Archive for the 'idiots!' Category
Research in recent years has encouraged those of us who question the popular alarm over allegedly man-made global warming. Actually, the move from “global warming” to “climate change” indicated the silliness of this issue. The climate has been changing since the Earth was formed. This normal course is now taken to be evidence of doom.
Individuals and organizations highly vested in disaster scenarios have relentlessly attacked scientists and others who do not share their beliefs. The attacks have taken a threatening turn.
As to the science itself, it’s worth noting that all predictions of warming since the onset of the last warming episode of 1978-98 — which is the only period that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) attempts to attribute to carbon-dioxide emissions — have greatly exceeded what has been observed. These observations support a much reduced and essentially harmless climate response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In addition, there is experimental support for the increased importance of variations in solar radiation on climate and a renewed awareness of the importance of natural unforced climate variability that is largely absent in current climate models. There also is observational evidence from several independent studies that the so-called “water vapor feedback,” essential to amplifying the relatively weak impact of carbon dioxide alone on Earth temperatures, is canceled by cloud processes.
There are also claims that extreme weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, you name it — may be due to global warming. The data show no increase in the number or intensity of such events. The IPCC itself acknowledges the lack of any evident relation between extreme weather and climate, though allowing that with sufficient effort some relation might be uncovered.
World leaders (insert examples of world-class fools here and here) proclaim that climate change is our greatest problem, demonizing carbon dioxide. Yet atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been vastly higher through most of Earth’s history. Climates both warmer and colder than the present have coexisted with these higher levels.
Currently elevated levels of carbon dioxide have contributed to increases in agricultural productivity. Indeed, climatologists before the recent global warming hysteria referred to warm periods as “climate optima.” Yet world leaders are embarking on costly policies that have no capacity to replace fossil fuels but enrich crony capitalists at public expense, increasing costs for all, and restricting access to energy to the world’s poorest populations that still lack access to electricity’s immense benefits.
Billions of dollars have been poured into studies supporting climate alarm, and trillions of dollars have been involved in overthrowing the energy economy. So it is unsurprising that great efforts have been made to ramp up hysteria, even as the case for climate alarm is disintegrating.
The latest example began with an article published in the New York Times on Feb. 22 about Willie Soon, a scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Mr. Soon has, for over 25 years, argued for a primary role of solar variability on climate. But as Greenpeace noted in 2011, Mr. Soon was, in small measure, supported by fossil-fuel companies over a period of 10 years.
The Times reintroduced this old material as news, arguing that Mr. Soon had failed to list this support in a recent paper in Science Bulletin of which he was one of four authors. Two days later Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, used the Times article as the basis for a hunting expedition into anything said, written and communicated by seven individuals — David Legates, John Christy, Judith Curry, Robert Balling, Roger Pielke Jr., Steven Hayward and me — about testimony we gave to Congress or other governmental bodies. We were selected solely on the basis of our objections to alarmist claims about the climate.
In letters he sent to the presidents of the universities employing us (although I have been retired from MIT since 2013), Mr. Grijalva wanted all details of all of our outside funding, and communications about this funding, including “consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation and any other monies.” Mr. Grijalva acknowledged the absence of any evidence but purportedly wanted to know if accusations made against Mr. Soon about alleged conflicts of interest or failure to disclose his funding sources in science journals might not also apply to us.
Perhaps the most bizarre letter concerned the University of Colorado’s Mr. Pielke. His specialty is science policy, not science per se, and he supports reductions in carbon emissions but finds no basis for associating extreme weather with climate. Mr. Grijalva’s complaint is that Mr. Pielke, in agreeing with the IPCC on extreme weather and climate, contradicts the assertions of John Holdren, President Obama ’s science czar.
Mr. Grijalva’s letters convey an unstated but perfectly clear threat: Research disputing alarm over the climate should cease lest universities that employ such individuals incur massive inconvenience and expense — and scientists holding such views should not offer testimony to Congress. After the Times article, Sens. Edward Markey (D., Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) also sent letters to numerous energy companies, industrial organizations and, strangely, many right-of-center think tanks (including the Cato Institute, with which I have an association) to unearth their alleged influence peddling.
