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Friday October 22, 2004

Robert M. Goldberg explains the real reason behind the flu vaccine shortage:

The fact is, this is the fourth year in a row we have had shortages of flu or pediatric vaccines. This year's shortage came when British health authorities closed a U.S.-owned plant that makes half our nation's flu shots. But that begs the question of why the entire United States is served by only two manufacturers of flu vaccines.

The answer is that Congress decided 10 years ago to have the government buy up most of the vaccines at fixed, below-market prices. The Vaccines for Children Program, established by the Clinton administration and a Democratic Congress in 1994, federalized much of the once-private U.S. market for vaccines — vastly expanding the government's role as price-setter and production manager. (Despite the name, it covered many shots for adults, too.)

Pitched as a way to improve development and supply, VFC wrote price controls on vaccines into federal law. Faced with government-set low prices — and with development and production costs soaring thanks to frivolous lawsuits, other new regulations and the need to invest in new technology — companies have been pulling out of the vaccine business in droves.

Again, if you don't think that government sponsored health care will lead to rationing, pay attention.

I cannot verify this story, but I read it on

Why is our vaccine made in the UK and not the US? The major pharmaceutical companies in the US provided almost 90% of the nations flu vaccine at one time. They did this despite a very low profit margin for the product. Basically, they were doing us a favor.

In the late 80's a man from North Carolina who had received the vaccine got the flu. The strain he caught was one of the strains in that years vaccine made by a US company.

What did he do? He sued and he won. He was awarded almost $5 million!

After that case was appealed and lost, most US pharmaceutical companies stopped making the vaccine. The liability out weighed the profit margin.

Since UK and Canadian laws prohibit such frivolous law suits UK and Canadian companies began selling the vaccine in the US. By the way...the lawyer that represented the man in the flu shot lawsuit was a young ambulance chaser by the name of John Edwards.

Barry Farber thinks we should forgive the Bush-haters, but wishes they could be one-fourth as outrageous:

In boxing a fighter will occasionally mutter “Good punch” to his opponent. In football an occasional safety man who fails to prevent an opposing receiver from bringing in a long pass will say, “Great catch.” A chess master in tournament play will occasionally say to his opponent, “Good move.”

That’s not elegance. That’s not nobility. It’s just what I call “jungle etiquette,” a code of manners that operates even in the severest of head-on personal and political collisions. But even such minimal etiquette seems beyond the abilities of the Bush-hating crowd.

Have you yet heard one of them say: “Hey. I oppose this illegal and immoral war for oil, ego and glory, but I gotta tell you, Mr. President, deposing the Taliban AND the worst dictator on Earth AND making Libya fold its nuclear hand AND surrounding Iran and Syria with American might AND pulling off the first democratic election in Afghanistan’s history, including women voters, AND preparing to repeat that miracle in Iraq – not bad, Mr. President. Good blow. Good catch. Good move!”

The Boston Globe shines the light on the ignorance of Bush supporters:

Supporters of President Bush are less knowledgeable about the president's foreign policy positions and are more likely to be mistaken about factual issues in world affairs than voters who back John F. Kerry, a survey released yesterday indicated.

A large majority of self-identified Bush voters polled believe Saddam Hussein provided "substantial support" to Al Qaeda, and 47 percent believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the US invasion. Among the president's supporters, 57 percent queried think international public opinion favors Bush's reelection, and 51 percent believe that most Islamic countries support "US-led efforts to fight terrorism."

No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, the Sept. 11 Commission found no evidence of substantial Iraqi support for Al Qaeda, and international public opinion polls have shown widespread opposition to Bush's reelection.

In contrast, among Kerry supporters polled only 26 percent think Iraq had such weapons, 30 percent say Iraq was linked to Al Qaeda, and 1 percent said foreign public opinion favors Bush.

Here's what the 9/11 commission had to say about Iraq-AQ linkage:

Pulling from more than 2 million classified files and from interrogations of several detained terrorists, the report portrays a relationship spanning several years with contacts initiated at some points by Iraq and at others by al Qaeda.

I suppose we could argue semantics over the terms "substantial support" or "linkage". It's interesting, though, that only 30 percent of Kerry supporters say that Iraq was linked to Al Qaeda even while there are documents and reports which establish such a "link".

