I have to start this post with a mea culpa, perhaps even a mea maxima culpa. I’ve been going on and on, in essence gloating about how the antivaccine movement was once again betrayed by Donald Trump. After the betrayal that was the appointment of the ultimate pro-vaccine pharma shill as FDA Commissioner, the second betrayal was the appointment of Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald as the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, yes, on the surface, Dr. Fitzgerald doesn’t appear to be that bad a pick for CDC director. She has a history of being very pro-vaccine during her previous gig as Commissioner of Public Health in Georgia. She even supported early reading and language programs to support brain development, advocacy that everyone’s favorite quack defender Patrick “Tim” Bolen hilariously twisted into hinting that there must be something more to her and a fantasy of her showing up on her first day to demand that all the division heads cooperate with “investigations” into various nefarious deeds alleged in the fever dreams of antivaccine conspiracy theorists.

Before I get on with my self-abasement and mea culpa, I can’t help but give you a taste of his post Trump’s Pick For CDC Head – More Than Meets The Eye… In it Bolen cites a video of a TED Talk given by Dr. Fitzgerald on the simple practice of talking to babies and toddlers to nourish their brains and set them up for better performance in school and life:

The central thesis of Dr. Fitzgerald’s TED Talk is something that is utterly uncontroversial, namely emphasizing the importance of language development through talking to babies and toddlers and engaging with them. No pediatrician would argue with this, and, indeed, pediatricians and the American Academy of Pediatrics support early reading initiatives. Yet somehow Bolen spins Dr. Fitzgerald’s advocacy for promoting language development in infants and toddlers as meaning that she’s somehow sympathetic to antivaccine ideas! He starts out listing a standard list of antivaccine tropes about the CDC supposedly “covering up” evidence that vaccines cause autism. Then he goes into full-on fantasy mode:

Just suppose that on her very first day at the CDC, Brenda calls in ALL of the CDC Division heads and says “This fellow sitting here next to me is the Inspector General of the DHHS. He works DIRECTLY for my boss Tom Price MD and he is going to help me unravel some issues here at the CDC. You are hereby ORDERED to cooperate with him, and his employees, involving our ongoing investigation of malfeasance, misfeasance, and it’s cover-up. “

And then – “This other fellow here is Bobby Kennedy Jr. As you know President Trump has asked Bobby to form a Vaccine Safety Commission, which he has done. YOU are ORDERED to cooperate COMPLETELY with him and his Commission members. I want COMPLETE access, IMMEDIATELY, to the VSD information. Any questions?”

Finally – “As you know, the American Public has asked for a five-year moratorium on vaccines, etc… It is up to us, here at the CDC, to satisfy their concerns as fast as possible. Anyone who wants to resign, and move out of the country, will NOT be allowed to do so UNTIL you have been THOROUGHLY questioned by the Inspector General… There are those out there that say that vaccines are damaging a huge segment of our American population – Let’s see if they are right.”

I think this woman would get along VERY WELL with our Anti-Vaccine movement. So…

Yes, Donald Trump met with antivaccine crank Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Unfortunately for him, nothing ever came of it. It’s been six months now since the two met and RFK Jr., ever the self-aggrandizing one, claimed that Trump offered him the chair of a commission to study vaccine safety, or autism, or something. Basically, this is nothing more than the delusional, self-reassuring fantasies of a man who supported Donald Trump for President and now, like so many Trump supporters, has to come to terms with the facxt that he’s been conned.

Amusingly, Bolen’s post was so delusional, so out of touch with reality, that even antivaxers called him out for wishful delusional thinking. On the other hand, maybe he saw something I didn’t, although that something clearly doesn’t have anything to do with vaccines. There is absolutely nothing I could find that implicated Dr. Fitzgerald with anything resembling antivaccine views, but that doesn’t mean her past is clean.

Here’s what I mean. When I originally alluded to my having missed a red flag, here’s what I meant. See if you can spot it in this passage from Dr. Fitzgerald’s official bio on the Georgia Department of Public Health website:

Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., serves as the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and State Health Officer. Dr. Fitzgerald, a board-certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist and a Fellow in Anti-Aging Medicine, has practiced medicine for three decades.

