Swine flu outbreak finds nation unprepared

A few weeks ago, claiming that the good people of Texas had had enough of big government, Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas, said that his state was considering secession. Today, however, facing a swine flu pandemic from Mexico, the Governor who hates America is begging for federal help.

Hopefully, the feds will be able to come through with the 37,430 courses of antiviral medicine that Perry is requesting. Seeing as how Republicans in Congress slashed the $900 million in the stimulus plan that would have gone toward pandemic preparedness by more than %80, though, it’ll be a challenge.

That’s right, the Republicans, in all their wisdom, fought against pandemic preparedness. Giveaways to oil companies and investment banks are one thing, I guess, but they draw the line at protecting the American people from the flu. And before you roll your eyes and chuckle at the prospects of the flu to really impact life here on earth, I’ll remind you that the Spanish Flu wiped out up to 100 million people worldwide in 1918, and that was when the planet was much less congested, and people didn’t travel very often or very far.

As for this strain of swine flu, the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Charles E. Johnson declared a national emergency today. As of right now, there 20 known cases in the U.S. and 81 confirmed deaths in Mexico. The U.S. cases thus far identified are in California, Texas, Kansas, and New York. Additional information and resources on pandemic preparedness can be found here.

So, for God’s sakes, stay away from Old Country Buffet… and vote against Republicans, and for people who believe in science and learn from history, whenever possible.

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69 Comments

  1. dp in exile
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    When will there be a state of emergency declared for drunk driving, sexual violence, or mercury in rain water (via coal burning)?

    All of these things are more likely to affect us.

    According to the CDC’s website (http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/swineflu_you.htm):

    “How does swine flu spread?
    Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.”

    “What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
    First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.”

    In my humble opinion, the media folks need a new fear campaign. With out a shadowy terrorist, or a Rove-ian plot against a strategically inept Democrat, they don’t have much to report on other than hard news. If a pretty 20 something white woman is abducted on a Caribbean Island, or a 7 year old beauty queen from the southwest is found murdered tomorrow, Swine flu will be so yesterday.

    … or maybe we are due for another pandemic and this is the beginning of the end. Should I duct-tape my windows and stock up on bottled water now?

  2. Posted April 26, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I’ve just read too much about the flu of 1918, but I can’t help but think that one of these days we’re going to see another pandemic. Sure, chances are this won’t be in, but one of these days it will happen. Sure, there may be some fear mongering in the press, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a serious problem.

  3. Posted April 26, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    So far, I haven’t seen much fear mongering. I’ve seen statements from public health workers doing their jobs.

    Most people don’t realize that just a couple of genetic clicks stand between us being alive and being dead. 1918 was just the tip of the iceberg. It would be infinitely worse now that people are more mobile than they have been in human history.

  4. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    How come it only kills Mexicans so far?

  5. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    I guess this happened in 1976 as well.

    Whatever happened to sars and the bird flu pandemic scares?

  6. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I almost forgot the West Nile virus scare.

  7. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    Yes, we’re now more mobile than at any time in history. Alas, if only science had kept up with technology, developing things like vaccines, we might be able avoid the impending doom…

    (That medical science hasn’t progressed since 1918 seems to be underlying logic of comparison here.)

  8. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Between all these pandemics, global warming, over population, terrorism, crazy white guy shootings, and reefer madness, I’m amazed we don’t all live in a damn sanitarium. If you’re going to be afraid of anything, it should be driving in a car.

  9. Posted April 27, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Medical science has certainly progressed. Influenza viruses are notorious for extremely rapid genetic change. There are also millions of different strains of influenza at any one time so that developing long term, 100% effective vaccines against all strains is impossible. Some diseases change slowly, such as smallpox or measles so that vaccines are a practical and effective solution. Why do you think that we don’t have an HIV vaccine? It changes at such a rapid pace that any vaccine produced today, will be useless tomorrow. Also, immunity to influenza viruses only last a few years at best, so that even if you are immune to this years influenza, you will not be in 6 years unlike diseases like measles. So, your quip about medical science not progressing is baseless. Many of the readers of this blog would be dead already due to childhood infectious disease if it weren’t for the progress of medicine. That we are even able to have this discussion online about this current a topic speaks volumes to the existence of an educated and informed public.

    The threat of swine of avian flu is that these are not flus that are normally seen in humans and when they are, we are almost completely physiologically unprepared for them. While farm workers sometimes get them, these are isolated incidents since person to person transmission is rare. In the case of swine flu, we have seen rapid transmission and distribution of a potentially deadly virus. Mostly, influenza kills babies and old people. Many of the people in Mexico were in their twenties. Thus, not only do we have person to person transmission, we have a virus that kills healthy, strong people.