It would be comical if it weren’t so serious. Decades ago some guys noticed a correlation between a tiny increase in a gas and a tiny increase in a temperature and turned it into a trillion dollar industry. And the cover-up began when the correlation stopped.
As for the politicians cited or linked to above, they are either stupid or ignorant or lacking in common sense or too self-important or maybe con-men on the take — or maybe all of the above; hey, they’re politicians! You know our position on all of this: ban argon! HT: PL
Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
Somebody at Daily Beast:
the violence perpetrated by Christian terrorists in America. For starters, since 1977 there have been ”8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 181 arsons, and thousands of incidences of other criminal activities” targeting reproductive health care facilities here at home. With few exceptions, there were perpetrated by Christians
We wonder if the percent of Americans who agree and disagree with this has changed since the GZM controversy.
Final point: let’s count, hmmm, 1 murder every 5 years in the example above, versus, say, 21 a day in some other places.
I want to thank the British people for what they have done and next I want to say that the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem which has now been achieved, is in my view only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace. This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it, as well as mine. Some of you perhaps have already heard what it contains, but I would just like to read it to you. We the German Fuehrer and Chancellor and the British Prime Minister have had a further meeting today, and I agree in recognising that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for the two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two countries never to go to war with one another again. We are resolved that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted to deal with any other questions that may concern our two countries and we are determined to continue out efforts to remove possible sources of difference and thus to contribute to assure the peace of Europe…My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Go home and get a nice quiet sleep
The appeasing party is not always the weaker one. In 1938, Combined British and French military power was greater than that of the Third Reich. President Jimmy Carter had far more military options than did the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran during the 1979-80 hostage crisis. Instead, stronger democratic nations feel that they can continue to enjoy short-term calm and peace of mind — and let others worry about any long-term likelihood of aggression. Maybe by treating jihad, terrorism and radical Islam as taboo words, radical Muslim terrorists will respond and become less threatening. In truth, appeasement, not deterrence, is the more reckless path. With serial concessions, democratic leaders convince aggressors that they must be stronger than they actually are.
It was only 11 months after Chamberlain spoke those words that WWII began. 11 months! He clearly believed what he was saying and less than a year later WWII began. Remind you of anyone or anything?
forecasters have projected a record snowstorm for the Northeast in the coming hours, which isn’t exactly the sort of thing that makes people think about global warming. But in declaring a state of emergency on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) noted that this type of monster storm is “part of the changing climate.”
“I’ve only been governor four years. I believe I’ve gone through more emergency disasters in four years than any governor in history has gone through,” said Cuomo. “There is a pattern of extreme weather that we have never seen before.” Cuomo cited Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which hit New York and New Jersey particularly hard, as well as the 7 feet of snow that fell on Buffalo this past November. “It’s something we have to adjust to, it’s something that’s very costly, and it’s also something that’s very dangerous,” said the governor.
Climate change deniers are gonna deny, but there is increasing evidence that ties atmospheric warming trends to heavier snowfall events.
Eugene Robinson in WaPo:
scientists have had their debate. It’s over. Among climate scientists, there is consensus approaching unanimity that climate change is being driven by the rapidly increasing concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which, in turn, is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels. It is known through direct observation that carbon dioxide levels have risen an astounding 40 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The rise began after human society began burning coal and petroleum products on an unprecedented scale…”Hottest Year On Record” is a headline that encourages sanity on climate change.
