Feelin' blue about the flu

Leslie Carlson

I’ve been trying to get my one-year-old a flu shot. Despite calling the pediatrician three times, and being placed on hold with the Multnomah County Health Department for 15 minutes, I still have not been able to find him the vaccine.

My pediatrician’s office is just as frustrated. “I know he should get a shot!” the nurse told me today, a bit exasperated with my questions. “We want to give him a shot. We don’t know why the government won’t release more vaccine to us.”

Despite the fact that he is considered “high-risk” by the CDC and should be vaccinated, I cannot find my one year old a flu shot in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world. And although I never would have predicted it, it’s not surprising to me that the flu vaccine shortage is becoming a pivotal issue in these final days of the Presidential campaign. Imagine how all those elderly voters feel. Let’s hope they vote for their own health.

  • iggir (unverified)
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    don't worry...Bush is giving up his flu shot for people who really need it.

  • JJ Ark (unverified)
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    so don't get your kid the flu shot. they can only put 5 kinds of flu virus in the shots at a time, and last year, we only got hit with 2/5 kinds. with means that of the 100's of variants out there of influenza, your kid was protected against 2 of those variants. While something is better than nothing, I suppose, I would just forget about it, and watch your child closely when he or she gets ill. Lay in some stock of chicken soup, tissues, and a decent emesis pan. Spend the money you would have spent on the flu shot on a good stock of dvd classic movies like the marx bros or WC Fields to watch if you get stuck at home with a sick kid.

    I haven't ever gotten a flu shot, and have gotten the flu once in 5 years.

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    You know, maybe we'll just have to dig out our SARS masks to protect us from the flu this year...

    I shouldn't joke - for those in high risk categories, it's really no laughing matter. I work with high risk folks all the time - seniors. If I get sick, even a tickle in my throat, I can't work because the last thing I want to do is kill an old lady. :-/ Well I'd really rather not kill anyone, but you know what I mean. If I knew they'd all had their flu shots, it'd be easier, but I know most of them haven't/won't, so... it's going to be one long flu season.

  • Stephanie (unverified)
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    JJ Ark,

    For a 1-year-old, getting the flu can be serious. Kids that age are in the high-risk category. Caring for an infant with the flu isn't as simple as getting chicken soup and renting movies.

    Leslie:

    I got my 1-year-old a flu shot last week. At the risk of starting a stampede, I'll tell you that we got the shot at Metropolitan Pediatrics when we had our well-baby checkup.

    I'm so glad this is a campaign issue. If Iraq, the economy, health care, etc. etc. etc. aren't enough to wake up the undecideds and the sleeping people leaning toward Bush, maybe this will be the thing that will do it.

  • Lynn S. (unverified)
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    JJ is my husband; we have two small children ourselves and haven't worried about flu shots. They're a crap shoot at best. We understand that flu can be very serious for little ones; this is just the decision we made for our family.

  • Mari Anne Gest (unverified)
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    Did you hear that all the Washington DC politico's were given flu shots? I heard today on Air America that they had some left. Call your congressman/woman.

    Good luck.

  • jj (unverified)
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    Stephanie: all illnesses can be serious for children. If your child is otherwise healthy, then a bout of the flu will not kill them. there are roughly 30k deaths a year in the US due to the flu. the elderly, the immunosuppressed and children are the three biggest groups that fall prey to this terrible illness.

    However, it is important to note how FEW kids die due to influenza: According to the CDC, between oct 2004 and jan 2004, there were 93 deaths from influenza between the ages of birth to 17 years old. that averages out to 23 kids a month. More kids die in a week of auto accidents. There were 4,481 deaths in cars last year (cars, not trucks or motorcycles--just cars). One has to assume that a percentage of those were children, at least a few of them were preventable. If we are being honest with ourselves, then all are preventable. If only we stopped driving with our kids. Of course, we will continue to drive, and our kids will get colds, and flu, and in some cases worse.

    Lets put our focus in the correct place, tho, and concentrate on things that will make a REAL difference: Sensible gun education, smoking cessation, alcohol education, decriminalization and subsequent treatment of drug addictions. Universal health care to assist those who get the flu. And sensible workplace laws that allow people who are sick to stay home and keep from infecting other people. As a father of two girls, these things worry me. Not a bout of the flu.

