Lazy Saturday Reads: Ebola, Texas, and Crazed Republicans

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Good Day!!

There are two confirmed cases of Ebola contracted within the U.S., and now we have an “Ebola Czar.” President Obama has named Ron Klain, a lawyer and political operative who most recently served as “president of Case Holdings, which manages the assets of AOL founder Steve Case, and general counsel of Case’s venture capital firm, Revolution.” Before that, according to USA Today, he worked for a lobbying firm, but not as a registered lobbyist. And before that,

He was the chief of staff for two vice presidents, Joe Biden and Al Gore, and one attorney general, Janet Reno. He served as a senior White House aide to President Obama….

As Biden’s chief of staff, Klain had a key role in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and signed off on one of its most controversial projects: a $535 million loan guarantee to solar panel maker Solyndra.

“Sounds like there are some risk factors here — but that’s true of any innovative company that POTUS would visit,” Klain wrote to Department of Energy officials May 24, 2010, a day before Obama visited a company factory. “It looks like it is OK to me, but if you feel otherwise, let me know.”

Earlier in his career, he served as the staff director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee and chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee….

Klain served as the top lawyer on the Gore-Lieberman Recount Committee after the 2000 election and was portrayed by actor Kevin Spacey in the 2008 film Recount.

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He has no experience with health care issues or control of infectious diseases. Maybe Obama just did this to throw a bone to crazy Republicans, but it’s not working. They’re predictably attacking the choice. On the other hand, good old Beltway Bob Ezra Klein thinks Klain is a perfect pick.

Something I learned during the first two years of the Obama administration, when the staff infighting was at its worst: if you wanted to get somebody to say something nice, ask them about Ron Klain.

Klain entered the administration as Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff. This was, itself, notable: Klain has been chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, too, making him the only person to serve in that position for two different vice presidents.

 But the esteem for Klain wasn’t based on his resume. Rather, he had a mix of policy, political and bureaucratic chops that everyone agreed was rare. The policy people spoke admiringly of his policy savvy, and they all agreed he lapped them in political instincts. The political people admired his political instincts, but recognized he was better at policy. And everyone agreed Klain knew how to run an interagency process.

Okay . . .

The Ebola response involves various arms of the Department of Health and Human Services (particularly, though not solely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the Pentagon, the State Department, the National Security Council, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, President Obama’s office, private stakeholders, and many, many more.

The “czar” position requires someone who knows how these different agencies and institutions work, who’s got the stature to corral their efforts, who knows who to call when something unusual is needed, who can keep the policy straight….

I’ve seen some people arguing that there would be no need for an Ebola Czar if the Senate would simply confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy, Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, who’s being blocked because the National Rifle Association doesn’t believe gun violence is a public-health issue. Murthy should be confirmed, but it would be a mistake to make him Ebola czar; he’s a newcomer to government, and would need to learn, on the job, how to manage the various agencies and principals involved in the response effort. He’d likely get sidelined as players with more weight and bureaucratic skill began going around him.

Actual government experience is badly underrated in Washington. Politicians run for office promising that they know how to run businesses, not Senate offices. “Bureaucrat” is often lobbed as an insult. But in processes like this one, government experience really matters.

Maybe Klein is right. He makes some good arguments anyway.


Scott Brown seems to believe a venture capitalist is what’s called for. Brown had this to say yesterday: “We Would Not Be Worrying About Ebola Right Now” If Romney Won.

Scott Brown told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Friday that Ebola wouldn’t be a problem for America if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.

“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown said. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”

Golly gee willikers, Batman! You can watch the interview at the Buzzfeed link above. New Hampshire Republican agree, according to The Washington Post.

