Avrech recently wrote a beautifully illustrated post about the leaning boards that Hollywood’s leading ladies reclined upon to get the weight off their feet without ruining costumes so tight or elaborate that the actresses were often sewn into them. In a comment, I contributed my mite by pointing out that, in Singin’ In The Rain, Lena Lamont, the lovely lady with the horrible voice, and a personality that was even worse, was seen leaning on one of those boards. Robert, bless his heart, went out of his way to update the post to add a picture of the lovely Lena leaning.

Superheroes, anyone?

At the most recent Watcher’s Council forum, the Watcher asked us, if we could be a superhero, which one would we be? Because my weekend passed in an alcoholic stupor (except without any alcohol, but only the stupor part), I completely missed the forum. If asked, I would have said Superman, simply because he’s always been my favorite superhero. Tune in here to see what other Council members had to say.

The Bookworm Beat (10/14/14) — Quotable quotes edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingStill catching up from the devastation that yesterday wrought on my schedule. However, I had the chance to read a few good things:

Ken Braun: The real unemployment is much higher and most Americans know it:

Regardless of reasons, the net effect of a steadily rising adult population and sharply falling labor force isn’t pretty. It’s as if 217,000 adults joined the economy during the last month and yet made no attempt to help out. And on top of that, an additional 98,000 who were doing something in August also halted any attempt to pull a handle on our economic wagon in September. The headline number released last week – 248,000 new jobs created during September – pales in comparison to the much larger exodus of job seekers from our labor force.

Victor Davis Hanson: Ruins of the Middle East:

In order to win over the Islamic street, Obama has tried almost everything to remind the Middle East that America is no longer run by a white male conservative from a Texas oil family. His multifaceted efforts have ranged from the fundamental to the ridiculous. The Al Arabiya interview, the Cairo Speech, the apology tour, the loud (but hypocritical) disparagement of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols, the new euphemisms for jihadist terror, the multicultural trendy pronunciation of Talîban and Pâkistan, and references to his father’s religion and his own middle name resulted in American popularity ratings in many Middle Eastern countries lower than during the Bush administration. In the Middle East, the only thing worse than being unapologetically proud of past U.S. foreign policy is being obsequiously ashamed of it.

Dennis Prager: It’s All About The Party:

Obamacare provides an excellent example of why “voting for the candidate” is an act of self-delusion. Every vote for this medical and economic transformation of America came from Democrats in the House and Senate; and every single Republican, even the most “moderate,” voted against it. Regarding the most destructive legislation in modern American history, “the candidate” didn’t mean a thing. Party meant everything.

This may be the primary reason Republicans do not do better in a country in which few of its citizens identify themselves as “Left”: Republicans run against their opponents, rather than against the Left and the Democratic party. That’s what Mitt Romney did, and that’s why he lost an election that he should have won. Romney never defined his presidential campaign as being opposed to the Left or to the Democratic party. It was solely against Barack Obama, a popular president at the time and the first black ever to serve as president, something that continued to mean a lot to many Americans who hoped that this fact would reduce black animosity toward white America.

Michael Rubin: Ebola is 1981 Flu, Not AIDS:

While the spread of AIDS scared society—largely because so much about it at the time was unknown—a better analogy to the spread of Ebola may be the infamous influenza epidemic of 1918.

The scariest thing about the 1918 flu was that it killed not simply children, the old, and the infirm, but also those who were healthy and at the peak of physical fitness. In the United States, 99 percent of the flu’s victims were under 65 years old, and half the victims were between 20 and 40.

To be in the prime of life and health is no defense against Ebola, and being in the military may actually increase risk: Anyone who has ever spent time around American soldiers—and those from many other Western nations—knows the commitment each has to physical fitness and working out. On Army bases and on Navy ships, there are often lines for equipment or exercise stations at the gym. This may sound silly, and of course the Pentagon theoretically will put restrictions and regulations in place, but sweat is sweat.

[Bookworm here: If you're interested in the 1918 flu pandemic, I recommend John M. Barry's The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History]

Daily Mail: ‘Origami’ condoms, Michelle Obama gardening games and poop-throwing chimps: NIH spent millions on wacky projects but now complains cuts killed off Ebola vaccine research:

The $30 billion U.S. National Institutes of Health blamed tightening federal budgets on Monday for its inability to produce an Ebola vaccine, but a review of its grant-making history in the last 10 years has turned up highly unusual research that redirected precious funds away from more conventional public health projects.

The projects included $2.4 million to develop ‘origami’ condoms designed with Japanese folding paper in mind, and $939,000 to find out that male fruit flies prefer to romance younger females because the girl-flies’ hormone levels drop over time.

Other winners of NIH grants consumed $325,000 to learn that marriages are happier when wives calm down more quickly during arguments with their husbands, and $257,000 to make an online game as a companion to first lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden.

The agency also spent $117,000 in taxpayers’ grant dollars to discover that most chimpanzees are right-handed.