I suppose that neither the Boston Globe nor most Kerry supporters put much stock in CBS News (well, who could blame them for that) or this article:

Iraqi intelligence documents, confiscated by U.S. forces and obtained by, show numerous efforts by Saddam Hussein's regime to work with some of the world's most notorious terror organizations, including al Qaeda, to target Americans. They demonstrate that Saddam's government possessed mustard gas and anthrax, both considered weapons of mass destruction, in the summer of 2000, during the period in which United Nations weapons inspectors were not present in Iraq. And the papers show that Iraq trained dozens of terrorists inside its borders.

To see the polling information without all the slant and bias, go here.

Patterico has an instructive quiz:

Here is an article from the L.A. Times about the presidential campaign. I have removed the names of the candidates. Question: based simply on the rhetoric of the article, which candidate is Candidate A, and which is Candidate B?

Because it would be unfair to use any knowledge of which candidate has given what sort of speech where, I have removed all references to specifics regarding the location or topic of the speech. This is a timeless quiz. I just want you to look at the rhetoric used by the reporters:

In his most blistering attack yet on his opponent . . . [Candidate A] on Monday unleashed a lengthy critique of [Candidate B's position on a particular issue] . . . .

In a speech that lasted nearly an hour and referred repeatedly to [an issue], [Candidate A] used selective citations of [Candidate B's] comments and [his] record . . .. . . .

[Candidate A] began his campaigning . . . . with a speech that aides advertised as a major address on [a particular topic]. It turned out to be a point-by-point attack on his rival.. . . .

Aides said [Candidate B] would fight back vigorously against the latest assault . . .

[Candidate A] made several questionable assertions . . .

The charge was based largely on selective citations of [Candidate B]'s comments and [record] and appeared to signal a "no-holds-barred" approach to the campaign's final stage.

In a diatribe that lasted nearly an hour . . .

Okay, we'll stop there. Who is Candidate A, and who is Candidate B? Well, I didn't say it was a particularly tough quiz . . .

Thursday October 21, 2004

"...a Republic, if you can keep it". It's sad to discover that Americans know so little of our founding documents. I remember a man-on-the-street exercise on NPR a couple years ago where they asked ordinary Americans to name the five protections in the first ammendment. Most could name only one or two. One chap managed to come up with four (score bonus points if you came up with: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and right to petition the government for redress of grievances). That was bad enough, but this is at least an order of magnitude worse:

Almost two-thirds of Americans think Karl Marx’s maxim, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” was or could have been written by the framers and included in the Constitution, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Columbia Law School. “That result is troubling for a constitutional democracy in which popular consent underwrites the government’s legitimacy,” said Columbia Law Professor Michael Dorf, who wrote a column offering his interpretation of the survey on

Much worse than mere ignorance, this reveals a distressing and completely fallacious belief in the role of our government--at least the role envisioned by the founding fathers. Unfortunately, many in today's society (people, politicians, politicians, press) subscribe to this view.

Just a thought: John Kerry said in one of the debates (not sure which one, too lazy to look) that DPRK had nuclear weapons and had acquired them on Bush's watch. For the sake of this argument let us submit to these facts--although the latter point is certainly debatable. The question is, how does Kerry know this? After all, nobody has actually seen these weapons. North Korea hasn't actually conducted any nuclear testing. No underground rumblings have emanated from north of the DMZ. How does Kerry know? The point is that he doesn't know. Many folks believe that the North Koreans do have at least a couple of these weapons (yours truly included), but they don't know. The belief is based, to a large degree, on intelligence. The same sort of intelligence which led President Bush (oh, and the U.N., the French, the Germans, the Russians, the Israelis, President Clinton, most of the House and Senate, John Kerry...) to believe that Saddam had WMD's.

Just as the Iraqi WMD's were widely believed to exist, so to are the Korean WMD's believed to exist. But, perhaps they don't exist at all. The odds are against that, but it's possible. How to proceed, then? Do we act as if the Korean nukes are non-existent on the off-chance that we may be right? I don't think we can take that chance. Just as we couldn't take that chance with Iraq. That's not to say that we should employ pre-emptive strikes against North Korea--at least not yet.

I was thinking these thoughts as I was reading this what-if piece by Ronald J. Watkins about an alternate universe wherein we did not invade Saddam Hussein's Iraq:

Democrat Presidential nominee John Kerry delivered a speech today condemning President Bush for failing to invade Iraq in the follow-up of military action against the Talaban and Al Qaeda in Afghanastan. "Leaving this tyrant in power in contravention of numerous United Nations resolutions is unconscionable," Kerry told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "He has left available a base of operations and a source of supply and money."

