The White House Response to Ebola

I certainly hope I’m the only one being paranoid here but I will be watching the U.S. response to the latest Ebola outbreak in Africa with special interest. I fully understand the need to stop the spread of this horrid virus especially considering it’s reported to be the worst outbreak in history with more “than 4,700 cases…being… reported since December…and…more than 2,400 of them ending in fatalities.  So I get the fact that something needs to be done before this disease makes its way around the world. Even so, I’m very concerned about the White House’s response to this.

Let me say up front that I am no doctor, nor am I even a mediocre nurse. I’m familiar with band aids, antibiotic cream, a thermometer, and a blood pressure cup. That, unfortunately, is pretty much the extent of my medical knowledge, so I speak with a definite disadvantage here. The one trait I am familiar with, that would be of use in this situation, is common sense. I try to employ this common sense stuff as much as possible, but especially when my countrymen/women will be in an extremely risky and potentially deadly situation.

As most everyone knows by now, this particular strain of Ebola may have started about eight months ago “… with a 2-year-old patient in a village in Guinea.”  Scientists aren’t sure exactly how the toddler contracted the virus in the first place but Ebola is usually spread from animals to humans through infected fluids or tissue. “In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines,” WHO says.  In this particular case “…researchers think fruit bats are what they call the virus’s “natural host.” With this strain of Ebola, you’ve got like a ninety percent chance of dying. That’s spectacular by any standard – one of the most lethal viruses that exist.”

Already two Americans, one an aid worker and the other a doctor, have contracted the virus. Thankfully they recovered with the help of a new experimental drug. This new drug is not plentiful though and has its potential risks, hence the word “experimental”. So the fact that we’ve had two Americans contract the virus and lived to tell the story doesn’t mean our luck will hold out forever, especially considering we are sending our people right into the hot zone so to speak.

The two Americans who contracted the Ebola virus knew the risks they faced if all precautionary control and containment measures were not adhered to with the greatest of diligence. So yes they knew all about full containment and yet these two Americans caught the disease anyway. For me that sends up major red flags about the virus having possibly evolved or being in the process of evolving into something even more communicable.  The two Americans were Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol who were flown separately from Liberia to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital — the first human patients with Ebola to ever come to the United States. Writebol was released from the hospital Tuesday. On Thursday morning, Brantly walked out of that same hospital with no signs of the virus in his system, doctors say.

Please don’t anyone take what I’m saying to imply that I don’t think we should be doing all we can to help stop this disease. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s to everyone’s advantage that we step in and help keep this Ebola virus from becoming a worldwide epidemic. We especially need to do all we can to keep it from getting to our shores in even greater numbers. So I get the fact that something definitely needs to be done and quickly.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the United States will send troops, material to build field hospitals, additional health care workers and community care kits to affected nations. The United States will also create a facility to help train thousands of health care workers to identify and care for Ebola patients. According to the President, not one bed is available for Ebola patients and people are just waiting to die. Hospitals in affected nations are overwhelmed, and the WHO has described the outbreak as a “dire emergency with … unprecedented dimensions” of human suffering. “If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” Obama said.  The concern with Ebola is that Ebola currently transmits only though contact with bodily fluids; a mutation that allows the virus to spread through the air would pose a catastrophic threat to people worldwide, experts say.

An experimental drug called ZMapp has shown “very positive signs of recovery” but the drug is in very short supply and has not been through the usual human trials. It was given to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol and, thankfully both recovered after being flown to Altanta’s Emory University Hospital for treatment. The drug was also given to a Spanish priest Miguel Pajares who died of the disease on August 12 of this year. So the drug has promise but is not 100% effective.

So yes it is obvious that the world needs to do all it can to eradicate this disease before it starts spreading worldwide. Whatever happened to massive air drops of any and all needed equipment though? Instructions could be written in whatever language is predominate in the area. If instructions can’t be written in enough detail or further instructions would be helpful there are possible solutions for that as well. There are radios, videos, walkie-talkies and any number of other communication devices that could be employed. There is also a little thing called Skye, which is a device used quite often in business and personal life. Ask any of our Military families about Skype, I understand they are familiar with it. A person can set on one side of the world and instruct someone else, in live time on the other side of the world, as to the proper use of each piece of equipment sent over there. Any or all of these communication devices could be used to instruct local medical workers about the proper use of every piece of equipment we drop. Why isn’t any one or all these communication methods at least being tried before sending in even one American??

