This week’s podcast is available from the podcast page.
Housing starts for September rebounded 6.3% after August’s 12.8% drop. The pace was at 1.017 million units, topping expectations.
The Reuter’s/University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index rose 1.8 points to 86.4 in the October preliminary reading.
Smith has essentially jumped the shark by lecturing the audience to remain calm and not to believe most of the media hype surrounding the Ebola scare. And Smith should know about media hype being one of the main purveyors of it during the Hurricane Katrina coverage. Anyone remember that? Yeah, me too.
But here’s the point. I’m remaining calm. I’m not panicking. However I am more than a little bit angry about the fiasco, the circus, that surrounds the US case of Ebola.
Here’s a hint about why the CDC has been so blastedly inept in its handling of a single freaking case:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a public-health agency, and public health is an uneasy combination of two very different things: emergency disease containment and nannyist do-goodism. It is a field that exists to save us from the plague and to tell us to drink less soda. To expect the same agency, and many of the same people, to be very good at both of these missions is a lot to ask, and the CDC is much better at the second than the first. Since (thank God) we don’t experience many plague outbreaks, public health spends most of its time on that second mission: preaching the virtues of green vegetables and contraception. So the CDC is for the most part an agency engaged in a kind of low-grade, often silly social activism much of the time. When we confront a disease outbreak or similar public-health emergency, the CDC turns to the other part of its mission, and has an impressive core of experts and resources to call upon in doing so. But the turn is no simple matter, and the fact is we (thankfully) just haven’t had much experience with public-health emergencies on American soil, so the people charged with handling them haven’t had much practice here. It is not hard to imagine how all of this could lead to failures of the sort we have seen.
And who is the head of the CDC? The same guy who helped NYC’s mayor Bloomberg impose tobacco bans, try to ban Big Gulps and chase your salt use. That’s right, a “nannyist do-gooder” who hasn’t the faintest idea, or so it seems, on how to address the core mission of the CDC (i.e. the mission for which it was originally formed). Shouldn’t we be angry and upset about that? After the initial whining by the bureaucrats about how “funding” was a problem we learned about how they prioritized the funding they got (which, by the way, was more than adequate). It certainly wasn’t primarily spent on the core mission as is now very obvious.
Ever hear of Dr. Nichole Lurie? Yeah, me neither. But she is the defacto “Ebola Czar”.
…Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”
Lurie is the Asst. Secretary of HHS for “preparedness and response, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.””
Really? Where IS she?! Instead, CNN reports, we’re getting a different Ebola Czar:
President Barack Obama is expected to name Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to two Democratic vice presidents, as the country’s Ebola czar, knowledgeable sources told CNN’s Jake Tapper today.
Klain is a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and also to former Vice President Al Gore. Klain is currently president of Case Holdings and General Counsel of Revolution, an investment group. He has clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court and headed up Gore’s effort during the 2000 Florida recount.
Yes, that’s right friends, we’re getting a lawyer and political hack inserted into the mess.
Meanwhile, off the coast of Belize, a Carnival cruiseliner is being barred entry to a port because one of the healthcare workers who treated our Patient Zero is on board (so far no symptoms, thank goodness). I guess it was too forward thinking to sequester all those workers to ensure they weren’t infected and didn’t pose a threat to others. I mean, you know, Epidemic Prevention 101 is so 20th Century … or something.
So Shep, STFU. You’re an overpaid news reader. Confine yourself to doing that. Talking about panicking because of media hype is about as hypocritical as anything you can do, given your history.
As for me, I’ll remain outspoken about how poorly this particular event has been handled and continues to be handled. It is all about ineptness and lack of leadership at many levels and in many bureaucratic agencies. It is the poison fruit of big government. The only silver lining in all of this is the media coverage is keeping that front and center for the public to see.
I’m fine with that.
The Fed’s Beige Book report indicates economic growth—again—is modest to moderate. Slowing inflation and weak growth overseas is spurring concern about slower economic growth. There is even talk, based on this report, of another new round of Quantitative Easing.
Reinforcing the Fed’s concerns, Producer Prices for Final Demand fell -0.1% in September, while prices less food and gas—the so-called “core rate”—were unchanged. The PPI-FD less food, energy & trade services also fell 0.1%. Goods prices fell -0.2% and services prices fell -0.1%. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI-FD is up 1.6% at the headline level and 1.8% at the core.
The Treasury reports that a revenue surplus of $105.8 billion in September pushed the FY2014 deficit down to $483.4 billion from $680.2 billion in FY2013.
The October Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations survey shows that businesses expect 1.9% inflation over the next year. This is down from 2.1% in the previous month.
The Empire State manufacturing index for October fell sharply to 6.17 from September’s 5-year high of 27.54.
September retail sales fell a worse-than-expected -0.3% in September. Sales less autos fell -0.2% and sales less autos and gas fell -0.1%. Analysts expected an overall increase of 0.3%.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications rose 5.6% last week, with purchases down -1.0% but refis up 11.0%.
10 Days later – The average time for Ebola incubation is 8 to 10 days.
“Less than two weeks later, Frieden admitted that the government wasn’t aggressive enough in managing Ebola and containing the virus as it spread from an infected patient to a nurse at a Dallas hospital.