    While your schoolyard argument against cars is admirable, 100 million people won’t die in car wrecks in a single year. An virulent stain of influenza on the scale of what was seen in 1918 will likely kill more than that in 1918, and most of those people will be the poorest worldwide, leading to extreme political instability, not to mention economic effects that will ripple even to Ypsilanti.

    Personally, I am glad that there are people who work to mitigate these kinds of situations. Sure, in Ann Arbor I may never get mugged, but having a police force that’s ready to deal with any situation is absolutely essential in my opinion. There’s no reason for anyone to be afraid, but it is necessary to be aware.

  10. EOS
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Maybe high density urban environments aren’t the ideal some think they are. I’m glad I still have an option not to use mass transit!

  11. Posted April 27, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Yes, you can avoid diseased black people that way.

  12. Paw
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    All of our money should go to faith based initiatives.

    Scientists are witches.

    Fighting against God’s will would be blasphemy.

  13. Haunted Chicken Coop
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Looks like some folks in Menlo Park may benefit from this…

    http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN2425534220090424

    12 weeks to a vaccine? And it’s only been shown to work thru phase II. Going to wash my hands again now.

  14. Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if it’s like Joker’s poison from the old Batman movie, where you have to use a combination of different chemicals for it to be fatal.

    For instance, swine flu alone isn’t fatal, but swine flu combined with salmonilla and polluted shit water can be deadly.

  15. Sonic Reducer
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Tighter border security? Health checks and quarentines at airports? This is so obviously the first stages of a zombie holocaust.

  16. Alicia
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I’ve been waiting for you to comment on the swine flu situation. You did not disappoint. (no pressure).

  17. Meta
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Republican Senator from Maine, Susan Collins, is still bragging on her site about stripping the funding for pandemic preparedness:

    http://collins.senate.gov/public/continue.cfm?FuseAction=PressRoom.Articles&ContentRecord_id=46d6e846-802a-23ad-4ccd-8f37bc42d004&Region_id=&Issue_id=&CFId=960&CFToken=38005608

  18. Collin
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto had some really great spin on the story. He said that it was spreading faster in Mexico than the US because they have government provided health care.

  19. Posted April 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Actually, he’s trying to imply that Mexican people do not have access to healthcare because it’s provided by the government.

    I would wonder if it has dawned on Mr. Taranto that at least 47 million Americans do not have access to health care and many more have such shitty insurance policies that they can’t go to the doctor. Poor people are overwhelmingly struck by infectious disease for a number of reasons. It’s exactly these people who suffer the most because of lack of access to health care. Consequently, the rest of us suffer due to economic burdens and because epidemics last longer.

  20. dragon
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    What are the odds that one could convince greater wingnuttia that pork barrel spending was the cause of the swine flu outbreak?

  21. Daniel
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    next it will be the Goat flu – brace yourself.

  22. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s fun to substitute the words “swine flu” with “terrorism.” Save us, Government! You’re our only hope!

  23. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Did anyone else catch a couple days ago that Obama shook hands with a guy in Mexico City who died the next day from Swine Flu? I’ll try to track down a source.

  24. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Ah, here are some answers to that one.

  25. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2009/04/white_house_oba.html

    Link thingy ignored me.

  26. Somebody else
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB5-Y08qbjo

    Ron Paul’s take on the swine flu scare.

  27. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Swine flu is totally more important than things like, oh, malaria or polio in Africa. In theory, an American might die! Better to fund protection from a hypothetical threat to Americans than fund distribution of vaccines for actual, easily preventable diseases that are an existing pandemic in other nations. Because there is no pandemic unless American children are at risk, real or imagined.

  28. Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    I’m sure that’s exactly what the Republicans were thinking when they slashed our pandemic preparedness funds. They were concerned about the people of less developed countries. They wanted to ensure that we didn’t send a signal that we cared about the lives of our people more than theirs.

    For what it’s worth, I think a great deal of good work is being done to address the issues that you’re talking about, OEC, by both the U.S. government and organizations like the Gates Foundation. And I don’t think that it has to be an either/or situation. I think that we can both prepare at home, while also assisting abroad. I think there’s a moral imperative to do so.

  29. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    OEC, you are correct to an extent. It is very true that more money is spent on research and development for solutions to erectile dysfunction than health conditions which threaten billions every year. More needs to be done. However, be aware that diseases like swine flu and SARS have affected relatively few Americans but threaten many in poor countries. Personally, it is reassuring that it even makes the news. More needs to be done, but cynicism will not change anything, whereas public awareness and proactive efforts on the part of American health officials can.