Oh, and by the way, if this virus is so deadly, and it is indeed very deadly with an almost 90% death rate, where is the rest of the world?? Why aren’t we hearing about the help every other country in the world is chipping in to combat this disease?? After all, a virus like this knows no boundary or border. Let’s spread some of this risk around, let’s not put the majority of this effort on the backs of just one percent of the American population. If that sounds cold-hearted I apologize, but my concern is not the rest of the world, except where it affects my country. My main concern is Americans and what’s best for America. Did I miss the White House News Conference when the President asked the world to help provide medical equipment, food, as well as personnel?? Or did that new conference just never happen??

In a recent CNN episode Dr. Sanjay Gupta tried to explain why Ebola isn’t something we Americans should fear. Sorry, with all due respect Dr. Gupta, your explanation that the flu virus effects more Americans than would the Ebola virus just doesn’t cut it for me. The flu virus, with common sense precautions like a flu shot and washing hands, does not have a 75% to 90% fatality rate but Ebola does. I’m living proof that a person with a yearly flu shot and vigilance of common sense precautions can prevent the flu year after year. As it stands now there is no such precautionary measures a person can follow to stave off the Ebola virus, except to divorce oneself completely from humanity. Even then there is no guarantees because the Ebola virus can live in nature and, as mentioned above, in some animals.

“Today, the Ebola virus spreads only through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood and vomit. But some of the nation’s top infectious disease experts worry that this deadly virus could mutate and be transmitted just by a cough or a sneeze.”
“It’s the single greatest concern I’ve ever had in my 40-year public health career,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “I can’t imagine anything in my career — and this includes HIV — that would be more devastating to the world than a respiratory transmissible Ebola virus.”  “Every time a new person gets Ebola, the virus gets another chance to mutate and develop new capabilities. Osterholm calls it “genetic roulette.”

Again, why are we not employing every remote communication method known to man and then doing air drops of all needed supplies? We could keep our people safe while still helping those desperately needing assistance right now.

What Religion in Politics and Government Gets Us

Whether it be man made statues of wood and stone or a set of beliefs that regulates daily life, man has yearned for evidence of something to believe in bigger than themselves. This ongoing search for an all knowing entity has taken many forms over the centuries. What has not changed are the results of allowing a personal belief system to become a societal requirement.

The problems resulting from allowing or even requiring personal belief systems to be imposed on others have been evident for centuries. Since the invention of the written word, history shows us how one person’s belief system or one society’s belief system can lead to violence when that belief system is imposed on those of another belief system.

The United States is one of the few countries in the world whose beginning was rooted in religious freedom. In the 1947 case of Reynolds v. United States Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.” Even so, some claim this interpretation goes much too far in explaining Jefferson’s original intent. It’s claimed by some, “In its original context, this passage meant that the U.S. would not have an official “state Church” like England. The English government officially supported the Church of England, using taxes to support Anglicanism. The founding fathers, who promoted the Revolutionary War, did not want the same kind of church.  Those promoting a closer relationship between church and state go on to claim, “This is the extent of this passage from the First Amendment. There is nowhere in the Constitution that forbids individuals from mixing faith and politics or from sharing their faith in a state-related function or location. Twelve of the original 14 states required religious tests for those seeking public office.”

A cursory look at present day news, as well as a review of history, is full of examples as to the results of one belief system being imposed on those of another belief system. A prime example of imposing one society’s religious beliefs on others are the “Crusades” sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church.  Christians wanted access to the holy places in and around Jerusalem and Muslims stood in the way. The two-hundred year struggles known as the Crusades ended with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land at Acre. Even today there is disagreement among historians about the results of the Crusades. Some view”…the Crusades as part of a purely defensive war against Islamic conquest and their belief system being imposed on others. In the 1950s, Sir Steven Runciman wrote that “High ideals were besmirched by cruelty and greed … the Holy War was nothing more than a long act of intolerance in the name of God“.   The bottom line is that if Christians had not seen anything religiously important about Jerusalem there would have been no Crusades.