Bret Stephens: Obama Survival Manual, Intl Edition:

Each comment makes the same essential point: Don’t fear America, don’t trust America, don’t wait for American rescue. A corollary point, surely not lost on Mr. Putin, Ayatollah Khamenei and other rogues is that they have a free hand at least until January 2017. The conclusion: If ever there was a time to revise their regional orders in ways more to their liking, better to do so now, when there’s a self-infatuated weakling in the White House.

Jonah Goldberg: Culture Wars All The Way Down:

Let’s imagine that America’s national interest is completely disconnected from the domestic news cycle. It’s not a difficult thing to imagine, given that it is so often true. But let’s imagine that the disconnect is even more total. The press never covered the Islamic State. Never reported on the slaughter in Iraq and Syria. Never raised any concerns about what the rise of a terrorist army says about Obama’s foreign policy or our long-term interests in the region. The press focused instead on George Clooney’s wedding, events in Ferguson, Mo., and how awesome Lena Dunham is. Again, this isn’t a hugely difficult mental exercise.

In short, imagine the rise of the Islamic State over the summer presented all of the same national-security and humanitarian problems, but no political problems for Obama. Now ask yourself, would Obama have done anything about it?

The Bookworm Beat (10/10/14) — Hanging on by a thread edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingReading the news lately is not conducive to good mental health. Obama has become a one man Murphy’s Law: on his watch, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. We are watching a train wreck in real-time. It’s as if someone back in the 1950s came out with a Twilight Zone-esque alternative reality movie that looks at what could happen if America ever ended up with America-hating socialists both in the White House and controlling some or all of Congress. I think it would have been a horror movie….

Finally: Nobel Peace Prize winners I can support

I’m hard put to remember the last time I wasn’t disgusted by the Nobel committee’s choices for Peace Prize winner. (So much so that, when I was in Oslo, I found it hard even to walk into the room where the Peace Prize is presented. This year, though, the Nobel committee finally got it right — the winners are Malala Yousafzai, the young woman who didn’t stop her anti-Taliban activism even when the Taliban shot her, and Kailash Satyarthi, who seeks to end child exploitation.

Sam Harris explains more about Ben Affleck’s attack against him on Bill Maher’s show

If you read one thing today, read Sam Harris as he explains that Ben Affleck was primed to attack both Bill Maher and Harris about Islam from the second Harris appeared on Maher’s show. Harris carefully explains his basic premise — the illiberalism of Islam — and expands on the fact that he is routinely a target for holding this view. I, of course, agree with Harris.

Leftism is a mental illness

Yesterday, I wrote about Jane Fonda and the attraction Leftism seems to hold for people with traumatic childhoods or mental illnesses (or both). In a comment, Charles Martel mentioned a video I’d already lined up to show you.

In this video, a profoundly disturbed, quite possibly mentally ill woman, starts shrieking about her “little girl” to some restaurant diners. It’s a very upsetting video to watch, not because I agree with the shrieker’s radicalism on animal rights, but because, as a humanist, I find it upsetting to see mentally ill people in action, with nobody able to step in and help:

I’ll add here, as I always do when the subject comes up, that I do not believe animals are equal to humans. I’m crazy about my dogs and call them my babies, but I know they’re not. They’re dogs. They’re loving and fun and have a lot of intelligence in a doggie way. They will never create anything, think any deep thoughts, or develop an existential sense of themselves or the world. When they die, at around 13 years, I will grieve terribly, and then got more dogs.

I like eating meat and, when I look at my teeth, my digestion, and my dietary needs, I know that I was created to eat meat. I’m fortunate in that I can also enjoy the fruits of the earth, but meat’s definitely part of my body’s health. I also know that the animals I eat, or whose eggs or milk I consume, have feelings. They can be happy or sad, in pain or comfortable. However, I am 99.9999999999% certain that animals do not suffer any existential anxiety.

Thus, the pig doesn’t stop rolling in the mud to think to himself, “Yeah, sure I’m having fun in the mud today, but what will tomorrow hold for me? Will I meet the love of my life or will I die at a farmer’s hands? Does what I do make a difference?” Likewise, the cow chewing cud is not thinking deep thoughts.

With this knowledge about animals, I feel it is my obligation, whenever possible, to buy meat from animals raised and slaughter humanely, and to use eggs and dairy products from chickens allowed to scratch the soil and cows allowed to wander through green pastures. And that’s the sum total of my responsibility to those lower in the food chain than I am.

Norwegian company in Canada offers more evidence of Leftism as a mental illness

If you want even more evidence that Leftism is a mental illness, check out the story of the Amaruk Wilderness Corp.’s response to a job candidate who graduated from a Christian school that doesn’t recognize gay marriage. Within the span of a few emails, Amaruk’s managers went from anti-Christian discrimination, to hatred for straight men, to a desire to f*ck God in the literal sense.

