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Political Pressure Grows For An Ebola Travel Ban, But The Argument For One Remains Weak

Ebola Travel Ban Protester

Yesterday, Congress held its first round of public hearings regarding Ebola’s appearance in the United States and the response of the C.D.C, the Department of Homeland Security, and state and local authorities in Texas to the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, which obviously has been less than ideal given what has occurred with the two health care workers who were infected while treating him has revealed. Not surprisingly, politicians on both sides of the aisle were highly critical of the agencies involved, and Texas Presbyterian Hospital in several respects and witness were raked over the coals for several hours. The one theme that emerged though, both in the hearing and on the campaign trail and elsewhere, are increasing calls for a ban on travel between the United States and the western African nations in the Ebola “Hot Zone”:

WASHINGTON — Growing numbers of lawmakers on Thursday called for a ban on travel from the West African nations at the center of the Ebola epidemic, spurning the advice of the nation’s top health officials who testified that such an action would be counterproductive.

Cries to cut off travel from the affected nations escalated dramatically with the arrival in Texas of Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia and became sick after he arrived in the United States, and whose infection has spread to two nurses who cared for him.

At least 40 members of Congress have gone on record seeking a travel ban, and several pressed the case for one in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

“It needs to be solved in Africa, but until then, we should not be letting these people in, period,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which held the hearing.

“I restate my ongoing concern that administration officials still refuse to consider any travel restrictions for the more than 1,000 travelers entering the United States each week from Ebola hot zones,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who heads the subcommittee on oversight and investigations and led the hearing.

“A month ago the president told us someone reaching our shores with Ebola was unlikely, and that we’ve taken the necessary precautions to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus does not get on a plane to the United States,” Murphy said. “Screening and self-reporting have been a demonstrated failure.”

Thomas Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had testified to Congress earlier in the outbreak that it was possible someone could arrive in the United States and become sick with Ebola. He said then, however, that the disease could be controlled.

While Frieden did not rule out a travel ban, he and Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, explained why it wasn’t a good idea.

“It is understandable how someone might come to the conclusion that the best approach would be to just seal off the border from those countries,” Fauci said. “But we are dealing with something now that we know what we are dealing with,” he said, answering Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who had just held up a map showing numerous flight paths a person could take from West Africa that stopped in multiple other parts of the world first.

“If you have the possibility of doing all of those lines that [Waxman] showed, that is a big web of things where we do not know what we are dealing with,” Fauci said.

Under the current system, authorities flag anyone who has been in any of the affected countries in the previous 21 days, which covers the incubation period for Ebola.

John Wagner, a Customs and Border Protection official, said that since screening had started in U.S. airports, some 155 people had been flagged for extra screening, with a number of them getting second and third looks. None have had Ebola.

The idea, Frieden and the others explained, is that in order to effectively stop Ebola from spreading, medical authorities have to be able to trace back a person’s movements and contacts. That becomes difficult if people are hiding their movements to circumvent the ban, making it much more likely that other people can become infected unknowingly.

Wagner said it still would be possible to track people who did not tell the truth, but that having a travel ban raises the odds of infected people slipping through.

The doctors have also warned that cutting off travel to the region could make it harder to move medical workers and relief supplies to and from the area, exacerbating the outbreak and creating an even larger pool of infected people capable of spreading the virus internationally.

Still, members of Congress did not believe the experts, and suggested maybe Congress should take matters into its own hands.

The calls for a travel ban have even become bipartisan, with former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, now a CNN talking head, who seemed to say that the only real reason to justify a travel ban would be a “send a message,” which strikes me as more of a political consideration than one based on policy considerations. In any case, the White House had previously said that a travel ban was not on the table, President Obama repeated that position yesterday, although he did leave the door open to some extent:

[Obama added] that experts have told him “a flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” because current screening measures at airports are working.

He said he had no philosophical objection to a travel ban but that some travelers might attempt to enter the United States by avoiding screening measures, which could lead to more Ebola cases, not fewer.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta told reporters separately that the government was assessing whether to issue a travel ban “on a day-to-day basis.”

