Obama Names ‘Ebola Czar,’ Doesn’t Explain Why We Need One

President Obama has appointed an "Ebola Czar," but it's unclear why we need one when there are already people who are supposed to be in charge of the Ebola response.

Obama Thinking

After several days in which people from various corners both political and non-political have called for more coordination of the Federal and State responses to the Ebola issue, President Obama has named a former political appointee to be his so-called “Ebola Czar”:

WASHINGTON — President Obama will appoint Ron Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joseph R. Biden Jr., to manage the government’s response to the deadly virus as anxiety grows over its possible spread, a White House official said on Friday.

Mr. Klain, who is known for his ability to handle high-stakes and fast-moving political crises, will be responsible for coordinating the government’s overall response to the Ebola epidemic, including efforts to contain the virus in Africa and the response to its arrival in the United States.

He was the lead Democratic lawyer for Mr. Gore during the 2000 election recount, and was later played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO drama “Recount” about the disputed contest.

He served as chief of staff to Mr. Biden from 2009 to 2011, and held the same post from 1995 to 1999 for Mr. Gore.

Mr. Klain will report to Lisa Monaco, Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser, and Susan E. Rice, his national security adviser, the official said. His appointment was first reported by CNN.

The official praised the work already done by Ms. Rice and Ms. Monaco, but said that Mr. Klain would provide “additional bandwidth” in the fight against Ebola, which is important because the two women have to manage other national and homeland security issues.

Mr. Klain’s role as the top Ebola official in the administration will ensure that “efforts to protect the American people by detecting, isolating and treating Ebola patients in this country are properly integrated but don’t distract from the aggressive commitment to stopping Ebola at the source in West Africa,” the official said.

CNN’s Jake Tapper explains why the Administration picked Klain:

Klain is highly regarded at the White House as a good manager with excellent relationships both in the administration and on Capitol Hill. His supervision of the allocation of funds in the stimulus act — at the time and incredible and complicated government undertaking — is respected in Washington. He does not have any extensive background in health care but the job is regarded as a managerial challenge.

“He’s strong. He’s very tough,” said CNN Political analyst David Gergen. “It’s important in this job to be a coordinator; you have to knock heads together. He’s tough enough to do that.”

Gergen said that while Klain doesn’t have a health care background, he does have both domestic policy and foreign policy assignments on his portfolio and both will come into play as the administration deals with Ebola.

As some conservatives have pointed out, there already is someone who is supposed to be in charge of the response to the Ebola outbreak, and that person would be Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who has largely ceded the public stage for public statements on this issue to Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the Centers For Disease Control and DHS Assistant Secretary Lisa Monaco. Additionally, it has become apparent that one of the things that has led to the problems that have come to light in recent days lies in a lack of coordination among Federal agencies, and a lack of coordination between Federal and State authorities in places like Texas and, now, Ohio. The theory behind the appointment of a “Czar,” I suppose, is that it will allow for some kind of central coordination of the effort through the Office of the President and put a public face on the effort that is as much about public relations as it is about actual policy. For that reason, I don’t think its necessary that the person (if it has to exist at all) who fills this position needs to have a background in epidemiology or public health, but rather that they have some degree of experience in management and, preferable, the kind of executive experience needed to coordinate a wide variety of agencies across jurisdictions.

That being said, while Klain certainly has experience in government, to the extent of being Chief of Staff to two Vice-Presidents counts as experience, I’m not sure that he’s the best choice for this position. The fact that his experience is purely political, and heavily so on one side of the political aisle, suggests strongly that the White House was more concerned with picking someone that they were comfortable with than the were with picking someone who would be the right fit for the job, such as, say, a retired General or Admiral or a former Cabinet Secretary of high prominence. At the least, someone with experience at running a multi-agency effort such as this would seem like a better choice. Perhaps Klain will turn out to be just what’s needed for the job, but on first glance this isn’t a very impressive appointment.

Leaving all that aside, it’s worth pointing out that this entire idea of Presidential Czar’s is really quite silly. The Constitution already names the person who is in charge of the response to the the Ebola effort to begin with, and that’s the President. Federal Law has established agency heads and Cabinet Secretaries who are supposed to be in charge of their various departments. Creating a new level of bureaucracy, which is of course outside Congressional oversight or confirmation, doesn’t really seem to me to add anything at all to the process. At the same time, though, the appointment of these “Czars” is nothing new, and President Obama has simply followed a custom that was laid down by his predecessors. Perhaps Klain will be what’s needed to get the Federal Ebola response back on track, in which case he will have done his job. In reality, though, his position ought to be entirely unnecessary.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Africa, Health, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    “Obama Names ‘Ebola Czar,’ Doesn’t Explain Why We Need One”

    So Republicans can fill the airwaves with objection to us having too many Czars, rather than complaining that Obama has not appointed a Czar for Ebola.

  2. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    There’s a part of me that is a bit aggravated that the guy Obama picked 1) is a career political hack and 2) has NO health experience whatsoever. But then on reconsideration, this guy seems to bring a few things to the table that so far have been sorely lacking: common sense, ability to make decisions, and a bit of leadership.

    I’m willing to give this guy a chance. It isn’t his job to be a medical genius; it’s his job to manage the geniuses.

    But this is an admission that the people Obama had put in place before weren’t up to the task.

  3. wr says:

    Today’s right wing:

    “Why hasn’t Obama appointed an Ebola czar? We demand Obama appoint an Ebola czar! The fact that Obama hasn’t appointed an Ebola czar prove that he wants Ebola to kill Americans! (Yes, Laura Ingraham and Rush are saying that.) Why don’t we have an Ebola czar????”

    Obama appoints Ebola czar.

    “Why is he appointing an Ebola czar? Clearly this is proof of how incompetent he is.”

  4. @wr:

    I never supported the idea of an “Ebola Czar,” or any “Czar” for that matter.

  5. Guarneri says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Relax. Hes the guy who is supposed to the jobs of the guys who aren’t doing their jobs as heads of the agencies that aren’t doing their jobs. In Washington that happens a lot so you need guys to give jobs, er, do jobs for the guys who won’t do jobs….or something.


