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The Next Big One

Friday, September 16, 2005  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Reaction to the president’s speech last night was overwhelmingly positive, and even predictable MSM agenda journalism —the WaPo’s Dan Balz used his opening graph to assert “the clear subtext was the rebuilding of a presidency that is now at its lowest point ever”– cannot blunt the appeal of a good man with a good message.

Even as work accelerates along the Gulf, the dangers from terrorism remain, and a new threat continues to approach: avian bird flu. Given that everyone who follows the subject sees the threat of an epidemic as a real possibility, the Adminsitration simply has to have a plan and it has to work. Today’s Wall Street Journal’s report on vaccine production is thus not comforting. (Subscription required.) Key infromation: The Department of Homeland Security gave Sanofi-Aventis Group a $100 million contract to produce a supply of the vaccine to thwart the killer flu. Other, smaller contracts have been let as well, but the gap between promised supply and obvious need is huge:

The purchases are part of the agency’s plans to buy enough vaccine for 20 million people and antivirals for another 20 million. The supplies will be placed in the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile to prepare for an influenza pandemic. The government has purchased another antiviral treatment, Roche Holdings AG’s Tamiflu, with additional purchases expected.

Jeffrey Levi, senior policy adviser at the Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy group, said 20 million people represented only half the number recommended for coverage by a prominent vaccine advisory committee, and added that HHS hasn’t asked for additional funding for further purchases for the next fiscal year.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but a fraction of the investments the country is going to need to make to be fully prepared for a pandemic,” he said. “The problem is that the administration has to ask for more money.”

Look. This is a right now issue, with Indonesia reporting its fifth case just hours ago. The UN’s chief health official is ramping up his warnings, and although the president emphasized the threat at his UN speech, the American public is not aware of the magnitude of the threat, and a plan to produce vaccine for 20 million people in a nation of 300 million when the disease may have as much as a 50% kill rate just isn’t “preparedness.”

A whole lot of money is about to gush out of the Congress, and while the recovery effort on the Gulf deserves its priority status, the Congress should appropriate whatever it needs to in order to get the supplies of the necessary drugs up and running. A couple of well-publicized hearings on this matter would also be useful.

The buck will again stop on the president’s desk, though, and he knows it. I hope he has communicated to all involved that he wants a plan on his desk on the hour by hour response once ABF reaches the US.

Skeptical? Read this. There are plenty of threats in the world (including this terrorist plot that almost got started in Los Angeles, and very few of them can be thwarted just by spending more money. ABF is, however, one of those threats which can be boxed in with planning and budget as it is a question of having and distributing the vaccines and treatments that work.

Mark Daniels has more. (Scroll down.)

A few more things:

Yesterday over at, NRO’s media blogger Stephen Sprueill wrote about Craig Crawford’s new book on media, and on Crawford’s welcome call for transparency in journalism, and included some nice comments about me as well. The Crawford concession on media bias is a welcome one, but also I think just a start. Old media’s rather lame attempts to get organized for the new media age (Jeff, give up, they don’t and won’t get it) are more humorous than anything else. PowerlineNews and Breitbart and World Magazine’s exploding online content just showed up over the summer, and without fanfare made the online media world a much more coherent place forthe center-right news consumer. More innovations are approaching soon, and old media is holding panel discussions with themselves on how to slow the bleeding.

My interview with Scott Derrickson, director of the “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” is up at Radioblogger. The WSJ has an article on the film’s marketing to churchgoers. This audience is huge and appreciative of outreach, which is why Jonathan Bock’s Grace Hill Media is now one of the most sought after publicist firms in Los Angeles.

And don’t miss Professor Mary Ann Glendon’s “Judicial Tourism” in today’s Sample:

The problem is not reference to foreign law: It is how foreign law is used by judges who usurp powers reserved under the Constitution to the people and their elected representatives, and whose desire to “learn” is limited to finding arguments in support of conclusions that have little constitutional warrant. The learning process of the foreign law enthusiasts, moreover, is selective. They have shown no disposition to explore why most democracies take a different view from theirs on exclusion of illegally obtained evidence, regulation of abortion or separation of church and state. With reason, Justice Scalia accuses them of “looking over the heads of the crowd and picking out their friends.”

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