Fumento's bird flu follies

I've debated (with myself) whether to post anything about disgraced columnist Michael Fumento's rantings that bird flu was a "Chicken Little" story (literally: it's entitled, "Chicken Littles were Wrong"). It was published in the far right rag, Weekly Standard, where Science is a dimunutive figure in the far distance, but now it's been picked up by Yahoo and other outlets, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and say something about this sleaze.

Why am I attacking him instead of what he wrote? I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me continue my egregious ad hominem ways. Fumento is a familiar figure here at ScienceBlogs, having been savaged repeatedly by my fellow bloggers Tim Lambert at Deltoid, PZ Myers at Pharyngula and Chris Mooney at The Intersection (use the search boxes upper left on each site to search for Fumento). As a confirmed wingnut he specializes in two things: attacking anything to the left of James Inhofe; and writing screeds that support the hands that feed him. Like Agribusiness.

Earlier this year he got fired from Scripps Howard Newspapers for failing to disclose he received a $60,000 "grant" from the Monsanto Corporation although he was writing puff pieces about Monsanto's biotechnology products for the newspaper chain. Bird flu isn't the only thing he has opinions about. There's "the perfectly safe place called Love Canal," his innumerate babblings about The Lancet study on Iraq casualties, the non-existence of Gulf War illness and lots more. Common theme: if it's bad for business or implies the government has a role in helping people (killing them is fine), he's against it. If you think you can stand more, go over to Deltoid and click on Fumento in the categories list on the left. Yes, he's got a whole category to himself. There you can wander Through the Looking Glass to your heart's content.

What about his Chicken Little article? It is a clever mosaic of half truths designed to say that government should get out of the business of being precautionary when it comes to public health. He pats himself on the back for "laying out the evidence" a year ago that H5N1 would not become readily transmissible and credits himself for having his arguments "catch on," for example, that a pandemic was "overdue." It didn't take a genius to see this was not a good way to talk, as I know for sure, since we said it ourselves at least a year ago. Pandemics occur irregularly so we don't know what "overdue" means, except that it is almost certain there will be another one. No one knows when. It could be underway already or it may happen in ten years. When it does, it might or might not be subtype H5N1. Agreed. So what. That's a straw man.

But you don't have to go far into the article to find the real target:

Not coincidentally, an avian flu bureaucracy has become entrenched. Like all bureaucracies, it will fight to survive and thrive, egging on governments to provide ever more money. The alarmingly titled 2006 Guide to Surviving Bird Flu is published by no less than the Department of Health and Human Services. Never mind that no one in this country has yet even contracted bird flu. Congress last year allocated $3.8 billion to prevent the ballyhooed catastrophe (Bush requested almost twice that amount). The latest "scary news," promulgated in the November 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine by über-alarmist Robert Webster of St. Jude Memorial Children's Hospital, is that human cases of H5N1 contracted from birds are continuing to increase. (via Yahoo News)

Compared to the money spent on protecting us from shoe bombers or Iraqi insurgents, $3.8 billion's a pittance, but that's for another day. Admittedly Iraqi insurgents have killed almost 3000 Americans. Thanks to Michael and his cheerleaders for the war. They are taking recruits to age 42, Mikey. Now that you are out of a newspaper job . . .

Back to the article. The rest is just a recital of bits and pieces of flu science he has pulled out to make it seem like researchers have shown that a change to a pandemic strain is unlikely to happen. Every paper he cites we've discussed here and I don't intend to do it again. Fumento, a lawyer with no scientific training, feels free to put his own spin on the science. The spin is always rightward. Since I've discussed all the issues he has raised from a scientific perspective -- and most of them are currently unresolvable issues -- it would be fruitless to get into a pissing match with someone whose history and writings show no respect for intellectual honesty. Instead -- and for the sake of argument only -- I'll grant him there is scientific evidence of all kinds, some of which can be assembled to suggest a grave a imminent threat; some of which can be assembled (as he does) to say, "Don't worry, be happy (and cut my taxes and the taxes of my friends but feel free to give them everyone else's tax dollars)"; and some of which can be assembled to say this is a potentially serious public health problem that bears serious preparation, preparation that includes strengthening our entire public health and social service infrastructures in ways that produce manifold benefits to everyone whether or not a pandemic with H5N1 happens in the next five years.