Fast forward to the twentieth century and we see another example of how religion can influence and exacerbate war. In a review of Robert McKenzie’s book, “The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade”, Philip Jenkins points out, “The details may have varied from nation to nation, but once the shooting started in the summer of 1914, each of the major warring powers wound up embracing the language of holy war. This was more than a little ironic, given that World War I was effectively a civil war among Christians: With the exception of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, all of the leading warring nations shared a common religious ideology. Rather than wrestling with that unsettling irony, however, all sides rushed to condemn enemy nations as ungodly and to “proclaim fellow believers as de facto infidels.”

Robert Tracy McKenzie shows how Jenkins further claims, Examples abound. Russians denounced Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm as the Antichrist. German writers equated Britain with the great whore of Babylon described in Revelation. English bishops informed their countrymen that they were God’s “predestined instruments to save the Christian civilization of Europe.”………..

Robert Tracy McKenzie concludes “A century ago, Christians across the West enthusiastically rallied to nationalistic causes that wounded Christianity and wreaked untold misery. And they did so using the language of religious fervor that we now associate with radical Islam. As we recall the catastrophe of a century ago, The Great and Holy War reminds us “how easily ideas of the church militarist emerge in times of crisis.” May we heed this sobering and necessary reminder.

Today we see the results of intolerable religion in modern day life and government in the form of al-Qaeda and ISIS. The initials ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its stated aim is to have one unified Sunni Islamic state in all areas they control. ISIS compels people in the areas it controls, under the penalty of death, torture or mutilation, to declare Islamic creed, and live according to its interpretation of Sunni Islam and sharia law. The violence is not just directed toward non-Muslims but rather anyone not adhering to the tenants of Sunni Islam.

A cursory review of history and today’s headlines will show that religion has played and will continue to play an enormous role in major wars. With that being a proven fact, when is man going to learn that religion should play no role in public affairs or government anywhere in the world?? When, if at all, will man realize the only governing rule should be, “Treat others as you would like to be treated”?? Then, and only then, can we hope for a fair and non-violent world.

 

America’s Race Relations

 

Demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri

Demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri

 

America is again faced with looking inward to see what has brought about the 21st century’s most recent racial upheaval. Some say the images coming out of Ferguson, Missouri, resemble those of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Some even go so far as to claim America has learned nothing about race relations in the past 50 years. That, however, is far from the truth. The fact is America has learned a great deal about race relations in the past half century. These lessons are due in part to our twenty-four hour media coverage of anything that will possibly bring in higher ratings and also due to unspoken rules that are today accepted as fact.

About two years ago, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by George Zimmerman who was acting as a neighborhood watchman in a gated community of Sanford, Florida.  About six-weeks later, George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter that a jury later acquitted him of. The lead investigator, Christopher Serino, later claimed “he felt pressured by several of his fellow police officers” to press charges against George Zimmerman when he (Christopher Serino) didn’t believe the evidence supported such charges. As it turned out, one of the officers pressuring Serino for the charges against Zimmerman was a friend of Martin’s father. The main question for the jury in that case was whether Zimmerman had the legal right to use lethal force under Florida’s “stand your ground” law.  The question for some in the jury of public opinion was not whether Zimmerman was innocent or guilty under the law, but simply how much time in prison he should get.

During the twenty-four hour media coverage of the Martin-Zimmerman case there were endless interviews with the people involved in the case, demonstrators looking to express their opinions, as well as prominent community and TV personalities. Of course one and all denounced the shooting of a black child by a Hispanic who claimed self-defense as being criminal. Even after the jury’s acquittal continuous media coverage didn’t end. There were more discussion panels convened that spoke to the lack of objectivity of the jury’s decision along with offerings as to what should become of Zimmerman at that point.

