Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ebola Czar....reporting to whom?

So Ron Klain has been appointed the ebola czar.  We have a National Institutes of Health, a Center of for Disease Control, and a Department of Health and Human Services, but I guess when there isn't strong enough leadership in the existing bureaucracy a new bureaucrat is deemed necessary.

Ron Klain is a former chief of staff to both vice president Gore and vice-president Joe Biden.  Not sure how that qualifies him.  He has no medical background.  I've heard his appointment defended with the argument that his role is implementation and he's very good at that.  OK.  How is he going to know what to implement?  He will coordinate efforts at multiple agencies-- CDC, NIH, and potentially State Department and even the military.  Does he not need to know what efforts need to be coordinated?
I hope he surrounds himself with knowledgeable people and does get the job done.  Just seems like a medical person at one of the already established organizations ought to have been able to do it.  I guess they are busy with other things.

Even more curious is the fact that Klain will report, not to the president as one would expect, but to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  Yes, the Susan Rice who claimed on all the Sunday talk shows that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a video and that there was no evidence that it was a terrorist attack.  It was not spontaneous.  It was not in response to a video and it was clearly an organized, terrorist attack.  Inexplicably, the media never held her or the administration accountable for misleading the American people.  Yes, that Susan Rice.  One might also ask what does ebola have to do with national security.  Yes, I think one might ask that question.

Ultimately, the administration says Ron Klain will report also to the Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco.  Does anyone else find it odd that ebola is being treated as a national security issue?  It's a health issue.  The Department of Homeland Security was originally established, according to their own website, to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. (their wording)

How is the ebola virus related to terrorism and national security?  And why is Obama treating it this way?  Is he trying to minimize the very real security threats to the United States?  Is he trying to take our eyes off the ongoing threat of radical Islamism?

I find the whole situation very puzzling, including the use of American troops to fight ebola in West Africa.  We should help West Africa in every way we can.  But is this a good use of the military?  Is our president so reluctant to acknowledge the true purpose of the military that he wants to focus our soldiers on a nonmilitary mission?  And call a health threat a national security issue?

The Obama administration continues to keep me wondering....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola Patients Isolated from Loved Ones AND the Sacraments??

I continue to think about and feel saddened by some information given to us at Mass this Sunday.  My pastor explained, in talking about CDC guidelines for ebola, that patients are in complete isolation, unable to even receive visits from their priest and unable to receive the sacraments.

I first thought, What?!  How can that be?  Who could be so insensitive, so cruel as to deny the sacraments to a person in very real danger of dying?  And yet it appears that that is exactly what is going on.

We are told that ebola can be treated safely.  Of course, initial assertions to that effect have turned out to be wrong.  Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vincent, have contracted ebola.  But now the protocols for the required protective gear have been increased.  Presumably, the CDC will continue to say that ebola can be treated safely.

If the medical personnel, when wearing proper protective gear, are safe to enter the room of an ebola patient, then why would a priest in protective gear not be protected?  Or a Eucharistic minister?  I can't think of any reason why an ebola patient should be denied access to a priest!  Nina Pham suffering from ebola right now is a devout Catholic!  And she cannot receive the Eucharist or the Sacrament of the Sick???

For that matter, it also seems logical that an ebola patient should be able to have a family member with them.  Perhaps two at a time as in an ICU.

Is the concern that a priest or loved one might not be able to safely put on and take off the protective gear?  Well, have a professional do it for them!

As a Catholic, I know the tremendous healing power of the sacraments.  But even someone who did not know that ought to be able to understand the spiritual comfort they bring to someone who may indeed be dying!

And to not be in the presence of loved ones?  Are we not to consider the emotional comfort that a loved one brings to a sick person?  Should the worst case scenario unfold should these people have to die alone?  This is inhumane.

Perhaps there are other factors I am not considering.  Perhaps I do not know enough about infectious disease.  It just seems to me that some kind of accommodation could be made that acknowledges the humanity of the suffering patient.

Friday, October 17, 2014

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  As part of the homily at Mass today Father Bob said that it is believed that St. Ignatius of Antioch was the child that Jesus brought before the Apostles when he said, "Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."

What a lovely thought that a young child, used as an example by Jesus, would come to be one of the Fathers of the early Church.  What would it be like to be that child, singled out by Jesus, held by Jesus.  Is it any wonder that Ignatius became a great saint, martyred for the faith.

Read more about his life here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just my (perhaps uninformed) two cents...on banning travel from West Africa

I find the refusal to ban travel from the countries with large ebola outbreaks curious.  Does it not just make sense that one way to stop ebola from getting here is to not allow people, temporarily, to travel here from those countries?