It’s interesting that Texas politicians are attacking Obama’s Ebola response so vehemently. You’d think they would be more concerned about how a Dallas hospital sent Thomas Duncan home with a 103 degree fever, even though he told them he had just arrived from Liberia. And how they let nearly 80 hospital workers care for Duncan for days without any special protective gear. And how they let people who had been exposed to Duncan’s bodily fluids travel travel by air and sea to possibly expose hundreds of other people. But no. Gov. Rick Perry, who could have stopped exposed Texans from traveling, went to Europe during the Ebola crisis and now says President Obama should have handled Texas’ problem for him.

And then there’s Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Here’s what he had to say about the new Ebola Czar. I’m not going to link to it, because it’s at Newsmax:

“We don’t need another so-called ‘czar’; we need presidential leadership. This is a public health crisis and the answer isn’t another White House political operative. The answer is a commander-in-chief who stands up and leads, banning flights from Ebola-afflicted nations and acting decisively to secure our southern border.”

Kaili Joy Gray at Wonkette: President Doctor Ted Cruz Is The Only Cure For Ebola.

Remember that time Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Canada) was all, “Say health care one more time, and I will shut this government DOWN!” and also something about Green Eggs and Ham and Nazis?

Nuh uh, no you do not, because Cruz would never be so reckless and irresponsible as to suggest the government should have nothing to do with health care because FREEDOM. That’s not leadership, and Cruz is all about leadership. Especially the presidential kind, cough cough, wink wink, nudge nudge, YEAH WE KNOW, CRUZ WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT!

That’s why Cruz is leadershipping so hard in response to President Obama’s announcement that he will appoint an Ebola czar to coordinate all the government agencies tasked with dealing with this mess (which is mostly in Africa, but that doesn’t count). Obama had to Do A Thing because the entire rightwing will not shut up about it. The folks at Fox and on the interwebs know for A Fact we are all dying this second of the terrifying African disease from Africa, spread by African Africans just like Obama, who is African and hates America and dear lord will these people never stop? (No. The answer is no.) ….

Right on, amen, and hells yes! Right now — and at no other time in history — the government has a duty to Do A Thing about Americans facing a public health crisis. And if stupid Obama insists on listening to the director of the Centers for Disease Control instead of Bill O’Reilly, Cruz will have no choice but to launch his 2016 presidential campaign right this second to save America.

And really, who better to just now discover the government serves a purpose and should maybe sometimes do stuff than the guy who wanted to shut it down because doing stuff is the last thing the government should ever do?

Honestly, I’m think some crazy Republicans would like to cause an epidemic just to spite Obama.


By the way, have you heard there’s been another screw up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital? A patient who might have Ebola was transferred to the hospital from Baylor Hospital, and then went missing after Presbyterian sent him on his way.

On Friday morning Baylor Hospital in Dallas confirmed a patient with ‘Ebola similar’ symptoms also triggered positive on a verbal screening questionnaire.

Although a positive blood test has not been confirmed, sources say it’s not unusual to have a patient screen positive considering the wider net for Ebola now over Dallas. A positive screening means the patient met some of the criteria to cause concern.

According to Baylor, it was the answers to some of the screening questions — like if a person had been in contact with a known Ebola patient — that triggered the standing protocol by Dallas County Health and Human Services that the person be transferred to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas,  presumably for further, complete testing.

A source at Baylor said the patient came to the Emergency Room through a private entrance and was then immediately put into isolation.

According to a statement released by Texas Presbyterian, via The Boston Globe,

“The patient was placed in isolation at Texas Health Dallas and evaluated with all appropriate precautions,” the statement read. “The patient was determined to be low risk and wanted to leave the hospital. The CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services were advised of this and did not feel it was necessary to have her detained.”

However, the Globe learned that earlier,

Spokespeople for Texas Health Presbyterian told local news stations that they had not received a transfer patient and could not say whether the patient had been treated or released. There is no confirmation that this patient has Ebola. Texas Health Presbyterian has not responded to request for comment.

WTF?! Someone in authority in Texas needs to make sure Texas Presbyterian is not involved with anymore suspected Ebola patients. Period. But Gov. Perry is too busy blaming everything on President Obama to do anything useful in his own state. Where is this patient? Are we really sure she is OK?

