Obama ‘advisers’ fan flu hysteria

The impressively named President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology counts an august array of academics, engineers and scientists among its members. Even the council is impressed with its own stature — describing itself as “an advisory group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers.” PCAST is charged with advising to the president on matters of “science, technology, and innovation.” Not included among its enumerated advisory duties are medicine, virology or immunology.

Notwithstanding such limitation on its jurisdiction, PCAST earlier this month issued a “Report to the President on U.S. Preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza.” This well-publicized swine flu report is highly and unnecessarily alarmist.
These self-styled, appointed “leaders” are tasked with offering “advice” to the president, but they appear more interested in blowing their own horn and making public statements, than they are in offering the president sound but quiet counsel.

The 86-page swine flu report is prefaced with a letter to President Barack Obama from the three co-chairs. The transmittal letter pretentiously says the report “identifies the key decisions and actions to be taken” by the U.S. government in order to meet the challenges of “an epidemic that is still in progress.” The council is not simply offering the president advice to help his administration deal with the flu “epidemic;” it is telling him what “decisions” must be made and which “actions” have to be taken.

With such knowledgeable and powerful “advisers” telling the President how he must deal with a mounting flu epidemic, who needs such lesser persons as the secretary of Health and Human Services or the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of whom are confirmed by the Senate?

Just how alarmist is the PCAST report? Headlines heralding its arrival say it all: “White House Warns of Massive Swine Flu Spread,” blares one; “Obama Advisers: Swine Flu Could Infect Nearly Half the U.S. Population,” shouts another. It is only if a person takes the time to actually open the report and read it, that it becomes clear the report is long on rhetoric but short on facts. In fact, it is by its own words nothing more than a “plausible scenario;” but that fact failed to make it into the headlines.

What is this “plausible scenario” to which PCAST alerts us? The landscape described is quite dire — up to one-half the entire U.S. population falling victim to H1N1 symptoms this coming winter; nearly two million people requiring hospitalization; and perhaps 90,000 deaths. Left unsaid is that any number of other contingencies could just as easily constitute “plausible scenarios.”

The CDC’s new director, Dr. Thomas Frieden, apparently was little impressed with the PCAST work product. He noted that the dreadful scenario it laid out was in reality no more likely than a much milder flu season. The credibility of the flu report was weakened further when one of its own members, Marc Lipsitch of Harvard, cautioned that it presented nothing more than a “possibility,” and was not a “prediction.”

Of course, as Frieden implied, it is just as likely a possibility that nowhere near those numbers of Americans will fall prey to the swine flu. But reporting that possibility would generate no spectacular headlines.

The PCAST report compounds its irresponsibility by recommending that because of the urgency of the scenario it presents, the government should allow vaccines to be given to those most at risk, even before the full clinical trials for the vaccine have been completed.
Rather than embracing this inflammatory and irresponsible report, the administration should disavow it. But it won’t. After all, headlines of dire predictions make for enhanced appropriations and a more frightened population — one that is much easier to control.

36 comments Add your comment

Bob Glazebrook

August 31st, 2009
7:43 am

I read a quote in a newspaper from a school nurse in which she said, essentially, she was working every day to fight back an epidemic. Now, that’s dramatic isn’t it? Points out that not only presidential advisers are subject to self-agrandizement. Perhaps few are immune to it. (Tee hee.)

Road Scholar

August 31st, 2009
7:46 am

Bob, I’m sure President Obama has the intelligence to read this and other reports, discuss them with his health advisors, and decide which actions to take, unlike the blanket approvals Bush gave to Cheney and the military industrial complex to invade Iraq. Bob, if you are such a good predicter, I need six good numbers to win the lottery.

clyde

August 31st, 2009
8:17 am

Lest we forget,we shouldn’t waste a good crisis.

jj

August 31st, 2009
9:07 am

Dear Reginald Van Mutters-Barr (that photo is so goofy!). I was at Emory last week, and they have hand washing stations EVERYwhere. It’s like your mother was there, telling you to wash up. My wife has to make up a number of contingency plans, if her staff start getting sick – the ones who need to be there to take care of others. If the flu is big this year, surely you understand how quickly it will overwhelm the hospitals. I realize your answer 8 years ago was just to send all males to Iraq – to save them from the virus… and have the Prez blankly stare and try to read ‘my pet goat’ while the country gets sick. I prefer a Government to be proactive in this matter. But surely, you know what is right…

Brad Steel

August 31st, 2009
9:15 am

Let me see if I have Bob’s assertion correct, PCAST has put out a scary report so that the nation is scared and easier controlled.

Got Paranoid, Bob?