The issue of a travel ban has been tossed around endlessly ever since we learned that Thomas Eric Duncan had traveled to the United States from Liberia after having had contact with someone who later died from the Ebola virus, that he apparently wasn’t entirely truthful with Liberian authorities at the airport, and that he developed symptoms of the disease after arriving in the United States. At first glance, it’s an idea that would seem to make sense. After all, neither Nina Pham nor Amber Joy Vinson would be in treatment for Ebola today if Duncan had been barred from entering the United States based on the fact that he was attempting to come here, based solely on the fact that he was coming from one of the nations suffering through the Ebola outbreak. That ban would have applied regardless of whether or not he had actually been exposed to Ebola before trying to come here, whether or not he hid that fact from the screeners at the airport in Monrovia, and regardless of whether or not he actually had the Ebola virus in the system. In theory at least, it would seem to be the perfect response for a nation such as ours where Ebola has not taken hold in the native population, and its easy to understand why it resonates with the general public and why, sensing that, politicians are starting to join the calls for a travel ban that had largely begun among cable pundits, talk radio hosts, and columnists.

As with most seemingly simply solutions to complicated problems, though, implementing a travel ban would be far more difficult, and its results far less clear, than would seem at first glance. I noted some of the difficulties involved in imposing a travel ban, and the problems that would arise if it was put in place, in a post two weeks ago, and the issue has been much discussed since then. In Politico, for example, Heather Caygle and Kathryn Wolfe lay out several arguments against the idea of a blanket ban on travel from the Ebola-stricken countries, For example, C.D.C. head Dr. Thomas Friedan and others have said that a complete ban on air travel would be devastating to the international effort to fight the disease at its source, which in turn would make it more likely that Ebola will continue to fester and spread there, eventually crossing international borders regardless of any ban on air travel, and begin infecting other parts of Africa from where it could easily spread to other parts of the world. One response to that argument has been that aid groups and governments could be permitted to charter flights in and out of the region as needed, but that’s not as easy as it sounds:

“If you literally sequester the markets, which is to say remove all scheduled service, you really eliminate the possibility of practical access to those markets by public health officials and public health [groups] who are trying to help,” [Aviation expert Robert] Mann said. “You would force them into the charter market, which is very expensive and in some cases also not very practical.”

Mann said the economics of chartering a plane to operate in West Africa are particularly challenging — and, by extension, especially expensive, likely rising quickly out of reach for most non-government organizations or aid workers

He said a 16-seater plane capable of flying from North America to Western Africa nonstop, chartered from a reputable firm, would cost around $12,000 per hour for a 16-hour round-trip flight, not including ground handling costs, plus fuel costs for the return trip. He said some charter companies might be reluctant to even offer services to an Ebola hotspot, for the same reason an airline wouldn’t care to fly there.

“It’s really not practical for 16 people to pay what may be $200,000 to charter a jet — and compare that to the fares on scheduled airlines,” which might be about $1,200 per person.

Adam Kushner, a surgeon at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health, agreed that a ban would create a chilling affect on aid workers, as well as non-government groups like Doctors Without Borders.

“It is already very dangerous to go over, but what if going in you know that you might not be able to come back,” said Kushner, who has worked as a surgeon in several developing countries, and who published a study in 2010 that found that U.S. hospitals during the Civil War were better equipped than present-day hospitals in Sierra Leone. He said the region already suffers a shortage of aid workers.

National Journal, meanwhile, goes through some of the practical aspects of such a ban that point out just how difficult it would actually be:

A ban would be straightforward if the only objective were preventing an Ebola patient from boarding a flight in Monrovia that’s bound for JFK. But in fact, there are few U.S. carriers currently operating direct flights to and from West Africa: Most likely, passengers would arrive stateside after a stopover someplace else. Thomas Duncan, the first patient to be diagnosed with—and die from—Ebola in the U.S., flew from Liberia by way of Brussels.

This is where things get complicated. If the ban is to target all passengers who traveled through West Africa, “that would require a substantial amount of coordination with our friends and partners overseas,” says Vladeck. Countries already share information about air passengers with others—the question is whether the U.S. can convince other countries’ travel ministries to share enough to be able to piece together travelers’ previous stops.

And there remains the question of legality. If the ban is limited to noncitizens, its legality is fairly clear: It’s up to the U.S. to determine its own immigration policy, and it can keep foreign nationals out as it wishes, says Vladeck.

But once we’re talking about a travel ban on American citizens who may be in those areas, “the calculus changes rather dramatically, because courts have generally recognized a right on the part of U.S. citizens to travel,” he says. The question then becomes one of due process: the government would have to make sure the ban allows citizens to demonstrate that they’re not a risk to public health, for example.

