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Morning Fix: The (political) dangers of H1N1



Long lines of people wait for the swine flu vaccine. Photo by Tracy A. Woodward of the Washington Post

President Obama's decision to declare the H1N1 flu a national emergency over the weekend is a recognition of the political peril the virus could inflict on the White House.

The declaration came after 72 hours of stories -- both locally and nationally -- focused on the long lines for the swine flu vaccine and the mounting fear surrounding the illness.

And, it came just days after a Washington Post/ABC national poll showed that a majority (52 percent) of Americans were worried that they or someone in their family would contract H1N1 -- up from 39 percent who said the same in a mid-August survey.

Given that context, Obama's announcement, which essentially allows hospitals more leeway in the way they deal with the outbreaks, is rightly understood as an attempt to show the American people that the president understands their concern and is ensuring the government is doing everything it can to help.

It's hard not to see the way the Obama administration is handling the H1N1 outbreak through the lens of the Bush Administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The hands-off approach by President Bush -- the image of him flying over the disaster site became symbolic of his time in office -- drew public ire and contributed heavily to the idea that he and his administration were incapable of performing the basic services of government.

Obama was elected -- in part -- as a reaction to that perceived incompetence; as we have written before, Obama venerated the idea of a "cult of competence" on the campaign trail, insisting that his first task in office would be to make sure government performed its essential functions.

The good news for President Obama is that the American public has a high level of confidence that the government can deal with the outbreak; in the Post/ABC survey, 69 percent of the sample expressed confidence in the federal government to respond "effectively" to the H1N1 flu.

While that's a solid starting point, all politicians -- and those, like the Fix, who watch politics for a living -- know that fear is among the most powerful motivators for voters.

Monday's Fix Picks:

1. Prez O comes back to N.J. for Corzine.
2. And, can he win?
3. How Mark Sanford spent his time.
4. The man charged with electing Charlie Crist, profiled.
5. Steve Phillips: Canned.

Newt Weighs 2012: After taking an odd pass on a presidential run in 2008 (he got in -- sort of -- only to get out shortly afterward), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) told C-SPAN on Sunday that he and his wife plan to consider a 2012 bid at the start of 2011. "We'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will," said Gingrich. "And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vacuum, I suspect we won't." Um, OK. National polling on the 2012 presidential race shows Gingrich running in the low double-digits behind the likes of former governors Mitt Romney (Mass.), Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and Sarah Palin (Alaska) but ahead of much of the rest of the field.

Ayotte's In: Former New Hampshire attorney general Kelly Ayotte (R) formally entered the state's open seat Senate race on Saturday, a long-awaited announcement that gives Republicans a top-tier candidate in one of the most competitive contests in the country. Ayotte touted her deep roots in the state and cast herself as a political outsider in announcing her candidacy. She said those running the country "don't understand that the strength of America doesn't come from our government" but rather "from our people, our families, our belief in personal responsibility, and it comes from our small businesses." The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who has worked assiduously to discredit Ayotte, called on the Republican to "start answering questions, something she has noticeably avoided doing over the past three and a half months." Ayotte is the lone Republican in the race at the moment although businessman Ovide Lamontagne among others is weighing the race. Democrats have cleared the field for Rep. Paul Hodes.

Click It!: CBS News' Jeff Greenfield sums up "Obama White House vs Fox News Channel" in under three minutes.

Bloomberg's Record Largess: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) has spent more than $85 million on his bid for a third term, according to a report late last week in the New York Times. Bloomberg's total spending for his three mayoral campaigns (2001, 2005 and 2009) is estimated to eventually exceed $250 million -- the most any politician for any office has ever spent from his or her own fortune. Bloomberg's massive personal spending hasn't seemed to bother New Yorkers who have elected him twice and seem ready to do so again in eight days time as polls show Mayor Mike comfortably ahead of New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson (D). While Bloomberg's spending record seems safe for the moment, another billionaire -- former eBay CEO Meg Whitman (R) -- is running for governor in California and rumors abound that she will spend upwards of $100 million on the campaign. If Whitman wins in 2010, her re-election race in 2014 could well put her in Bloomberg's ballpark in terms of spending. Records are, after all, meant to be broken.

Say What?: "I certainly am not excited about a public option where states would opt out or a robust, as they call it, robust government-run insurance plan." -- Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson (D) talks health care on CNN's "State of the Union."

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 26, 2009; 5:55 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: The Most Important Number in Politics

Comments

Obama's admin has done in many ways well on this--supporting development and purchase of vaccine, attempting population-based distributions, CDC guidelines re priorities, and national EAs for specified peramivir use, etc. BUT providing false figures and unbacked assurances helps nothing and no one. A few days ago, Nicole Lurie, Sebelius's assistant head in HHS, said 8 to 10 million doses per week might be expected (a similar prediction from officials slipped out today--60 million by year's end); 60 million over 3 months means, boys and girls, half the country or so immunized in 9 months. By then, a third wave will likely have come through. Who, therefore, is to be denied any vaccine during this dangerous period? Persons over 64? If such persons "may have immunity" (serology studies indicate only 33 percent of them may), nevertheless nearly as many seniors (7 percent of the total, or about 70) as children (95, or 9.5 percent of total fatalities) have died from this flu in the US so far, so that withholding vaccine from seniors on this account is actually criminal. Or should it be withheld from. . . no, no criterion is just, for withholding this. Yet, without enough vaccine, what can be done to save lives? One solution may be for this country to utilize its stockpiles of adjuvanted vaccine--and get more quickly produced. One would be to push for states and school districts, even now, to ease attendance requirements, so as not to be in effect forcing our children into flu-centrals for 6 hours/day. One could be to withhold federal contracts from firms not allowing ample sickleave or even mandating employees stay home when ill with this. An internet campaign could encourage communal support networks, in which persons vaccinated, or who have had this flu, would be urged (or even paid) to do errands, shopping, etc. for those in vulnerable groups.