  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    And the first two left-wing goobers to chime in don’t discuss the merits of the move or the merits of the individual named, but instead project their own fantasies about they wish their enemies were like and use it to grind their own political axes. I’m so… what’s the opposite of flabbergasted?

    It’s a move. We don’t know if it’s a good move or a bad move, but in most cases doing something is preferable to continuing to do nothing (or doing bad things, which is what has been done so far). I’m willing to be optimistic here. No, strike that — I WANT to be optimistic here. I need to be optimistic here. If Klain does a good job, he deserves to get the credit — and Obama for naming him.

    THEN we can look at how the CDC kept screwing up — once the crisis has passed.

  7. wr says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Didn’t mean you, sir! Taking the title of your post to refer to those who have been demanding one.

  8. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    And as you tell us regularly, you are not a Republican.

    Meanwhile, several of your political mancrushes have been doing all they can to make people panic over Ebola:

    “Rand Paul had a message for students at Plymouth State University who had gathered for a pizza party with the Kentucky senator on Thursday: Ebola is coming for us all and the government is hiding the truth about the deadly disease.”

    “Brown’s solution is to seal the Mexican border in order to prevent Ebola-infected migrants (along with ISIS terrorists, another favorite campaign topic) from illegally entering the country. While experts say it’s an extremely unlikely scenario – no cases have been discovered in Central America – candidates are filling debates with lurid images of disease and devastation.”

  9. Ben Johannson says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: We could try appointing a Surgeon-General instead, but Senate Republicans have for two years blocked nominees.

  10. grumpy realist says:

    Well, this WOULD be the role of the Surgeon-General, but for some silly reason the Republicans keep refusing to vote on the candidate Obama put forth….

    These people keep drilling holes in the bottom of the boat and then complaining that their feet are getting wet.

  11. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “Hes the guy who is supposed to the jobs of the guys who aren’t doing their jobs as heads of the agencies that aren’t doing their jobs”

    My sense, from reading about his previous experience, is that it will be his job to coordinate between the various agencies that have responsibilities and to be in charge of communication to the public. You may choose to object to that as well, but I’m thinking — and hoping — that the heads of the CDC and NHS aren’t chosen for their ability to handle press conferences…

  12. beth says:

    @wr: Not to mention that they probably have better things to do than attend congressional hearings where they have to answer questions on whether we face any dangers from Liberian Ebola infested dogs (no seriously, this actually came up. The patience of the doctors who head these agencies must be from the saints).

  13. Guarneri says:


    Hey, man. I’m all for it. Is it true that in his first official act he dictated theme music for the CDC?
    I admit no doc would come up with this.


  14. Scott says:

    @beth: That would be my guess on why a “Czar” is needed. To deal with the scientifically and technically illiterate members of Congress and the press.

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    So, everything would be just fine and dandy if we had a Surgeon General? Just what does that office-holder do, anyway?

    The Surgeon General reports to the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH), who may be a four-star admiral in the United States Public Health Service, Commissioned Corps (PHSCC), and who serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on public health and scientific issues. The Surgeon General is the overall head of the Commissioned Corps, a 6,500-member cadre of health professionals who are on call 24 hours a day, and can be dispatched by the Secretary of HHS or the Assistant Secretary for Health in the event of a public health emergency.

    The Surgeon General is also the ultimate award authority for several public health awards and decorations, the highest of which that can be directly awarded is the Surgeon General’s Medallion (the highest award bestowed by board action is the Public Health Service Distinguished Service Medal). The Surgeon General also has many informal duties, such as educating the American public about health issues and advocating healthy lifestyle choices.

    The office also periodically issues health warnings. Perhaps the best known example of this is the “Surgeon General’s Warning” labels that can be found on all packages of American tobacco cigarettes for 47 years. A similar health warning appears on alcoholic beverages labels, since 1988.

    Yeah, it’s Wikipedia, but it’s a damned sight clearer than the official page.

    And if our government is so effed up that a vacancy two levels down from Cabinet Secretary is such a critical crisis, if we have a bureaucracy that completely fails because we are missing a certain Assistant to the Assistant to the Assistant to the President, we got bigger problems than Ebola.

    (Yes, I’m using metaphorical language. The chain goes President — Secretary of Health and Human Services — Assistant Secretary of Health — Surgeon General. But “assistant to the president” is pretty much all their jobs.)

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Actually, the task should probably fall to the Surgeon General, but we don’t have one because Republicans fear the president’s nominee will suggest that the thousands of unnecessary gun deaths we suffer in this country might be a legitimate health issue. So that nomination is tied up by the gun cult.

    The reason for this appointment – to cope with three cases of ebola in a population of 330 million – is that the 24 hour news networks are busy going wall-to-wall to spread panic, aided and abetted by Republicans who never fail to embrace each new excuse for mindless fear.

    But hey, scaring old folks is why we have news networks, right? And the core job of politicians is to do all they can to make any situation worse. So, here we are.

  17. MikeSJ says:

    I wish Obama had used this as an opportunity to get his Surgeon General appointed.

    I was also hoping that he’d start calling out the politicians by name who were acting like hysterical bed-wetters.

    I do hope their is some payback for the Jindals and Johnsons and Gohmerts who whip of fear instead of providing responsible leadership. It’s a given the press won’t do their jobs.

    Who knows? Maybe the Democrats will grow a spine and push back on this!

    Gotta go now, I’ve got an urgent email from a Nigerian prince…I gotta dig up some account numbers for a big money transfer.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    I hope he did it just to mess with Republicans who hate government but are waiting for government to save them from the really scary thing they don’t understand.

  19. charles austin says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thank you. I have never understood how czars fit into the governance of the United States of America. Calling for one should be a disqualifying event for public office to anyone interested in classical liberalism, IMHO.

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Yeah, we would be so much better off if Dr. Vivek Murthy was Surgeon General right now. The exact thing we need to lick this Ebola mess is the founder of Doctors For Obama and runs a medical research support company.

    If Obama had put forward an epidemiologist or virologist or someone who’d headed up a hospital or something, there might be an argument. But Murthy? He’s hardly the savior we’ve been waiting for.