    Life is a dangerous place, and none of us make it out alive. I am all for protecting kids where sensible, but lets get honest here...we survived as a species for several thousand years without influenza vaccines, and will continue surviving without it. Lets not be overly protective of our children. It will benefit us in the long run.

  • jj (unverified)
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    oops...oct 2003 to jan 2004. sorry.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Hope for favorable "pivotal issues" springs eternal in the partisan breast. Why shouldn't the flu shot shortage be Bush's fault as well?

    Did you happen to see this news item?:

    Increasing Shortage of Daylight Sways 2004 Campaign By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Published: October 20, 2004

    Filed at 7:20 p.m. ET

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- As public officials and private citizens scramble to deal with fewer hours of light in the day -- along with the accompanying public health burden of seasonal affective disorder -- Sen. John Kerry hopes voters will come to one conclusion: The increasing shortage of daylight the United States now faces is President Bush's fault.

  • randy (unverified)
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    Funny, Anthony.

    I heard/read (don't remember where) that the administration is preaching calm, suggesting the US is making a deal for Canada's "excess" supplies of vaccine -- to be delivered, oh, right around January when the flu season officially begins.

    Doesn't sound like "excess" to me. Sounds more like left-overs.

    Damn right I blame this on W's administration. Haven't they heard about the wisdom of not putting all your eggs in one basket? His lame excuse? The market didn't solve this problem (as if public health is no longer a government responsibility) because of greedy trial lawyers who sue drug companies.

    NPR reported that the Vancouver, BC Health Ministry is sponsoring a vaccine clinic for Americans only this weekend.

    Anyone want to start a pool on the numbers of Americans who will stream over the border?

    And whether the media will cover it?

  • jj (unverified)
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    Yipee! sounds like the best weekend to go to the beach. no crowds!

  • pat hayes (unverified)
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    Hi Folks.....as I was walking the dogs this am it struck me that some folks might be having difficulty deciding how to get a flu shot and accomodate their Righteous philosophy. Yes....you guessed....I'm speaking of the Bill O'Reillys, the Rush Limbaughs, Murdoch, Fox news guys and gals, etc.

    If you get your shot in the US its gonna come from a company owned and operated by the recently reviled surrender monkeys. They build weird cars but can apparently manufacture and market something we need.

    Alternatively you could climb on board Rupert's Gulfstream IV and fly up to Canada but that would mean getting a shot from those damn commie socialistic single payer types.

    I suppose you could ask one of Rush's eleven doctors to provide enough doses but who knows where it would come from.

    A Hobbesian choice indeed.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    I don't know much about the provision of vaccines, but why aren't there more companies in the business of providing them? What conditions and actions have resulted in the current status quo? What specific actions and policies of the current administration precipitated this situation, independent of actions and policies of previous administrations and concerned bodies?

    I don't get how it's supposed to be shocking and abhorrent to conservatives that the nation that gave us Lavoisier and Pasteur might be able to do something right in the scientific vein. The French may be unprincipled and perfidious, but who ever said they were stupid?

    I gather Pat was thinking of Hobson rather than Hobbes, but even knowing that his remark remains utterly opaque to me.

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    "don't know much about the provision of vaccines, but why aren't there more companies in the business of providing them? What conditions and actions have resulted in the current status quo? What specific actions and policies of the current administration precipitated this situation, independent of actions and policies of previous administrations and concerned bodies?"

    Can't answer all the questions, but I can take a crack at the first. Granted, most of this comes from a report on NPR's Marketplace program I streamed in last night, so apologies for any inaccuracies...

    Basically, fewer and fewer companies are producing flu vaccines because it is a high-risk industry. It is nearly impossible to predict how many doses you will need each year, what strains of flu will be active, what new strains have developed, etc. If you produce too much vaccine, you won't be able to use it the following year because conditions will have changed, leaving companies with expensive-to-produce but suddenly worthless inventory.

    Market forces clash with public health policy here. Governments can encourage more flu vaccine production, but to do so they have to be willing to provide market incentives to encourage more companies to produce vaccine at a reasonable price.

    It doesn't seem to have much to do with trial lawyers, as Bush likes to say. It does seem to be an area where pure free market economics doesn't cut it, and is an interesting symptom of our country's bizarre approach to public health and healthcare in general. I can't speak to which administration has done or not done what--for that you'll have to depend on this site's able tribe of policy wonks!