The legal side of this argument is one that hasn’t really been discussed so far, but it’s one worth considering as we debate both the idea of a travel ban and the other options such as quarantines of people who are not exhibiting symptoms of any disease. In this particular case, an absolute travel ban would mean that American citizens, as well as Resident Aliens with a “green card,” would essentially be trapped in western Africa with no way to get home. Given the right to travel that Courts have recognized for such people, it’s unclear that an absoulte ban like this, without any sort of particularized basis for denying travel, likely would not withstand legal scrutiny.

Finally, notwithstanding what sounds like the fact that a travel ban does seem to have some kind of common sense appeal, there’s little actual evidence that it would do anything other than delay the inevitable:

For starters, the most reliable study modeling the effect of the ban concluded that even if the world managed to scale back air traffic flows by 80 percent, it would delay the international spread of the disease by only a few weeks. But the 80 percent goal is itself completely unrealistic. Why? Because it would require a far wider ban than one against Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the three countries at the epicenter of the outbreak. It would require, for example, America to ban flights from countries that themselves have not banned travel to the affected countries. Otherwise, potentially infected people could simply fly to some country where they could get a connecting flight to their final destination, just like Duncan did, flying from Monrovia to Brussels before boarding a flight to the U.S.

But even if it were possible to impose a blanket travel ban, it wouldn’t be advisable, because it would undermine the world’s ability to fight the spread of the disease in the source countries, ultimately leaving everyone far more vulnerable.

One possible alternative to an outright ban would be a policy that requires everyone arriving in the United States from one of the countries in the hot zone to be placed in some kind of medical quarantine for some period of time in order to observe and test them to see if they develop signs of the illness. If they don’t show any signs of the illness after a reasonable period of time, then they can be released. If they don’t, then they can be denied entry to the United States and taken for treatment. This policy would obviously raise some of the same legal issues that a travel ban would, and there’s the obvious question of where and how these people would be detained and if necessary treated, especially given the fact that the number of true biocontainment units in this country is quite small. However, it’s a policy that would address many of the concerns of the people calling for a ban while avoiding the problems that would be created by an outright ban on air travel.

Ebola is a scary disease, and its understandable why people would jump at the idea of something like a travel ban because it sounds like a simple solution to a complex problem. In reality, though, it’s far less simple when you look at the details of how such a ban would be implemented, the potentially disastrous consequences of cutting western Africa off from the rest of the world, and the fact that such a ban really wouldn’t stop the potential spread of the disease internationally unless it is deal with at source. At the same time, though, because it sounds so simple it is one that politicians and pundits are likely to continue jumping on if the Ebola “crisis” continues in the United States. Given that, I would not be surprised to see a travel ban imposed at some point, especially if there’s another case like Duncan of someone arriving from an Ebola-stricken country and ending up in an American hospital suffering from the disease. If that happens, the pressure on President Obama to take such an action could very well become overwhelming. If he does it, though, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into believing that it is anything other than a purely political move designed to pander to public anxiety, because it’s not going to do anything to address the real problem that the world faces.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    On the one hand, I don’t want us all to die from Ebola.

    On the other hand, we’ve clearly become too stupid to live.

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  2. anjin-san says:

    A hysterical old woman is a model of comportment and composure compared to these guys.

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  3. humanoid.panda says:

    Appointing an Ebola Czar is a silly move the administration had to make to stop hysterics from hyper-ventilating that won’t do much harm and might do some good.
    Travel ban is an altogether different issue. If the public health experts are correct about its effects, and the administration and the pundits and the GOP congressmen will have plenty of blood on their hands, both American and West African.

    Of course, when that happens, the latter two groups will pretend they were against the idea..

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  4. @anjin-san:

    Yes. And our much vaunted media is just feeding into it. Every single “potential” Ebola case is reported breathlessly and, when they end up being something else, it ends up being reported in at the bottom of the hour in a brief update, if at all.

    The worst part of that approach to this news, of course, is that there are going to be a lot of reports of possible cases coming that end up being nothing, especially since the initial symptoms of Ebola are similar to flu symptoms and we’re entering flu season.

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  5. C. Clavin says:

    There are two issues here.
    One…2 patients have Ebola. There will probably be more. 320 million Americans have little to worry about. At least as far as Ebola is concerned.
    Two…there is an election and House members came back to Washington yesterday to play politics. Politics in the form of craven fear-mongering by Republicans. That’s what they do…gin up fear. Blank…is going to destroy the country. It doesn’t matter what it is…Obamacare, tax increases, marriage equality. According to them we are always on the edge of apocalypse. They are always…always…wrong. They are wrong now. Again. Still.

