Chris Christie and Rand Paul's pandering to antivaccinationists: Is the Republican Party becoming the antivaccine party?


"I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice as well. So that’s a balance the government has to decide.”

-- NJ Governor Chris Christie, February 2, 2015

"The state doesn't own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom."

-- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), February 2, 2015

Longtime readers know that I lived in central New Jersey for eight and a half years before taking an opportunity to return to my hometown just under seven years ago. Having spent the better part of a decade there, I think I understand New Jersey, at last the northern and central parts of the state. It's a strange state with a lot of corruption and mismanagement. (For instance, I was there when Jim McGreevey was governor, and I even met him before he became governor, back when he was still mayor of the Woodbridge Township and then later when he was governor.) Indeed, while I lived there I had a hard time deciding if Chicago politics was more corrupt than New Jersey politics or vice-versa. I ended up deciding that it was pretty much a wash.

Be that as it may, I can sort of understand why New Jersey elected Governor Chris Christie. He's big—literally. He's boisterous. He's blunt and plain-talking (for a politician), and he gives the impression of not taking any guff from anyone while being relatively moderate politically. All of these are very much part of how Jersey natives appeared to view themselves. (Personally, I don't like him much because I view him as a loudmouthed bully, but I don't live in New Jersey anymore.) As of yesterday Gov. Christie's also a poster child for the political peril of pandering to the antivaccine movement. In fact, I view him as Exhibit A supporting a growing belief that I've been developing that the Republican Party has become the antivaccine party. Wait, maybe that's a little too strong, but certainly it has become the party supporting antivaccine viewpoints more strongly than the Democrats.

Behold how this controversy began. There Christie was, in England on a trade visit, doing the things politicians do to try to bolster their foreign policy credentials in preparation for running for President, and he had to go and put his foot in it with respect to vaccines during a visit to a medical research facility. First, as background, you should know that the night before, Sunday night, President Obama had issued an unequivocal call to parents to have their children vaccinated:

"I understand that there are families that in some cases are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We've looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren't reasons to not," the president explained.


"You should get your kids vaccinated. It's good for them, but we should be able to get back to the point where measles effectively is not existing in this country."

So far, so good. You can't expect a much more unequivocal statement of support for vaccination than that from a politician.

So Monday morning it just so happened that Governor Christie was touring MedImmune's research facility in Cambridge. MedImmune just so happens to manufacture a nasal influenza vaccine, FluMist. It's not clear what moved the subject to vaccines, but during the visit, Christie basically took the opportunity that presented itself to pander to antivaccinationists. It was so bad that even the far-right (oh, heck, let's just call it what it is, namely wingnut) website described it thusly:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s outreach to the anti-vaccination crowd is one of the strangest things anyone has done during the 2016 shadow primary season. In the midst of a significant outbreak of preventable, communicable diseases among children, Christie decided to throw anti-vaxxers a bone, making President Obama look enormously sensible by comparison.

So what did Christie say that annoyed even's correspondent? This:

“All I can say is that we vaccinate ours. I think it’s much more important as a parent than as a public official, and that’s what we do,” he told reporters during his trip through London on Monday. He went on to say that’s “part of making sure we protect their health and public health.”

“I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice as well. So that’s a balance the government has to decide,” Christie added.

Asked whether he was advocating leaving parents the option to not vaccinate their kids, Christie said “I didn’t say I’m leaving people the option,” but that “it depends what the vaccine is, what the disease type is and all the rest.”

Oh, dear. Whether Christie realized it or not when he said these words, which must have seemed to him at the time to be an eminently reasonable attempt to describe balancing personal freedom versus public health, he was, as put it, "throwing antivaxxers a bone." Of course, he was also doing this at the worst possible time. Think about it. Here we are in the middle of a measles outbreak that's cracked 100 cases, an outbreak in which the majority of cases were not vaccinated, indeed an outbreak that almost certainly wouldn't have happened if there weren't pockets of unvaccinated children in southern California near Disneyland, and Gov. Christie's blathering about vaccine "choice." His sense of timing is impeccable in its wrongness.

He also revealed himself to have an uncanny ability to demonstrate in a couple of sentences that he doesn't understand issues of public health with respect to vaccines. After all, parents already do have "vaccine choice." There is no such thing as "forced vaccination" in this country, no matter how much the antivaccine movement likes to try to characterize it this way. Rather, what we have in this country are school vaccine mandates. It's very simple, so simple that even Gov. Christie should be able to understand it. No parent is forced to vaccinate her child for anything, but if the parent makes that choice the child will not be allowed to enroll in school or day care. It's an eminently reasonable compact: You don't have to vaccinate, but you don't have the right to let your child endanger others. It's a system that has served us well for many years. It's less coercive than actual forced vaccination, which inevitably produces a really nasty backlash, but it still functions well to maintain high levels of vaccination in most cases.

That is, until the rise of various non-medical exemptions.

If you've studied vaccination policies, you know that every state allows medical exemptions. That is how it should be. However, there are non-medical exemptions as well. For instance, every state other than West Virginia and Mississippi allows religious exemptions to school vaccine mandates. Yes, I know it's odd that West Virginia and Mississippi would be leading the nation in rational vaccine policy, but there you have it. Of course, few religions have a problem with vaccination; certainly with only rare exceptions is vaccination against a religion. So religious exemptions tend to be uncommon (although antivaccinationists are not above teaching parents how to lie about their religion in order to obtain religious exemptions).

That's why antivaccinationists are becoming increasingly fond of personal belief exemptions or, as they are also sometimes called, philosophical exemptions. Currently 20 states permit these exemptions. Basically, these exemptions are granted based on parents' personal beliefs against vaccines, be they personal, moral or other beliefs. In essence, all a parent has to do is to say she doesn't believe in vaccinating, and the exemption is granted. True, different states have different requirements, but in all too many states such exemptions are far too easy to obtain. Indeed, that's why California recently passed a bill to make it harder to obtain personal belief exemptions by requiring parents requesting them to have a health care professional sign the form certifying that he's counseled them about the risks of skipping vaccination, although Governor Jerry Brown basically neutered the law through a signing statement. In any case, in at least 20 states, parents can obtain exemptions to vaccine mandates, with varying degrees of difficulty in doing so, simply by saying that they "don't believe" in vaccinating or have some sort of moral or personal objection to vaccination. It is these personal belief objections that have led to pockets of low vaccine uptake and subsequent outbreaks, such as the ones in California and, alas, my own home state.

So right in one interview, Gov. Christie showed that he doesn't have a clue about vaccine mandates, but worse, that he's willing to pander to those holding antivaccine beliefs.

Of course, if you've been following the story, you know that Gov. Christie started feeling the heat over his ill-advised remarks almost instantly. Twitter erupted in righteous fury mocking Christie's remarks. In particular, his willingness to quarantine a nurse who might have been exposed to Ebola without medical justification was contrasted unfavorably with his love of "choice" and "freedom" with respect to vaccines. So great was the backlash that Christie's office scrambled to "clarify":

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walked back comments he made here Monday morning calling for "balance" on the measles vaccine debate to allow for parental choice, asserting that "there is no question kids should be vaccinated."

"The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated," Christie's office said in a statement. "At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate."


Christie, however, said, “There has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest.” He added, “Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”

This is, of course, a clarification that doesn't clarify, empty words that say almost nothing, other than that kids should be vaccinated against measles. "Balance"? What does that mean? Does Christie think himself more capable of balancing risks and benefits in determining what vaccines should be recommended than the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics? Does he think himself more qualified to determine which diseases are a sufficient public health threat to warrant a mass vaccination campaign than medical authorities? How would he judge which diseases are sufficiently threatening? What criteria would he use? Based on what science?

Unfortunately, Gov. Christie wasn't the only one laying down the antivaccine pandering. In fact, compared to Rand Paul, Christie is virtually the voice of reason. See what I mean:

Paul, in comments on conservative talk-radio show host Laura Ingraham's show Monday, said he's "not anti-vaccine at all."

"But particularly, most of them ought to be voluntary," he added. Paul cited incidents where you have "somebody not wanting to take the smallpox vaccine, and it ruins it for everybody else."

"I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the most part it ought to be voluntary," Paul went on. "While I think it's a good idea to take the vaccine, I think that's a personal decision for individuals to take."

He also said he was "annoyed" that his kids were supposed to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine as newborns, and that he had doctors space out the 10 vaccines they wanted to give his infant children over time.

And in a later interview with CNBC, Paul suggested he had seen the negative effects of vaccines that those in the anti-vax movement cite in their opposition. None, however, are widely supported by the scientific community, and Paul's office did not respond to a request for comment for details.

"I've heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines," Paul said. "I'm not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they're a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input."