    Mark, you are correct that good work is being done. The American government gets a bad rap worldwide but one of the few things they get right is their support for health issues around the globe. True, it’s not enough and it never will be, but large countries like China and Russia do not step up to the plate in the way that the States does. I think that striving for a healthier globe does more to spread American values such as freedom and democracy than 100 wars.

    I believe that this is true at home as well. People like BA and EoS would abolish the government and considers spending on health care and preparedness a waste. Personally, I fear the day when American health workers do not have enough money to do even do the most minimal work. Spending on health and health care is not a waste and being prepared is not a stupid proposition.

    If anything, this swine flu threat is a great fire drill for American health workers, state and local governments. It may not threaten us directly, but the potential is always there (much more so than terrorism).

  30. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Swine flu PSA’a from the 70’s.

    From the LA Times article above regarding deaths from Swine flu vaccination vs. deaths from Swine flu.

  31. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Sorry:

    “More than 500 people are thought to have developed Guillain-Barre syndrome after receiving the vaccine; 25 died. No one completely understands the causes of Guillain-Barre, but the condition can develop after a bout with infection or following surgery or vaccination. The federal government paid millions in damages to people or their families.

    However, the pandemic, which some experts estimated at the time could infect 50 million to 60 million Americans, never unfolded. Only about 200 cases of swine flu and one death were ultimately reported in the U.S., the CDC said.”

  32. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Please note that I’m not attempting to minimize the shittiness of swine flu. I am only trying to minimize uninformed, fear-induced decision making, like the kind that gave us the Iraq War and the Bank Bailouts, which were both based on real tragic events but were poor solutions that America was fast-talked into because of fear. It’s easier to not get into such authoritarian quagmires than to try to get out of them. Look before you leap.

  33. jorj
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    “Napolitano added that in a normal seasonal influenza season, about 35,000 deaths are linked to the flu.”

    That’s from this.

    35,000 deaths from a normal flu season is normal? Am I reading that right?

  34. Bring outcher dead
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Check out this cool google map thing of swine flu cases: here.

  35. Posted April 29, 2009 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    jorj: That sounds about right. I think I’ve actually seen slightly higher numbers, more like 37,000 a year, but definitely somewhere in that neighborhood.

  36. Posted April 29, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Yes, that is correct. On average, about 36,000 people die of influenza/pneumonia every single year, mostly the aged and immune system compromised.

    The swine flu deaths may seem small now, but since person to person transmission is possible with this strain, we have yet another strain floating around the human populace in addition to the present ones, which could contribute to more deaths. I am especially concerned since this is way past flu season, indicating that this particular strain may not follow the same pattern as regular flus, making vaccination strategies difficult.

    Personally, one death is too many. I don’t think that this is a numbers game and am sad that people seem to take that prevailing attitude. “It’s just a few” Those people could be you, they could be your parents, worse yet, they could be your children.

  37. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’m on board with the shittiness of it, dude, and my first instinct with seeing that kid die was that it could have just as well been my kid. I’m all about being cautious and washing my hands all the time and whatnot, but I’m even more cautious of hysteria because it leads to a bunch of people making terrible decisions that can lead to even more deaths… or worse, throwing their (and my) freedom away for safety and/or prosperity. 8 years of that is enough.

  38. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I have no idea if this is a credible source or not, so be skeptical:

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/only-7-swine-flu-deaths-not-152-says-who-20090429-aml1.html

    It basically says that someone from the WHO says that there have actually only been 7 swine flu deaths, all in Mexico.
    I don’t know if this was released prior to the death in the U.S. or not.

  39. Posted April 29, 2009 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Absolutely. The best case scenario is that the virus dies out and that this is a fire drill for disease preparedness and instill the need for attention to health issues all around.

    The worst case is that some asshole uses hysteria for his own monetary or political benefit at the expense of everyone else, which, as we’ve seen, is entirely possible.

    The absolute worst case is that this is the beginning of the cannibal holocaust.

  40. Meta
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I take this as a good indication of how stupid we are, and how little we understand science.

    Pork Industry Fights Concerns Over Swine Flu
    By ANDREW MARTIN and CLIFFORD KRAUSS

    Even as medical professionals tell the public that pork
    is safe to eat, Wall Street analysts predicted a sharp
    decline in sales at grocery stores.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/29/business/economy/29trade.html?th&emc=th

  41. Posted April 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    This should be a great buying opportunity for bacon lovers. Just make sure to hold onto it long enough till it appreciates.

  42. Posted April 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Hey, I just noticed that even the child in the U.S. that died from swine flu was a Mexican being treated in the U.S. What gives with the Mexicans being the only people who die from it???

