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Obama, Ebola, and the ISIS of Doom

An Opening for the Decadent Christian Right To Return Us To the Days of the Caliphate

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

When bird flu, in new variants, started up about a decade back, we were told that a pandemic was sure to sweep the world within a short amount of time. We had no vaccine for it, and may not yet, but bird flu has seemingly come under control, primarily by burning entire farms and bird stocks throughout South Asia. Bird flu is still out there, could morph into an airborne contagion way beyond what we've experienced, and is a grim fate once contracted.

But the Ebola epidemic in western Africa is actual, has already completed its preseason warm ups, and is blooming, helped by incompetence and fear and the lies people tell to keep their family together. It isn't airborne per se but requires contact, which sounds easy to control, but it can be passed by cockroach, bat, farm animal to bird populations through their feces and it does so quickly. It's very bad already, and estimates are now in on what we can expect. In short, in four months nearly one and a half million people might be infected, near all in Africa. That's if we essentially do nothing which, since we're talking about Africa, might well be the chosen route, based on precedent. The World Health Organization says, in the New England Journal of Medicine, the world can expect 20,000 Ebola cases by early November.

The pandemic feared adheres very closely to the film Contagion a few years back, which graphically showed how a disease in inland China got to Hong Kong, and from there to the rest of the world. Ebola hemorrhagic fever won't arrive here quite like that. But almost. The known cases so far only total about 5800, but nobody thinks that is more than a fraction of the actual cases. What is known is that less than half the people who need help aren't getting it.

Far worse, the current epidemic covers so large an area - near all of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea - that it could last for years. The longer it lasts, the more chance it will easily drift into population centers around the world. Should Beijing, Mumbai, or Cairo get it, things could get very dicey. If it gets to Rio or Mexico City, it will be among us soon and endure for decades at the least. Such a huge epidemic would test the physical abilities of the United States to address over a million of its own suffering, but we could probably weather it, and it seems we're close to a vaccine. Not so in the poorer nations south of us.

You can easily see how this could be used by the political right, as in fact they are trying to scare the hell out of us. They want immigration - all of it - to cease and would love the opportunity to shoot folks at our borders. They want a disaster they can blame on Africa, i.e. black people and guess who is President? But primarily they want us to return to the feudal world just a surely as ISIS does.

Bill O'Reilly this week came up with his way to end the ISIS threat. It was simple: hire a mercenary army to do it. Equip it and pay it and they do all the work and suffer all the consequences and we'd all benefit. This is the reasoning of a an ignorant child. Missing from the mighty O'Reilly's observations was any appreciation of the instability of mercenaries through history and their tendencies to go with the highest bidder and to moonlight rather frequently. They could never be trusted, and would be little different than the Muslim groups we armed and supported in Afghanistan when the Russians owned their own fiasco a few decades back. Didn't that work out well?

But O'Reilly is on the same page as Eric Prince, the founder of Blackwater mercenaries. Prince and his partners wanted Blackwater to become a sort of Foreign Legion to the US: highly trained mercenaries who could do the stuff the formal military branches would not. And that plays right into the far Right's Bucket List: they want their fellow citizens to pay for their private armies and profit the backers, just as they do in education, medicine, and government in general. They want to convince us that private enterprise, despite much evidence, does everything better than government. A pandemic threat with border invasion combines the two into a highly pliable issue for them to use. And there is no vaccine for that; we have to fight it.