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  6. Modulo Myself says:

    Let’s not dignify the response by calling it fear, any more than it was fear that drove America into Iraq. This is mob action, and weak-willed people are taking pleasure in the idea of being afraid, which is quite different.

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  7. Ron Beasley says:

    There is a lot of travel between West Africa and India and it will eventually find it’s way to India. Can you imagine Ebola getting loose in Mumbai. Are we going to ban travel from India when that happens?

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  8. michael reynolds says:

    I dread the day this country faces a real problem. A bigger collection of panicky, pants-shi–ing wimps I have never seen. Jesus Christ, people, we now look back in dismay on the panic set off by Pearl Harbor which was at least an actual attack that killed a bunch of people and was launched by a serious, aggressive military power. This is a couple of sick nurses. Get a grip.

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  9. David M says:

    Why aren’t they talking about including Texas in the travel ban?

    /snark

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  10. C. Clavin says:

    @David M:
    + 10.

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  11. beth says:

    @David M: Why not a ban on all Americans traveling anywhere? Thanks to Obama, we’re an Ebola country now.

    /snark

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  12. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I dread the day this country faces a real problem.

    We saw what happens after 9.11…they attacked the wrong f’ing country…and as we saw two days ago they are still trying to justify what their panic wrought.

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  13. John Peabody says:

    That’s why we have the czar appointed today– HE can call for the travel band, giving the President deniability. HE will also be blamed when things go bad…but will he get full credit if things go well? Politics…always politics. Hey, that’s why they’re politicians, not administrators!

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  14. C. Clavin says:

    @beth:
    Well yeah…because Obamacare.

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  15. John425 says:

    IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT EBOLA, it’s because you’re a racist. “Ebola is now a stand-in for any combination of ‘African-ness’, ‘blackness’, ‘foreign-ness’ and ‘infestation’ – poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders and bodies.”

    So where are the biggest racists? In Africa! Africa stems Ebola via border closings, luck. “South Africa and Zambia slapped travel and entry restrictions on Ebola-stricken countries. Kenya Airways, the country’s main airline, stopped flying to the affected lands. In Zimbabwe, all travelers from West Africa are put under 21-day surveillance. Health officials regularly visit those travelers to check their condition.”

    My presumption, now, is that anyone who goes on about racism is either a fool or a tool.

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  16. michael reynolds says:

    @John425:

    Guns kill 30,000 Americans every year. Not a problem.

    Ebola kills 1 American, in one year. Problem requiring us to shut the borders immediately to Texas. Oh, wait, not Texas, where we actually have some ebola, but Africa. No one calls for shutting down all the roads out of Texas. Huh.

    Is “conservative” now just synonymous with “coward?” Is there anything you people won’t panic over? Honduran children? The IS? The tyranny of Obamacare? The war on Christmas? Seriously, ask your doctor for some testosterone treatments, see if you can’t grow a pair.

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  17. anjin-san says:

    Alex, I’ll take “hysterical conservatives” for $1000…

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  18. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:

    My presumption, now, is that anyone who goes on about racism is either a fool or a tool.

    Of course it is. You are the victim. Don’t ever forget that.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    Ebola threatens chocolate production. NOW it’s time to panic.

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  20. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    I call for the appointment of a Chocolate Czar.

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  21. Grumpy Realist says:

    Doug, it’s not people like us you have to convince. It’s the pants-wetters and the grifters glomming onto the anti-Ebola craze.

    We also seem to have a bunch of politicians who are acting like the worst of internet trolls.

    I think I’ll just stop dealing with the media for the next five months or so.

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  22. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “And our much vaunted media is just feeding into it. ”

    Our media is much vaunted? I thought it was pretty well despised, and deservedly so…

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  23. Tyrell says:

    The CDC has been sending mixed messages concerning travel. They tell the people that it is safe to travel by plane, train, car, bus, boat. Then they seem to contradict that.
    It would seem prudent to put some on travel restrictions to and from the ebola countries.
    And those people who have been around ebola patients in US hospitals or have been close to them. Based on the answers given by CDC to congress, they don’t seem to have a lot of answers yet, especially on just how some of these workers have contracted the virus. More research and answers are needed soon. Until then it is better to be safe than sorry.

