Victory On Foreign Aid!

I am very pleased with the news which ran over the wires this morning.

The White House will not move forward with a multi-billion dollar proposal to cut foreign aid.  Lawmakers from both parties objected to the plan, complaining that it would hurt foreign aid programs while also jeopardizing the massive budget deal reached in July.

This week I wrote about the need to preserve foreign aid funds in the budget.  As we know from reading articles and news accounts from around the world too many populist leaders want to reduce foreign aid but also shift its purpose from helping the neediest abroad to more self-serving political and economic ends.  Too often in these columns, we come to better understand the undermining of the multilateral system, and more to the point, the attempted destruction to the liberal internationalist thinking that underpins it.

We simply could not allow that to also take place with the current administration in Washington.   I have argued before on this blog the United States has a duty, given our economic and international power, to use national altruism for justified ends.  I have stated that in so doing we also serve our own national interests.  It is a win, win.

I have viewed the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination through several lenses.  One of them has been the determination to fight for foreign aid, and use it to marshal forward in the world.  Only Joe Biden has given the full measure of what I desire in our next president when it comes to events on the world stage.  He stated the following in June.

The next president must repair our relationships with our allies and stand up to strongmen and thugs on the global stage to rally the world to meet these challenges. We can reclaim our longstanding position as the moral and economic leader of the world.

The need for such determination and use of funds can be seen clearly with the need to stop Ebola in West Africa.  Not only did the effort stop the loss of life, which could have impacted millions, but with such efforts blunted governmental conflicts, economic collapse, and a global health crisis.

That is just one example as to why the news today from the White House is a most positive one.  We do not get to make such statements often these days in which we live. I am glad to be able not only to make such a statement but to have it made for something so very important.

Will Republicans Pick Up North Korean Idea Over Ebola?

Those of us who consider science more the route to follow than politicians who are promoting their own cause are 100% behind Kaci Hickox.    What is happening in Maine is simply ridiculous as health officials have asked a court to limit the movements of nurse Hickox, who has rightly defied a voluntary quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.   I like safety and precautions as much as everyone else, but I also want science and medial knowledge to guide my actions.

But too many politicians who are playing to the grandstands have allowed themselves to stray from what they know to be the way forward when dealing with this medical matter–especially in a campaign season.  With that in mind comes the news from how North Korea is preparing to handle the matter of Ebola.

One has to wonder if Chris Christie and Paul LePage are taking notes.

North Korean officials plan to quarantine every single foreigner for 21 days over fears of Ebola – even though not a single case of the disease has been reported in the country.

The drastic announcement distributed to foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang said that, regardless of country or region of origin, all foreigners would be quarantined under medical observation for three weeks.

It said foreigners from affected areas would be quarantined at one set of locations, while those from unaffected areas would be sent to other locations, including hotels.

It said the staff of diplomatic missions and international organizations in North Korea would be allowed to stay in their residences.

Senator Ron Johnson Loves To Frighten People Over Ebola

I was with James this past week for an appointment at the UW-Hospital where I heard the intake questions concerning Ebola.  Have you had any  international travels of late, have a fever, etc. etc?  At the end of the intake process I quipped that I had watched some FAUX News and thought I might be contagious with Ebola.  That brought a laugh and a couple lines of comment from the lady at the front desk.

But it underscored a larger point.

Republicans somehow think that ginning up the fear factor over Ebola is a dandy way to increase conservative turnout at the ballot box.  If you can not lure Republicans to cast a ballot on the issues–and Lord knows this mid-term election season has been void of issues–then by all means create fear and get conservatives riled over a medical matter.   It is easier than it sounds as one does not need to add science or facts to the mix–just creat fear.

And this is where we enter Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson enters into the equation

Several Republicans have found a way to work the Ebola virus into criticisms of their Democratic opponents, usually linking an alleged weakness on border security to an enhanced threat from infected persons. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has suggested that the Obama administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are hiding the truth about the transmission of Ebola.