Posted by: friedman1 | October 27, 2009 1:20 AM | Report abuse

@mikeinmidland - Don't be so skeptical. It was 2 weeks ago when flu went through the Blade household. Me, Primo, and Secondo all down within a 24 hour period. Why am I convinced that it was H1N1?

I came back to work on a Wednesday (fortunately, it was a holiday weekend), I learned that my boss's son had been hit by the flu over the weekend. He took his son to the doctor, who said it was probably H1N1. The seasonal flu hasn't hit NoVa yet, so the odds are in favor of H1N1. Several days later, there were confirmed cases of H1N1 at the school that Primo and Secondo attend.

Do I know that it was H1N1? Nope. That's why the kids got vaccinated today. Am I convinced that it was H1N1? Yup.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 26, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

lydgate-you are so on!

Posted by: dld1 | October 26, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

or........the Obama admin could have created this little pandemic (oops we have vaccine enough-oops we don't) and the freebies going to those who have no insurance to illuminate the fact that big brother will take care of all-soon we will all be one under Obama.............

Posted by: dld1 | October 26, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

"adrienne_najjar" writes:
You whiners are a disgrace. The same jerks who are condemning Obama are the same ones who complain of "too much government" You hypocritical little punks. I for one welcome the flu. Let it runs its course. The weak will succumb, leaving a stronger gene pool. Eff all of you.

________________________________

Oh, you're just sore because you missed World War II and your chance to be an SS guard at a concentration camp.

Posted by: lydgate | October 26, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I've heard that if you spend a lot of time on the golf course you can't get H1N1. Is this true?

Posted by: leapin | October 26, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I was feeling bad for jleoxii13, and wanting to give him some advice--call your doctor, etc...

And then I realized--how the heck does he know that he and his family has H1N1, and yet no doctor has given him or his family any advice? Who diagnosed him? Who swabbed his cheek and submitted it to the lab? He could have the regular seasonal flu--or he could be making the whole thing up.

If you've been diagnosed, you were given follow-up instructions. I call Bull.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

One significant issue is that H1N1 hit earlier than expected. Combine that with production delays and Voila!, you get the current situation.

From some of the posters' comments, they expect Obama or Sebellius to be in the laboratory. On the plus side, then they could give him the Nobel for medicine!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 26, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse


If they had done more potency testing earlier, they would have known earlier that production was going to fall behind. But the actual problem was the slow growth--that's why each batch had less virus than they assumed, and why things are behind. The vial-filling problem is why they're even further behind on injectible vs. inhaled.

Still, none of the delay is due to the FDA or the administration. This is a private enterprise, free-market snafu. If you want the gummint to guarantee delivery, perhaps you'd like THEM to run the production of vaccine? THAT would be socialism.

As for "trusting" the FDA, anyone who takes any medication or eats anything but their own home-grown food has to trust the FDA every day. That doesn't mean you don't hold them accountable for screw-ups, but it also means you don't assume everything is part of a conspiracy.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Our entire family has h1n1.
Our case is not mild. I am on the ragged edge of needing hospitalization. My wife and stepson are doing only a little better.
I wish the vaccine was available earlier. My only comment is that the feds announced everything was on-schedule until the day the vaccine was supposed to be delivered. Then they announced a big slip. A little honesty earlier would have been helpful.
I am not sure of the protocol if anyone in our house has to be hospitalized, or even the exact triggers that would cause me to call 911. I know in general. But are the hospitals on the same page as I? will they know what to do?
This is where a little coordination would ease my mind a bit.


Posted by: jleoxii13 | October 26, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The vac. does not prevent you from getting H1N1 it just reduces the time your sick by a day or two. It's a useless vac. Your better off letting the flu run it's course there for building an immunity. Hope you feel better.

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

RELAY ASSISTANCE REQUIRED TO COUNTER APPARENT GOVERNMENT INTERNET CENSORSHIP

Could some fellow Fix reader please copy and post my comment below (regarding concerns about the flu emergency declaration, and Manuel Zelaya's statement about being attacked by microwave weapons by his government) to the lead story at http://www.infowars.com regarding the flu "emergency"?

My attempt to post there has resulted in a "held for moderation" message which has persisted all day, despite the fact that other comments are post immediately. I believe I am looking at a "spoofed" or faked web page inserted into my data stream by government surveillance operatives at a Homeland Security-administered "fusion center" in Newtown, PA. This operation appears to be responsible for wholesale violations of my constitutional rights for nearly six years:

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor

Thank you, and a question for Team Obama, regarding this apparent telecommunications censorship under the cover of warrantless surveillance:

Are you unaware, misinformed, or complicit?

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 26, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I have been held to. I posted the time line for the flu through out the 20th century. All told less than a 100,000 have died excluding the ONLY pandemic in 1918 the Spanish flu. They are trying to prevent the truth from being told. Be weary, very weary of the Administration.