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
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    A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse. Its whole world -- uh, reality, is opaque.

    Hobson is only known in story, not in statements. Hobbes spoke of choice a little, as in The privilege of absurdity; to which no living creature is subject but man only. We could call that Dumbo's choice; he the very absurdity of privilege.

    In reality, on this subject (epidemiological sense), or the next, and Dumbo's debauched betrayal of our country that way, the false frame for a fool's errand is seeking proof he did it. Which is trying to prove a negative. There is no proof Dumbo has done anything. That failure to show up for work is the betrayal.

    Put it around and talk straight. Show one item of proof that Dumbo did anything to stop or deflect the ruin he brings. Bush is a jinx. He's the short lot, throw him out of the ship of state.

    --

    In other matters, jj makes note of the long history together of humankind and viruses. In only the last half-century, though, the viruses' are more potent. Worldwide travel and contamination carriers only partly explains it. Some potency is attributable to viruses self-engineering new strengthened strains in reaction to human-designed antibiotic serums. Yet with that added in consideration, still there are latter-day viruses which are unexplained -- legionnaires, HIV, ebola, West Nile, SARS, and more, such as the perennial flu flavor. Unexplained, but perhaps not unexplainable, recognizing that with the synthesis of interferon, since 1974, microbiologists can cut'n'paste any genetic segments together for 'designer' viruses.

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  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Tenskwatawa,

    Some parts of reality are transparent or translucent. And some are opaque. Your prose comes to mind.

    Let me get this straight: Proof that someone DID something would be "trying to prove a negative"?

    Perhaps Bush made some specific decisions, or even commentary affecting this aspect of public health policy. If he did, you can point to it. If he didn't, the likelihood is that whatever responsibility he may have is no different than that of past administrations. No doubt if tomorrow there were a public health crisis because of faulty standards in transporting milk, or if a certain make of car started crashing at high speed, the fact that Bush hadn't anticipated these problems would be evidence the he had failed to "show up for the job."

    "Bush is a jinx" says it all. You'll blame him for a bad hair day.

    Rachel provides a helpful answer, well expressed. However, she fails to satisfy at the point she says "it doesn't seem to have much to do with trial lawyers." Is that to say that liability suits have no significant role, or that there was no discussion about it?

    I vaguely recall reading some time ago (probably some years ago now) that companies making vaccines wanted to be indemnified from exposure to certain kinds of suits, arguing that the business was inherently risky , and prohibitively so, given that exposure.

    Such indemnification would have been an example of "Governments [being] willing to provide market incentives to encourage more companies to produce vaccine..." But I believe this was not granted.

    If my recollection is correct, then trial lawyers most certainly do have a role in the question.

  • miles (unverified)
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    List of secret reasons why Bush is going down.

    1) Polls miss cell phone voters, who may skew Kerry.

    2) The logic of Bush policies means a draft is possible, and people know it.

    3) Older and nearing retirement (55 plus) voters know that Bush is about to defund social security.

    4) Younger Cubans Americans in Florida are pissed off because they can't visit or send money to support families... as usual Florida is key.

    5) People's salaries and job security aren't what they used to be.

    6) And now on top of everything, I can't even get a flu shot? #[email protected]%! this! Bush is SO out of there, say just a few more people in a few more key states.

    <hr/>

    Top reason why all of this might be wrong (but I don't think so) * LESBIANS * . One lesbian in particular, Mary Cheney. That's right. Rampant homophobia, played correctly (and they are doing a VERY good job of it) could actually obviate all of the above issues in a few key states.

    <hr/>

    This analysis brought to you as a public service by Miles.

    Peace, love and John Kerry.

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    "I don't know much about the provision of vaccines, but why aren't there more companies in the business of providing them? What conditions and actions have resulted in the current status quo?"

    Mari Anne is right in that this is one case of the private sector not aligning with the public good. In Britain, the government foresaw this problem (and warned the US early on about it) and made plans to spread out their vaccine orders among five manufacturers, thereby guaranteeing that there was a financial incentive for a larger number of manufacturers to produce flu vaccine.

