Sunday, October 26, 2014


Chris Christie, with the cooperation of his crypto-Republican pal Andrew Cuomo, has now made evil Doctors Without Borders volunteers into the new enemies of All Decent People:
On Thursday night, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sat beside Mayor Bill de Blasio at Bellevue Hospital Center as they offered soothing words to worried New Yorkers: New York City’s first case of Ebola, they said, was no reason for panic.

Less than 19 hours later, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, joined the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and struck a starkly different tone. The governors announced Friday that medical personnel returning to New York after treating Ebola patients in West Africa would be automatically subject to a 21-day quarantine.
The first person caught in the dragnet was a nurse named Kaci Hickox, who was returning to Newark Airport from Sierra Leone when the hammer came down. Hickox, who attended the University of Texas at Arlington, has written a Dallas Morning News op-ed in which she describes a seven-hour airport ordeal during which she was rarely informed of what was going on and was treated with intense suspicion, even though she has no Ebola synptoms:
One after another, people asked me questions. Some introduced themselves, some didn't. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal.

Two other officials asked about my work in Sierra Leone. One of them was from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They scribbled notes in the margins of their form, a form that appeared to be inadequate for the many details they are collecting.

I was tired, hungry and confused, but I tried to remain calm. My temperature was taken using a forehead scanner and it read a temperature of 98. I was feeling physically healthy but emotionally exhausted.

Three hours passed. No one seemed to be in charge. No one would tell me what was going on or what would happen to me.
Well, of course. The people in charge are in Trenton and Albany. The people yanking this nurse's chain are just doing what they're told.

They get a fever reading from a forehead thermometer; Hickox explains, in vain, that that could reflect nothing more than flushing deriving from her anxiety and frustration -- as subsequently turns out to be the case when, several hours later, her temperature registers normal and an Ebola blood test comes up negative. But by that time, she's effectively under arrest:
At around 7 p.m., I was told that I must go to a local hospital. I asked for the name and address of the facility. I realized that information was only shared with me if I asked.

Eight police cars escorted me to the University Hospital in Newark. Sirens blared, lights flashed. Again, I wondered what I had done wrong....
(Eight squad cars? Seriously? That was really necessary? But you've got to give Christie this: he has a sense of theater. All the best pols do -- as do the most dangerous ones.)
At the hospital, I was escorted to a tent that sat outside of the building. The infectious disease and emergency department doctors took my temperature and other vitals and looked puzzled. "Your temperature is 98.6," they said. "You don't have a fever but we were told you had a fever."

After my temperature was recorded as 98.6 on the oral thermometer, the doctor decided to see what the forehead scanner records. It read 101. The doctor felts my neck and looked at the temperature again. "There's no way you have a fever," he said. "Your face is just flushed."

My blood was taken and tested for Ebola. It came back negative.
Also: a tent? Is this the long-term plan for dealing with such cases? In January, too?

But there won't be cases, because volunteers won't fly back into America. They'll either decide it's not worth the trouble to go help out where they're needed or fly back through Canada and drive rental cars into the States. Fox News is available in Canada only on satellite, and the government is conservative, so the country doesn't have to pander to the panicked as demagogues drown out voices of reason -- Canada will impose quarantine on sick passengers, but, so far, not on the healthy. So doctors and nurses will almost certainly evade the U.S. quarantines if they really want to volunteer in the hot zone. Until that gets shut down, of course.

I get it, though. This is good politics for Cuomo (who's up for reelection in nine days) and for Christie (who still thinks he can be president). “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it” is Saul Alinsky's 12th Rule for Radicals. Conservatives, who love Alinsky, love this rule in particular because they love identifying enemies and defining themselves as the opponents of those enemies. They'd say their opponent in this case is the virus. I think it's the doctor who bowled and the nurse who complained.


A side note on the fear factor: Joyce Wadler has an article in the Style section of today's New York Times about her 87-year-old mother's recent stroke. Wadler tells us her mother is quite physically and mentally impaired -- though not completely:
When the doctor asks what year it is, she says 1914. Her politics, however, remain intact.

"Who's the president, Mrs. Wadler?" the doctor asks.

"Obama, the big liar," Ma says.
Wadler's mother, you see, is one of the many older people in America who lives on a steady diet of Fox News. And here are the consequences:
“They're torturing me here," my mother tells them, as Fox News, to which she has fallen asleep for years, plays silently in the background. "I've got Ebola. I have ISIS."

My best friend, Herb, who has flown in from New York after my brothers have to leave, ... figures it out. The crawl on Fox is shooting out scare words and Ma's brain has them linked.

"ISIS isn't a disease, it's a terrorist group, Milli," says Herb, who has known my mother for 40 years.