If you’re traveling to Canada and looking for a wilderness guide company, I recommend against Amaruk. It’s not just that they’re mean. It’s that they’re quite obviously mentally ill — and who wants to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with someone quite crazy?

Obama speaks foreign language known as “English”

Okay, this is petty of me, but I simply cannot resist passing on this video of Obama’s bizarre pronunciation of OB-GYN. Most people either say O-B-G-Y-N or they just say “gynecologist,” with a few outliers saying “ob-gyne.” Obama, however, comes up with a new one:

Gwyneth Paltrow proves my point about Barak-ian Gray

The other day, I had a little fun pointing out that Barack Obama’s face appears strangely untouched by time and scandal. I suggested that there might be a picture of Dorian Gray at work here.

I had to laugh, therefore, when I read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s reaction on coming face-to-face with Obama recently: “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”

I guess she hasn’t yet seen the picture in the attic.

Is the real threat to America Enterovirus D68?

While everyone’s attention is focused on Ebola, American children are dying from a polio-like virus. And isn’t it interesting that this deadly virus has hit America right at the time Obama opened our borders to tens of thousands of Latin American children, all un-vaccinated, and many ill with diseases such as . . . Enterovirus D68? It just doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the EV-D68 outbreaks track precisely the route those Latin American children took when Obama shipped them out into America’s heartlands.

There’s a reason the Secret Service stinks lately

The Secret Service, the organization charged with protecting the American president, has become a corrupt, inefficient joke. Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and current Republican political candidate, says the problem starts at the top with management. And isn’t that always the case?

Mike McDaniel takes a long hard look at the details of the Secret Service’s downfall, and views it (ironically) as one of Obama’s few success stories.

Anti-Semitism morphs yet again

Like the poor, anti-Semitism is always with us — it just keeps changing its shape to meet the needs of the anti-Semitic society relying on it to avoid looking at that society’s own sins and failures. The New Republic has a decent run-down on the core nature of anti-Semitism, no matter the guise it wears.

Cosby actress rejects politically correct labels

The first paragraph of the IJ Review story sums it up nicely:

Raven-Symoné, the famous Nickelodeon actress who also played Olivia on “The Cosby Show,” doesn’t want people to call her “gay” or “African American.” She wants to be looked at as an individual human being. Imagine that.

What’s almost as good as Raven-Symoné’s stand is Oprah’s horror upon hearing it. I loath Oprah who, behind the lovey-dovey affect, is a calculating Leftist who made her billions pushing a victim agenda and destroying rational thought in favor of useful-idiot emotions.

Another political victim of the IRS?

Are you looking for the all-purpose excuse for everything?

Have you ever felt that the excuse you have to offer just isn’t good enough? “But officer, I was only going five miles above the speed limit?” “But teacher, I wasn’t cheating. I just happened to glance blindly in the direction of Charles’ test answers.” “Honest, Mom, it was already broken when I picked it up.”

Well, worry no more. An Islamist seeking to deflect attention from ISIS’s abhorrent beheading tactic has come up with the first all-purpose, use-in-any-situation excuse. Go here to find out what it is. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

The beauty behind the iconic buildings

For sheer visual pleasure, take a look at these photos of the secret spaces behind some of England’s more iconic buildings.

Pictures

A few more of Caped Crusader’s great poster round-up:

Margaret Thatcher on essential freedoms

Obama talks differently about 2nd amendment and Obamacare

Solving Ebola in two steps

Democrat prorities don't include Tamooressi

Drug cartels not guns kill people

Obama on billionaires at Rich Richman fundraiser

Liberalzheimer's and Jim Crow laws

Monsters aren't in bed but are in DC

To fight Ebola, we need a Florence Nightingale — although the Marines are good too

Ebola virusTonight, we attended a talk with Paul Farmer, Dan Kelly, Raj Panjabi, and a fourth fellow whose name I can’t remember.  The topic was Ebola.  All four speakers had front-line experience, having spent a great deal of time recently in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.  All of them are affiliated with non-profit organizations that have as their sole purpose bringing long-term and emergency healthcare solutions to third world countries.  They are all admirable men and masters of their material.

That’s why it was disappointing that the evening was so horribly dull.  Rather than the four of them presenting a coherent analysis covering both Africa and America, they engaged in a repetitive, jargon-filled talk that kept reiterating the key points.  The key points were interesting, and probably could have been covered in about fifteen  minutes.  I wasn’t able to take notes, but here’s what I got:

1.  Liberia and Sierra Leone have both suffered tremendously from civil wars that utterly destroyed their infrastructure and left them with virtually no health care.  I believe it was Liberia that ended up with around 51 doctors for the entire nation.  The American equivalent would have been 8 doctors for all of San Francisco.

2.  When the latest Ebola outbreak began in a remote village with an infected two-year old child, there were no systems in place to stop the disease’s spread.

3.  Because there are no doctors, no buildings, and no supplies in these forsaken African countries, a few things happen:

a.  The mortality rate is 70% to 90%.

b.  People view hospitals and medical clinics as death traps, which they are.

c.  People therefore avoid hospitals and medical clinics, furthering the disease’s spread.