  21. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: Wrong. There is an acting Surgeon General. His name is Dr. Boris Lushniak. He spent 16 years at the CDC and is also a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. He seems eminently qualified even if he didn’t start an organization called Doctors for Obama as Dr. Murthy did.

  22. Moosebreath says:

    Meanwhile in Ebola panic, a paper that is not the Onion headlines an article Man not worried about Ebola after visiting same bridal shop as Amber Joy Vinson

  23. charles austin says:

    Maybe if President Obama would work with Republicans instead of trying to poke them in the eye with the nomination of someone who is virulently pro-gun control, he could make better progress.

  24. Guarneri says:

    @charles austin:

    Get a grip on yourself.

  25. gVOR08 says:

    I haven’t been following closely, but IIRC at this point in the US we have:
    – four medical personnel and a journalist who contracted the disease in Africa, were transported here, and were cured or are weeks into treatment and doing well,
    – One guy who came from Africa on his own and died,
    – two nurses who treated the guy and are now diagnosed with it and under treatment,
    – a sheriff’s deputy who doesn’t have it,
    – a family, friends, and numerous neighbors of the guy who don’t have it,
    – one guy, not diagnosed, marooned along with a whole cruise ship of people ’cause he may have lab processed material from the guy,
    – people clamoring to shut down travel, which all the experts say will drive infected travelers underground, inhibit effective action in Africa, and has never worked before,
    – schools closed in Cleveland (doh),
    – every GOP pol and talking head in the country screaming it’s a disaster, toddlers from Honduras infected with Ebola by ISIS and packing rusted out Iraqi mustard gas shells sold under Fast and Furious are going to kill us all, and it’s Obama’s fault,
    – and, at a guess, 27% of the population running around with their hair on fire.

    So yeah, we really do need a political guy more than another public health expert.

  26. Scott says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I, for one, am not looking for a savior, thank you very much.

    It’s an odd thing, brought out in this instance by the right wing, is that a lot of people, both left and right, believe the government is both omniscient and omnipotent and therefore, perfect. The right fear that and it drives their belief systems while the left believe it can be perfect which drives ever more rules and regulations. Of course, though, Government is made up of people and therefore fallible. The folks who realize this work to fix problems when things go wrong but never expect no risks and no failures.

  27. humanoid.panda says:

    @charles austin: In short, if Obama would only stop appointing people who are radicals, the GOP will work with him.
    How do we know the people he appoints are radicals! Why, they are associated with the notoriously radical Obama!

  28. JKB says:

    First, the person who should be stepping up is the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response but she’s been MIA. Perhaps preparing a response?

    Second the person nominated for Surgeon General is being held up by both Republican and Democrat senators as he’s more a political activist than a physician. He’s only 36 so barely out of training. But he did create Doctors for Obama.

    And we see the crisis in DC now. It’s political and they are scared. So Obama picks a political fixer instead of a person experienced in getting lots of moving parts focused on defeating a problem. But as we didn’t need an Ebola czar, just a search party for the missing HHS officials.

  29. charles austin says:

    @Guarneri: Sorry for harshing your mellow. You may return to the echo chamber without further interruptions.

  30. charles austin says:

    @humanoid.panda: Why do the most vocal progressives have trouble dealing with what people write instead of having to make up caricatures that don’t represent any reality at all? Can’t you debate with real people or is that too taxing?

  31. Guarneri says:


    I hear we have an unemployment problem in this country. Have them act as greeters and guides for all the W African travelers arriving. As I’ve learned, pay’m $12/hr and they will do anything.

    One problem solved, with maybe the added benefit that Paul Krugman will STFU.

    You’re welcome.

  32. Rob in CT says:

    We don’t actually need one, of course.

    The reason this is happening is politics. We’ve had a bunch of screeching and wailing about a non-problem. This is the response.

    How do you solve a non-problem? Well, preferably with a symbolic gesture that does no harm.

    Now back to your regularly scheduled screeching.

  33. C. Clavin says:

    @charles austin:
    Actually if you have been paying attention to the last 6 years of political history…his response was 100% appropriate.

  34. Guarneri says:


    Because they, like Obama, specialize in the straw man argument. Else they would have nothing.

    Good to see you again. Sorry about St. Louis.

  35. JKB says:

    Ronald Klain @RonaldKlain
    Brought 100k troops out of iraq, funded solar/wind power, raised pell grants, largest investment in infrastructure since New Deal, and more!
    9:14 AM – 7 Aug 2011

    Look at those accomplishments

  36. CB says:


    Hey! You get your fair and reasoned view out of here right this minute!

  37. wr says:

    @JKB: ” So Obama picks a political fixer instead of a person experienced in getting lots of moving parts focused on defeating a problem.”

    What do you think a “fixer” does if not this?

    No, don’t bother answering. If Obama had appointed the world’s greatest expert on Ebola, you’d be screaming “Obola just took away our only hope and made him into a spokesmodel!!!!” If Jesus came down and accepted the position you’d be crying “Our only hope was that Jesus would be up in heaven to let us in once we died of Ebola, but Obola wants us all to go to hell.”

    You don’t care about problems. You don’t care about solutions. You don’t care about reality. You care about smearing Democrats.

  38. wr says:

    @charles austin: You mean, why don’t those mean liberals react solely to the weasel words used to form a message instead of the clear meaning behind them? Because I agree, that is really mean and unfair. We should always take right wingers at their word, even when those words directly contradict the last set of words they posted. Who are we to question?

  39. John425 says:

    So this appointment makes it clear that the President views an Ebola outbreak as a political problem for him and not a health problem for the United States.

  40. anjin-san says:


    So this appointment makes it clear that the President views an Ebola outbreak as a political problem for him and not a health problem for the United States.

    Whatever you say Sean.

  41. JKB says:

    From the NY Times last March:

    The troubled nomination is the latest setback for a president who has struggled to get his nominees past members of his own party, even after Democrats changed filibuster rules to prevent repeated Republican blockades of Mr. Obama’s choices for cabinet jobs. Dr. Murthy is one of four nominees who has run into trouble this month after some Democrats have balked.