And your use of quotes is as good as any southeast Georgia road-side advertisement. You are an excellent “writer”.

Davo

August 31st, 2009
10:04 am

Gotta say, BB, this ranks pretty low on my ‘outrage list’.

booger

August 31st, 2009
10:29 am

This has been a self imposed “CRISIS” administration from day one.

-Sign this stimulus bill tomorrow or we will go into a full blown depression. Sorry repubs. no time to read it.

-Sign this health care bill now or medical cost will ruin our economy.

-Sign cap-and-trade now or the world will overheat and all that stuff Al Gore said.

All the while he is ignoring the real “Crisis”…Our country is going broke.

SaveOurRepublic

August 31st, 2009
10:42 am

This H1N1 propaganda is being leveraged to push mandatory vaccines & potentially leverage a (so-called) pandemic to establish a police state. The (Globalist Elite controlled) Big Govt always seeks to expand it size/power (far beyond what the Founding Fathers intended). This swine flu hysteria is another power grab/ruse.

http://www.infowars.com/doctors-question-whos-severe-swine-flu-warning/

http://www.infowars.com/forced-vaccinations-quarantine-camps-health-care-interrogations-and-mandatory-decontaminations/

Jake Jackson

August 31st, 2009
10:46 am

It’s much better to over-react to a potential threat than to under-react. I’d rather see people wash their hands too often than get ill.

Fred

August 31st, 2009
11:04 am

Yes, much better to over react. Like with Iraq and WMD. Over reaction is good. Crisis are great. Let’s just hope they prove right so as to retain their credibility.

Catherine

August 31st, 2009
11:13 am

What will BB say if H1N!1 virus decimates the population of the U.S.? And it might. Obama is not alarmist. He is cautious and thoughtful. Good traits for a president, despite all the sniping he’s had to endure since Day 1.

booger

August 31st, 2009
11:32 am

Catherine,

Cautious and thoughtful is also a good trait for legislators. Unfortunately when conservatives tried to practice this with the stimulus bill they were not allowed to. They were not even allowed the time to read the bill. Obama wanted the bill signed within two days or our economy would collapse on the spot. Since then we have spent less than 20% of the stimulus funds and there seems to be no consensus that it has done a bit of good. Europeon countries who resisted Obama’s pressure to follow our lead are recovering well ahead us.

When conservatives try to be cautious and thoughtful its called Obstructionist.

Chris Broe

August 31st, 2009
11:36 am

Pandemics and the Peter Principle (or, Sniffle What-ifs)

Weathering another flu season requires preparation, so a think tank of rocket scientists called PCAST has warned that the USA is woefully unprepared. PCAST’s Chicken-Little clones site the promiscuous, woodstock-anniversary-celebrating baby boomers, who have loved freely and often this summer. The reports suggests that the the bodily-fluid-exchange-prone have plenty to fear. Does anyone realize what would happen if even one Typhoid Mary manages to get into a naked conga line that contains one or two soul-searching governors just back from official business in a foreign country with a salsa junta? We might-could-be creating a perfect storm of viral, bacterial and entemological parasites that could lead to thousands of people covered in goo. (Like at Woodstock, man)

Yankee

August 31st, 2009
12:05 pm

Lucky you have that gov. supplied health ins, Bob. What’s it cost you, $200-$300 a month? How bout a story about how you have such a sweet deal?

Tomm

August 31st, 2009
12:15 pm

Gee, Bob, it sounds to me like the media headlines that you refer to, kind of blew this out of proportion, not PCAST. Why are you picking on them? And aren’t these brilliant people aloud to have thoughts about something that can be of significance to a large number of Americans, or all the peoples of the world for that matter? Maybe their ability to think about such things is what makes them the scientific and engineering brains of our country, ya think? I’ll bet that if we listen to them and by doing so we avert a medical catastrophic event, you will probably complain that it wouldn’t have happened anyway. But the important thing for you to do is to keep complaining. I think I would rather listen to the “smart” people than the rantings of a partisan political goofball. Find another horn to blow.

the evil rich

August 31st, 2009
12:26 pm

What’s the problem? Won’t national heath care (aka, TeddyCare) fix this?

DeKalb Conservative

August 31st, 2009
12:38 pm

I’m surprised this hasn’t been tied to global warming (yet)

clyde

August 31st, 2009
1:02 pm

It goes somewhat like this:When in trouble,when in doubt,run in circles.Scream and shout.

pd

August 31st, 2009
1:34 pm

The thing is, Bob, this is an epidemic.

No, its not the worst kind of flu, but its a very contagious flu and its spreading faster than the media is reporting in our schools.

