Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interesting Times

Here is an interesting article by William Galston, published at Politico. A taste:

"Bill Clinton, in whose administration I served as a domestic policy adviser, spoke often of an economy that rewards Americans “who work hard and play by the rules.” Today, these Americans still work hard, but they no longer know what the rules are, and they are no longer seeing the rewards as readily. They want, but are not getting, a credible success story for the American economy in the 21st century. That is one reason why the sense of loss of control is so pervasive." 

I think that Galston captures the mood of working voters. There is a sense that Americans who refuse to work are benefiting more from the economy than those who bust their derrier. Families who don't work have their housing, food, medical care, utilities, and children's college education paid for by those who cannot afford to send their kids to college. Where is the reward in that?

I've personally seen people drop out of the work force because their employers no longer offer health insurance because they have received an "exemption". For individuals and families, the Obamacare premiums are too steep if the breadwinner has a decent job; these folks don't qualify for the subsidies. People who have manageable health conditions who could continue to work for years to come are forced onto the disability/medicaid rolls because it's the only way they can obtain the medications they require. Of course, you won't be reading about these families in the NY Times or watching their hard-luck stories on the ABC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

There is also a sense that government institutions have grown too big and corrupt. This tax season, the IRS will be confiscating the refunds (the actually overpayments of working Americans, not the income redistribution that is known in lower income/no income circles as a "tax refund") of Americans who cannot afford to pay the ACA premiums (of which a large chunk is a donation rather than an actual premium). This will not go over well. At all. 

NASA, the agency that inspired kids to dream BIG in our youth, is now a joke. The CDC, once the elite organization of health care and epidemiology, has been caught like a deer in the headlights by this Ebola business. The head of this once revered agency has no clothes. Have you seen the newest guidelines to stem the spread of this horrible hemorrhagic nightmare? Here, take a look:
The CDC released new Ebola guidelines on Monday for monitoring travelers, including healthcare workers, coming to the U.S. from West Africa.
For asymptomatic travelers at the highest level of risk (e.g., received a needle stick when caring for an Ebola patient, or cared for a patient without wearing protective equipment), the CDC is recommending voluntary at-home isolation and direct active monitoring for fever and symptoms for 21 days. Those with some risk (e.g., a returning healthcare worker) are advised to undergo daily active monitoring and, depending on the local health department, could also be restricted from boarding airplanes or public transportation or going to work, similar to the high-risk group.
Several medical groups, including the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America and the Infectious Diseases Society of America, have denounced some states requiring that all healthcare workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine.
Editorialists in the New England Journal of Medicine write: "We should be honoring, not quarantining, health care workers who put their lives at risk not only to save people suffering from Ebola virus disease in West Africa but also to help achieve source control, bringing the world closer to stopping the spread of this killer epidemic."
Does that give you confidence? Especially after the New York doctor who chose to transverse a city of 20 million people via the subway, after only being home from West Africa for a few days? Or the nurse (cringe) who has thrown a conniption fit because she was forcibly quarantined for day or two, threatening to sue because her civil rights were violated? Do these examples give you the warm, fuzzy feel of certainty that your health care professionals are placing the public health as a first priority over their own comfort?

There is also a sense that our elections are not free and fair, and that shenanigans are commonplace. We've all seen the photos of NBP goons hijacking a polling place, read the stories of voting machines that register straight-ticket democrat regardless of who the voter actually selects, heard the whispers of illegals (and dead people) voting in many jurisdictions. What's the truth? The media isn't trying to find out, that's for sure. If the Rs don't take the senate next week, as every poll says they will, how will conservative voters react? 

May we live in interesting times.



  1. As an interesting side note, the nurse that I referenced above, Kaci Hickox, is getting raked over the coals by other nurses on her FB page and on nursing pages/blogs I follow. Even her fellow liberals, while hailing her as a hero for treating Ebola patients, are aghast that she would act this way. It's interesting that she works for the CDC, which wasn't mentioned in the news articles I read. However, it was listed as her employment on her Linked In page (which was subsequently scrubbed). Weird.

    1. She's back in her home state now (Maine, I believe) and this morning she announced she "may not" follow the self-imposed state guidelines for isolation.

    2. Yes. I'd like to slap her silly. I don't know if she's suffering from PTSD after treating patients in deplorable conditions, or if she's suffering from an inflated ego. Either way she needs to zip her lip and put on her big girl panties. Having to tinkle in a bucket for a few hours isn't exactly a civil rights violation, izzit?

    3. Hey lady red, that nurse's lawyer just made this statement to the press:

      Hickox’s lawyer insisted Tuesday that she was not under quarantine and said she was seeking time to decompress at an undisclosed location in Maine. Steven Hyman of the New York law firm McLaughlin & Stern told the Bangor Daily News that Hickox will not comply with Maine’s requirements to remain under quarantine for 21 days.

      “She doesn’t want to agree to continue to be confined to a residence beyond the two days,” Hyman told the Daily news.

    4. Florrie, her home town is panicked that she and her boyfriend may be running around touching surfaces, coughing, bleeding, maybe feverish. You know what would be bad? REALLY bad? If Mz Pretentious Nurse actually does have Ebola. If so, her viral load should be high enough for a fever and a positive test within the next week or so. We would see the freak out of all freak outs as citizens realize the prezzie and the CDC have thrown them to the wolves.