  43. Posted April 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Didn’t I read that ammo is hard to find because paranoid gun owners erroneously believed that once Obama got into office, he would take away all the guns? I know that the gun store in our area was promoting this as a way to boost sales: “Get your ammo while you can! Obama=Gun Rights Lost!!”

  44. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there has been a huge rush to buy guns and ammo since Obama was elected. I suspect it began before he was elected.

    Here’s the type of thing I was afraid would happen regarding drummed-up swine flu hysteria:

    “The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously passed a pandemic flu preparation bill that has languished in the Legislature before the recent swine flu outbreak.

    The 36-0 vote today sends the measure to the House. Both branches have taken it up in past years, but have not been able to agree on the details.

    The new Senate version would allow the public health commissioner — in a public health emergency — to close or evacuate buildings, enter private property for investigations, and quarantine individuals.

    The measure also requires a registry for volunteers that would be activated in an emergency and establishes fines of up to $1,000 for not complying with local public health orders.

    Sen. Richard Moore, chair of the Health Care Financing Committee, says the swine flu outbreak provides added impetus to pass the measure.”

    http://news.bostonherald.com/news/politics/view/2009_04_28_Mass__Senate_approves_pandemic_flu_prep_bill/

    I love how easily we surrender our rights the second anything scary happens. Land of the free and home of the brave my ass.

  45. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Allow me to reiterate that no Americans have died so far, if what somebody above said was true about the kid who died here being a Mexican who came here for treatment.

    3000+ people died on 9/11, which led to the suspension of hebeas corpus, warentless wiretaps, torture, an undeclared war or two, etc.

    36,000 people die every year from normal flu, which has led to no restrictions on anyone’s rights that I’ve ever heard of.

    So far, both 3000 and 36,000 are bigger than the number zero (or one), which is how many Americans have died of swine flu so far.

    I’m beginning to suspect that the deaths in Mexico City may have had more to do with something else unhealthy in Mexico City besides or in addition to swine flu.

    Do the math, wash your hands, and watch your governments in time of panic like a hawk.

  46. Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Apparently Taco eating has a multiplicative effect on mortality from swine flu.

    Truth is, even CDC people are stumped as to why people is Mexico have quickly died, whereas people here have not.

  47. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Off the top of my head, I’d say it has to be either an environmental factor or the disease has mutated into a less lethal form since the initial epidemic. A genetic factor wouldn’t make much sense, since Americans hail from diverse ancestries.

  48. Meta
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    The World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded it to a level 5, which makes it officially a pandemic.

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2009/h1n1_20090429/en/index.html

  49. Paw
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    As no one has said it yet, I will. A pandemic could be a good thing for the future of the planet. The earth is already overtaxed, and the human population is growing at an unsustainable rate. If it’s not this time, it will be soon. Sooner or later, it has to happen. It’ll suck, but it has to happen. And I’d rather it happen this way than by nuclear war.

  50. Posted April 30, 2009 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Actually, I would disagree, a pandemic would be a terrible thing for the world and the environment since it will disproportionately hit the poorest sections of the globe and devistate whatever governments and economies they may have, leading to large scale war and environmental destruction. Wars displace people and uproot communities leading to large levels of deforestation and environmental degradation, pollution of waterways and an exacerbation of a host of other diseases.

    It is well known that strong economies have little population growth and that poor, insecure economies have high infant mortality but correspondingly fast and unhealthy growth. Economic stability and a strong emphasis on public health (the two go hand in hand) will be a better method of curbing our resource use and environment along with first world emphasis on efficient, clean sources of energy and sound food production policy.

    So no, I do not agree that killing off a certain sector of the population (poor people) is a good solution. In fact, I believe it is the worst of all possible solutions.

  51. dragon
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Who was it that said ‘pigs will fly before we have a black president’?

    -swine-flu

  52. Robert
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    We need a pandemic which only strikes stupid people.

  53. Steph's Dad
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    According to the Washington Post, one of Obama’s staff has the flu. They believe it was picked up on the recent Presidential trip to Mexico. If true, assuming they all flew back together, it’s conceivable that others have it as well. Those who thought that this was a laughing matter may want to reconsider.

  54. dragon
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    When it comes time to start pointing fingers, I point here.

    http://randomfunnypicture.com/archives/fixed/?id=1314

  55. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    How is the possibility of Obama getting sick more important than the possibility of anyone else getting sick? Is he a god?

  56. Robert
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Brackinald Achery, it depends on what you mean by “more important” I guess.

    You do know he’s the President, right?

  57. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Obviously. You do know that the President isn’t a king, or a god, or a queen in a hive, right?