I don’t know why that is. I know for fact that a dekalb middle school has two confirmed and several suspected cases, but for some reason, thats not reported.

Citizen

August 31st, 2009
1:34 pm

This ranks higher than one would think at first glance given that the vaccine can not be fully tested and could be required by health insurance companies or to attend school.

joe matarotz

August 31st, 2009
1:38 pm

There are 8,000,000 residents in New York City. NY Health Department estimates say that 10% of them, *00,00, had swine flu. 47 died from it. The percentage is 0.006%.

The current US population is 307,323,173. If we apply the 10% rule, 30,723,317 will contract swine flu, and 1,805 will die from it.

1,805 is a far cry from 90,000. Still I would not want to be one of the 1,805, because this flu has the ability to take out even the healthiest adult, as opposed to the traditional high risk groups.

Draw your own conclusions here.

pd

August 31st, 2009
2:04 pm

Lets just hope this thing doesn’t mutate.

Barney's Frankfurter

August 31st, 2009
2:09 pm

Hysteria, indeed! Reminds me of the “mushroom cloud in a American city” comment used by Condi to convince the Country to invade Iraq. Fear is a powerful tool, I shall as a patriot forego my flu-shot. I challenge all God-fearing, liberal loathing- patriots to cancel their socialized Medicare in protest. I’ll bring the tea and crumpets.

Steve

August 31st, 2009
2:41 pm

Catherine @ 11:15 wrote “Obama is not alarmist. He is cautious and thoughtful.”

Really, just like he was when speaking out against the police in the Professor Gates incident? Or perhaps when he was doing everything possible to get the Health Care package through the House before the August break. Nevermind that none of the Reps (Dems or Reps) had read the 1000+ page document.
Be very wary of the circle of advisors and Czars Obama has surrounded himself with.

Sunshine and Thunder

August 31st, 2009
2:57 pm

This is a prime example of the LACK of leadership at the White House. Not only can he not lead, he can’t appoint presidential commissions in a wise manner.

Remember, if you’re not part of the solution there’s plenty of money to be made prolonging the problem.

Allen

August 31st, 2009
5:10 pm

Bob, the CDC director is not confirmed by the Senate. Didn’t you used to be in Congress or something?

clyde

August 31st, 2009
5:17 pm

Even afer doing what you said he does,assuming he does,Brad,Sunshine and Thunder is still on to something when he says Obama has a lack of leadership.We’re approaching the end of year one and I still don’t see a clear direction from the White House,other than spend money.I’m getting a tad worried about what my future tax bills are going to be.I’m also a tad worried that there isn’t any future.I’ve been around for a while and I’ve not seen anything like this before.Maybe it’s the new politics.Spend ’til you drop.

Sunshine and Thunder

August 31st, 2009
5:38 pm

BRAD STEEL

The third grade class room is down the hall on the left.

retiredds

August 31st, 2009
5:41 pm

Yeah Bob, remember the weapons of mass destruction scenario. Of course, no hysteria there.

Me First

August 31st, 2009
10:12 pm

How many people die in auto accidents on a daily basis in the U.S.? Crime Vicitms? Gimme more government..and pass the bill on to the “rich.”

clyde

September 1st, 2009
5:51 am

There were an average of 118 people per day killed in automobile accidents in 2008.If you were to invest in a computer you could look it up.

dgroy

September 1st, 2009
8:44 am

Folks, let’s put this all in perspective. This agency PCAST is run and staffed by people that probably could not make it in the real world. I would not have too much confidence in anything they come up with or say. Their scare tactics are unbelievable. The “Sky is not falling”. Thank you, Bob Barr, a great American for this information.

Chris Broe

September 1st, 2009
11:39 am

There’s nothing to put in perspective. If you are married to a woman who contracts the inhalation form of PMS, you’re finished. No amount of reform, no new approach to strategic health care, no magic elixir can save you. Just hope she’s merciful, and handles these kinds of things….”delicately”.

Brad Steel

September 1st, 2009
11:57 am

keep fart’n n’ smell’n sunshine>

dgroy

September 2nd, 2009
8:26 am

Sounds like you’ve got a long way to go “Chris Broe” Good luck

marilyn

September 6th, 2009
1:45 am

Learn about the flu and all you need to survive this flu season. Viralox is an anti-viral spray and is more effective that the flu vaccine with no side effects. All kinds of useful information is at http://www.newlifehealthsolutions.com where I purchased Viralox for my family. There are too many chances of irreparable damage connected to the flu shot, from what I have read. I’m not willing to risk my family’s health on a flu shot, when there is natural alternatives. It’s a simple as that.
Be informed and be well.
marilyn (mother of five)