Visit the web address below for accurate info.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/morning-fix/morning-fix-the-political-dang.html

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Our entire family has h1n1.
Our case is not mild. I am on the ragged edge of needing hospitalization. My wife and stepson are doing only a little better.
I wish the vaccine was available earlier. My only comment is that the feds announced everything was on-schedule until the day the vaccine was supposed to be delivered. Then they announced a big slip. A little honesty earlier would have been helpful.
I am not sure of the protocol if anyone in our house has to be hospitalized, or even the exact triggers that would cause me to call 911. I know in general. But are the hospitals on the same page as I? will they know what to do?
This is where a little coordination would ease my mind a bit.

Posted by: jleoxii13 | October 26, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Obama apparently can't make up his mind between allowing for a "trigger" on a public option that would take effect after a few years when insurance companies don't "reform," and the more attractive "opt out" provision that would allow states to refuse participation in a public option.

The reason for Obama's indecision is that he doesn't want to be seen as failing if the public option goes down to defeat. So he will sit on the fence and let others do the heavy lifting, garnering most of the laurels if it passes and none of the baggage if it fails.

Senate Democrats want their president to give them a little direction - a little leadership. Whether this is beyond Obama's capabilities is unknown. What is known is that moderate Dems especially want some cover before leaping. And Obama refuses to give it to them.

Prominent liberal pundits are already taking note of Obama's lack of governing skills, with Clarence Page being the latest writing in the Chicago Tribune:


Surely President Barack Obama and his advisers don't really think that their feud with Fox News will do anything but enhance the cable network's viewership. A deeper problem is what the flap reveals about Team Obama, which seems to be more comfortable with campaigning than governing.

I'm not happy about that. It does not fill me with glee to see Fox News star Sean Hannity joyfully replaying Obama's 2004 come-together speech about how we're "not red states or blues states" but "the United States of America" and asking where is Obama's promise now?

I don't agree with Hannity on much. He's only a tad more serious-minded as a news clown, in my grumpy view, than his colleague Glenn Beck. But, as much as my wife might run from the house when she hears me say it, Hannity's right on this one.


Page agreeing with Hannity? Check to see what the weather is in hell today. The White House cannot hide Obama's inability to govern much longer. Eventually, even the liberal chattering classes will start chattering away.

At that point - probably shortly after health care reform is either shelved or goes through in a much reduced fashion - the Obama presidency will perhaps begin to be seen in a different light.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

The government prefers to use the words "quarantine safety areas" over the words "detention camps." No one will detained against their best interests, or the public's.

Posted by: blasmaic | October 26, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

RELAY ASSISTANCE REQUIRED TO COUNTER APPARENT GOVERNMENT INTERNET CENSORSHIP

Could some fellow Fix reader please copy and post my comment below (regarding concerns about the flu emergency declaration, and Manuel Zelaya's statement about being attacked by microwave weapons by his government) to the lead story at http://www.infowars.com regarding the flu "emergency"?

My attempt to post there has resulted in a "held for moderation" message which has persisted all day, despite the fact that other comments are post immediately. I believe I am looking at a "spoofed" or faked web page inserted into my data stream by government surveillance operatives at a Homeland Security-administered "fusion center" in Newtown, PA. This operation appears to be responsible for wholesale violations of my constitutional rights for nearly six years:

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-fusion-center-spying-pretext-harass-and-censor

Thank you, and a question for Team Obama, regarding this apparent telecommunications censorship under the cover of warrantless surveillance:

Are you unaware, misinformed, or complicit?

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 26, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama's declaration of a national emergency, as widely reported, was primarily a symbolic action, with limited practical impact. Let's all hope the swine flu remains relatively mild and a vaccine becomes available within a month for all people in this country.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | October 26, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

So when are the detention camps going to be put into use?

Never waste the opportunity of creating a Crisis.

I hope they all keep in mind though, that most of America is armed to the teeth and will not go willingly.

Posted by: ProveMeWrong | October 26, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

You whiners are a disgrace. The same jerks who are condemning Obama are the same ones who complain of "too much government" You hypocritical little punks. I for one welcome the flu. Let it runs its course. The weak will succumb, leaving a stronger gene pool. Eff all of you.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | October 26, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse


If I am to believe askgees, then the whole thing is a plan to allow Obama to repay the pharmaceutical companies. But then, the FDA is (again according to askgees) dragging it's feet?
So we're supposed to believe that Obama is a mastermind of virus-for-votes kickbacks, but can't control an agency in his own government?
Next-up: intentional tin-foil shortages!
Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse
Feel free to put you’re life in the FDA’s hands. I know better. But then again you don’t appear to be that bright.

A report due out Monday from the Government Accountability Office also shows that the FDA has never pulled a drug off the market due to a lack of required follow-up about its actual benefits - even when such information is more than a decade overdue.
When pressed about that policy, agency officials said they have no plans to get more aggressive.

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

President Obamas declaration of emergency on swine flu is a welcome measure
whatever the political analysts may feel
First and foremost many people under estimated the perils of the pandemic swine flu.It was reported earlier that people including enlightened health workers were
reluctant to be vaccinated.When the virus
is spreading far and wide taking toll mounting to thousands, different voices are heard about the utility or otherwise of the vaccine. Vague and confusing advice of the experts on how to distinguish swine flu
before it is too late, is also causing anxiety.
The presidents intervention it is hoped will put all concerned agencies on alert,speedup the vaccine distribution and restore public confidence

Posted by: satyameva | October 26, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Where are all these crazy posters coming from?

mikeinmidland:
NPR had a segment today on the 2009 H1N1 vaccine production. Turns out it is more than just the slower growth of the vaccine strain -- testing production lots and filling vials were problems too.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=114156775

Posted by: mnteng | October 26, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told CNSNews.com Wednesday that one in 10 doses of the swine-flu vaccine purchased by the U.S. will be donated to other nations before the U.S. demand for the vaccine is filled.

