Well that was an interesting chat with Dr. Ben Carson. Audio and transcript coming asap and will be posted below. But first, the to-do list for the weekend.
If you like in Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire or North Carolina, the four closest Senate contests at this point, go to the websites of Cory Gardner, David Perdue, Scott Brown or Thom Tillis respectively, and offer to walk a precinct or spend a few hours at a call center. Throw yourselves into the final two weekends of the campaign.
If you don’t live in any of those six states, visit their websites anyway and see if they need virtual volunteers, or leave a last donation behind, even five bucks or $50 or $100. It matters. Enromously in the closing days.
Call your friends and family in those states. Email them. Here’s a suggested short note:
I am writing in the hope of reminding you that election day is November 4 and ____ is running for ______ in your state. Seriously, I never do this, but I am so concerned for the country and the need to change direction and rebalance government. We just have to add some common sense into the D.C. equation, and especially get Harry Reid out of a position of power. he has badly, badly ill-served the country, and we just can’t have two more years of this with ISIS and Ebola and a weak economy crippling us and the world.
Eras where one party has controlled the White House and the other party both houses of the Congress have been spectacularly productive in the past, and could be again with a GOP sweep on November 4. I have no idea for whom you intend to vote or even if you intended to vote at all. A lot of folks are just disgusted. But we can’t keep drifting this way towards chaos. Please consider voting for ____. Call me if you’d like to discuss it.
As for the news, watch to see how Ron Klain staffs his effort. (See this post.) Watch Meet the Press which improves with each week and is rapidly regaining altitude as Chuck Todd brings balance asnd serious questions to the table with an excellent mix of guests. Hopefully by Monday Klain will have explained to the president that a travel ban on non-U.S. passport holding residents from the three countries in which the hot zone is located may not enter the U.S. unless they have been elsewhere for at least 21 days. This is not draconian, not international trade destroying, and consistent with reducing risk of new cases at the margin which matters quite a lot as the U.S. is the key responding country and needs to be focused on getting aid to Africa, not obsessing over cases that got through here. Every non-essential traveler from that region denied entry to the U.S. reduces risk, and risk mitigation is the essence of public health. The biggest obstacle to this is the embarrassment the president thinks he will suffer, though in truth the political disaster of his handling of this is already baked deep into the November 4 cake and cannot be removed. He screwed up, big time. Just like with those pesky “jayvees” of ISIS.
I had a civil email exchange with Tom Formann of CNN over his reporting of the difficulties of travel ban, and Tom declined to come on the show Friday though admittedly the invitation arrived on Friday afternoon after his report aired and the fellow might actually have dinner with his wife planned. But it wasn’t good reporting because it didn’t fairly deal with the obvious benefit of a common sense approach to travel restrictions from the hot zone and how they differ markedly from the travel bans connected with SARs. Hopefully the reporting will improve but the sense lingers that Beltway media is still trying to protect this hapless president from the political consequences of his serial ineptitudes.
And be sure to watch the Bucks on Saturday crush Rutgers, the Irish takes on the Seminoles and the Browns beat the Jaguars on Sunday behind Brian Hoyer. Even after weeks that are horrible on lots of levels, there is always Bucks, Irish and Browns football to give us a diversion.
But then send a few more emails during the games on Sunday night.
Finally, Dr. Ben Carson joined me on Friday’s show to discuss the Ebola cases.
HH: I am joined by Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
BC: Thank you. Always good to be with you.
HH: Dr. you’re such a well-established and well-regarded national figure, the professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. You’ve won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. You did the National Prayer Breakfast. You wrote One Nation. If President Obama called you up right now and said Dr. Carson, we need a surgeon general who will command respect and will generate calm, would you please serve, would you accept that?
BC: No. No, because I would, if I were going to serve in that position, I would have to serve under someone that I trusted.
HH: If he said I will not interfere with the guidance you give, we need someone to rally the country around being calm and appropriately prepared, you really, you’d say no to the president of the United States?
BC: Yes. Absolutely.
HH: I’m shocked.
BC: (laughing) Well, you shouldn’t be, because it doesn’t, you know, I look at some of the other people, and I know them, you know, who are speaking on behalf of the administration. And I feel that they’re being constrained in what they’re saying.
HH: Do you have confidence in Dr. Frieden?
BC: I think if Dr. Frieden were 100% free to say what he wanted to say, I think he would be saying some different things.
HH: What do you think he’d be saying?
BC: I think he’d be saying of course, banning flights coming from infected areas makes sense. That would be the first thing he’d say. And you know, I think he would be concentrating a lot more on finding out what exactly happened to transmit this disease to health care workers. You know, we still only have a vague notion, and that’s really a very important piece of information to come up with.
HH: What degree of risk, how do you convey to people who ask you the degree of risk the average American faces right now?
BC: Well, right now, the average American doesn’t face much risk at all. Bear in mind, you know, we have excellent medical facilities, expertise, protocols, and unless you’re in direct contact with an infectious patient, you’re very unlikely to contract this disease right now. However, here’s the issue. If we don’t get it under control in Western Africa, and it spreads across that continent and into the Middle East, where it’s a more likely place for it to really catch hold, because there’s a lot of poverty, and sanitation is not optimal in many places there, and that’s the kind of place where this can really spread, and from there, who know where it will spread? Who knows what happens if it gets into South and Central America? And it doesn’t matter how good our protocols are at that point. We’re going to be inundated.