Can you identify the red flag? Sure, I knew you could. I’m referring, of course, to Dr. Fitzgerald’s having been a Fellow in Anti-Aging Medicine. This is an enormous red flag that I should have noticed last week while writing a post about her for my not-so-secret other blog. Fortunately for me, Rita Rubin at Forbes noticed, and I noticed her article, allowing me to revise this post before it embarrassed me after going live:

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, appointed Friday as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist who saw patients for 30 years in private practice.

Unlike any OB/GYN I know, Fitzgerald treated men as well as women. That’s because besides being board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, she is a fellow in “anti-aging medicine.”

I was as disappointed to learn this as Dr. David Goldstein:

“I’m shocked,” Dr. David Goldstein, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the New York University School of Medicine and treasurer of the International Menopause Society, said after I told him that Fitzgerald’s biography identifies her as an anti-aging medicine fellow.

Goldstein described so-called anti-aging treatments as “snake oil” that “plays on people’s worst fears about their mortality.”

“If she (Fitzgerald) was one of these people who was marketing anti-aging medicine, that’s scary,” he said.

Here’s the webpage of her OB/GYN practice in 2010, a year before she was appointed Georgia’s Commissioner of Public Health. Poking around the website, I learned that she was first “certified” in “anti-aging” medicine in 2007, which is rather late in her practice career (she would have been 60 years old then) and also only four years before she was appointed Public Health Commissioner.

Particularly damning is this FAQ on Dr. Fitzgerald’s website. A couple of choice excerpts follow:

Q. What is the most common aging problem you see?
A. “Middle age spread”. As we age, the hormones that regulate body metabolism decline. The problem may be insulin resistance, nutrient deficiency, thyroid abnormality, or other hormone deficiency. Most people, by the time they are forty, are simply not eating 5000 calories a day in beer and junk food. They are frustrated because they are trying to eat good things or are eating what they have always eaten, or less, and are still gaining weight. We are now able to accurately evaluate the exact cause of weight gain, and recommend a plan to correct it.

Q. How do I know that I am taking the right supplements?
A. We can now measure the vitamins, antioxidants, necessary fats, and proteins in your cells with a simple blood test. If you like the supplements you are taking (Juice Plus, for example), we can tell you what you need to add. If you do not know what to take, we can give you the newest research for the best replacements.

So basically, Dr. Fitzgerald was into weight loss woo as well as anti-aging woo. (The two often go together.) She did a bunch of what were almost certainly unnecessary lab tests in order to figure out what supplements her patients “needed” and then ordered followup lab tests to see if she was giving her patients enough supplements. As is the case with nearly all such practices, most of it was cash on the barrelhead:

Q. Will insurance cover anti-aging care?
A. Traditional insurance plans often do not cover preventive medical care. We will try to help you determine if you are covered, but be aware that most coverage changes often and always with less coverage. We will continue to seek those labs that offer the highest quality, best cost tests. We will be happy to arrange monthly payments without additional charges for you. We will always give you our charges before services and we are always willing to look for other ways to get what you need, like labs at the health department.

I also note that Dr. Fitzgerald was into prescribing Suzanne Somers’ favorite form of woo, “bioidentical hormones.” Not good. Definitely not good.

I haven’t really discussed the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (AAAAM or A4M) before. It’s the organization that offered the “fellowship” that Dr. Fitgerald completed. Put simply, A4M is what Kimball Atwood used to refer to as a pseudomedical pseudoprofessional organization (PPO). These organizations basically exist in order to provide a veneer of respectability to what is often gross quackery. In this case, A4M offers “fellowships” in a number of “specialties,” including Metabolic,
Nutritional and Functional Medicine
, Integrative Cancer Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, Integrative Medicine, and, of course, Anti-Aging Medicine. It also offers a number of “certifications” in various specialties, such as Advanced Metabolic Endocrinology, Weight Management, Brain Fitness, Lifestyle Coaching, Advanced Injectables, Addiction, and Sexual Health and Treatment. Then there are a bunch of online courses offered for quite the sum. The Stem Cell Fellowship, for instance, offers four modules at $2,500 per module. That’s a cool $10,000 to complete the training. The Anti-Aging Fellowship has three modules at $2,500 apiece. The Integrative Cancer Care Fellowship has eight modules at—you guessed it—$2,500 apiece, for a cool $20,000 to complete the course.