It isn't that what Fumento says is so outrageous one would have to be stupid or ignorant to believe it. It's that it would be folly (and stupid) to act as if you believed it. Fumento couldn't care less about public health nor does he care that what he writes makes it still more difficult to get government to make a puny investment in keeping us safe from disease at the same time he encourages it to sink more down the rat hole of the War in Iraq.

Maybe he's on the Halliburton payroll, too. If not, he's the kind of cheap investment they'd approve of. Cheaper than a Vice President, I'd guess.

More like this

I'll have you know that buying a Vice President has a much higher rate of return.

By Thehonorabledick (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

Well Revere, just think what will happen to him when TSHTF...

OK, I'll go along with this. But boy I hate to see anyone who dares suggest that maybe that train whistle we hear is on another track, is trounced in the flu community.

I understand, we are trying to raise awareness and hopefully prepping and that articles such as these hinder those attempts. But balance gives us credibility...as it would him. Right?

All I'm saying, is stay balanced.

Patch: I agree, if balance means having an open mind and considering the various options. For us it doesn't mean (a la the Newshour): "And now for another view of the Holocaust. . . ". Fumento is a notorious hack who does others' bidding for money. There is nothing balanced about his ideas (which deal with a lot of other things, mostly non-flu). I think the flu science community has been pretty consistent about saying we don't know when or even if it will be H5N1, although you wouldn't know it from Fumento. He implies Webster is always saying we about to have an H5N1 pandemic when he doesn't (and I've heard him on this in person). I was going to ignore Fumento but he was getting so much press I decided to address his piece.

Ah! A rightwing view of avian flu! Who would have thought there would be such a thing but a genius such as you! I thought all rightwingers were intrinsic defenders of Big Pharma, and yet my piece blames the medical industry in part for spreading panic. As to my alleged selling out to Monsanto, there's enough of that on the web to conclude you're not just lazy but a liar. In brief, I accepted a book grant from Monsanto in Year of our Lord 1999 through my think tank employer. The grant was folded into my salary, with not a penny of windfall to me. My column, however, didn't begin until 2004. Did Monsanto really make a grant five years prior to my getting to that column in the hopes that I would indeed do so and write nice things about them? No, but little things like that and my impeccable track record on disease hysteria dating back to "the heterosexual AIDS explosion," SARS, Gulf War Syndrome (ask the IOM about that), and even pandemic avian flu back in 1997 (Yes, you read right) count for nothing. You'd like people to forget all that, while remembering "false facts" that you provide. Fortunately, most people aren't as stupid as your readers.

Mikey: "Fortunately, most people aren't as stupid as your readers."

You have been smacked down by so many scientists you must be punch drunk. But for the record, my readers aren't responsible for what I say and frequently disagree with me. But you are a real sweetheart, that's for sure. I guess I also missed your criticisms of the war in Iraq (or did that come out just fine?) or Halliburton or all the other targets you decide aren't worthy of your time. Small change compared to what you complain about, I guess. BTW, have you signed up to go to Iraq yet? They need you. And the rest of us need you to go.

No, but little things like that and my impeccable track record on disease hysteria dating back to "the heterosexual AIDS explosion,"

I do in fact well remember The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS.

Would Mr. Fumento care to comment now that heterosexually transmitted AIDS is tearing a swathe through African-American women?

What panic? What I see about bird flu among ordinary folks hardly qualifies as awareness.

Michael, you make a consistent error of mistaking effective intervention for lack of a threat.