    The U.S. government just relied on just two manufacturers to produce its vaccine, and did not spread out its orders among different companies (which would have provided an incentive for more companies to stay in the vaccine-producing business).

    When one of our vaccine manufacturers (Chiron) announced contamination at their plant, we were left w/ only half of the usual doses available. Britain, however, will be fine, as they still have four manufacturers left to provide them with enough vaccine.

  • the prof (unverified)
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    Wishful thinking, folks. Bush is not going to get blamed for the flu vaccine shortage. He is not to blame for a British company. And most people simply have a lot more on their mind (Iraq, the deficit, the economy) than the flu shot.

    Sorry, but this one is a dreamer.

  • miles (unverified)
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    Good point prof... Bush is never held responsible, and never takes responsibility for anything.

    Yes, the big questions weigh on the election. But it's the people at the margins, the one's who somehow still can't make up their minds in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, (Oregon?), Pennsylvania, etc., that 2% or 1% of the electorate, that matter here.

    I think the flu shot gets people in a very personal place, and provides direct evidence to people of domestic incompetence. It's like gas prices - no matter what Presidential policies are really responsible for, it's right there.

    "I just know I'm gonna get the flu this year, and this President is talking about preventing TERROR, but he can't even get FLU VACCINES to people who need them?"

    It's practically like Bush is giving those undecded voters the flu personally.

    ...course I could just be dreamin', but I don't think so. I think it's solid bad, an unavoidable bullet for Bush.

  • jj (unverified)
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    Sorry, but this one is a dreamer. errr...nope. Not dreaming. Bush is getting blamed for this. Leslie is a perfect example of that blame (sorry, Leslie--I mean you zero offense--really). He got between a mother bear and her cub. It is a direct result of the Bush policy of outsource, outsource, outsource that got us into this mess.

    Chiron is an American firm that outsourced the pharmaceutical production of it's medicine. This is a prime example of why outsourcing critical infrastructure is a bad, bad, b a d, idea. You outsource telemarketing calls, not voter registries. You outsource toy tank production, not the real things. And you outsource aspirin manufacture, not vaccines.

    Stop and think for just a minute...Say that the Bushies warnings come true and terrorists use a bioweapon we can protect ourselves against, like anthrax. What would happen if the contaminated batch of innoculant was Cipro? Further, what if when we REALLY needed said innoculant we were told that there just wasn't enough to go around. Just imagine the chaos and pandemonium that would ensue. During the Anthrax scare of 2001, a friend of mine had some old Cipro that was given to her when she was living overseas...and one panicked parent of a 5 month old offered her 100$ each for the tablets.

    The thinking is this: If Bush and Co. can't guarantee a vaccine for something that isn't critical for the majority of the population, how can they guarantee availability of needed drugs when the crunch time they keep threatening us with actually arrives.

    To add insult to injury, the Canadians are offering up THEIR stock at 15$ a shot--just show up and pay yer bucks (and try to forget that we aren't reimporting because of "safety and terrorism concerns"), and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys are giving us their SURPLUS Freedom Vaccine. In other words, we have the "best health care system in the world" that can't even manage to provide something that the rest of the world has in abundance. And the Bush Crime Syndicate says that the reason for this is the cost of liability against evil trial lawyers? Oh, wait, it was No child left behind. sorry. Note to self: stay on message.

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    The key phrase I find in Miles' contribution is, "no matter what presidential policies are."

    I don't think anyone in this thread has come anywhere near to demonstrating that the policies of this administration, as distinct from preceding administrations, are responsible for the current vaccine availability issue.

    Presidents certainly get a large portion of the blame or praise for certain conditions "no matter what presidential policies are," such as the economy and crime levels. And certainly it's reasonable (if nevertheless often incorrect) to associate an administration's policies with the prevailing conditions in the country. But I doubt that many otherwise impartial voters are going to automatically blame George Bush for shortcomings in vaccine procurement procedures.

  • jj (unverified)
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    Anthony: one problem: People are never "otherwise impartial". Doesn't happen. Unless you are discussing the color beige.

    If you care about this issue, one of three possibilities exist:

    1. you are with the Bushies, and are dissapointed that the government failed the people. It might be private industry in the US that provides these vaccines, but that is not the perception of most people. They think the CDC is in charge of this stuff, and to a certain degree, they are right.

