I’ve never been a huge fan of the We The People (WTP) website, which was set up during the Obama administration to allow people to petition the White House and, if they receive a sufficient number of signatures on their petition, receive an official response from the White House. While I applauded the sentiment of wanting to provide people an online means of petitioning the administration and like that a petition receiving 100,000 signatures in 30 days would receive a response, I was disappointed by the results. For one thing, although 321 of the 323 petitions that reached the threshold have received responses (thank you, Wikipedia, for that answer), response time has been slow, and administration responses have generally not been that satisfying. That’s not to say that WTP hasn’t had some successes. Perhaps the most notable came when in 2013, when a petition started by OpenSignal co-founder and digital rights activist Sina Khanifar asking to allow people to unlock their cell phones at the end of their contracts so that they could be used with other carriers reached the 100,000-signature threshold required for a response from the White House. Two weeks later, the Obama administration responded by urging the FCC and Congress to legalize cell phone unlocking, and year later Congress passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. It was the first piece of legislation driven by an online petition.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of crank petitions, and, now that President Obama is no longer in the White House, that trend appears not to be changing. Indeed, given Donald Trump’s long and sordid history of antivaccine blatherings and his having met with Andrew Wakefield and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., antivaxers believe they have one of their own in the White House now (with good reason) and have been doing their damnedest to get the administration’s attention and have it cater to their wish list for vaccine policy changes. There’s good reason for everyone to fear what could happen to federal health policy under Donald Trump, given how he could undermine trust in vaccine policy.

So it’s probably no wonder that yesterday I started seeing chatter on antivaccine websites and Facebook pages like this:

Of course, the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism was all over it as well.

But what does this petition demand? Let’s take a look:

We cannot make America great with so many disabled autistic children, so we must urgently face the autism epidemic, admit its reality and confront its stunning rise. In addition, we must rein in America’s exploding vaccine schedule. Crucial to any reform in both autism and vaccine policy is an initiative to shine light on corruption and “drain the swamp” of unaccountable bureaucrats.

We ask you to take six actions:

  1. Declare autism a national emergency.
  2. Convene a Presidential Commission on Vaccine Safety and Scientific Integrity.
  3. Depose the CDC whistleblower Dr. William Thompson.
  4. Conduct a study comparing total health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations.
  5. Create a National Vaccine Safety Board.
  6. Repeal and Replace the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act.

Sigh. I’ll give antivaxers one thing. They’re persistent. I’ll also ding them on an utter lack of imagination and creativity. In particular, the sucking up to Donald Trump by using his “make America great again” and “drain the swamp” slogans and co-opting the language of “repeal and replace” as Republicans and Donald Trump apply to the Affordable Care Act to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which was signed into law by that avowed liberal President Ronald Reagan.

Let’s take a look at some of these, starting with #1. Declare autism a “national emergency”? What would that accomplish? After all, by antivaxers’ own estimation the “autism epidemic” (that almost certainly isn’t an epidemic) has been growing for close to two decades. An emergency is something that is immediately threatening and requires prompt action to forestall dire consequences. Think acts of war or terror. Think natural disasters. Think economic meltdown. Indeed, it’s very revealing what antivaxers think of autistic people by the way they insist on wanting a “national emergency” declared over autism. In reality (something antivaxers are seldom well acquainted with), autism might be a problem—a big problem, even—but it’s not an emergency. It’s not even a problem in the way that antivaxers present it. The real problem due to autism is providing adequate healthcare and services to autistic children and help for them as they become adults, so that those who are able (the vast majority) can find productive work and lead normal lives and those who cannot have a place to live and be cared for. When antivaxers want to declare autism a “national emergency,” what they mean is that they want the government to look into vaccines as a cause of autism even though there is a mountain of evidence showing no correlation between vaccination and the risk of autism.