Rand Paul is another sad excuse for a physician. Remember how I described antivaccine "dog whistle" terminology that "Dr. Bob" Sears was so adept at using? Rand Paul is doing exactly the same thing here. He's using the same appeal to "freedom" as Dr. Bob, and that "annoyance" he expressed at the neonatal dose of hepatitis B vaccine reveals an ignorance that he could easily have remedied with a little reading; you know, that thing we doctors do when we encounter a medical issue with which we are not familiar. Dr. Paul is, after all, an ophthalmologist, and ophthalmologists do not routinely administer vaccinations, much less childhood vaccinations. Indeed, he has even less reason to be familiar with childhood vaccines than the ever-vile Dr. Jack Wolfson who, being a cardiologist, would be expected to offer at least the pneumococcal vaccine to his heart failure patients. As I mentioned before, administering the hepatitis B vaccine at birth is a very reasonable strategy for preventing hepatitis B, and that moralistic trope about its being a sexually transmitted disease is not a reason not to vaccinate newborns.

And Rand Paul also seems unaware that we do not have forced vaccination and that parents do have in put. If they didn't have the choice, with easy personal belief exemptions allowing parents in 20 states not even to have to choose between public school and vaccines, it's unlikely that outbreaks would be a problem.

I once described how antivaccinationism is very much at home with libertarianism, to the point where many libertarians express a view recently espoused by Dr. Jack Wolfson that it is not their responsibility to vaccinate, that they have no obligation to society, so much so that they reacted rather violently when one of their own, Ron Bailey of, advocated coercive vaccine mandates. Rand Paul is simply dog whistling from that very playbook. Indeed, check out this interview given later in the day:

You don't have to watch all nine minutes; that is, unless you want to. Just watch the first 2:20 minutes of the video, which is all about vaccines. Notice how he starts out clearly sarcastic, replying early on, ""I guess being for freedom would be really unusual." No, Dr. Paul, being "for freedom" is not unusual, but spouting antivaccine nonsense about vaccines causing permanent neurological injury is unconscionable. Personally, I think Paul's most telling remark comes near the end of the vaccine segment, when, clearly irritated by the reporter's insistence on pursuing questions about vaccine choice, Rand Paul replies with petulant annoyance, "The state doesn't own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom." Yes, it's the antivaccine dog whistle about "freedom," but it's more than that. See what Rand Paul let slip? It's an attitude that is all too common, namely that the parents own the children and that parental "rights" trump any rights children might have as autonomous beings. The right of the child and any public health considerations are subsumed to parental "freedom to choose" and "parental rights," with children viewed, in essence, as their parents' property, to do with as they will.

As for the rest of the interview, it's the same old antivaccine dog whistles on steroids. There's the antivaccine trope against the birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine as being not indicated because it's a sexually transmitted disease, even though hepatitis B is transmitted by more than just sex. The trope is an obvious ploy to outrage parents by telling them that they're being "forced" to have a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease as though they were immoral. We also learn that Paul delayed vaccines for his children, thus leaving them vulnerable to childhood diseases longer than they needed to be, just like many vaccine averse. Indeed, I'd be very interested in knowing what vaccine the Pauls gave their children and at what ages. He even repeats his claim that vaccines cause neurologic injury, even though, as a physician, he should know damned well that this question has been studied time and time and time again, with the overwhelming scientific consensus being that vaccines do not cause autism, neurodevelopmental disorders, or "profound mental disorders." And through it all, to Paul vaccine "choice" is all about "freedom."

Oh, and his selective reading of the history of smallpox vaccination as being "voluntary" throughout most of our history is telling as well. He neglects to note that, as History of Vaccines notes, the Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the state has the power to make vaccines mandatory.

Is it any surprise that Rand Paul is a prominent member of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), the organization of "brave maverick physicians" that has a history of promoting the lie that shaken baby syndrome is a misdiagnosis for "vaccine injury" and extreme libertarian views, such as the view that Medicare is unconstitutional?

In any case, as a result of Christie's and Paul's statements, this story has even hit the national news. For example:

Antivaccinationism is often presented and criticized as a belief that arises primarily among crunchy, affluent liberals. Even The Daily Show makes that mistake. In fact, existing evidence suggests that the prevalence of antivaccine views are very similar on the left and the right, or, as I like to say, antivaccine views transcend politics.

However, the roughly equal prevalence of antivaccine views on the left and right do not mean that both parties are equally good (or bad) when it comes to vaccines. Over the last several years, I've noticed that antivaccine views, supported under the rubric of "freedom," have grown in prominence more in Tea Party and conservative circles. Antivaccine views are very much intertwined with the "health freedom" movement, which tends to be primarily (but certainly not exclusively) a product of right wing circles, given its emphasis on freedom from government regulation and mandates with respect to health. Indeed, it is no coincidence that my one experience watching Steve Novella debate antivaccine physician Julian Whitaker occurred at FreedomFest in 2012, a yearly conservative/libertarian confab that happened to be going on in Las Vegas as TAM that year. Also that same year, the Texas Republican Party had strong "health freedom" and "vaccine choice" planks in its party platform, planks that were still there in 2014.

I don't think that Gov. Christie is antivaccine (although I'm not so sure about Rand Paul). What I do know is that the conflation of "choice" with vaccination has led to a powerful incentive for politicians, particularly Republican politicians, to pander to antivaccine views. Nor is pandering to the antivaccine movement a new thing for Christie. In 2009 he met with Louise Kuo Habakus (whom we've met before) and the NJ Coalition for Vaccine Choice, a very much antivaccine coalition whose member organization list reads like a who's who of the national antivaccine movement and includes Life Health Choices, an antivaccine organization founded by Habakus. Indeed, Habakus herself is coauthor with antivaccine lawyer Mary Holland of a book entitled Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children. Indeed, so prominent an antivaccine loon is Habakus (at least in New Jersey, if not nationally), that she has her very own entry in the Encyclopedia of American Loons. To these people, Christie followed up his visit with a letter, quoted thusly:

“I have met with families affected by autism from across the state and have been struck by their incredible grace and courage,” Christie wrote in the letter. “Many of these families have expressed their concern over New Jersey’s highest-in-the nation vaccine mandates. I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor in their fight for greater parental involvement in vaccination decisions that affect their children.”

Indeed, Republicans and Independents are more prone to oppose vaccine mandates:

Republicans and independents are more likely than Democrats to advocate against required vaccinations.

Thirty-four percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents told pollsters that parents should be able to decide about vaccinations, versus just 22 percent of Democrats who said the same.

And, within the past five years or so, Republicans have become LESS likely to say vaccinations should be required, while Democrats are now MORE likely to advocate for the mandatory shots.

In 2009, 71 percent of both Democrats and Republicans said vaccinations should be required. By last August, that number decreased to 65 percent for Republicans, but it's increased to 76 percent for Democrats.

Not only do antivaccine views fit in nicely with libertarian and Tea Party political beliefs, but such views have become so conflated with "freedom of choice" that it's become worth it to Republican politicians to espouse these views, or at least to give a nod to them in order to curry favor. It's not universal, of course. Another Republican physician running for office who is known for saying stupid things about other issues actually has come out strongly supporting vaccine mandates. Yes, believe it or not, Ben Carson did just that. Still, he seems to voicing a less common view within the base of the Republican Party.

I noted back in 2008 that both Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain had, to one degree or another, pandered to the antivaccine movement. Now, in 2015, what we see here appears to be a rising tide of support for "vaccine choice" among Republicans, with a concomitant decrease in support for vaccine mandates, while among Democrats, it would seem that the opposite is happening. Yes, the Democrats have Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, and he is indeed an antivaccine loon, but you don't see major Democratic candidates pandering to antivaccine views the way Rand Paul did and Chris Christie recently did, nor do you see major liberal confabs staging debates with antivaxers, as happened at FreedomFest.

Maybe the Republican Party really is becoming the party of the antivaccine movement. If that's true, it is very bad news indeed.

ADDENDUM: This morning the New York Times published a story entitled Measles Proves Delicate Issue to G.O.P. Field. While noting that it isn't a clean left-right break and that there are pro-vaccine Republicans (such as Scott Walker), the NYT also notes:

But for Republicans like Mr. Paul who appeal to the kind of libertarian conservatives who are influential in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold the first two contests in the battle for the nomination, there is an appeal in framing the issue as one of individual liberty.

Asked about immunizations again later on Monday, Mr. Paul was even more insistent, saying it was a question of “freedom.” He grew irritated with a CNBC host who pressed him and snapped: “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children.”


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Methinks it will play out much as it did on the very small scale in Connecticut in the mid-terms.

There aren't many family issues over which the electorate has so clearly spoken through their actions.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 02 Feb 2015 #permalink

What is it about Presidentian wannabes traveling to Brittian and saying stupid stuff (see Bobby Jindal and "no go zones").

Pandering for votes transcends party affiliation but Republicans, in particular, have a large anti-science constituency. I see incremental improvement on that front but the pace of change can be painfully slow.

What's with Chris Christie? He knows his every move and his statements are being monitored by the mainstream media, especially since his missteps about the nurse's "quarantine" who had returned from Africa after caring for Ebola virus patients. IMO, he's just killed his chances to mount a serious campaign to be nominated as the Republican Party Presidential candidate.

Rand Paul? He just might have positioned himself in a better spot, if, in fact, the far-to-the-right fringe groups/Tea Party are the strong voting bloc in the Republican Party Presidential primaries.

There's that common thread of "heath freedom" and "right to chose which vaccines (or no vaccines), are given to their children. They own their children and "so sorry if your kid is unable to receive MMR vaccine". Ethically challenged, lacking in empathy and self-centered parents...all of them.