It’s not clear to me exactly which fellowship Dr. Fitzgerald finished, as the anti-aging fellowship is now referred to as the “Aesthetic Anti-Aging Fellowship” and now includes alot of surgical procedures, chemical peels, Botox, hair transfer, and “body sculpting,” but maybe the fellowship was different ten years ago. On the other hand, the module on “noninvasive body contouring” offers:

  • Perform body mass index measurements, anthropomorphic measurements, and medical photography to document clinical presentation and results
  • Prescribe organic whole foods, low glycemic diet along with appropriate detoxification, hormone balancing, and treatment of food allergy for optimal BMI

And:

  • Develop a working knowledge of aesthetic devices and energies used in body contouring including Radiofrequency, Acoustic wave, Infrared energy, a novel chilling device, and lymphatic massage. Gain practical knowledge from aesthetic experts regarding the utility and effectiveness of these devices as well as their specific indications

“Detoxification”? “Hormone balancing”? Treatment of what are almost certainly nonexistent “food allergies”? Use of all sorts of devices that are almost certainly not evidence-based? Yes, there be quackery here, just as there be quackery over at the Stem Cell Fellowship:

Gain expert knowledge regarding the disease background, statistics, etiology, current standard of care, and issues/controversies surrounding current treatments for many neurological and neurodegenerative conditions, including:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Autism
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Neuropathy

There is no convincing clinical evidence yet that stem cell therapy improves outcomes in stroke, ALS, Huntington’s disease, or dementia—or any of these conditions, really. Treating someone with autism with stem cells is, in my not-so-humble opinion, not only quackery but utter malpractice. Yet these are the sorts of things A4M teaches its “fellows.” And don’t get me started on “functional medicine,” training in which is also offered by A4M. It’s quackery, too. The list goes on and on. Yet Dr. Fitzgerald did one of the A4M “fellowships,” after which she offered what she was taught to women and men, supposedly to help them deal with aging better.

By yesterday afternoon, I felt as though I had gotten whiplash from my turnabout on Dr. Fitzgerald. When I first learned of her impending appointment, I started out very relieved and happy at how pro-vaccine she is and how she seemed to hit all the right notes on public health, particularly the importance of early childhood reading. I was also relieved that she didn’t appear to be too dogmatic on culture war issues embraced by conservative Republicans that could interfere with her ability to serve as a science-based CDC director. Then I learned about her anti-aging fellowship and her previous medical practice offering typical dubious anti-aging treatments such as “bioidentical hormones,” detoxification, and supplements galore. Now I’m not so sure.

One thing that interested me was the question of why. Remember, Dr. Fitzgerald had practiced OB/GYN for over 30 years before she did her fellowship in anti-aging medicine. She was clinical faculty at Emory University, and a president of the Georgia OB/GYN Society. Presumably, her practice was evidence- and science-based. By the time she finished her A4M fellowship, she was 60 years old. So why did she do it? On her website, it says:

Q. Why did you become interested in anti-aging medicine?
A. I got older! The life expectancy for women in 1900 was 48. The majority of women never reached the hormone depleted state of menopause just 100 years ago. Now most of us can expect to live half of our lives without natural optimal hormone production. My goal is to have all my patients, and me, be vigorous and vital for essentially their entire lives. I want to be struck by lightning on the golf course at 120…. and I want that for you.

Clearly, Dr. Fitzgerald didn’t understand life expectancies. The reason life expectancy was so low in 1900 was because of infectious diseases that killed children. If a child born in 1900 made it to age 20, average life expectancy was to between the ages of 60 or 65, meaning the majority of girls who made it past the high mortality period of childhood did reach menopause. It’s not a reassuring statement, and it almost makes me wonder if Bolen might have been on to something after all.