Fast forward a couple of years and we now have the Wilson-Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, where police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot an unarmed black teenager named Michael Brown. The difference between the Florida case and the Missouri case is that we now have U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder already having begun a federal criminal civil rights investigation into the incident. Many times in the past the federal government has waited until state criminal charges were exhausted before they got involved. This time things are different in the fact that we have an African/American U.S. Attorney General and that charges have all but been promised. Eric Holder should automatically be recusing himself from the case to avoid even the slightest appearance of bias. So much for objectivity!! The chances of that happening, however, are somewhere between zilch and none. So there remains the chance of an unspoken question as to how fair and unbiased this case will end up being.

What was not mentioned during the Zimmerman case and has so far not been addressed in the Brown case is how rare white on black violence is, compared to black on black violence.  Why?? It would seem there is only one explanation for this, which appears to be TV ratings. How much media coverage would there be from one African-American youth shooting and killing another African-American?? The few times the issue of black on black violence has been addressed in the past year proves it produces little, if any, interest. Oh, but let an incident of white on black violence occur and there are weeks and sometimes months of 24-hour coverage with ratings jumping by leaps and bounds. This is truly unfortunate too because black on black violence in some areas of the country is absolutely epidemic.  So what, if anything, has America learned from the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown case?? First thing America has learned is that if a person wants to be treated “special”, because of past wrongs, they may indeed get what they’re asking for. On the other hand, the person may wake up one day and realize the “special” they got was not the “special” they initially envisioned. America, especially white America, has learned to look at other cities and realize white and African-American relations in their community could easily mirror places like Ferguson or Chicago and to proceed with great caution.

America, especially white America, has also learned that if a white on black violent incident does occur, and especially if the African-American dies, the white person will be tried, convicted, and all but hung in the court of public opinion. The next thing America, especially white America, has learned is regardless of the evidence or past criminal record of the African-American, a white American should hope every last second is caught on camera. Last, but not least, white America has learned to avoid white on black relations whenever possible because everything will be seen with a “race card” firmly in hand.

What, if anything, can be done to hopefully improve relations between white America and black America?? First, everyone regardless of color, needs to have a voice at town hall meetings and at round-table discussions whether the “race card” is employed or not. Next, all ethnic groups need to be given the benefit of the doubt when something does go wrong between the races until the evidence, and only the impartial evidence, proves otherwise. Of course violence, regardless of who perpetrates it, during street rallies and demonstrations needs to stop immediately or be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. America also needs to keep in mind that their fellow Americans will reject new gun laws by running to their nearest gun shops whenever they feel threatened. The violent element among us will get guns no matter how many new gun laws we, as a society, care to pass. If Americans wake up and takes notice, then and only then, can our society even hope to heal the ongoing rift between white and black America.

A Year Of Waiting on Obama

I didn’t vote for Barack Obama either time he ran for President.  In fact the first time he ran and won the election I wrote to him explaining why I didn’t vote for him and wouldn’t if he ran again either. It was my hope,at the time, that I might be giving him a heads-up so he could possibly go on to surprise me.   It was my feeling at the time, and still is, that one or two years in the US Senate was not enough experience to be President of the United States.  At the time, I went on to explain that had Joe Biden topped the ticket, and Obama ran as Vice-President, I would probably have voted for them.  Well, unfortunately, that was not to be!! 

Here we are eight years later, a year since I’ve added to this blog, and I have just had my fill.  In my opinion Obama is simply getting worse with time.  The title of “Worst President Ever” doesn’t come close to describing Barack Obama’s incompetency. 

I don’t blame Obama for his “Executive Orders” since the US House has proven themselves to be record-setting useless.  In fact, I’ve often wondered why he didn’t use his Executive Order pen much more than he has.  Rather, I blame Barack Obama for not doing more to help and safeguard the US when it is so desperately needed. 

A prime example is the Illegal Aliens flooding into this country from South American countries.  I have nothing against Legal Immigration, I am the product of immigrants.  Barack Obama has refused to activate every National Guards person in this country to shut down that southern border.  What exactly is he thinking, or is Obama thinking at all??  Is Barack Obama waiting for the next September 11 terrorist group to come sauntering into this country??  That may be exactly what he gets if he doesn’t do something and do it quickly!!  What if that indeed happens, what if it can be shown that terrorists got into this country while Obama was in office??  What if those same potential terrorists pull off another September 11, or something even worse??  Should Barack Obama not pay a very dear price for his refusal to do anything to secure that southern border??  

