Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Donald Trump has published a new open letter doubling down on all his previous claims about undocumented immigrants from Mexico, and adding a new claim:
Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border.
What is he talking about? The Washington Post's Philip Bump has annotated Trump's statement, but I think Bump misses Trump's point:
The idea that "tremendous infectious disease" is coming across the border is questionable. Undocumented immigrants don't undergo the same sort of health checks that documented immigrants do. There was an apparent outbreak of scabies -- caused by mites -- during last year's immigration crisis, and an incident of chicken pox halted processing at another center. Immigrants were blamed for a recent measles outbreak, but that was likely unfounded. The good news is that if "tremendous infectious disease" is crossing the border, it doesn't seem to actually be infecting anyone.
Yes, wingnuts have blamed immigrants for those cases of scabies, chicken pox, and measles -- but Bump overlooks another disease outbreak that inspired a lot of right-wing rage last year. I think it's the outbreak that Trump principally has in mind -- even though no one's found any actual evidence that links it to immigration. (Not that that would ever stop a wingnut.)

I'm thinking of the outbreak of enterovirus EV-D68 infections. The virus usually causes illnesses that resemble colds or the flu, but it's sometimes linked to polio-like paralysis and muscle weakness, as in several cases in the U.S. involving children last year. A number of children died after exposure to the virus.

This outbreak coincided with a refugee crisis on the southern border involving children from Central America (and also with the arrival of Ebola in America) -- so, naturally, Wingnuttia blamed the enterovirus outbreak on the refugee kids. Prominent among the blamers was Sharyl Attkisson -- yes, the Benghazi obsessive who blamed a malfunctioning backspace key on her laptop on clandestine administration operatives. Attkisson is also a disease conspiratorialist -- she's a vaccine skeptic (as is Trump) -- and, on her website last October, she irresponsibly speculated about a link of enterovirus to immigrants:
Link to Illegal Immigrant Children?

... The CDC hasn’t suggested reasons for the current uptick or its origin. Without that answer, some question whether the disease is being spread by the presence of tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children from Central America admitted to the U.S. in the past year.

... Though the U.S. government is keeping secret the locations of the illegal immigrant children, there are significant numbers of them in both cities in which the current outbreak was first identified, Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois, according to local advocates and press reports.
Except that, as even World Net Daily acknowledged, in the course of breathlessly retransmitting Attkisson's scaremongering ("Mystery Virus Found Where Illegal-Alien Kids Sent"), the disease was showing up in places far from where the undocumented children were, and it wasn't showing up in the border state of Arizona:
While not proving the Enterovirus outbreak originated with the Central American children, the CDC reports on its website confirmed EV-D68 cases in 44 states and the District of Columbia since mid-August. That includes states, such as Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, which have very few illegal minors. Meanwhile, Arizona, a common crossing point and holding ground for illegal aliens, is one of the six states that have not had a confirmed case of EV-D68.
Prior to that, as Media Matters noted at the time, enterovirus and immigration were linked on radio and TV by Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Pat Robertson, and others. This is from Limbaugh's website on September 8:

Here's the thing: No one's found any evidence to link the enterovirus outbreak to immigrants. The wingnuts don't have any evidence and responsible scientists don't know why the disease flared up. In fact, scientists aren't even sure that enterovirus caused the severe symptoms seen last year; a report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says,
As yet, an epidemiological link has not been established between EV-D68 and the neurological illness clusters reported in several States across the US....
Between 2008 and 2010, the CDC reports, there were enterovirus outbreaks in the Philippines, Japan, and the Netherlands; in recent years enterovirus has been detected in France, the U.K., Finland, and Germany. Hard to imagine how those outbreaks could be caused by immigrants crossing the southern border of the United States.

But that hasn't stopped the right. And I'm assuming Donald Trump is an avid consumer of at least some of the wingnut media sources I've cited.


Just My Opinion said...

Can Trump win the White House? I doubt it and I think he knows it but his tough talk is what the Republicans need. I don’t know who would want the job but whoever gets it has an almost impossible task ahead. God help us all.

Victor said...

It couldn't have been the anti-vaccine crowd's kids who spread a few of these around, could it?
No, of course not!

I'm sure if someone's kid gets head-lice, they'll blame it on the undocumented aliens.

Anonymous said...

Can Trump win the White House? I doubt it and I think he knows it

Trump is a Know-nothing. At this point I'm positive that he THINKS he can win the White House. He's surrounded by yes-men, he's got an ego the size of our Solar System, and he's proven time and time again that he's not very bright and thinks far more highly of himself than his record actually deserves. He's a walking example of Dunning-Kruger in action, as well as a walking example of a spoiled brat whose parents gave him everything but who thinks he's earned it all himself. (If you wanted a better poster child for "You Didn't Build That" than Mitt Romney it would be hard to find anyone more perfect than Donald Trump.)

The breathless media pumping up his polling numbers because they love the horse race narrative is probably feeding his delusions. I'm sure the journos are already breathlessly writing their "rise and fall of Trump" stories and filing them away to fill in the blanks when the inevitable occurs. The more they can pump him up for the next few months, the sweeter that downfall story will be when the rug gets pulled out from under him. And it will - his net approval rating is negative among Republicans and that isn't going to change - he's a widely hated figure. His ceiling is about 27% - he's not going to win a primary with that.

petrilli said...

Lice are a well known scourge of war. We and the world have been doing a lot of that lately.

Also, baseless assumptions are being made about Mexico on this subject. Is Mexico's health care system measurably any worse than ours? Are contagious diseases statistically worse there than here? I'm skeptical. And too lazy to Google it right now.

petrilli said...

538 agrees with Nony.

Anonymous said...

petrilli -

Thanks for the reminder of that link. I'd forgotten about the Pat Buchanan connection here.

It would be kind of amazing if Trump flamed out early, convinced himself it was because the GOP establishment had stabbed him in the back, and then his ego decided to make a third party run for the presidency the way Buchanan did. And not amazing in a good way - it would be pretty miserable to have to hear his hateful bullshit for the entire campaign.

Marcus said...

Let’s have those debates with Trump in them…I still believe he doesn’t have the glass jaw that the other GOP contenders have…don’t get me wrong Trump is a liberal who believes in middle glass stimulus and safety nets…but he does have a nativism streak in him which lets him play in the GOP field…remember he once said that the US economy always does better when a democrat is in office which is true BTW

Anonymous said...

Marcus -

You say "Trump doesn't have the glass jaw" that the others have and then you provide the very glass jaw that his opponents will use to destroy him when the time comes.

Trump has said a LOT of stuff over the years - it will not take much at all to come up with a commercial that will make him sound like a Democrat. By the time they're done pounding him he'll be lucky to get 1% of a primary vote.

Belvoir said...

Trump's an anti-vaxxer? That alone should be enough to disqualify him. But I sort of like the discord that his popularity among idiots sows in the Republican field. He's actually God's gift to Hillary. Let them devour each other in competition to be more extreme and insane.

Marcus said...


I agree with you….remember REAGAN started out as a democrat you can always wipe out the past with the Right….the big if is getting the campaign money otherwise he will drop out…in the debates he will do very well…
don’t u love the way he boxes JEB on immigration always mentioning it’s because of his wife that he is so soft…
Nativism with economics with the right messenger can be very potent
I like seeing him getting the hits from everywhere…so far he hasn’t moved