You knew this was coming, right? Republicans are to blame for the Ebola outbreak You can see the ad at the ling):
The Agenda Project is a progressive non-profit political organization founded in 2010 by author Erica Payne. This ad, featuring clips of Mitch McConnell, Pat Roberts, and many other Republicans implies that austerity cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health are responsible for the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
It was the sequester! Those evil Republicacans just want to cut and cut, and they don't care who gets hurt.
. . . large chunks of the Centers for Disease Control’s budget and attention now go “to temporary health scares and trendy crusades that often go well beyond any mission it should be pursuing.” Glenn Reynolds has more at USA Today on how the agency has far more on its plate than communicable disease these days, “having involved itself in everything from playground safety to smoking in subsidized housing.” (And binge drinking, and obesity, and suburban zoning, and….)
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Earlier on the Centers for Disease Control and on director Thomas Frieden, who of course won fame before his CDC appointment for his activism as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s health commissioner, crusading against salt, sugar, guns, and so forth.
Then there is this:
I have lived long enough, now, to have seen it again and again. Something goes badly wrong involving a corporation, a university, a religious denomination, or a branch of government, and the executive in charge or a designated minion goes before the press to engage in what is euphemistically called “damage control.” The spokesman does not level with the public. He or she tries to be reassuring and — more often than not — by lying, succeeds in undermining confidence in the institution he or she represents.
This is what is now going on with the Centers for Disease Control. In recent years, this well-respected outfit has branched out, opining in a politically correct manner on one issue after another outside its proper remit. Now it is faced with a matter absolutely central to its responsibilities — actual disease control — and it flips and flops and flounders because the ultimate boss, the President of the United States, cannot bring himself to put limits on contacts between Americans and the citizens of the countries in Africa where there is an Ebola epidemic.
And, if you really want to get worried, consider that the last time a president tried to make a disease a national security issue, it helped trigger a global pandemic that killed 50 million people:
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.
The administration insisted on pressing full speed ahead with the deployments. The White House also wanted every factory worker on the job and every red-blooded American to show up at mass rallies to buy more war bonds—all activities that spread the disease more quickly.
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.
Likewise, many American cities got the disease under control only by ignoring the federal government and adopting responsible public-health policies.
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