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Another day, another Democrat non-sequitur

WaPo:  “Mike Pence was criticized for his handling of Indiana’s HIV outbreak. He will lead the U.S. coronavirus response.”

With all due respect — which is to say, zero — fuck the Washington Post.

First of all, let’s get something straight:  HIV is not coronavirus, or vice versa.  HIV is not an airborne-spread disease, or even a surface-contact-spread disease.  You actually have to work at getting HIV.  Wearing a P95 mask and washing your hands after you go to the lavatory will not protect you from HIV.  But not engaging in stupid behavior will, 9 times out of 10, prevent you from getting HIV.

Once contracted, HIV is generally something you’ll live with the rest of your life and unless you have big bucks to pay for exotic treatments, it will likely end up killing you, whereas coronavirus can be treated comparatively easily and death is very unlikely (the fatality rate (percentage) is in single digits at this point (3.4%; by way of comparison, SARS had a fatality rate of 9.6%); the vast majority of people who contract coronovirus will apparently recover from it. Indeed the recovery curve is trending sharply higher than the new cases curve. See here for example, and ignore the “hockey stick” one-day surge in new cases where China changed their reporting methodology — note that the number of new cases almost immediately leveled off to effectively the same rate as before, and has since almost flatlined).

The only point of congruence between HIV and coronavirus that I can see is that they are both viruses.

The problem is, too many people engage in the stupid behaviors that promote transmission of HIV.  Unprotected sex with multiple partners, and sharing of needles amongst drug addicts, are probably the most common ways to get HIV.

Sure, you can get HIV from a blood transfusion (vanishingly rare these days) or from a partner who is either cheating on you, or knew they had the virus and didn’t tell you.  That’s mostly how otherwise monogamous and non-drug-addicted straights get it, and such has always been the case.  People who are in monogamous lifetime relationships (whether married or not) are unlikely to contract HIV, regardless of what the LGBT community would like you to think.

But the WaPo beats on Pence for voting to cut funding for Planned Parenthood in 2011, when he was in Congress, which allegedly led to the 2013 closing of a PP clinic that was “the only HIV-testing center in Scott County, Ind.” due to spending cuts in public health.  Whether or not the one led directly to the other, and again with zero due respect to the WaPo, this seems to suggest that there was no other clinic or blood-testing center anywhere near Scott County that could do blood work and test for HIV.  This seems specious.  Scott County covers only 200 square miles in southern Indiana. For those playing along at home, 200 square miles is a square about 14 miles on a side — Scott County isn’t square, but bottom line, it’s just not that big of a place.  By comparison, Marion County, Indiana (Indianapolis), is 400 square miles, 20 miles square.  My point here is that the Louisville metro area is right down a major interstate highway (I-65) from Scott County, just 20 miles from the southern border of Scott County to the Ohio River.  And I’m sure there are plenty of places in New Albany, Clarksville, and Jeffersonville to handle HIV testing.  To make an isolated statement that there is no clinic in all of Scott County to do HIV testing completely ignores the fact that Scott County is just not all that isolated.  Hell, Indianapolis is only 60 miles or so north, and that ignores Columbus which is only about 30 miles north.

Pence as governor waited a whole two months from the start of an HIV outbreak in 2015 to declare a public state of emergency.

But what caused the outbreak?  It was “attributed to people injecting Opana, an addictive painkiller, with shared needles.  But Pence didn’t agree with federal health experts that distributing clean needles was a good idea.”

Well, of course not, you blithering fools.  That just encourages the addicts to keep on abusing their drug of choice.  And Pence got that:  “I don’t believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia” is what he told the Indianapolis Star.

The rest of the article is just more stupid shit bashing Pence for his response to the HIV epidemic by advocating that he should have made it easier for addicts to get their fix.  And a non-sequitur tossed in near the end about his comment (taken out of context) when he was a congressman that smoking doesn’t kill.*  But the problem was not so much the HIV epidemic than the addiction problem itself.  The HIV epidemic was a secondary effect to the primary cause of addicts shooting up with shared needles.

ADDICTS.  Addicts by definition are sick people who need treatment.  That’s why we call them addicts, and there is a medical term for their problem:  Addiction.

Isn’t the actual best treatment for drug addiction getting people into treatment programs and off the damn drugs in the first place?  Why in hell would we want to tell an addict, “It’s OK, you can keep shooting up without fear of contracting HIV, here are clean needles for you to keep illegally abusing drugs”?