Haven't they learned from Michele Bachmann's statement about an adolescent who received an HPV vaccine "and became mentally retarded, thereafter"?

I found this great site for people, regardless of their political affiliation, to educate themselves about the link between autism and vaccines.

Orac, I was reading your comments on Dr Burzynski last night, could not comment 'cos at the end of every page I got : "The site is currently under maintenance. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon". Well, comments on this page are not disabled and since you have been very actively critisising Dr B for THE LAST FEW YEARS, I hope, you and some of your fans might want to read this. I enclose my mail and I write under my full name unlike the rest of you. This is my cell number +48 505 505 600 just to make sure, that I will not be accused of being another of Dr B's employee or even Dr B himself.

I'm 52, 3 kids, Gist since 2010, 3 surgeries, tumor 20cm x 10cm fully removed after 18 months on Glivec, complications after op, without Glivec tumor has grown back to the size of 7cm x 4, back on Glivec and stable since 2012.

Am I Dr B patient ? - no, never seen this guy and I will not get paid for what I am writing here
Do I intend to be his patient ? - maybe, when Glivec stops working, but before i will try to gather as much info about Dr B as possible. Luckily I will not have to rely on your comments alone.

Let's start with facts:

1. it took me few minutes on Google to find a Polish girl, Kalusia Dzieniak with a head tumor, who runs a blog since 2012 describing her fight against cancer.
At the end of her treatment and given no hope in local hospitals, she raised a great amount of money and for the last 2 years she is Dr B's patient - alive, stable and happy with the treatment she recieves. There are numerous tv shows about her case and over 1600 people on Facebook, rising funds every year to allow her to carry on with the treatment at Dr B clinic. You guys could not find few cases like this in all those years of your "interest" in Dr Darth Vader's evil manipulations? You spend hours writing about Dr B, how many hours did you spend verifing the "success stories" on his site ? Have you contacted any former patients ? Did you enclose any prove, that the treatment they recieved at Dr B's clinic was wrong - caused death or injury?

Well, you did not show or proved any of this - exept for long, medical / scientific explanations, that are just your point of view.

I believe, that Dr B runs his clinic for over 20 years - your Dr Mengele must have had thousends of patients and not one, who successfully charged him with malpractise - show that person, let's read about this case or else shut up and stop defaming others. I showed a positive, documented example of Dr B ongoing treatment, what have you got to show ?

2. Cost of treatment - 10,000 USD per month for a treatment at Dr B's clinic proves to you that he is a fraud ?? Well, I got a bill for 15000 USD for starters from "politically correct" MD Anderson - they would not accept my molecular tests done in Poland, they have offered to open me up again just to repeat this test.
The needle is not prefered option, as it might cause the cancer to spread.
MD Anderson, after being informed about my medical history and ongoing treatment with Glivec, offered me genetically designed doses of ...Glivec.
Well, Glivec depending on the type of gist, IS treated with various douses and that is just the normall procedure - 1 x 400mg, 2 x 300mg or 2 x 400mg daily.
Would you consider this offer for me from MD Anderson as "fraud" by your standards? And if so, shall we start a blog ? You may enclose my story as a first comment.

There are hundreds, if not thousends of semi-doctors and scientists "providing" cancer cures all over the world. Diets, roots, vitamins and mental healing cures everything - according to people that make money in this business.
It is absolutly right to pin point fraud and warn people in need, but one must stay tolerant, unbiased and open minded. Do not kill hope when you are not 110% sure, because often it is the only thing that some of us have left. Check your story, Check your story and again Check your story.


By Piotr Dziewiecki (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Bad News for Sharyl Attkisson?

Real fans of all this stuff may be interested to know that my new laptop suddenly acted identically to that videod by Sharyl Attkisson as evidence that the government was bugging her.

Out of the blue (although possibly triggered by some unknown sequence of keystrokes) the copy on my screen began deleting itself.

I don't know if anyone checked whether Ms Attkisson was using a Lenovo, or whether she had the new rent-a-software version of Word, as I have. But if the government was deleting her priceless investigative work, I wonder why it would be deleting my novel.

I understand that she has some multi-million lawsuit going, so maybe my novel will do better than I expected.

I wished I'd videod the phenomenon (on a month-old machine), but I was so alarmed at seeing my writing vanishing that, after helplessly tapping various keys, and mousing around, I shut the lid.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Readers may recall that McGreevey was forced to resign the governorship when it was revealed that he was a closeted gay man who had appointed his boyfriend to a state job despite lack of qualifications. Which prompted the greatest Onion headline, ever:

Gay Man Tearfully Admits to Being Governor of New Jersey

Also, Charlie Pierce (, politics) has a "five-minute rule" regarding Ron and Rand Paul: They may make sense for five minutes, but at 5:01 they'll say something completely off the wall and you'll realize that they're basically a lunatic.

By palindrom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Christie has been influenced by Louise Kuo Habakus (American Loon #163 She is a hater of science and modern technology as part of her woo group Fearless Parents. Bonus to any reader who can find something they don't fear.

Here, for example of Christie with this American Loon and friends from perhaps 2009.…

I think you read far too much into President Obama's statement. While it certainly encourages parents to immunize their children, it says nothing about what government policy should be towards vaccines. Did he speak out against the personal belief exemption or religious exemptions? Did he discuss the pediatric vaccine schedule and whether it should be followed or whether he believed in a certain latitude in timing?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Sorry democrats, 2 people do not a political party make. You're confusing the fact that republicans have a wide range of values within their party with dissidence. It's only because of the strictly enforced "my way or the highway" dogma of the democrat party that you see it this way.

Hmmm, have there recently been prominent Democrats advocating for "vaccine choice" for parents and saying vaccines cause brain damage, as Rand Paul strongly implies when he repeats his story about having seen children suffer neurologic injury after vaccines? BTW, that's not a new story for Paul. He's been saying it for years.


I am reminded of when Will Rogers said

I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat.

I've seen no evidence that the Democrats have a strictly enforced “my way or the highway” dogma. If you've got evidence of that, please share.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Yvette: Yes, I remember about Louise Kuo Habakus. Thanks for that link; I've added a blurb to the post mentioning Christie's having pandered to at least one explicitly antivaccine crank group in New Jersey during his original bid to run for governor.

You know you've stepped off the deep end (however temporarily) when even a writer is more sensible than you.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

“The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children.”

A rather revealing statement. Sen. Paul views children as chattel. We've been hearing similar statements from autism woo pushers as well as anti-vax types. And it's still so far wrong that I don't know how Sen. Paul will find right even with a map.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

For all these small government Republicans, I'd like to see the cost to each state, county, and city. It would also be interesting to determine the cost to businesses, including but not limited to Disneyland. (And this is for a small outbreak of around 100 people.)

And wouldn't you know, Rand Paul is featured in a large photo @ AoA today ( -btw- he's not named after Ayn) with a smaller photo below of that stealthy vaccinator, Barack.

More hilariously, it appears that AoA/ TMR/ et al now have additional television personalities and journalists to despise and abuse whilst championing Attkisson.**- it's not just Anderson anymore.

Some reactions I've heard are that the mainstream is bought and sold thus strengthening alt media ( in their downward spiral down the drainpipe of unreality). As I've said many times, these advocacies are 'group therapy gone wrong'.

Interestingly, anti-vaxxers have been trying to get themselves on mainstream media for the past several years through twitter campaigns, PR announcements, writing ( crappy, fantasist) books and now, they finally will be receiving the attention they deserve but not in a way they like.

** as I mentioned previously,when my own computer behaved bizarrely in November my first thought wasn't " North Korea!" but, "I need a new computer"

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

As we've seen over the years, anti-vax views are neither right nor left ( and woo-meisters tailor their anti-vax talking points accordingly- see PRN and NaturaL News esp) BUT I wonder if politicians like the aforementioned might be pushing the faithful towards one end of the spectrum.

re Habakus:
she has been making a splash on alt media running "fearless Parent Radio" and website since MacNeil dropped out.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Randal Paul is not pandering, he is actually that crazy. He panders when he pretends not to be a complete libertarian, ie, no one has any right to tell him to do anything.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yes, I am sure all the west side mommies causing this crisis are radical republicans. That's what white upper-middle class women are known for in CA.

In fairness to the President, this is the entire statement, made after a voter came up to talk to him about vaccines:

We’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Nobody knows exactly why. There are some people who are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers, but (pointing to his right) this person included. The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it. Part of the reason I think it’s very important to research it is those vaccines are also preventing huge numbers of deaths among children and preventing debilitating illnesses like Polio. And so we can’t afford to junk our vaccine system. We’ve got to figure out why is it that this is happening so that we are starting to see a more normal, what was a normal, rate of autism. Because if we keep on seeing increases at the rate we’re seeing we’re never going to have enough money to provide all the special needs, special education funding that’s going to be necessary.”