More insane Republican responses to the Ebola mess: CNN has a list, What’s more disturbing than Ebola? The outrageous commentary. Here’s just one example from Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia:

“The most comforting thing that I heard from (Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health) was that water kills the Ebola virus. I’ve never heard that before. I thought it was something that was so contagious there wasn’t much you could do to prevent it or anything else, so her advice was ‘wash your hands.’ “Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told the Marietta Daily Journal.

From the experts:

“As with other infectious diseases, one of the most important preventive measures is frequent hand-washing. Use soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol when soap and water aren’t available,” the Mayo Clinic said about the prevention and spread of Ebola infection.

Read more at the link.


And then there’s Peggy Noonan. She thinks Megyn Kelly of Fox News knows more about preventing Ebola than CDC Director Tom Frieden. Here’s Simon Meloy at Salon on Noonan’s solutions: Peggy Noonan’s plan to save America: Think like an 11-year-old.

We need a travel ban, Ms. Noonan observes, drawing deeply from her vast reservoirs of disease-control expertise. “If we don’t momentarily close the door to citizens of the affected nations, it is certain that more cases will come into the U.S.” It is certain! They will come here with their disease. They will come to America. You may be inclined to note that the broad consensus among public health officials is that closing off West Africa will only make the epidemic there worse, which will in turn increase the risk of transmission to America. The petulant naysayers among you may be wont to point out that imposing a flight ban will only make it harder to track the movements and contacts of potentially infected persons.

But that’s just more gobbledygook, more amphigory, more hurbledy-burbledy. That, as Ms. Noonan writes, is how the government talks, and “everyone who speaks for the government on this issue has been instructed to imagine his audience as anxious children.” No … instead of speaking like children, writes Ms. Noonan, we should bethinking like children:

It is one thing that Dr. Frieden, and those who are presumably making the big decisions, have been so far incapable of making a believable and compelling case for not instituting a ban. A separate issue is how poor a decision it is. To call it childish would be unfair to children. In fact, if you had a group of 11-year-olds, they would surely have a superior answer to the question: “Sick people are coming through the door of the house, and we are not sure how to make them well. Meanwhile they are starting to make us sick, too. What is the first thing to do?”

The children would reply: “Close the door.” One would add: “Just for a while, while you figure out how to treat everyone getting sick.” Another might say: “And keep going outside the door in protective clothing with medical help.” Eleven-year-olds would get this one right without a lot of struggle.

Yes! Trust in the wisdom of 11-year-olds. Unlike disease control officials, they are not burdened by years of experience in dealing with outbreaks, and the things they say are generally easier to understand. And whose heart is not warmed by the delicate innocence of a child’s words as imagined by a former Reagan official?

Much more insanity at the link.

I know there’s lots more news happening, but I’m so fascinated by the crazy responses to Ebola that I just can’t stop reading about them. Please let us know know else is happening in the comment thread, and have a nice weekend.

32 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Ebola, Texas, and Crazed Republicans”

    • bostonboomer says:

      Here’s the Texas Observer on Perry’s wacko European adventure:

      Rick Perry Showcases Bush-on-Steroids Foreign Policy

      Gov. Rick Perry is running for president again, and presidential candidates need Issues on which to take Strong Stands. So Perry has decided to build his run for president around foreign policy, and particularly, around the growing, all-enveloping catastrophe in the world’s most complex and politically intractable region—the secondary effects of the Syrian Civil War, and the rise of the Islamic State.

      Perry—he of the oops, remember—will wade waist-deep into a conflict so clockwork-complicated and massive in scope that people who have been studying the neighborhood their entire lives can’t even figure out what’s going on any given day. He will provide perfect, Windex-wiped clarity, and demonstrate his great capacity for strategic thinking. This sounded like a great idea to someone on Perry’s team.