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  24. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Guns kill 30,000 Americans every year. Not a problem. Ebola kills 1 American, in one year.

    What a ridiculous comparison. How about if everyone who shoots someone is allowed to go on a 21-day killing spree, shooting anyone they want to? How about if the number of gun deaths doubled every ten weeks? Or looking at this the other way, how about if 60% of ebola deaths were suicides?

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  25. steve says:

    The problem will largely auto-regulate itself. I suspect that there aren’t going to be very many casual travelers, really any travelers, to the area for a while other than aid related ones. Given that there have been almost no Ebola infected people leaving the area, it would be a mistake to alter what we are doing now. However, if things change we should certainly consider altering our policy. (It should be somewhat reassuring that this is the same policy being followed by nearly every other major country in the world.)

    Steve

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  26. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: I have been told that if it can save the life of one child citizens must give up their second amendment rights, but restricting travel from West Africa while in the midst of an Ebola epidemic to save those children’s lives is off limits because… shut up, they explained.

    How unserious do you have to be to compare Texas, a state in a first world country with exactly zero people in it right now known to be infected with Ebola and West Africa (three nations in particular) wherethe death toll has exceeded 4,500 and 1,000 new cases a week are popping up according to WHO. Someday, it may come to quarantining Texas, who knows, but if it does it will be because someone acted or didn’t act based upon the kind of mindless drivel you are spouting right now.

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  27. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    I don’t think of you as one of the dumber conservatives on this site, but that was just dumb.

    You gun nuts are so far up your own rear-ends you can’t even talk to rational people anymore. 30,000 deaths. Every year. Versus 1.

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  28. michael reynolds says:

    @charles austin:

    Dude, really: step away from the zombie movies.

    Once again, I feel the need to explain. If it says “fiction” on the book, or if it’s a movie or TV series, that’s not real. There are no zombies, we are not facing the End Times, the only people in danger so far are nurses and doctors who each apparently have reservoirs of courage that you lack.

    No wonder you people need guns. I’d say you’re a bunch of puzzies but that would hardly be appropriate given the heroism of the women involved in treating this disease.

    Aren’t you ashamed to be this easily frightened?

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  29. Ron Beasley says:

    Probably close to 10,000 people will die from influenza this year. Perhaps even more since there was a wild strain that is not in the flu shot. And then there is already more children who have died from Enterovirus D68 . And let’s not forget SARS.

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  30. michael reynolds says:

    If we reach a point where limits on travel do more good than harm, we should look at that, calmly, rationally, with people who are in touch with reality and understand the nature of the problem.

    But we already have cases in Europe, we’ll soon have them in India and China. Shall we just shut down all international travel? What we need is good screening at both ends – a thermometer will do the trick. Really, no need to panic. Just see if you can’t manage to, I don’t know, not be so weak.

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  31. Tyrell says:

    @michael reynolds: One of the biggest Halloween costume sellers is the safety suit that looks like the ones worn by the hospital workers. Local stores can’t keep them stocked they’re so hot. I am sure we will see them around here on Halloween night.

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  32. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m not a gun nut. And usually, I wouldn’t flat-out call someone’s comment ridiculous. But the implication that you can project this year’s number of ebola deaths forward the same way you could project the number of gun deaths is ridiculous. I mean, taking your reasoning to its logical conclusion, we shouldn’t be doing anything about ebola. No masks, no troops, no nothing. It’s only one person so far. And historically, if you look at the number of AIDS deaths in an average 100-year span, we should be far more focused on curing lockjaw. And since the percentage mortality of people who fall off a 10-story building is much higher than the percentage mortality of ebola, we should be putting nets around skyscrapers.

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  33. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    No, given my logic we should be taking reasonable and appropriate steps. Which is what we’re doing.

    Given the far, far bigger actual, real-world, right-now bloodbath caused by guns we should be taking reasonable and appropriate steps, as well. All of which are blocked by the gun cult.

    Your move.

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  34. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: I don’t gotta move. When someone says something ridiculous, and I point it out, I’m done. If you want to get in a last word, please do. But if it’s dumber than your above comment, I might just…aw, who am I kidding, it won’t be dumber than your above comment.

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  35. michael reynolds says:

    Here’s what bothers me about this. A certain percentage of people have always been cowards. A larger percentage may be situationally cowardly – in other words strong in one circumstance, weak in another.