What partially reassures me is that, since Dr. Fitzgerald became Georgia Public Health Commissioner, she appears not to have engaged in anything resembling quackery. She appears to have supported science and was pro-vaccine. Her one big misstep was that on at least one occasion she failed to stand up to a big corporation (Coca-Cola) whose products are not good for health. That leaves a very important question: Where does the balance fall? The answer is: I don’t know, but I’m echoing some of the complaints I saw on the Forbes article:

I asked a couple of women’s health advocates what they thought about having an anti-aging medicine doctor lead the CDC.

“I’m so disappointed that the first female OB/GYN picked to head the CDC is someone who embraces the unproven and anti-scientific claims of the so-called anti-aging movement,” Cindy Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., told me.

“The public needs someone who supports public health recommendations that are based on science,” Pearson said, “not someone who tries to scare her patients by talking about ‘the hormone-depleted state of menopause’ and recommending unproven and potentially dangerous bio-identical hormones.”

It’s also been noted that Dr. Fitzgerald isn’t a great pick to head the CDC because she’s not a researcher. For instance, Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. noted:

“Her pitch as a physician suggests that, in addition to not being a researcher, she was providing treatments to patients that were not based on credible science,” Zuckerman told me after looking at the archived website for Fitzgerald’s former medical practice. “If a patient wants to try such treatments, and a doctor wants to prescribe them—preferably giving informed consent that the benefits are unproven—that’s up to them.

“But putting that doctor in charge of the CDC, a crucial public health agency, doesn’t make sense.”

Indeed.

Dr. Fitzgerald’s case suggests that you can be pro-vaccine and still be q quack. Worse, not being a researcher grounded in science, Dr. Fitzgerald is in danger of not being able to distinguish pseudoscience from science when antivaxers come calling (and they will come calling) to demand an “investigation” into the “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy and other issues relevant to vaccines. I suppose under the Trump Administration, she’s the best we can hope for, and, more than that, all we can do is to hope that she consistently listens to the scientists at the CDC. I’m now not as optimistic as I once was.

Comments

  1. #1 Roadstergal
    Basel
    July 10, 2017

    That actually seems to be a place of intersection with Dear Leader. He is hell-bent on reversing the aging process through whatever surgical or quackical methods he can (even though he abhors the one thing that could do him some good, exercise).

  2. #2 Frequent Lurker
    July 10, 2017

    What partially reassures me is that, since Dr. Fitzgerald became Georgia Public Health Commissioner, she appears not to have engaged in anything resembling quackery.

    This is what I’m trying to focus on. With Trump, I’m quickly learning to be realistic vs optimistic, and while this is a load of BS, her record as the commissioner isn’t awful. Kind of the same approach I took with the FDA appointment. Take what you can and keep trudging forward to better.

  3. #3 Renate
    July 10, 2017

    I still fail to understand how someone can connect talking to todlers with supposed anti-vaccine views.
    Or should talking to todlers mean, listening to them and grand them every wish?
    “I don’t want my vaccins.”
    “That’s alright, mom is listening to you and if you don’t want it, you don’t have to.”
    “I don’t want my veggies.”
    “Shut up, Mike Adams tells, they are good for you, they are biological and natural, so you have to eat them, to keep those nasty diseases out.”

  4. #4 Zach
    July 10, 2017

    Eh, if I have to pick I’ll prefer the greedy capitalist snake-oil sales to the cultish anti-science brigade. Both suck, I don’t want either, but I also realize that those two descriptions fit Trumpism.

    • #5 Orac
      July 10, 2017

      Yeah, I suppose a grifter is better than an antivaxer, but it’s just so sad that that’s the best choice we get.

  5. #6 Chris Hickie
    July 10, 2017

    “Anti-aging medicine” only keeps patients’ hard-earned money from “aging” in their savings accounts.

    There’s a local chiroquacktor here in Phoenix with a Saturday morning radio show who has this same stupid “anti-aging fellow” status, which shows just how few brain cells are actually required to claim “expertise” in “anti-aging”

    I’m concerned the number of physicians who haven’t fallen for pseudoscience is now less than those who have, especially given all the quacky mailings I get for spurious certifications in things like “stem cells” and holistic nonsense. The pushers of this pseudoscience wouldn’t keep sending them out if physicians weren’t taking the bait.

  6. #7 J
    July 10, 2017

    Well, since *nothing* works for anti-aging, you’ve obviously mastered it once you understand *nothing*.