      So on Tuesday, the governor found himself in London, in front of a crowd at the Royal United Services Institute, a distinguished think tank that has served as a place for discussion of defense issues since the Queen’s strongest foe was the Prussian Army. RUSI advertised that Perry would “analyse the challenges the United States and Western allies face in confronting threats to the international community in the twenty-first century,” a pretty comprehensive subject for a 40-minute address. Of course, Perry didn’t meet that promise—his speech was devoid of policy proposals or much analysis—but he did tell us a lot about how he thinks about the world.

      America should plunge itself headlong into the civil wars now happening in the Middle East. We should “defend the lives of innocent Muslim people” just like we did in “Iraq and Afghanistan.” Dissent within the county should be curbed, because it causes moral “confusion” which inhibits our ability to do battle with our foes.

      Perry’s foreign policy as outlined in his address is the doctrine of bright colors and high contrast—like a methamphetamine-boosted mash-up of speeches from the George W. Bush era. Perry told the British policy analysts that the Western coalition had to “hold nothing back if it will better assure our security,” without saying what would better assure our security. As for the jihadis, Perry said, “in all our conduct toward this enemy, there can be no illusions and no compromise of all that we are defending.”

      Please read the whole thing. It’s more frightening than any horror movie.

      • NW Luna says:

        Sigh. It’s so embarrassing when GOP idiots go overseas and spout off. Remember Romney in London in 2012?

        • gregoryp says:

          You know what is even more embarrassing? He is the governor of a state. If he was mayor of some small town you could live with his stupidity but he is the friggin’ governor. How did it happen that only DUMB ASSES and liars get elected to public office? Are we really a nation of people who are so self loathing that we are trying to sabotage and destroy our own nation?

      • gregoryp says:

        Perry is the poster child for incompetence. Probably the biggest health challenge facing Texans in years what does this imbecile do? He goes gallivanting around Europe and tries to blame Obama for his own failures. He isn’t a leader of any magnitude but rather a complete doofus. I can’t stress how much contempt I have for this person and for those who govern and who are ruining our state.

  1. Joyce L. Arnold says:

    Certainly not an original observation, and with differences between the two noted — I keep thinking about the early responses to HIV / AIDS …

    • bostonboomer says:

      Lots of differences though, not least that AIDS was ignored by Ronald Reagan and because he thought only gay people would get it.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    Perry is a such a weasel. Mr. Secession, Mr. Anti-Government Healthcare who thinks the Federal Government should remain in the background and stay out of State policy, State Law. State Healthcare and State business has no sense of what his job is as Governor. Now Perry is crying out to the Federal Government “help me, help me” when in truth there’s nothing that the Federal Government could have done at TX Presbyterian Hospital that Rick Perry, as Governor, couldn’t have done the day Ebola was diagnosed. Instead Perry chose to take a trip abroad during the Ebola incubation period with absolutely no idea what might come next. Rick Perry is a fucking joke and he hasn’t a snowballs chance in hell of being POTUS

  3. NW Luna says:

    I agree that Klein does make some good arguments that an Ebola czar should know how to manage inter-agency processes. But he’d better listen to some good clinical people also. Too often managers/administrators who have no clue about biology and medicine ignore crucial info. But at least he’s not a hospital administrator.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, but he’s a lawyer and politician who probably thinks he knows it all. I’m really worried that he won’t listen to the people who know about Ebola. I hope I’m wrong.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Symbolic only, but still a step forward:

    The gay marriage debate arrived within walking distance of the Vatican on Saturday as Rome’s mayor defied Italy’s government and registered 16 gay marriages celebrated abroad.

    Gay marriage is illegal in Italy. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano recently sent a notice to local prefects saying any registrations of foreign gay marriages would be voided, and Rome’s prefect vowed to do so immediately.

    Nevertheless, Mayor Ignazio Marino received thunderous applause upon arrival at the city hall reception room where the couples and their loved ones gathered to make the marriages official in Rome’s city ledger. Marino transcribed the date and locations of their weddings, including in Spain, Portugal and the U.S.