DATE: April 21, 2008

@ TK:

In fact, one of the idi... I mean *alternative medicine advocates* I survey characterises NY, NJ and CA as the most corrupt and simultaneously most anti-alt med states- they have too many laws that impinge upon his freedom.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Before I depart:
both of these fellows rhapsodise in unencumbered fashion about freedom and choice but IIRC, neither is a particularly strong advocate of *choice* involving abortion and issues concerning women's reproductive health.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Charlie Pierce just posted a great column on Rand Paul ("Senator Aqua Buddha") over on Esquire/politics, highlighting his antivax lunacy.

Pierce can be one of America's finest, and funniest, political writers. That's what a background in sportswriting gets you.

By palindrom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Looks like the anti-vaccine bashing of Ben Carson bashing is already starting!

From Mothering:

" you know that he has part in a group creating a colon cancer vaccine?"

"Yes, Ben Carson is working on a colon cancer vaccine. How did anyone miss that?"

Annie @27 -- OMG that's hilarious!

They're eating their young!

By palindrom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

I will never understand the boogeyman of "The government should force parents to vaccinate!" I would think reality and common sense would dictate the need to vaccinate.

Shay @23 -

How is it "in fairness to the President" to bring up a quote from almost 7 years ago and imply that it was part of what he said most recently?

The President appeared to be firmly in the vaccination camp, all the while agreeing to spend coin to research the supposed increase in autism. Randal wants to stop public health needed vaccines.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Paul's comments are hilarious when set against his avowed anti-abortion stand. Kids belong to their parents, unless the parents don't want them, then they belong to the state.

LH -- because our esteemed box of blinky lights specifically mentioned the 2008 incident which -- if you only are aware of the sound-bite -- makes it look as though he was "pandering" to the antivaccine movement while running for his first term.

In context, the quote comes off as not quite so anti-vaxx friendly..

I also note that I blogged about the whole quote in detail in 2008 and linked to my discussion in this post. Click the links, people, before you criticize. They're there for a reason. :-)

I haven't combed the numbers (polls) but from my conversations I can say the anit-vaccine loonacy crosses the complete political spectrum from far left progressives to far-right religious zealots. My sister is one of the latter.

I have a new weapon in my anti-lunacy bag of tricks:…

See the top comment on the left.. Powerful.

There are really 2 different issues with 4 different policy positions.
Pro or anti-vaccine
Pro or anti- government mandated vaccines

I consider myself pro-vaccine. I have all my vaccinations up to date, I always get the quaternary flu vaccine, my kids are up to date on their vaccines and we even enrolled our children in a phase III trial for a new vaccine.

I also consider myself anti-government mandated vaccination. I can understand government vaccine mandates for places like public schools where kids will be crammed together as long as public schooling is not compulsory.

I think that Orac is lumping these two different issues together under 1 topic. I don't think that is fair or accurate.

I turned off a national news channel(CNN?) last night while treadmilling, because they were promo-ing "Pediatricians Go Head To Head Over Vaccines". Couldn't stand the thought of another round of "both sides".

But I wasn't fast enough shutting off the radio at midday when Rush Limbaugh was launching into a screed about how Demoncrats* are intentionally targeting Republican presidential candidates with vaccine questions in order to create a new version of the War On Women.

You see, there's no debate! It's a dead issue! Measles was eradicated in the U.S. until Obama relaxed immigration laws and allowed lots of Mexican with rashes over our borders!!

I've just got to be faster hitting the off button.

*intentional misspelling.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink


The Slate article is very good. The anecdote from a reformed anti-vaxxer is helpful for sharing with those n the fence.

Interesting bit of news, thoujgh not exactly welcome around here

Two adults and two children have fallen ill in four separate cases, according to Toronto Public Health.


The message is that measles is circulating in Toronto,” said Dr. Lisa Berger, associate medical officer of health with Toronto Public Health. “There has been spread somewhere.”

Berger said that in three of the four cases, the individuals had not been vaccinated against the disease. In the fourth case, the person received only one dose of the double-dose vaccination, she said.

None are from the same family and there is no source case, said Berger. ”

I was impressed with Rand Paul's comment "The state doesn’t own the children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom.”

How easy is it to transfer ownership?

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

@16 Eric Lund

“The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children.”

I too am appalled that someone who claims allegiance to libertarian principles would say such a thing. Too often I think the 'health freedom' argument for parents control over their children is pitted as freedom vs collectivism, with any govt or CPS control being viewed as 'collectivism'.

I think that is completely wrong. Vaccination and ensuring proper medical care for children IS an individual rights issue. The individual rights of the child to proper healthcare and the opportunity to reach adulthood. Parents need to realize that THAT is what they should be seeking to uphold, their own children's rights. Not stripping them away in the name of 'health freedom'.

Again, the idea that a stalward of the libertarian party doesn't understand that is incomprehensible...

"Parents own the children." I've long suspected libertarianism isn't about the desire for freedom for all, it's about freedom for those who have "earned" it. This certainly goes a long way to support my suspicions.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink


both of these fellows rhapsodise in unencumbered fashion about freedom and choice but IIRC, neither is a particularly strong advocate of *choice* involving abortion and issues concerning women’s reproductive health.

Typical ladybrain logic fail. Libertarian support for property rights means the right of a man do what he wishes with his property, not that his property has rights. Therefore no contradiction in Rand Paul's stance on freedumb and choice.

J.K. Rideau

How easy is it to transfer ownership?

According to Micheal Shermer the infallible "mind of the market" will sort that out.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Little Green Footballs has been a very relevant site to the "debate" recently, for example:… and
As to Baby Doc Paul and whether parents own their children, we never thought we owned our children, but held them in trust for the adults they have grown to be. I am not a great admirer of Kahlil Gibran*, but his saying that "They come through you but not from you" resonates with me.
Regarding the Hepatitis B -- STD trope, as someone who treated HIV patients in the mid-80s, it sounds depressingly familiar - "It's the queers and junkies, it's their problem, who cares anyway?" Yet Hep B not only comes through other routes, but it can infect through so many more than HIV far more effectively that refusing the vaccine to your children will come back to bite you, or more accurately, your children, in the ass.
*"People read Gibran when they want to get laid." - Lenny Bruce

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Gray Falcon

I’ve long suspected libertarianism isn’t about the desire for freedom for all, it’s about freedom for those who have “earned” it.

Your rights end where my privilege begins.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

All fringe crazies meet around the back. I am a libertarian and I'm shocked that Rand Paul claims to have heard of ( not seen or witnessed)many cases where children have had grave mental injuries from vaccines. How very irresponsible to make that claim and not provide any data to back it up. I'm all for voluntary vaccination however; I believe and as stated in the article, the state has a compelling interest in denying those who chose not to vaccinate attendance at public schools without a medical exemption being the only exception.

I see that AoA is in full-on fetal-position babbling-to-itself mode, with John Stone not just still trying to sell the notion that there have really been only single-digit measles cases, but declaring that "there is a feeling in the air rather like the last days of the Warsaw Pact and the Fall of the Berlin Wall."

@ Militant Agnostic:

Right, choice is only for the chosen.

If the un-chosen would like to choose their own course in life they can't. I know that often includes what I mention but I wonder if marriage choice for gay men and lesbians i

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Republicans have been the prime movers on the vast majority of antivaccine state legislation introduced in the last several years. To be fair, a few physicians who are also Republican legislators have sponsored bills to limit nonmedical exemptions, but taken as a whole, this stuff gets more support on the right hand side of the aisle, at the state level, in any case.

Take for example this (…) interesting new legislator, who took a bill before her committee to allow the department of health (*clutch pearls!*) to set school immunization requirements.

Her contribution to the process? She deleted all of that stuff, added in a new requirement for chickenpox, and created a philosophical exemption for everything. Unfrickinbelieveable.

if marriage choice for gay men and lesbians is acceptable.
AFAIK Paul may support it but most others don't.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

For further evidence of politicizing of the vaccine "debate" , check out today's editorial in the Wall St. Journal criticizing "Christie's Vaccine Stumble".

The editorial slams Christie's "meandering meditation on parental rights", praises Obama's pro-vaccine message (acknowledging that must have been physically painful) and notes that "The real public health problem isn't a lack of parental choice but a lack of common sense about vaccines, and politicians should do more to promote the latter."

This is all very nice, but I strongly suspect the Journal is landing on Christie with both feet because the Journal's editorial board views him as a dangerously "liberal" Republican candidate who must be neutralized before he threatens the nomination of a nice, sensible conservative candidate (interestingly, the editorial says nothing about Rand Paul's meandering meditations).

This is the same Wall St. Journal that routinely sneers at the idea of climate change, so their newfound allegiance to common sense and scientific consensus is a bit suspect.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

DB, as you mention, I do find it interesting that the WSJ stomps on Christie for his mistake, but says nothing about Rand Paul, whose antivaccine spew was clearly way worse than Christie's, which was far more a stumble based on ignorance and the perilous conflation of "vaccine choice" with freedom. Moreover, Paul has been letting loose antivaccine bons mots for at least five years, if not a lot longer.

I rather suspect that's the same reason comes down hard on Christie but doesn't seem to mention Rand Paul.

At least my party still has the hot women......that's all I got on this one.

I would presume that everyone already knows that Senator Paul, like Congressman Paul, opposes government mandates. Thus Senator Paul's comments come as no particular surprise.