    Three Democratic Senate aides with knowledge of where members stood on the nomination said Friday that enough Democrats could oppose Dr. Murthy that he would most likely fail to be confirmed if a vote were held soon.

  42. Rafer Janders says:

    @charles austin:

    I have never understood how czars fit into the governance of the United States of America.

    You know it’s a slang word and doesn’t actually mean that the appointee has autocratic powers, right? That a “czar” is just a short-hand reference to a political appointee who may or may not be subject to legislative confirmation and who heads a particular federal agency or bureacracy, rigth?

  43. JKB says:

    @wr: You care about smearing Democrats.

    Don’t have to smear, just point out.

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @charles austin:

    Yeah, we wouldn’t want a surgeon general who tried to deal with the thousands and thousands killed each year – including a large number of children – by guns. We should instead focus on the ebola threat which has already killed, what, two people in this country?

    In the hierarchy of threats, you gun nuts vastly outrank ebola. Just last week, another kid killed by a stray bullet. And how many kids dead from ebola? Would it be zero?

  45. Rafer Janders says:


    So Obama picks a political fixer instead of a person experienced in getting lots of moving parts focused on defeating a problem.

    You know, there’s a shorter way to write “a person experienced in getting lots of moving parts focused on defeating a problem” — it’s “political fixer”.

    Hilarious, really — it’s like writing “so Obama hires a lawyer instead of a person experienced in the law and using the court system to navigate and resolve legal and contractual disputes”…..

  46. anjin-san says:


    First, the person who should be stepping up is the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response but she’s been MIA.

    And you know this how?

  47. Scott says:

    So this appointment makes it clear that the President views an Ebola outbreak as a political problem for him and not a health problem for the United States

    Exactly right. This appointment allows the professionals to do their jobs and work on the health problem without having to stop what they’re doing and respond to ignorant (intentionally or otherwise) politicians and press.

  48. Scott says:

    @CB: It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

  49. Guarneri says:

    “Yeah, we wouldn’t want a surgeon general who tried to deal with the thousands and thousands killed each year – including a large number of children – by guns. We should instead focus on the ebola threat which has already killed, what, two people in this country?

    In the hierarchy of threats, you gun nuts vastly outrank ebola.”

    Let’s see. Provide a red herring. (When do we outlaw cars BTW?).

    Invoke “the children”.

    Avoid the real argument – potential trouble.

    Call someone a nut.

    Perfect, except you forgot to blame GWB. Still jet lagged I guess…..

  50. Rafer Janders says:


    Provide a red herring. (When do we outlaw cars BTW?).

    Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    Half of all suicides, 70% of all murders, 100% of all accidental deaths from guns, totalling about 30,000 Americans a year. But that’s not a problem. Fox News laughs that off. Hah hah hah, a mere 30,000 dead Americans year after year after year. Hundreds of thousands dead, millions in time. Bwah hah hah, a distraction form the REAL THREAT: three sick health care workers.

    People are idiots.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    It’s only killed one person, right? Out of 320 million Americans?

  53. michael reynolds says:

    Flu kills hundreds and often thousands every year. Flu is the genius of viral adaptability – it spreads through droplets, it spreads on surfaces, it mutates constantly, and are we checking flights for people with the flu? Of course not. Because that’s a real threat not an exciting new made-up threat.

    We need some convenient, easy-to understand ranking system for threats. Here’s a hint: neither IS nor ebola would rank in the top 50. Your stairs will kill you before ebola does.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Yes, but it’s spreading! Spreading like the Black Plague and we’re all going to die! Sure it’s just one person now, but it could become 3, or may skyrocket all the way to a dozen! Bring out your dead!

  55. rodney dill says:

    There’s gotta be someone to throw under the bus when things go (further) south.

  56. anjin-san says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Flu kills hundreds and often thousands every year.

    Yes, but the flu is not associated in the public’s imagination with scary dark African people – Obama’s true people.

  57. John425 says:

    Barack Obama appointed far left organizer Ronald Klain as Ebola Czar on Friday.

    Formerly Klain worked for Democratic leaders:
    •Senior White House aide to President Obama
    •Chief of Staff to Vice President Biden
    •Chief of Staff or Staff Director for Vice President Al Gore, General Counsel for the Gore Recount Committee
    •top debate preparation advisor to Presidents Obama and Clinton
    •Board Member of the American Constitution Society and the American Progress Action Fund

    Klain also oversaw Obama’s failed trillion dollar stimulus.

    How could anything possibly go wrong? Wait. What?

    Two US passengers were quarantined on a US cruise ship off Belize.
    The passenger handled Ebola samples at a Dallas hospital

    Yesterday, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden admitted 100 to 150 people from Ebola infected countries continue to enter the United States every day.

    Nigerian Passenger Vomits, Dies on Flight From Africa to New York City. Heart attack?

    Government Sponsored Suicide?
    The US troops heading over to the Ebola stricken countries in West Africa are reportedly receiving just four hours of Ebola training.

    Baylor University Medical Center received a possible Ebola patient Thursday night. The Dallas patient was monitored before being transferred to Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas.

  58. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “In the hierarchy of threats, you gun nuts vastly outrank ebola”

    Meanwhile, our pet gun nuts who are usually screaming about how a limitation on magazine size is the destruction of all freedom are now screaming that the CDC (!) should take on dictatorial powers and imprison anyone they think might have been exposed to Ebola, and if that is actually against the law, that’s okay because it’s important, and FDR did the same thing to Japanese-Americans.

    For a right winger, freedom is something that only applies to them. If a sidewalk is closed for repairs and they have to cross the street, that’s fascism. If ten thousand total strangers are rounded up and herded into camps because it’s the only way the right winger won’t be scared, well, that’s what needs to happen.

  59. wr says:

    @John425: Quick, panic!!!!! Run!!!!! You’re going to di!!!!!


    Nope, that doesn’t make me feel good. Wonder why it does you?

