The Repugs’ Deadly Game Of “Hidin’ Zika” (Updates)

August 4, 2016

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Huffpo tells us the following from here

WASHINGTON ― Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell delivered a letter to key lawmakers on Wednesday that explained exactly how their underfunded response to the Zika virus is screwing Americans over.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.9 billion in February to deal with the impending outbreak of Zika in the United States. Congress finally began working on the request in May, with the Senate passing a bipartisan compromise that was about $800 million short.

The bill got tanked in a partisan squabble last month after Republicans decided to add in contraception restrictions, a pro-Confederate flag provision, extra cuts to Obamacare, and a measure to exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act, even though those pesticides don’t target Zika-carrying mosquitoes.

They then departed for a seven-week break while sending a sternly worded letter to Obama, saying he should take aggressive action to battle Zika using the $589 million the administration transferred from other programs, taken primarily from the ongoing Ebola response. GOP lawmakers have also complained recently that the money is not being spent quickly enough, with nearly two-thirds still available.

Wednesday, Burwell detailed how that money is being spent, and how key programs actually will run dry this month if Congress does not act.

“Now that the United States is in the height of mosquito season and with the progress in developing a Zika vaccine, the need for additional resources is critical,” she wrote to the top members of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate. “Without additional funding as requested in the President’s request for an emergency supplemental, our nation’s ability to effectively respond to Zika will be impaired.”

Yeah, I think that about says it. And because of political nonsense from the “party of Lincoln” (here)…

Another apparently locally grown Zika virus case has been added to the list in Florida, state health officials said Tuesday, raising the number to 15 — all of them in the Miami area.

“Active transmission” of the mosquito-borne virus, which causes microcephaly and other birth defects, is still going on in a 1-square-mile area of the Wynwood arts neighborhood north of downtown Miami, said health officials, who advised pregnant women to stay away.

Overall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 351 Zika cases in Florida, 336 of them involving people who traveled to the state from elsewhere, the state Health Department said.

“We’re not seeing the number of mosquitoes come down as rapidly as we would have liked,” Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told The Associated Press.

The difficulty controlling the mosquitoes is “a reflection of the fact that, in this country, we really dismantled the mosquito monitoring and control infrastructure over the past few decades,” Frieden said.

“We have blind spots where we don’t know where the mosquito populations are and what the susceptibility is to different insecticides,” he said.

And how exactly did we get to this point? I think this post from the American Mosquito Control Association (yes, there actually is such a group, luckily for us) from some years ago clarifies things a bit…

A recent (2013) AMCA nationwide survey found for 22 out of 25 (88%) state public health departments that responded that the current level of (Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) grants from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (DVBD)) funding compared to peak funding several years ago is no longer adequate to support their state’s non-human arbovirus testing efforts in the lab, significantly jeopardizing their state’s ability to cope with arbovirus diseases. Furthermore, this funding shortfall cannot support arbovirus surveillance-and-monitoring activities in the field, where 100% of all respondents felt such information was critical for conducting mosquito control operations.

Any economic savings provided by eliminating this funding will be insignificant compared to the potential healthcare costs to be incurred and, more importantly, the loss of life – both human and animal – if populations of mosquitoes that spread WNV and other exotic diseases are not monitored and suppressed in a timely manner.

I would tend to agree (by the way, the post was written in response to the outbreak of West Nile Virus, though you can just as easily apply it to Zika also – basically, we’ve been behind the proverbial curve on this for a little while as far as I’m concerned).

This is part and parcel of underfunding the CDC by congressional Republicans, as noted here; their cheapskate approach to funding for disease prevention helped give rise to an Ebola crisis in West Africa, as well as “the serious emerging viral infections in the US like Enterovirus-D68, chikungunya and dengue, as well as overseas MERS and bird flus, and natural disasters,” as documented in the 2014 post.

To return to Zika, though, for a minute, I just want to emphasize that, for the sake of trying to rob money for women’s contraception through (wait for it…) Planned Parenthood, ignore a bipartisan resolution banning Confederate flrags at U.S. cemeteries, and exempt pesticides from the Clean Water Act, we are currently in a position where at least one area of this country has to be quarantined from a Zika outbreak, and more are likely to follow.

