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Laser Focus on Rove and Libby

    In a world of distractions it is important to maintain a laser focus on what really matters. And we all know what that is. We're not stupid. We're not a bunch of inebriated dopes who fall victim to digression and its evil cousin, tangentialism. All day yesterday when I was at the CDC in Atlanta, I kept one part of my brain, the hypothalamus, tuned to the possibility of indictments in the Valerie Flame leak investigation. It was actually hard at times to follow what the scientists were saying. My thoughts were undergoing a kind of information reassortment, akin to what could happen if H1N1 human flu were to combine in a pig with H5N1 avian flu. It was like:

   "...outbreak of rotavirus ... lawyer for Rove refused ... neurominidase inhibitor serves to ... Cheney original source of ... endemic cholera and other diseases of ... different part of notebook ... antiviral prophylaxis ... met Libby for breakfast at ... infected ferret sneezed in his ... "

   Focus! Let's not be random, people.

   On the flight to Atlanta I read about 60 pages of a galley of the Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette) novel, Dog Days. At some point I'll write up a review, but suffice it to say that it's entertaining, a kind of girly version of Primary Colors (protagonist breaks a heel almost immediately). The characters spend a lot of time on their Blackberries. Maybe there will be a new literary genre: The Blackberry Romance. I'll keep reading it when not focusing on Rove and Libby et al.

    The CDC is a huge place with several spanking new buildings and a brand new security entrance that is worth the trip to Atlanta by itself. I  wanted to abandon the story I was working on and just write about security entrances at sensitive government facilities. This one is the topper: The guard gate looks aerodynamic. The visitor building is shiny and clean, which is what you want in a place that keeps stuff like smallpox in the fridge. (You always notice at a place like this when someone has a sniffle. A cold? Or a little touch of ... the Andromeda Strain?)

    I was instructed to do my interviews in a rhomboidal room not much larger than a closet. Windowless. Nothing on the walls. Just two chairs, nothing else. There had been a table but someone took it, I was told. Apparently I was the first to ever use the room, so I made a few helpful comments, such as, maybe get something for the walls, to cut down on the "Isolation Chamber" feel. When you report on the road, you look for "color," and I can now report that the windowless closet is painted in what I'd call an "off-mustard."

    On the flight home, in addition to bracing for indictments, I studied a chart labeled Air Distances Between World Cities. I found it in my planner. It's not just fascinating: It's like a week's worth of fun. For example:

   Washington to Tokyo: 6722 miles

   Warsaw to Los Angeles: 5922 miles

   Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro: 6389 miles

   Buenos Aires to Calcutta: 10,265 miles

   You could seriously spend a month just on this one chart. If you were that type. To obsess. The longest distance on the chart is 12,201 miles. No, it's not Honolulu to Cape Town: That's only 11,534 miles (though in which direction, east or west?). I'm not going to say what the two cities are, because I like the idea of building suspense on this blog. While maintaining focus on the leak investigation, of course.   

By Joel Achenbach  |  October 27, 2005; 9:37 AM ET
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Next: All the President's Men and Women


I've been interested lately in why everyone is talking about Tamiflu for the possible pandemic. From what I've heard, Relenza would be a better choice, since Tamiflu may not be effective against this virus. Is it some sort of Wall Street ploy to increase the standing of Roche (maker of Tamiflu)? Or is there a more mundane reason, like Relenza has to be sprayed into your nose and may not be completely absorbed. Or takes longer to work, or what? I've read that the poultry producers in Southeast Asia have been injecting lots of their birds with Tamiflu for over a year, which may have caused the virus to be resistant to it.

Posted by: suecris | October 27, 2005 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh oh I know. Call on me. Please call on me. Its Buenos Aires to Shanghai. Right? What do I get.

I was traveling between DC and Cape Town which i believe is around 8,000 Miles and i didn't have a book nor was there anything on the little TV. So i study a chart and with my freakish nature, I remember most of the cities and their distance. I'm great at parties

Posted by: irishprof | October 27, 2005 9:52 AM | Report abuse

jw mentioned that Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the SC a little while ago in the commentary from Wed.'s Kit.

I responded:

"Paging Mr. Gonzales, paging Mr. Gonzales.

