Of Hobgoblins and Quarantines


You’d think terrorists would supply Our Rulers with all the hobgoblins they need to keep Americans scared and submissive. But no. Now they’re exploiting the seriously sick.

AP reports, "The government is investigating how a globe-trotting tuberculosis patient drove back into the country even after his name was put on a no-fly list provide [sic] to border guards… [W]orried infection specialists say it shows how vulnerable the nation is… to killer germs carried by travelers. What if, they ask, the now-quarantined man had carried not hard-to-spread tuberculosis but something very contagious like the next super-flu?"

What if, indeed. And when our manipulative masters muse, the toadies in the mainstream media race to furnish a microphone. Banks of them, in fact, as well as the reams of newsprint they aren’t devoting to Ron Paul.

Meanwhile, consumptive Andrew Speaker seems to be one of those rare Americans who trusts his own judgement. He realizes that "infection specialists," doctors, and other "experts" belch, hiccup, and start off in diapers like the rest of us. Heavens, they even make mistakes now and again. Andy refuses to kowtow, especially when said experts put their interests ahead of his.

Which is precisely what the assorted busybodies in this sad tale are doing. We begin with the health department of Fulton County, Georgia. They claim they urged Andy not to travel, given his TB. Andy disputes that.

He contends that when he mentioned his plans to marry in Greece, no one suggested he cancel his trip. Instead, all agreed he would undergo treatment later at a hospital in Denver, the only one with expertise in treating his particular strain of TB. Who’s telling the truth? My money’s on Andy rather than a bunch of butt-covering bureaucrats.

The newlyweds were already abroad when doctors learned that Andy’s TB was more virulent than suspected. This diagnosis would have earned its victim sympathy in more civilized times; our barbaric age vilifies him as a public enemy. Turns out Andy’s new father-in-law works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — researching TB, in fact. He is adamant that neither he nor the CDC’s labs, "u2018which operate under the highest levels of biosecurity,’" could have infected Andy. Let’s hope his bureaucracy guards its germs better than it does the funds it "misappropriates." Nor will the older man "comment" on whether he ratted out Andy to "federal health authorities." Regardless, the long arm of the CDC found the honeymooners in Rome. The agency ordered them not to fly home for the treatment that would save Andy’s life lest he endanger everyone else aboard the plane. Instead, he was to turn himself in to "Italian health authorities." Andy, bless his heart, saw through that one. "I thought to myself: u2018You’re nuts.’"

It got worse. "They told me I had been put on the no-fly list and my passport was flagged." Both statements were lies. Though the CDC would eventually try to bar this American citizen from returning home, it hadn’t yet. But here’s still another totalitarian use for the totalitarian No-Fly List.

Add "independent" and "enterprising" to Andy’s other virtues: he determined to get himself home despite the CDC. He and his wife flew a foreign airline to Canada, rented a car, and drove across the border into New York. "We just wanted to come home and get treatment," Andy told the Journal-Constitution. Who wouldn’t?

Naturally, our hero’s homecoming has Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a swivet. He ranted to AP that this "shows that something is wrong with the training and supervision of our border agents. We put all this time and effort into identifying those who shouldn’t enter our country, but what good is it if it can be brushed aside by a border guard? I shudder to think that this individual could have been a terrorist." Aw, Chuckie, you shudder at your own shadow. Imagine a grown man so cowardly he sees a terrorist in a tubercular.

From New York, Andy went to Denver. He’s now under guard and firmly in the CDC’s clutches, with the agency precariously balanced between its veneer of compassion and its lust for control. Its employees are supposed to be concerned and caring. But they’re also government officials who can force treatment on their victims — not a happy vision after Josef Mengele. And so they pussy-foot around their power over Andy.

The CDC has an appropriately martial history. "Descended from the wartime agency Malaria Control in War Areas (MCWA)," it was founded in 1946 as the Communicable Disease Center. Ostensibly, it battled the South’s mosquitoes. But a generation of the critters had barely bred and died before the CDC leaped those narrow walls. "Today," its website burbles, "CDC is the nation’s premiere health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency and a global leader in public health. It…[tries] to prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, workplace hazards, disabilities, and environmental health threats." As "one of the 13 major operating components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)," this bureaucracy eagerly trashes the Constitution, compassion, human dignity and decency, all for only $8.5 billion a year.

And what of the CDC’s fascist quarantines? First, let’s get our terms straight: "Isolation," the agency prissily informs us, is "For People Who Are Ill." Quarantine, on the other hand, applies to "People Who Have Been Exposed But Are Not Ill." Nor does the CDC shy from flexing its power here: "Both are common practices in public health…. Both may be undertaken voluntarily or compelled by public health authorities." What happens to victims condemned without benefit of trial to either? "People in isolation may be cared for in their homes, in hospitals, or in designated healthcare facilities…. In most cases, isolation is voluntary; however, many levels of government (federal, state, and local) have basic authority to compel isolation of sick people to protect the public." [Emphasis added.]

The CDC blames its abuse of sick folks on the Constitution: "The federal government has authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution to prevent the interstate spread of disease." That’s another whale of a whopper. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 merely authorizes Congress "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

But the CDC’s tyrants are too busy finessing Andy’s kidnapping to worry about the Constitution. "Normally when someone has tuberculosis, we influence them through a covenant of trust," CDC Director Julie Gerberding sniffed. Poor gal: Andy’s odyssey left her no choice but to issue a "federal isolation order," though she allows that "in this case the patient had a compelling personal reason for traveling.” She also admits that he "broke no laws in his travels." A pity: that would certainly save face as the CDC stations an armed deputy before Andy’s hospital room.

Justifying Julie’s crime is Lawrence Gostin, a "public health law expert" at Georgetown University. Larry’s never met a quarantine he didn’t love. In 2002, he drafted the "Model State Emergency Health Powers Act." Twila Brase reported in the Freeman that this was an "unprecedented, comprehensive health surveillance and medical martial law" for which "the CDC reportedly agreed to pay Gostin $300,000 a year for up to three years to write…" Larry sees his fellow man not as a courageous consumptive or tragic newlywed but as "u2018a hole’ in the nation’s disease-security system….'[His] instinct to get back to the United States in this case is understandable,’" Larry grants. "u2018But that’s exactly what the law’s there for, to prevent a person from endangering other people.’" Oh, Larry, please: the law’s there to control a person. "We need to update the entire process." Wanna bet that transfers another $300,000 of our taxes into Larry’s pocket?

Other CDC bureaucrats tried to excuse Andy’s imprisonment by conflating "the right thing" with "obedience to authorities." Dr. Martin Cetron decreed, "We need to rely on people to do the right thing. Can we improve our systems? Absolutely. There will be many lessons learned from this." Why do I suspect they’ll all teach Leviathan to forge more chains?

And so Andy is guarded in his hospital bed as heavily as a politician or other criminal. "I’m a very well-educated, successful, intelligent person," he protested to the Journal-Constitution. "This is insane to me that I have an armed guard outside my door when I’ve cooperated with everything other than the whole solitary confinement in Italy thing."

Seems Andy doesn’t understand his role as hobgoblin.