There’s a general rule that whenever you see two enemies fighting with each other that you should generally just let them. Of course, some might argue, as Gandalf did about Saruman and Sauron, that the winner of the fight would emerge stronger and free of doubt, making him harder to conquer. Fortunately, I don’t think this will be a problem in this case in the battle I’m about to discuss. There’s also the saying that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but unfortunately I don’t think that that saying applies here either. In this case, it’s a question of which of the two combatants I consider most vile, and that’s an easy decision. It’s Patrick “Tim” Bolen, hands down.
What am I referring to? Well, it appears that over the weekend the internecine war between antivaccinationists, started by young antivaccine activist Jake Crosby when he decided somehow that the antivaccine organization SafeMinds and its allies, the the crew at the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism (AoA), had betrayed the purity of the antivaccine (more specifically, anti-thimerosal) cause by somehow insinuating its operatives into a Congressional hearing on autism held by Representative Darrel Issa as the last hurrah for that long serving, most prominent antivaccine member of Congress, Representative Dan Burton. Basically, young Mr. Crosby somehow got it in his head that SafeMinds had “taken over” the antivaccine side of the hearing and frozen out his favored witness, Brian Hooker. So enraged was young Mr. Crosby by this slight that he not only allied himself with uber-crank Patrick “Tim” Bolen, but he published a bunch of excerpts of private e-mails shared among the inner circle of SafeMinds. He even published all of his accusations, e-mails and all, on Bolen’s website. Eventually, apparently even the erstwhile managing editor of AoA was unable to tolerate young Mr. Crosby’s antics anymore and kicked him off the blog. The (young) Frankenstein monster had turned upon its creator. Truly, in one fell swoop, young Mr. Crosby had justified his having been selected for an entry in the Encyclopedia of American Loons.
So what’s going on now?
After a period where the internecine war appeared to be cooling down, I now see that Patrick “Tim” Bolen and one of our favorite antivaccine activists, Ginger Taylor, are going at it, with Ginger starting the ball rolling this Saturday by posting a broadside against Bolen on her Facebook page and then later reposting it on AoA. Then, just yesterday, she followed up on her own blog by posting an e-mail exchange between Bolen and her. Truly, hilarity did ensue this weekend, and I loved every word of it. Moreover, besides my simple enjoyment of the schadenfreude that comes from watching two opponents rip each other to shreds, I actually learned a couple of things. For instance, I learned that a woman named Jennifer Larson, who is described as being Mark Blaxill’s girlfriend or mistress, donated $40,000 to Representative Darrell Issa’s Republican Party PAC. At least, that’s what Bolen claimed in one of his posts on the matter:
Darrel Issa was there because, my informants tell me, Mark Blaxill’s girlfriend, Jennifer Larson, donated $40,000, at the last minute, to Issa’s Republican Party PAC to get him there.
He also repeated the claim in one of his e-mails:
I simply can not get by the expenditure of $40,000 to have your picture taken with Darrell Issa – for that’s all you got out of it. And you claim to be so poor…
I, Tim Bolen, am very much thinking of Autism families – but your “Ken and Barbie” operation stinks.
Want me off of your back? Show me a breakdown plan, with an operating schedule, to solve the problem. I find it hard to believe that there is no one within the Autism Leadership that does not know how to do a situational analysis.
Of course, as Peter Bowditch frequently points out, you can’t take anything Bolen says at face value. He couldn’t even give a straight answer about his home address while being deposed in a lawsuit. So take the above with a grain of salt. It would, however, explain a lot. Also, Taylor herself thinks that Issa is totally on board with the antivaccine agenda. She even said so in her post on AoA:
The reality is that there are a bunch of us from all these groups, and EBCALA and GR and insert all the groups you have known and loved here… are working together on … well everything. State vaccine legislation, following up on the OGR 1 in 88 hearings, prepping for the OGR VICP hearings that Issa has committed to this fall… and it is going AWESOME!
On her Facebook page, Taylor even brags that Issa has even set a date for more hearings of the committee he chairs, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Oh, goody. We can apparently look forward to a repeat of the mummers’ farce on autism held last November. Just what we need.
In a way, I almost feel sorry for Taylor and the AoA, Canary Party, and SafeMinds crews. Bolen is, in my not-so-humble opinion, a vile piece of work. He used to be Hulda Clark’s PR person, and, Chihuahua-like, he would yip and nip at the heels of anyone who criticized Hulda Clark for being, well, a quack. He was particularly notorious for threatening to sue anyone who had the temerity to point out Hulda Clark’s quackery or to criticize Bolen himself, often demanding information to which he had no right in the process. Whenever his bluff was called, he never actually carried through. For instance, nearly nine years ago Australia Skeptic Peter Bowditch, while on a trip to southern California, offered to meet Bolen at his office to receive legal documents signifying a lawsuit that Bolen had been threatening. Bolen never showed:
When I first announced that I was going to the USA, everyone’s favourite PR man, spokesgoon Tim Bolen, suggested that lawyers and other people should meet me at various places to issue legal documents and otherwise show their displeasure at my existence. I thought I would make it easier for Tim by calling in to his office. He runs his PR business from an address in San Juan Capistrano, and the domains for his web sites are registered to the same address. As this address is a post office box inside a small stationery shop, I told Tim on several occasions when I was coming so that he could rearrange the desks and make room for both of us and our coffee cups inside the box. Unfortunately he must have lost his diary because when I called he wasn’t there. In case it was his day off, I returned a couple of days later to see if I could catch him in, but I missed him again. This was a great disappointment and I was forced to sit outside and console myself by reading the real estate prices in the local paper.