Your courtesy car is waiting to take you for your robe fitting.

Paging Mr. Gonzales."

I think that this (Miers being shot down) is part of Rove's Master plan, and I said so before. Well, so have a lot of other people.

On the other hand, tomorrow is another day for Karl, GW and the rest of the Spiders from Mars currently crashing at 1600 Penn Ave.

I would add that CowTown posted a very funny item tying Rove and the gun-totin' 8-year old Garrett County resident togehter.


Posted by: Anonymous | October 27, 2005 9:57 AM | Report abuse

"We're not a bunch of inebriated dopes who fall victim to digression and its evil cousin, tangentialism."


(Should we 'boodlers be taking some umbrage here? Nah! He couldn't possibly be talking about us.)

Posted by: Achenfan | October 27, 2005 9:58 AM | Report abuse

sounds like Shanghai to Buenos Aires.

Posted by: pete | October 27, 2005 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Achenfan, I was pointedly ignoring that comment of Joel's.

Joel, you might have suggested that the CDC finish that room in a nice diamond plate floor with brushed stainless steel or alumimum walls, make sure that the door has an airtight seal (or perhaps better, an airlock), and - of course - a drain in the floor.

Very cozy.

I'm sure Karl has a room just like that somewhere. Maybe he'll even convert his garage...


Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Why am I still recieving secret communiques from the shadow government?

?彫{۸??@s???_"Gʪ??Ƿ??ɶn!?1Erx??????)ɷ?3'?P(겖¯'񔭾x;Q҆?????ı???{?򢭞^긶???] m6?7ok?˽?!?턞:?ԡ?|9ʆĿ޾??-v?ֱ“??嚴.>C???_ۯr?⣵?޷????>?:~??4!?2_ԡ??bҪuJP?9?}??zD?4̿?d֎֌ꔆcNj瑧|Ƃ;????????\??Mߓ߃?𻆙?Y?y?}g?–KNg~ 󖘘???6]ڗ??4?؎r ?y????잽dWҾ??~񇑥燿

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I hate to spoil the fun, but I don't like to see people struggling needlessly, so:

If you Google "Air Distances Between World Cities," you can see the chart for yourself and determine that the answer is indeed Buenos Aires to Shanghai.

[Oh, and irishprof? You got on a flight from DC to Cape Town without a book? What were you thinking?!?!? I hope they had a good beverage service.]

[Actually, methinks you are having a lend of us.]

Posted by: Tom fan | October 27, 2005 10:16 AM | Report abuse

jw, this looks like the same language that the Calibi-Yau aliens that inhabit my laundy chute use.

I will attempt a translation for you:

[jw, this is your pen speaking. Can you hear me?]
)ɷ?3'?P(겖¯'񔭾x;Q҆?????ı???{?򢭞^긶???] m6?7ok?˽?!?턞:?ԡ?|9ʆĿ޾??-v?ֱ“??嚴.>C???_ۯr?⣵?
[I am actually a listening device for the Rove Adminstration, on assignment for the Achenblog investigation.]
޷????>?:~??4!?2_ԡ??bҪuJP?9?}??zD?4̿?d֎֌ꔆcNj瑧|Ƃ;????????\??Mߓ߃?𻆙?Y?y?}g?–KNg~ 󖘘???6]ڗ??4?؎r ?y????잽dWҾ??~񇑥燿
[Please get some Altoids. I beg you. You're killing me.]


Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 10:18 AM | Report abuse

"The CDC is a huge place with several spanking new buildings ..."


Posted by: Bayou Self | October 27, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

JW, maybe that is the new online language that Sara mentioned on her blog site...

Posted by: esskay | October 27, 2005 10:19 AM | Report abuse

jw, it's because they've picked you.

Posted by: Sara | October 27, 2005 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Good one, esskay. But that would mean JA is turning into a leetspeaker and I don't want to think that he would ever sink to that level.

On to another topic:

Bush and Miers are both idiots. First, He made a stupid choice and is now blaming the Senate for this whole fiasco and second, how does she expect to become a justice if she won't say anything? God wouldn't even confirm a nomination based on "I won't tell you anything because it's none of your business, just believe I'm a good woman and let me decide the fate of people." And because he's God, he would already know what she's thinking. Divulging information would just a formality.