    2. You are against the Bushies, and this is yet another example of a critical failure at crunch time. Can't even protect their citizens against the flu. What about anthrax, VX, and sarin? What about planes that fly into buildings, and reports that name names?

    3. You are undecided, and are having trouble figuring out why that bit of shrubbery in your front lawn is responsible for anything, much less something as important as public health. "I mean, they SAY bush is responsible, so it must be, right? I had jello today."

    in short, there isn't anyone who is "otherwise impartial". I am quite partial. You are quite partial (and don't tell me you aren't--I can't buy that for a minute...you didn't just show up here by googling "flu vaccine").

    I don't think anyone in this thread has come anywhere near to demonstrating that the policies of this administration, as distinct from preceding administrations, are responsible for the current vaccine availability issue. thats because we are lazy. And it isn't necessary. We know bush didn't do it, Bush knows he didn't do it, and most people if they sit down, stop chewing gum and turn off their tv, can intellectualize that he didn't do it. He isn't responsible. But he is responsible for telling us the bad news, so he takes the rap. The CDC is his group, and they failed in their reliance on foreign drug supplies.

    No, this plays bad for Bush. Nothing good can come of this. They can spin this all they want, but they have been telling us that they will protect us, make us safe, trust them, kerry is weak, they are strong, they have plans, Osama wants kerry, and that our health system is the best, BEST I TELL YOU. Its just too dang bad that private industry wasn't able to pull this through for him.

    note to self: get freedom vaccine on monday.

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    "Leslie is a perfect example of that blame (sorry, Leslie--I mean you zero offense--really)."

    JJ - no offense taken. I am a mother bear with three cubs to take care of, after all. And that's what got me started on this point in the first place--thinking about all those other mothers of very young kids who are probably worried about flu, anthrax, smallpox, dirty bombs...the so-called "security moms." Maybe we should rename them "flu moms." (Thanks to my friend Steve for that idea).

    I still maintain, as others in this thread have, that when mother & father bears get worried about their cubs, and they want to blame someone, and an election is looming, that the flu will be an issue, perhaps a pivotal one.

    I only need point to the fact that the flu vaccine story - with references to the Bush administration in every single one I've seen - has been running in the media everyday for a week. And despite denials to the contrary, the Bush campaign cannot be happy about that so close to the election.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)
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    Because the brainless Bushies have to be spoonfed their lines and told what to say -- which shows up here, or in their other blog-blacking bullsnot, where different names recite one and the same lie -- it has made the liar documentation at Media Matters dot org all the more powerfully handy. Now you can know what they say without having to hear it.

    The dogmatic lie for flu vaccines is explained there today. Recognize anything like it in Bush-worship comments here?

    [For the linking-challenged, a precis from MediaMatters.org:
    [ 'Conservatives echoed dubious Bush claim that lawsuits are responsible for vaccine shortage' [ Following Senator John Kerry's recent criticism [ of President George W. Bush's alleged failure [ to anticipate the current nationwide shortage [ of flu vaccinations, conservative media figures [ have quickly echoed Bush's claim that medical liability [ is the major cause of the shortage. { But, according to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the [ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, [ a division of the National Institutes of Health, [ fear of liability is "only a very small part" [ of the vaccine shortage. ]

    Dumbo the lying Baby Elephant has done nothing, and does nothing, to improve or help the world in his time. No thing. Just like Kobe Bryant's Laker teammates, Dumbo's shame is on every person wearing the GOP label today -- the enemies of America, of justice, and of freedom. (Today's newspaper's Op-ed, "When the president comes to town," (or comes to our country): "When I went for my morning coffee I had to explain myself to an agent who wanted to know where I was going." Wow. Freedom, what a concept. Imagine if he went to vote ....

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  • Anthony (unverified)
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    JJ,

    I think there is something to what you say in that people assign blame irrationally, but what effect that's likely to have on the election has to do with how closely people connect such matters with the president. National security issues, the economy -- these are things that the sitting President is going to be held responsible for. But I suspect people will generally see this has having a tenuous connection to the executive, at best.

