Wednesday, November 12, 2014

As I predicted, Ebola was in Mali, but health care officials just didn't know about it

    On Oct. 29 I wrote that the Ebola virus was certain to spread to Mali due to the fact that people were being allowed to travel freely into that country from infected areas with only a temperature check.
    The Ebola virus usually has an incubation period of from 4-21 days, so a temperature check is as useless as teats on a boar hog in preventing infected people from entering an uninfected area. A temperature check only catches those who are actually sick, not everyone who is infected.
    Well, no sooner than Mali had been declared "Ebola free" following the death some weeks ago of a young girl who traveled into the country and died from Ebola, we've learned that there is a more serious outbreak caused by a religious figure -- a grand iman -- from Guinea who traveled to Mali for better medical care. Neither he nor the clinic which treated him understood that he was suffering from an Ebola infection. The iman died and his body was washed at the local mosque before being returned to Guinea. A number of the iman's relatives in Guinea have died, as has one nurse in Mali who treated him. The total number of people infected in unknown, but it is potentially a substantial number.
    All of this happened almost a month ago, and authorities are just now figuring out that the string of deaths that have followed in the iman's wake meant that he was suffering from Ebola. I suspect there are a number of other outbreaks throughout Mali that haven't grown to the point that they've been identified as Ebola.
    On Oct. 29 I wrote the following:
    My guess is that Mali may already have an Ebola outbreak, authorities just don't know it yet. The nature of Ebola is that there is one death from an unexplained cause, often thought to be malaria or some other malady; three weeks later two or three additional people die; in three more weeks that total might jump to six. It can take two or three months for authorities to even become aware of an outbreak.
    Even when villages might suspect Ebola they might be afraid to alert authorities for fear of being quarantined with no food or having their loved ones carted away. So an initial, isolated outbreak often goes undetected by authorities until a village is completely decimated, perhaps even abandoned.
    Most people have all been indoctrinated with the notion that people should have the right to go wherever they want whenever they want. But no one should be allowed to leave an area with an uncontrolled Ebola outbreak without a mandatory quarantine. Nobody has a right to infect the world.
    The world needs to create a cordon sanitaire around those areas with uncontrolled Ebola outbreaks; nobody leaves without a quarantine. If it requires massive numbers of troops standing shoulder-to-shoulder to enforce, then troops we should send. If the only way to stop people from leaving is to shoot them, then shoot.
    The real risk of Ebola isn't that we might get a few cases or even a few hundred cases here in the United States. The risk is that it will continue to slowly creep into poverty-stricken areas with poor communication, poor education, and poor medical facilities, where it will successfully take root before anyone even knows it's there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I hope the voters send the race-baiters of 2014 a message from the ballot box

    This has been the season of the race-baiting advertisement, with candidates or their supporters running some pretty reprehensible ads equating conservatism with racism. Some candidates are so extreme that they even aligned some themselves with attempted-cop-killer Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo.
    Among the worst race-baiters of 2014 (or those who declined to denounce race-baiting on their behalf) are Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Michelle Nunn of Georgia, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Thad Cochran of Mississippi. These types of racialist campaigns harm our democratic system, and I hope voters will send these candidates a message today.

Democrats who had Obama amnesia ended up looking silly, hurting their campaigns

    Now that the election is almost over, here's a note to really stupid Democrats: Don't deny voting for your party's president, particularly when he was at one time the blank slate upon which almost every American projected their hopes and dreams.
    As a Democrat, you darn well better have voted for the man unless you can articulate a good reason not to have. Most Democrats voted for Barack Obama. Most independents did, too. That's why he won.
    When a Democratic candidate was asked whether or not he (or she) voted for Obama the answer should have been "Yes!" This should be followed by whatever statement the candidate wished to make explaining reservations and disappointment about the president. In other words, "Yes, I voted for him, but like many of you, I've been disappointed."
    Instead we've had these debates where Democratic candidates have looked like absolute fools as they've tried not to answer questions about whether or not they voted for Obama. Of course they voted for him. And I have far more respect for the candidate who would say, "Of course I did."
    I disagree with much of what Barack Obama has done, as do most Americans, both Republicans and Democrats. But the fact is that he has advanced what is supposed to be the Democratic agenda. That doesn't mean he should be immune from criticism, because he deserves a lot.
    I'm not suggesting that Democrats should have embraced Obama this election. But those who refused to even admit they voted for him looked like idiots. If they can't be honest about whether or not they voted for a man who was awarded a Nobel Prize just for being elected, can they be honest about anything?