    And I don’t blame any of those people, and I’d no doubt qualify as a situational coward.

    But what has happened that men no longer make any effort to suppress or conceal that cowardice? When did it become okay for men to strut their cowardice as if it was a virtue? Has none of you ever seen a John Wayne movie? Do you watch Saving Private Ryan and think Corporal Upham was the hero? I mean, really? Just no shame about being that weak?

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  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Pinky:

    Uh huh. Right.

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  37. wr says:

    @Ron Beasley: “And let’s not forget SARS.”

    I’ll never forget SARS. I was working on a show in Toronto during the panic… and I could walk into any restaurant at any time with no reservation, because people were too scared to go out.

    Good times…

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  38. charles austin says:

    Doubting or expressing concern about the competence and arrogance of the government does not constitute hysteria. I haven’t heard arguments like this since the Soviets were committing refuseniks to psychiatric hospitals.

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  39. Guarneri says:

    I must admit I expected a lot of scapegoating about this issue, but I also must admit I didn’t expect it to be laid at the feet of the “gun cult.” Now THATS entertainment!

    BTW – you completely missed Charles point in simply turning around Democrat’s, use as a standard tool, the argument that “if we can save even one life.”

    Could we all be serious for just a second? Is Ebola going to spread like wildfire in the US? Can’t imagine it. But if it does it will come from failure to follow these much cited reasonable measures which require training and fallable humans to execute. Further, the real source of uncertainty isn’t Fraidy pants people, but the observation that this is being managed as a political problem. Rumor has it that there is an election in a few weeks and I don’t think this is what democrat candidates wanted to be talking about, hence politics above public health.

    Now, back to your pissing up a rope…….

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  40. Grewgills says:

    Rumor has it that there is an election in a few weeks and I don’t think this is what democrat candidates wanted to be talking about,

    hence the Republican politicians and talking heads fear mongering.

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  41. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    Drew, the scaredy-pants are what make it a political problem. The “Czar” is there because CNN and Fox are going wall-to-wall to terrify people. They ran live helicopter coverage of an 18 car (as best I could count) motorcade moving a single infected nurse for God’s sake. Various Republican politicians are hyping it like it’s the End Of The World.

    The fear ends up dictating the response. It does not improve the response, as evidenced by the fact that we now have a whole new level of unnecessary bureaucracy. It just makes it harder to get anything done. Panic is never helpful.

    Nigeria has managed to contain the epidemic, and we are light years ahead of them in terms of health care, plus we have basically, no cases. There have definitely been some screw-ups as always happens when plans hit reality, but if everyone would just calm down and not try to use the matter to score points or sell advertising we’ll most likely have forgotten all about this six months from now, as with various swine flus, bird flus, SARS, etc…

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  42. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “BTW – you completely missed Charles point in simply turning around Democrat’s, use as a standard tool, the argument that “if we can save even one life.””

    No one missed his “point.” We were all protecting his dignity by pretending we hadn’t seen it.

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  43. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    An argument, by the way, that I’ve never made about anything.

    Everything has to be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. You want to prioritize. If we wanted to “save just one child” we’d ban all human activity.

    The “save just one child” trope is a relic of the 80’s or 90’s, I haven’t even heard it lately, and by lately I mean in a decade or more. But I imagine it still has some currency on Limbaugh and Fox. That’s what happens I suppose when the audience is entirely composed of octogenarian rustics.

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  44. Gustopher says:

    This man is an idiot

    And that is the problem with the idea of a travel ban. It sounds nice until you realize that there is no way to realistically implement it.

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  45. John425 says:

    @michael reynolds: You have a propensity to throw out wild and weird comments. That is particularly so when you have nothing to say. That happens a lot.

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  46. John425 says:

    @C. Clavin: Cliff: Stay on the Cartoon Network. This is an adult forum.

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  47. michael reynolds says:

    All four suspected ebola cases in Spain have tested negative. This should in no way compromise our continuing panic.

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  48. michael reynolds says:

    @John425:

    You like Pinky, Charles Austin, Guarneri and Jenos have a tendency to attempt haughty dismissal when you can’t muster an argument.

    You should not be ashamed of your intellectual limitations, but it would be good for you to get a better picture of your position in the intellectual firmament. You know the IQ bell curve? Find the midpoint. Now travel left a couple clicks and. . . see? That’s you. Now, don’t you feel better?

