First, we set the stage with the really bad news:
A global wave of death and disease may be gathering in Asia, and America’s only defense is 2.3 million doses of anti-influenza medication.
Although a flu pandemic is impossible to predict, the avian influenza virus festering in several Asian countries shows ominous warning signs, doctors, epidemiologists and other experts warn.
"Many people are worried about a pandemic and we would not have immunity. This is one of those situations in which it’s better to be safe than sorry," said Dr. Michael H. Merson, professor of public health and former dean of epidemiology and public health at the Yale School of Medicine.
"The bird flu has all the potential of an epidemic," he said.
The H5N1 avian strain has not been seen in 150 years, meaning no one has any residual resistance.
And the virus kills seven out of 10 people who become infected.
OK, now that I have your attention, let's verify that George "Only the Republican Party Can Keep You Safe" Bush is all over this, like Jonah Goldberg on a box of Krispy Kremes:
The United States, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and other countries are taking the threat seriously enough to make H5N1 vaccines and stockpile millions of doses of anti-viral drugs.
Unlike the catastrophic "Spanish flu" that killed 20 million people worldwide in 1918-19, "we’re getting a warning with this one," Merson said.
"We need to respond with all we have," he said.
All the United States has is an experimental H5N1 vaccine that was scheduled to start clinical testing this month and 2 million doses of anti-viral drugs.
Britain, in contrast, has procured 15 million doses, enough to treat about a quarter of its population.
Guess not. So what's his plan. He has a plan, right? Ah, here's his plan:
President Bush says the possibility of an avian flu pandemic is among the reasons he wants Congress to give him the power to use the nation's military in law enforcement roles in the United States...
"One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move," he said. "So that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have."
And -- surprise, surprise -- it turns out to be a stupid idea:
A call by President George W. Bush for Congress to give him the power to use the military in law enforcement roles in the event of a bird flu pandemic has been criticized as akin to introducing martial law...
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 bans the military from participating in police-type activity on U.S. soil.
But Dr. Irwin Redlener, associate dean of Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and director of its National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told The Associated Press the president's suggestion was dangerous.
Giving the military a law enforcement role would be an "extraordinarily Draconian measure" that would be unnecessary if the nation had built the capability for rapid vaccine production, ensured a large supply of anti-virals like Tamiflu and not allowed the degradation of the public health system.
Your Commander Chimpy -- totally behind the curve yet again on issues of life-and-death public safety. But able to muster a "Ban gay marriage" rapid response team at a second's notice.
Cue boneheaded, right-wing wankers blaming it all on Clinton.