And by the way, I’ve wondered how all of the “pro-lifers” out there are reacting to Zika. With that in mind, Dana Milbank of the WaPo penned this recent column in which he told us the following (Florida Repug U.S. House Rep Vern Buchanan stands out as a commendable exception, though)…

..there’s quiet from the antiabortion lobby. Groups I checked with haven’t taken a position on the Zika response, other than a few that have said laws against abortion should not be loosened in Latin American countries because of the virus.

National Right to Life published an argument in March questioning whether Zika causes birth defects and citing a study that said only 1 percent of babies born to mothers with the infection have the brain condition called microcephaly. “Abortion advocates would have had us believe the risk of microcephaly was much higher,” it said.

Typical for those disgusting hypocrites (of course, as noted here, all the evidence they would need about that already existed “south of the border”)…

But Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Post editorial board meeting Tuesday that “I can almost guarantee you” that the rate of birth defects is higher than 1 percent; another study puts it as high as 29 percent.

You know what? I think it’s time for a little “shock therapy” for those NRL cretins; get a load of this (here)…

At least 12 babies in the United States have already been born with the heartbreaking brain damage caused by the Zika virus. And with that number expected to multiply, public health and pediatric specialists are scrambling as they have rarely done to prepare for the lifelong implications of each case.

For children born with the worst of the brain defects caused by Zika, there will never be any miracle stories. No “the doctors said she would never walk, but … ” scenarios. These children will never walk. Never talk. Never laugh. Never play with a toy. Never feed themselves. Never even know that they are loved. They will only cry, and never be comforted.

They heard ophthalmologist Camila Ventura of Brazil, the epicenter of Zika in the Americas, describe how extremely irritable, even inconsolable, the newborns with microcephaly are.

“The babies cannot stop crying,” she said.

The parents of these children face not only day after day after day of bleak despair, but also crushing financial burdens.

Many of Zika’s littlest victims, diagnosed with microcephaly and other serious birth defects that might not immediately be apparent, could require care estimated at more than $10 million through adulthood.

“National Right to Life,” huh? Whose “life,” I wonder?

At least one voice of sanity on this is here (kudos to Dem VP Nominee Tim Kaine).

And by the way, if this isn’t a reason to vote out the Republicans in Congress responsible for this funding mess, among others (and elect Democrats like this guy), then I don’t know what is.

Update: Do you think this is “yuge”? I do.

Update 1 8/5/16: This amplifies some of what I’ve pointed out, but it definitely bears repeating.

Update 2 8/5/16: And of course, Heaven forbid that Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao would pull his thumb out and do something (here).

Update 8/6/16: And I had a feeling that this wasn’t helping one bit either.

Update 8/7/16: This garbage must play well in “the Sunshine State” because, last I checked, Rubio was still leading in the polls (more here).

Update 8/9/16: And I would say that this is the loudest voice yet.

Update 8/11/12: At least that “Kenyan Muslim Socialist” gets it (here – h/t Daily Kos).

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Wednesday Mashup (4/7/10)

April 7, 2010

  • 1) I don’t know if anyone else has noticed besides yours truly, but Dana (“Mouthpiece Theater”) Milbank of the WaPo has been on a roll (including here, on what you could call a taxing matter – maybe I should have saved this for April 15th, but I thought it couldn’t wait – Milbank is a bit tasteful with his snark here also)…

    You thought only conservatives got mad about taxes?

    Tea partiers, eat your hearts out: A group of liberals got together Tuesday and proved that they, too, can have a tax rebellion. But theirs is a little bit different: They want to pay more taxes.

    “I’m in favor of higher taxes on people like me,” declared Eric Schoenberg, who is sitting on an investment banking fortune. He complained about “my absurdly low tax rates.”

    “We’re calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us,” said paper-mill heir Mike Lapham, “to send the message to Congress and President Obama that it’s time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.”

    “I would with pleasure sacrifice the income,” agreed millionaire entrepreneur Jeffrey Hollender.

    The rich are different.

    In another era, the millionaires on Tuesday’s conference call might have been called “limousine liberals.” But that label no longer applies. Now any wealthy liberal worth his certified-organic sea salt is driving a Prius.

    Among families earning more than $250,000, fully 64 percent favor raising taxes on themselves. This part was surprising — but possibly suspect. Only 65 of the 1,907 people polled were in that income group, too small a sample for solid conclusions.