  60. michael reynolds says:

    Well, it’s not hard to understand: they aren’t “conservatives” they’re fascists. They love government so long as government means throwing black men in prison or shooting them down in the street or turning desperate Honduran children back into the desert or torturing prisoners of war, they just don’t want government to stop morons from amassing an arsenal and masturbating their gun to visions of race war.

    Fear, hate and violence are the underpinning of the so-called “conservative” in this era of American life.

  61. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: Yes, but the flu is not associated in the public’s imagination with scary dark African people

    Actually, the flu is not associated with a 70%-90% death rate, where your liver decomposes and you bleed from your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, anus, vagina, urethra, and anywhere else a blood vessel is close to the surface. And all in about 12 days. Here’s a picture of a victims arm

    Feel free to continue your racist thoughts and speech, but just know, your ignorance is on display.

  62. John425 says:

    @wr: Gee, wr! Your humor is eclipsed only by your stupidity.

  63. John425 says:

    @michael reynolds: re: Fascism. Methinks you doth protest too much. Wasn’t it your boy Hitler, that said if you tell a Big Lie often enough people will believe it. Liberals like you are the ones who want people to have opinions provided they agree with yours

  64. anjin-san says:


    Actually, the flu is not associated with a 70%-90% death rate, where your liver decomposes and you bleed from your eyes, nose, mouth, ears, anus, vagina, urethra, and anywhere else a blood vessel is close to the surface. And all in about 12 days.

    Hmm. I personally knew several people who died horribly in car accidents. In spite of that, later today I will strap my nut sack on and drive to the store to get some milk.

    The flu has killed roughly 2 million American during my lifetime. In spite of that, I manage not to become a shrieking coward when flu season arrives.

    Have a nice day hon.

  65. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: Well, it seems your basic argument was that the problem with Obama is that he is appointing people who agree with him to office, in this case, of of the many people who think that gun proliferation in the US, a country with an extremely high incidence of mental illness, is a public health issues. Clearly, you think this is a provocation, and Obama needs to appoint people who don’t agree with him on major issues, so how is what I said is not an extension of your logic?

    [Of course, Obama has a rich record of appointing Republicans: Gates, Bernanke, Hagel to office. Incidentally, the latter two became figures of manic hatred on the Right, proving the point I made..]

  66. Guarneri says:

    I just heard that the new Ebola czar will report to Susan Rice. Good choice. And in the spirit of good will I just want to go on record that I hope they resolve this problem, and note that when they find the damned buzzard who made that anti-African film they prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

  67. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    I’ve given people morphine when cancer was eating them alive from the inside, causing them pain you and I can’t imagine. I watched my dad carry himself with quiet dignity and strength when cancer was robbing him of his ability to walk, stand, feed himself, use the bathroom, and speak.

    I’m sorry that it was so easy for the media to scare the shit out of you. While I respect the danger ebola represents and am concerned about it, I am not a sniveling coward. I leave that to you.

  68. anjin-san says:


    Klain also oversaw Obama’s failed trillion dollar stimulus.

    Funny, I remember when you said the SF Bay Area got nothing from the stimulus.

    When I started listing critical infrastructure projects that we did get from the stimulus, you vanished like a ghost.

    But what do I know, I just live here. You watch Fox.

  69. C. Clavin says:


    Yesterday, CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden admitted 100 to 150 people from Ebola infected countries continue to enter the United States every day.

    And yet an entire two people have contracted the disease.
    No wonder you are wetting your pants in fear.

  70. wr says:

    @John425: Good argument! Your keen reasoning and strong wit have convinced me of the rightness of your position!

  71. Grewgills says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Flu kills hundreds and often thousands every year.

    Actually flu kills thousands to tens of thousands every year. 9,000 is a very low year for flu deaths. Last year 54,000 were killed by the flu.

  72. wr says:

    @Guarneri: “I just heard that the new Ebola czar will report to Susan Rice. Good choice.”

    Yes, it is an outrage that the “Ebola czar” would report to the president’s national security adviser, even though Republicans have concocted a pretend “scandal” around her. I mean, it’s almost as if Obama insists on living in the real world despite the fact that right wingers insist we all live in fantasyland. For shame!

  73. Grewgills says:

    Quick, get to your bunker and don’t connect to the internet. The Ebola can get you through the intertubes if you talk to one of them with the internets.

  74. humanoid.panda says:


    Klain also oversaw Obama’s failed trillion dollar stimulus.

    Even if we accept for the moment that stimulus was ineffective as a macroeconomic policy (and this is of course an argument that only morons make nowdays), Kline’s job was not design the policy, but to implement it. In other words, he presided over a program that had to dole out huge oodles of money over a short period of time. He did that without any whiff of corruption, favoritism and scandal (and no, Solyndra!! doesn’t count). That by itself makes him one of the most succesful executives in human history.

  75. humanoid.panda says:

    @wr: Again, Rice was appointed by Obama. Obama clearly doesn’t have American interests at heart, so how could someone report to her and be able to fulfill his duties? Ironclad logic!

  76. wr says:

    @humanoid.panda: Well, numerous powerful right wing media figures are saying that Obama wants Ebola here to make Americans suffer, or as revenge for slavery…

  77. charles austin says:

    @C. Clavin: Grow up. Please.

  78. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: The absurd generalization of the things said by a few fringe people to all people that disagree with you is why we can’t have nice things.

  79. charles austin says:

    @Grewgills: And the rate of mortality would be what with that number compared to Ebola’s 50%, or is it 70%?

  80. charles austin says:

    @michael reynolds: Because suicide didn’t exist before guns? Seriously, what does gun control have to do with Ebola?

  81. charles austin says:

    @anjin-san: Perfect, call anyone who objects a racist. Jeezus, this is why I can’t stay here longer.

  82. michael reynolds says:


    I didn’t want to overstate it. @charles austin might have had to descend to his gun-lined basement to live on MRE’s.

  83. Grewgills says:

    @charles austin:
    In first world countries ebola has about a 25% mortality rate, you are off by 200-300% and again 54,000 people in the US last year died from the flu. You are often one of the more rational conservative voices among the commenters here. You are going off the rails on this.