If you hear a wolf howl and so invest in a sheep dog, and none of your sheep are eaten, it doesn't mean that you got the dog for nothing--it may well mean the dog has done his job. But after the fact there is no way to know for sure.

An HIV epidemic among first-world heterosexuals was averted primarily by public education and use of condoms; note Africa as the example of what could have happened if that effort had not been made.

SARS was contained because of rapid and aggressive action by the public health community. Some of the medical community of Toronto gave their lives to make sure that people with the disease were treated and that the virus did not escape the initial cases there. And we'll never really know what happened during the efforts to stomp it down in China. They may only have succeeded because SARS is only transmissible after symptom onset.

Gulf War Syndrome I don't have adequate information to comment.

But the 1997 Hong Kong bird flu outbreak was stopped not by inaction, but by aggressive public health action to find, isolate, and treat all cases, and to kill every single poultry animal in Hong Kong, along with many non-poultry captive birds--a great expense and a great hardship to the people there.

The situations you cite as 'false alarms' were anything but. They were effective interventions. That these instances became 'non-events' is the fruit of the money spent upon the interventions, the like of which you claim is being 'wasted' on preparing for bird flu.

Scientists hear a wolf in the night. They don't know for certain that it will come for the sheep, but there's a good likelyhood it could happen. They need money for a dog to guard the sheep. Sadly, political wonks like you will berate them for their 'unneccessary expenditure' whenever that fore-sighted purchase achieves its goal.

By Lisa the GP (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

The article by Mr FUMENTO seems to have had an amazingly large circulation.

I say this, as our bots seem to have gathered hundreds of the blogs from around the world, quoting the said article and questioning the need for any expense related to the research in the H5N1 virus.

We have added only a small fraction of these on our site, but it shows as to what effect such an article can have.

JM Tom


A Fumento aside:

It is entertaining to juxtapose Fumento's late December 2006 lede:

"It's that time of year again--avian flu panic season,"

and AP reporter (and former WHO communications officer) Maria Cheng's early December 2006 lede (which went out under headlines like, "What Happened to Bird Flu Panic?"):

"Earlier this year, bird flu panic was in full swing: The French feared for their foie gras, the Swiss locked their chickens indoors, and Americans enlisted prison inmates in Alaska to help spot infected wild birds."

Both of them set up the straw man of alleged public panic (present and past), despite all the evidence of persistent public apathy.

Fortunately, businesses and many levels of government are ramping up their disaster preparedness planning, at the same time that the general public continues to ignore this issue.

By Path Forward (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

Boy Mr. Fumento, you seem to be an extremely angry and unhappy man. I would think you would want a pandemic; then it would get rid of a lot of us "stupid readers".

"An HIV epidemic among first-world heterosexuals " is perking quietly along - just isn't getting publicity.

HIV and unsafe practices are still out there.

Straight, white, non-drug-using, middle-class women were getting, and dying of, HIV/AIDS, even back when Reagan/Bush were in office. They just usually weren't offered HIV testing until they had been sick for years;
Drs. (encouraged by politics driving the policy and the media and public health? -I know the HIV researchers had warned policy makers it was a threat to everyone)
assumed only "bad" women, and gay men, could get AIDS.
Men who refuse to use protection, and, religions that forbid it, are making sure all sorts of women and their children, can get HIV or other STDs.

Draft that lawyer up for the local Mortuary Reserve Corps,
if anyone finds him, when it's needed.

By crfullmoon (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

Fortunately, most people aren't as stupid as your readers. ~ Michael FUMEnto

Clearly, fellow readers, an erudite response from a superior intellect.

"Boy Mr. Fumento, you seem to be an extremely angry and unhappy man. I would think you would want a pandemic ..."

I don't think he'll be so blase when his lungs aren't giving him enough air to live and he's coughing up bloody sputum.

But his sort of person is extremely talented at finding someone else to blame. As we will all see played out yet once again, over the next year or two, as matters in Iraq go completely to hell and we get to see Stalingrad on the Tigris played out to its grimly logical conclusion.