    That said, this is also a good example of how science and dogma are different. When Orac makes a mistake, he owns it, showing how/why it happened and giving us all a way forward to do *better*. The fanatics on the other side would never do something like this, because in their view they can never do wrong and any admission of weakness is anathema to their worldview.
    So yes, Orac, even when you make mistakes you’re still an example for the rest of us 🙂

  7. #8 Eric Lund
    July 10, 2017

    [Trump] is hell-bent on reversing the aging process

    In his case, I’m afraid that ship has already sailed. Back in the days when he was merely an obnoxious real estate grifter, he was much more lucid than he is today.

  8. #9 Michael J. Dochniak
    Toronto today
    July 10, 2017

    Orac writes,

    Picard heard about how Orac missed this one.

    MJD says,

    No, Picard is frustrated about how Orac continually ignores the prime directive (i.e., interfering with integrative medicine).

  9. #10 Christine Rose
    July 10, 2017

    @Renate, #3

    I still fail to understand how someone can connect talking to todlers with supposed anti-vaccine views.

    It’s because it hints that you can “fix” autism. Which I guess you can, to some degree.

    They could also flip it. It’s anti-vaccine because she implies that there are reasons for language problems other than vaccines. It’s a plot to distract us from the real causes.

  10. #11 cloudskimmer
    July 10, 2017

    Since she is an appointee of this deplorable administration, I assume she also opposes women’s rights, more specifically the right to make our own reproductive decisions. It’s bad in any Doctor, but deplorable for anyone who is a gynecologist. What do they do when a patient presents with an ectopic pregnancy? Say, “I’m sorry, you’re just going to die?”

  11. #12 sadmar
    July 10, 2017

    My guess is that any problems with Fitzgerald at CDC will go back to what Orac was talking about Friday – budget cuts, inaction, neglect of low-income populations, etc. Don’t want to spend any tax dollars that can go back to the 1%, do we? She’s a conservative Republican, who seems to have gotten the job via Newt Gingrich’s ties to Trump and Tom Price. Really, I wouldn’t worry about with a Gingrichite at CDC getting converted to anti-vax, any more than I’d worry about Price or Gottleib getting that religion. Too much else to worry about.

    I’m not clear on just how Fitzgerald’s background with anti-aging woo could mess up CDC if those previously repressed interests return once she’s in office. It’s not like she’s going to declare an aging epidemic, and direct staff and budget to ‘information campaigns’ on the benefits of supplements and botox, I hope. Could someone who knows more about what CDC does, and the director’s role and authority, say more about what sort of bad things this might bring? Or just some of the problems you might expect from having an OB/GYN instead of an epidemiologist at the helm? [That alone does seem to make the appointment rather SMH, yes?]

    • #13 Orac
      July 10, 2017

      The problem with Dr. Fitzgerald’s peddling of anti-aging quackery is not so much that she’ll resurrect it as CDC director but that it suggests a person either (1) whose grasp of science is weak and will therefore be susceptible to not just the blandishments of ideologues and science-denying cranks, be they antivaxers or corporations, and/or (2) who cares about money more than science and good medical care. I’m not worried about her suddenly turning antivax; her record as Commissioner of Public Health in Georgia is pretty good evidence that she’s very unlikely to go antivax. I’m more worried that she might be persuaded, through ignorance, to back positions that sound superficially scientific but in reality are not, like investigating yet again the “link” between abortion and breast cancer, a link that’s been investigated almost as ad nauseam as the “link” between vaccines and autism and found to be just as unfounded.

  12. #14 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    July 10, 2017

    Anti-aging, well I may have found the answer. I will be retiring in 5 months (age 64) and becoming the step-father of a 5 month old (she is due 9/25). This will either keep me from aging or kill me quicker. I tell Film, caress and tell the baby she is loved even before she is born. This may only help Film and me but that is important also.

    Either way it will be more fun than doddering off in to the sunset. I am also moving to Chiang Mai will have to adopt a new culture and way of life.

    After I am there, Orac and the minions are welcome to visit.

