10/07/2005

Daily Kos: Nice job, George. You stepped in a whole lot of bird... virus.

What flew under the radar on many political blogs was the rather negative reaction to Bush's "use the military to fight the War on Flu" statement:

... it's one thing to shut down airplanes; it's another thing to prevent people from coming in to get exposed to the avian flu. And who best to be able to effect a quarantine? One option is the use of a military that's able to plan and move.

And so that's why I put it on the table. I think it's an important debate for Congress to have.

Bush's statement was referred to as "dangerous" and "Draconian" by the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, as quoted in this article:

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.

"The translation of this is martial law in the United States," Redlener said.

Redlener brings up important points, especially that the public health system has degraded. Preparedness means keeping things in working order ahead of time (like the levees in a certain Southern city).

And there's some rightwing criticism too, from the Cato Institute (a far right libertarian think tank):

And Gene Healy, a senior editor at the conservative Cato Institute, said Bush would risk undermining "a fundamental principle of American law" by tinkering with the [Posse Comitatus Act of 1878], which does not hinder the military's ability to respond to a crisis.

"What it does is set a high bar for the use of federal troops in a policing role," he wrote in a commentary on the group's Web site. "That reflects America's traditional distrust of using standing armies to enforce order at home, a distrust that's well-justified."

Healy said soldiers are not trained as police officers, and putting them in a civilian law enforcement role "can result in serious collateral damage to American life and liberty."

Way to go, Bush. In one week, you've managed to piss off a whole spectrum of people - including wingnuts . And if you haven't seen it yet, Bush's poll numbers for this week are in the toilet (CBS News poll, 10/3-5).

Bush's approach to a problem (whether it's a dictator in the Middle East or a virus) is to pound it into submission using the military. And in this case, that should be the last resort - not the first.

Daily Kos: Nice job, George. You stepped in a whole lot of bird... virus.

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