This is an outrage - why is there not more publicity about this scandalous conduct on the part of the Press. How can this be done if it is an emergency?

Posted by: Lavrat2000 | October 26, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Why wasn't there any political fallout from our Congress spending $4 billion to stockpile nearly worthless Bird Flu vacine? Oh, that's right, Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense at the time owned $25 to $25 million of shares in the company and was their CEO before being tapped by Bush.

What happened to the Bird Flu anyhow. Seems as soon as the deal was made, the scare tactics and the threat went away, too.

Posted by: wayoffbaseguy | October 26, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The first case of H1N1 was in April. So six months is now "nearly a year?"

Production of flu virus vaccine takes months. It's not like flipping a switch. Even the seasonal flu vaccine production has had glitches which delayed delivery more than this (eg, 2007), and that's with better-known strains.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure not all health depts are doing things the same way, but a long piece I saw last week showed a clinic that had limited injectible and more nasal (not for under 2yo) was reserving the injectible for the youngsters.

Call it a disaster if you like, but the simple fact is that this virus replicates slower (in a chicken egg) than the average, and so production is a couple weeks behind schedule. By December we'll be back to trying to convince people that it's safe.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his people had nearly a year to prepare for FLUE SHOTS for H1N1 and he has totally blown it. He seems willing to take credit for successes, regardless of the cost or long term consequences. He definitely is NOT joining the podium with anyone from CDC and otherwise admitting his failer. We have seen everyone passing the buck on this and no one being held accountable.

Posted by: harry_consumer | October 26, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his people had nearly a year to prepare for FLUE SHOTS for H1N1 and he has totally blown it. He seems willing to take credit for successes, regardless of the cost or long term consequences. He definitely is NOT joining the podium with anyone from CDC and otherwise admitting his failer. We have seen everyone passing the buck on this and no one being held accountable.

Posted by: harry_consumer | October 26, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

As someone with serious respiratory illness, for whom H1N1 would be a virtual death sentence, and who is still unable to get any access to the vaccine, I am outraged by the mishandling of this matter: the wildly exaggerated promises, changing by the day, of how much vaccine would be available; the haphazard distribution of the vaccine; and, we may well learn, the failure of federal, state, and local officials to secure as much of the vaccine as they could have. Walgreen's has had it, but many major hospitals still do not. If you live in Fairfax County and need to get the vaccine, you are cordially invited to pitch your tent in a parking lot overnight. High-risk populations such as small children, pregnant women, and people with serious chronic illnesses can hardly do that, so the vaccine ends up being distributed to many who are at little risk from the disease, while high-risk patients can not get the vaccine and may well die or suffer permanent injury as a result. I look forward to learning the full story of this disaster, which may very well become the Obama Administration's Hurricane Katrina.

Posted by: lydgate | October 26, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"That's an average of 36,000 people dead from normal flu each year."

As noted on the CDC site, this number includes anyone "whose underlying cause of death on their death certificate was listed as a respiratory or circulatory disease." No one actually measures flu deaths, so the CDC uses this number as a proxy. The Atlantic has a good article in its last issue that suggests this is perhaps not a very reasonable proxy.

Most of these deaths are among the very old and others with multiple serious health issues, where it is hard to ascribe death to a single cause. So I wouldn't go freaking out about it.

Posted by: nodebris | October 26, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

sverigegrabb, Bush's other favorite way to appear to be the hero of lower taxes (what was paid to the Federal government anyway) was to push the programs off on state and local government. I don't know about the other posters, but by my local taxes (school and property and income) have really jumped up in the last 8 years.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 26, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Chris Cilliza is a nerdy geek who still pinches hisself in the mirror in the morning to see if he's really working for WaPo and appearing on MSNBC....

Why is the news media trying to force-feed us these inexperience people like Chris Cilliza, Chuck Todd, and David Gregory...These guys are a joke!

NOW WATCH HOW PEER PROTECTION WORKS IN THE NEWS - WHEN WE WRITE TRASH ABOUT THEM THEY END UP CALLING UP ONE ANOTHER....

FOX NEWS RATING IS UP BECAUSE OF THE 20% THEY PASSION AGAINST THIS ADMINISTRATION ONLY FUELED MORE RIGHTWING NUTS....SO MORE OF THEM ARE WATCHTING...

DR. NANCY SHUT THE HELL UP - IF YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT PATIENTS YOU WOULDN'T BE ON TELEVISION - SHE'S SUCH A "PATSY FLAKE" ALL YOU PEOPLE JUST SEE IT IS SO EAST TO PASS JUDMENT ON A BLACK PRESIDENT AND MOST OF AMERICANS ARE GETTING SICK AND TIRED OF YOU.....

THE MEDIA SUCKS!
FOX NEWS CATERS TO 2 MILLION RIGHTWING KOOKS
MSNBC NEED TO HIRE OUTSIDE THE IRISH C ROWD
CNN NEEDS TO BRING IN NEW BLOOD - WOLF AND LOU ARE B-O-R-I-N-G!!!!!

CHRIS CILLIZA - SORRY BUT YOU CAN HYPE ALL YOU WANT ABOUT THE REPUBLICANS COMING BACK....NERD - IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN

NO ONE GIVES A DARN ABOUT THE AUDIENCE OF FOX NEWS IT ONLY DREW OUT MORE OF IT FLIES!!!! CALL IT MORE RATINGS IF YOU WANT TOO - BUT MORE S#IT CALLS OUT MORE FLIES - MORONS WHO THINK IT IS BACKFIRING....