Senator Paul is also an inexperienced politician and (hopefully) not considered as a serious presidential candidate except by a small but vocal group of enthusiasts.

Governor Christie's rather mild comments, on the other hand, get more play because he is a more experienced politician and a more serious contender for the presidency. The comments are also more vague, giving people lots of room to argue about what he really means.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

DB@52: The Wall Street Journal is ostensibly the mouthpiece of the investor class. If measles (or pertussis, mumps, diphtheria, etc.) outbreaks become common, the government would likely (and justifiably) have to impose some serious travel restrictions. That would be bad for business. Much better if vaccination rates are higher, so that those who can't get the vaccine (and those for whom the vaccine fails) can hide in the herd.

As for the Pauls: In the last two presidential primaries Ron had a devoted and vocal but small following. Rand might do slightly better, but unless the field is thoroughly fragmented (which the Republican money people are hoping to avoid) I don't see how he wins the nomination. Note also that Rand's senate seat is up for re-election in 2016, and Kentucky (unlike some states) does not allow a candidate to appear on both the president/vice president line and another office. So I'd look for Rand to exit the presidential race in late 2015 or early 2016. I'd be surprised if he continues past the New Hampshire primary.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

It's a good thing posts here are moderated. Ron Paul supporters troll the internet for criticism of their guru and unleash a torrent of vitriol when they find (or think they find) some on a news story, blog, or so on.

Rand Paul today released a photo of himself getting a booster shot for Hep A on Capital Hill. The blowback from his recent comments was getting to him.

“It just annoys me that I’m being characterized as someone who’s against vaccines,” Mr. Paul said as he settled into a chair in an examination room in the Capitol physician’s office.

“There’s 400 headlines now that say ‘Paul says vaccines cause mental disorders,'” he added. “That’s not what I said. I said I’ve heard of people who’ve had vaccines and they see a temporal association and they believe that.”

Except that IS what he said. He's splitting hairs now that his buddies on the Hill are not backing him up.

Panacea, Orac does not "moderate" comments. IIRC, new commenters with new IP addresses are put in moderation, until Orac has the chance to remove them out of moderation. Only very filthy phrases might not be posted...simple no-no words used to emphasize an opinion...will eventually leave moderation and will be posted.

Speaking of libertarian health regulations:

For much of the past 36 or so hours, we’ve heard from a number of Republicans that risking the occasional measles outbreak is simply the price of liberty. While Rand Paul and Chris Christie were busy championing the sacred right to expose others to disease, it fell to freshman Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) to take up the next great cause in the fight for freedom from regulatory overreach. We speak, of course, of the right of restaurants not to require their employees to wash their hands after using the restroom.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, Tillis related a story from his tenure in the North Carolina legislature to help explain his overarching philosophy on the finer points of hand-washing.

“I was having this discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,” Tillis said. “Let an industry or business opt out as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment, literature, whatever else. There’s this level of regulations that maybe they’re on the books, but maybe you can make a market-based decision as to whether or not they should apply to you.”

When Tillis’ interlocutor noticed a Starbucks employee coming out of the restroom and inquired whether Tillis would apply his anti-regulation stance to employee hygiene, Tillis affirmed that he would.

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after they use the restroom,’” he said. “The market will take care of that.”

Great read. Personally, I believe they've become the anti-science party and that GOP should now stand for Gobs of Paranoia. Looks like both Christie and Paul are backtracking. Nice to see the RN involved in the anti-science ebola quarantine weigh in on Christe's actions on this topic.


if marriage choice for gay men and lesbians is acceptable. AFAIK Paul may support it but most others don’t.

This is where they play the States Rights card so they can be both for it and effectively against it.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Slightly off topic: there is a new facebook page encouraging everyone who is pro-vaccines to donate money to UNICEFs vaccination effort, in the name of prominent pro-diseasers (Vaccines from Anti-Vaxxers). Might I suggest Chris Christie, Rand Paul, MAM or the so-called "Dr" Jack Wolfson as suitable recipients. The "Dr" will be receiving a card thanking him for 400 tetanus vaccines to protect mothers and children, and a message stating how I feel about him in a few days. I found it to be a far more satisfying way to let out my anger at these people than repeatedly punching a wall.

On topic: I think that parents should absolutely be able to choose not to vaccinate their kids. However, this choice, like any, has consequences. If they make that choice, they should not be allowed to send their kids to public schools, take them to public parks or use public transportation. If you choose not to participate in public heath measures, you also choose not to participate in any public service where you can infect those who for legitimate medical reasons can't vaccinate. And of course, if an (intentionally) unvaccinated child starts an outbreak, the parents should be held liable for all costs to society and the individual.


He opposes government mandates *on well-to-do adult men*. He thinks it's fine to tell a rape victim she has to bear the criminal's child, but once the woman has made it through pregnancy (at her own expense, of course), he has no objection to letting the child die of whooping cough.

Apparently you didn't read my post very closely. Actually, I rather suspect you didn't read it at all, other than perhaps the title. In this post, I actually did make it a point to refer to how all three major candidates in 2008, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton showed a little too much credulity when it came to the vaccine-autism link. I even linked to blog posts I wrote about each incident back when they happened in 2008.

Seriously. Read the damned post next time.

It is rather interesting how some ostensible libertarians can be so opposed to women's rights. The actual Libertarian Party platform has a very strong plank supporting women's right to choose, Faux libertarians have a distressing tendency to be all about freedom until it comes to certain intrusion into private health and sexual matters. On the other hand, to be fair to Paul, he has been generally good opposing foreign military entanglements and the rise of the surveillance state.

Time to get your credit cards out and give to charity on Paul's and Christie's behalf. You can buy a donation of vaccines through UNICEF and have a gift card sent to the anti-vaxxer of your choice (with a personal message for extra sneering joy), thanking them for the donation you've made as a gift to them.

“I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after they use the restroom,’” he said. “The market will take care of that.”

Excellent, then he won't mind those who eschew vaccines and their unvaccinated spawn will be required to wear signs stating such.

Hey, let the market take care of that right?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Videos show that Mr Christie was more subdued today - he didn't speak to reporters in London.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac @67

It is rather interesting how some ostensible libertarians can be so opposed to women’s rights.

I thought I explained it quite clearly at #43

Seriously, this is what you get when you combine the misogyny of abrahamic religion with the sociopathic philosophy of Ayn Rand.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Hey Minions! I worked all day on an anaylsis of the GOP politics around the vax comments, with discussions of the primary/caucus schedule, campaign financing, vax and exemption rates in each of the early states, data from a study in Pediatrics about the difference between anti-vaxers and non-vaxers, more GOP pols who've made comments during the day, Hilary's take, and Ron Paul's outlook as a 'serious candidate'.

Yes, it's almost Oracian in length, but not quite. Please take a look.

Last time this came up I looked into the question of who "owns" the children and concluded that rooted in British common law the state claims to have the strongest claim on "ownership". By convention, and lacking more suitable candidates, the parents are, by default, given charge of the children until it is shown that they are unwilling or unable to raise them as good citizens.

This is why there are no property rights claims when the state removes children from derelict or abusive parents.

Orac, I see your Christie and Paul and raise you a Walker and a Carson. I love your work, but I don't see how this supports your notion that the GOP is somehow well on its way to becoming "the antivaccine party". The fact that Christie had to walk-back some of his comments because of the heat aimed in his direction would seem to also not support the idea that this original comments found fertile ground with the party base.

The fact that Christie had to walk-back some of his comments because of the heat aimed in his direction would seem to also not support the idea that this original comments found fertile ground with the party base.

The conclusion doesn't really follow from the premise, but that may have something to do with "the party base" not being imbued with any particular meaning.


Last time this came up I looked into the question of who “owns” the children and concluded that rooted in British common law the state claims to have the strongest claim on “ownership”.

Parens patriae has come a long way, baby.

Ahh, the AAP chimes in on Christie and Rand with about as spineless a statement as possible (…) ;

"A measles outbreak has grown to more than 100 people in 14 states. As public officials discuss the outbreak and the immunizations that could have prevented it, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges each of them to research the issue first, using credible, science-based sources of information. It is incumbent on public officials to speak from the facts when shaping public perception and policy. This is crucial when it comes to our children's health and safety".....

"We encourage public officials to employ sound science in communicating about such an important topic. Our children's health is at stake."

C'mon--is the AAP that terrified of offending anyone that can't specifically address the anti-vaccinationism expressed by Christie and Paul? Then again, this is another manifestation of the same AAPathy that, to date, has weakened the AAP to the point of not speaking out against FAAPs Robert Sears and Jay Gordon.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 03 Feb 2015 #permalink

Art, #74: the concept in English law (not sure about Scottish) also involves the "inherent jurisdiction" of the high court, which is what is ultimately invoked when parents are acting against the interests of their children.

The 1989 Children's Act is also very clear on parental responsibilities towards their children. In my old line (child and adolescent mental health) we kept an eye on repeated failures to attend appointments as a possible sign of neglect which we would need to contact our local children's services about (family protection in US-ia, I think).

FWIW, some big name Republicans have made statements in favor of vaccines. From the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky offered an intensely personal opinion Tuesday about the necessity of childhood vaccinations: "As a victim of polio myself, I'm a big fan of vaccinations."