  84. Dave D says:

    @charles austin: This is a simple matter of statistics though. You are millions of times more likely to get the flu than ebola. That is why none of this fear makes all that much sense. It is like not being afraid to travel by car but being terrified of bears. I could be eaten by a bear tomorrow, it is extremely unlikely but would no doubt be very painful. Why hasn’t Obama appointed a Bear Czar? Bears have killed as many people this year as ebola and those blood thirsty monsters have been eyeing me from several states away. And everyone knows once a bear gets the taste of man flesh he is just going to kill more. 35,000 people died in traffic accidents last year, less than the flu.

  85. anjin-san says:

    @charles austin:

    When conservatives renounce racism, I won’t have to call them on it any more. Perhaps you have forgotten about the former GOP House Speaker who denounce the President’s “Kenyan world view”, and the millions of parrots who took up the cry.

    If you will excuse me, I need to call one of my in-laws in Texas now. They just love to talk about how Obama is more African than American.

  86. anjin-san says:
  87. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave D:

    Sure, but that’s just logic and reality.

  88. John425 says:

    @anjin-san: Nah, we don’t need to calm down; not when our President is on the job.
    <a href="www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJEmtLxkEol

  89. Dave D says:

    @Dave D: I meant in the US for both Ebola and bears.

    @michael reynolds: I blame the scientific method.

  90. John425 says:

    @anjin-san: Nah, we don’t need to calm down. Not when our brilliant President is on the job.


  91. anjin-san says:


    Hmm. Maybe you can get a 4th grader to show you how those linky things work…

  92. bill says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: well, the guy who appointed him had no real experience to get the job he has- seems apropos.

  93. bandit says:

    @anjin-san: Good job racist asshole

  94. anjin-san says:


    Good job racist asshole

    During an appearance on Fox News Radio’s The John Gibson Show Tuesday, Fox News contributor and psychiatrist Keith Ablow claimed that President Obama wants the Ebola virus to spread in the United States because “his affiliations are with” Africa. Ablow also stated that Obama considers himself the leader of Africa and not the President of the United States. The member of Fox News’ ‘Medical A-Team’ also went on a rant about the United States only electing Obama because the country was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. In Ablow’s opinion, Americans thought if we elected a black man with a name that sounded like a mix of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein that we would no longer be attacked by terrorists.

    Yep Bandit, liberals are the real racists. Your diligence will be rewarded with a Secret Wingnut Decoder Ring.

  95. anjin-san says:


    I really need to thank you dude. This new insight you have given me into myself totally explains my own inter-racial marriage. I owe you one.

  96. anjin-san says:


    Hey Bandit, maybe I am reading you wrong. Are you saying I am an anti-texite?

  97. charles austin says:

    I apologize and regret climbing into the mud some of the more, well, vocal posters here. I’m trying to avoid it but it gets difficult when attacked repeatedly in what I regard as malicious, unfounded ways.

    I am not freaked out about Ebola. Ebola is an extremely dangerous pathogen and it is because I think I understand how people (official and otherwise) will act that I believe you make a great effort and be diligent about preventing it from entering the country as much as possible and then act aggressively to contain it whenever it does get here. Deaths in West Africa are still accelerating and WHO fears there may be 10,000 new cases a week there before the end of the year. It may be worth noting that WHO’s estimate a few months ago of where West Africa would be today was 300% too low. Médecins Sans Frontière has lost nine health care workers to Ebola in this outbreak. Those were nine well educated, well equipped people — and they still caught it and died. West Africa’s resources have been overwhelmed and they have lost a tremendous number of health care workers. There are only four hospitals in the US currently equipped to quarantine patients and none of them were Dallas Presbyterian. It wouldn’t take a lot to do that here and the first world care would get very difficult to obtain very quickly.

    The flu death statistics keep getting thrown out but again, the flu doesn’t have anything near the mortality of Ebola. More people die of the flu because vastly more people get it every year, and most of the deaths are among the elderly and infirm. The flu is more easily transmitted, thank goodness. Ebola can kill anyone at any stage of life, and treatment options are very limited beyond symptomatic support. The experimental treatments have been exhausted. Hopefully a lot is being thrown into getting more of them available quickly. The reason Ebola hasn’t spread much before is because it was so deadly and it burned out quickly by killing almost everyone infected. Heroic efforts are saving a few people, but I have not seen anything like mortality being reduced to 25% anywhere. There aren’t enough first world data points to work with yet and draw meaningful numbers.

    CDC’s hubris and overconfidence was typical, not just of the current administration but of Western medicine overall. Dr. Frieden is so desperately over his head dealing with this and we’ve only had three cases here so far. His mealy mouthed answers should have got him fired on the spot, and then today the president appoints a political fixer to be his new Ebola czar. Hey guys, it’s not a PR problem. But you have certainly made it into one.

    The things we have seen so far at Dallas Presbyterian and with an infected nurse traveling on multiple planes — because the CDC said it was ok — is what worries me. We will know in 3-4 weeks I suppose. Incidentally, not everyone is symptomatic in 21 days. Some Data from West Africa extend to 42 days before the patient becomes symptomatic. Also, 13% of the patients in West Africa did not have a fever, so the screening of potential patients by temperature is far from prophylactic.

    I take it as a given that more people will be coming to the US with Ebola. We now have 1,500 troops there and more probably on the way. Between them, other healthcare workers, humanitarian attempts to help and people trying to flee, it will keep coming for a while. The question is how strong will the effort to contain it be? IMHO, it’s not strong enough yet, and if you get 1,000 cases throughout the US, the impact on everything is going to dwarf the lost years following 9/11.

    So, if you want to call that freaking out, so be it. I just want to see officials acting non-ideologically with the best interests of the American people in mind. Expressing concern based on history and actual results is not hysteria, not partisan, and not motivated by racial animus. I suppose that may be true of a few lunatics out there, but it is not generally true of the vast majority of people out there.