I'm turning independent. Bush gives Republicans a bad name.

Posted by: Sara | October 27, 2005 10:21 AM | Report abuse

SCC's "laundry" and "Administration".

Double dammit.


Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Digression and Tangentialism

I bow to the boodle Gods.

Posted by: janet | October 27, 2005 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Harriet Miers has.....won the World Series.....while awaiting possible indictments....of dead chickens...

Now he has me doing it!!!

Posted by: esskay | October 27, 2005 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I hate that Google has become the great trivia leverager.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Leverager? I mean leveler.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Indeed not, Tom fan. I did survive a flight without a book. I found out about my flight about three hours before it was suppose to leave. There was a misunderstanding with the person who booked my ticket. I got home as fast as I could and got everything I needed except of course a book and my wallet. I regret not having the book more then I regret not having my wallet. I read the entire in-flight magazine which actually did have some good articles and did indeed, as you suggest, take advantage of the fine drinks they had. My girlfriend, who lived in South Africa at the time and who picked me up from the airport remarked that I was rather drunk.

Posted by: irishprof | October 27, 2005 10:33 AM | Report abuse

How far is it from Chicago to Hong Kong? I don't know if my legs are going to be able to take it.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Is it true that everyone in DC is worried they will be a character in Wonkette's novel or worse, they won't?

Posted by: newkidontheblog | October 27, 2005 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Miers' letter to the prez has been posted:

Writing isn't exactly her forte, is it?

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Chicago to Hong Kong is 7,793 miles.

[Wow -- that's longer than Sydney to Los Angeles (7,530 miles). That's a long trip! Better get yourself an aisle seat.]

Posted by: Achenfan | October 27, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hm. Circumference of earth is 29,900 miles (or so), so the next question is-- Which way around (eastward or westward) is the shortest path from Buenos Aires to Shanghai?

Posted by: Matt | October 27, 2005 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Uh, correction-- 24,900 miles

Posted by: Matt | October 27, 2005 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Specter and Leahy were on the NewsHour last night and said that Miers's revised questionnaire was due by 6:00 p.m. yesterday. I wonder if she submitted it, they read it, and told the White House that her answers were still unacceptable. So she withdrew.

I hope she didn't withdraw because of outside pressure or her stated reason in the letter.

Posted by: pj | October 27, 2005 10:49 AM | Report abuse

jw, I didn't think her writing was all that bad. It's rather plain, sure, but not bad. She should work in some fancy words. Tangentialism leaps to mind.

I was thrown by her Important Capitalizations of words such as Executive Branch and Administration.

Posted by: Bayou Self | October 27, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

West or East? Neither. According to cool great circle mapper I found, the shortest route is 12176 mi, right across Antarctica.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The mapping website:

And as to her writing, it's more that it's generic government-style. Overly-complicated phrases, strange word choices, etc.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I did Chicago to HK last year, good luck

Posted by: LB | October 27, 2005 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Tres cool. A genuinely great circle, as opposed to the merely OK circles I generally run in.

Posted by: Matt | October 27, 2005 11:03 AM | Report abuse

At first I thought, "Hmm. Wouldn't flying over Antarctica be cold?" And then I realized that at 30,000 feet everything's pretty cold.

Posted by: jw | October 27, 2005 11:21 AM | Report abuse

And there's also the aurora australis for entertainment. And also none of those pesky air traffic controllers... makes for a peaceful flight.

Posted by: Matt | October 27, 2005 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Playing catch-up again:

bc: LOL at "Rove Administration"

12,201 miles: distance from Crawford, Texas, to America?

It's BlackBerrys (capital B in Berry and ys, not ies): a thousand apologies to the Boodle, but I do this for a living, and it's hard to stop.

jw: the secret message you got had something to do with "come in from the Aspens, whose roots are bound together," and instructions for making egg-drop soup, but I think some of it was garbled. It seems to have been signed, "Love, Scooter."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 27, 2005 11:26 AM | Report abuse

First draft of Miers withdrawal letter:

Dear Mr. President-

I'm out. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to be publicly dissected while still alive.

At least I know what my own funeral's going to be like.

Good luck to you and Turd Blossom on finding another patsy to run the Supreme Gantlet.