House Speaker John Boehner of Butler County came out pro-vaccination Tuesday: "I don't know that we need another law, but I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated."

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

Re. Orac @ 60: Sen. Thom Tillis, moving the party "forward" from anti-vaccination to anti-sanitation. Who needs clean drinking water standards either? Bring back the chamber pot too!

We were having a time of it over on Daily Kos on Tuesday, reading about Tillis and more about Christie and Paul, and feeling stuck somewhere between shock and nausea, alleviated only with the aid of mild scatological humor.

The three of them even got nicknames:

Cholera Christie, Typhoid Tillis, and Polio Paul.

And someone came up with a package design for a Tillis-endorsed brand of latex gloves, that one should wear while shaking hands with Republican politicians.

All of which commentary doesn't sum to policy proposals, but there have been many of those over there as well.

IMHO if this got politically polarized it would be a good thing. Republicans would get trounced in next year's election, and then hopefully the party would get its act together about science. That would make it easier to pass legislation.

As for voluntary/mandatory, I'm for mandatory and free, with medical exemptions only. Make it a requirement for anyone applying for a driver's license or state photo ID, and if they're a parent, they have to show that their kids are vaccinated as well.

It's bad enough to have little vectors running around in school, but they do also take the bus and go to movies and malls, etc., where they can infect more people. So I say No to that: get your shots or live in a closed community like the Amish.

As for Paul's item about parents "owning" their kids, on any ordinary news day that would be shocking and horrifying enough, but Tuesday it merely came across as dumb-headed and crass.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

@MOB #81
FWIW, the Cincinnati Enquirer is trying to spin mushy fake walk-back as 'pro-vaccination.'

"I’m a big fan of vaccinations." So is Chris Christie. So is Mike #36. Note the subject of the sentence. Well, at least Mitch is a 'fan'.

Boehner, not so much. " I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated.” is about as weak and distance as prose gets.

Cincinnati, as some may not be aware, is only de jure in Ohio, de facto it's the largest city in Kentucky, which is probably why the Enquirer is carrying water for McConnell, and failing to parse for it's readers Boehner's shout out in support of he-who-shall-not-be-named, better known to us as Rand Paul: "“I don’t know that we need another law." That 'other law' we don't need is restriction or elimination of PBEs, or any other measure that would actually involve "government" big or small to intervene in even the teensy-tinest way with the collapse of herd immunity due to 'personal freedom'.

That's the line, "I like vaccinations! (but if you don't want your kid to get one, that's up to you)."

Politically, exemptions are the issue, period. Cruz did actually come out a bit 'pro-vax' in a policy sense by saying other states should adopt Texas's standard, which is 'religious and medical exemptions only' – pretty easy to do in Texas. Rubio really put himself out there: "medical exemptions only".

HRC didn't say anything about exemptions, but compare her comment to McConnell and Boehner, "”The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest” She actually endorsed the science, called the anti-vaxers flat-earth idiots, one-upped the anti-vaxers on the 'Mom' card, referenced herd immunity ('all our kids') and implied policy be using the plural subject "us" and the active verb "protect".

The way you figure out what someone means by an ambiguous-seeming statement is by figuring out all the other expressions that might have been used to express whatever, and seeing what the expression at hand is NOT.

E.g among the things "I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated.” is NOT is "Listen people, there's a public health crisis. If your kids aren't vaccinated for measles, take them in for the MMR now."

How does anyone sane NOT say that now? Only one reason. They're afraid of the voting/finacial power of "”I guess being for freedom would be really unusual.”

Hillary Clinton on Twitter 2/2/15:

The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest

By CTGeneGuy (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Gray Squirrel #83
In Lancaster County anyway, the Amish shop at WalMart. There are bunch of special spaces in the parking lot reserved for buggy's. (The don't do the indoor mall, though. Too hochmut.) I'm totally for 'medical only' myself, and vax is the kind of thing where most the Amish anyway might come around. (It's not core to a simple plain life "not of the world".)

But we all know if it's medical only, there'll be a First Amendment challenge from somebody. I say: "Bring it on!" But I'm not running for President in Iowa or New Hampshire, the later BTW being the only state in the Union w/o a mandatory seat-belt law..... FREEDOMMM!!!

(They should change the motto from "Live free or die" to "Live free and die")

OBVIOUSLY AoA is quite pleased with Christie and Paul: today they feature articles by Heckenlively and Handley.
Although TMR wasn't up when I looked, its facebook page was and it featured a link to Handley's " Angry Father's Guide to the Measles Vaccine".

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

But we all know if it’s medical only, there’ll be a First Amendment challenge from somebody.

So far, we haven't seen any such challenges in Mississippi or West Virginia, the two states that currently allow only medical exemptions.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

@DB #82
I don't know how you interpret the cartoon, but fwiw...
It's not saying "Science has won and proved anti-vaxers are as wrong as flat-earthers."
It's a political cartoon saying that the anti-vax 'movement' has sailed off it's own dining room table and is now as politically relevant as flat-earthism. It's saying anti-vax ain't gonna be around much longer. I think it's probably right, but we'll see. It all depends on far and how long the current outbreak goes, sad to say...

The frustrating thing about having Christie et al wade into this is that they have blurred the line between "should vaccination be compulsory" and "should vaccination be a condition for school entry." Those are two very different things. State laws mostly address the latter as they relate to children.

As for the First Amendment and the "because, freedom" argument, this is pretty well settled in the law. Nonmedical exemptions exist because of politics.

Antivaxers frequently misrepresent school vaccine mandates as being compulsory or "forced" vaccination in order to co-opt the "freedom" and "the government can't force anyone to inject chemicalz into my body" message. This is a feature, not a bug, as I'm sure Rand Paul knows. I doubt Christie knew and that's why he so blindly blundered into this issue. To him it probably seemed like a reasonable approach to make "both sides" happy.

@ sadmar:

Whatever happens, I think that the anti-vax movement WILL be around - although it may have hopefully less influence on young parents in the future- and it may be moved off further into the darker, festering depths of the cybersphere.
many, many diehard believers have invested their lives in it and some entrepreneurs - as well as parents- have made money off of it and have achieved a measure of fame- they get support and applause for their madness.

If you read the regulars at AoA/ TMR and dedicated facebook pages, you'll find that the movement has become their social life and often, their claim to fame. They identify themselves through it and they have a perpetual axe to grind against the mainstream.

How would people like them ever get on television otherwise?' These outlets then embed the video and followers later congratulate the Truth Teller on facebook.
Quite a few get book deals to narrate their tales of woe or showcase their 'investigative journalism' Would any of them write a book WITHOUT these covens of bad science pulling for them or without a cohort / fellow traveller who owns a publishing company?

And they get to style themselves as Brave Maverick Parents in mimicry of the Brave Maverick Doctor- ex-doctor , really- so many mini- Andys and Andreas attempting to ride upon his tattered coattails..
And last but not least, Andy is only 50-something, he can be around for decades.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

I'd post this link to Orac's pitiful, cowardly blog titled "Antivaccine cranks try to create Vaccine Injury Awareness Month. Everyone either yawns or laughs."…
but he's closed that heinous blog, akin to Holocaust and climate change denialism, from further comment.

Here's a new, brief article I wanted to share with all the vaccine injury denialists here:…

By Keith Bell (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

So if the Republicans need another voice saying we need to get rid of any kind of public health requirement of any kind I present:…

I'm still waiting for the embarrassment my state elected him to the Senate to overtake the relief I feel that we don't have him mucking around directly with my state anymore.

What is the next thing that restricts our freedom to infect others that will be made OK to do by legislative act?

Well, the Wall St. Journal has belatedly turned on Rand Paul in a new editorial headlined "The Weird Vaccine Panic". Paul is lambasted for "broadcasting misinformation" and "libertarian dormitory passions". He was also criticized specifically for trying to connect "mental disorders" with vaccines, in what the Journal said was "a dog whistle )perhaps unintentional) to autism fears".

The editorial also took note of Obama's sidling around vaccine fears in 2008, along with Hillary Clinton who "responded to a questionnaire from an autism activism group with a commitment to 'make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines'". And the Journal declared that the "privileged communities of the liberal elite" in southern California are centers for vaccine refusal.

It's sort of entertaining to see the political fur flying - as long as these folks get it right in the end.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

So far, we haven’t seen any such challenges in Mississippi or West Virginia, the two states that currently allow only medical exemptions.

No, Patti Finn did her usual crash-and-burn routine in Workman v. Mingo County Board of Education.

On the subject of Mississippi, though, this is timely.

^ It should perhaps also be noted that Mississippi is unusual, in that the reason there's no religious exemption is that in 1979, the Supreme Court of Mississippi held them to be unconstitutional on an equal protection basis (Brown v. Stone).


The way you figure out what someone means by an ambiguous-seeming statement is by figuring out all the other expressions that might have been used to express whatever, and seeing what the expression at hand is NOT.

E.g among the things “I do believe that all children ought to be vaccinated.” is NOT is “Listen people, there’s a public health crisis. If your kids aren’t vaccinated for measles, take them in for the MMR now.”