“We could’ve sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,” he said Tuesday.
Frieden outlined new steps designed to stop the spread of the disease, including the creation of an Ebola response team, increased training for health care workers nationwide and changes at the Texas hospital to minimize the risk of more infections.
“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient — the first patient — was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection,” Frieden said.
Boy was I silly, I thought the CDC HAD that kind of team on the ground once they realized Ebola Zero had been sent home and then re-admitted a couple of days later. You know, a team of experts directing all and sundry, overseeing the team, or being the team, for the first Ebola case in the United States.
Well, you just have to give them credit for not panicking don’t you?
They were so un-panicked, they didn’t observe that the nurses gear might not have been Ebola proof? Medical tape? Wrap 4 or 5 pieces on and you’re good to go!
Ebola is hard to catch! HAZMAT suits are for sissies!
Years ago I was a Scout Leader, occasionally you let the kids try things you already know aren’t going to work because you want them to think critically and make discoveries and learn. This IS NOT that kind of situation.
If the CDC was observing why the hell didn’t they observe what’s being described as nurses without proper gear and waste matter stacked to the gunwales?
Anyone want to disagree that with my assessment 10 days ago that they weren’t taking this seriously?
Do you think they ARE now?
UPDATE (Dale): I have edited this post to correct the formatting, replaced the text of the original post with a link to it, and deleted the enraging line of equal signs that ran off the edge of the page.
Because that’s what all the elite would have you believe you are when you have concerns about their ability (and competency) to contain a virus with a 50 -70% death rate. This is the same elite that told us the virus was unlikely to show up here (it has) and that air travel wasn’t a real threat (air travel is precisely how the virus arrived here). And anyone who says differently is “hysterical”.
Now we learn we have a second infected nurse and, just to add to the irony, she traveled by air to and from Cleveland, OH the day prior to diagnosis. So wait lets think about this … we had 75 health care workers come in contact with patient zero in the US and they were left to just resume their normal lives afterward with no thought to possibly holding them in some sort of loose quarantine to insure they weren’t infected? And, as it turns out, at least two were.
Additionally, the plane remained in service and made two more round trip flights. But, the CDC says, you’re not dangerous until you run a fever and she wasn’t diagnosed with the disease until after the flight. So, as our Top Men at the CDC said, she likely wasn’t infectious. CNN burst that bubble today by reporting she was running a fever on the flight.
Folks, I hate to say it, but this sort of sloppiness and counter-intuitive activity is exactly how epidemics spread. But we’re “hysterical”.
Then there’s plain old human nature to consider. As a friend of mine wrote:
If you want to understand selfishness, look no further than the behavior of people caught up in the ongoing Ebola scare — a man who lied so he could board a plane from Africa, a nurse who boarded a plane even though she was at risk of getting Ebola because she treated that man, a journalist/doctor who is now under mandatory quarantine because she violated a voluntary one, family members who have resisted being quarantined while at high risk of contracting Ebola.
This kind of behavior is precisely why Ebola is an epidemic in West Africa, and Americans apparently haven’t learned anything from watching the news there. Or worse, they just don’t care. They aren’t willing to be inconvenienced for a few weeks in order to protect those around them.
Exactly. Add that to the sloppiness of the so-called protocols, if they even exist, and you have the makings of something which could easily get out of hand. But we’re “hysterical”.
Gerlado Rivera tweeted a question yesterday wondering if those who were calling for a ban on flights from Africa would now be for one on Texas since Ebola had now been found there? Gerry’s never been considered a rocket brain surgeon, but this was dumb even for him. And, of course, the irony of the situation – the fact that Ebola got to Texas via the air – was apparently lost on the poor boy.
Now we learn that the disease my have a 42 day incubation period which would make the CDC’s 21 day quarantine entirely inadequate. We also learn that Patient Zero spent 90 minutes in the open among other patients in the Dallas hospital’s ER – and apparently no one is trying to run down those folks. But we’re “hysterical”.
I guess we should all just shut up and follow Bill Quick’s facetious advice:
Not to worry, though. Even though she was running a fever, and even though she later tested positive for Ebola, there is absolutely no possibility whatsoever that she might have been infectious while on that plane.
How do I know this is undeniably true? Because Top. Men. at the CDC told me so.
Don’t worry, be happy.
Putting on my Alfred E. Newman face as I type and sitting back to watch our Top Men’s slow motion train wreck unfold.
The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for September fell -0.8 points to 95.3 on falling job openings and capital spending.
ICSC-Goldman reports weekly retail sales fell -0.7%, but rose 3.8% on a year-over-year basis. Redbook reports retail sales rose 3.8% on a year-ago basis.
Christopher Snowden writes an article that uses an example that is quite handy in defining the essence of the disease called “progressivism”. He acknowledges that “liberal” has be coopted by the left but still has enough historical cache to be useful to both sides of the philosophical divide. However, “progressive”, at least in the US, is uniquely the left’s.