The rest of these are pretty much interrelated and consist of a mish-mash of the usual demands based on antivaccine conspiracy theories. We have the “CDC Whistleblower,” a conspiracy theory whose birth in August 2014 I had the simultaneously fascinating and horrifying opportunity to watch and write about. It’s a conspiracy theory that took off because it seemed to confirm the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement, namely that the CDC “knew” that vaccines cause autism, have evidence implicating vaccines as a cause of autism, but covered it up. None of that’s true, and certainly the CDC whistleblower conspiracy theory doesn’t demonstrate that. Indeed, when a pro-vaccine blogger got a hold of the “100,000 documents” allegedly held by Dr. Thompson that would prove scientific fraud in a study of MMR receipt and timing as risk factors for autism and made them public before Andrew Wakefield and Brian Hooker (initially the two drivers of the whistleblower conspiracy theory), there was a whole lot of nothing there, not that stopped antivaccine-sympathetic reporters from trying to spin them as proving the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement.

As for the “vaxed versus unvaxed study,” it’s a pipe dream that antivaxers have wanted since time immemorial (or at least for the last decade), because they are completely invested in the idea that vaccines are evil and cause Bad Things to happen to children not limited to autism. Indeed, just last week I wrote about one such “vaxed-unvaxed” study that was initially accepted and then rejected by a crappy journal and now has risen from the grave to lumber across the antivaccine blogosphere in search of brains, even though it has so many confouders unaccounted for that it in essence tells us nothing about whether there is a relationship between vaccines and autism. It joins a long line of other “vaxed versus unvaxed studies” even more incompetently designed and carried out. It’s also a myth frequently repeated by the antivaccine movement that there has “never” been a vaxed/unvaxed study. There has. There have been several, in fact. Guess what they show? Surprise! Surprise! They generally show no differences in health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, with the exception of the fact that vaccinated children have far fewer instances of vaccine-preventable disease than unvaccinated children (well, duh), or that vaccinated children are generally healthier. Antivaxers want another vaxed/unvaxed study because they think it will show how harmful vaccines are. Of course, they have no clue how to do an actual vaxed/unvaxed study that the difficulties involved and the number of subjects required elude them.

As for “repealing and replacing” the NCVIA and setting up a commission on vaccine safety and vaccine safety board, the real purpose is make it possible for parents to collect compensation for autism as a “vaccine injury,” something the current vaccine court doesn’t allow. Never mind that the Vaccine Court is in general a good deal for parents of children who suffer an actual vaccine injury. It pays the complainants’ court costs, for one thing. If a child has a “table injury” (i.e., an injury that the government has determined as potentially caused by vaccines) compensation is much easier than it would be in the regular courts. Indeed, from my perspective, the only people who would suffer if the Vaccine Court went away would be children with possible vaccine injury and their parents, who would be forced to use the regular court system, with a much smaller possibility of payout. Who would benefit? It would be lawyers who sue for “vaccine-induced autism.” They’re looking for a big payout from which they can take their 33% commission and expenses and are unconcerned whether going back to that sort of system would be the best for the largest number of people. Meanwhile, the “vaccine commission” envisioned by antivaxers would be the one that they thought they were going to get run by someone like RFK Jr. and poised to validate their pseudoscientific belief that vaccines cause autism.

The only consolation I can take thus far is the utterly dismal number of signatures garnered thus far, just over 3,000 of the 100,000 required to get a response from the Trump White House. In other words, I doubt that this petition will have much of an effect, if any, but I know that it’s just one drop in the drip-drip-drip of antivaccine efforts that will be coming during the next for years. Stay frosty, my friends. The battle is just beginning.

Comments

  1. #1 rork
    March 2, 2017

    I think they should propose the protocol for their desired trial, and what the primary outcome is, and how many secondary outcomes they want to test, and how well powered it would be for all of these. I think that for some outcomes (autism) they would postulate effect sizes large enough that wouldn’t take that many kids to properly power. Of course we’d want to randomize (entire neighborhoods), have placebo control, and demand blinding. I’d be really interested in the proposed rules for early stopping, after we’d killed a few children with vaccine preventable illnesses. No IRB I’ve ever known would approve of the trial, but it might be fun reading. There’d be problems in that you can’t consent whole communities, so you can’t really do the study you want. The individuals you might get to consent are a rather strange sample of the population too.