Kerry went on to criticize the war against terror as "stalled" while the real threat to America, "Saddam Hussein’s Iraq goes untouched." Kerry said, "People are murdered daily in Baghdad and throughout the country. Rape rooms are a tragic reality. Torture chambers are full as Saddam’s sons carry out their sadistic impulses on the helpless and hapless victims of this regime. President Bush has done nothing as this brutal dictator takes the money from the Oil for Food to build palaces while his people go without food...

"There can be no doubt of Saddam’s ties to our terrorist enemies. We know that in 1998, after bin Laden issued his public fatwa against the United States, two al Queda members went to Iraq where they met with Iraqi intelligence. Within weeks, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden and extend to him safe haven in Iraq. Bin Laden remained with the Talaban, but the invitation from Saddam was always there. Al-Zarqawi has long received refuge in Iraq. The terrorist Forouk Hijazi is known to train his forces there. Abu Nidal has safe haven in Baghdad as he plots murders. Abu Abbas, who planned the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, lives in safety in Iraq. And at Salman Pack, just south of Baghdad, terrorists train using the fuselage of a commercial jet airline. The trail of evidence revealing Saddam Hussein’s ties to terrorists is self-evident to all but those in the White House.

"Our own intelligence organizations and those of Great Britain, France and Germany, agree that Saddam is aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction. For all that, he has been left free to further develop his weapons of mass destruction which he can deliver into the hands of those who make war against us at any moment. Saddam Hussein has trained, financed and armed terrorist who attack and murder us, yet our President stands stalled on the border of Iraq, preoccupied with wiping up the last remnants of the Talaban in Afghanistan. To leave this cancer in the midst of the Middle East is to have assured defeat in this so-called war against terror. We need fresh leadership, a President with the vision to remove those who support our enemies from power. To have not invaded Iraq, when the whole world acknowledged the necessity, is to leave a job undone and is the height of arrogance and criminal stupidity."

Deroy Murdoch reports on the links between Saddam Hussein and terror:

Americans who still believe Saddam Hussein had no ties to terrorists in general or al Qaeda in particular should visit . This website is adapted from a speech I delivered on September 22 at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. includes photographs of Baathist-supported terrorists, pictures of the mayhem they have perpetrated, and portraits of those they have killed, including American citizens. It offers disturbing proof that Saddam Hussein and his regime operated a one-stop-shop for terrorists, including cash, diplomatic assistance, safe haven, training, and even medical care.

Readers may be startled to see, among other things, copies of checks given to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers in Israel. Perhaps for the first time (not the case for NRO readers), they will read the words of former Italian prime minister Bettino Craxi explaining that terrorist Abu Abbas - ring leader of the October 1985 Achille Lauro cruise-ship hijacking - was freed from Italian custody because he traveled on an Iraqi diplomatic passport.

There also is a web image of an online CBS News story headlined, "Court Rules: Al Qaida, Iraq Linked." It discusses a May 7, 2003 decision by Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Harold Baer Jr. to award the families of two September 11 victims $104 million in damages after their attorney proved that Saddam Hussein's government provided "material support" to al Qaeda in the September 11 massacre. So much for Senator John Edwards's claim in the October 5 vice-presidential debate that "there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11th - period."

Bruce Chapman, has a look at Iraqi Bloggers, particularly Ali of Iraq the Model. These Iraqi blogs are well worth reading, since they provide a unique point of view.

Ali is appalled by the terrorists, but not surprised. We are at war and the enemy is fighting back, so why be surprised about that? he asks. Iran, some in Saudi Arabia, all the Islamist groups, and the former Baathists, of course, naturally are funding the fighting. They want to terrorize us before the elections, so things are going to get worse before then. But when terrorists see that the people demand democracy, they will feel they have lost. Many will leave.

Ali is more worried about the Americans, given John Kerry's talk of setting an announced timetable for the removal of U.S. troops, and he is dismayed by U.S. commentators and career bureaucrats who say that democracy in Iraq is impossible. What they really are saying is that we are barbarians. There is some racism in that. They despise Islam and think it cannot reform itself or lead to reform. They think we are so ignorant we need a dictator.

But look at what happened in Najaf when the US chased out al Sadr. The media said the people were angry, but they were only angry with al Sadr. They demonstrated against al Sadr and for the [interim] government. There was very little news on that.