4.  To the extent there are any systems on the ground in Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, they are the NGOs represented at the talk, plus WHO, the CDC, a British government agency, and a few disparate other groups.  They are trying to coordinate, but are behind the curve.  The local governments are helpless.

5.  Money is starting to come in, but little of the money pledged actually makes it to the situation on the ground.

6.  If the situation does not approve, we can expect 500,000 to 1.4 million dead in Africa by the end of January 2015.

7.  If, however, the money rains down and the existing organizations are able to train health care workers, open clinics, and have medical supplies on hand to treat people, the number of dead may stop at around 70,000.

8.  Bringing the current Ebola crisis to heel in Africa, even under the best of circumstances may take 18 to 24 months.

9.  A military organization is best suited to imposing structure on these dysfunctional regions.  (When I heard this, I thought to myself “So that’s why Obama sent in the Marines.”)

10.  Taking a page out of the Borgia book for poisons that can be absorbed through the skin, Ebola can transmit through people’s skin.  It’s not enough to keep your hands away from your nose and mouth.  If someone’s infected blood, vomit, fecal matter, semen, spit, or sweat just touches you, you can become infected.  Even picking up a stained sheet can pass the infection.  Additionally, scientists do not know how long the virus will survive on a surface once it’s become dehydrated.  The current guess is that Ebola, unlike other viruses, can survive for quite a while away from its original host.

11.  The Ebola virus is from the same family as the Marburg virus, which found its way to Germany in the 1960s, killed a few people, and was then quickly contained.  That’s good news for Westerners and their medicine.

12.  If patients get Western medicine that treats the symptoms — drugs to reduce fever and to control vomiting and diarrhea, proper treatment if the body goes into shock, and blood transfusions — the mortality rate is “only” 25% — which is still high, but is significantly lower than the 70%-90% morality in Africa, where patients get little to no treatment.  (See point 3 regarding the disease-spreading negative feedback loop of the high mortality rate.)

13.  This is a genuine crisis.  If anything, the media is erring by downplaying what’s been happening in Africa, and governments are most certainly responding too slowly to a problem that must be fixed in Africa, rather than just being stopped here (as if that were possible).

In sum, Ebola is a really bad disease, made horribly worse by the complete post-civil war dysfunction and poverty in these three West African nations.  With enough money and man power, the disease can be brought to heel.  The only problem is getting the money and manpower in place.

Florence Nightingale and her sister Parthenope

Florence Nightingale and her sister Parthenope

Hearing that the problem is one of men and manpower, I immediately thought (as everyone must) of Florence Nightingale.  I’m sure all of you remember her story, but I’ll tell it again for my satisfaction.  Florence was born in 1820 to a very wealthy, very well-connected, very upper class British family.  She was expected to do the ordinary thing:  become a “finished” young lady, get married, and have the next generation of wealthy, well-connected, upper class British children.  Florence, however, wanted something different.  She wanted to be a nurse.

To appreciate just how shocking Florence’s career goal was, imagine your own sweet, young daughter looking up at you and saying “Mother and Father, I want to become a prostitute, and work in the worst slums, with a lot of filthy, disease-ridden people.  Oh, and I’m planning to numb myself against the horror of my chosen life with strong drink and opium.”  By saying that, your daughter would have described precisely what many nurses were like back in the middle of the 19th century, or at least what upper class people thought they were like.

The hospital in Scutari, circa 1856

The hospital in Scutari, circa 1856

Understandably, Florence’s parents said “No!” and kept saying “No” despite Florence’s certain belief that God himself had called her to the job of nursing.  By the time she was 24, Florence ignored her parents and began to study what she could about nursing.  She also traveled widely around Europe and the Mediterranean.  During her years of work, study, and travel, she met several important men whose wealth and connections would aid her in the coming years.

When Florence was 30, she visited and was much impressed by a Lutheran community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein in Germany, where the Pastor and several deaconesses dedicated themselves to caring for the sick and poor. Florence worked and studied at this community for several months, an experience she wrote about later.  It provided much of the basis for her believes about cleanliness and good nutrition for the sick.  (Her beliefs about cleanliness did not extend to germ theory, something that was of little interest to her.)

By 1853, Florence was offered a job as superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street, London. Between her pay from that job and the very comfortable allowance her father gave her, Florence did quite well doing the work she loved.

Florence Nightingale shortly after her return to England from Scutari

Florence Nightingale shortly before leaving for Scutari

All of the above was a prelude to Florence’s moment in history. In 1853, the Crimean War began, with Russia squaring off against an alliance of France, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. This was probably the last of the Christian religious wars, since Russia was ostensibly fighting for the rights of Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, which was under Ottoman control, while the French went to bat for the Catholic Christians. In reality, the fight was really about preventing Russia from gaining land from the dying Ottoman Empire. But I digress….