      Gosh I hope she's healthy. An ass, but very, very healthy.

  2. There is a video from the UK lambasting the US about its over-reaction to the Ebola crisis. There is a post on Cracked.com today, the point of which is that the whole reaction is racist. (Someone responded, saying that if the problem were from Ireland, we would be just as wary of people flying here from Ireland. Someone else responded saying, basically, it is not Ireland so the response is racist.)

    The big problem is that this administration has a record of having everything it touches turn to shit. With this, their attitude seems to be, "Just because this submarine is going under water is no reason to close the hatches." Some people say you almost have to get a blood transfusion from someone with Ebola in order to catch it. Others say that sweat left on a surface is contagious for several days and could infect anyone who comes in contact with it. With this conflicting information, the government seems to be willing to really let this get out of hand before it takes it seriously -- which means Obama will say he did not know about it until he read about it in the newspaper, and that it is Bush's fault anyway.

    I remember when AIDS first came to public attention. At the same time, Herpes was widespread as well. There was a cover story in Newsweek, IIRC, that said: "Herpes: Is the Sexual Revolution Over?" In other words, Herpes, which seemed to affect straights more than gays, made people question their own behaviour. Gays, who were more at risk from AIDS, seemed to feel that they had a right to behave in whatever way they wanted, and it was homophobic if society did not wave a magic wand and find a cure.

    I do not believe any of these diseases is punishment or a sign of G--d's wrath. However, people do need to recognize that, in a global environment, personal behaviour can have catastrophic effects.

    1. Yes. One nurse or doctor running all over a large metropolitan area while infectious would have devastating consequences. Any health care provider that risks such a scenario should lose their license, IMHO.

  3. You're absolutely right, Matt. People always want to have a "conversation" about so-called sensitive topics but when anyone actually gives their honest, objective opinion they are called racist/homophobe/misogynist/islamophobe/etc., etc.

    A good example is Charles Barkley's recent statement about black stereotypes.

    "The big problem is that this administration has a record of having everything it touches turn to shit."

    This is it in a nutshell.

  4. Speaking of NASA being a joke...an unmanned rocket blew to smithereens six seconds off the launch pad this evening. I wonder how many millions/billions in payload went up in flames? The explosion was quite spectacular.

    1. Rockets do that every now and then. With non-human payloads, the reliability is simple economics: it's not worth it to make the rocket more reliable if the cost of that is more than the cost of losing some payloads every now and then.

      So, with non-human rated rockets, well, you win some, you lose some. Probably in the range of a few hundred million. I believe there is insurance coverage. No biggie.

  5. Thank goodness it was an unmanned flight.

    Simply my 2 cents but I think it was a mistake to cut the NASA budget so drastically and "redefine" their mission statement. It's just sad and inexplicable.

    1. It was not a NASA launch, but done by one of the 2 companies they've contracted to deliver supplies to the space Station.

      I agree with you that the de-funding of NASA is a national disgrace, but not for the reason that it led to this explosion. That, as Lewy said, is simply something that happens on the cutting edge, and even more so on the cost-cutting edge.

      My unhappiness over the changes to NASA is the fact that there are no big dreams any more

    2. Dances, the big dreams of NASA (and some of the tragic, but heroic, failures of that era) delivered one tremendously valuable lesson which this cost cutting era is capitalizing on, as demonstrated yesterday.

      Namely: just how far back you need to stand from the freakin' launch pad... ;)

  6. The joke we call CiC is giving another campaign-style speech, with attentive people in white coats standing behind him, smiling like zombies. He has the appropriate representation of ages, sexes, ethnicities...I see dr. Brantley is there to lend credence to what he's saying. Apparently he agreed to be part of Obama's propaganda machine, like the poor nurse who had to hug him for the photo op.

    He's stuttering and stumbling as he doesn't have the help of Mr. Teleprompter today. This guy just doesn't get that the WORLD wants him to STFU.

    I guess the gist of this loooong, rambling lecture is that we shouldn't put anyone in quarantine. Oh yeah, and no travel restrictions...

  7. lady red - great links, and a great post. And great comments by all.

    A few things I noted in Galston's post:

    - it's incredibly critical of Obama - understated, not polemic, just devastating. Basically comes out and says this guy is a failure as a President.

    - Brookings institute is liberal. Progressive even. This is not CATO, it's not Hoover. It's Obama's home team calling him out. Moar devastating.

    - Galston does use a typical progressive talking point, that we have to fight Ebola in Africa, not have travel restrictions. This BS is of course a false choice: we can do both.

    There is, I think, a good argument for helping to fight Ebola in Africa. Namely, if Ebola becomes endemic in west Africa, then screening measures / travel restrictions will become perpetual - best case is several cases make to the US per year, every year. The only way to be safe here is to stamp it out over there. If Ebola cases double a few more times in Africa, it'll be beyond containing, and present in human populations forever.

    Personally I don't see why we haven't called out the Chinese to help with this. They have aspirations in Africa. We need to put them on notice that if the western world beats Ebola in Africa and China stands back, we'll never let the Africans forget that the Chinese left them to die. Of course this would take actual leadership in Washington along with some cultural confidence in the west generally, so don't count on it... or rather do; count on it not happening...