Dr. Leslie H. Gelb is among America’s most prominent foreign policy experts. A Pulitzer Prize winner, former correspondent for the New York Times, and senior official in state and defense departments, he is currently president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He served as president of the organization from 1993 to 2003. Prior to his tenure as president of CFR, Dr. Gelb established a distinguished career at the New York Times, where he was a columnist from 1991 to 1993, deputy editorial page editor from 1986 to 1990, and editor of the op-ed page from 1988 to 1990. He was national security correspondent for the Times from 1981 to 1986, where he won the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism in 1986. He was diplomatic correspondent at the Times from 1973 to 1977. Dr. Gelb was a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace from 1980 to 1981, where he was a consultant to the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. From 1977 to 1979, he was an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, serving as director of the Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, where he received the State Department’s highest award: the Distinguished Honor Award. He was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution from 1969 to 1973, during which time he was also a visiting professor at Georgetown University. He was director of Policy Planning and Arms Control for International Security Affairs at the Department of Defense from 1967 to 1969, where he also served as director of the Pentagon Papers Project. While at the Defense Department, Dr. Gelb won the Pentagon’s highest award, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award. He was executive assistant to U.S. Senator Jacob K. Javits from 1966 to 1967, and an assistant professor at Wesleyan University from 1964 to 1966. Dr. Gelb currently serves on the Center for National Interest Board of Directors, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Board of Directors, the Diplomacy Center Foundation Board of Directors, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Board of Advisors, and the Truman National Security Project Board of Advisors. He is a former trustee for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, trustee emeritus for Tufts University, and the former Chairman of the National Security Network Advisory Board. He formerly served on the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University Dean’s Council, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University Board of Advisors, the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University Board of Overseers, and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Advisory Board. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Gelb received his BA from Tufts University in 1959 and his MA in 1961 and PhD in 1964 from Harvard University. He is the author of Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy (2009) and Anglo-American Relations, 1945–1950: Toward a Theory of Alliances (1988). He is also co-author of The Irony of Vietnam: The System Worked (1980), which won him the American Political Science Association’s Woodrow Wilson Award; Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmaking of American Foreign Policy (1984), and Claiming the Heavens: The New York Times Complete Guide to the Star Wars Debate (1988). He is the recipient of an Emmy Award and an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award.
It’s pretty hard to get much nearer the peak of the media-government-university establishment than this. That’s why his list of things that are beyond-urgent-and-vital-but-are-never-gonna-happen is so tragicomic. And you know that things are only going to get worse from here. HT: PL
We can’t stand the insipid controversies that highlight the ineptitude, the projection, and the ignorance of the young people in media (and their elders too). Here’s Scott Johnson; here’s Clarice of course — it’s Sunday!!! So here’s something from decades ago this month, when we attended the gala at the Paris Opera honoring Martha Graham; our old pal and roommate EJ Dionne recorded the festivities for the NYT. For some reason we’ve thought both Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov performed at the event, but apparently we’ve been wrong about that all these years. (We just watched Charade again on TCM so that probably sparked this.) Have a good night!
airline workers wished him a merry Christmas. The man was waiting to board American Airlines Flight 1140 to Dallas when a cheerful gate agent began welcoming everyone with the Yuletide greeting while checking boarding passes. The grumpy passenger, who appeared to be traveling alone, barked at the woman, “You shouldn’t say that because not everyone celebrates Christmas.” The agent replied, “Well, what should I say then?” “Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man shouted before brushing past her. Once on the plane, he was warmly greeted by a flight attendant who also wished him a “merry Christmas.” That was the last straw. “Don’t say, ‘Merry Christmas!’ ” the man raged before lecturing the attendants and the pilot about their faux pas. The crew tried to calm the unidentified man, but he refused to back down and continued hectoring them. He was escorted off the plane as other fliers burst into cheers and applause.
What a nice story. Merry Christmas!
“Carbon has been accumulating in permafrost for tens of thousands of years. The temperature is very cold, the soils are saturated, so that when plants and animals die, rather than decompose, the carbon has been slowly, slowly building up. “Right now the carbon storage is about 1,500 petagrams (1,500 billion tonnes). To put that in perspective, that’s about twice as much as is contained in the atmosphere.” The fear is that as the planet warms, the permafrost will thaw, releasing even more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and causing temperatures to rise further still…
“If ground squirrels are adding nitrogen to an area – and that area doesn’t have plants because they dug them up – this may result in increased loss of carbon from the system.” She concluded that squirrels were playing “a far more important role in this permafrost carbon cycle than we thought”. The team now wants to return to the area to quantify how much carbon is being unlocked by the squirrels
the rest of us are all going to be rushing to get to Cuba before it turns into Miami Beach, while it’s still that unspoiled seemingly place, with the classic cars
It never seems to occur to these people that if your cars are 60 years out of date, that probably goes for things like medical care too.
What’s happening in Michigan?