LET'S CONTINUE TO GO AFTER FAUX NEWS

Posted by: danders5000 | October 26, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

A minimal amount of research reveals (from the CDC!) that the average number of deaths per year from the regular flu is 36,000. That's an average of 36,000 people dead from normal flu each year. OMG--PANIC NOW!!!!!

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-related_deaths.htm

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/28/regular.flu/index.html

Posted by: brad40 | October 26, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

mikenmidland,

I couldn't agree with you more. As I pointed out in a tweet last week, it's impossible to cut taxes without cutting services.

Government, just like any entity, must be funded. The difference in the US is that the electorate doesn't realise (or want to realise) that these politicians who promise to cut taxes and yet increase services cannot deliver on those promises.

Bush tried that, and a great deal of the deficit we're seeing today is the result. Now suddenly everyone is (rightly) concerned about the deficit, but are unwilling to see where a great deal of the blame lies.

Of course, it's convenient to blame Obama as he's occupying the Oval Office now, but the reality goes far, far deeper.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 26, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

The Gov. still has not solved the Anthrax deaths. Even though the only ones that have it is the Gov. Hum???? Doesn’t make much sense does it. It does a lot to relieve people’s anxieties when the Gov. can't solve a crime where the source is that small and concentrated. They know exactly who has Anthrax is and which strains they have. But still cannot solve the crime.

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

It's pretty funny to read the wingnuts complaining that the *government* isn't providing their vaccinations fast enough.

Hey, just run down to your local Free Market and get you some.

Posted by: nodebris | October 26, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Obama and Sebilius have run around since April spreading fear and then promising vaccines by mid-October!!

Wrong and wronger are in deep trouble!!

Posted by: jjcrocket2 | October 26, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

If I am to believe askgees, then the whole thing is a plan to allow Obama to repay the pharmaceutical companies. But then, the FDA is (again according to askgees) dragging it's feet?

So we're supposed to believe that Obama is a mastermind of virus-for-votes kickbacks, but can't control an agency in his own government?

Next-up: intentional tin-foil shortages!

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The big delay (which amounts to being about two weeks behind schedule) is not due to any delay in approval. This strain of virus grows more slowly than most seasonal flus that the manufacturers are familiar with, so *their* estimated delivery schedules were overly optimistic.

As for bird flu, it is still out there, very deadly but luckily not easily transmitted. As opposed to H1N1, which is less deadly than seasonal flu but is worse for younger age groups and pregnant women. And that's why the picture of the lines has all those strollers--young parents freaking out. Meanwhile the usual victims--seniors--quietly wait for vaccination day at the senior center or assisted living facility. Why no camera crews there??

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

askgees is a real addition to the discourse. > ahem <

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 26, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The really big crises like financial meltdowns, global warming and mass infections are supposed to teach us about the realities of the social contract. With the increase in national narcissism over the past 2 or 3 generations, and the development of all the ideologies that go naturally with such narcissism [e.g. Libertarianism], the concepts of public health and the "greater good" have an uphill fight against everyone's response: "What's in it for me?" Mass immunization is the perfect model of where self-interest and public interest intersect. Everyone getting their shots becomes a act of virtue in fighting the spread of infection. So, if we think about it, we get to act like grownups.

Posted by: eheath1 | October 26, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

w04 and askgees need to take a tranquilizer. And wash their hands frequently. And avoid touching their faces. And sneeze or cough in a tissue or the inside of their elbow. And stay home if they have flu symptoms. That's the best way to avoid the flu until they get a shot. 4 out of 6 of w04's family got flu shots. It sounds like they are doing pretty good for themselves.

As school children are a huge vector, I would suggest that Mrs. w04 put a tub of clorox wipes where the kids drop their lunch boxes when they come home. Mine are instructed to wash their hands with the wipes first thing they get home so we don't get the school's germs all over the house.

And drindl is right about the flu vaccine. There isn't a lot of profit there, so there isn't a big rush to serve the market.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 26, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Folks, it's the blessed FREE MARKET hat controls the production of this vaccine. So blame that if you want to complain.

Posted by: drindl | October 26, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse


You are a ret@rd. Any MEDICATION has to have FDA approval. So there for it's the Gov. that's dragging it's feet. However they have to insure that the vac. is safe. If you really are this stup1d please kill you're self before you spread the idi0t bug.

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

i took my 1.5 yr old and 4.5 yr old to the pediatrician's office for h1n1 shots..the 1.5 yr old got one, as they were only vaccinating children under 2..the 4.5 yr old met the death panel and was directed to an ice flow..
..
..
i called the family practioner..he agreed to vacinate the 4.5 yr old and also the 15 yr old and the 18 yr old, as they were only vaccinating those under 20..my wife, who has had post-surgical blood clots and diabetes and i, who has been diagnosed with asthma, had pneumonia twice in the last decade and a collapsed lung met the death panel, and were directed to the line for boarding an ice flow.. .. ..
..
..
what is going on with the delays to the flu vaccination plant under construction in north carolina..why has that construction not been given manhattan project-like emphasis and round-the-clock construction..
..
..
and another thing..we have spent the last decade being warned about THE BIRD FLU!!! ..what is being done about that!?!?!?
.
..
...