  13. #15 JustaTech
    July 10, 2017

    Cloudskimmer @10: Based on a very similar article over at SBM, Dr Fitzgerald is sufficiently pro-choice to have been hassled by anti-abortion activists. She’s still OK with some restrictions, but she’s not anti-abortion. So that, at least, is somewhat promising.

    Must have made Pence mad.

  14. #16 Politicalguineapig
    July 10, 2017

    Cloudskimmer: It’s bad in any Doctor, but deplorable for anyone who is a gynecologist. What do they do when a patient presents with an ectopic pregnancy? Say, “I’m sorry, you’re just going to die?”

    Probably. There’s a TON of people who go into ob/gyn and pharmacology so they can wag their fingers at people. It’s gotten to the point where I’m extremely leery of ob/gyns; you get four kinds of people in that profession, the pervs, the religious, the crunchy and the competent. And the last one is the rarest.

  15. #17 sadmar
    July 10, 2017

    @ Orac #13

    I’ll take #2 for my angst. I don’t see a gullibility issue so much as generic conservative ideology being in conflict with good public health policy. I think you hit the nut with the comments on the Coca Cola quid pro quo, amplified in the thread on the not-so-secret blog. Everything comes down to ‘individual responsibility’. Forget the corporations pushing unhealthful products. They’re just responding to what the people want. Freedom, don’tcha know. If you become obese, or develop heart disease or whatever, it’s your fault from your own bad choices. Cancer? Well, you exposed yourself to those carcinogens, didn’t you? STDs? Serve you right for your lax morality.

    We’re going to focus on what you should eat rather than on what you shouldn’t.

    Right…

    I suppose if she does follow that more right-libertarian ideology, she wouldn’t get into the abortion causes cancer thing, but, hey who ever said the actions of political appointees were philosophically consistent!

  16. #18 Chris
    July 10, 2017

    I found out that my maternal grandmother and both of her sisters had strokes at around 60 years old, give or take a few years. Which is just about the age I am now. Both my sister and high had increases of blood pressure right about the time we both hit menopause. I sensed a pattern.

    So my anti-aging strategy is to control my blood pressure by taking generic medication at the spectacular cost of less than $5 a month. Add this to using sunscreen (my freckled skin has to modes: polka dotted or lobster red, I try to avoid the latter), exercise and eating about half of what I used to (hubby and I now split restaurant entrees).

    Pretty in line to what my doctor says to do. I see no reason for the other expensive whack-a-doodle stuff.

  17. #19 Chris
    July 10, 2017

    “Both my sister and high I…”

    Weird how my fingers typed something that rhymed but was longer.

  18. #20 Rich Bly
    Ocean Shores
    July 10, 2017

    I just received the official CDC press release about Dr. Fitzgerald appointment to head the CDC.

    In part it read: We look forward to working with Dr. Fitzgerald to achieve President Trump’s goal of strengthening public health surveillance and ensuring global health security at home and abroad. Congratulations to Dr. Fitzgerald and her family.”

    This goal would seem hard to reach if Rump cuts the CDC budget like he wants.

  19. #21 cloudskimmer
    July 10, 2017

    Now I see that Dr Fitzgerald did make contraception more available in the state of Georgie, so perhaps she won’t be vehemently anti-choice. Unfortunately her position doesn’t give her much opportunity in that area, otherwise she probably would never have been appointed. It still appears that women’s rights is one area that freedom-loving Republicans are all too willing to curtail; how do they handle that cognitive dissonance?

  20. #22 herr doktor bimler
    July 10, 2017

    So my anti-aging strategy is to control my blood pressure

    RI comment threads are not ideal locations for that.

  21. #23 Eric Lund
    July 10, 2017

    It still appears that women’s rights is one area that freedom-loving Republicans are all too willing to curtail; how do they handle that cognitive dissonance?

    Genuine libertarians are a rare breed. Most people who profess such beliefs turn out, on closer inspection, to be authoritarian. Their version of the Golden Rule is, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

    That’s not to say that they don’t care about the freedom of straight “Christian” white males. But you have to meet all four of those criteria for them to care about your freedom. I put “Christian” in quotes there because while they pretend to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, they behave as if the words printed in red in their Bibles are errors. (For the record, that’s the criterion where I don’t meet their standards.)

