The Ebola Firewall

Sorry guys, I’m neck-deep in a project, and the water keeps rising. But here’s Bill Whittle’s current Firewall.

What’s that? Yep, I agree with everything he says here.

Spanish Flu ≠ Ebola Virus; Unless We Make It

spanish_flu_newOK, let’s be honest here, Ebola is not anything to panic about. And there’s little reason it should ever be.

But we also all know the phrase, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” don’t we? And that’s the danger here. Because Obama is a statist and a progressive that believes everything should come from the government. Nor is he the first to put his politics ahead of his duty to the country. And for that matter there is a precedent for Ebola getting completely out of hand. Didn’t know that did you? I didn’t either.

But there is, and it’s a horrid story. It goes back to Woodrow Wilson, who may well be the worst man to ever be president, including Obama. Like him, Wilson was a statist, and a progressive, who thought the Constitution was outdated, and wanted to rule by his prerogative, to use the old term. He pretty much did, especially after we got into the Great War.

And as James Jay Carafano says in the linked article, the last time we made an epidemic/pandemic a national security matter, fifty million (50,000,000) people died, worldwide. Think about that for a minute.

Sufficiently revolted? Yeah, me too. Let’s let him tell part of the story.

Progressives like to expropriate the label of national security to help drive their agendas. Statist, centrally managed, with top-down direction, the national-security model is the perfect vehicle for any policy “crusade,” be it fighting global warming or raising taxes. Thus, for example, when the administration got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to label the “debt the biggest threat to national security,” it had all the cover needed to press for cutting defense and raising taxes—two cornerstones of President Obama’s progressive political agenda.

But playing “national security” progressive politics with public health can bring outright disaster. When the United States entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson played the national-security card early and often. The war effort became an excuse for everything from jailing political opponents to spying on everyday Americans. But, when the president used a global war as an excuse to preempt sound public-health policy, he reaped a global catastrophe.

In 1917, the war to end all wars was well under way. At Camp Funston within the boundaries of Fort Riley, Kansas, sergeants were turning recruits into doughboys. During their training, the soldiers picked up backpacks, rifles, helmets—and a new strain of flu. They carried all these with them as they traveled from the camp to the railroads, the big cities, the ports and, ultimately, overseas. On every step of the way to the trenches in Western Europe, they spread the deadly disease.

When news of the epidemic reached Washington, the White House decided it was a national-security problem. The British and French desperately needed reinforcements to turn the tide of the war; getting our boys over there was far more important than stopping the spread of the flu over here.

I can understand their thinking, I guess, but it’s simply wrong isn’t it? Was delaying the American deployments until the flu was burned out going to cost the war? Doesn’t seem very likely, does it? And starting a pandemic is pretty callous, even for a progressive.

Of course, so is ignoring the problem to fundraise, campaign, and play golf. Although, the president did cancel a fundraiser and a rally yesterday, so he could look like he was doing his job. What I really detest, along that line is that Wilson kept having mass rallies to sell war bonds.

President Wilson took one precaution. He transferred the Public Health Service to military control. Support the military effort, not the public health, became Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s main mission.

In less than a year, the Kansas outbreak had become a global pandemic. It was commonly referred to as the “Spanish flu.” Spain was a nonbelligerent in the First Word War. The government had not imposed press censorship. As a result, widespread news of the disease’s deadly progress appeared first in Spain. Most assumed that was where the problem started.

In the end, more died from the pandemic than from the war.

Stateside, at a military camp outside of Gettysburg, a young post commander named Dwight David Eisenhower ignored Washington’s advice to ignore the disease. Instead, he developed health protocols that broke the back of the disease’s run through the ranks. Impressed with the success of his methods, the Army ordered Eisenhower to dispatch his staff to other camps to train them on how to rein in influenza.

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Likewise, many American cities got the disease under control only by ignoring the federal government and adopting responsible public-health policies.

See the thing is, even then, how to stop an epidemic was conventional knowledge, likely we didn’t know why, until we figured out germ theory, and all that in the late nineteenth century, but we had known that quarantines worked since the Black Death cost Europe one third of its population in the middle ages.