Initially, fighting centered on Sevastopol, on the Black Sea. The Russians had it, and everyone else wanted to make sure they lost it. Beyond that, I have little to say about the Crimean War. The war introduced the Balaclava and the Charge of the Light Brigade, began the divvying up of the modern Middle East, created a variety of new states in the Caucasus region, forced Russia to engage in some political reform . . . oh, and it gave us the legend of the Lady with the Lamp.

You see, by 1854, horrific stories were coming back about British war wounded and casualties. They were packed into filthy, crowded hospitals, had their limbs hacked off, were given opium, and were basically abandoned to death unless they were strong enough to survive on their own. This humanitarian disaster called out to Florence.

A romanticized Victorian picture of Florence Nightingale and her lamp

A romanticized Victorian picture of Florence Nightingale and her lamp

Exactly 160 years ago this month, in October 1854, Florence brought 38 women (including 15 nuns and her own aunt) to Scutari (which is now known as Üsküdar, in Istanbul). Florence was a formidable administrator. She cleaned out the filthy wards, washed the men, and made sure they got food.  She demanded that her friends back home help her with money, supplies, and pressure on the British government.

Florence could do nothing about the fundamental filth lurking in the sewers (a problem she understood only much later, when she compiled her report about events in Scutari) or about the overcrowding.  Men therefore continued to die in appalling numbers during her first six months there, not just from their wounds, but from typhus, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery.  Florence herself almost died from one of the infectious diseases.

Even though she was unable to reduce the death rate, Florence accomplished two things. First, as history records, she was able to make the men feel cared for. Yes, they were still dying in ever greater numbers during her first 6 months there,, but the Lady with the Lamp brought them tremendously important things: physical comfort and hope. Second, through the publicity Florence brought to bear on the medical barracks in Scutari, the British government finally took upon itself the task of cleaning the filthy, disease-ridden sewers, improving ventilation, and providing more space for the sick and wounded.

A prematurely aged Nightingale in 1858, showing the ravages of excessive work and illness.

A prematurely aged Nightingale in 1858, showing the ravages of excessive work and illness.

As the panel convened in San Francisco kept talking on and on and on about the key problem — organization and money — all I could think of was Florence Nightingale who, with her formidable organizational skills and vast network of wealthy and powerful friends, was able within a very short time to bring a mortality rate of over 40% down to 2%. She most certainly did not do it on her own, but she was a dynamic catalyst. It’s doubtful if, without her, anything would have been done to improve the lot of those poor British soldiers.

The Ebola crisis in Africa needs a Florence Nightingale:  a formidable, fiercely well-organized, extraordinarily well-connected person who can bridge the gap between what is — chaos — and what should be — a well-ordered system that provides needed care starting at the village level.  Listening to the doctors speak, I did not come away with the sense that such a person or entity will come along any time soon.  The affected geographic region is too vast, the infrastructure too shattered, and the population too difficult to control.

That last point — a vast, dispersed, frightened, and ignorant population — is why the fourth man, the one whose name I can’t remember, must have repeated five or six times that the military is best equipped to impose organization from above in a situation such as this one.  Our 3,000 Marines will be helpful, insofar as they are splendid organizers, but I suspect it will take more than 3,000 Marines to bring three impoverished, backwards, dysfunctional nations into line so as to control an incredibly hardy, opportunistic, and deadly virus.

Tonight’s talk ended with the panel insisting that we must bring medical justice to the third world through redistribution of medical care, a conclusion that had the San Francisco audience cheering.  Like all good Leftists, they hoped that this crisis wouldn’t go to waste insofar as it would rejigger the world’s medical system.  They are certainly right that we live in an interconnected world.  A sneeze in Africa can become a disease in America.

Where their utopian dream about medical equality broke down is exactly in the same place it breaks down when they speak of Ebola.  They see what is (a first world with good medicine versus a third world without) and they know what they want (equal medical care for all), but it was quite obvious they even they recognized the futility of somehow forcing the whole world to transfer its wealth to Africa and the Asian subcontinent.  Instead, they just kept talking about the money flowing from crisis management.

They made more sense when they acknowledged that improved care in third world countries has to come from within and cannot simply be imposed from above.  However, to the extent they made sense, they diminished somewhat my good will when they seemed incapable of acknowledging that it’s not just a money problem in Africa, but a more profound structural one.  Both Sierra Leone and Liberia were fairly functional African nations until they fell prey to civil war, something no first world money could help.  The doctors also failed to understand that it wasn’t activists who really brought about treatments for AIDS; it was First World fear of AIDS that spurred the research and discovery that led to breakthroughs.  Simply transferring money from here to there will not cure systemic failures, nor will it inspire new medicines and treatments.

 

The Bookworm Beat (10/3/14) — End of the week roundup and Open Thread

Woman writing

Ebola in America is a failure of Big Government

Yesterday I pointed out that, in all times and all places, protecting a population from epidemic disease is one of government’s core functions. (It’s irrelevant that these efforts often failed; government was still expected to make them.) Obama is failing that most basic government task. Not only do we have Ebola in Dallas, with exposures going into the hundreds, it appears that Ebola has entered Washington D.C. too.