In my home I have a right to shoot to kill if someone breaks into my home uninvited.  Why doesn’t that same rule apply at the border of all our homes??

The other issue that just galls me to no end is the mess we’ve been made aware of at the Veterans Administration, concerning the care of our sick, wounded, and disabled Veterans.  We ask so much of our Veterans and yet we allow them to come home to even less than sub-standard care.  Since when is that fair??  There are non-Veterans in this country on limited incomes who apparently get much better medical care than some of our Veterans do.  Why??  What is Barack Obama doing to correct this picture??  Voice support for present Veteran Administration staff??  Why have all upper level VA Staff members not been fired to be replaced with dedicated medical and administrative personnel from around the country??  Don’t our Veterans deserve at least that much and so much more??  

There is a very easy solution to all this mess at the Veterans Administration.  All we need do is reinstate the draft in such as way that even the richest of the rich cannot avoid the draft.  Then watch anything and everything involving our Veterans improve and improve quickly.

I could go on and on but I’d better stop here.  After all the society we live in today would make George Orwell’s “1984” seem like something a child dreamed up.        

 

Mitt Romney and Obama Care

The Massachusetts health care law passed in 2006 and was signed into law by Mitt Romney.  At the time it was touted as “….as a sign of his empathy for all people…”  He Romney claims, “one hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”  Showing his conservative compassion Romney said, “Overall am I proud of the fact that we did our best for our people and got people insured?” Romney said at a health care speech in Michigan in May 2011. “Absolutely.”

So, if universal health coverage for all Massachusetts citizens is so compassionate as to have an ex-republican governor proud of his work shouldn’t universal care for the entire country be very similar?  The good news is that The Affordable Care Act, which goes into effect in 2014, is very similar to the Massachusetts law.  Yet Republicans claim Obama Care will raise taxes, which it will do.  The truth though is that penalties for not getting universal health care will be much less under Obama Care than under the Massachusetts version.  “An adult over the age of 27 who makes more than 300 percent of the poverty line (about $37,000 a year) and chooses not to purchase health insurance would pay at least $695 in penalties under Obamacare. Under Romneycare, that same person would pay at least $1,530 in penalties.

Is everything about the Massachusetts health care law and Obama Care perfect?
Absolutely NOT!  Nothing humans ever do is perfect, after all we are fallible humans and prone to imperfection.  What seems so odd though is how all of a sudden republicans have turned on the very program some of them touted as “compassionate conservatism”.

Since the two programs are so similar it would appear the main reason for republican objection now is nothing more than who the Massachusetts Governor was at the time, versus, who the President is now.  That is truly sad too!

In fact Newt Gingrich picked up on the idea of republicans opposing “Obama Care” because of who Obama is when he said, “I will bet you, for most of you, you go home in the next two weeks when your members of Congress are home, and you look them in the eye and you say, ‘What is your positive replacement for Obamacare?’  They will have zero answer.”

Gingrich continued, “…the problem on Republican culture that rewards obstruction and negativity instead of innovation and “being positive.”  To a group of 200 republican donors Romney warned congressional Republicans against letting emotions drive their decisions.

Republicans are so determined to oppose anything Obama that they are willing to shut down the entire government to get rid of “Obama Care”.   “I’m afraid that in the final analysis, Obamacare would get its funding, our party would suffer in the next elections, and the people of the nation would not be happy. I think there are better ways to remove Obamacare.”

If republicans want an example of how this constant opposition could turn out they need look no further than the government shutdown of 1995-1996.  “When Clinton refused to cut the budget in the way Republicans wanted, Gingrich threatened to refuse to raise the debt limit, which would have caused the United States Treasury to suspend funding other portions of the government to avoid putting the country in default.”

Clinton’s approval rating fell significantly during the shutdown. According to media commentators, this indicated that the general public blamed the President for the government shutdown.  However, once it had ended his approval ratings rose to their highest since his election.”  “The shutdown has also been cited as having a role in Clinton’s successful re-election in 1996.

It would seem, therefore, that republicans are foregoing the opportunity to learn something from their past mistakes.  Instead, they are preparing to repeat those same actions, while expecting different results.  Let’s see how that one turns out!

 

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