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  49. Slugger says:

    Not to change the subject, but what is happening in Kobane? Last week it was the most apocalyptic battle ever, and now I can’t find any mention. Remember when the VA was the worst scandal since Bill Clinton had a consensual relationship with an of age person of the opposite sex? Was it really that bad, and what has been done?
    Will we find some other absolutely worst thing ever in the entire history of the world next week to replace Ebola?
    I think we are being manipulated.

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  50. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “You like Pinky, Charles Austin, Guarneri and Jenos have a tendency to attempt haughty dismissal when you can’t muster an argument.”

    Yes, we’re generally only one message away from one of them declaring that he “doesn’t suffer fools gladly.” When right wingers make fools of themselves, they generally try to cover by talking like someone in a Stan Lee Thor comic.

    “I say thee nay!”

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  51. anjin-san says:

    Hey tune in to Fox News quick! You are missing it!

    ‘THE KELLY FILE’ GETS EXCLUSIVE TOUR OF PLANE THAT FLEW NURSE WITH EBOLA NOW

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  52. michael reynolds says:

    @Slugger:

    At the moment we’ve got everything from the IS is running away to the city could fall to the IS. Weird. But typical I suppose of street fighting where there’s no independent journalism on the ground.

    This is a tough one for Turkey. Those aren’t just Kurds, they’re largely PKK, an organization we list as a terror group. Turkey hates them, so helping PKK is like getting Israel to arm Hezbollah. Still, my conspiracy tinfoil hat version goes like this: We squeezed the Turks hard so they gave us the drone base and let more Kurds into Kobani and probably let arms through as well. They did it just like two days after they bombed a PKK group. I think the bombing was a stick to the Kurds and perhaps mostly for show to remind all concerned the Turks are not tolerating PKK – and then they let the men and weapons through, having made their larger point.

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  53. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    By all the gods of Asgard!

    I’m going to go look one of those old books up. That’s a flash of the past.

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  54. Jim Gronkowski says:

    You mean… a QUARANTINE?

    Yeah, that’s never worked before.

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  55. Dave says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you win comment of the day, possibly even the week, based only on hysterical overreaction by the wingnut faction hereabouts. Keep up the good work.

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  56. Moosebreath says:

    @Slugger:

    “Not to change the subject, but what is happening in Kobane? Last week it was the most apocalyptic battle ever, and now I can’t find any mention”

    That’s because the anti-ISIS folks are making progress against ISIS there, so the bed-wetters who think we need to be sending ground troops ASAP aren’t happy.

    “One Kurdish fighter told CNN Thursday that ISIS has been forced from many parts of the city, but still controls some key buildings including the hospital and the important Asayish building in the middle of Kobani, which served as headquarters for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG.

    Kurdish forces have control of the southwest entrance of the city and have taken some buildings back from ISIS fighters in one neighborhood, next to the heavily contested eastern industrial area of the city.”

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  57. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: Wrong. White House spokemodel Jay Carney said it from his podium. So, yeah, it was kind of an official position.

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  58. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: Speaking of not having an argument, sir, I prostrate myself at the feet of the world’s greatest living non sequitur.

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  59. anjin-san says:
  60. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: I hope your right. And if you aren’t please have the graciousness to examine some of the assumptions you carry into your suppositions concerning others motivation, feelings and beliefs. Or don’t, your call.

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  61. charles austin says:

    @anjin-san: Maybe he should focus his gaze on those racists in Mexico and Belize who refused to allow the Carnival Cruise ship to disembark a passenger. Surely they’re not driven by Fox News.

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  62. Scott O says:

    @Slugger:

    Will we find some other absolutely worst thing ever in the entire history of the world next week to replace Ebola?

    Fast and BenghazzIRSious kind of petered out, Obola is what we’re going with right now but yes, thanks to the diligence of our national media and talk radio, soon another crisisy thing will be breathlessly reported.

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  63. JKB says:

    How long before they have to contact trace a day’s worth of NYC subway riders? Will it be before or after the election?

    Admiral Nimitz: Indecision is a virus that can run through an army and destroy it’s will to win. Or even to survive.

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  64. Grewgills says:

    @charles austin:
    They are nonetheless responding irrationally.

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  65. John425 says:

    @michael reynolds: SO amusing. Go back to reading “Cat in the Hat”. I’ll help you with the big words.