    Marino said Saturday was an important day in the fight for equal rights and that “the most important right is to say to your companion ‘I love you’ and to have that be recognized.”

  5. gregoryp says:

    Republicans are nothing more than spoiled little children. Anyone who takes anything a Republican says seriously anymore should really do a self analysis and make some changes. It is time for the GOP to die. It has outlived its usefulness as it is overrun with crazies and incompetents. People I work with literally believe that Obama is trying to kill them with Ebola. Where did this come from? Fox News? This shit is seriously out of hand. There is no laws on the books that says that it is allowable to get on the public airways and stir up people by telling outlandish lies. When I explain to these folks that it isn’t Obama that is at fault here it is 1. Texas Presbyterian for being incompetent and 2. State of Texas public Health system for being completely incompetent they act like I am a liar. It is so unfortunate that people follow the liars and deceivers right off the cliff. This shit was so avoidable. These imbeciles just need to stop voting for people who hate government and say they want to kill it. When someone runs on a platform of incompetence then incompetence is exactly what you get. Sigh.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I can’t figure out where these horrible people come from–the candidates or the voters.

      • gregoryp says:

        I say its the voters fault. If you vote for a guy that campaigns on “family values” but then gets caught sleeping with hookers and maybe wears a diaper doing it but you vote for him again anyway. Well, that is on you. I think the people of this country haven’t been suckered by the RW and by Fox News. I think they willingly allowed themselves to be marks.

  6. dakinikat says:

    I’ve been hold up for three days with the flu. I’m sure hoping I didn’t catch Ebola from my trip to the Chalmette Walmart on Tuesday. 😉

  7. janicen says:

    Some human remains have been found south of Charlottesville. They have been brought to Richmond to the State Medical Examiner to determine if they are the remains of Hannah Graham.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh no! Thanks for the link, Janicen.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The location is in the general area of where the battered remains of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington were discovered 101 days after her 2009 disappearance in Charlottesville

      It must be her.

      • janicen says:

        Well, Sheriff Longo appropriately said that no further comments would be made until the ME made a determination but one of the godbags who found her just couldn’t miss out on the chance to get his 15 minutes and claim that “god wanted them to find what they found”. He said they found a skull and bones, a long vertebrae (indicating it was a tall person), and a pair of tight black pants behind an abandoned home in a creek bed so yeah, I think it’s safe to say it’s her.

        • bostonboomer says:

          That’s a shame. We already knew enough without her parents having to find out that way.

          • janicen says:

            Well, I think they already knew. Sheriff Longo said that the first thing they did was notify the Grahams so I think unofficially they already know it’s her but they are not going to say until it’s definitive.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Of course. I was just referring to the details about her body. If it were me, I’d rather learn about them privately and have a little breathing time before they are plastered all over the news.

          • janicen says:

            Good point. I hadn’t looked at it that way but you’re absolutely right. It’s disgusting that one of the searchers should allow himself to be interviewed before there is an official finding. And don’t get me started on the fool claiming god wanted them to find her.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Weird. There was an “incident” at the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, NH today, and police in riot gear responded and used pepper spray and tear gas. (Keene is a quiet little town in southern NH.) The festival was at Keene State College.

    Multiple ambulances have been sent to a disturbance Saturday afternoon at the Pumpkin Festival near Keene State College in New Hampshire, and one incident drew “multiple responses” from Keene Police, officials said.

    The Keene police and fire departments would not say if people were injured or provide details of what was happening. A police dispatcher did say the response was to an incident at the Pumpkin Festival.

    According to a witness, police responded in riot gear early Saturday afternoon and used tear gas to break up the crowd.

    “There were about 4,000 kids in this backyard and it almost felt like a war zone,” said Ellery Murray, a sophomore at Keene State. “People were just throwing everything they could find — rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins. It was actually kind of scary.”

    “[Police] were wearing shields and knee-pads and had all these dogs herding people out of the yard into the street,” said Murray.