    On the bright side, I also have a chance of contracting swine flu… as does Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, the Pope, Niel Diamond, the guy who does Elmo’s voice, and that guy who wrote everybody a ticket for snow removal. Does that make you feel better?

    Also, Paw: Are you willing to put your family first in line to get sick and die if that’s what you think is best?

  58. Robert
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Brackinald Achery, what did you mean by “more important?”

  59. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I mean that to think swine flu is not a laughing matter only because the President is six degrees from sick is silly leader-worship. He’s just a man, like anybody else. If he got sick and the media never reported it, you’d see no real difference in your life, unlike if someone close to you got sick and/or died, which really would change your life. In neither case would the world ground to a halt. So, in that sense, people who are close to you are far more important than the President of the United States. To think otherwise is just pathetic celebrity American Political Idol drama-queenaholism. Although it does speak volumes into the core of one’s political philosophy if one does think that way.

  60. Posted April 30, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    BA, you know I love you, right? And you know that I generally appreciate your comments, even when you’re raving about Ron Paul and fighting with James Madison’s ghost. I even tolerate the irrational gun nuttiness. But, really, how do you expect to be taken seriously when you say that if the Presidential administration all suddenly became deathly ill it wouldn’t matter any more to our country than if my family in Ypsilanti became sick? Do you really not understand how government works? The comment as I read it had nothing whatsoever do celebrity worship, as you suggested, and everything to do with the fact that our nation, as it is, is barely staying afloat. Not having a stable leadership, even if it were just for a few days, really could impact the markets, our security, etc.

  61. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    What powers Government actually does have or wishes they had over our various present crises are primarily performed by Congress and lesser functionaries. We have a Vice President. We’ve lost Presidents before and the sky didn’t fall down. Hero-worshippers of Obama would be weeping and gnashing their teeth, the media would have a field day comparing him with JFK and Lincoln and milking every possible tear out of it they possibly could, and his actual friends and family would be devastated, which is actually horrible and tragic, but as far as National Security or the economy, it is you who doesn’t understand how Government works. He would be replaced by Biden.

    Also, James Madison started it.

  62. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I would be far more affected if you or one of your family members died.

  63. Posted April 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Congress would likely keep right on rolling. And, as you point out, we’ve lost Presidents suddenly in the past. I just think the stakes are higher now, as we’re fighting two wars, responding to threats posed by Iran and North Korea, and trying to keep our country from slipping into depression. And, as I was imagining it – worst case scenario – it wouldn’t just Obama suffering from the flu. When I heard the news, I was picturing it hitting everyone right down the line, from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the Secretary of State. A serious virus taking several people out for a week or more, I believe, could be more harmful than an assassination.

  64. Posted April 30, 2009 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I’m with BA. Who cares if Obama gets sick? There will be some CNN special and some crying and weeping, but we’d just end up with Biden. My life would be more or less the same.

  65. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I love Obama and wish and pray him long health. I’d probably be sadder and more personally affected if Mark Maynard died.

    The nation would be sadder and more negatively affected if Obama died (sorry Mark).

    Of course we’re all, personally, more affected by those closest to us. But even BA would feel the affects, for better or worse, of a president passing more than he would an elderly person in Tuscan. Since this thread has started, no doubt thousands of people have died for thousands of reasons. None of those death’s affect us as much as if they’d been one of our loved ones, or a president.

    Fair enough?

  66. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 30, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I do apologize if I’ve given offense. I’m picking up what you’re putting down regarding the potential for an infectious disease wiping out great swaths of our Government all at the same time, and I agree that, if nothing else, it would most certainly lead to incidents of social chaos. Probably big ones. You never know; sometimes people pull together in times of crisis, sometimes they go ape shit. I can also envision foreign powers that feel their actions have been held in check by the U.S. government taking advantage of the situation in whatever unpredictable ways. Sorry I put things so crassly. Obama dying from swine flu would be tragic, Mark Maynard dying from swine flu would be tragic, a little kid dying from swine flu in Texas is tragic. That family’s world has turned upside down for real.

    Again, though, we still need to feel threatened in proportion to the actual threat, which so far is next to zero. We can’t let ourselves get scared into doing another Patriot Act, but with pandemics replacing terrorism as the unendurable scary thing that happens when we’re too free.

  67. dp in exile
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    You are coming from an entirely reasonable and pragmatic place, BA. Thanks for making this point of view available to Mark’s readership.

  68. Brackinald Achery
    Posted May 1, 2009 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    I do appreciate the validation and encouragement, dp. Just following your lead on this one.

    Scientists, politicians, and media eventually catch up with our common sense.

  69. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Remember the swine flu?

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