Somehow, it will all turn out to be the fault of Clinton's penis.

By Charles Roten (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

He's not going to read any of this. He just came by for a drive-by posting, like disturbed bully-boy poking a stick at an ants nest to watch the ants boil out.

By Lisa the GP (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

A message from the vast right wing conspiracy Michael and its based on reading a lot of your stuff across the years. I sent your story to a guy in Hong Kong who said you were nuts to write that. Then I took it to the club to an immunologist that I drink with. Between the two of us we killed a 5th of vodka and he read your story about three times. Then he related the horror stories of what could happen, and then mine for what could really happen after the health and infrastructure systems in its present form collapse under H5 or SARs or something like it in a high path manner. His opinion was that based upon current events, you are not out of line. But if it comes, you likely would pay for it with your life. Total devastation is what I see out of anything approaching 8% and old son as an NGO tasked with feeding a little under 850,000 right here in West Tennessee in one county it scares the living shit out of me. But I am sure your security clearance is higher than mine. You must know more than we do. So far though I havent seen anything other than rehash of old stuff there. Mind I am not slamming you, I am questioning you.

I have had to train my kids and those in the neighborhood and their families in the proper use of masks, suits, battlefield decon and the ever present weapons that I and they have have around. As a long street in the rural area with a defense perimiter we are now fformidable. That includes my Pakistani's who went out and bought a shotgun, food, water, and 400 rounds. They all know I might not make it Michael if either SARS, H5 or a natural disaster happens but I take heart in the fact that I know most of them will. It aint Neighborhood Watch, its Neighborhood Defense.

My kids, Mom and most them will make it or there are going to be bodies stacked up like cordwood around the houses where someone tried to get to the fuel, food, ammo, generators, battlefield medical kits, EMT supplies, solar panels etc. So far its cost me about 30K. I am increasing that in light of current events information that I read including yours. Your article while very well written does nothing to further the cause of preparedness which is the current vaccine of choice for pandemic and disasters. All the things that I listed are always needed in either a disaster or an epidemic and more than that in quantity.

So Michael rather than beating you up as some are doing here, let me leave you with a thought. That thought is that you might have just indirectly killed someone or a bunch of someones with your "Who is afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" article. LIsa the GP is dead on and that is that if H5, SARS or something else comes down the road and they starve to death, are killed for their food, or the fuel in their car or their running car I want you to remember this little fact as you start to go yourself becaust thats what it is, fact. It will become unavoidable for you to recognize.

I dont slight you for writing because its what writers do. But it leaves me cold inside. Pandemic is coming...type and severity unknown. You ought to side astride the New Madrid as I do inside the 100% destruction zone in the only California 2000 building design spec home for 80 miles. Or better than that be the only business showcased as being 100% prepared under the National and State guidelines for pandemic flu. Where do you think they will gravitate to? I'll send them your address with the notice that you have food, water, medicines, resuscitator bags and all the things you dismissed as being unneeded. Head to Mikes, he has the answers to you problems and supplies. Again, I am not beating you up, I just want you to think about what you write.

Have a nice time sleeping Michael. Tthe other Chicken Little's and I do.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

I'm glad he came here to comment. Thanks! Though I'm no more impressed with his opinion that I am a "stupid reader", than I am to see you all jumping him. I'd sure like to see some of that balance I was just talking about.

I know this blog is the Reveres, but one could easily jump on this article http://tinyurl.com/ylotcd and harshly criticize the "inevitable" verbage. 360 million is 1/5 of the worlds population? Why aren't people commenting on articles like this??

"Why aren't people commenting on articles like this??"

Because it is a report of a talk by an insurance exec ("Northwestern Mutual's bow-tie-wearing vice president") in a venue (Asian American Press) that would only see the light of day when collected at a news aggregatior like www.birdflubreakingnews.com?

You doubt that last? Go to netcraft.com and look up www.aapress.com. I just did.