  2. #2 Catherine Hall
    Guernsey
    March 2, 2017

    Who would actually want to live in a country that couldn’t consider itself ‘great’ while it has so many autistic children. For someone who lives on a bit of rock that was once under Nazi occupation it is hard not to hear the echo of sentiments expressed by that regime. Even if they persuaded the antivaxer POTUS to give them every thing they want, where exactly do A of A want to go with this after their ( highly unethical) vaccinated versus unvaccinated study proves there is no link to autism. The ableist language used by these antivaxer nutters sets my teeth on edge.
    On a lighter note our very own local purveyor of quackery David Noakes of GcMaf fame seems to be having a spot of bother again as his offices have been raided and staff arrested on money laundering charges. Gossip on the anti quack grapevine suggests that he might be one Quack less in the pond very soon.

  3. #3 MI Dawn
    March 2, 2017

    Yeah, I think they’d really have a hard time getting the double-blinding required. I know that I would never consent for the possibility that my child would be in the “non-vaxxed” segment, and I’m sure a hard-core anti-vaxxer would be equally against the risk that their child is in the vaxxed segment. And since most of my (well-educated, by the way) friends feel the way I do, and their children are all fully vaccinated, like mine are, that would be a huge segment of the population opting out.

  4. #4 Eric Lund
    March 2, 2017

    Who would benefit? It would be lawyers who sue for “vaccine-induced autism.” They’re looking for a big payout from which they can take their 33% commission and expenses and are unconcerned whether going back to that sort of system would be the best for the largest number of people.

    Indeed, as I think you have pointed out before, one of the likely effects of this move would be that private companies stop offering vaccines in the US. All it would take is one of these cases going before a sympathetic judge and/or jury, which would happen sooner or later, and getting a big payout. Profits on vaccines aren’t nearly enough to cover the costs of defending against this litigation.

  5. #5 Michael J. Dochniak
    Minnesota
    March 2, 2017

    Orac writes,

    The battle is just beginning.

    MJD says,

    What are you fighting for when it comes to vaccines?

    @ Orac and minions,

    What six actions would you take to improve vaccines?

    Quote from Bernard Shaw:

    Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

  6. #6 symball
    uk
    March 2, 2017

    @#4 Eric Lund

    This of course it what they really want- never mind the increase in death and disability that comes from vaccine preventable diseases running rampant again.

  7. #7 brian
    March 2, 2017

    It’s interesting that the petition invokes the name of William Thompson. Ten months ago, anti-vaccine loon BS Hooker claimed that “Mr. Richard Morgan, Esq.[!], Dr. Thompson’s whistle blower attorney, stated that Dr. Thompson will be publishing a paper in May, 2016, where he will assert that the MMR vaccine is not linked to autism in African American males. Instead Dr. Thompson will state that socioeconomic factors alone in the African American community account for the original MMR-African American male ‘effect.’”

    Of course, although May 2016 has come and gone, Hooker and Thompson both admitted in one of the telephone calls that Hooker recorded without Thompson’s knowledge that socioeconomic effects in fact could explain the alleged increased risk for ASD in the small sample of African-American boys who were vaccinated late–just as Thompson’s CDC coauthors suggested. Also of course, that’s in agreement with other research published since Thompson moved on from vaccine-related work that revealed significant socioeconomic effects on the ascertainment of ASD.

    So what do anti-vaxxers want Thompson to say? “Oops?”

  8. #8 Dorit Reiss
    March 2, 2017

    Two points. First, I found the language at the opening of the petition incredibly offensive to the many people with autism who have contributed to our society, and to people with autism in general.

    Second, even in off-table injuries nvicp is a much easier process. It doesn’t requiring showing a design defect as a regular court would, something that would be hard, and it allows most types of evidence in, something that petitioners benefit from.

    It is not perfect – it needs fixing in some thing – but you’re completely rightvits better for people with real vaccine injuries.

