No. Miers is a disaster. But there are worse candidates. Let's--for a change--keep them caged. Let's cheer for the mouseburger whose office is down the hall. And let's urge Congress to confirm Miers fast, before we learn too much about her.

Stewart Simonson


Name doesn't ring a bell? Well, he's the government official standing between you and death from the flu.

You may want to know, therefore, if he's up to the job. Check out his credentials:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness Stewart Simonson lacks a medical or public health management background. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1986 and a law degree in 1994 from the University of Wisconsin, and worked as legal counsel to Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson from 1995 to 1999 before following his boss to Washington when Thompson was tapped to be Health and Human Services secretary. According to his HHS bio, Simonson previously served as corporate secretary and counsel for Amtrak.
Feel better? Knew you would.

A 'D' in Lamb's Blood on the Door


The government is off to its usual late start on the possible bird flu crisis. Note the 'possible'--it's totally unclear if this disease can make the jump from bird to human, and then from human to human. But if it does happen, the Bush team can rack up numbers that will make everyone forget Iraq and Katrina. In 1918, 50 million died from the flu. There have been huge advances in medicine since then--still, with jet travel, that outsized number is entirely possible.

Is there is a way to escape this disease? Well, vaccine. Nope. Not if this Administration can help it. Tell drug companies to stop making Viagra and do a full-tilt conversion to flu vaccine? Ha! Much better to have Congress give the President the power to use the Army--all 15 soldiers not otherwise engaged--to quarantine neighborhoods where the disease is raging. Which makes sense. To them, anyway: Millions die and we get martial law.

Well, not everyone will die. There might be enough vaccine for two per cent of the American people. Think they'll be the poor? The minorities? The Democrats? I don't. I think we'll see a few everyday American get their shots on the 'Today' Show, and the rest of the vaccine will be quietly diverted to the rich, the powerful--the big donors to the Republican party.

And the rest of us? The way out is through the Old Testament view of a disease this powerful--the flu as the plague. And how did the Jews deal with the plague once before? They smeared lamb's blood on the lintels of their doorway. And the angel of death spared their First Born.

This time, the afflicted people are not the Jews (though they're included). They're the people who voted for Al Gore and John Kerry--the Democrats. So if bird flu becomes a pandemic, let those who voted against Bush paint the letter 'D' in lamb's blood on their doors. And may the angel of death pass over their houses.

Is this cruel to the people who voted for Bush? I think not. He warned everyone--before each election--that we were making significant, life-or-death choices. And despite his fairly obvious intellectual, moral and career liabilities, tens of millions of people voted for him. And now they want to buy it all back? Sorry. As I always say, actions have consequences. He told you, people: life or death. And so many bought into his idea of a God who smites. And they chose death, thinking it was life.

Well, maybe it is.

Eternal life.

Do You Have These Symptoms?


My pal the shrink writes:

My sensitive patients are all suffering, unable to set boundaries to keep out the chaos lately, of the world. Mindfulness and detachment, witnessing, falls short. They cannot keep the devils at bay from their psychological doors. Souls suffering. I spend the days finding ways to help shore the psyche filters and strengthen the psychic anchors that keep them from floating in the great empty and darkened abyss of global misery.
Is this you? If yes, congratulations--you can still look at the world as it is and not lie about it. If not, the bad news that seems to be looming like the iceberg that took the Titanic down is going to be a huge surprise for you.

But seriously: I need to deal with this. And I'd like your help in thinking my way out of this 'too-sensitive-to-live' crisis. As Noel Coward said, 'Champagne for my sham friends, real pain for my real friends.' So...real friends....to the mail or message boards, please. Let's get these feelings out in the open....

Cindy Sheehan Met Thich Nhat Hanh: Her Life Changed


Two veterans of foreign wars met the other day. Here is part of Cindy Sheehan's report:

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