What’s striking about Ebola’s spread into the U.S. is that it’s not just an Obama failure, it’s a Big Government failure. The Obama failure begins with his absolute refusal to protect our air, land, and sea borders. The Big Government failure goes to Obama’s certainty that he needn’t do anything special to combat Ebola because Big Government will be sufficient in and of itself to protect us:

The chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States are “extremely low,” Obama said. U.S. are working with officials in Africa “to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.” And then this:

In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.

Obama added that in the unlikely event an Ebola case appeared in the United States, “we have world-class facilities and professionals ready to respond. And we have effective surveillance mechanisms in place.”

As Rich Lowry explains in the article from which I quoted, everything Obama assumed about his wonderful Big Government was wrong. Rather than blocking Ebola, Big Government just provided that many more cracks through which the virus could slip.

Scratch an anti-gun Leftist; find a blood-thirsty killer

When news about Ebola in Dallas broke, one of my old high school friends, who has had a political trajectory precisely the opposite of mine (from moderate guy to hard-core Leftist), voiced the wish that the patient had, instead, been in Austin (Texas’s state capitol) and that, while there, he had spread bodily fluids on the Republican politicians, starting with Governor Perry. When I politely pressed him for a reason, he explained that it was because these politicians had cut back government services, adding belatedly that he was just kidding.

Sometimes, though, Leftists go from “just kidding” to “let’s kill them.” Charles C.W. Cooke looks at anti-gun Leftists who want to use SWATting tactics to try to kill legal gun carriers. That is, when they see someone with legal open carry, they are proposing that they should call 911 and describe a dangerous situation in the hope that the SWAT teams will show up and, expecting the worst, just kill the guy with legal carry.

Indeed, Cooke, who spoke with gun-expert extraordinaire Bob Owens, writes at Bearing Arms, suggests that this is precisely what may have happened to John Crawford at the Ohio Wal-Mart:

[Crawford] was killed because, to borrow a phrase from Lisa McLogan Shaheen, a fellow shopper “called 911 so the cops could gun him down.” “If you sync the phone call to the footage,” Bob Owens tells me, “you’ll notice that Ronald Ritchie, the caller, makes claims that are not true.” Among those claims, the Guardian records, were that “Crawford was pointing the air rifle at customers,” that he threatened “two children,” and that he was recklessly “waving it around.” This does not appear to have been the case. Indeed, when the lattermost statement was made, Owens notes, “the gun’s muzzle was pointed to the ground.” So pronounced are the discrepancies between Ritchie’s story and the surveillance footage that John Crawford’s family is hoping to take legal action. “He’s basically lying with the dispatchers,” the family’s attorney, Michael Wright argues. “He’s making up the story. So should he be prosecuted? Yes, I believe so.”

“Who will rid us of these troublesome gun owners?” the radical Leftists cry out . . . and then use America’s police officers as their unwitting executioners.

Did Jerry Brown sign a good gun bill or a bad gun bill?

I am reflexively opposed to any government interference with gun rights . . . except that I’m wondering whether the bill that Gov. Brown just signed in California might actually have some merit. The new bill allows family members who are concerned about another family member’s gun possession to petition to the court to have the gun(s) taken away.

On the one hand, the bill is another erosion of gun rights and allows anti-gun people to wipe out the gun rights of their pro-gun relatives. Moreover, as we can see from the SWATting tactics above, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Leftist family members won’t take advantage of this law. On the other hand, when someone is becoming dangerous, the family is often the first to know, long before the medical or criminal justice systems catch up.

And then back to the first hand, which is that, if you give the government an inch to grab guns, it will take, not just a mile, but a thousand miles…. Which leads me to the thought that this may be a reasonable law, but one that can’t ever be entrusted to the government to effectuate.

Please tell me what you think. I’m quite obviously conflicted here, in part because I know of several young men who, in their 20s, become schizophrenic, with the family being the first to see that their sweet young boy was becoming scary and dangerous.

History has yet to be written

Jonah Goldberg often attacks the Leftists’ claim that they’re on the right side of history.  The old cliché that history belongs to the victors is at least somewhat more accurate, because it at least looks at history as a thing of the past not as a prediction for the future.

In his latest article, Goldberg points out that one of the problems with the “right side of history” argument is that it’s predicated on the speaker’s belief that events will unfold without any unexpected deviations from plan. When the plans change, as the best laid of them tend to do, the person betting on historic certainty looks foolish at best:

The dilemma for the president is that the once-solid facts that supported these views are suddenly crumbling under his feet. The argument that the fight against jihadism can be managed like law enforcement is easy to make when terrorism is out of the headlines and drones do the messy work out of sight. That same argument is very hard to sustain when the jihadis control territory equal in size to Great Britain and, when not beheading Americans, they vow to fly their flag over the White House. The idea that men who crucify Christians and bury women and children alive would somehow be dissuaded if we closed down the prison at Guantanamo Bay is almost perversely idiotic.