  9. #9 Dorit Reiss
    March 2, 2017

    “Right that it’s”. Sigh.

  10. #10 Mary (mem_somerville)
    United States
    March 2, 2017

    Related to this–have you guys heard of this organization? Someone brought it to my attention recently but I can’t find much info. They call themselves “Consumers United for Evidence-Based Health Care”, but it includes a number of cranks–see NVIC.

    In a creepy twist, though, it also seems to be Cochrane US, and somehow Johns Hopkins. One of the contact addresses was jhu.

    http://consumersunited.org/about-cue/member-organizations

    Does anyone know of any skeptic coverage of this?

  11. #11 Dorit Reiss
    March 2, 2017

    @Brian: Before accepting Hooker’s word that Dr. Thompson’s lawyer said anything, I would like to see it from Mr. Morgan himself. With all due respect to Dr. Hooker, his record on accuracy isn’t amazing.

  12. #12 Eric Lund
    March 2, 2017

    Before accepting Hooker’s word that Dr. Thompson’s lawyer said anything, I would like to see it from Mr. Morgan himself.

    I very much doubt that Mr. Morgan would have anything of that nature that wouldn’t be protected by attorney-client privilege. There are legitimate back-channel ways to get access to a preprint of a not-yet-published paper (assuming arguendo that the described manuscript actually does exist). Going through the first author’s lawyer is not among them.

  13. #13 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    March 2, 2017

    I found the language at the opening of the petition incredibly offensive to the many people with autism who have contributed to our society, and to people with autism in general.

    Thank you Dorit. Yesterday was the Day of Remembrance for autistics murdered by their caregivers. This made it even more offensive.

  14. #14 NumberWang
    March 2, 2017

    I hadn’t realised that Thompson had risen so far that he needed to be deposed.

  15. #15 brian
    March 2, 2017

    @Dorit @Eric

    Yes, BS Hooker is not an exemplar of honesty–as shown in the recorded exchange below, Hooker, like “CDC Whistleblower” Thompson, knew that his results could be explained by a socioeconomic confounder that he explicitly excluded from his “reanalysis” of the data from the 20004 DeStefano study. Hooker wrote, “When comparing cases and controls receiving their first MMR vaccine before and after 36 months of age, there was a statistically significant increase in autism cases specifically among African American males who received the first MMR prior to 36 months of age.” The small subset of African-American boys (but not African-American girls or girls or boys of other races) who did not receive timely vaccination were less likely to have been diagnosed with ASD.

    Here’s what Thompson and Hooker said in a recorded telephone call in 2014:

    W Thompson: “among the blacks . . . the ones getting vaccinated earlier are the ones from higher-income backgrounds. . . . You could argue that it’s the educated black moms that are getting their kids vaccinated earlier and that’s why you found that effect [i.e., higher rates of diagnosed ASD among African-American boys who were vaccinated earlier.]”

    BS Hooker: “And they’re getting that effect and the ones that are getting vaccinated later are underdiagnosed [with ASD.]”

    W Thompson: “Yes.

    Thompson and Hooker agreed that the reason for the allegedly higher rates of ASD among boys who were vaccinated earlier rather than later is that those “getting vaccinated later are underdiagnosed.”

    “Yes,” indeed. That would make for some interesting testimony by the “Whistleblower”: ‘No, the reduced ASD prevalence in those small subgroups is not due to vaccination status but is instead due to underascertainment of ASD among African-American boys with poorer access to health care and diagnosis.’ Can’t wait.

  16. #16 Zach
    March 2, 2017

    Not only do antivaxxers talk about medicine like its 1850, they seem to hold that era’s attitude towards mental illness. Holy crap you’d think an autistic child was some sort of punishment imposed by the state.

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    March 2, 2017

    They shouldn’t have any difficulty getting 100K signatures-
    this is a major problem even recognised by DJT.
    TMR alone has about 60K followers and AoA is similarly VERY POPULAR.

    Of course, I’m joking.

