Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pandering Eventually Has Consequences

The reporter and blogger Jim White posted this outstanding piece on the Ebola outbreak this past week:

In the clown car world that is our freshly adjorned for the next six-weeks House of Representatives, the Republican majority just passed an appropriation of about a half-billion dollars to be used mostly to pay for National Guard troops to stand around on the Texas border. Possibly they will brandish their most-likely unloaded M-16s at the children who are walking up to them asking to be taken into custody as refugees from peril in their home countries. The law just passed will not be passed by the Senate, nor signed by Mr. Obama. Like almost everything, literally everything, this current House of Representatives has "done" since it was sworn in, this is just more theatre, stuff the various representatives can say they voted for when giving speeches to their constituents.

In the real world, the three west African countries suffering an outbreak of the deadly and horrible Ebola virus have health budgets of what a typical American makes in a day. In the real world we are seeing a realistic threat of Ebola breaking out in Nigeria, a densely populated country with even more densely populated cities and a simmering religion-based civil war in which one side entirely distrusts western medicine, and feels free to kidnap children en mass.

In the clown car, some representatives have suggested that refugee children from central America could be carrying the Ebola virus. In the clown car one fourth of American embassies around the world do not have sitting ambassadors because of congressional inaction. In the clown car it has becomes almost impossible to actually raise taxes for any purpose whatsoever, and the entire category of foreign aid is viewed with suspicion. In the clown car political meddling with matters of medicine is viewed as respectable political activity, see, e.g., women's health, stem-cell research, etc.

Given the current state of affairs, what is the likelihood that the Obama administration will be able to send significant emergency medical care and funds to the countries of West Africa? Would a boatload of Texas National Guard be of help to Sierra Leone? What if Governor Rick Perry was placed in charge of the troops and given a general's uniform, complete with hat?

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