While that can be a useful technique, there are a few limitations and cautions. For instance:

- you don't always know the context of the statement, which can make a difference. The words used depend on the question that was asked.

- you don't know that the article includes the full statement. The article may leave out the boring bits, or may be restricted for length. Just as an entire 1 hour speech may be cut to 4 5-second sound bites on television news, a longer quote may be cut down to what the reporter (or editor) considers the essential point.

- it can be used in parsing those you agree with as well as those you disagree with. For example, only given former secretary Clinton's statement above, can you realistically infer her views on religious or philosophical exemptions? How about President Obama's views?

As to Boehner's statement that "I don’t know that we need another law", I suppose that would all depend on the context. He's a Congressman from Ohio - perhaps he doesn't think a federal law is appropriate (due to, say, Constitutional issues) and he thinks that the Ohio statue ( is adequate. I really couldn't say.

As to "Cincinnati, as some may not be aware, is only de jure in Ohio, de facto it’s the largest city in Kentucky, which is probably why the Enquirer is carrying water for McConnell,...", the article does say that "The Enquirer surveyed the governors of Ohio and Kentucky plus members of the local congressional delegations on their views about vaccinations." Thus if you found and read the article (as opposed to my snippets), you'd also see responses from other Ohio and Kentucky politicians. McConnell (KY), Rand Paul (KY), and Boehner (West Chester Township, OH) would be considered members of the local congressional delegations.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

DW: "Ethically challenged, lacking in empathy and self-centered parents…all of them."

Except for parenthood, that could also describe any Republican candidate. Like the anti-vax movement, the GOP has become a haven for unpleasant people.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ PGP:

But I didn't say that.
Must have been my evil twin - well, one of them. I have several...
( Not that I'm not evil)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Which prompted the greatest Onion headline, ever"

Second greatest? "New President Feels Nation’s Pain, Breasts."

I really feel like we're in a place where parental rights over 'ownership' of their children are in direct conflict with critical public health concerns - and that's the individual right of each child to herd immunity, IMO. There should be no religious or philosophical vaccine exemptions for school. Medical only.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

Perhaps the silver lining in all of this is that the anti-vaccine movement will get the negative publicity they so richly deserve and will be finally relegated to the same level as holocaust or moon landing deniers. It's a horrible price to pay, though.

“The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children.”

Makes you wonder if his parents made him pay for his freedom.

By justthestats (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

Charlie Pierce has yet another excellent column on this today:

So this is what I'm thinking. The Republicans will use this as a wedge to split the Democratic party along the Nervous Parent fault-line that is rivening it. This fault line may well crack open between classes, as the wealthier left seems more inclined toward using Internet quackery to protect their little snowflake babies.

By palindrom (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

And...Jake Crosby weighs in on his Epoch Times blog, which gave me the opportunity to link to his posts on the CDC Whistleblower. Jake removed all the comments on the Whistleblower one month ago, yet he continued to post comments at me.

Jake's last comment directed at me was posted 8 days ago and he admitted that his mentor for his "Culminating Experience" (MPH-Epidemioogy thesis), was former medical doctor Mark Geier, who (somehow) got him access to the Vaccine Safety Datalink database.

Screen shots...the only way to preserve comments that Jake sends down the old memory hole:

To excuse Dr. Randel Paul's opinions on medicine just because he is an eye doctor. It is way too forgiving. He went through many of the same general classes required of every doctor, he would have been taught all of the same basic principles of medicine and science that is taught every medical student. While I often spoke poorly of the medical profession in my career, chided them memorization over application, even I can not imagine that anyone gets to put a "M.D." after there name without being exposed to enough information to know better. No, don't blame his education, don't blame his specialization. You insult a lot of good honest doctors.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

FYI, There is no love lost between Mitch and Dr. Paul, Mitch is an over school establishment republican, a wheeler-dealer, a person with huge ties to the establishment. Dr. Paul is an upstart, whom beat Mitch's anointed candidate in the primary. There was no love lost in the primary battle, Dr. Paul spoke of Mitch as the enemy. After the victory, pleasant fwords and a facade were placed over wounds and scars, do not expect that they do not fester beneath the surface.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ lilady:

Gawd, I just read that!
Jake seems to have difficulty interpretting what people say ( e.g. Barack Obama) despite the fact that it was relatively simple and in English .I'm not sure if he has some sort of language-based disability ( or NVLD) or if it's merely a stubborn refusal to acknowledge reality.

He doesn't put simple facts together as most people would but then he creates mountains out of molehills and intricately elaborates upon relationships that don't exist outside of his fevered imagination.
In short, lots wrong there.

I notice that PRN put up one of his old, crappy AoA posts about Dr Offit saying f@cking and sh!t.or suchlike.
If I met Jake in person I'd probably say f@cking and sh!t as well.

BUT I'd glad to come across this after reading someone's recollections about victims of terrorism- I need a laugh.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

No spoken or receptive language disability, Denice. Just a nasty, over indulged "kid" who only thinks he's qualified to work as an epidemiologist; he's not.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Offit, Summer 2013. He's a warm, compassionate charming man who is dedicated to the children entrusted to his care and he's been subjected to Jake's lies and pathological stalking behaviors.

I'm delighted to be your "evil twin".

Can anyone point me to the scientific evidence for herd immunity?

Can anyone direct me to the scientific evidence for herd immunity?

Thank you.

Can anyone direct me to the scientific evidence for herd immunity?


One way to see how this is going to fall out is to keep an eye on 'mainstream' non-fanatical granola crunchers...
@ Denice #92
That's what I mean in my hyperbolic way in #89, AV isn't going away as a culture, I just think it's on its way off the table as a significant political influence. And while I'm sure about the former (it will live on in some form) I'm nowhere as sure about the later, but that's how I read the signs du jour

As far as book deals and TV and profitable ventures go — Disneyland changes everything. Again, it's so sad/stupid it had to come to this, all the poor kids actually getting sick. My hypotheses for the near future:

AV Entrepreneurs. There will continue to be $$ to be made by selling re-inforcement to this community, just less of it. The 'base" won't shrink, but the secondary/tertiary spheres will and mainstream publishers who would have put out an anti-vax book two years ago won't touch them now, leaving them to specialty presses.

Television/Media: Clearly the new AV role here is whipping boy/ villain. Which will just make them more mavericky in their own shrinking bubble. But it's absolutely slaughtering them as a meaningful social force.

'Natural' Entrepeneurs/activists: Wedges may well appear in previous alliances. In the cherry-picked media quotes from appalling unaffected AV parents, I've noticed two slightly different philosophies: 1) the very specific 'MMR causes autism' standard line, 2) the more generic 'naturalistic fallacy" rejecting corporate commodities, embracing Gaia myths & organic everything This position has previously accommodated a 'vax MUST be toxis POV' though the exact mechanism and product of toxicity is left open and can be fluid. What any number of commenters (a growing minority it seems) in this subculture are showing is that anti-vax isn't necessary to this world view and can easily be discarded. One of the anti-(anti-vax) 'trolls' on has a sig "I'm pro natural birth, midwife care, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing and a keen advocate of cloth diapering. And I'm pro-vaccine." C.f. also Tara Cook-Littman, the pro-vax, anti-GMO Connecticut Dem mentioned by BD #1 who got pole-axed by the GOP in 2014 for having been duped into giving an interview to the producers of Bought:

Anti-vax isn't core to the organic/natural mythos — and neither are organic 'cures". The mythos basically comes down to a fairly generic belief that less processing is 'healthier' in some vague way. Typical granola-crunchers just try to reduce 'unnecessary' industrial diddling in a more-or-less pragmatic mode — e.g. they still drink tap water, etc. So this 'lifestyle choice' can go forward perfect well if MMR and flu shots move into the category of "no reasonable pragmatic natural alternative" along with hundreds of other elements of quotidian existence in industrialized society.

So I'd keep my eye on the less wiggy 'natural food' promoters — not necessarily Mikey — to see if any of them are easing up on doing any cross-promotion with the AV crowd — as I have a feeling it will be in their economic interest to do so.

@ Meph #99
All excellent qualifiers! Yeah, those are the kinds of things you have to do if you're using that method (a basic technique of 'semiotics') in a serious scholarly paper. They're part of the necessary 'controls' if you will, of establishing a solid argument. I was just firing off a quick lil polemic: sort of 'well, it could be this' rather than any kind of sold 'proof'.

And I thought I had at least implied that re: HRC by noting that unlike Rubio and Cruz, she didn't state an exemption policy, only inferred one by very different language choices than McConnell and Boehner used. Still, if there was a liberal's illustrated dictionary there'd be a pic of BIll and Hil next to the entry for "slippery".

I'd also add re: McConnell and Boehner. As Majority Leader and Speaker they'e going to be concerned with keeping some appearance of unity amongst the various caucuses in their party, and model 'let's stay on the same page' strategies. Both of the quotes (can't speak to the full statements) offer the opportunities in private discussions with different members to say either 'I came out as pro-vax' OR 'I didn't endorse restricting exemptions'.