In other words, alas, I fear that Ms. Taylor has nothing to worry about when it comes to Bolen’s blustery threats to sue her. While it would truly be amusing to watch the sparks fly as a result of Bolen suing Taylor, the odds of that happening are about the same as the odds that a molecule of a homeopathic remedy remains in a 30C homeopathic dilution; i.e., about as close to zero as it is possible to be. It’s all bluster, same as it ever was. Bolen’s well-known reputation for making extravagant threats aside, when Hulda Clark, who had claimed that by “zapping” a certain liver fluke she could cure all cancers finally died (of cancer, of course), Bolen was adrift and without a patron. None of that stopped him from continuing to churn out his nonsensical paranoid conspiracy ramblings in his newsletter.
Eventually, Bolen drifted towards Autism, which makes Taylor’s introduction to her AoA piece quite hilarious to me, because she claims that most AoA readers probably had never heard of Bolen before. Yet not so long ago, AoA was happy to feature links to Bolen, for instance when he claimed to explain the status of Andrew Wakefield’s libel suit against Brian Deer. Let’s also forget that just last year, Autism One was trying to cozy up with the Health Freedom Expo, an annual quackfest in which Bolen is heavily involved. Bolen has also been a semiregular commenter at AoA for at least a year.
There are other interesting tidbits that this whole kerfuffle has revealed as well, besides the tighter-than-previously-suspected ties between Representative Darrell Issa and the antivaccine movement. For one thing, we learn from Bolen that attendance at the Autism One quackfest was 1,500. That’s actually a depressing bit of news, because it’s more than I would have guessed. Bolen might denigrate it as being too few and make the completely delusional claim that attendance should have been 25,000, but, alas, 1,500 is a pretty good turnout for a quackfest like this.
Finally, Bolen is writing threatening e-mails to what he considers to be the “autism leadership council,” which apparently consists of the leadership of Generation Rescue, the Canary Party, Autism One, the National Autism Association, and EBCALA. The crankery within the e-mail is truly amazing:
Autism Leadership Council
I want to thank all of you that commented on the recent shake-up of the existing Autism leadership – or, as I point out – the lack of Autism leadership.
This expose has just begun. Be assured that I, or my people, have checked out every situation that all of you told me about. The pattern that many of you described is just as you described – I’m sorry to say. No wonder Autism is still right here with us.
In conversations with many of you I have brought up a concern I have. It is time, I think, to talk about this more openly. It is the simple fact that there are only two answers available to the question “Why isn’t the Autism Community successful in any of its efforts?” The two possible answers are (1) The current Autism leadership is venal and stupid, or (2) They are a true Fifth Column.
So, let’s talk about that.
I have spent hours and hours listening to many of you describe how time after time, over the years, momentum to accomplish something begins, builds, and then gets co-opted and nullified by almost always, the same group of people. I find it hard to believe that time after time, year after year, “venal and stupid” wins. After all “venal and stupid” is venal and stupid. Venal and stupid doesn’t consistently win. I have a shocking series of Autism situation stories coming up. Stuff that only some of you know, and horrible stuff none of you already know, but should have been informed about.
Although my newsletter is primarily directed at what’s called “The North American Health Freedom Movement” I have developed a serious Autism readership – so, my words are going to have a direct effect . And, about time.
As you know, I have kept all of your comments private, and acted on them privately, without revealing the source. That policy continues. Send comments, and questions, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, it is my intention to make change. I already see that happening. And, I absolutely love war.
“Venal and stupid”? Project much, “Tim”?
It is rather interesting to speculate, however, what the source of the “shocking series of Autism situation stories” Bolen is threatening to reveal. If there’s one thing that is most notable by its absence, both in Taylor’s AoA post and the post on her own blog, it’s the complete lack of mention of the likely source of every bit of “dirt” Bolen has on the “autism leadership.” Yes, I’m talking about Jake Crosby. One wonders how many e-mails he’s given Bolen access to. Time will tell.
Another bit of information, unintentionally revealed by Taylor, is that perhaps all is not well between the various groups fighting the good antivaccine fight. When I read her post on AoA, one thing that struck me about it is how much she protested that everything was puppies and butterflies between the various affiliated antivaccine groups, that “Diane Miller, Brian Hooker, Mark Blaxill, Jennifer Larson, the rest of CP leadership, AutismOne leadership, Health Freedom leadership… we are all getting along great!” It comes across as protesting too much.
Again, as opprobrium as I’ve heaped upon AoA over the years, I actually do almost feel sorry for them. AoA has a lot of crazy in it, but its members have no idea the levels of crazy to which Bolen routinely aspires.