Thursday, October 06, 2005

The World is Going to Hell in a Handbasket: This Week's Edition

So. We've got this possible avian flu PANDEMIC problem. Not that I'm panicking, personally. I'm not the anxious, panicky type. I'm more the wildly terrified soul, myself. I repeat: PANDEMIC. And who's in charge of our national response to it? Why, cronies and idiots, of course?

Idiots. Perhaps that's a bit strong. How about ignorant fellows? The Health and Human Services Secretary, Michael Leavitt, said "The probability that we'll have a pandemic flu is unknown," Leavitt said at a Washington health technology conference. "I will tell you from all I hear from scientists and physicians it is relatively low, but it is not zero."

He must be talking to different scientists than the ones who are strongly concerned about the distinct possibility of a
PANDEMIC. The CDC, for instance, seems quite concerned about the possibility of a PANDEMIC. And Bush himself is urging drug manufacturers to make massive quantities of the vaccine.

OK. I know the bolding and capping of
PANDEMIC is probably becoming a bit annoying. But we're talking about a pandemic, for crying out loud. A pandemic that most of the scientific world seems to think is a probability rather than a possibility, yet our HHS Secretary says it's barely a possibility.

So I was concerned already about the HHS. Then I read this. Now I have the scary discomfort of knowing that not only is there an ignorant person running the HHS, but his undersecretary, who would be in charge of any national response to a pandemic, was a crony appointment whose major qualification was being an Amtrak lawyer. Well, his disaster work
there will certainly come in handy should Americans start dying in droves.

I supposed I should feel comforted by the work that's been done to revive the Spanish Flu virus

Probably not quite the checklist of which the scientists speak . . . .

And I jest about coughing up blood, but it's no joke. The 1918 Spanish flu apparently killed people by attacking the lungs deeply, essentially causing death by drowning after a remarkably short period of illness--less than 48 hours. Given that this 1918 virus is so similar to the current avian flu, I'd really like the Department of Health and Human Services to take it a bit more seriously.

And doesn't it make you nervous, knowing that this incredibly lethal 1918 virus has been recreated, albeit in Very Secure Laboratories? The US papers totally downplayed the security notion. But the English paper Guardian Unlimited headlined it. "Security fears as flu virus that killed 50 million is recreated" They quoted a US researcher as saying, "
in order to study it more closely to understand the avian flu. Apparently, being able to do so will give scientists some kind of checklist for the avian flu." Let's see. Makes people cough up blood? Check. Kills within 48 hours? Check." This will raise clear questions among some as to whether they have really created a biological weapon."

But perhaps this doesn't make you nervous. Perhaps what panics you is Karl Rove not being indicted after his testimony tomorrow. Or the oddly coincidental timing of Rove's testimony, the announcement of an NY subway threat, and Bush's terror speech. Or James Dobson claiming to have inside information that will probably elude the knowledge of the rest of the country on Harriet Miers. Or, last but not least, George Bush hearing the voice of God.

Calgon, take me away.

Until tomorrow,


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