Obama’s love affair with a killer

In 2008, Obama sent an explicit, secret message to Iran, saying in effect “I love you, guys, and I’ll take care of you.” That was one promise he kept. Throughout his presidency, Obama, both actively and passively has worked hard to keep the mullahs in power and their nuclear program on track. He seems to believe that, if he can just be nice to them, they’ll respond by being nice right back to us.

It’s a pity that Obama hates Churchill so much. If he liked him better, Obama be familiar with Churchill’s famous aphorism that “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” That hope, of course, is invariably wrong.

Maybe real facts can bring Obama to see just how horrible Iran is. These harsh realities would include the fact that Iran hanged someone for doubting the story of Jonah and the Whale (something that would certainly see Obama hanged too), and the Mullahs’ continued execution of dissidents.

The only good thing to come out of that second report is this little tidbit (emphasis mine):

On September 29, [political prisoner Reyhaneh] Jabbari was seized by prison guards during her shower, forced to dress and told that she would be hanged in the morning. After the prison staff allowed her to make one last phone call to her mother, she was transferred to Rajai-Shahr prison and placed in solitary confinement to await execution at dawn.

Upon her daughter’s transfer, Jabbari’s mother, Shole Pakravan, rushed to Rajai-Shahr prison with her husband, two daughters and a few friends. In front of the prison a crowd grew quickly to protest Jabbari’s execution. Prison authorities ordered the crowd to leave and assured Jabbari’s family that she was not to be hanged — a statement the authorities commonly make before an execution so it can be carried out quietly, without incident.

That rope with which the mad mullahs hang dissidents may end up being the rope with which they hang themselves. It speaks to their waning power that Iranians will protest executions and that the mullahs will lie to pacify them, rather than just killing them on the spot.

And no, in answer to your unspoken question, I don’t think these news reports will actually change Obama’s mind. He is a hard-core ideologue and they just don’t change.  But I can still dream….

Bureaucracy kills the Secret Service

For more than a century, the Secret Service was a lean, mean fighting machine operating under the aegis of the Treasury Department. Then, George Bush transferred it to Homeland Security, where it became just another bureaucratic beast. Kevin Williamson writes scathingly about the way in which bureaucracy is slowly destroying the agency charged with keeping our president safe.

I share with Thomas Lifson the belief that it’s imperative to keep Obama alive.  His death in office, God forbid, could well destroy this country. And having written that sentence, I should add that no president, ever, should be assassinated. Assassination is not only cold-blooded murder, it is a psychic blow to a nation and the most profoundly anti-democratic act of all.

Transgenderism is only skin deep

The other day, I wrote about the importance of recognizing the substance that lies under any form, with special reference to transgender people. I argued that, when people make cosmetic, hormonal, and surgical changes to their appearance so that they look like a person of the opposite sex, that doesn’t change their genetic essence. While it’s kind and polite to address them as they wish to be addressed, we should never blind ourselves to the reality of who and what they really are.

One British man who had male to female gender reassignment surgery a decade ago, is petitioning the British health care service to reassign him to his original gender appearance. His argument echoes what I’ve been saying all along:

Chelsea, who used to be called Matthew, told the Daily Mirror: “I have always longed to be a woman, but no amount of surgery can give me an actual female body and I feel like I am living a lie.

“It is exhausting putting on make-up and wearing heels all the time. Even then I don’t feel I look like a proper woman. I suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of the hormones too.

“I have realised it would be easier to stop fighting the way I look naturally and accept that I was born a man physically.”

I wonder what the NHS will do. It’s wonderfully politically correct to withdraw funding from an old lady with cancer so as to give it to a young man who wants breasts. Where’s the political correctness, though, when the young man concedes that the problem was never with his appearance at all?

High educated liberals as low information voters

Roger L. Simon lives in the Southern California version of my Marin world: His neighbors are well-intentioned, affluent, and highly-credentialed people who almost invariably hew Left politically. Indeed, those few of my friends and neighbors who know I’ve become conservative point to themselves — affluent and educated — and ask how I can be conservative when the smart people support the Democrats.

Simon has the answer for that and, again, it echoes what I see in my world: These people may have degrees, know about wine, and have seen the capitals of Europe, but they’re fundamentally ignorant about the key issues shaping the world today.

California bans all plastic bags

California Governor Jerry Brown has banned plastic grocery bags from the entire state:

California has fired the first salvo in what could be a national war on plastic bags.

Governor Edmund Brown [sic, since he usually goes by Jerry] on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans plastic shopping bags, making California the first U.S. state to officially prohibit stores from handing them out for free.

“This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

The ban is a victory for environmentalists who say the 13 million plastic bags that are handed out each year in the state end up in waterways and landfills where they don’t break down for decades. Critics argue that the ban is misguided and will cost American jobs.