  18. #18 RobRN
    The State of Cascadia
    March 2, 2017

    About that Commission on Vaccine Safety that RFKJr claims he was asked to chair by Prez Trump… I found something that refutes that claim. Statement released by Hope Hicks, White House Director of Strategic Communications:

    “The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas. The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on Autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time. The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of Autism with many groups and individuals.”

  19. #19 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 2, 2017

    Well, they’re making progress – our host noted this morning they had just over 3000 signatures, and this afternoon it’s now just over 6000.

    It’ll be interesting to see where it is in a week or so.

  20. #20 Matthew Cline
    United States
    March 2, 2017

    “Yeah, I think they’d really have a hard time getting the double-blinding required.”

    I remember at least one anti-vaxxer dreaming up something like this: get all of the previous clinical trials of childhood vaccines legally declared invalid because of [reasons], forcing all the companies making them to do the trials over from scratch. Make it a legally requirement that a significant portion of the children involved in the trials receive placebos across the broad. Thus, anti-vaxxers could just not participate in the trials, while any parents who wanted to vaccinate their children would just have to accept the chance that their child would get no vaccines whatsoever.

  21. #21 MI Dawn
    March 2, 2017

    @Matthew Cline: somehow I missed that one. The antivaxxers get what they want (no vaccines), while the ones who want vaccines have to take the risk their kids don’t get vaccinated? Uh, yeah…No. I refuse to take that risk. I refuse to risk my children not being fully vaccinated.

    Good luck getting that past any respectible IRB not stuffed with Geiers, AOA, or Wakefraud’s followers.

  22. #22 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 2, 2017

    Just remember that yugely genius potus and his nearly as genius staffers do not have follow that previous person’s 100,000 number.

    6,000 should equate to the will of the people. Isn’t 6,000 a landslide number?

  23. #23 Eric Lund
    March 2, 2017

    get all of the previous clinical trials of childhood vaccines legally declared invalid because of [reasons]

    This sounds like Step 2 of an Underpants Gnomes scheme. What legal theory would provide an avenue for doing this? IANAL, but I think this would take actual legislation that would stand up in court, and I see neither the will to enact such legislation nor the Constitutional theory under which it would be upheld.

    Then there’s the problem that it would take time to devise protocols for a new clinical trial, even if you could find an IRB that wouldn’t laugh in the face of the PI, which as MI Dawn points out is also an issue.

  24. #24 Eric Lund
    March 2, 2017

    Mary@10: That’s an odd assortment of organizations. Consumer Reports is legit, though they don’t usually get into medical care issues. But yes, NVIC is in that group, as is Safe Minds, another anti-vax crank group. Many of the other member organizations may be legit, and look innocuous, but I am not in a position to evaluate them.

    Given that they have a Baltimore mailing address, I’m not surprised that people from Johns Hopkins are involved. But is it the main campus or the medical school? Those campuses are a few miles apart. (There’s also the Applied Physics Laboratory, out in the Laurel/Columbia area, but those e-mail addresses are of the form jhuapl.edu rather than jhu.edu .)

  25. #25 Brian Deer
    March 2, 2017

    Well, if they have a presidential commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity, I can presumably give evidence, and Wakefield’s will be done over again, but this time maybe by the Department of Justice.

    I say: bring it on.

  26. #26 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 2, 2017

    I just received this email from vaccines.gov:

    Online Now: Path to Implementation
    The National Adult Immunization Plan: A Path to Implementation is a follow-on document to the National Adult Immunization Plan that facilitates coordinated action by identifying implementation priorities and suggesting potential activities in support of each priority. Both documents are available on the NVPO website.

    Submit Your Nominations!
    Exceptional individuals and organizations are at the heart of optimizing the vaccine and immunization enterprise. Recognize and celebrate their achievements by nominating them for the National Vaccine Program Office UpShot Awards—a distinguished award honoring excellence in leadership, collaboration, innovation, practice, and research that advances the National Vaccine Plan! Nominations are due April 26, 2017.
    Apply for an NVPO Award

    Can we think of anyone to nominate? I think are blinky box host might be a start.