"Site rank1078785"

And because the only instances of "Doug Ekbom", the author of the article in question, to show up in a Google search for that name (4 hits grand total) were high school students in Milwaukee or North Dakota three years ago (take your pick), and the high school affiliations are the only links that show up?

Man, if the WaPo and the NYT get away with acting like streetwalkers, which they do, then the smaller fry of the Fourth Estate are going to stink like raw sewage. And Asian American Press is about as small as you can get and still be breathing your O2 rather than absorbing it through spiracles.

By Charles Roten (not verified) on 19 Dec 2006 #permalink

I'm not so sure what all this is about. I read the article. It is well-written and the intelligently expresses the man's view to which he is entitled. The subject is H5N1 preparedness, not lets all jump on anyone who does not agree with us.

I don't know specifically about Fumento, so this is just general. Journalists, pundits, TV personalities (etc.) who debunk threats can make good money (I don't mean to imply that Fumento's stances and opinions are not his own) because they mirror the attitude of their consumers. Many in 'the public' are bored and tired with the media spurting out threats concerning events that are unpredictable. It doesn't affect them for the moment, and there is nothing they can do anyway, so it appears to be scare-mongering at best, and commercial propaganda and/or authoritarian BS at worst. Buy duct tape, water, tamiflu, watch what you say, be a patriot, etc. The endless terrorist hype after 9/11 contributed to that attitude I feel.

It seems reasonable to ask, how come 'we' pay a bunch of experts to 'take care' of all these threats (peak oil, global warming, terrorists on every corner, new infectious diseases, etc. etc.) and all 'they' can do is scare us over and over again? Cry wolf? Err?

People don't like being manipulated and they will refuse to be made responsible for, or become involved in, happenings they do not understand, except to be PC and 'make nice', do the smarmy hand wringing, it might pay, eg. in the security biz.

Couple that with the human urge to ignore long standing problems or unpredictable far future events, and it is clear that scoffers have quite a few cards up their sleeves, and will be viewed sympathetically by many. Journos are not paid to tell the truth, are not in Gvmt. employ, are not experts; they sell a product to make a living.

The article, while quite selective and spun, isn't the issue as much as Fumento, who makes a career out of doing this on lots of issues, not just bird flu. He is a thoroughly disreputable type, who, in this instance and because of the wide distribution he is able to get for his stories, does some real damage to efforts to get sane preparations going. He makes a practice of this. I object to the same thing with Siegel and Orent, but at least they are addressing positions they have taken on bird flu and made that one of their preoccupations. Fumento is a gadfly of the worst sort for whom the impact is secondary unless it is good for his clients. An opportunist who cares little about public health but is run by right wing ideology. I am a lefty, myself, but the issue is the need for a sane appreciation of the risk and he doesn't promote it. And he doesn't care.

I claim...

If your stuff is sexy, new, important, then it gets moved up in the queue (Fumento, I do indeed know how to spell cue =P ).

But there is an exception to the rule, the null paper. Everyone found something, but look! I found nothing also gets the nod. While Fumento may be a nimrod, he apparently is well aware of this phenomenon.

Revere. You say you are a "lefty" and that Michael Fumento "cares little about public health but is run by right wing ideology." Well I am an independent, a Centrist who feels your slamming dosn't entirely make sense in the forum you've chosen, which is flu preparedness. If Fumento was really that far right then he would be supporting big Pharma's promotion of an H5N1 flu vaccine, which to this point, I might add, hasn't particularly worked marvels. I know, those damned mutations.
I am not saying that being prepared is not good. It is good and everyone here should be applauded for their concern and forsight, including yourself. But Revere, to this point H5N1, with a track record of 154 deaths since late 2003 worldwide, hasen't panned out to some people's expectations and they have a right to dissent. This is America.

Charles Roten -

That's part of my point. Doug Ekbom is no more of an expert than Fumento. Yet people are tearing Fumento apart and leave Ekbom alone.