HH: Now Dr. Carson, I’m just a lawyer and a broadcast journalist, and I had an exchange earlier with Tom Foreman of CNN, who’s a pretty good reporter, but I took objection to a report he did on the travel ban and the efficacy. And the way I see it, if you’re not a passport-holding U.S. citizen, and you are a resident of the hot zone, we should not allow you in until you’ve been 21 days outside of that hot zone somewhere else, because it reduces our marginal risk of an additional case. That’s just common sense to me. Am I right?
BC: You’re exactly right. I mean, you don’t even have to be a medical expert to recognize that. I mean, that’s such basic knowledge. And you know, many of the African countries have shut off their borders to people coming from the infected areas.
HH: Because you just want to reduce your margin of risk.
BC: Of course.
HH: And if you have a hundred people coming in, you’re more at risk than if you have ten, especially if, by the way, do you credit the WHO’s estimate of 10,000 new cases a week by December?
BC: Well, certainly there’s that kind of potential. I sure hope that doesn’t happen, but you know it yourself from basic math. Two times two is four, times two is eight, times two is sixteen. You do that a few times, you get into some pretty large numbers pretty quickly.
HH: Sure, I actually was working it out on the air, and correct my very minimal epidemiology, but if we have a thousand cases a week today, and the WHO is right, and it’s 10,000 cases a week in six weeks, then one would believe that six weeks later, you’d have 100,000 cases a week. Am I right?
BC: It could easily happen.
HH: Well, in that case, how do you fight a pandemic?
BC: Well, like I said, the key is putting the people and the resources in the epicenter, and getting it under control there. If it gets out of there in an uncontrolled way, forget about it.
HH: What do you suspect, and again, you haven’t treated either of the nurses who are victims of patient, the index patient, what do you suspect happened from all you can garner, and I’m sure you’re talking to a lot of sources that I don’t have access to?
BC: Look, it’s very hard to say, but a lot of times when you’re taking off the protective equipment, if you don’t take it off in exactly the right sequence, you can become contaminated. One of the things that we learned early on when dealing with infectious diseases is how to gown and glove and mask, and most, just as importantly, how to degown and deglove and damask. All of those have to be done in the proper order.
HH: A study out of the University of Minnesota suggested that respirators ought to be standard equipment for people dealing with active Ebola patients. Do you agree with that?
HH : Yeah, the self-contained breathing units.
BC: Oh, okay. Well, I’m not sure that that’s necessary. We have no evidence whatsoever that it’s borne by way of a respiratory pathway. However, I wouldn’t strenuously object to it, because why not get out ahead of it? Why not take extra precautions? I’d rather take extra precautions and see that I was overdoing it than not to do enough.
HH: Do you believe we’ve seen the last case in the United States generated by the index patient, not necessarily a new entrant, but by the index patient?
BC: No way to know, absolutely no way to know that.
HH: All right, then I want to return to my first question, because I’m still a little bit shocked. Is there any way that the President could restore his trust, your trust in him, so that you would accept the job, because there are very few doctors who actually could command conservative belief that this wasn’t being politicized? That’s the big reaction to the Ron Klain appointment today, is that it’s a political guy, it’s a cover-up, and that Ben Carson as surgeon general would put an end to that speculation, and I do believe would be a service.
BC: Yeah, if he were to demonstrate that he really was concerned about our freedoms in this nation, and that he was willing to say repeal Obamacare and talk about how do we get real health care, so that I’d recognize that he really was interested in this being America where we worked out our problems together, not where the government imposed its will on the people, I might consider it then.
HH: Would you accept an invitation from him to come and talk about it at the White House?
BC: Sure, absolutely.
HH: And has that happened yet, by the way?
BC: No, I’ve not received any invitations since the Prayer Breakfast.
HH: All right, I’ve got to ask you now, given your role at the Prayer Breakfast, this week, the Mayor of Houston served subpoenas on pastors in Houston in an attempt to intimidate them contrary to the 1st Amendment. It’s thugocracy. It’s like Mayor Putin of Houston. Are you surprised by that turn of events?
BC: I was a little shocked by that, that it was so blatant, because it’s clearly unconstitutional. And I was pleased, however, that there was such an immediate outcry. I was actually there in Houston while that was going on. I was with Pastor Ed Young down there. And you know, they have, they stood up to it, and it’s a wonderful example for Americans. We have to stand up for what we believe, and we have to do it right away, because the progressive movement will just keep pushing their agenda. And as long as they’re getting no resistance, they will not stop.
HH: I recommended every Christian in America send her flowers, you know, just be nice and loving and ask her to stop attacking the pastors. What did Ed Young do, and what did the pastors do down there, to your knowledge?
BC: Well, they held a press conference, they’ve been writing several articles. They’ve been doing a lot of speaking out on interviews, and just saying that they’re not going to cooperate, because you know, this is an invasion of their privacy. It’s an offense to religious liberty and to freedom of speech, and there’s no way that they’re going to submit to it. And I think that’s exactly the right tack to take.
HH: We agree. Dr. Ben Carson, follow him on Twitter @RealBenCarson, I appreciate you taking the time with us today. I hope you rethink that surgeon general question should the call come.
End of interview.