I want to turn this country back to the way it was 50 or 100 years as badly as you do, but I just can't take this anymore.

I think we need to be apart for awhile, so I'm going to my Mother's house to think about things by myself.

The flowers were very nice of you, but I don't want you to call, email, or message me anymore. Yes, we're done. You remember the line from the Led Zeppelin song, "When I whispered in her ear, I lost another friend."? Well, you did.

You won't hear me say, "It's not you, it's me.", because that's not true.

It IS you, not me.

Good luck with the rest of this week, the rest of your term, and the rest of your life.



PS. I want my records back.

Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 11:28 AM | Report abuse

bc, you just put the first smile on my face all day. thanks.

Posted by: LP | October 27, 2005 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Very nice, bc. That's a much more believable letter.

Posted by: pj | October 27, 2005 11:33 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: CowTown | October 27, 2005 12:06 PM | Report abuse

bc - I liked the Important Capitalizations of "Turd Blossom" and "Supreme Gantlet."

Posted by: Bayou Self | October 27, 2005 12:13 PM | Report abuse

bc, I'm laughing so hard I have tears streaming down my face and my officemates are gophering to see what's going on in my cubby.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 27, 2005 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I think I will add bc's faux letter to the reack roundup in the next blog item. It's so good! And yes, it's Buenos Aires/Shanghai. [Ending the incredible suspense.]

Posted by: Achenbach | October 27, 2005 12:23 PM | Report abuse

dear harriet's problems weren't related to language, were they? you refer to her "withdrawl". withdrawal, anyone?
p.s. is bc the mysterious author of the harriet miers blog, one of the greatest blogs ever?

Posted by: frieda406 | October 27, 2005 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I have a question. How can you have a vaccine for a disease that doesn't exist? I understand that there is no form of bird flu that can be spread from human to human. The people who have gotten the virus were handling chickens. Since most of us aren't raising or handling chickens we probably won't get the bird flu. -Unless some of us turn into birds.

Also, I understand that the seasonal flu is always a different strain each year. If so, how can they have a vaccine for flu each year? Are they clairvoyent, knowing what strain will attack? I have never had a flu shot, and have never had the flu either. I am also suspicious that they recommend that the weak and young get the flu shots. If the shots aren't for any known strain of flu what's the point? At best this seems like a money making scheme. At worst, something similar to Walmart's proposal to get rid of the feeble among us.

Posted by: Beck | October 27, 2005 12:50 PM | Report abuse

bc you put a lot of smiles on people faces today!!!

Posted by: dassy | October 27, 2005 12:59 PM | Report abuse

but weren't we all smiling before, anyway, because Miers withdrew?

her final draft letter will get you to smile, too, as the implies strongly that the reason is to protect confidential WH communications to preserve the president's prerogatives.

yes, Harriet, that makes sense.

and don't let the swinging door....

Posted by: melvin/a | October 27, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

They are trying to create a vaccine for bird flu because it may mutate and thereby be able to be transmitted from human to human. This is important because it would lead to a possible pandemic similar to the 1918 pandemic which killed millions. Even though you don't handle birds, if the virus makes this jump across species, you may be exposed. Based on what is known about the virus, scientists can guess which portions of it to use to create a vaccine now. It has been sequenced and is similar to the 1918 virus in many ways. Both were bird viruses first.

Each year, virologists make their best guesses as to the three strains of flu most likely to pop up the following winter. They make the decision months in advance to allow time for production of the vaccine. Sometimes they are right and we get good coverage. Sometimes they are wrong and we get only partial or no protection. They have lots of data they use to make these decisions. The weak and the young (and the elderly, too) are most at risk to succumb to complicatons from the flu, like pneumonia, and die and so are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

BTW, the reason the bird flu may be so dangerous is that it is unlike any other flu virus we have been exposed to in our lifetimes, therefore we have absolutley no natural immunity to it, unlike other flu strains out there which tend to be related to previous strains. Many of us have at least partial immunity to those because our bodies have seen similar viruses in the past.

Hope this clears things up.