Fast forward to a city soda tax under consideration in the “progressive bastion” of Berkley, CA where we find none other than little Robbie Reich (former Clinton Secretary of Labor) ensconced as Professor at UC Berkley and waxing enthusiastic about this proposed soda tax:
To see what the word progressive means today, consider the city of Berkeley, California. According to Robert Reich, a professor at UC Berkeley, it is‘the most progressive city in America’. It has also been described as a ‘liberal bastion’. How liberal is it? So liberal that it is illegal to smoke a cigarette in your own flat (sorry, ‘apartment’) and, at the city’s university, it is against the rules to chew tobacco or use e-cigarettes anywhere at all, including in the open air.
Berkeley is also seriously considering a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages – aka a ‘soda tax’. A public vote will settle the matter next month, and, in the view of Robert Reich, ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’.
Well, yes, that’s correct. But Reich’s claim is also a very useful tool for a little word substitution to show the insidiousness (and true intent) of “progressivism”:
Consider that statement for a moment. If you didn’t know what the word ‘progressive’ meant – and you knew nothing about Berkeley – what could you infer from the context? If the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most oppressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would make sense. If words like ‘tax-hungry’, ‘anti-business’, ‘puritanical’ or ‘illiberal’ were substituted for ‘progressive’, it would still read correctly.
If, however, the sentence was changed to ‘if a soda tax can’t pass in the most tolerant city in America, it can’t pass anywhere’, it would be incongruous. Words like ‘permissive’, ‘libertarian’, ‘easygoing’ and ‘broad-minded’ would also be confusing substitutes for ‘progressive’ in this context, and yet these are all adjectives that appear in the thesaurus under the word ‘liberal’. From this we might conclude either that soda taxes are not terribly liberal or that progressives are not terribly liberal. Or both.
At this point I’m chuckling because Snowden has made a very good point. Reich is all but giddy about oppression and feels it is “progressive” to champion it. Because, you know, the elite know best and hopefully have hammered those who should appreciate them and their ideas enough to vote “yes” and tax themselves.
Then there’s this:
In economics, unlike politics, the word ‘progressive’ has a fixed meaning. A progressive tax is one that takes a larger share of income from the rich than from the poor. The alternative is a regressive tax, one that takes a larger share of income from the poor than from the rich. Taxes on fizzy drinks are highly and indisputably regressive, not only because the rate of tax is the same for all income groups, but also because the poor tend to consume more of them in the first place. So while it is true that Berkeley is a bellwether city when it comes to eye-catching ‘public health’ initiatives, the adoption of punitive taxes on soft drinks would be a step towards it becoming America’s most regressive, not progressive, city in economic terms.
Oh my. Snowden then asks the question of the day:
This is what confuses us, America. If a ‘liberal bastion’ – your ‘most progressive city’ – is one in which the government effectively fines people for drinking the wrong type of soft drink, what on earth are your illiberal bastions like?
Berkley (and New York and … ).
Glad you ask.
The latest reason for hoisting said banner is this apparent decision by political operatives on the left to blame Republicans for the ebola epidemic. Because of them, so the meme goes, we’ve had a lack of funding. And that lack of funding is blamed for the failure to have a viable ebola vaccine. Per the NIH chief, they’d have likely succeeded in creating an ebola vaccine if only they’d had the money:
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
As the following chart shows, the problem wasn’t money at all:
Since 2001, tons of money have gone toward global health programs. Tons. And the upward move was made during Republican control. So to say his point is BS is to be kind.
In fact, it is likely to have been all about priorities instead, and ebola wasn’t a priority. Secondly, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it had to do with mission creep.
As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi writes: “The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics.”
These other tasks may or may not be important, but they’re certainly a distraction from what’s supposed to be the CDC’s “one job” — protecting America from a deadly epidemic. And to the extent that the CDC’s leadership has allowed itself to be distracted, it has paid less attention to the core mission.
So money which could have been and should have been dedicated to the core mission was instead spent on ideologically supported nonsense. Any wonder why “money” wasn’t available? Because it was wastefully spent elsewhere in the structure of the CDC and NIH.
Gov. Bobby Jindal gives us more facts on the problem:
In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.
Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.
Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.
There are the numbers of funds available to the CDC for its core mission. $3 billion dollars. Spent on its core mission from that fund? $180 million. So how again is that the GOP’s fault?
Instead the truth of the matter is we have a bureaucracy with a supposedly single mission (for heaven sake, its even in their name – “Centers for Disease Control”) which has instead done what bureaucracies always do … creep their authority out into areas where they don’t belong (with the approval of the administration, of course), doing things that mostly fulfill an ideological agenda instead of an agenda of real worth to the citizens it supposedly serves. The money that should have gone toward heavy research into communicable disease threats such as ebola instead went to “fund neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.”
So while we sit here and watch the left attempt this bit of BS (and watch a certain segment of the citizenry lap it up), let’s remember the reality of why there’s no ebola vaccine. It has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with political priorities.
In this case the priority chosen has put us in a position to be essentially defenseless in the face of a disease for which we should have developed a vaccine by now. But I bet we have some great bike paths out there.
And that failure, friends, is clearly attributable to the administration in power which is responsible for that shift in priorities.
Download it from the podcast page.