I guess I'm not understanding. I hear and understand Revere's point. Apparently he isn't fond of Fumento's tactics. And you could make the argument, that should the pandemic come to pass, that his words may give people excuses not to prepare. But as far as accuracy, I'm not sure Fumento's is any worse than Ekbom. In fact, maybe better.

tony m: This isn't a preparedness site. It is a blog, and a political blog at that. Fumento is not right wing. He is far right wing and is notorious and I have no compunction attacking for this and the many other positions he has taken. With Fumento it is more a pattern than anything else. He really cares nothing about public health. It could be anything that furthers his point of view. What he says isn't that different than Siegel or Orent but they are part of the scientific conversation, even if I think they are quite wrong about it. Fumento isn't and doesn't care that he isn't.

There is no question about my quashing Fumento's right to dissent. He has a bigger and taller platform than I do and he uses it irresponsibly. This is a little blog but we reserve the right ourselves to say he's an asshole.


Straight, white, non-drug-using, middle-class women were getting, and dying of, HIV/AIDS, even back when Reagan/Bush were in office.

Yes, but not nearly at the rate so many were claiming was just around the corner years ago. The heterosexual non-IV drug-user epidemic that was supposed to envelop America never hit in spite of all the hysteria. Your straw man argument aside, I don't think the debate was ever centered around whether or not "white, non-drug-using, middle-class women" were merely capable of getting AIDS but rather we would wind up with an epidemic somewhere on the scale of Africa's because of the heterosexual spread of HIV.

How many people know their HIV status?
(Though, I'm glad we're not in the shape Swaziland, et al, sure.)

By crfullmoon (not verified) on 20 Dec 2006 #permalink

Revere,I'm disappointed. Your feelings against this guy and your political agenda dominate this blog rather than what you claim in the header what this forum is ?
Reset the priorities. Address the issue.

Anon has a point.

No, anon does not have a valid point.

I for one requested Revere to comment on the Fumento article because I believe Revere has insight and credibility to comment, and has shown the ability to comment objectively on a range of topics. When I read Fumento's piece, I could immediately relate to the damage it would have on the efforts to educate those who still do not "get it" re planning for a pandemic. I can understand Fumento's viewpoint and he makes some points that are worth discussing, but what Revere is saying, I believe, is what is the motivation of a guy like this? Does Fumento seriously believe there will not be another influenza pandemic? Fine then, what is that opinion based upon, please? Does he comprehend the magnitude of the preparations required to minimise the impact of panflu? What the hell is his point?

Revere has a point to point out the ethical bankruptcy of such "journalism". And the harm that it causes.

anon: Tell me what issue you would like me to address? I've written posts about all the points he raised here, which you know as are a loyal reader. I addressed the other issue I thought needed addressing. This guy is nothing more than an apologist for agribusiness and big business generally. That's what I was addressing.

My political agenda, which I have been very upfront about, is a progressive political agenda. It does dominate this blog because this is a political blog. Feel free to read around it. Michael Fumento is not just another nutcase. He has money and a platform and he specializes in making mischief. I feel it is perfectly legitimate to call him on it.

I invite you to go to his site and comment. Hint: you can't. He can come here and call you stupid but you can't go there and comment.

Anon, if you'd ever had a conversation with this (insert expletive here) you'd understand Revere's response a little better.

By Lisa the GP (not verified) on 20 Dec 2006 #permalink

>anon: Tell me what issue you would like me to address?

the chicken littles were wrong. No pandemic yet.
Also Palese's argument. The longer this lasts without pandemic,
the less likely a pandemic becomes.

>I've written posts about all the points he raised here, which you know
>as are a loyal reader. I addressed the other issue I thought needed
>addressing. This guy is nothing more than an apologist for agribusiness
>and big business generally. That's what I was addressing.

that's what you shouldn't be addressing (so much).

>My political agenda, which I have been very upfront about, is a progressive
>political agenda. It does dominate this blog because this is a
>political blog.