Posted by: kw | October 27, 2005 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I know JA knows the answers to Beck's flu questions, but in case he's tied up, here's a start. Here's a story from back in February about how and why the three strains in this year's flu shots were determined:

some excerpts:

"Indeed, in line with recommendations made earlier this month [February 2005] by the World Health Organization, the flu vaccine for 2005-2006 will include not only protection against California A, but also the "New Caledonia" and "B Shanghai" strains."

"Antigens from "New Caledonia" and "B Shanghai" strains of the influenza virus were present in the 2004-2005 flu season. Each vaccine can contain protection against only three strains. These three viruses will be used because they represent influenza viruses that will likely circulate during the 2005-2006 flu season."

Of the three, health officials are most concerned about California A, which is a strain belonging to a family of Influenza A H3N2. It is believed to be among the most deadly of all flu strains. A slightly different strain of H3N2 -- not included in the current 2004 vaccine -- was blamed for the deadly disease outbreak that swept through Colorado and other western states earlier this year.

"Wherever you see H3N2 you are going to see life-threatening complications. It is a deadly strain with more hospitalizations and more deaths than any other type of flu virus," says Mary Jo DiMilia, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

At greatest risk, says DiMilia, are the elderly, children, and those with weakened immunity, such as HIV infection or those with organ transplants on drugs which suppress the ability of the immune system to fight infection. Patients undergoing chemotherapy are also at risk.

"Truthfully, H3N2 is so dangerous, everyone is at risk -- this is not a flu strain to be taken lightly," says DiMilia.

FYI: the infamous 1918 flu, aka "The Spanish Flu," "The Spanish Lady," etc., was highly unusual for several reasons, one of which was the fact that--unlike most other "common" flu strains, it attacked the relatively stronger and healthier people (age 20 to 40) and not the weaker (infants and us old curmudgeons)

Posted by: Curmudgeon | October 27, 2005 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Thanks and but the people can't be blamed for the schizophrenia of the government I mean of the "government."

I know what the CDC is about: Paranoia to Perfection, Bioweapons in a bottle except on Plum Island, and nevermind that man behind the curtain.

'Patents for all, 'withholding of data as regards diseases until the profiteers of the CDC have filed with the USPTO, and it's a free for all as regards what they tell the press- they have their own kind of immunity, if you know what I mean .

Thanks, I enjoyed the show. That is, we are all enjoying it. "The Andalusian Dog" Show and his war president cabinet, bringing stability to the Middle East.

Cripes it's Saturday Morning Cartoons *every minute* from the

But the shenanigans of the CDC is old news. I have Lyme disease.

Posted by: Kathleen | October 27, 2005 2:27 PM | Report abuse

jw, Chicago to Hong Kong: 15 hours. Perhaps we shall be on the same flight? I will be the one with a 12 oz. bottle of wine in my hands at all time.

Posted by: alexandra | October 27, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone else been in a meeting when most of the room is staring at their blackberries simultaneously? Happens all the time around my work, and it makes me madder than a brazil nut. Sometimes, it is so widespread that the meeting goes into this strange suspended animation...

I'm thinking that I should send a broadcast urgent message: "Hey Morons! Pay Attention!"

Posted by: irregardless | October 27, 2005 2:44 PM | Report abuse

how do you guys find time for this nonesense?

Posted by: fg | October 27, 2005 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Notice that the timing of Harriet Miers' withdrawal is just days after Specter said the Judiciary Committee would look into that sweet land deal handed to Miers back in the 90s?

Different topic: the President said he called German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder when stepped down from office a few weeks ago "to thank him for his service". That's patronizing. A head of state serves his/her citizens only, not another country's citizens or head of state.

Posted by: S | October 27, 2005 3:11 PM | Report abuse


Stockholm to Sydney: 13627 miles.

Posted by: I_Belaxin | October 27, 2005 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Well, we do know that it is possible for German leaders to do great disservice to the world outside their own country. Why be stingy with the praise. "Thanks for not invading Poland!"

Posted by: kt | October 27, 2005 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Answer to fg: Easy. We work for the government. (And we're in suspended animation, remember?)

bc: a friend of mine points out that, as White House Counsel, Harriet (probably) also wrote the letter of acceptance to her own letter of declination (??). So now you've got another faux letter to write. (I'm now dying to know how George (would have) responded to her (your) note, above. Don't forget, we need her Bushy nickname.