  27. #27 Mary (mem_somerville)
    March 2, 2017

    Eric @24: I don’t know the structural details, I was hoping someone had more info. What I noticed was on this page: http://consumersunited.org/opportunities-for-consumer-engagement/cue-partnership-clearinghouse

    The contact info there is [something]@jhu.edu

    And on Consumer Reports, these guys are terrible on plant science. They have some cranky features, I’m afraid. But yeah–the group make up overall is quite curious. Some I don’t recognize, but I’m told they are cancer cranks too.

  28. #28 JustaTech
    March 2, 2017

    Well if we’re making lists of 6 things, here are 6 vaccines I want:
    1) A universal influenza vaccine that’s not made in eggs.
    2) A malaria vaccine
    3) An HIV vaccine
    4) A dengue vaccine
    5) A Zika vaccine
    6) A Hepatitis C vaccine

    Ooh, did any of you read about the new, more effective and easier to distribute cholera vaccine? (It was in the NYT a few weeks ago.) That’s SO exciting!

  29. #29 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 2, 2017

    Justatech, just for laughs I made up a list of what AVers might say each of your vaccines might cause (all answers pick at random)

    1. Orf Disease
    2. Trench Fever
    3. Monkey Pox
    4. Loiasis
    5. Bwamba Virus
    6. Francis Disease.

    They may make sense to an AVer.

  30. #30 brian
    March 2, 2017

    @Brian Deer

    Mr. Deer, it’s charming to see that a Brit has some faith in the process of US Congressional committee hearings, but I think that it’s quite unlikely that you would be called to testify. For background information you might want to re-read Solzhenitsyn’s account of the show trials of the engineers accused of “wrecking” the Soviet economy.

    You might also want to revisit testimony from previous Congressional hearings on vaccines. For example, after Andrew Wakefield accused another scientist of perjury and suggested that that expert’s testimony was financially motivated (because, Wakefield falsely suggested, that scientist’s wife, and thus the expert himself, had a financial interest in a vaccine) Chairman Dan Burton said this to Wakefield: “I believe other scientists who differed with the prevailing opinions have suffered similar castigation as you have. And you may rest assured that eventually, the truth will out. Louis Pasteur found that out after 17 years when he was knighted. So eventually, the truth will out. And those who criticize and continue to denigrate what you have done, they will be eating a hell of a lot of humble pie.”

    So, that’s what you might expect at a Republican-led inquiry into vaccine safety. Cue RFK Jr.

  31. #32 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    March 2, 2017

    Lou, all six are real diseases. They are just not very common in most places in the world and in no way could a vaccine developed for the diseases JustaTech listed cause any one of them.

  32. #33 JustaTech
    March 2, 2017

    Lou and Rich: Although there was an outbreak of monkey pox in the middle of the US in the mid-2000’s from pet prairie dogs who had caught it from a giant Gambian rat at a swap meet.

    Which is why exotic pets are a bad idea.

  33. #34 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 2, 2017

    Go away, Travis

  34. #35 Matthew Cline
    United States
    March 2, 2017

    @Eric Lund:

    What legal theory would provide an avenue for doing this?

    The medical “theory” was that for the clinical trials of vaccine XYZ to be valid, the control group has to be people who are completely unvaxxed.

    ________________________

    @Brian Deer:

    Wouldn’t the evidence come from your sources? I mean, you could obviously point any such commission at useful sources, but it wouldn’t be you providing the evidence.

  35. #36 Gilbert
    March 2, 2017

    Bla, blaa, bla. You have all sharked the jump.

  36. #37 shay simmons
    March 2, 2017

    With all due respect to Dr. Hooker, his record on accuracy isn’t amazing he lies like a rug.

    FTFY

  37. #38 herr doktor bimler
    March 2, 2017

    4. Loiasis

    Named after the Loa, the Invisibles, the possessing figures of Vodou.
    Not many people know that.