"I've got ISIS," Ma insists. "I'm gonna make them test me."
Ailes and Murdoch, if there's an afterlife and a God, this is what you'll have to answer for.


Victor said...

More people have died drunk in the last 12 hours, than there are Ebola patients in the US.

Heart attack, cancer, un-alcohol related auto accidents, guns, knives, and all sorts of other things have killed more people in the US in the last year, than Ebola has across Africa and the rest of the world.

Our planet is running the high "fever" in recorded history - and has a higher temperature than at any time since dinosaurs walked the Earth.

But, with FUX & Fiends, and other Reich-Wing media, it's all ISIS and Ebola all of the time!!!

And please, don't get me started on DINO Andrew Cuomo.
We all know that Christie's an open piece of shit.
Andrew is a bit of a stealthier piece of shit!!!
But he's still shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Papa Wheelie said...

I have lived without television in my house for over 20 years. My biggest fear, as I grow older, is that someday I may have to be placed in an assisted living facility where, by some kind of decree, Fox 'news' must be on 24/7. I'm in Oregon. I think that would qualify me for assisted suicide.

Dark Avenger said...

Actually, the hottest period before this one is the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum:

The Earth was free of snow and ice during the PETM period. The Arctic was subtropical with crocodiles swimming in the warm waters off of Greenland. Records suggest that the planet experienced a period of gradual warming, followed by an abrupt and massive carbon input into the atmosphere (Zachos, Dickens & Zeebe, 2008), Earth's land and oceans warmed. The Arctic's sea surface temperature, for example, was approximately 23C or 73 degrees Fahrenheit. The PETM was also marked by a massive input of carbon into the oceans and many deep sea organisms went extinct. Land animals experienced a turnover, with many mammals such as the horse existing in dwarf form.

Victor said...

I'd forgotten that.

My mind used to be like a steel-trap.
Now, it's more like a spaghetti... whatchamacall it... uh... STRAINER!

Dave E. said...

So some 87-year-old woman has a stroke that damages her cognitive abilities and misinterprets what she sees on Fox News and that's the fault of Ailes and Murdoch? Seriously?

Glennis said...

I read the comments on Kaci Hickox's op-ed in the Dallas paper. I could not believe the ugliness I read there; truly vile and hateful people. It really makes me sad that so many Americans are so ignorant, selfish and hateful.

Anonymous said...

The nice thing is that this steady diet of fear and paranoia about contamination and slaughter is almost certainly more likely to work on addled old people than it does on anyone else. I'm actually pretty confident that as the population ages, the next wave of old people won't be as hapless and gullible as the current bunch. And then Fox News will have overfished their own stream. And the country will be so much better. I'm not sure I'll live to see it, but you younger people have that to look forward to: the most naive and most racist and clueless people in America slowly dying off. Ah.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Ebola volunteers appear to be morally self-infatuated types who think they deserve a ticker-tape parade for risking their lives for Africans and then refusing to do what their own profession says is necessary, self-isolating for 21 days.

Christie is right. With doctors and with nurses the honor system has not worked, and several who in fact were infected have cost the public a lot of panic and a lot of expense in decontamination, and cost private businesses and airlines decontamination costs and lost business.

They are brats.

Make them behave.

And what the hell is this "If you make me behave I won't go save Africans"?

You gonna hold your breathe until you turn blue?


Philo Vaihinger said...

Rollin M, I share your dread. Tell me why Fox News is always on in doctors' offices and emergency rooms. Can't they let people suffer in peace?

Yastreblyansky said...

Philo, self-isolation is not "what their own profession says is necessary". On the contrary, per MSF and CDC,

Upon returning to the United States, each MSF staff member goes through a thorough debriefing process, during which they are informed of our guidelines.

The guidelines include the following instructions:

1. Check temperature two times per day
2. Finish regular course of malaria prophylaxis (malaria symptoms can mimic Ebola symptoms)
3. Be aware of relevant symptoms, such as fever
4. Stay within four hours of a hospital with isolation facilities
5. Immediately contact the MSF-USA office if any relevant symptoms develop

These guidelines are consistent with those provided by the CDC to people returning from one of the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

Yastreblyansky said...

"As long as a returned staff member does not experience any symptoms, normal life can proceed. Family, friends, and neighbors can be assured that a returned staff person who does not present symptoms is not contagious and does not put them at risk. Self-quarantine is neither warranted nor recommended when a person is not displaying Ebola-like symptoms."

Steve M. said...

Where are the U.S. civilians with Ebola? Duncan, Pham, Vinson -- where are the people they infected outside a hospital setting?

Glennis said...

Thanks for proving my point so sucinctly Philo.