  98. Grewgills says:

    @charles austin:
    I don’t think what I said could reasonably be characterized as an attack, but I’ll respond anyway.
    1) I bring in flu deaths for perspective and scale. It is true that the flu is MUCH more easily transmitted and it is considerably less dangerous on a case by case basis. That being said, how difficult it is to catch ebola prior to its late stages is very important to consider here. Too many of the talking heads and politicians with eyes to the next election (Rand Paul to name one) have been demagoguing this in a way that is leading people to think that is is MUCH more easily transmitted. The fact that none of Duncan’s family has gotten sick despite living with him in close quarters while he was symptomatic for days should give you a good indication how communicable this disease is.
    2) On fatality rates, the rate in Nigeria was ~40%. The rates I have heard quoted for first world countries have been ~25%. I am pretty sure we can do better than Nigeria here in the US.
    3) Médecins Sans Frontière has about 275 doctors on the front lines of this in West Africa and has treated near 3,000 positive cases so far in far less than ideal situations with substandard gear. They have been doing heroic work with too little resources and support. Nine deaths is too many for these selfless people, but given the numbers and the circumstances is not nearly as bad as it could be.
    4) The CDC has been sending information to hospitals and health departments for months. That information has too often not been acted upon and the CDC cannot force it to be. The friends I have working in hospitals in the South all say that they have very little PPE gear and what they have is not up to necessary standards (not water resistant etc). That is not good news, but that is not on the CDC or the Feds. If the CDC had tried to make its advice mandatory hospital administrators would have been up in arms and we would have heard cries of socialism and totalitarianism from many of the same people trying to make political hay of this situation now.
    5) Regarding the nurse travelling, apparently Vinson didn’t call the CDC. She called Texas health officials. Those officials said they called the CDC then gave her the ok to fly. The only symptoms relayed to the Texas health officials was her very low grade fever. No one has come out with what the Texas health officials relayed to the CDC or to whom in the CDC it was relayed. The ball was dropped here, but with that low grade a fever and no vomiting or diarhea chances of any one else getting infected are very very low.
    6) 1,000 or less cases in the US, barring panic drummed up by the current crowd of people demagoguing this, will cost us far less than the aftermath of 9/11 and most of those costs would go to improved health care. I don’t think we’ll get to near that level, not even a 10th of it, but as far as tragedies go it would rank considerably lower than 9/11.
    7) We don’t need a Czar, but if we’re going to have one it needn’t be a medical professional. It should be someone that is very good at organizing a very large operation with many moving parts who is capable of doing so without playing favorites or allowing corruption and who can handle the media and politicians when needed. Klain appears to have done that with the bailout.
    8) I don’t think most people are squawking for political reasons, but there are a vocal few on here that I think are and a vocal few politicians and talking heads that are as well. Coupled with them are a scad of ignorant television and radio personalities that are making the situation worse with their speculation and unfounded rumor mongering.

  99. anjin-san says:

    There are only four hospitals in the US currently equipped to quarantine patients and none of them were Dallas Presbyterian.

    Hmm. Maybe we should make health care in America about health care, not money.

  100. anjin-san says:

    @charles austin:

    Perfect, call anyone who objects a racist

    Who did I call a racist? Please be specific.

    Also, keep in mind that you are the one bitching about being attacked.

  101. Dave says:

    @Grewgills: Very good reply. Hopefully some commenters will actually read it and engage.

  102. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: Maybe we should make health care in America about health care, not money.

    And maybe, we’ll all ride unicorns. Everything is about money. Everything in government is about how much taxes will be taken from whom.

    Health care doesn’t grow on trees. And even if it did, there would be costs to planting, pruning, irrigating, picking, etc.

  103. anjin-san says:


    Every other advanced country in the world has universal health care. Are we just too lame to figure it out?

  104. Duracomm says:

    Best way to prevent ebola from blowing up is to take it seriously and quickly implement an effective response to it.

    Two presumably well trained nurses who deal with infectious disease and infection control protocols on a daily basis got ebola. That is a serious concern.

    The federal government response to date has been very poor especially since ebola has been brewing in Africa for months and there was always the potential it could reach the US.

    Starting with not sending expert responders to the first case to giving one of the infected nurses permission to travel on a commercial flight while she was showing symptoms of ebola infection.

    If we were dealing with a highly transmissible pathogen that travel permission would have been a disaster.

    The first two cases of ebola caused the hospital ER to shutdown, which means the first 2 ebola cases in the US pretty much crushed a good sized hospitals ability to deal with the disease.

    Not a reason to panic but a clear indication of very substantial failure of the first response system to an emerging disease threat.

    We need to recognize and acknowledge the (hopefully) near miss that occurred, evaluate why it occurred and revamp the system to reduce the chance of future failures.

  105. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’ve taken a bit of time to think things over, and with a bit of quiet contemplation, come to a few notions:

    1) Klain is, in the end, a political fixer. That leads to the conclusion that Obama sees Ebola as a political problem. This is further enhanced by noting that Klain will be reporting to National Security Advisor/Designated Spokesliar Susan Rice.

    2) Yesterday Obama met with his Ebola study group. Klain did not attend, nor did he phone in.

    3) If Dr. Vivek Murthy (Obama’s 30-something Surgeon General nominee) was so critical to the Ebola response, Obama could have named him Ebola Czar.

    4) The current Acting Surgeon General — Admiral Boris Lushniak — is far more qualified to carry out the job than Dr. Murthy.

    Oh, and Bobby Jindal Tweeted the Four Stages of Crisis Management, according to Barack Obama:

    Stage 1 of Obama Crisis Management: Don’t worry, I got this.

    Stage 2 of Obama Crisis Management: I’m so mad.

    Stage 3 of Obama Crisis Management: More money will fix it.

    Stage 4 of Obama Crisis Management: Republicans are obstructing.

  106. anjin-san says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Bobby Jindal

    Are you referring to Bobby “my-boots-were-on-the-ground-after-Katrina” Jindal?

    Oh, and Mitt Romney saved a drowning man…

  107. wr says:

    @Duracomm: “If we were dealing with a highly transmissible pathogen that travel permission would have been a disaster.”

    Well, yeah.

    But we’re not.

    Which could figure in to why someone gave her permission to fly.

    Or, to bring it down to one syllable: Duh.