    I also think that there are plenty of people -- hard as it may be for more politically minded people like ourselves to imagine -- who are not tied to either candidate with the partiality characteristic of partisans. I doubt they will consider the vaccine issue decisive. This issue apart, it might be fun to discuss the psychology of swing voters. Perhaps you'd insist that there had to be some degree of partiality, and you may be right. But there certainly are people who don't vote on party lines and seem to consider the candidates based on their impression of those candidates' personal qualities, along with a perhaps less partisan view of the issues.

    Then there are the partisans, like ourselves, and like Leslie. Now, I understand Leslie's parental passion, but if this vaccine shortage hadn't happened until a couple of weeks before Kerry was fighting for his reelection in 2008 against GWB in search of a second term, would Leslie change her vote? The idea is ridiculous. In such a situation, I think we'd see Leslie accord this issue its merited weight -- or less.

    I think it's interesting that Leslie acknowledges the irrational nature of blaming Bush in the following passage: "I still maintain, as others in this thread have, that when mother & father bears get worried about their cubs, and they want to blame someone."

    And yet, in her original post, she characterized such a vote as not an understandable lapse into irrationality (albeit a welcome one for Democrats, under the circumstances), but a "vote for one's health." I haven't the slightest doubt that she never would have put it that way had her candidate been in the White House when such an event occurred.

  • jj (unverified)
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    I think there is something to what you say in that people assign blame irrationally, but what effect that's likely to have on the election has to do with how closely people connect such matters with the president.

    People are, indeed associating this with the president. Mostly cuz he invited us to do just that with commentaries telling people that we are safest in his hands, that he has nothing but our best interests in mind, and then telling us that canadian drugs are evil and bad, and our health system is the best.

    Look at it this way, if the guy hawking houses at the new developement says his are the best...the best house we will live in, and they will watch the driveways for you, and guard the property, and make sure that they have a plan in case someone takes you hostage, and threatens to shoot you. Oh, by the way, this developer says they have the best water system in the world! And don't go across the street to the other developer's properties cuz their water is polluted! So you sign a four year contract, and they not only give you a crappy house to live in, but they fail to pay for the streetlights, the security force, the fire department, the garage door doesn't work right, and the toilet backs up into the basement whenever someone on the block sneezes.

    Then they tell you that the water is polluted. And then they blame the polluted water on trial lawyers.

    But the guys across the street tell me I can get my water from them, pure and clean for 15$ !!! And the other developers around the area all offer to chip in and sell us their extra water.

    What are YOU going to think about the developer?

    I also think that there are plenty of people -- hard as it may be for more politically minded people like ourselves to imagine -- who are not tied to either candidate with the partiality characteristic of partisans.

    At this point, if you are truly vascilating, you should probably not drive or walk without police escort. You are a danger to yourself and others. The candidates are wildly different from one another on most every issue. Seriously, this isn't a vote between say, Denny Hastert and GWB, this is between Kerry and GWB. very distinctly different.

    I haven't the slightest doubt that she never would have put it that way had her candidate been in the White House when such an event occurred. very interesting point. And I hadn't considered it. In fact, this wouldn't have occurred with someone one else in the whitehouse. 1. Smart administrations don't say you are safe. they say you are safER. That is pandering to reality, an interesting concept. 2. Smart administrations in general don't take credit or responsibility for that which they cannot control. 3. A smart administration would have allowed Chiron to go on record, and then would have stood the party line of "We do not have centralized health care in the US...please contact your physician". In other words, they would have laid the blame where it belonged. On the heads of the beancounters...only after the furor died down would the CDC have come out with it's guidelines. I would have also released this a good 2 months ago.

    Note to self: sell chiron stock.

  • pat hayes (unverified)
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    Hi Folks...

    Every successful politician knows that "all politics is local". The flu fiasco is intensely local for moms, caregivers for the elderly, etc. Properly spun the flu issue can turn 10 votes in this precinct and 20 in that one. This one turns on the underlying strength of simple logic - you want me to vote for you because your team will make sure that I'm protected against nukes, chemical and biological weapons but you can't even deliver flu vaccine for an annual on-going problem. What gives ?

    In as tight a race as this is this issue could swing fence-sitters.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

    ps...anthony, it makes more sense if read as a Hobbesian choice as opposed to Hobson's choice although I kinda like T's explanation.

  • the prof (unverified)
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    Gosh the misconceptions here are rampant.