Posted by: w04equals666 | October 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

The flu goes from humans to animals. Primarily pigs and chickens. This is the normal progression. Every year it's the same. This is nothing more than media hype and BS designed to put money in the pockets of the big pharma. It's pay back from the administration for signing onto the healthcare reform bill. Does anyone find it strange that the swine flu was discovered in Mexico 2 days before Obama was to arrive there for their meeting. Or the fact that one of his aids contracted the flu and brought it back to MD. It almost appears as though the US Gov. was the ones that released the virus. Not one farm tested positive for swine flu around patient 0 in Mexico??? This is a Gov. conspiracy. Obama and his admin. released this strain for the sole purpose of paying back the pharmaceutical companies. If you trust Odumbo and Emanuel then you are a fool.

Posted by: askgees | October 26, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Have we forgotten about the Anthrax attacks in late 2002? Did we hear speculation about how this affected Bush's political standing? Instead like most things he got a pass.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | October 26, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Folks, it's the blessed FREE MARKET hat controls the production of this vaccine. So blame that if you want to complain.

Posted by: drindl | October 26, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a politician, a human being who can't part the waters or stop epidemics. It is not he who over-hyped the swine flu epidemic- it was WHO abetted by the CDC- their intentions were good and they had been primed by a fear of a big H5N1 bird flu epidemic. They don't control the vaccine makers and are not responsible for the overestimates of vaccine production. However, WHO and CDC press releases about pandemics, plus the media's trivialization of this, as all health issues, frightened people without benefit. The CDC was stupid to release a telephone survey purporting to show that one out of five US children had the flu in the first two weeks of October- that was sheer hogwash and a high school student should have seen the problem- it was one in five children with some kind of respiratory illness, miles from the flu.

We have the minority of anti-vaccinators who keep beating their anti-science anti-evolution drums, and others who have been misled into thinking that it's vital to get the vaccine and that it would be available in just a few weeks time.

Most of us will get through this illness just fine. However, it is much more likely to kill young people and pregnant women than seasonal flu. The risk of the illness for them is much much greater than the risk of the vaccine. As long as they get the vaccine before December they can benefit. Even in 1976, Guillain Barre syndrome was a very rare complication, mostly seen in those over age 50, who seem to have some immunity or partial protection to this virus.

Posted by: bobsnodgrass | October 26, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of Newt, he sees the real problem for the Rs:

"Last week, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) — the chairman of the House Republican Conference — defended the influence of right-wing talk shows over the Republican Party. Pence claimed that it’s “hogwash” to suggest that pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck “only speak for a small group of activists.” In a similar vein, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) defended the influence of Limbaugh, Beck, and other commentators because, she claimed, they represent a “critical mass.”

Reflecting the emerging stranglehold over the Republican Party that Limbaugh and Beck now exert, the new cover of The Weekly Standard identifies Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin as the faces of the GOP (see image to the right). Yesterday morning on C-Span, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressed concern with the cover:

Well, I just think it’s interesting that two of the three people on the cover are talk radio hosts — Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. And they’re fine people, and they have big audiences, and that’s terrific. But you have a party that has Gov. Haley Barbour, it has Gov. Mitch Daniels, it has Gov. Tim Pawlenty. [...] You know, you can have a very, very intense movement of 20 percent. You can’t govern. To govern, you got to get 50 percent plus one after the recount."

The party is pandering to a small band of kooks and cultists, and Gingrich knows that's going to mean big losses next election.

Posted by: drindl | October 26, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Chris, didn't we tell you last week to quit trying to write what you THINK the Prez is thinking? and his motives and mindset? You have a completely different mindset and world view coloured by things like knowing people like Chip Saltzman for a long time and thinking they aren't racist. Go back to cheer leading the GOP, and quit trying to insinuate your point of view into the Prez's. Write of which you know, not what you think you know. Besides, your blog is not listed under the opinion blogs, so just tell us about what you think the GOP is doing, leave the Prez to real journalists.

Posted by: katem1 | October 26, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Just ignore the moron, jex. Everyone else does.

I don't want to hear any rightwingers whining about the flu or the vaccine, after all the idiotic conspiracy theories they've thrown around:

"ATTENTION AMERICA!!!! This is highly significant. The WHO "Pandemic Control Room" is a creation of the Illuminati elite for the final "end-game" killer virus mapping and tracking, and is thus equipped with super-computers tied to all U.N. member government's security forces.

Obama makes an official visit to Mexico, and a short week later, Mexico City schools, Universities and all PUBLIC BUILDINGS are shut down in pandemic fear -- (for the first time since the devastating 1985 earthquake!) Again, is this just a bizarre co-incidence??""

That was not a parody. That's just how nuts the far right is.

Posted by: drindl | October 26, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

...
..
.
i took my 1.5 yr old and 4.5 yr old to the pediatrician's office for h1n1 shots..the 1.5 yr old got one, as they were only vaccinating children under 2..the 4.5 yr old met the death panel and was directed to an ice flow..
..
..
i called the family practioner..he agreed to vacinate the 4.5 yr old and also the 15 yr old and the 18 yr old, as they were only vaccinating those under 20..my wife, who has had post-surgical blood clots and diabetes and i, who has been diagnosed with asthma, had pneumonia twice in the last decade and a collapsed lung met the death panel, and were directed to the line for boarding an ice flow.. .. ..
..
..
what is going on with the delays to the flu vaccination plant under construction in north carolina..why has that construction not been given manhattan project-like emphasis and round-the-clock construction..
..
..
and another thing..we have spent the last decade being warned about THE BIRD FLU!!! ..what is being done about that!?!?!?
.
..
...