But the prize may go to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who suggested in an interview with the right-wing media organization Newsmax that Islamic State fighters might use Ebola as a biological weapon.

While the GOP has taken the lead on the fear bandwagon, a few Democrats have also jumped aboard, scared to be left behind. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., are among the Dems who have joined the call for travel bans from some West African countries, although health officials have repeatedly said such restrictions would be counterproductive.

Perhaps our elected leaders would be more responsible if the nation were facing an existential threat, as it did in World War II. Perhaps they’d put aside partisanship if Ebola were really poised to create a worldwide pandemic, spiraling through affluent countries as well as poor ones.

History shows us examples of bipartisan cooperation to fight not only Nazi Germany but also the communist threat that lingered for a half-century after that. Unfortunately, that same history shows us many examples of politicians only too willing to inflame passions, incite fear and create panic for personal gain. Sen. Joe McCarthy’s crazed commie-hunt went on for years, destroying not just livelihoods but also lives.

I have no problem with varying ideas and opinions on the issues of the day.  In fact, I much enjoy a frothy debate.  But there must be–has to be–logic and facts brought to the debate.  Johnson only supplies shallow partisan spin and empty rhetoric.

The nation deserves better at a time when people are anxious about this health matter.

Ebola Fears Hurting Democratic Candidates

America notices who is ginning up the fear factors over Ebola as we near Election Day.  There is no doubt why the GOP is doing this, and since I have no great faith that the public can wade through this matter and come to the facts on their own means the political tactic is working for the Republicans.  Let us remember that Elizabeth Taylor had more husbands than there have been cases of Ebola in the United States.

With now another American testing positive for Ebola — this time an American doctor in New York who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea — it’s worth asking: What is the real impact of the political conversation turning, once again, to Ebola? And here’s our answer: It gives Republican candidates another opportunity to nationalize their races. Democrats, as we’ve said before, want to localize their races and paint the portrait that their opponents are too radical… But every day that the conversation is a big national issue — whether it’s Ebola, ISIS, or something else — Democrats lose an opportunity to make their closing argument.

Conservatives Must Recall Reagan’s Failure With AIDS When They Strike At Obama Over Ebola

Many people are watching the fear factor outpace the reality of the situation surrounding Ebola in the United States.  Over the past two weeks the issue has taken on a partisan spin as conservatives take a swipe at the Obama Administration.  What those fear-mongers need however is a slice of history.

It was that ‘great communicator’ President Reagan who had not only the podium but also the skills to dialogue with the nation about the great health issue of his time, AIDS.   But during his two terms in the White House Reagan failed to address the issue.  Like then the issue of a health concern today is one a president needs to weigh in on and work not only to contain as a medical matter with health professionals but also address in even tones with the nation so as not to unduly alarm them.

While President Obama is doing his part to match the science of the matter with needed policies to deal with it, the GOP partisans are attempting to make Ebola a fear factor that might gin up some votes for them come Election Day.

Conservatives might recall, before they start throwing any stones, that  Reagan would not address the issue of AIDS until May 31, 1987 (near the end of his second term), at the Third International Conference on AIDS in Washington. When Reagan spoke, 36,058 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS and 20,849 had died. The disease had spread to 113 countries, with more than 50,000 cases. 

Reagan did not speak out sooner so as not to draw the ire of such ‘educated notables’ in his political base as Reverend Jerry Falwell who had mandated for all conservatives to believe that “AIDS is the wrath of God upon homosexuals.” Meanwhile Reagan’s communications director Pat Buchanan argued that AIDS is “nature’s revenge on gay men.”    Good Lord if anyone looks like they need a roll in the hay to loosen them up it is good-ole Pat!

So when the latest conservative rants against the leadership of Obama start being spewed chalk it up to partisan spin of the most unjust kind.  When it comes to conservatives it always winds up that politics is all that guides them.