    Still, the millionaires on the call get credit for putting (some of) their money where their mouths are. They are among 50 families with net assets of more than $1 million to take a “tax fairness” pledge — donating the amount they saved from Bush tax cuts to organizations fighting for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. According to a study by Spectrem Group, 7.8 million households in the United States have assets of more than $1 million — so that leaves 7,799,950 millionaire households yet to take the pledge.

    Well, a journey of a thousand miles, as they say…

    And on the matter of tax rates versus economic prosperity, Matt Yglesias (via Steve Benen and John Cole) tells us here about how those oh-so-horrible “soak the rich” rates during the years of the Clinton Administration led to economic prosperity, while “three periods of ultra-low taxes were followed by a budget crisis (Reagan) and catastrophic global economic collapse (Coolidge-Hoover, Bush).”

    Also, let’s not forget the myriad tax loopholes available to the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class, some of which are noted here.

  • Update 7/21/10: A little late with this I know, but this is another good column by Milbank on Arizona governor Jan Brewer and her “illegal to be brown” law (cringing when I think of the wankery to come to make up for this).

  • 2) This tells us that, apparently, the new Obama-sponsored “boogeyman” for the wingnuts (tiring of Craig Becker, Kevin Jennings and Dawn Johnsen, apparently) is Goodwin Liu, a University of California at Berkeley law professor nominated by President Obama for the Court of Appeals for the Ninth District….

    On Tuesday, Liu sent 117 items to the (Senate Judiciary Committee), a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record, including articles he wrote and events in which he participated but neglected to include in his original submission. The committee’s seven Republicans — led by ranking member Jeff Sessions (Ala.) — responded with a scathing letter to panel Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).

    “At best, this nominee’s extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role demonstrates incompetence; at worst, it creates the impression that he knowingly attempted to hide his most controversial work from the Committee,” they wrote. “Professor Liu’s unwillingness to take seriously his obligation to complete these basic forms is potentially disqualifying and has placed his nomination in jeopardy.”

    As Mark Hamill (I believe) voiced once as The Joker in a “Batman” cartoon, this would be hilarious if it weren’t so pathetic (hey, have to work in my pop culture references where I can, you know?).


    I have a question for Jeff Sessions; do you member Miguel Estrada?

    As noted here in this “News Hour With Jim Lehrer” segment, Estrada was submitted by the prior ruling cabal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. However, as noted by Charles Schumer in the interview, “the White House told him not to answer questions, not to give up certain documents that would show his views on key issues that affect millions of Americans, workers’ rights, and the right to privacy, and the First Amendment, and environmental rights.”

    Sessions of course disagreed with that, saying “Miguel Estrada did answer questions, and he did not turn over the internal memorandum of the U.S. Department of Justice Solicitor General’s Office, for which he worked, because they were not his documents.” Still, though, that leaves the question unanswered; how the hell is the Senate supposed to evaluate the fitness of a judge if there’s no paper trail? Strictly on his or her say-so? Do you seriously mean to tell me that the DoJ couldn’t have allowed the documents in question to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee?

    So, as far as Sessions is concerned, Estrada is fine even though, when pressed about the typical hot-button issues as a right to privacy, he said “I can’t answer these questions because it might violate Canon Five of the legal ethics, which says you can’t talk about a pending case” (interesting dodge). But Liu showed “incompetence” when he sent 117 items to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a “supplement” to an earlier questionnaire he filled out on his record?

    Give me a break.

  • Update: More from Media Matters here…

  • 3) Finally, I have an update on the Repug gubernatorial primary in PA and DA Tom Corbett’s boneheaded decision to join other attorneys general in this country in a lawsuit to try and overturn recently-signed-into-law health care reform (seems the stupidity is contagious…as noted here, PA State House Appropriations Chairman Dwight Evans threatened to cut off funds to Corbett’s office in response).

    I will give Evans the benefit of the doubt that he’s trying to watch over taxpayer funds here, but despite the idiocy of what Corbett is trying to do, the best thing to do in response is to let the lawsuit die the natural death for which it is destined.

    However, because Evans “took the bait,” Corbett has – you guessed it! – turned the whole idiotic dustup into a campaign fundraising pitch (here).

