C-SPAN As Comedy Central;
The Sunday Times Describes Hell on Earth


Leonard Zwelling

         Watching the hearing called by the House Committee on
Oversight and Government Reform on Friday morning, October 24 was funnier than
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert combined. The members grilled a group of
government and health professionals about the Ebola epidemic and its likely
effects on the American people. Another case has now popped up in (SURPRISE!)
an ER doctor in New York City who was not quarantined for the requisite 21 days
after returning from the African Hot Zone before being allowed to troll the
streets of Manhattan. How stupid is that! (Sorry Mr. Obama, Christie and Cuomo
have this right.) Why can’t the authorities:

1. Quarantine all people slotted to leave the Hot Zone
BEFORE they get on any planes to anywhere else.

2. Quarantine all people arriving in the US from the Hot
Zone who have not received the pre-flight quarantine in Africa.

3. Re-locate any additional patients diagnosed with Ebola
in the US to one of the four units established in this country for the proper
treatment of these patients.

4. Tell the American people the truth that we weren’t
ready, we did poorly and we still aren’t fully ready with an emergency plan for
handling a threat like Ebola.

5. Finally, why do we elect knuckleheads who love to
retrospectively criticize everyone else in the government and take no
responsibility for the lousy preparedness of the country to protect the
citizens who they represent?

6. Why are we surprised any longer that the only people
making any sense are the women nurses not the male doctors?

Gerald Connolly (D-VA) asked Dr. Nicole Lurie of DHHS why the CDC made
statements of reassurance when, in fact, they should have said, “we simply do
not know.” That’s a damned good question for which Representative Connolly got
some truly lousy answers. So allow me to propose what the federal executive
branch will not.

1. No one leaves the area of endemic infection in Africa
without 21 days in quarantine IN AFRICA.

2. If you get to the US somehow without that African
quarantine, we do it here—at the airport, or seaport. (Just as a reminder, the
astronauts who walked on the Moon, were placed in quarantine for 21 days after
splashdown. Now, is it more likely that they were going to bring back pathogens
from the Moon’s surface where there is no life, than the folks returning from
the African Hot Zone?)

3. Limit all treatment of active patients to one of the
four centers currently designated as having the appropriate expertise to treat
Ebola correctly.

4. Have the President go on the air and tell us the truth
about where we are currently in this epidemic and the steps his government will
take to try to protect the American people from Ebola.

5. Make this all an issue in the Fall election.

6. Replace the lawyer as the Ebola Czar with a real

this hearing demonstrated is that no one in Washington has chosen to act as an
adult and take responsibility for his or her mistakes and then actually propose
a comprehensive program that will give the American people the confidence that
their government actually has some idea what the hell it’s doing. Right now,
these folks have not fulfilled their roles in either the executive or
legislative branches.

just in case you think it can’t get worse, I read three consecutive stories in
Sunday’s NY Times that may depress me for a week:




first documents the treatment received by the hostages taken by ISIS and how
this treatment varied depending upon the response of the hostages’ nation of
origin. The Brits and the Americans got the worst of it because their countries
were leading the bombing, had refused to pay ransoms and the Americans had to
answer for Guantanamo. No wonder they were the ones killed.

second and third articles are about the mixed responses in Dallas, Atlanta, New
York and Washington to the trials and tribulations faced by those attempting to
deal with Ebola.

is so damned sad is the appearance of weakness and indecision on the part of
the American government in both cases. From claiming no responsibility, to
saying it knew more than it did about a strange disease, to being unwilling to
acknowledge what so many advised about quarantining those returning from the
Hot Zone and finally from the realization that maybe the American health care
system is not “the best in the world” because every hospital cannot respond
reasonably to a very infectious disease, this country is really in the throes
of a crisis of confidence that none of its leaders appears able to overcome.

here’s my suggestion. Have the President put together two teams. Team one is
the ISIS team. They have 90 days to give him a series of choices of actions
that the government can take to eliminate the threat of ISIS to America (not to
Iraq or Syria. By definition, those governments seem unable to control the
threat of ISIS to their own people, but that is not our problem any longer even
if it was partially of our making.) These choices can range from staying out of
the area completely and not allowing any American passport holder who goes
there to come back home to actually deciding to truly eliminate ISIS as the
latest incarnation of Nazism that we are unwilling to tolerate on this Earth. I
understand that this may make us as bad as they are, but that’s the fight we
are in now and what might have been had America not entered Iraq pre-emptively
under the false pretenses of WMDs is no longer a consideration. It’s a sunk
cost and should have no bearing on future decisions.

two is the Ebola team. This one must be led by a medical professional. Perhaps
a hard-headed Army nurse would be the best choice since the government and
military doctors seem unable to make the tough calls on this one. I have
outlined my plan above, but am happy to be proven wrong scientifically, but not
politically. I don’t care what is PC with regard to this disease. I only care
what is MC—medically correct.

really don’t want to read any more accounts of our journalists or health
professionals being threatened by government ineptitude in dealing with terrorism
or infectious disease. The President of the United States has at his disposal
the full range of talent this country can bring to bear on any problem. That he
has chosen thus far to ignore these wise men and women needs immediate

on these two issues, I have heard enough from the stupid non-knowing. How about
we try the smart folks again?

do you want determining what is best for you and your family when it comes to
Ebola? A lawyer?

Leonard Zwelling