Posted by: w04equals666 | October 26, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

It is an unfortunate truth in this country that something has to be demonstrably and irrefutably broken before there is public will to fix it.

Thus, bridges fall into rivers and people cry, "how could they let this happen?!" Conveniently forgetting or never knowing that the highway department had to cut back on inspections because of funding shortages, due to the incessant cry for lower taxes.

And thus too with the flu vaccine. In this case not a lot could have been done to speed things up, but perhaps keeping more vaccine production capacity in this country would have helped. Or baseloading the annual capacity by ordering free vaccines for all Americans (ie preventive care).

I'm sure no one is blaming Bush for this temporary shortage of H1N1 vaccine. But generally, we get what we pay for (at most). If you buy everything at Walmart, don't complain when you can't find decent quality. And the American taxpayer hasn't been willing to pay full price for decades.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The demand for the H1N1 flu virus is suppressed because moronic rightwingers suspicious of government and of vaccines in general refuse to have themselves and their children vaccinated. That's on them, and they will suffer the consequences. The government has done all they can to alert the public and make as much of the vaccine available as possible. But even the Obama administration can't cure stupidity.

Posted by: Pupster | October 26, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

First, think the long lines we are seeing are a preamble to what we can expect under OBAMACARE!!

Second, the Sec of HHS is now saying that there will be "AMPLE" vaccine. Why have we dropped the 'number' (which used to be around 120,000,000 doses), and the 'when'?

There are vaccine shortages all over the country, even though HHS first let contracts for H1N1 vaccine manufacturing last spring. So far, only about 15 million doses have been dispensed in the U.S., out of 120 million that were promised. What happened?

DID BUSH CAUSE THIS TOO BARACK?? WHO WILL YOU THROW UNDER THE BUS FOR THIS BLUNDER??

Posted by: wheeljc | October 26, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

There's certainly nothing wrong with inventing new goods and services that can be exported, shrink2. But I don't think that's where the focus should be.

Infrastructure, housing, and health care are areas that can't be exported, but the jobs also can't be outsourced. These are not make-work jobs--particularly infrastructure, which has been chronically underfunded for decades. Those are skilled jobs with good pay, and the results actually improve quality of life for all Americans. And worth a decent chunk of our tax dollars.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Re Fix Pick #2:

The election is 8 days away, and Corzine is hanging in there, and coming out with new ads, different pitches. As opposed to Deeds, who seems to have no mojo at all.

Back in August I figured Corzine was a hopeless case, but Deeds had a shot. But they were both underdogs, and both for reasons that had little to do with Obama or national politics generally. And that is still true.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Ok the H1N1 is overexposed and its political valence is minimal, though perhaps worth mentioning. More importantly,

Americans have watched for years as other countries have gone through harrowing deficit spending/currency crisis related "austerity measures". We either balance the budget sooner or we get more austere later.

If I operated a cult of competence, I would have all the brain power concentrate on one thing, meaningful job creation as a solution to the debt crisis. This means productivity, not make-work jobs. It means making value added things/services for export, things the world market wants to buy that are in short supply. To date, these items seem to be Boeing jets, weapons and "culture"/entertainment products. I think we ought to expand our repertoire, we need to use our imagination and soon.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse


I hope the tea baggers will continue wash their hands with soap and water like the rest of us and not declare this another "conspiracy."

I recall the many left-generated conspiracy theories during the Bush years and I think the teabaggers win with "most creative and unlikely scenarios."


Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | October 26, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

So, just ignore him if you don't like his style.

Same goes for fox news, the cbo, voters, town halls, chamber of commerce, doctors, generals, other democrats, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, n Korea, climatologists, olympics, budgets, campaign promises, republicans, bi patissnship, Hillary, deeds, wright, van jones, acorn, corruption, accomplishment, health care companies, etc.

The list of enemies is growing.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

jex, if they banned all the irrational folks & all the jerks, it would get awfully quiet around here.

Posted by: bobsewell | October 26, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

My budget in a liberal world:

40 percent- fed tax sent straight to china
12 percent- social security
5 percent- state tax
4 percent- Medicare tax
28 percent- house with negative equity
3 percent- clunker I bought
8 percent- penalty for health care I can't afford
4 percent- energy cost , expected to rise
6 percent - 401k

110 percent. Yup. A liberal budget. No tuition, no clothes, no food, no vacations unless Obama pays.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

There is another aspect to this that CC failed to mention, national emergency as opportunity. Just as one could argue that Katrina broke Bush's back, the Midwestern (IA, MO) floods of 1995 restored Clinton's relevance. FEMA was competent back then and we even had our pain felt. An effective response to a national disaster put that old Reagan canard to bed.

@mark - There is an antiviral treatment available that hasn't gone through the full approval process. I forget it's name, but it can be given intravenously. A specific reason to declare the emergency is that it permits this treatment to be used now. My guess is that other resources can be used to speed delivery of the vaccine.

@jex,Dame - Welcome to the Fix. Snowball is a long time poster here (formerly under the name Zouk) who generally tries to provoke other posters. Threadjacks are a specialty of his. So, just ignore him if you don't like his style. We went through an entire ban war around here late last summer, so trust me, it takes a serious offense to be excommunicated. G&T or Drindl will be along shortly to start the back and forth.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 26, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

OR, WILL THIS 'EMERGENCY' BE USED AS A PRETEXT TO ADVANCE A SILENT COUP?