    "All politics is local" is a quote from Tip O'Neill to refer to congressional campaigns. This election, as much as any I remember, shows that presidential politics is national.

    Bush is getting blamed in the press. By what press? I just watched three stories on KGW on the flu and none of them mentioned Bush.

    There is zero evidence from any poll that I have seen in the last two weeks that Bush is being blamed for the flu. Just because you say something doesn't make it true.

    In fact, Americans are known for not blaming their personal troubles on the President. This is why "pocketbook voting" (if your own pocketbook does well, you vote with the incumbent and vice versa) has never found much support. instead, Americans are far more "sociotropic", voting with the incumbent if they perceive the nation to be doing well.

    Tens -- if you can point to the "Bush worship" comments, please do. Otherwise cut the overwrought rhetoric. Not every bad thing in the world today is the fault of George Bush.

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    Americans are far more "sociotropic", voting with the incumbent if they perceive the nation to be doing well.

    Right on. Why are we so worried, then? Anyone who percieves this nation to be doing well....

    Not every bad thing in the world today is the fault of George Bush.

    No, but I sure was pissed the other day when I realized my coffee cost 10 cents more and I started mumbling to myself about the price of milk (if anybody thinks dairy farmers see much, if anything, of the 25% hike in milk prices this year, dream on) which brought me back to the astronomical price of gas which brought me back to Bush which made me realize that it's his fault my coffee costs more... It may only be a dime, but it's the principal of the thing (many local/smaller coffee retailers have raised their prices by even more and did so much sooner than the bigger chain retailers). No wonder Bush is losing the PacNW. ;-)

  • Anthony (unverified)
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    Following “the prof’s” comments to Tenskawata I was tempted to say, “if you cut the overwrought rhetoric, what’s left?” But that’s not quite fair, and not only because of the entertainment value of Tenskawata’s writing, in which gems can often be found among the dense surrounding matter.

    In fact, since Leslie first posted, Tensk has added the most pertinent contribution to the issue of blame, if only on the allegation of Republican spin (10/21, 02:34 p.m.). Tensk linked to Media Matters and quoted the testimony of Dr. Anthony S. Fauci.

    Now, Fauci seems like a reliable source (he was quoted in the NYT article Leslie cited), but his testimony begs any number of questions. Jim Young, the other source, is an interested party, being a manufacturer of vaccine advocating a massive increase in his customer base by government decree.

    Nobody should be surprised at Republicans’ using this as an opportunity to spin against trial lawyers, but is their placing at least a significant amount of blame on liability concerns “a dogmatic lie,” as Tensk says?

    The Media Matters entry documents instances of Republicans’ “dubious claim” that liability is a major factor in the crisis, but it does nothing to substantiate its dubiousness beyond citing the two sources mentioned. That’s not much of a refutation.

    Is it flat-out incorrect to say that, “Vaccine manufacturers are worried about getting sued, and therefore they have backed off,” as Bush indeed said during the Oct. 13 debate?

    William Tucker’s Weekly Standard article (linked at Media Matters) addresses that question with quite a bit of detail, which neither Media Matters nor Tenskawata refute. Tucker cites an ongoing influence of trial lawyers, and one with deep roots, chronologically speaking. He also alleges that the federal government interfered with positive market forces (via the 1993 Vaccine for Children Act) in a way that was very destructive. It was that act that made the government the sole buyer of vaccines, and at low fixed prices (though the text isn’t explicit about whether the fixed prices came with the enactment of the law) for over half of all vaccines, according to the author.

    This seems to have been just about the opposite of what Rachel advocated in terms of the government providing incentives in the absence of those incentives existing in the marketplace. “Bizarre approach to public health” indeed. This also seems to have been the most proximate cause of all the eggs ending up in one basket, as Randy put it.

    Tucker says trial lawyers have played “a starring role” in the vaccine crisis. I’m open to arguments that refute that contention. But it seems pretty clear that if one can identify a “dubious claim” (to use Media Matters’ phrase) here, it is not that trial lawyers have been bad for vaccine provision, but that the current administration is responsible.

  • Kevin (unverified)
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    <h2>Are you that much of a loon that you're trying to blame this on the republicans. Are the democrats masters of manufactucturing processes and they are just holding back the key. For christ sake, get a grip and for once critically think about your accusation.</h2>

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