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October 08, 2005

You and whose army? Flu and quarantine

If you want to know exactly why George Bush's internment plan for bird flu won't work, you should read the full text of George Anna's Boston Globe op/ed at Effect Measure.

Military quarantine would probably spread the flu as citizens fled to escape quarantine. Wouldn't you get out of town if you heard that your county was about to be locked down by the National Guard?

Remember, quarantine is for healthy people, isolation is for people who are already sick. Nobody questions the need for isolation during an influenza pandemic, but we won't need soldiers to enforce it. Flu patients will seek out treatment.

Here's another question that nobody seems to be asking: Do we have even enough troops to intern hundreds of thousands of Americans. Or is the internment plan just another one of Bush's fantasies?


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No weapon, no army on earth is as powerful as human fear. That, combined with human selfishness, would guarantee massive flight from areas targeted for quarantine. The Bush white house has spent five full years instilling FEAR in the public consciousness, fear of terr'r, fear of Democrats, fear of tax hikes. That fear would work against any effort to cordon off whole cities or counties if the purpose was to keep a deadly disease INSIDE your neighborhood.

And even if you believe that the military were capable of instituting such a quarantine (if you do, BTW, I've got some prime real estate in Florida you might be interested in), the reality is that in our age of easy motoring, by the time you've identified any one geographical place as being infected, it's already spread beyond that place. Short of confining every American to their homes for a week, there is no physical way to completely stop the spread of an infectious disease. Although, if there are any historical examples to the contrary, I'd be interested in hearing about them.

How else will he justify the draft he so dearly desires? Not just a war measure, also a homeland security measure. All of the pieces are in place. Draft board vacancies were filled before the last election.

A continual erosion of the controls protecting our nation from military domination.

During his original election campaign, Bush promised a "strengthening of the presidency", which he had viewed as becoming weakened after Nixon.

At every turn of events, Bush acts to concentrate power. For just a few examples, look at the Patriot Act, the demand to use the military to police natural disasters like hurricanes, and now to assert a potential need to quarantine whole states by the military?

Using the military to spy on Americans has been a constant theme. It started with Total Information Awareness, and is still going on in different reincarnations. There have been a plethora of small changes that tend to sneak under the radar. Most recently there is a bill that allows military intelligence to gather civillian information without being required to identify themselves as military officers.

What other president in recent times has seen such a need to use the military to control the American people?

Per the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs
(several well-written articles in that issue discuss the possibility of a flu pandemic on several levels and viewpoints. I highly recommend reading them)

But look...the military is an engine designed to fight wars, not to deal with non-militaristic domestic crises. In case we've all forgotten, there DO exist depts of government designed to deal with such crises: Federal Emergency Management Agency; Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, to name but three...none of which are arms of the US military.

Note to President Bush (because I know you read this blog): despite your blighted and retarded authoritarian worldview, the US military is not the answer to every disaster. Perhaps you could shave a few billion$ from the military budget and direct such monies elsewhere.

>A continual erosion of the controls protecting our nation from military domination.

>What other president in recent times has seen such a need to use the military to control the American people?

Looks like the right wing spent so long in bed with tinhorn 3rd world dictators that, as the bible warned, they, erm, "became one flesh."

(The preceding statement should not be read as endorsing any resurgence of blue laws against adultery, like that idiotic anti-artificial-insemination law Lindsey wrote about. It may, however, be read as condemning the use of tinhorn 3rd world dictatorship tactics by 1st world governments.)

It's funny, the reconstructed 1918 flu was partially done from a military death.

Read Flu by Gina Kolata.

Jose Saramago wrote a book titled Blindness where a city is hit by an epidemic where everyone goes blind.Prescient look into all the horrors of the coming century.

What's all this talk about Evian Flue? You don't have to drink it you know! In my day we drank our water right out of the tap!

Emily Litella

Bush is just pining for the power to send federal troops against the civilian population to be able to control them and it has little to do with disaster scenarios and every thing to do wiht putting down possible insurrections.

He's trying to get the Posse Comitatus act repealed and trying to sell that this would prohibit Federal troops from providing medical teams and supplies in the case of a health crisis. This is being hocked by MSM talking heads like the boobs at CNN and their "Sitiation Rhume".

All of which is patent bullshit. The PC Act only prohibits federal troops from taking on law enforcement responsibilities. It doesn't prevent them from disaster relief in any way. The Director of DHS only has to declare, "this is an Incident of National Interest" and the state and local officials no longer matter... the Feds can go in and "help."

Also... the National Guard troops are exempt from the PC Act and can go in to support law enforcement. So the whole Bush administration argument just went down the crapper.

If you think about it... the National Guard are much less likely to commit atrocities on the civilian population than professional federal troops. The NG after all are from the hypothetical home state in question and more than likely to be looking into the faces of their loved ones.

Bush's formula is bogus and smells like the waffen SS to me!

Actually, I think Bush can't wait for his term to be over so he won't ever have to engage in "hard work" again.

Actually, it looks like the under-equipped military medical facilities and their, sometimes necessarily, slapdash operatiing procedures are already introducing rare, antibiotic-resistant and deadly infections to the US. Tell me again, who is going to administer these quarentines?

>Actually, I think Bush can't wait for his term to be over so he won't ever have to engage in "hard work" again.

mudkitty, this has actually been much on my mind lately, because if you've seen Bill Maher's commentary on Bush's response to Katrina (and if you haven't, you really should, it is funny), Bill says something to the effect that, now that Bush has botched it, he should do what he does every time he screws up a job: "lose interest and walk away!"

The week after I watched that, Bush was giving a statement to the press from his podium, and he looked so beat that I knew he was thinking, boy am I tired of this shit. He may have said something at that time about "how long the next three years are going to be," to President Putin. What popped into my head was that saying, "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." Bush wished so hard for this cush job as President, but now that he's got it, it's tiring him out a bit... and we've wished for him to go away, but his leaving might bring some chaos as well.

Reminds me of an English poem: "As I was going up the stair/I met a man who wasn't there/He wasn't there again to-day/I wish, I wish he'd go away!"

"Nobody questions the need for isolation during an influenza pandemic, but we won't need soldiers to enforce it. Flu patients will seek out treatment. "

There is a possibility that there will be insufficient access to treatment in an afflicted region. Doctors and nurses could easily be devastated in the early stages of an epidemic. The sick may be sequestered in facilities where they live or die by chance, without treatment. Those with means may seek to transport their ill loved-ones to another region which has no epidemic, and therefore no shortage of treatment facilities. This will spread the epidemic to new regions.

A better course would be to ensure that if there is a regional outbreak of a deadly, highly contagious flu strain, that there is no shortage of treatment facilities locally.

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