Effect Measure
Effect Measure is a forum
for progressive public health discussion and argument as well
as a source of public health information from around the web that
interests the Editor(s)

The Editors of Effect
Measure are senior public health scientists and practitioners.
Paul Revere was a member of the first local Board of Health in
the United States (Boston, 1799). The Editors sign their posts
"Revere" to recognize the public service of a professional forerunner
better known for other things.

nothing about politics here.

>Feel free to read around it. Michael Fumento is
>not just another nutcase. He has money and a platform and he specializes
>in making mischief. I feel it is perfectly legitimate to call
>him on it.

OK, but why this asshole tirade ? You made your point and we understood.

>I invite you to go to his site and comment. Hint:
>you can't. He can come here and call you stupid but you can't
>go there and comment.

I needn't. Why bother being called stupid by someone like that ?

Lisa, I did. And with you too. So what ?
The pandemic chances are not influenced by either of your characters or writing styles.

anon: "Progressive" means left leaning in common English parlance. You know this is and always has been since the outset a political blog. I'm sorry you don't like that. My advice: read around it and forget it.

but you entilted this entry as:
category:´bird flu + pandemic preparedness"
but then it's just about bashing political opponents.
Could you please change the unclear "progressive" into
"left leaning" now, that you'd been pointed out the ambiguity ?

Again, anon is making sense. First of all, should politics mix with public health and medicine? Apparently that is what is irking people here. But, then again, do two wrongs (expletives, personal attacks) make for a right? I am an Independent with no great love for either political extreme, but certainly it cannot be said that the current administration, still in power, and who got in with the heavy help of right, has shirked its responsibility in addressing flu preparedness.
You have to seperate the message from the messanger. You might have good reasons to dislike the messanger, and I respect that, but I feel you could have choosen a better battlefield than flu preparedness. Perhaps it is Fumento's statement that "Never mind that no one in this country has yet even contracted bird flu" that has you going.

Looks to me more like this entry is entitled, "Fumento's bird flu follies".

tony m wrote:
"First of all, should politics mix with public health and medicine?"

The two shall forever mingle in the realm called public health POLICY. Now, whether Americans prefer a utilitarian policy that aims to maximize benefits to the general welfare of the population or a policy of every man for himself is contestable. Let's not pretend that "centrist independents" float above the debate over risk management like angels on a battlefield.

(Getting sidetracked? World goes as it will not as
geometrically singular individuals want it arranged.)

What RobT said; "the damage it would have on the efforts to educate those who still do not "get it" re planning for a pandemic"
Unforgiveable damage- riduculing preparedness and distracting the public -
when the author is not going to have to suffer the public's consequences for listening to him, and is the kind who gets paid to say whatever message wanted - !
Health care and politics certainly do mix.

By crfullmoon (not verified) on 21 Dec 2006 #permalink

"Let's not pretend that "centrist independents" float above the debate over risk management like angels on a battlefield."


Really. Well you try getting anything done without "centrist independents".

tony m:
What good are they if they don't have the wherewithal to figure out who's a disingenuous shill when the record is plain as day? Did you even bother searching the archives as revere suggested? Or are you just here to pretend that Fumento is a reasonable interlocutor? You don't seem the least bit concerned about the condescending tone of Fumento's column.

No comment.

Anon, I was not speaking of character or writing styles influencing the likelyhood of pandemic, I was speaking of them influencing Revere's decision to address Fumento's character in this post rather than his arguments.

Revere has already addressed the science Fumento cherry-picked for his argument, as Revere addressed the major pieces of information independently when they emerged into the scientific community.

I do not believe you and I have ever conversed, unless you mean via post or email--unless you are the owner of Avian Flu Talk, who I once took to task by phone for his press release of an inaccurate and alarmist bird flu 'article'.

By Lisa the GP (not verified) on 21 Dec 2006 #permalink

"Does anything smell like feet around here? Maybe a sock?"
Pinko Punko

First check you own.