The moral of the story is not that it’s 1918 all over again. Ebola and influenza are two very different contagious diseases. But this cautionary tale from the last century reminds us is that the best way to deal with a disease outbreak is to follow sound public-health policies, not cloud the issue with the trappings of national security.

H/T Moe Lane

Obama’s Great Big Ebola Error | The National Interest.

All accounts say that Ebola isn’t anywhere near as contagious as the (Spanish) flu. But that is no reason to screw around and generate another pandemic, while playing politics.

Naught For Our Comfort

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election, and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[...]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

The way to defeat jihadis is to offer something better

Daniel Hannan has an outstanding article up on the Telegraph yesterday. He is talking about how to defeat the young Brits that wish to be jihadis. The thing is, you never defeat something with nothing, he’s right.

British history, like its niece American history, is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to individual liberty. In great measure, it is a story that is one of the most attractive in the world. But we have allowed it to be corrupted, by those who use it for  political ends, who have convinced many that Britain, and America, are evil incarnate.  We, like the Brits, have allowed this to creep in, unnoticed, over the years until this evil nonsense is what is being taught to our children as our history.

There are things in our histories that are cringeworthy, but that is true of everyone’s history. There is also the fact that of all the peoples in the world, the Anglo-Americans have done more for the individual, than anybody else.

And in a related matter, our young people are looking for something when they join the jihad, or even when they convert to Islam. I think they look for certainty, a system that knows right from wrong, good from evil. Islam is a system that is flawed of course, It reflects the flawed nature of its founder, and is easily corrupted to evil, if it is not evil in itself.

But, one knows that there is another system in the world that does the same thing, it offers a choice, and a stark one, between good and evil, but unlike Islam, it while rooted in antiquity, has grown. The wisest men of the last 2000 years have contributed to it, and enriched it.

But it, like Anglo-American history, has been greatly maligned and diluted, both from within and without. But also like our history, the record is still there, and accessible, we merely need to read, learn and share it.

A Polish friend, an MEP of my sort of age, was telling me the other day about how his life changed when Pope John Paul II toured his home country. The papal visit set in train the events that led to the Gdansk protests and, in due course, the unravelling of the tyranny. But my friend added a detail that I had never before appreciated. “The Holy Father never directly condemned the Communist authorities,” he said. “He didn’t need to. He was offering something better”.

When you put it like that, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Offer something better. It worked during the recent Scottish referendum. For months, Unionists had warned of the horrors that would follow from separation: companies leaving, markets collapsing, Scotland left without a currency. The more frenetically they warned, the further they fell behind in the polls. Only in the closing days did the “No” campaign make the positive argument it should have made all along: the UK was doing pretty darned well, Scots were prospering within it, and it was silly to discard a precious thing. That was when the polls turned.

Continue reading  The way to defeat British jihadis is to offer something better

And that is the thing that I find so frustrating, Anglo-American history is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to freedom, and its sharing all over the world. It is one of the most remarkable and uplifting stories ever writing, and written in blood by the common man.

And the other story that I referred to above is even greater, although the two are intimately entwined. Because the story of Christianity is also a story of free will, and enlightenment. It has justly been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it is. It the story of man’s civilization, from a violent past. Only Christianity has developed, and lived by a ‘Just War Theory’ . The rest still live by the rule of the most powerful, while we live by the ‘Rule under and through the law’ and apply y it not only to ourselves but even to those who presume to rule us.

That is what President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope (St.) John Paul II used to defeat the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

It is a wonderful uplifting story. Because something always defeats nothing, and humanism, and Islam, are nothing, Simply the rule of the powerful.

Be For Something, Something Good

Election Economics 101; US and a little UK as well.

thobamaThe other day, Dan Hannan wrote on how much better Britain would be doing if it was not in the EU. Economically, yes, but in other ways as well, which are arguably more important. At least I think they are, although if I was trying to make a living in Britain, my priorities might be different, although given my outlook, I wouldn’t bet a lot on that. I’m one of those radical Americans that believe freedom is more important than nearly everything, and the EU is inimical to freedom.