  108. wr says:

    @anjin-san: Is there a bigger fraud in American politics than Bobby Jindal? I mean, sure, there’s Paul Ryan, but he’s still managing to sucker many of the weaker Washington pundits. But Jindal, that keen intellectual, has managed to demonstrate himself to be a crook and a moron to the fine citizens of Lousiana — people who are so dumb they keep electing Vitter because he claims to high moral values.

  109. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    1) Klain has managed huge multibillion dollar projects with many moving parts without the appearance or favoritism or impropriety. That is what is needed here, not another doctor at the top. The post calls for a manager more than a health care professional.
    2,3 & 4 are entirely irrelevant
    Jindal is a hack that is adding absolutely nothing of substance or value to the conversation.

    I’m still waiting for you to admit you were entirely wrong about the quarantine of Duncan’s family and to direct your ire at them not being quarantined at the people that had the legal authority to do so. I won’t hold my breath.

  110. John425 says:

    @wr: Bigger Frauds? Sure. Martha Coakley, Paul Corzine, Rod Blago, Joe (foot-in-mouth) Biden. The late perpetual drunk and woman-killer Ted Kennedy,
    Nancy Botox Pelosi, impeached judge and now Democrat congressman from Florida, Alcee Hastings, Al Sharpton. I could go on but you get the point, I hope.

  111. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @John425: Let’s toss in a few more: Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren, Harry Reid (who became a multimillionaire while on the public payroll), Hunter “Toot” Biden, Al Gore, Chris Cuomo, Ray “Chocolate CIty” Nagin, Charlie Rangel… do we really need to go on?

  112. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Grewgills: I’m still waiting for you to admit you were entirely wrong about the quarantine of Duncan’s family and to direct your ire at them not being quarantined at the people that had the legal authority to do so. I won’t hold my breath.

    I don’t recall specifically blaming anyone for the Duncan family’s quarantine, just the “authorities” in general. And what was I “entirely wrong” about? I recall saying that the family had agreed to voluntarily quarantine themselves, violated that, and were then forcibly quarantined. And here’s an account supporting that. Has that information been supplanted?

    The whole case has been mishandled from the outset. That we have only two additional cases (at least as far as I’ve heard of) is much like how we haven’t had another major terrorist incident in the US since 9/11: we’ve been lucky. Far luckier than we deserve, to be blunt. Many were attempted, but they were stopped by luck: our good luck and their bad luck.

    However, that the two cases were nurses — health care professionals who, it can be presumed, are far better trained and equipped than the average person — is troubling. They had far more and greater chances for exposure, but it is still very troubling.

    My main point is the same one I have towards terrorist attacks: we’ve been incredibly lucky so far. However, we can’t just hope to keep being lucky. As the saying goes, “hope is not a method.”

  113. Wr says:

    @John425: Yes. You’re a know-nothing who recites whatever he hears from Rush and Sean. You made that point brilliantly.

  114. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t recall specifically blaming anyone for the Duncan family’s quarantine, just the “authorities” in general.

    Here is one of the comments where you blamed the CDC. I pointed you to the limits on their quarantine ability on that same page and you claimed it was somehow conflicting. When I explained how it was not and showed how you had misunderstood the information there you moved on to partisan sniping with others about trivialities.

    I recall saying that the family had agreed to voluntarily quarantine themselves, violated that, and were then forcibly quarantined.

    No, but you did decry the quarantine from the CDC being voluntary. You blamed them for it not being mandatory, despite them not having the legal authority to make it mandatory. You then blamed them for the family breaking that quarantine. This is the first time you have noted that the quarantine was then made mandatory by the state of Texas. Note that the state of Texas is the one with the legal authority to make the quarantine mandatory, which they did after the voluntary quarantine was broken. I notice you still aren’t upset with the Texas authorities for failing to do that earlier. In fact you tried to imply that failure was the fault of the CDC.

    However, that the two cases were nurses — health care professionals who, it can be presumed, are far better trained and equipped than the average person — is troubling.

    They were dealing with Duncan at the very late stages, when he was most contagious and they did not have the PPE gear that was on the CDC protocols for at least part of that time. Note that none of Duncan’s family, who was in close quarters with him when he was symptomatic (fever, vomiting, and diarhea), have come down with the disease. It is not contagious at all until the patient is symptomatic and becomes increasingly contagious as the patient nears the end stages and the viral load in blood and other bodily fluids increases dramatically.

    My main point is the same one I have towards terrorist attacks: we’ve been incredibly lucky so far.

    Any reasonable reading of most of your comments on this in the threads previous to this one has been the CDC has screwed up royally and it all comes down to them and any failings on the part of the the hospital and the Texas government is probably traceable to the CDC. You appear to be walking that back a bit now.

  115. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: @Grewgills:
    I missed this bit where you first called out the CDC for their voluntary quarantine of Duncan’s family.

    @Neil Hudelson: Do you REALLY need a list of just how the CDC has failed thus far?

    Or the family of Mr. Duncan. They, too, were put on “voluntary” quarantine until they started also going out and about.

  116. al-Ameda says:

    We’ve had 4 cases – THAT’S RIGHT, FOUR – 4 cases of Ebola in this country, yet the media and half the people are SCARED TO DEATH!. You’d think there were 400,000 cases.

    The media is selling hysteria and fear, while conservatives are busy blaming Obama (((yawn))) and the CDC. What a pathetic display of angst.

  117. Eric Florack says:

    The reason for an Ebola Czar, particularly given the choice Obama made to fill the role is the same aperachik that tried to force Gore into office in the Florida recount a few years back, seems rairly straightforward. Obama needs someone to manage the political fallout of it.

  118. anjin-san says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Obama needs someone to manage the political fallout response to the right’s PanicFest 2014.


  119. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Okay, you can come out from under your bunker desk now.
    The crisis is over.
    Obama saved you.

    I’ve even piped in some lousy Hank Williams Jr. music to cheer you up.

    Enjoy another Ebola free day.

  120. Maluka says:

    The USA does not need a czar but Klain needed a gig where he could use the power of the federal government for personal gain.