Be afraid; be very afraid, November 2, 2005

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

It’s well known that whenever things are going poorly for the Bush administration, they do their best to try to scare the bejeezus out of us. When Ashcroft was at Justice and Ridge at Homeland Security, there would always be a raising of the terror alert to orange or red carefully timed to coincide with the release of any news that was even remotely detrimental to the administration’s policies.

After the federal debacle of Katrina, the passing of the milestone 2,000 American death in Iraq and the indictment of Lewis &uot;Scooter&uot; Libby for lying to a federal grand jury in the Plamegate investigation, it was inevitable that once Karl Rove was able to focus on his job again he would get back to the business of orchestrating fear.

And sure enough, it came earlier this week. No, I’m not referring to the nomination of Justice Alita to the Supreme Court, but to Tuesday’s speech by the president on the prospects of an avian flu pandemic.

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This has been in the news for several years, with scant attention paid to it by our government. Now, suddenly, it’s top priority.

Bush said no one knows when or where a deadly strain of flu will strike but &uot;at some point we are likely to face another pandemic.&uot;

Sounds kind of like the terrorist attacks that were talked about in 2002 and 2003.

In his speech at the National Institutes of Health, the president said the U.S. must be prepared to detect outbreaks anywhere in the world. He wants to fight the pandemics there so we don’t have to fight it here.

Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of a pandemic is serious, but I think he went a little too far when he said &uot;We don’t want our warning of pandemic to come in the form of mushroom cloud.&uot;

Be prepared for the Centers for Disease Control to institute a color-coded warning system for pandemic alerts.