  38. #39 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    March 3, 2017

    @MJD #5:

    Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

    Leaving aside the fact that it was said of Shaw that he wouldn’t allow even ignorance to stop him from writing the definitive opinion on something, your comment would be better directed at the anti-vaxxers who disregard the evidence of vaccines’ safety and efficacy.

  39. #40 Chris Hickie
    March 3, 2017

    That opening line of this “petition” bothers me as well:

    “We cannot make America great with so many disabled autistic children…

    Do those behind this petition want to put them on the other side of Trump’s wall, or worse?

  40. […] for at least a decade that vaccines cause autism, despite being publicly corrected many times. That is another policy disaster in the […]

  41. #42 J
    March 3, 2017

    With how racism and the rejection of the social contract now rule the highest levels of US government, it doesn’t surprise me that people are brainstorming things that reek of eugenics. The details don’t really matter once people classify others as sub-human, any policy based on that principle is going to be A Bad Thing regardless.
    IIRC, Respectful Insolence has previously covered lunatics who genuinely felt that killing autistic children was the right thing to do. Personally, I expect people to focus more on trying to ‘fix’ autistic children until they ‘fit in’. Sadly, given the previous track record of the far right, that’ll likely include anything from alt-med’s bleach enemas to the kind of torture practiced at those gay reformation camps.

  42. #43 Eric Lund
    March 3, 2017

    Wakefield’s will be done over again, but this time maybe by the Department of Justice

    Be careful what you wish for, Brian. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is absolutely not to be trusted, an opinion I had formed of him long before this week’s news about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. I’m not aware that vaccines are among his crackpot beliefs, but given that crank magnetism is a thing, I can’t rule it out.

  43. #44 Denice Walter
    March 3, 2017

    Agreed about Sessions.

    DJT thought that a ( liberal) senator should be investigated for meeting with Putin years ago shown in a photo.
    Perhaps he was jealous.

  44. #45 herr doktor bimler
    March 3, 2017

    “We cannot make America great with so many disabled autistic children…
    Do those behind this petition want to put them on the other side of Trump’s wall, or worse?

    It’s one of those slogans that sounded better in the original German.

  45. #46 Wzrd1
    March 3, 2017

    @JustaTech #28, a Zika virus vaccine is moving toward clinical trials. A new record in speed of vaccine development.
    A malaria vaccine, I believe it’s a common vaccine against all types of malaria parasite, is also moving into clinical trials.

  46. #47 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 4, 2017

    The petition has been up for 3 full days now, and the signature count is right at 9300. If they keep up at this pace for the full 30 days, they are gonna be just a wee bit short.

    However, I remember seeing at the end of the first day that they had about 7000, so it looks like they are already down to getting 1000/day, so I’d guess they won’t even get half of the 100,000 they need.

    What makes it even worse is that, according to the comments at AoA, this is all they can scrape up from around the world.

    Add to that, it appears you only need a valid e-mail address to sign the petition, and, well, my ISP gives me 5, and GMail and Yahoo will give me as many as I can make, and they still haven’t managed to break 10k.

  47. #48 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 4, 2017

    Travis?

  48. #49 doug
    March 4, 2017

    Looks like Travis J. Schwochert the dim troll known as Fendlesworth, a whole basket full of other dirty sock names, and disaffectionately, if appropriately, as Fuckall-worth, is back.

    • #50 Orac
      March 4, 2017

      Not any more.

  49. #51 TBruce
    March 6, 2017

    The short-fingered vulgarian’s environmental policies are disastrous. We know he’s a climate-change denialist. He’s promoting coal mining, including dumping mine waste into rivers. He would like to cut funds for protection of the Great Lakes by 97 per cent. On it goes.
    Now we have celebrity “environmentalist” RFK Jr sucking up to Hair Furor for anti-vax support (and hopefully a plum committee position).
    Why bother preventing environmental catastrophe when ranting about non-existent mercury in vaccines and a non-epidemic of autism is so, so much more important?
    RFK Jr has lost all credibility (if he had any) as an environmentalist with this move. Once again, I will quote the late Dominick Dunne regarding Kennedy:

    “I don’t give a f_ck about what that little sh_t has to say,” Dunne spits back. “That f_cking asshole. This pompous, pompous, POMPOUS man. I don’t care what he has to say. He’s not a person that I have any feeling or respect for.”