    So the Repugs and Corbett played a bit of “rope-a-dope,” and Evans went for it (I believe Evans is a good man and a good public official, though he doesn’t have much in the way of political instincts if this ultra-dumb episode is any indication).

  • Update 4/8/10: Corbett sure keeps interesting company (here).


    Monday Health Care Mashup (3/22/10)

    March 22, 2010

  • 1) ZOMG! Dana (“Mouthpiece Theater”) Milbank of the WaPo finds a nut…

    “This is the largest tax bill in history,” the Republican leader fumed. The reform “is unjust, unworkable, stupidly drafted and wastefully financed.”

    And that wasn’t all. This “cruel hoax,” he said, this “folly” of “bungling and waste,” compared poorly to the “much less expensive” and “practical measures” favored by the Republicans.

    “We must repeal,” the GOP leader argued. “The Republican Party is pledged to do this.”

    That was Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon in a September 1936 campaign speech. He based his bid for the White House on repealing Social Security.

    Bad call, Alf. Republicans lost that presidential election in a landslide. By the time they finally regained the White House — 16 years later — their nominee, Dwight Eisenhower, had abandoned the party’s repeal platform.

    Did you read that, you Tea Party numbskulls?

    No, I suppose not…too many syllables, I guess.

  • 2) And in a similar vein, Peter Beinart tells us the following in this New York Times story today by reporter David Sanger…

    “Let’s face it, (Obama) failed in the effort to be the nonpolarizing president, the one who can use rationality and calm debate to bridge our traditional divides,” said Peter Beinart, a liberal essayist who is publishing a history of hubris in politics. “It turns out he’s our third highly polarizing president in a row. But for his liberal base, it confirms that they were right to believe in the guy — and they had their doubts.”

    God, is Beinart an idiot (and as a liberal, I can assure you that, while I support Obama, he has left much to be desired also, particularly on this issue with the absence of a public option…no way for him to do everything, though, I admit – interesting stuff on Obama’s popularity here, by the way).

    I have this question for Beinart, though; what else is Obama supposed to do when confronted by an opposition party closer to the lunatic fringe than reasonable adults?

    If someone has a policy disagreement with health care reform, that’s one thing. But it’s typically ridiculous for Beinart to claim that Obama is as guilty as, say, those teabaggin’ numbskulls for the fractured state of our discourse, creating false equivalency yet again.

    Or, as Brad De Long points out here concerning another moment of Beinart wankery…

    Crossfires and Ross Perots won’t save us. Open primaries might. But the surest road to a better America would be to punish the Republican Party for gridlock: destroy it utterly, so that no politician for a thousand years will think that betraying his oath to serve the country to create pointless gridlock is the road to electoral success.

    “Centrists” like Beinart who want a healthy politics need to punish the bad actors, and punish them severely–not enable them.

    Which, of course, is the net effect of the whole “whining about partisanship” thing (I don’t like partisanship either, but I like concern trolling by Beinart and his band of centrist DLC-wannabe losers even less).

  • 3) Finally, this Daily Kos post lists all of the traitorous Dems who opposed health care reform, and of that sorry lot, I know the utterly odious Tim Holden is facing a primary challenge, though I cannot obtain information about potential primary challenges posed to anyone else on the list.

    To support Holden’s challenger Sheila Dow Ford, click here.

    The saga of health care reform is as close to political war as I have ever seen in my life (and it’s definitely not over, of course). And it’s time to punish those like Holden who turned tail and ran at the first sign of battle.


  • A Moment Of “Dead Tree” Media Ignominy

    June 29, 2009

    It’s pretty bad when Howie Kurtz actually looks sympathetic, but he does here because Dana Milbank insists of giving Nico Pitney of HuffPo the “back of the hand,” even though the latter is engaging in something called journalism (and no, that doesn’t fit Milbank’s description of dutifully recording the most popular Beltway talking points of the moment before calling it a day and retiring to a fashionable watering hole).

    And what a class act Milbank is, saving up a bunch of other HuffPo posts so he could read them off to Pitney in the most patronizing way imaginable.

    And this hairdo from the Moonie Times complains about Pitney getting “unfair press coverage”?

    gannon
    What about this guy when Bushco was in charge?


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