Posted by: Curmudegon | October 27, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

How do YOU find time, fg?

Posted by: Achenfan | October 27, 2005 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Here's how the great circle route works as a way to find the shortest distance between two points on the globe for shipping or air transportation.

First, imagine a geometric plane oriented so that the two points in question (say, SF and Tokyo) and the center of the globe (sphere) all lie on the plane.

Then, the arc that is made by the plane piercing through the surface of the globe is the shortest distance.

It leads to some counter-intuitive results. For example, a flight from SF to Tokyo would fly over the Aleutians.

Posted by: limekilnlake | October 27, 2005 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Off topic -- According to the Detroit Free Press, there will be a memorial viewing in the rotunda of the Lincoln Memorial for Rosa Parks on Sunday, Oct. 30th, from 6 p.m. to midnight. I'm definitely gonna be there.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 27, 2005 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Off topic -- According to the Detroit Free Press, there will be a memorial viewing at the Lincoln Memorial rotunda this Sunday, from 6 pm to midnight for Rosa Parks. I'm gonna be there.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 27, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Oops. Sorry about the double-strange postings. Let's blame it on the software.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | October 27, 2005 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it again...

Cheney and Rumsfeld = NIXON ADMINISTRATION.


Nixon and Bush have the same problem... UNETHICAL NEO-CON IDEOLOGUES IN THE WHITEHOUSE

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | October 27, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the kind words, folks.

Curmudgeon, good point about the letter accepting the declination from WH Counsel.

I've been in meetings all afternoon, but been thinking about W's response. Hopefully, I'll get it out shortly.


Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 3:49 PM | Report abuse

You're going from Stolkholm to Sydney the wrong way since no two points on Earth can be more than about 12,450 miles apart. According to the same table that shows Shanghai and Buenos Aires at 12,201 miles apart, Stokholm and Sydney are only 9,696 miles apart.

That's ok. I get lost sometimes too.

Posted by: deejay | October 27, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

kw, that was an excellent and concise explanation of what the bird flu is all about. thanks.

Posted by: gs | October 27, 2005 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Letter from Bush to Miers:

Dear Harry the Girl:

It is with a heavy heart that I accept your decision to withdrawal your name from consideration as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. You have been a good friend and thoughtful advisor and I will be sorry to see you leave the White House. I have taken the liberty of packing your personal items and my car awaits for your speedy departure.

Also, thank you for the countless meetings with Members of the U.S. Senate. They are no doubt worse for having almost known you.

I hope you and your cat enjoy whatever new challenges await you.


Poppa Bush

Posted by: cap girl | October 27, 2005 4:34 PM | Report abuse


While I haven't heard her speak, I think that it is reasonable to assume that because Ms. Miers is from Texas she is with"drawl".

Posted by: dahagg | October 27, 2005 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I put a first draft of W's response on Joel's newer Kit.


Posted by: bc | October 27, 2005 4:44 PM | Report abuse

gs, thanks for the compliment.

BTW, I wonder if the timing of the Harriet Miers announcement was planned so it would have only one day of coverage and be quickly forgotten once the indictments come down tomorrow. If so, that fits in nicely with the way this Administration handles things and it may suggest they are getting back on track. This failure of W's will be quickly forgotten this time tomorrow and the focus will be off of him and on Libby, Rove and maybe Cheney. Just the way W. likes it. No time or opportunity for apologies or accepting blame. Usually this White House deals with bad news by announcing a new, phantom terror threat to deflect focus, but Fitzgerald is making an even better diversion for W. Just a thought.

Posted by: kw | October 27, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

This is for the people who "explained" how the drug companies guess about what kind of vaccine will cure a flu strain that they don't yet know about.

When I took physics and studied chemistry we had to prove things. If we were given an assignment to come up with a vaccine we would have to test it against the infection it was designed to cure. Since these folks don't know what the disease will be they cannot test it. The smallpox and polio vaccines were tested against the diseases. How can you test against a disease which doesn't EXIST yet, which MIGHT exist if something mutated? I think anyone who would be vaccinated with something has not been tested and is based on guesses is just plain crazy. In my opinion the arguments for these vaccines are lame. Actually I thought most vaccines were made of a weak dose of the actual disease. So these flu vaccine are actual weak doses of some kind of flu, and it probably has nothing to do with the flu they are trying to prevent.