As members of the Arab, Latina/o, Desi, and Asian-American communities, we are severely disappointed and humiliated by the formal response of an Asian-American fraternity member who “authored” and organized the anti-Black event, “World Star Hip Hop Presents: Hood Ratchet Thursday.” The subsequent apology by the fraternity’s president reframed this as an isolated incident instead of examining the event as a form of structural racism thriving in the University at large. We must move the conversation beyond addressing “micro-aggressions” to interrogating the racial landscape of our campus. As it stands today, white student enrollment is at 70 percent while Asian-American student enrollment has been exponentially increasing. However, Black enrollment, at less than 4 percent, is the lowest since 2006. These statistics are more than just numbers; they translate into real, unequal power relations within and outside of communities of color. We write this letter to provoke critical conversations in our communities that examine how non-Black communities of color contribute to and benefit from the status quo. As non-Black people of color it is time we hold ourselves accountable for our communities’ complicity in anti-Blackness. We don’t share common racialized experiences with Black students at the University of Michigan. All “minorities” do not have the same experience with institutionalized racism. It is disingenuous for any of us to say we “sympathize as a fellow minority” as this erases differences and suggests that the University is an equal playing field for all students of color. It is not. This racist event, hosted by a multicultural fraternity, reflects a broader trend on campus in which non-Black people of color co-opt Black voices. Now that more non-Black people are consuming hip-hop, our communities have created and fetishized caricatures of Black people for our own pleasure and entertainment. Non-Black people of color need to interrogate our own racist, essentialist notions about “Black culture.” We cannot “transcend” “racial definitions” when hip-hop music was created as a form of Black resistance. As non-Black people of color we cannot claim to “appreciate” music without understanding its historical origins. We cannot consume mainstream hip-hop without considering that most popular hip-hop today is produced and regulated by six corporations, all headed by white men, who control 90 percent of mainstream media. Just as mainstream media’s construction of Black culture does not define blackness, Theta Xi’s appropriation of Black culture does not define Blackness. Additionally, let us not pretend that this incident along with other hate crimes affect all marginalized groups in the same way. It is important to recognize that not “all women” have been traumatized by this event in the same manner. Gendered and racialized words like “ratchet” and “twerking” specifically target Black women. To say that this affects all women is reductive and clearly ignores that race and gender cannot be separated. We cannot erase the specificity of Black experiences by using selectively collective language like “our community” to discuss how this incident exacerbated the“problematic campus climate.” It is time for ourselves and for our communities to examine how we benefit from existing US racial structures. As non-Black people of color, we are granted the ability to assimilate and reproduce whiteness. By umbrellaing under “people of color” we absolve ourselves of political accountability. A white/non-white racial paradigm dismisses how the reality of anti-Black racism structures racial inequalities. While the term “people-of-color” may be useful in building movements across communities, it should not lead to “people-of-color-blindness.” On our campus, we cannot “foster healthy values” by exploiting Black students’ lived experiences to enlighten us on anti-Black racism. Instead we should work to examine our relationships to Blackness with the same specificity we use to examine our relationships to whiteness. For our racial justice work to be meaningful and sustainable, we must constantly work to unlearn anti-Black attitudes and practices, specifically in our respective non-Black communities. We do not write this letter to claim authority, but to incite political meditations on how our communities can reimagine our anti-racist work on campus and beyond
David Hilliard took the podium before 4,500 to 5,000 students in Ingalls Rink and proceeded to advocate murdering cops: “Everybody knows that pigs are depraved traducers that violate the lives of human beings, and that there ain’t nothing wrong with taking the life of a motherfucking pig.” The audience started booing. Hilliard called them racists and dared anyone to come up front and stab or shoot him…a light-skinned man—later found to be a harmless Lebanese architecture student with mental problems—stumbled toward the stage, Hilliard’s Panther bodyguards tore into him with kicks and punches. The crowd started booing again. Hilliard left the stage with a parting message to the Yalies: “Fuck you! All power to all those except those who want to act like a bunch of goddamn racists”…
“Not only will we burn buildings,” Hilliard vowed, “we will take lives.” He implored the white students to join the effort. “If you want to break windows, if you want to kill a pig, if you want to burn the courthouse, you would be moving against the symbols of oppression.”
The most amazing thing about May Day is that the faculty essentially voted for a student strike. Classes were cancelled and exams became somewhat optional (pass/fail). Sound familiar? Roger Kimball has some thoughts.