    I agree 100 per cent.

    • #52 Wzrd1
      March 6, 2017

      @TBruce #51, clean coal *is* a very *real* thing.
      Although, it does involve water filtration.
      It’s a second to activated charcoal for filtration and far more carbon neutral, in that niche.

      As for climate change, when the north frigging pole hits 0 degrees C, we’ve major problems.
      That coincided with a massive cold front into the US. Understandable, considering the 50 degree (F) excess in the north.

  50. #53 TBruce
    March 6, 2017

    Some added thoughts:
    I borked the blockquote. The last sentence is my own.
    I censored the blue language not because I find it offensive, but to avoid moderation delays. I admire Dunne’s choice of words.
    You may be interested to know that Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon is a total Trump Fanboi. Of course.

    • #54 Wzrd1
      March 6, 2017

      Well, an upside to the language filter is, some rather inerbriated comments of mine were left in limbo.
      Thanks, Orac!
      Saved me from myself and my habituation of 3.5 liters of distilled spirits a week.

      Amazingly, I go without, up to two weeks, depending upon finances and food, rent, utilities are primary (along with medical copays) without booze. Sleep issues will initially occur, that’s it.
      I also address vitamin deficiency via diet.
      I drink for two goals.
      Not remember dreams.
      Not wake up in the middle of the night in severe pain.
      Welcome to a small piece of my life. My wife’s screams of agony also figure into the equation, as she is also a chronic pain patient. One, who I’ve been unable and worse, the radiologist failed to find a single disc in her neck that was “good” and her L5-S1 herniation, which is causing major issues and her osteoporosis causes operative issues.

      I’d not wish that hot mess upon anyone, not even the most hated terrorist on the planet. And my hatred of terrorists is well on record.

    • #55 Wzrd1
      March 6, 2017

      Oh, before you worry about my liver, function is well above normal.
      Due to my hyperthyroidism treatment, that is measured on a regular basis.
      I did have a brief (approximately an hour) long episode of apparent pancreatitis, but considering the the abrupt cessation and my history of gallstones, it was likely a stone hitting the sphincter of Oddi, yeah.

  51. #56 herr doktor bimler
    March 6, 2017

    You may be interested to know that Professional Ignoramus Lawrence Solomon is a total Trump Fanboi. Of course.

    When our Orstralian friends grow too smug about the Trump phenomenon, one can remind them of the existence and political success of Pauline Hanson, of the “One Nation” and “United Australia” parties. She has recently progressed from a political platform of racism and stupidity, to embrace the antivax cause as well. Crank Magnetism, how does it work?

  52. #57 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 6, 2017

    Day 6, and they now have 10,500. 3 days ago, it was 9,300.

    1200 in 3 days gives us 400/day x 24 days left = 9,600 + 10,500 to date = 20,100.

    I gotta admit, I thought they’d do better than that. They really are the lunatic fringe, eh?

  53. #58 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 15, 2017

    Here we are on Day 15, and the signature count is up to 13,300 and change. So in 9 days, they have added 3K, and they have to make it to 100K. They need 5,800/day from here on out.

  54. […] in secret in August, and his meeting with antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in January, really believe that now is their moment and that 2017 will be the antivaccine year. Thanks to, among others, […]

  55. #60 Johnny
    127.0.0.1
    March 31, 2017

    Here we are, the last day to get signatures on this petition, with a goal of 100,000, they came up just a wee bit short. This morning they stand at less than 17,500.

    Now sure, this is the day of the big protest, and maybe the assembled masses will all pull out their phones, and sign away. But 82,500 + is a long way to go in the last few hours.

    While it hurts to know that people can be that stupid in the 21st century, it does my heart good to know they are (by a strange quirk of the ball park numbers I used) less than 1 in 17,500 of the people. I guess that’s why, as far as I know, I’ve never met one in the wild.