Anthrax: "don't panic". But House heads for hills. GAH!


  • Anthrax is found in some Senate offices.
  • Senate closes some offices for investigation.
  • House of Representatives closes down everything for five days as a precaution.
  • Senate stays in session.

Um, excuse me, CongressFolk, but the spores were found in the SENATE buildings, not in the House areas. WTF are you all bugging out of town? Sheer panic? Any excuse to get out of doing your jobs??

In some ways, I don’t blame them for leaving. OTOH, while everyone from the CDC to GW Bush is telling us not to panic…the House panics and amscrays, heads for the hills. Jeezus, show some f***ing backbone! Very, very poor example – you’re our leaders: LEAD, dammit, and show us folks who elected you that this Anthrax scare is no reason to hide under our desks.

(Oh, wait, who’s big cowering behind is that sticking out from under the porch? Hastert? Gephart? GAH!)

Kudos to the Senate for not panicking and staying to do thier jobs.

Oh, and if the House is criticized for this, I can just see some ‘reliable sources’ rumoring that spores were found in some diabolocal place, perhaps in Hastert’s toupee collection. “There, we told you we were in jeopardy”. Bah.

Actually, according to Mary McGrory’s column in the Post today,

It’a sign of how upside down the world has turned that I have to praise Trent Lott, of all people, for keeping his head. McGrory’s column goes on to say,

I can’t believe the hysteria that has sprung up around the nation. The vast majority of Americans are in no danger from anthrax right now, and even the people exposed will likely not catch it because it is susceptible to a wide array of antibiotics (which won’t continue to be so if idiots continue to encourage the growth of drug-resistant strains of anthrax by taking unnecessary prophylactic doses of Cipro.)

Consider this distinction:

Panic is when you have no reason to believe that anthrax is present. Reasonable precaution is when you do have reason.

I’m not sure that closing down the House was justified. But it is not at all comparable to the calls to the general public not to panic.

The Senators are staying in town, but having appropriate sweeps done of all areas. They’re meeting today and on Monday. The Reps are all getting on planes and heading home. Hardly the same thing.

FWIW, another story details that somehow Hastert & others thought that spores were loose in the ventilation system and the parking garage, neither of which were true. Which hardly makes me feel more sympathetic: they not only panicked, they panicked using incorrect information which they later found out was not true, and they shut down the House anyway. I repeat: GAH!

But the point is that it’s an extremely poor example from our leaders. When part of the gov’t is saying “there’s no danger” while another part is flinching at shadows, it hurts the credibility of the “don’t panic” message. Our populace needs to see that our leaders are reacting appropriately, not see them diving into bunkers.

*Brave Sir Denny ran away. [sub]No![/sub]

Bravely ran away away… [sub]I didn’t![/sub]

When Danger reared its ugly head,

He bravely turned his tail and fled [sub]Not at all![/sub]

Yes brave Sir Denny turned about

And gallantly chickened out… [sub]Well I never![/sub]

Hey Hastert! We’re still going up in skyscrapers. Bostonians are still getting on planes. And the Pentagon, well shit, you know what they’re doing. Now suck down some Cipro, buy some Lysol and get your sorry ass back in the House Chamber and cut my taxes or curtail my civil rights or something. Wimp.

Its always been easier to calmly dispense advice when it isn’t you and your family potentially at risk. This isn’t new, its just more public and on a grander scale.

I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have paniced, but honestly if somebody told me there were anthrax spores in the ventaliation system where I worked you can bet I wouldn’t be standing around going, “No?! Are you sure? What are your sources?”

Hell no. I’d be running for the hills too. So to speak.

And just to inject a little unnecissary equality into the equation…

What about all those office buildings being evacutated in NY because of Anthrax scares?

Sure, of course. Point taken.

But these our our leaders. The 435 ‘best of the best’ of our country in the legislative branch (no cracks, please). Given thier resources and supposedly good judgement that’s used to run the country (or at least pass wise laws, one hopes), they’re supposed to know better than to panic, and I frankly expected better of them. This isn’t about thier poor judgement (and it was), it’s about thier actions causing others to panic. Bad, bad example.

Those offices in NY were ones where Anthrax spores were actually found (or a suspicious substance). The capitol building did not contain any spores, nor did any House offices – the spores were found across the street in a Senate (not House) office building.

So: I don’t see office buildings across the street from NBC or ABC in New York closing down and everyone taking a five day vacation. Why should the House?

Another false analogy. The buildings across the street from NBC have no connection to NBC. The fact that someone sent anthrax to NBC does not increase the likelihood that there is anthrax in the building across the street. By contrast, if someone targeted the Senate, it is more reasonable to suppose that he might have targeted the House as well. In addition, these institutions are probably uniquely subsceptable to such attacks, as they probably receive an enormous amount of mail, and much of it from unknown sources.

Hell, if you’re not meeting because the House leadership shuts the place down, of course you’re going to get your ass on a plane and go home to see family, to visit constituents, etc. How often do you get to do that during a regular session.

What, the reps are supposed to be sitting in their DC townhouses with their thumbs up their asses for five days?

Leaving is not necessarily fleeing. Makes utter sense to me, whether or not I agree with the place shutting down.

The point is that it looks like they’re fleeing. It sends a terrible message to both the American people and to terrorists.

Izzyr: not all NBC buildings were shut down (yes, they have more than one office, in more than one city), just the one where spores were found. To extend your false anology, the whole legislative branch should shut down. It didn’t, just the House, where no spores were found. Shame on them

Well, it looks that way to some people. It sure didn’t look that way to me, obviously. You might be taking your own reaction, and the reaction of people who write crabby things on editorial pages, and applying their (false?) impressions to everyone.

As I have contended elsewhere, just like seargeants run the army, the Hill is run by the staffers. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, it appears as if most staff members are continuing to do their work from outside of their offices.

A great deal of the work done by the Legislative Branch is already conducted by e-mail and over the telephone. Clearing out the offices just gives everyone a nicer disposition, that’s all.

Have a link

There ya go. All their mailrooms.

And now that I think of it “beefing up security” may very well be the reason they decided to shut down.

Sure, thier mailrooms. The earlier implication was that entire buildings are being shut down everywhere in some company’s organizations. Which makes it okay when the House does the same. Your link shows that that’s not what happened, these companies continued to function while taking prudent precautions, where the House (and the house staff) turned out the lights and left. Not the same thing, and IMHO not excusable on that basis.

White powder in an envelope was discovered about ten minutes ago nine floors below me. Just one section of the office has been evacuated for an environmental sweep. The 7500 some-odd remaining employees who work in my building, myself included, are still here.

Fuck it.

I agree with the OP. It does look bad and it doesn’t help the “Don’t Panic” message. If they had to clear out for an envirnomental sweep or to beef up security (which I can agree is reasonable) then they could have all temporarily moved to the Holiday Inn for meetings. I believe Dan Rather broadcast from another floor or another building shortly after the NBC anthrax incident.

Good for you, Maeglin. Don’t let the nutjobs who’ve been doing this get away with it by giving in to fear. Just doing your job in the face of uncertainty is heroism of its own sort.

Anthrax found in House office building

Gee, ain’t that convenient. And sure enough, in the mailroom.

And you’ll please note that no congressperson has an office in the building where they found the anthrax spores.

Maybe they coulda’ just closed just the mailroom, and continued with the people’s business? You know, trivial stuff like the emergency legislation granting new powers to fight the War on Terrorism, the annual budget to fund the govmint for another year? You know, actual work?

Nope: gotta go head for the hills and cower.

I repeat (again): GAH!!