Belmont Club

Ebola in America

News that Ebola has arrived in the United States from Liberia and that many people may have already been exposed to the disease was yet one more reminder that “they” cannot completely protect everyone.  There was always the chance it would arrive. By plane, or over open border — but somewhow. The spread of the disease has been modeled by the CDC as a Markov chain which measures the probability of going from one state to the other.


There was always a joint probability that someone from an Ebola zone could make their way across a series of paths to your city. In the beginning it was a nonzero but relatively small percentage. When applied to a small number of infected, the Markov value it would arrive in America was small. But as the population exposed to the disease increased, the number of times the dice was rolled increased until suddenly bingo: Ebola in Texas.

Nobody beats arithmetic. Not even “they” can. By opening the borders, or avoiding the trouble of preparedness in the belief that “it won’t happen to me,” they’ve changed the physical odds in favor of the virus. And the physical odds are what count. It’s witch doctor thinking to rely on “assurances” from political shamans for protection. Assurances are nothing but amulets from public policy voodoo doctors to make you think “they” can alter reality.

Chris Matthews found out that fact the hard way when he confronted Zeke Emanuel with the objection that “the president promised”:

On MSNBC’s Hardball tonight, host Chris Matthews tussled with Obamacare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel over the how serious a threat Ebola is to Americans. Matthews and Emanuel also spar over President Obama saying it was “unlikely” that an Ebola case would strike the U.S.

“Obama said it was unlikely. It has happened. It’s here,” Matthews said.

The actual exchange went:


CHRIS MATTHEWS: I’m just trying to follow the logic here. Everybody’s being told, don’t worry unless they have the infectious symptoms, you can see them, that you don’t have to worry about catching them. Yet, this guy picked up the disease apparently from somebody who did not have the infectious symptoms.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL: Again, don’t hypothesize because we just don’t know. We have no idea what he did or didn’t do and how he got it. I’m sure that’s going to be vital information to try to understand the transmission, but the idea that there’s going to be a widespread outbreak here, I think is just, again, it’s a bit of fear mongering. We have a single case. This is not a big, widespread —

MATTHEWS: Yeah, yeah, but I’m just going back to the president’s statement, doctor, and that is that the president said it would be unlikely if we had a case in this country. Unlikely to even have one case. You want to see the tape again?

EMANUEL: He said there wouldn’t be an Ebola outbreak.

MATTHEWS: No, and in the second part of his sentence he said in the unlikely case someone brings it here. In the unlikely case someone brings it here. Well, they’ve done it. We’re living in the world of the unlikely already. That’s all I’m saying. I’m not fear mongering. I’m stating the facts and I wonder if everybody else is.

Throw away that amulet from Obama, Chris. Only by changing the odds, only with scientific thinking, only by implementing a physical response can reality be altered.


Ebola exposes the fact that the open border game that the administration thought was so politically clever is potentially lethal. Words don’t mean anything to gangsters or viruses. So, too, are the forests of inhibitions and hesitations that have grown up in our modern climate of superstitious fear. Zero-tolerance means follow the form, not logic.

Logic and common sense have to make a comeback.

The recent “failure” of the intelligence agencies to tell the president about ISIS, when any damn fool would have noticed they were spreading like weeds, or the recent “failure” of the Secret Service to stop a fence jumper or keep an armed ex-felon from riding in the elevator with the president shows that theater has its limits. Nobody bothered to do stuff any more, they just muted the alarm.

Ebola can be brought under control. After all, Nigeria did it. But before our political leaders take comfort in the fact that “even” an African country could do it, they should consider that Nigeria, being closer to the brass tacks, may be less “precious” than Washington is, at least after they were scared enough to ditch the blinding BS.

The greatest danger to Nigeria initially came from the political class. The disease entered the country through Patrick Sawyer, an ECOWAS official who traveled from Liberia to Lagos because he was influential enough to evade the quarantine. Even after the lid was on in Nigeria, a Nigerian diplomat used his clout to leave isolation and started a second cluster in Port Harcourt, also in Nigeria. Only after the Nigerians realized that amulets didn’t work, that the disease was no respecter of political power, could they get Ebola under control.


Back in August, Dr. Scott Gottlieb argued that if Ebola arrived in America — a possibility that has now eventuated — the first hurdle would be the lawyers.   If Ebola got going, the pendelum would swing the other way.  In place of “open” the president would probably claim “new powers,” and naturally, there would be exceptions to those restrictions.

For most Americans, it may be the first time they glimpse the tools that our government has staked out over the last decade, as preparation for public health emergencies like a pandemic flu, or even bioterrorism. Some of these authorities are wholly necessary. Others will prove controversial and worthy of closer scrutiny.

Chief among them are authority maintained by the Centers for Disease Control to quarantine Americans suspected of having a dangerous, communicable disease. In some cases, this includes the power to isolate people, and hold a healthy person against his will. The CDC’s quarantine authority has been strengthened in recent years. But we haven’t had sufficient debate about how to balance individual rights against public health in these circumstances. And when quarantine is even effective. We should revisit these issues before we find ourselves invoking these tools. …

President Obama withdrew the Bush quarantine rule in 2010 because the provisions, when spelled out in regulation, proved controversial. Airlines, in particular, balked. Yet in its place the Obama Administration implemented a series of Executive Orders, and fell back on the CDC’s original quarantine provisions. The status quo could be just as troubling as the controversial regulation that it displaced. … President Obama withdrew the Bush quarantine rule in 2010 because the provisions, when spelled out in regulation, proved controversial. Airlines, in particular, balked. Yet in its place the Obama Administration implemented a series of Executive Orders, and fell back on the CDC’s original quarantine provisions. The status quo could be just as troubling as the controversial regulation that it displaced.


But while restrictions may in some cases be necessary, the first line of defense against Ebola, and other diseases whether natural or man-made, is personal responsibility, scientific knowledge and common sense. It is culture. It is education. Education, not a diploma.

Washing your hands and avoiding occasions of exposure will help you more than all the public assurances in the world. If you suspect infection, do your duty and turn yourself in. Odd word that: duty. But duty is what saved the herd in history; saved the herd in World War 2. The very same duty the Left laughs at and and lumps in the same dustbin of history as that 100 year old document that nobody reads any more. And science. Not affirmative action or quota or “committed” science. But science, period. Duty and science, not amulets, voodoo, talk shows, assurances,security theater or muted alarms can stop Ebola.

We need to rid ourselves of superstition. There’s a reason why people stopped believing in Gaia, Xenu and Coatlicue. The modern return of witchcraft has brought with it the ancient diseases and human savagery. It’s time to return to the 21st century. We’ve been absent too long.

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