The new law goes into effect for large grocery chains and pharmacies beginning July 1, 2015. It will extend to convenience stores and liquor stores July 1, 2016.
Under the law, stores will be required to offer customers recycled paper bags or bags made of compostable material at a cost of at least 10 cents. Consumers buying groceries using California’s food-assistance program won’t have to pay for bags.

For me, the ban is nothing new, since it’s already enforced in parts of Marin. Corte Madera stores haven’t been applying either the ban or the “pay 10 cents” requirement, so I prefer shopping in Corte Madera over Mill Valley, which does ban plastic and makes you pay for paper.

I’ve written before about the fact that this ban steams me. I don’t mind if other people want to go around looking like bag ladies with their stacks of dirty cloth and plastic bags, but (a) I don’t want to look like a bag lady; (b) I’d have to use insane amounts of water to keep those bags from being salmonella and e. coli breeding grounds; and (c) even a 10 cent penalty is still a penalty and I don’t believe I should be penalized in this way.

It’s balm to my offended soul to read a PRI study saying that, as is the case with most of the Left’s wild hairs, they’ve got it wrong when it comes to the supposed virtues of banning disposable paper and plastic bags:

Proponents of bag-bans omit the most important consideration, which is what replaces the plastic bags? Other bags (including cloth) have even worse environmental impact profiles, and pose additional risks of cross-contaminating food and spreading dangerous pathogens among those who share the bags.

Increasingly, studies suggest that as with other poorly-thought out environmental intervention; banning plastic grocery bags reduces some harms, while increasing others.

And more environmental news about Leftist’s continued errors

Both these stories come to me thanks to Danny Lemieux. The first story says that, once again, scientists were wrong, this time with regard to the anticipated shrimp die-off in the Gulf following the BP oil spill. In fact, the shrimp seem to like that oil:

Looking at the abundance and size of Louisiana white and brown shrimp before and after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a scientific paper published Wednesday said the amount of shrimp actually increased in local estuaries through 2011 and that the size of that shrimp remained unaffected.

[snip]

Van der Ham and De Mutsert’s study compared abundance and size of shrimp in estuaries that were heavily impacted by the spill with minimally-impacted estuaries, both before and after the spill.

It found that shrimp actually was more abundant in areas heavily impacted by the oil spill.

“The rebound to normal abundance and the absence of any effect on shrimp size agrees with the view that the spill may have negligible long-term effects on Louisiana shrimp,” the study concluded. “However, long-term effects of the spill on shrimp may manifest in other traits, such as compromised immunological or life-history traits.

Don’t you just love that last paragraph?  What the study’s authors could have said was “we are still studying whether there are other long-term effects on the shrimp.”  But they don’t.  Instead, they imply that there must in fact be negative long-term effects on the shrimp, just waiting to be found.  That’s the difference, I guess, between true scientific inquiry and ideologically-driven inquiry.

The second story is about those “green” wind farms.  They’re killing hundreds of thousands of precious bats (which fertilizer crops and are otherwise environmentally useful) because they mimic the wind pattern of trees.

One French woman deserves a medal for her bravery

Check out this picture and tell me if this isn’t one seriously brave French woman.

And one West African woman deserves a medal too

Fatu Kekula, a 22-year-old nursing student in West Africa, using nothing more than courage, common sense, and garbage bags, nursed three out of four stricken family members through Ebola without becoming infected herself. What an amazing story of intelligence and decency in action.

Watcher’s Council Weasel of the Week

Don’t forget to check out this Week’s winner in the Watcher’s Council Weasel of the Week contest.  My daughter came in as I was casting my vote by email.  She saw “I vote for ____________.”  She was shocked.  “But you hate ____________.”  When I explained the type of vote I was casting, it all became clear to her.

Picture!

I’m not yet ready for an illustrated edition today, but this poster that a friend sent me is so good, I didn’t want to wait before sharing it:

Obama is my co-pilot

 

Sign the petition to stop flights to the US from Ebola stricken regions

Ebola a workplace virus

Other nations are closing their doors to flights originating in Ebola-stricken regions, but Obama has, to date, refused to do so. This is yet another stinkarooni Obama policy but, unlike the slow-mo disasters he’s initiated in other economic and national security areas, this latest policy has the potential to kill tens of thousands (or more) of Americans.

Let’s try to stop that potential horror by making this the most-signed, fastest-growing petition in “We, the People” history:

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

restrict travel from regions affected with Ebola to protect the citizens of united states from widespread epidemic.

In light of the recent entry of a person from Liberia with Ebola it is time for the US to restrict travel from that region in order to prevent widespread epidemic. We ask that the President move swiftly to protect the people of the United States from this epidemic.

Created: Oct 01, 2014

Go here to sign.

One of government’s most basic functions is to protect citizens from epidemic disease. It’s telling that Obama has failed this core executive task.

(Thanks to Sadie for the great poster.)