The emergency declaration gives federal agencies draconian powers that allow bureaucrats to suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. See:

http://www.infowars.com/president-obama-declares-national-emergency-over-swine-flu-pandemic-but-why/

There is strong evidence of fierce resistance and opposition to President Obama and his administration within certain powerful quarters of the bureaucracy, especially among Bush-Cheney holdrovers that investigative reporter Seymour Hersh refers to as "leave-behinds" tasked with a mission.

The concern is that a multi-agency coordinated action program may be the front for an ideologically-driven secret war against this President, and democracy itself.

My fear is that the Obama administration, with his emergency declaration, may be handing the noose to those who seek to execute a seditious plan to undemocratically seize power, at the expense of personal liberty and constitutionally guaranteed rights -- including the right to refuse to be inoculated by government fiat.

***

GOV'T TORTURES ME WITH SILENT MICROWAVE WEAPONS, SAYS OUSTED HONDURAS PREZ

• Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zaleya confirms the essence what unjustly targeted citizens worldwide -- including this journalist -- have been reporting for years...

...military, secret security, and intelligence services of many nations, including the U.S., silently assault and torture "targeted individuals," including those regarded as "dissenters" or slandered as undesirables, with debilitating, health-degrading, "slow-kill" electromagnetic microwave and laser radiation weapons systems -- said to include a nationwide installation disguised as cell towers.

FOR THE REST OF THE STORY:

http://nowpublic.com/world/govt-tortures-me-silent-microwave-weapons-ousted-s-prez

OR (if link is corrupted): http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "Gov't Tortures" and "Gestapo USA."

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 26, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Hundreds of fake products meant to treat the virus emerge. Another view of the future. Obama refuses your meds. Buy some foreign stuff off the Internet.

Fake products as the solution to a fake emergency under a fake leader using fake numbers.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

So a poster (here, snowbama) posts an opinion that another poster disagrees with (yes, theamazingjex, I'm talking about you) and the response is to request that snowbama be prohibited from posting? Why, because somebody disagrees with his/her opinion? Well, theamazingjex, you better ask that my posting privileges be lifted, too, because I agree that the long lines and short supplies are foreshadowing for Obamacare.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 26, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

It would seem that we could stop wasting time trying to convince people that the vaccine is safe, at least until it is readily available.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

As Chris stated, the designation of an emergency does give hospitals some leeway in handling the crisis. But no, you can't get the culture to grow faster. Every virus is different, and H1N1 seems to be slower than most.

My 9yo is allergic to eggs, and he can't take the vaccine, which is why I'm getting the seasonal flu shot this week, and the H1N1 when it is (readily) available.

It is amazing though, that 30,000 Americans die every year of the flu and that's no big deal, but it's a crisis when 50 soldiers a month die in Afghanistan.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 26, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Two months and counting for afghan dithering. Almost as hard as choosing a dog.

Liberals will pretend any dissent is inappropriate. Thier arguments have no merit to defend. Personal attacks will have to do.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Ref the H1N1 blurb... the issue is not the quality nor the quanity of the vaccine, it's the availibility of the black helicopters that are used to deliver the agent under the cover of darkness.

Posted by: whocares666 | October 26, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Yes it has to be cultured in eggs. No vaccine for you if you're allergic to eggs either.

Posted by: timscanlon | October 26, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Here's an alternative explanation for why Obama would declare a national emergency:
because it's a national emergency.


Also, I would like to request again that snowbama lose his posting privileges. His latest comments are inappropriate and frankly stupid.

Posted by: theamazingjex | October 26, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

That photo is a perfect vision of the possible future under obamacare- long lines, shortages, preferred patients, declared emergencies, gross incompetance.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

The fact that we even have the vaccine at all means that the spread of the virus will be stunted. Six months ago HHS decided to play it safe and make about 40-100 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine although there were many who said that it would take away from the seasonal flu production, which kills thousands of people every year too. By hedging their bets the HHS may avoid a problem with both strains.

They targeted hospital staff first then began making it open to the public. However, even if we had 300 million vaccines you would still have a good amount of people get sick and some would die, because they either decdide not to get the vaccine for whatever reason. On top of that the makers of Tamaflu indreased production so that the hospitals around the country would be fully stocked.
In the end I think Obama, Kathleen Sebalius, and the folks at the CDC and NIH played this one the right way, and we will find that H1N1 will blow through this winter with no major increase in deaths in comparison to annual flu death rates.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 26, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

The week in review under liberal leadership:

indecision. Weakness. Bogus accounting. Lame excuses for election losses. Legislation bungling. Enemies list. Gross flu incompetance. Trouble counting to 60. Spending out of control. Another crisis. Job losses. Greeniac foolery. Opaque negotiations. Media culpability. Teleprompters. Fundraising. Eternal campaign. Fake polls on public option. The truth has vanished.

Posted by: snowbama | October 26, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, declaring the flu a national emergency will also highlight the importance of preventive measures; simple things like handwashing and staying home if you're sick, which can help prevent the spread of the virus. Convincing some that the vaccine is safe, however, will be another challenge. A lot of damage can be done by those who rail against the idea of vaccinations based on ignorance, misinformation, or just pique.

Posted by: -pamela | October 26, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

The H1N1 vaccine requires culturing flu virus in eggs. apparently, according to Lehrer Fri. nt., the virus is slow to grow. Declaring a national emergency will not speed the production of vaccine, but it may provide more after-infection care.

I wish us all good luck, for non-political reasons, with regard to the flu. I have two nine month old granddaughters in the house and I worry every day there is no vaccine.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 26, 2009 6:44 AM | Report abuse

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