As far as dealing with a potential coronavirus outbreak in the US (15 cases in the US plus 40-odd cases among Americans on a cruise ship who have now been repatriated to the US and are being counted as US cases) are not a US outbreak), the solution from the point of view of the Federal Government should be pretty simple, and this is the nuts and bolts of Pence’s job:

  • Ensure that there is a large supply, preferably locally-sourced in the US, of P95 masks.  This won’t happen, the swamp won’t allow it, but:  Don’t hoard them at the government level, make sure they’re available to local retailers, Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc.  I notice this morning that P95 masks are all but gone from Amazon.  (Most of them are made in China, so…)
  • Close porous borders (build the fucking wall!) and quarantine anyone entering the country from a problem area.
  • Immediately block inbound non-stop flights from problem areas.  We shouldn’t be accepting any flights from Asia, at this point.
  • Push like hell to find a vaccine.
  • Be prepared to take even more drastic measures if things really get bad.  Read John Ringo’s The Last Centurion as a case study in what not to do at the FedGov level.  (Thank God we didn’t elect Hillary, is all I have to say.)

If an outbreak really does start up and look like it’s going to spread, then people need to avoid social contact and stay home for a couple of weeks.  Schools need to put together plans to teach online, or by television/telephone if families aren’t able to afford internet connections, businesses that can need to let their people telecommute.

I’m lucky — I’m a telecommuter, and the company I work for isn’t likely to shut down, because in a pinch, we can all telecommute.  My wife, on the other hand, isn’t a telecommuter, and her job is such that it can’t be done remotely.  So people in that sort of situation need also to figure out how they are going to live for a couple of weeks if one or both spouses can’t work and aren’t being paid.  That means put money aside if at all possible, and stock up on bottled water and canned goods and dry staples so you have food in the house.  The likelihood is that utilities will keep running, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to ensure that you have a way to generate power and heat, just in case.

Bottom line:  Don’t panic, and don’t bother reading the WaPo or other proggy media for real news about coronavirus.

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* What he actually wrote on his congressional website was this (the part the WaPo took out of context is bolded):

In the coming weeks, Americans are going to be treated with the worst kind of Washington-speak regarding the tobacco legislation currently being considered by the Congress and Attorney Generals from forty different states. We will hear about the scourge of tobacco and the resultant premature deaths. We will hear about how this phalanx of government elates has suddenly grown a conscience after decades of subsidizing the product which, we are now told, “kills millions of Americans each year”.

Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you…. news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit. The relevant question is, what is more harmful to the nation, second hand smoke or back handed big government disguised in do-gooder healthcare rhetoric.

The tobacco settlement is not only about big taxes it’s about big government. Under the current Senate version, the deal would require the creation of 17 new government bureaucracies to manage the tax windfall described above. But it is also about big government on a much more profound scale, namely, government big enough to protect us from ourselves. Even a conservative like me would support government big enough to protect us from foreign threats and threats to our domestic tranquility but the tobacco deal goes to the next level. Government big enough to protect us from our own stubborn wills. And a government of such plenary power, once conceived will hardly stop at tobacco. Surely the scourge of fatty foods and their attendant cost to the health care economy bears some consideration. How about the role of caffeine in fomenting greater stress in the lives of working Americans? Don’t get me started about the dangers of sports utility vehicles!

Those of you who find the tobacco deal acceptable should be warned as you sit, reading this magazine, sipping a cup of hot coffee with a hamburger on your mind for lunch. A government big enough to go after smokers is big enough to go after you.

Frankly, I don’t see a hell of a lot wrong with this.  I’d have to assume he got his statistics from the CDC or NIH or similar; I doubt he pulled them out of his ass, because Pence doesn’t work that way (and he had access to government statistics, so why not use them?).  Pence had no particular reason to back Big Tobacco, Indiana is not a tobacco state, but as a conservative from a conservative state, he did have a reason to oppose more federal government interference in our lives.  I don’t read anywhere in the Constitution where the FedGov has a duty or the right to tell me I can’t smoke.  (I don’t smoke, because as I’ve probably written multiple times on this blog, ever since my wife quit cold turkey in 2006, I haven’t been able to so much as walk into a smoky room (or even sit next to someone whose clothing is infused with smoke, which memorably happened once when I was out of town) without contracting bronchitis.  I had to put my pipes away and haven’t touched them for well over a decade.  But that’s between me and my doctor, not me and the FedGov.)