So poor Peter Kassig apparently changed his name to Abdul Rahman, which did him no good in remaining capitated. Bizarro World immediately said that “ISIL’s actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul Rahman adopted as his own.” Well, what’s in a name? There was another Abdul Rahman a decade ago, and lo and behold, guess who was calling for him to be sent to the great beyond? BTW, even the NYT reported back than that our fine allies in Saudi Arabia did 100 or more cranial liberations a year for many offenses, particularly apostasy. We forget what apostasy means, something about getting a speeding ticket perhaps…
Do bothersome facts matter anymore? Not really. This is an age when Americans were assured that the Affordable Care Act lowered our premiums. It…allowed us to keep our doctors and health plans, and lowered the deficit. Those fantasies were both demonstrably untrue and did not matter, given the supposedly noble aims of health care reform. The Islamic State is at times dubbed jayvee, a manageable problem, and a dangerous enemy — or anything the administration wishes it to be, depending on the political climate of any given week.
Some days Americans are told there is no reason to restrict connecting flights from Ebola-ravaged countries. Then, suddenly, entry from those countries is curtailed to five designated U.S. airports. Quarantines are both necessary and not so critical, as the administration weighs public concern versus politically correct worries over isolating a Third World African country. Ebola is so hard to catch that there is no reason to worry about causal exposures to those without clear symptoms. But then why do health authorities still try to hunt down anyone who had even a brief encounter with supposedly asymptomatic carriers?
The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi were caused by a video that sparked a riot, and then apparently not. Various narratives about corruption and incompetence at the VA, IRS, NSA, GSA and Secret Service are raised and then dropped. The larger truth is that these scandals must be quarantined from infecting the president’s progressive agenda…The Tawana Brawley case, the Duke men’s lacrosse team accusations, and the O. J. Simpson verdict were constructed fantasies. No one cared much about the inconvenient facts or the lies that destroyed people’s lives — given that myths were deemed useful facts for achieving larger racial justice.
It no longer really matters much what the grand jury will find in the Michael Brown fatal-shooting case. Whether he had just robbed a store, was high on drugs, was walking down the middle of the road and prompted a violent confrontation with a police officer, or whether the officer was the aggressor in the confrontation, these have become mere competing narratives. The facts pale in comparison with the higher truth that Brown was black and unarmed, while Officer Darren Wilson white and armed. The latter scenario is all that matters.
Language is useful for inventing new realities. “Illegal alien” is a time-tested noun denoting foreign citizens who crossed a national border contrary to law. “Undocumented immigrant” is now used to diminish the bothersome fact that millions have broken and continue to break the law. To play down the dangers of radical Islam, an entire array of circumlocutions — “workplace violence” (in the case of the Fort Hood shooting) “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters” — were the euphemisms evoked by members of the Obama administration to construct an alternate reality in which radical jihadists are no more dangerous than disgruntled office workers or gale-force winds.
Many of the current campus poster icons are abject myths. Che Guevara, for all his hipster appearance, was no revolutionary hero, but a murderer who enjoyed personally executing his political opponents. Communist leader Angela Davis was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the totalitarian Soviet Union.
We keep wondering how much energy it takes to live in this fantasy world where made-up things are real enough as long as they are politically useful. Can it be that these people believe the things they say at the moment they say them, or they just don’t care?
Bonus fun: let’s ban argon! What a world, what a government…
JG in the Atlantic:
I was talking to a senior administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the US and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations — dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel — is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.
The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.
Over the years, administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency…
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the administration official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not Rabin, he’s not Sharon, he’s certainly no Begin. He’s got no guts.”
I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
Amid Assurances on Ebola, He Is Said to Seethe…Beneath the calming reassurance that he has repeatedly offered during the Ebola crisis, there is a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response. Those frustrations spilled over when he convened his top aides in the Cabinet room after canceling his schedule on Wednesday. Medical officials were providing information that later turned out to be wrong. Guidance to local health teams was not adequate. It was unclear which Ebola patients belonged in which threat categories.
“It’s not tight,” a visibly angry man said of the response, according to people briefed on the meeting. He told aides they needed to get ahead of events and demanded a more hands-on approach, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “He was not satisfied with the response,” a senior official said.
