Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”

I’m embarrassed that I didn’t come up with “Fu Manchu Flu”…

Yesterday, Chris Marschner set an Ethics Alarms record with two Comments of the Day in a single day. His riff on (yecchh!) “Imagine’ was #1, this more traditional COTD is #2. I’m equally grateful for this one, because I had eschewed mentioning the small matter of the Obama response to the 2009-2010 H1N1 virus and the press coverage of that response. Why? Well, I get tired of being accused of mouthing conservative talking points, even when they are only conservative talking points because the left-wing mainstream media unethically ignores them. It also seems like whataboutism, though it is not: if resistance-allied pundits are going to tell the public that President Trump’s response to the Wuhan virus pandemic is deadly and incompetent, then they are obligated to explain why the previous President’s unquestionable worse response to his virus challenge was considered just fine, thanks. Nonetheless, the “Wait, how can you square your criticism of Trump with your Obama cheerleading?” refrain has become a cliche, even though it has done so because it has been a legitimate question so often.

Thus, twice in a single day, Chris Marschner saved me from a task I was not eager to complete. His starting point was the note in my post about Joe Biden planning on a regular feature online second-guessing the President’s response to the Wuhan virus.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”

We actually have a pandemic that Biden’s actions can be measured against. The 2009 breakout of the pH1N1 flu.

“Final estimates were published in 2011. These final estimates were that from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010 approximately 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (8868-18,306) occurred in the United States due to pH1N1.”

These numbers reflect the results of governmental intervention under the Obama-Biden administration for a virus that had spread globally but was also a variant of a known flu strain. We can also evaluate the demographic differences in mortality if any exist. For example: if the mortality stats for the novel corona virus d19 show higher rates of mortality among the elderly with underlying health conditions while the pH1N1 flu killed the young and healthy as well as the old, weak, and frail that will tell us if actions taken then were more or less effective than actions taken now.

Much has been made of the dissolution of the pandemic group at the NSC. Let me ask, given that they had from 2010 to 2016 to work on pandemic response, why do we not have all those respirators, ventilators, gloves, PPE they speak of safely stored away for just such an occurrence?

This particular pandemic is somewhat different. To use a sports analogy Trump is teeing off from the men’s tee while the Obama and Biden teed off from the lady’s tee. The current virus apparently is not a variant of a known flu bug as was pH1N1 was. That means Trump is playing with a handicap because, let’s face it, no biotech firm can develop a vaccine against a virus until it is isolated and understood how it affects the host. This virus was virtually unknown to U.S. scientist until we got our first case that allowed us to see the actual virus.

We know that Obama did not declare a national emergency until over 1000 people died. Compare that to dead in the U.S. from the of the Fu Manchu Flu, or covid19 ( I am using all the variants of the names to show how inclusive I am.)

Biden is only qualified to play arm chair quarterback because his ideas on what should be done now in dealing with Kung Flu cannot be tested. The only way to evaluate Biden’s leadership is to evaluate him on what he actually did in 2009 through 2010 and what the White House pandemic response team did from 2010 to 2016.

It seems to me that it stands to reason we can evaluate any number of prescriptive actions taken then against what we are taking now against the Chinese corona virus. However, no analysis can be done until after the pandemic is over. You don’t do a post mortem on something still moving.

15 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/21/20: I See Terrible People.”

  1. Nice job of laying out a level-headed way of considering the current situation, Chris. Don’t expect much of the media to follow suit.

    • Willem
      Thanks. You are right the media will not ask these questions. I am just appreciative that I have a forum here to do so that is not cluttered with unsupported ridicule and blather at the opposition. I mean that for both sides of issues discussed here.

  2. It does look like the pandemic group wasn’t disbanded, but combined with bioterrorism/biowarfare. For this particular outbreak, that was probably a better combination.

    • Michael

      I agree. Tim Morrison explained that the pandemic squad was realigned with other NSC threats. My issue is with the woman that ran the Pandemic response team under Obama who cannot identify what she and her crew did for six years to prepare for just such an occurrence. Having meetings without ever creating a functional and resourced implementation plan is of no value when the shit hits the fan.

      Members of the past administration cannot criticize the current response, especially regarding hard assets such as ventilators, when they never stockpiled anything either. This notion that disbanding the group put us at risk is ludicrous if they never had created and executed training scenarios while they were in place or purchased all those requisite supplies the media keeps harping on; Masks, gloves and PPE do not go bad sitting on a shelf in that relatively short time span. These are terrible people who live to criticize.

  3. Thanks, Chris. Solid, as always.

    I remain convinced the over reaction to this disease will go down as the greatest public health response screw up in history. If you’re elderly and/or have a compromised respiratory or immune system, RUN AWAY! Otherwise, get back to work or school and stay away from elderly and/or compromised people. Crater the entire economy? No.

    A question for the physicians in the commentariat: Are these deaths attributable to the virus or the underlying condition? What goes on the death certificate? Cause of Death: Congestive heart failure and diabetes? Corona virus? The former exacerbated by the latter? How are seasonal flu deaths recorded on death certificates regarding cause of death? Thanks.

    • Great question OB. I’d like to know that as well. How does one classify the death of a 90 year old asymptomatic patient that tests positively. At what point do symptoms become significant enough to cause morbidity?

  4. Another detail about the Obama administration’s handling of the H1N1 virus: They depleted the national stockpile of N95 masks and did not rebuild the inventory, although they were repeatedly advised to do so.

    But it’s really counterproductive to point to any one administration. Every administration has failed to do what needed to be done. George Bush’s administration published a “landmark report” in 2005 about planning for an influenza pandemic, which recommended stockpiling ventilators and protective equipment. The Bush administration stockpiled only a fraction of what was recommended. Then the Obama administration used up most of the stockpile of protective equipment and didn’t replenish it. The Trump administration did nothing to address the situation.

    Not to belabor the obvious, but the last three administrations have poured trillions of dollars down ratholes in Iraq and Afghanistan and spent virtually nothing on defending America against this actual threat, which has been warned about for years and years.

    Another point about the uselessness of our government: I assumed that we are currently in the process of instituting World War II-style crash programs to manufacture ventilators and masks to meet the need. According to what I’m reading, though, we’re months away, because nobody in America manufactures either the circuit boards needed to make ventilators or the polypropylene filtration media needed to make masks, and none of the countries that do manufacture them are in the mood to export them to us right now. We also don’t make most of the drugs that we need, and are almost entirely at the mercy of China to get them. Sensible people have been warning for years and years about the insanity of outsourcing vital national security industries to foreigners, especially an enemy country like China, but nothing was done to stop it or even slow it down. In fact, until Trump, both political parties were beating the drums to outsource even faster.

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