  22. #24 Chris
    July 10, 2017

    hdb: “RI comment threads are not ideal locations for that.”

    🙂

    My most common reaction is to laugh.

    My stepmother’s family had a genetic form of high blood pressure. It was quite common for them to die after a long period of pain and misery in the their mid-forties. It was actually expected, and one of her seven siblings died that way leaving a grieving widow and son.

    Then a couple of years later the first diuretic blood pressure meds were made available in the 1950s. She and her remaining siblings lived at least thirty years longer, one of them way into his 90s (she died of lung cancer due to a smoking habit when she was about 82).

    Yeah, it seems our anecdotal family experience is that high blood pressure is bad, and best anti-aging strategy for those of us with that family history is to control it.

  23. #25 rs
    July 10, 2017

    “So my anti-aging strategy is to control my blood pressure”

    Blood pressure lowers dramatically when you stop aging.

  24. #26 Ren
    July 10, 2017

    They could have done much, much worse… At the same time, that shouldn’t be reassuring since they could have done much, much better. And, as others have mentioned, it won’t matter what she thinks so long as she thinks it’s okay to have a massive slash in the budget.

  25. #27 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    July 11, 2017

    @Roadstergal #1: it would certainly explain why he’s had several considerably younger wives.
    Eric Lund #23:

    Genuine libertarians are a rare breed. Most people who profess such beliefs turn out, on closer inspection, to be authoritarian. Their version of the Golden Rule is, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

    I’ve been reading Adam West’s serialised deconstruction of Atlas Shrugged on his Daylight Atheism blog. That is perhaps the most bang on description of Rand’s philosophy I’ve ever read.

  26. #28 Psalmanazaar
    Massachusetts
    July 11, 2017

    I take issue with Oran’s characterization of Trump supporters as realizing they have been conned. Yes they have been conned, and yes they are suffering, or will suffer, as a result. But where is the evidence they are realizing it? It takes a certain amount of willpower and self-reflection to admit you have been fooled.

    I say wait until the next election. In all likelihood, the exit polls will show that the voters blamed immigrants, Muslims, or liberals for everything Trump has done, as will enthusiastically sign up for another carnival game.

  27. #29 Psalmanazaar
    July 11, 2017

    I meant “Orac’s”

  28. #30 Politicalguineapig
    July 11, 2017

    cloudskimmer: It still appears that women’s rights is one area that freedom-loving Republicans are all too willing to curtail; how do they handle that cognitive dissonance?

    Easy. None of them think women are people, therefore women don’t get rights. (Same reason most Republicans are A-ok with child abuse and kids starving or dying. Men are the only people.)

  29. #31 MilitantAgnostic
    West of the fifth east of the Contiental divide and North of the Medicine LIne
    July 11, 2017

    Chris @18

    Both my sister and high

    Has weed been recently legalized in your state?

  30. #32 MilitantAgnostic
    July 11, 2017

    Ren @26

    They could have done much, much worse… At the same time, that shouldn’t be reassuring since they could have done much, much better.

    At this point competent and evil is the best you can hope for.

  31. #33 Chris
    July 11, 2017

    MA: “Has weed been recently legalized in your state?”

    Um, yes. Though was not a factor in my weird rhyming typo.

  32. #34 Chemmomo
    Kudos where kudos are due. . .
    July 12, 2017

    sadmar #12
    declare an aging epidemic
    This is quite possibly the one single best thing you’ve ever posted on RI.

    Awesome! Thanks! I may have to steal the phrase.

    Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, that aging epidemic is caused by vaccines.

  33. #35 Chemmomo
    Blockquote fail
    July 12, 2017

    ^

    declare an aging epidemic

  34. #36 Denice Walter
    July 12, 2017

    Unfortunately, I know quite a lot about the anti-aging crowd..
    the A4M presents conferences where they allow woo-meisters to present their ( so-called) studies ((shudder))
    Also her comment about living to 120 sounds familiar although a little less than I’ve heard ( 140-150)
    – I’ve heard of the benefits of low calorie intake based on studies of invertebrates ( insert snark HERE)

    Oh lots more but I have to go