Sorry folks. I have a brain and it likes to go out for exercize once in a while.

Posted by: Beck | October 27, 2005 5:11 PM | Report abuse

......................several comments
above about long flight spans...the run
from bangkok to narita...then narita to
chicago is in the 18 to 19 hour range...
...i like flying and enjoy a window seat
view but it surely is inhuman how the
seating is set up in the economy sections
of the long international flying outfits...
.....the bean counters who came up with
the dimensions for seat width and leg
room should be subjected to cruel and
unusual torture......maybe dick cheney could help out with that...............
....GOP BOY caving in after all that
talk about sticking with harriet just
lacks so in conviction...or is the idea
that this story will likely have a short
media life post a rove/libby"whoops"part of the gambit?it is a genuine cliffer.... the avian flu story has been around for awhile....and in southeast asia and
china it is very for of the
more interesting tangents to the 1918
flu pandemic is that of how the playout
of ww1 concentrations of soldiers being
moved about by rail or march gave the
flu unusual ability to transmit easily
amongst the troops who upon being loaded
on ocean transports were in very tight
living arrangements for several days doing
the cross alantic run....hopefully this
level of massing not being present today
will be a positive in containment or
control whether all the
flights taking place internationally make
up for that era's war conditions is surely
something to consider...i do hope that the
smart people in goverment in all nations
confronting this possibly devastating flu
are up to the task before us...this is no
endeavour that should have to suffer from
bad politics or short sighted actions....
nor mike brown types....bush2 seems to be
in for some turbulence...he maybe should
check his seatbelt...the bumpy zone seems
headed his way....not to wish him harm but
george has been gliding along for way
too long......the piety and "better than
thee"we got back there in early 2001 from
this guy seems to have gone awry........

Posted by: an american in siam..... | October 27, 2005 5:17 PM | Report abuse

BTW, her name is Valerie Plame not Flame.

Posted by: Chakera | October 27, 2005 5:22 PM | Report abuse

This is the First Blog I have read where the Comments were just as Funny as the Blog Itself.

Posted by: Skyish | October 27, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

capgirl - that was awesome. The cat bit hurt a little (as a single female with TWO cats), but in a good way. Bravo.

Posted by: pipermkd | October 27, 2005 5:33 PM | Report abuse

sorry irregardless but i'm one of those blackberry meeting ppl! i hate meetings and i'm very hyper - which is good for my job but terrible for meetings... if i didn't have a blackberry at a meeting i'd go ballistic! fortunately, i don't attend many meetings!

Posted by: mo | October 27, 2005 5:35 PM | Report abuse

BTW did anyone notice that Bush is wearing a Yellow tie today. Red and Blue have clearly become powerless....

Posted by: Skyish | October 27, 2005 5:37 PM | Report abuse

pipermkd - i'm single with a cat too so i thought i could tease without offending (too much). thanks for the kind words.

Posted by: cap girl | October 27, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Been off the planet for a while. Just got back.

Does ja's blog always offer "Post a Comment" service. What a great concept.

Posted by: cap10video | October 27, 2005 6:35 PM | Report abuse

"Valerie Plame"? Wow, are you out of touch!! Haven't you heard about the notebook?

Posted by: Bob S. | October 27, 2005 7:44 PM | Report abuse

That last was intended for Chakera, re the 5:22:08 admonishment.

Posted by: Bob S. | October 27, 2005 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Beck, with all due respect, you need to go back to school and take some medical courses. A few vaccines are weakened versions of the bug in question, true, but these are out of favor as they tend to cause the most side effects. Many vaccines are KILLED, not weakened, versions of the bug, and that's what a flu vaccine is. The virus is grown in chicken eggs, then it's killed extremely dead, then three variants are mixed together to make this year's vaccine by the method KW explained. We know this works because we have been doing it for 50 years and studying the results assiduously. There is no doubt whatsoever it works, as long as we guess right about the strains likely to circulate this year--that, admittedly, is the weak point. To think this system is part of some huge drug company plot and the science is all fraudulent is to flirt with madness. The drug companies actually make very little money on flu vaccines and have been abandoning the business, which is why we keep having shortages.