Here’s some of Dan’s article:

1. Autonomous trade policy
Europe is the only continent in the world that is not experiencing economic growth, and Britain is the only EU state that sells more to non-members than to members. We are thus especially badly hit by the EU’s Common External Tariff, which sunders us from our commercial hinterland. Again and again, we have been unable to benefit from free trade because the common European position must take account of French film-makers, Italian textile companies, Austrian farmers and what have you. Norway and Switzerland, being in EFTA, recently signed free trade agreements with China. Britain can’t. Given that China grew by 7.7 per cent in 2013 while the EU shrank by 0.3 per cent, I’d say that’s a major disadvantage. Just look at this chart of where we’ll be in three years’ time.

 

Via Nine things David Cameron could bring back from Brussels to satisfy Eurosceptics – Telegraph Blogs.

OK, I hear you saying, so what, that’s Britain. Well yes, aside from the fact that I have a certain number of British readers, I want to point out the IMF number on where our economy ranks with the others as well. The other thing I want to note, as Dan did, and we’ll talk more about, the EU is dying, In a lot of cases, it almost looks like it is living off of Britain, and if Britain leaves, it’s going to be in real trouble.

Why? Well if I read right the other day, if you do your tax planning wrong in France these days, your tax bill can be about 105%, I can’t speak for anybody else but I wouldn’t work very hard to make a dollar if when I did I had to pay the government $1.05 for the privilege. That’s why so many people are leaving France.

But we aren’t doing all that well either, for all Obama’s bragging. We’re surely better than Europe but that saying almost nothing good. Here’s a bit of an article from Dan Mitchell yesterday.

[...]

Here are some blurbs from a Bloomberg report about the President’s remarks on that issue.

A month before congressional elections, President Barack Obama is making an appeal to American pride in promoting his economic policies, arguing that the U.S. is outpacing the recovery in other nations. …“The United States has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and every other advanced economy combined.” Obama said. …economies in Europe and Japan are sluggish. The recovery for the euro area – including France and Italy – stalled, with gross domestic product unchanged, from the first quarter to the second, according to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg. Japan contracted by the most in more than five years, with GDP shrinking an annualized 7.1 percent, data from the government Cabinet Office in Tokyo show. …Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers…called Obama’s emphasis on the relative strength of the U.S. economy “useful context to compare to other countries that are facing similar challenges.”

I don’t know if the White House is correct on every specific claim, but it’s definitely true that the United States is out-pacing Europe.

Here are a couple of charts I found with a quick search. We’ll start with one comparing GDP performance. It’s not as up-to-date as the one I shared back in June, but it does a good job of showing how our cousins across the ocean are falling behind.

And here’s another chart I found showing how Europe also is lagging on employment.

And I can also say from personal experience, based on my trips to various conferences, that Europeans look at the American economy with envy. Heck, they even think 1 percent growth is a reason for celebration!

Which should give you an idea of how bad the outlook is in Europe.

After all, the United States is experiencing the weakest economic expansion since the Great Depression. Yet compared to European nations like France and Italy, we’re a powerhouse.

Via Obama Is Right about the European Economy…

Meanwhile John Hinderaker over at Powerline Blog reminds us that the Democrats are running on the recovery. Personally I think they should be running away from such a botched recovery but, I suppose when you think all good things come from Europe. Here’s a bit of that

[...]

President Obama boasted in a speech yesterday that by any measure, the economy today is better than when he took office.

I should hope so! Obama took office shortly after the financial collapse of September 2008, in the depth of a recession. The stimulus, as you no doubt recall, was supposed to get the economy back on its feet. The problem we have today is not that we are in an even worse recession than in January 2009–God forbid–but that the current recovery is the worst one ever, by a wide margin. This graph, which I posted a few days ago, tells the story:

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 3.48.00 PM

As for the September jobs report, was it anything to crow about? Pre-Obama, a 5.9% unemployment rate was considered unacceptably high. The average unemployment rate during the George W. Bush administration was 5.3%. Moreover, most people have figured out that the official unemployment rate has been dropping primarily because Americans are leaving the labor force. Is the latest report a sign of some real awakening of the jobs market, that will make voters more optimistic over the next 30 days?

