This has to be the most unsatisfying I told you so I’ve uttered lately—being proved right about the need for a West Africa travel ban gives me no bragging privilege. In fact, I’d rather be wrong, and all those who said this Ebola thing is a media-fueled tempest in a teacup be right. To some extent, the media feeding-frenzy is absolutely true, but there’s also substance to our Ebola problem: the R0 = 2 (“R-naught”) for Ebola has proven itself in the USA. For each Patient Zero, there’s 2 infections over the life of communicability (about 2-3 weeks). Keeping more Patient Zeroes from reaching our shores is a primary measure we should be taking.
Now everyone is coming to that same conclusion (see Erick’s post about CDC chief Frieden). The President has authorized the Army to call up reserves for what’s now called Operation United Assistance.
The Pentagon said it had no immediate plans to send reservists or National Guard troops to Africa, saying that the order simply allows the military to begin planning for those forces in its overall response.
It “doesn’t mean that we are deploying these forces, but it gives us the option to do so if we need to,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman.
But the Obama administration is stubbornly refusing to cave to pressure for a West Africa travel ban (continuing the quote from Army Times).
The White House also expanded on its justification for not instituting a travel ban on people from Ebola-ravaged countries Thursday as pressure from lawmakers mounted to take that action.
“It would provide a direct incentive for individuals seeking to travel to the United States to go underground and to seek to evade this screening and to not be candid about their travel history in order to enter the country,” Earnest said.
That’s a new argument for the White House, which has all along argued that free travel is necessary in order to get health care workers and equipment from the United States to the African countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
It is a new argument on Ebola, but it’s not a new argument for Obama. In his justification to extend DACA—the program which invites unaccompanied children to sneak across our borders, the same humanitarian reasons were trotted out. Josh Earnest’s statement:
“It is extraordinary that House Republicans are demanding that we reverse that prioritization as a price for getting the resources needed to deal with the urgent humanitarian situation at the border, reduce the immigration court backlog, and address the root cause of child migration.”
That’s the Obama administration: the wrong solution for the wrong problem. Every. Single. Time. We can no more fix the root cause of child migration without ending DACA than we can fix the root cause of the Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa without first securing our own borders from the continued flow of refugees, whether they are Honduran children or potentially infected Liberians.
Congress could act to help the President along.
[mc_name name=’Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000593′ ], R-Fla., today drafted the Contain Ebola and Stop the Epidemic (CEASE) Act, which restricts commercial flights to and from countries facing an Ebola outbreak. The ban would remain in place until the virus no longer poses a threat.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen how well Congress acting on DACA has worked out. I fear that we will have to continue proving R0 = 2 until the ensuing panic is simply intolerable and forces President Obama to act. The raw hubris and I’m-right-and-you’re-stupid attitude emanating from the White House is beyond measure. Let’s hope that Pharaoh’s (and Pharaoh’s Ebola Czar’s) heart doesn’t continue to harden, resulting in American deaths, especially among the military who are going in harm’s way against a deadly enemy which respects no international law or conventions.