It is possible to make a vaccine now to avian flu because, even if it mutates enough to be able to spread from person to person, that new version is likely to closely resemble the current H5N1 avian virus. It's true there is some chance of the virus mutating enough that the vaccine will be useless, but that chance is quite small--evolution doesn't happen quite that fast.

If the pandemic hits and everyone you know and love is contracting a virus with a 50 percent death rate, would you rather have millions of doses stockpiled of a vaccine that is very likely, albeit not absolutely guaranteed, to work, or would you rather have nothing?

Posted by: Prof | October 27, 2005 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Ummm, I also have a brain and I used it to study physics, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, molecular biology, immunolgy and virology. Actually, I am in research and have done some work with viruses, including polio (yes, it is still important to conduct polio research). So I know of which I speak, although I am not an expert in influenza. But basically, and I thought Curmudgeon's post addressed this, usually one year's prevalent flu strains can be predicted because they are strains that were seen the previous year or are just beginning to circulate. You are confusing the discussion about the mutations in bird flu with how the standard flu vaccine is determined. And the flu vaccine is tested on the exact flu strains it is designed to protect against, as well as for safety.

New strains of human flu virus do tend to come from mutations in exisiting strains, but not always. The bird flu is a good example. But viruses from the same families also have regions which are similar between them ("conserved regions"). These are good regions to target in vaccine production, although it isn't always possible. The upshot is that if a virus does UNEXPECTEDLY mutate after a vaccine against it was made, the vaccine may still be at least partially protective because the new and old strains have most regions in common. But usually the prevalent strains of flu in a given season are strains that were already going around the year before, although not necessarily on a large scale.

FYI, vaccines can be made from either live, but weakened, virus ("attenuated") or from killed virus. Until recently, polio vaccine was given in both forms but the live vaccine, the oral form, has been discontinued in the U.S. I fear we may come to regret this decision.

Anyway, if you determined to think the science involved in making vaccines is junk, I probably can't change your mind. Some folks are trying to develop a vaccines FOR BIRDS against the bird flu, which very obviously could be tested. Stopping the spread in birds would be a good way of preventing a potential jump to humans.

Posted by: kw | October 27, 2005 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Hi everyone! I just flew in from Cleveland, and boy, are my arms tired!

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr | October 27, 2005 9:12 PM | Report abuse

I am retired now, thank God, but I have been in research and even succeeded. So I retired, and brought all my research with me, so my colleagues in a very popular profession for lawsuits can continue being sued. I don't care. But before that, when I grew up, I used to be scared by all of them Trolls, the worst of them was The Mountain King - Dovregubben. Now they are here again with new names, now they are called Passive Smoke, Avian flu, Anthrax, WMD and Karl Rove. But I am not afraid anymore, I am retired and I even let my Medical License go to awoid listening to the most stupid fairy tales called CME - Continuous Medical EWducation.

Posted by: IKR | October 27, 2005 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Excellent writing!

Posted by: Jean | October 27, 2005 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Excellent writing!

Posted by: Jean | October 27, 2005 10:15 PM | Report abuse

just posted bc's letter on

fantastic comments


Posted by: g | October 27, 2005 10:18 PM | Report abuse

firsttimeblogger - saw that Rosa Parks may lie in state in the Capitol. How fitting - glad you can go. Of course, the House still has to approve this.

bc, great letter. Way to go, you made the Kit (again)!

Curmudgeon, you made me laugh today too (but it was awhile ago so I can't remember the specifics).

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 27, 2005 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Curmudgeon, it was this - your reaction to bc's letter:

bc, I'm laughing so hard I have tears streaming down my face and my officemates are gophering to see what's going on in my cubby.

Gophering - the popping up of office workers to see what is going on in a nearby cubicle. I love it - haven't heard that in a while. A colleague of mine once referred to our work area as "prairie dog city."

Posted by: mostlylurking | October 28, 2005 1:21 AM | Report abuse

For the best uncensored news site go to:

Posted by: Che | October 29, 2005 7:25 AM | Report abuse

For the best uncensored news site go to:

Posted by: Che | November 1, 2005 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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