I doubt it. The September report says that the number of those not in the labor force increased by another 315,000 last month. [...]

Via WILL YESTERDAY’S JOBS REPORT BOOST DEMOCRATS?

The “dismal science” wasn’t nearly as dismal back when Reagan was President, was it?

Cousins, and Their First World Problems

City of LondonThis is rather fascinating. It is a comparison of Charles Murray’s, an American Libertarian, book: Coming Apart, and the comparable effort of Rod Liddle, a British Laborite (and former Troskyite) and his book: Selfish, Whining Monkeys.

As you read through it, you will find that they find similar problems in our societies, which is reasonable, almost any honest person will but, the differences begin when they start trying to come up with answers. It nearly comes to the point that Reagan/Thatcher was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or the worst thing since Henry the Eighth. I know my answer but, I suppose your mileage may vary.

Anyway enjoy, from David Conway:

Two years ago, Charles Murray published a book entitled Coming Apart about the main socioeconomic changes that have swept America over the last half century and the impact they have had on the happiness of its citizens. Not surprisingly, the major economic changes Murray identified were the vastly increased levels of personal affluence of Americans accompanied by exponentially increasing consumer choice.

He highlighted four major social changes:

• declining marriage and marital stability, especially among lower income whites;

• much greater female participation in the labor market accompanied by declining male participation in it particularly at the lower-paid end of the job market;

• growing disparities of income between a largely married middle class and the largely unmarried least well-off; and

• declining religiosity and religious observance, plus a concomitant decline in communal activity proportionate to the decline in religiosity (again, more prevalent among the lower income groups)

Murray argued these four social trends mattered profoundly because of a strong positive correlation among marriage, vocation (as reflected by industriousness), and religiosity, on the one hand, and happiness on the other, suggesting the former three factors strongly contributed to the latter. While a similar positive correlation obtains between affluence and happiness, longitudinal studies have shown it is not a particularly strong one above the level of abject poverty which practically all Americans now are.

The trends Murray identified, therefore, seem to reveal an America that is increasingly starting to come apart along the seams of class. A largely married and still (at least residually) religiously engaged middle class is drawing ever farther apart in affluence, lifestyle, and personal happiness from a largely unmarried and wholly religiously disengaged lower class, bereft of the consolations and social capital that family ties and religious engagement typically bring.

Rod Liddle is a highly prolific and widely read British journalist who has just published a similar study about the major socioeconomic changes in his country in the last half century and their impact on the happiness of Britons. In Selfish, Whining Monkeys he reaches conclusions that are strikingly similar to Murray’s.

Compare the following extracts from their respective books. Here is what Murray has to say about socioeconomic change in America this past half century:

One of the things that struck me forcibly is that neither of the authors would have any interest in going back. Here’s Murray:

[i]f a time machine could transport me back to 1960, I would have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming. In many aspects of day-to-day life, America today is incomparably superior to the America of 1960… Go back to 1960? I wouldn’t dream of it.

And Riddle:

It would be easy to be nostalgic about my childhood… But when I look back… the primary emotion I feel… is one of immense guilt: that I do not do things as well as my parents… Again, this isn’t nostalgia… It is hard to argue against longer life expectancy, greater affluence, safer workplaces, the freedom to escape a hopeless marriage, the rights of women to be treated equally, and so on. But a certain moral code has been lost along the way, which has contributed lately to our country becoming close to bankrupt, a nation of broken families clamouring about their entitlements, siring ill-educated and undisciplined kids unfamiliar with the concept of right and wrong, where there is a diminishing sense of community and belonging.

You know, while I certainly understand what they are saying, and there are things I would miss immensely, like the instant (and free) communication with my British friends, and the likely case that I would never have met them, in many ways, that world (I grew up in the 60s) was a much better place, and I’m not so sure. In fact, I would be very drawn to going back to that world, and I suspect a lot of us would be.

Via Coming Apart in the UK | Online Library of Law & Liberty.

In any case, a fascinating study, that I recommend.

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