...One of the failures of the coalition after the direct warfare, Ali says, was not setting up a suitable replacement for Saddam's state television right away. He admits that more Iraqis watch Al-Jazeera than any other TV channel, but he cites as reasons the technological edge and stylistic professionalism of the channel, plus its suspicious access to terrorists. He points hopefully to a new television channel, Al Fayhaa, which comes from the United Arab Emirates. The US-sponsored Al Hurra is good, but not as attractively presented as Al Jazeera.

Where, oh where, is Osama:

Pakistani security forces have found no sign of Osama bin Laden hiding in a mountainous region bordering Afghanistan and suspect the terrorist leader may not be there, the top military commander in the area said. US authorities have long said they believe bin Laden is in the rugged tribal region, but there has been no firm evidence of his whereabouts for three years. Pakistani leaders have gone back and forth on whether they believe the al-Qaeda chief is in their territory. Lieutenant General Safdar Hussain, the top commander in northwest Pakistan, said late Tuesday that his forces have scoured the region looking for bin Laden, but with no success.

Gregory Djerejian, writing in the Belgravia Dispatch believes that poor old UBL us pushin' up poppies

Folks, bottom line: we have to go all the way back to December 26th 2001 to see a video of UBL that really seems to get close to passing a smell test evidencing that's he actually, you know, alive (and he didn't look too smashing in it either). Now, does anyone seriously believe that UBL wouldn't, if he were alive, be doing his very damnedest to release a tape, soonest, rubbing Bush's nose in it for not having caught him--dead or alive? Just as a little pre-election present, say, maybe to give the opposition a little assist in hyping the disingenous Tora Bora meme? Doubtless, he would, no? Unless, of course, he's dead. Which, I'm beginning to feel pretty comfortable concluding, may well be the happy reality as we sit here today.

European states are scrambling to find any bribeworthy assets they could give to the Iranians or any other plausable scenario under which they could agree that Iran is attempting to try to begin thinking about possibly cooperating with the IAEA and to convince (nod nod, wink wink, say no more) the "world community" the Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons.

European states are to offer Iran a final chance to provide assurances that its nuclear energy programme is not aimed at acquiring weapons. France, the UK and Germany are to offer incentives at talks in Vienna just over a month before the United Nations rules on whether or not Iran is co-operating.

It's clear to me that the "world community" does not want to take any actions against Iran and is desperately seeking ways of avoiding the clear and convincing evidence that the Iranian nuclear ambitions are solely for the purpose of obtaining weapons, not for generating power. Surely they couldn't be so deluded. All you really need to know is this quote from Richard Boucher:

"We don't see the economic or any other rationale for a country like Iran to try to generate power with nuclear energy, given that... they flare off way more gas every year than they could get energy from nuclear power plants of the kind that they're talking about."

Oh, and in a completely unreleated development, there's this:

Iran test-fired an improved version of the Shahab-3 ballistic missile on Wednesday. The weapon, which Iran says has an increased range of 2,000km (1,250 miles), was tested in front of observers, said Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani. The missile is thought to be able to carry a nuclear warhead and its increased range would put Israel within its sights, our correspondent notes.

Hugh Hewitt describes Theresa Heinz-Kerry's triple gaffe and says Heinz-Kerry would do well to remember this quote by Teddy Roosevelt:

"No ordinary work done by a man is either as hard or as responsible as the work of a woman who is bringing up a family of small children; for upon her time and strength demands are made not only every hour of the day but often every hour of the night. She may have to get up night after night to take care of a sick child, and yet must by day continue to do all her household duties as well; and if the family means are scant she must usually enjoy even her rare holidays taking her whole brood of children with her. The birth pangs make all men the debtors of all women. Above all our sympathy and regard are due to the struggling wives among those whom Abraham Lincoln called the plain people, and whom he so loved and trusted; for the lives of these women are often led on the lonely heights of quiet, self-sacrificing heroism."

Hindrocket, over at PowerlineBlog dissects Jimmah Carter's interview by Chris Matthews on Screwball Hardball:

MATTHEWS: [A]s an historian now and studying the Revolutionary War as it was fought out in the South in those last years of the War, insurgency against a powerful British force. Do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?

CARTER: Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War more than any other war until recently has been the most bloody war we’ve fought.

Combat deaths, Revolutionary War: 4,435. Combat deaths, Civil War: 184,594. Combat deaths: World War II: 292,131. Combat deaths, Iraq war: 793.

I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial’s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a non-violent way.

India became independent in 1947.