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  66. anjin-san says:

    @charles austin:

    Maybe he should focus his gaze on those racists in Mexico and Belize

    I don’t believe the TPM piece I linked to mentions racism, or cruise ships for that matter. You are not making a lot of sense.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    @John425:

    You might want to consider hiring a writer to help you come up with some putdown lines that actually put somebody down.

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  68. Matt says:
  69. bill says:

    like it or not, if this duncan guy doesn’t get in then this thread isn’t happening. despite the rhetoric from the cdc on how difficult it is to actually catch ebola and how there’s really nothing to worry about…..it’s here and it spread. if it was one of y’alls family members then maybe your replies wouldn’t be so callous.
    those who throw the “flu” analogy are avoiding the fact that ebola has a 70% mortality rate, the flu doesn’t.

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  70. michael reynolds says:

    @Matt:

    Oooookay. And what is that supposed to show?

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  71. Grewgills says:

    @bill:

    despite the rhetoric from the cdc on how difficult it is to actually catch ebola and how there’s really nothing to worry about…..it’s here and it spread.

    Duncan’s family was with him in an apartment for days when he was symptomatic (fever, vomiting and diarhea) and none of them has gotten ill. The two health care workers that did contract the disease dealt with him in the very late stages.

    those who throw the “flu” analogy are avoiding the fact that ebola has a 70% mortality rate, the flu doesn’t.

    As has been mentioned many times now, ebola has had about a 40% mortality rate in fricking Nigeria. We can do better. The rate for Western industrialized countries has been closer to 25%. To date in the US all who have contracted it are improving.

    if it was one of y’alls family members then maybe your replies wouldn’t be so callous

    If it was your community or a Republican in office maybe you wouldn’t be supporting the far mongers.

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  72. John425 says:

    @anjin-san: I can’t come up with a better putdown other than to point out that you live in Alameda, California. LOL!!!

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  73. anjin-san says:

    @John425:

    I can’t come up with a better putdown other than to point out that you live in Alameda, California. LOL!!!

    Well, if I did live in Alameda, which I don’t, I’m still not sure that would be much of a putdown.

    I do however, live reasonably close to Alameda. Right now I’m sitting on the deck out back. I’s 72 degrees, and there is a touch of autumn gold in the warm sunshine. The trees are full of songbirds, they are competing with an old Van Morrison record I have on.

    I’m heading to Napa in a bit to meet some friends. Next Sunday I will be in Golden Gate Park for the Rock Poster Society Show, hanging out with some of the seminal artists of my generation, guys I idolized when I was a kid.

    So let me get this straight, your put down of me is that I live in an amazing place that I give thanks for being in every day of my life?

    Oh, and the Giants are in the World Series for the third time in five years.

    Man, does it suck here.

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  74. Matt says:

    @michael reynoldsPrivacy? Why we don’t need no privacy if it might save one daughter…

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  75. al-Ameda says:

    @John425: So, saying that someone lives in Alameda CA is put down? Perhaps no more so than saying that someone’s from Woodinville or West Seattle. Really, update your Hate California stereotype database.

    By the way, my OTB name, al-Ameda, is just a play on ‘Alameda’ – it happens that I lived on a nice street with the name Alameda in it.

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  76. wr says:

    @anjin-san: ” they are competing with an old Van Morrison record I have on.”

    For some reason I’m thinking Hard Nose the Highway. Am I close?

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  77. anjin-san says:

    @wr:

    Inarticulate Speech of the Heart. I’m saving Hard Nose for when we have snow in San Anselmo, though “Purple Heather” is a nice song for a fall day.

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  78. anjin-san says:

    For the uninitiated:

    Van Morrison Purple Heather

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  79. al-Ameda says:

    @anjin-san:

    Inarticulate Speech of the Heart. I’m saving Hard Nose for when we have snow in San Anselmo, though “Purple Heather” is a nice song for a fall day.

    By the way, it might have snowed once in San Ansemo when I was a kid, but ..
    Also, my favorite Van Morrison song is “Glad Tidings” from the Moondance album.

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  80. anjin-san says:

    @al-Ameda:

    It snowed like crazy for about 10 minutes once when I lived there, I think it was in the early 90s. Weird and beautiful.

    Trying to pick a favorite by Van is tough, he had a winning streak that lasted for decades. Its a shame more people are not familiar with the depth of his catalog. That being said, Moondance was the peak, an almost cosmically great record.

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