Whichever the case and I have to use this line because neither the right, left or independents can come up with anything that is going to save a soul. Vaccine is what we need and dont have. Do journalism, politics and healthcare mix when we are heading down the yellow brick road into Hell. The article is factual for today, tommorow is a different story.Each aspect of the argument will come to bear when whatever comes at us. Politics-We spent 500 million. Healthcare-We didnt spend enough. Journalism 1- We spent too much. Journalism 2-We didnt spend it in the right places. Journalism 3-We were shammed by the researchers who were looking for more money. Journalism 4-I cant write anymore. I have the flu.

End result- "I see dead people."

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 21 Dec 2006 #permalink

In response to the post by Mr Charles Rotten:

"...in a venue (Asian American Press) that would only see the light of day when collected at a news aggregatior like www.birdflubreakingnews.com?"

May I say that we are happy with the fact that all aspects of this debate, are able to be published on our site.

Yes, even a post from you Charles!

Though the breaking news items are important to us, we hope that our site would be more of an interest, as the destination on the web, for the largest selection of the bird flu related blogs.

JM Tom


While I don't agree with 99% of Michael Fumento's articles I do believe he is a veteran and therefore doesn't deserve the digs about enlisting and going to Iraq. He's done his duty.

By Dagmar Lurch (not verified) on 12 Jan 2007 #permalink

Dagmar: I don't know if he is veteran or not (and of what kind of duty), but certainly there are plenty of people in the National Guard who have done more than their duty and are still being sent back because of the policies Fumento supports and helped promote. Nothing unfair about it, IMO. If it's so vital, he should suit up.

Hell, I think we should all suit up and go. Makes for a very level playing field and then a lot of people might get a better perspective on both sides of the argument. NG's ARE front liners now and no longer do you get to hide out from a war or two to stay out of Vietnam. No longer do college profs have the decision of life or death when they flunk someone on a deferrment.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 12 Jan 2007 #permalink

Randy: Here's the alternative: None of us should suit up and go. Or here's my alternative to Bush's surge plan: just send three: George W., Condi and Dick Cheney. Put flak jackets on them and send them out into the street.

Well now thats the difference between us Revere. I can see a day where if we bail that we have to go to a much bigger conflict than what we have going now. Screwed up intel happens all the time but this was a big scale one. But it really didnt matter. We would have gone to Iran soon anyway because no Middle Eastern power is going to be allowed to have a nuke that can control the oil to the rest of the world. Embrace the horror of whats about to happen. They limit the ability to fight the war and then they'll be screaming the loudest when it jumps to 100 bucks a barrel or more when someone is able to control the straits. Remember the trump card thing I spoke of? One nuke trumps two carrier battle groups. Silkworm missiles can easily get within range of the groups and if they pop a big cap then I guess we wont have to worry about the innocents any longer as they will go up in a massive cloud.

I would just as soon launch an attack on Teheran and let the Israelis take Damascus. What all the libs, Dems and everyone who wants to say whatever about it fail to understand is that there is about to be a can of whupass opened up and we are going to just have to take the ride wherever it goes. Its just inevitable. We have to at least for a while remove the ability of the Iranians to do anything counter to the world security. Yep, there will be those that say that we should just not do anything and leave. Okay, so plan on a big lifestyle change when they do. Up to the masses now on where it goes. Public opinon polls are with you right now on SOME of the issues. All of us want to either win or get out. You want us to just get out. I dont think we are going to see either and until they fear us again, we are going to go to Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Iran, Syria over and over again. I just dont see any way to prevent it. Responsibility for everything goes back to the turn of the 1900's and the gas age, prior to that the Crusades. I dont discount what you say Revere, its just that to maintain the lifestyle that you live in which is a professor in a teaching environment we have to have security and we aint got it to anyones satisfaction right now. Time will tell.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 12 Jan 2007 #permalink

Fumento. Wipe and Flush.