The reasons I have heard to not ban travel seem flimsy.  What about relief efforts and aid workers?  Well, clearly, exceptions could be made for those people.  Perhaps even arrange for charter flights for them.  There could even be humanitarian exceptions made for people separated from family, funerals to attend, etc.  I think that problem could easily be handled.

Wealthy people could still simply travel to another country first, and then here.  Well, not if you do not accept people into this country holding passports from the nations where the disease is widespread.  It could stop with the passports.

People will then lie about where they've been.  Well, they could, but there would be a lot fewer people trying.  Isn't that like saying we shouldn't ban people from coming here because then they'll lie and come here anyway?  The current system allowed someone in who had been exposed to ebola.  Perhaps he did not know it.  The current open system did not prevent ebola from being brought to this country.

I have noticed there is a real dichotomy among people advocating for a travel ban and those resisting it. Liberals resist the ban.  Conservatives favor it.  Why is that?

I think liberals associate a travel ban with segregation and they are extremely sensitive to anything that looks like that.  Well, we do isolate patients here.  Why should it not be done on a global level?

Would we be abandoning countries that are poor and less equipped to handle medical emergencies than we are?  Not at all.  We could pour American resources at the situation.  We could give big grants to organizations already on the ground who have the knowledge and the wherewithal to handle ebola.  Doctors Without Borders, Catholic Relief Services, International Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse come to mind. We could build clinics!  We could send personnel. We could provide protective equipment.  Banning travel would not have to mean ignoring the problem or abandoning the suffering people!!

But it could mean preventing the disease from becoming widespread in the United States.

Am I missing something?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And the Birthday Celebration Continued....

The surprise party was a little before my birthday and on the actual of my birthday we had a small family celebration as well.  My family is so good to me.

Complete with gifts...

Gluten Free Cupcakes...

These cupcakes were amazing.  They really tasted no different than cupcakes made with wheat!  So good I asked my daughters if they were SURE they were gluten free.  And, yes, they were sure.

Then my children (all of them) gave me this locket from a company called Origami Owl.  It's a glass locket!  Each of the charms inside represent something significant to the people in our family.  It's so cute!  They had ten charms to go with it:  a teapot, a lighthouse, a sailboat, an airplane, piano keys, a medical symbol, a camera, a dancing shoe, a bicycle, and a drama mask!!  I love it.  In fact, I'm wearing it at this very moment!!

Thank you, Everyone, for making this birthday so very special.  Thank you for the gifts, all your work, the time, and, most of all, for your love!!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

"The whole Earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6:3

Yes, the whole Earth is full of his glory.  Indeed.  I don't know how one can make the case that there is no God or that there might be no God when His glory is all over creation.  It's all over!!!

And I must say that, in Michigan, His glory is especially evident in the Fall.  I mean it's just gorgeous.  It really is.  The changing leaves are just getting started and there still are some hardy flowers left.  We must savor them.  Winter is coming.

Some views of God's creation that came before my eyes today....What a beautiful day it was!

Changing leaves....

Flowers hanging on....

As always, God is good.  All the time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Kale! It's the new broccoli!

Remember when broccoli was all the rage as an extremely nutritious vegetable?  A grocery cashier recently told me she was amazed at the number of people buying kale.  Don't get me wrong.  Broccoli is a good vegetable.  But kale surpasses it in a couple areas. Broccoli has 87% of the daily requirement for vitamin A compared to kale's 206%.  Broccoli has 494% of the daily requirement for vitamin K. (not bad!) But kale has 684%!

There's just one problem with kale.  It's not very tasty.  It's kind of bitter and a little chewy.  So you have to have a good recipe to doctor it up if you're going to eat kale and enjoy it.

I posted this kale slaw recipe a while ago but I'm posting it again because the kale in my garden (pictured above) is doing great.  It's a Martha Stewart recipe and you can find her link here.  I'm amazed that my entire family, everyone, loves this recipe.  And it's kale!!

Kale Slaw

2 large bunches of kale (but not TOO large) --about ten cups
1 yellow, orange, or red pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise (or julienned looks pretty if you have a slicer)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts (a different 1/4 cup :-)

Slice kale crosswise thinly.  (If you use curly kale it will look like that crinkly packing material)
Thinly slice pepper lengthwise. (or chop in bite size pieces)
Toss carrots, pepper, and kale.
Puree 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup salted peanuts, 2 T brown sugar, and salt.
Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. (Or anytime.  I like it poured over earlier, even hours earlier.)
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped.

This recipe can also be made with almonds, but use a smaller amount of almonds in the dressing. (gets too thick otherwise)

I may make it today.  It's delicious!!