The difference between the public and private messages illustrates the dilemma he faces on Ebola — and a range of other national security issues — as he tries to galvanize the response to a public health scare while not adding to the sense of panic fueled by 24-hour cable TV and the nonstop Twitter chatter.
On Friday, he took a step to both fix that response and reassure the public, naming Ron Klain, a former aide, to coordinate the government’s efforts on Ebola. The appointment followed his statement Thursday that the job was necessary “just to make sure that we are crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s going forward.”
“Part of the challenge is to be assertive, to be in command, and yet not feed a kind of panic that could easily evolve here,” said David, a close adviser in his first term. “It’s not enough to doggedly and persistently push for answers in meetings. You have to be seen doggedly and persistently pushing for answers.”
For two turbulent weeks, officials have sought to balance those imperatives: insisting the dangers to the American public were being overstated in the news media, while also moving quickly to increase the president’s demonstration of action.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and its arrival in the United States, is the latest in a cascade of crises that have stretched his national security staff thin. As the people scrambled to stop the spread of Ebola beyond a handful of cases, officials were also grappling with an escalating military campaign against the Islamic State, the specter of a new Cold War with Russia over Ukraine, and the virtual disintegration of Yemen, which has been a seedbed for Al Qaeda.
Senior officials said they pushed him to name an Ebola coordinator as a way of easing pressure on the staff at the National Security Council.
At the meeting on Wednesday, officials said, he placed much of the blame on the C.D.C., which provided shifting information about which threat category patients were in, and did not adequately train doctors and nurses at hospitals with Ebola cases on the proper protective procedures.
On Thursday night, in televised remarks, he sought to reassure the public about the dangers from Ebola. But the sense of crisis that emanated from headquarters was in sharp contrast to Sept. 30, when Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who had traveled to Dallas, tested positive for Ebola. He received a telephone briefing from Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the C.D.C., after which they issued a sanguine statement that concluded: “We have the infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively.”
In the days that followed, he carried on as usual while his aides gamely added Ebola to their bulging portfolios. On Oct. 1, he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and later had dinner with friends at the RPM Steakhouse in Chicago, where he had traveled for fund-raisers and to deliver an economic speech.
By early October, as questions about the Dallas hospital’s treatment of Mr. Duncan mounted, federal officials began reassessing their response, even as they continued to express confidence.
C.D.C. officials publicly dismissed the effectiveness of screening for Ebola at airports in the United States. But the secretary of Homeland Security, found a way to make it work over the weekend of Oct. 4. He announced the screening protocol the following Monday.
Even after Mr. Duncan’s death on Oct. 8, officials betrayed little sense of a change in approach. He traveled to California for campaign fund-raising and on his return to Washington, received a briefing from his secretary of health and human services about the announcement that a nurse who treated Mr. Duncan had contracted Ebola.
The business-as-usual sentiment at headquarters changed abruptly, officials said, when it got word early Wednesday that a second nurse in Dallas contracted the disease. The fact that she had traveled on a Frontier Airlines flight despite having a fever added to the concern, officials said.
“This Frontier thing took it out of the abstract thing and to this level where people could identify with and made them scared,” a senior official said. Within hours, aides canceled a planned trip by him to Connecticut and New Jersey. Hours later, Thursday’s trip to Rhode Island and New York City was also scrubbed.
This piece definitively demonstrates that both the watchers and the watchees know nothing. The senior of the 2 NYT reporters has been to a lot of countries but he and his colleague have never done anything in their lives other than observing people who do things. We’re reminded of Hilton Kramer’s critique.
As for the watchees, that’s really scary. Putting ideology aside, we have idiots running things. Any executive would begin analysis of Ebola with (a) lethality; (b) incubation period; (c) ease of transmission; (d) mutability of virus; (d) current track record of containment. From there he’d get to implementing action items at Warp Speed: (1) making drugs that cure it; (2) making vaccines that prevent it; (3) emulating containment strategies that have proven successful.
In the NYT piece above the executives apparently are not consumed with the blindingly obvious action items we outlined, indeed they don’t seem to be thinking about them at all. And the reporters covering all this don’t even know enough to ask relevant questions. Recipe for disaster.