@ MarkN #55
"At least my party still has the hot women……"

Citation needed. :-)

There are numerous tv shows about her case and over 1600 people on Facebook

OK, that combination has totally convinced me!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 04 Feb 2015 #permalink

Oh dear. Dan Olmsted has posted a link on AoA to an interview he's done with "Vox". I imagine he thinks he comes over quite well, but actually comes over as a frothing loon, with all his points debunked - mostly with references, some to our esteemed host.

The phrase "done up like a kipper" springs to mind.

You sad, sad fool, Olmsted.

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ MarkN #55 and sadmar#119
Your sexism is noted.

MartinB @122 -- I'm acutely aware that accusations of hypersensitivity and humorlessness are the go-to tactic for sexist bullies attempting to defend the indefensible, but MarkN and sadmar's little exchange struck me as being entirely in jest, and actually pretty funny.

By palindrom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Sure - when talking about a political party, discussing the "hotness" of women is just funny and nothing else.
Yes, it was somewhat funny, yes, it was in jest, no, it is not a big problem, and neither is the world going to end nor will MarkN and sadmar be held in contempt forever because of these remarks, but yes, the remarks were sexist all the same.

@ sadmar:

I think the book deals may continue but only because they originate from Skyhorse, which is owned by a fellow traveler,, Tony Lyons, who has written a few tomes from his perspective as a ( woo-drenched) autism parent- he published his ex's book as well- that's devotion to a cause for you!

But truly, I think that recent events have helped push anti-vax towards the darkest depths of cyberspace- Ickes' and Bolen's territory as it were. Actually, this might assist alt media loons who have been telling the faithful that the mainstream is utterly corrupt; *bought* by the corporatocracy and governmental fascisti.

I listened to PRN"s head honcho rant yesterday and I detected a hint of desperation amidst his pressured, malaprop-ridden speech ( see PRN/ the Gary Null Show/ yesterday) and dear Mikey appeared to be grasping at the same straws but more feverishly than is usual ( see Natural News, recently). It may make it harder for them to reach a general audience- which is after all, their aim, supplanting the mainstream in an orgy of paradigm shift: their fantasy system come true.

-btw- I thought the 'hot women' jibe was funny.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

The mention of Tony Lyons is inclined to set me off. This is a guy - very much like Wakefield - who has abandoned any kind of professional standards in order to hawk his wares to the vulnerable. He sees the desperate parents of often seriously challenged kids as a marketing opportunity.

Forget his pumping of Wakefield's fraud which, had he perpetrated it in the UK, would have bankrupted his company with uninsurable libel bills.

But look at his publication of a book advising parents how to vaccinate their children, written by people who are not doctors and have no relevant expertise. In my view, a truly sickening scam on the public that could never pay for itself without the captive vulnerable group to be preyed on at the usual quack conferences.

Then look at his publication of a book by the ludicrous malignant crank David Lewis, whose writing is so poor and whose mental condition so questionable that any competent publisher would have thrown his manuscript into the trash after reading the first page.

This is the David Lewis who says that my journalism is of such a high professional standard that I must be corrupt. Really. I kid you not. Unusually, you can see Mr Lyons's author saying so himself. I have him listed on my website as the funniest crank I've ever encountered:

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

I’m totally for ‘medical only’ myself, and vax is the kind of thing where most the Amish anyway might come around. (It’s not core to a simple plain life “not of the world”.)

They don't need to come around, however: the idea that the Amish do not vaccinate is a myth. The majority of Amish parents do vaccinate their children, and among the minority who do not the most common reasons cited for failure to vaccinate are the same anti-vaccine fueled fears that non-Amish anti-vax parents embrace in the absence of supporting evidence. (see PMID:21708796)

@ Brian Deer:

There is so much lunacy surrounding Lyons that if he didn't exist, sceptics would have to invent him to serve as a sterling example of the literary enablement of bad science.

I once spent an hour or two surveying his wares ( @ Skyhorse's website)- new releases especially - altho' there are a few meaningful items- there is a miasma of alt med/ anti-vax/ autism garbage in numbers hitherto unseen in the western world. He gave Gary Null his own imprint. He has already printed loads of AoA contributors' bilge as well as Andy's, sponsors book events with them and assists TMR by printing their madness involving parental advice gone wrong, histrionic tales of woe and the creation bizarrely restricted cuisine for kids with ASDs. Lyons even has published autism-themed fiction -
oh wait, all of these books are fiction, aren't they?

He wrote ( IIRC) two books about autism himself. The entire list of crap lit hawked at AoA was made possible by him.
Lewis fits right in.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

I think that recent events have helped push anti-vax towards the darkest depths of cyberspace

Unfortunately people have short memories. I am very much afraid that going through outbreaks periodically is the only way to convince people that VPD's are, in fact, dangerous and children need to be protected from them.

For a moment I had skyhorse confused with "Slaying the Sky Dragon", which is a book that attempts to disprove the atmospheric greenhouse effect. The book is, of course, a hilarious compendium of crackpot science.

Sounds like its near-namesake is also not exactly an authoritative source on matters scientific.

By palindrom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Martin #124 - yes, thank you, all of that.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

I sure hope Martin never winds up reading Clickhole.

Brian Deer, Tony Lyons publishes (almost) all of the anti-vaccine books written by the AoA crank journalists and commenters. He did, after all, refuse to publish one book:

"Skyhorse has got several excellent books. Not mine however. They won't even reply when I send them the manuscript for my book (which is freely downloadable at Title: "A Balm in Gilead: Curing Autism and Awakening the Physicians."

When I was a Good Girl, years ago, four of my books got published by university presses. Now that I am a Bad Girl (i.e., I say who dunnit), I may as well be a leper.

Speaking of leprosy, it was caused, in modern times, by the smallpox vaccine. Don't take my word for it; many eminent docs said so. And then that was end-of-career for them, of course.

Posted by: mary w maxwell | January 28, 2015 at 11:44 PM"

@ lilady:

It never fails to amaze about how these people catastrophise every single life event that befalls them as they imagine that having an autistic child- rather than the perfect one that exists only in their imagination- is an earth-shattering tragedy which they OBVIOUSLY will rise above In g0dlike fashion to countless readers' applause.

Lyons isn't just their enabler- and that of the loony medical critics as well- he is a fellow traveller- he's one of them- and as much a drama queen.

I think that my friends** whose lives have been transformed by terrorism decades ago sound much more upbeat than this lot of soppy cry babies.

** not the ones form Northern Ireland

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ Lilady: I'd quite like the five minutes back that it took me to download Mary Maxwell's opus but, despite everything, I think she would not make the threshhold for Mr Lyon's tastes because she is not a malignant crank.

Did I say anywhere that BMJ got a threatening letter from some run-out-stock lawyer for David Lewis (the dental equipment hygiene guy) threatening to sue them if they didn't accede to all kinds of weird demands.

Of course, they got told to f--- off, but it was truly hilarious. I ought to post it sometime. It was full of stuff like "you will post on x website denouncing Brian Deer" and so on and so forth.
Pages and pages of gibberish.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

not the ONE FROM...

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Lilady, there is a grain of truth in the smallpox vaccine and leprosy.

I mean grain, in that there is some evidence that given a small pox vaccine to a person with leprosy can cause problems, but I expect not as much as a leper that actually catches smallpox.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Of course, they got told to f— off, but it was truly hilarious. I ought to post it sometime. It was full of stuff like “you will post on x website denouncing Brian Deer” and so on and so forth.
Pages and pages of gibberish.

And you're holding this back from us why?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ Denice #125

In my remark about book deals, I was thinking about:
Dr. Jay, whose Autism and ADD books are published by Wiley
Dr. Bob, whose Vaccine book is published by Little Brown
and of course
Jenny McCarthy, whose autism books are published by Penguin

A quick Amazon search reveals a number of 'beat autism with health food' books from major presses.

@Lilady, there is a grain of truth in the smallpox vaccine and leprosy.

Maxwell's basic source dates to a bit before 1973, though.

@Colonel Tom - actually, excema is also a contra-indicator for the smallpox vaccine as well.

@Lawrence I am surprise, contra-indications for the small pox vaccine is surely not something being currently taught?

However, and it shames me that I have this link saved, is a case where excema was a factor in a "secondary" exposure. The reason why I have this link, is the poor girl properly expressed her concerns to a Dr., but her concerns were not given the weight they should have been.

I must warn that this is a rather, graphic, case summary.

I got the same vaccine, and everyone was warned to minimize contact. I have no idea if disciplinary actions were taken, after he completed his deployment. For all I know, he never came home.

I also like the notes on this case, one might use the "upon hearing hoofbeats expect horses not zebras", but the notes are rather "clinically icy" in their presentation that the other indications for the STD he tested for were just not there. .

Not that I am antiVax, debate about the smallpox vac and its military use is a more subtle issue.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Of course, they got told to f— off, but it was truly hilarious. I ought to post it sometime. It was full of stuff like “you will post on x website denouncing Brian Deer” and so on and so forth.

I believe the standard legal version of the response to that is "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram."

By Jenora Feuer (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Narad, thanks for the 100 + year old references from whaleDOTto.
C'mon Brian Deer; we're waiting for your post about David Lewis...Wakefield's good buddy who sent you the scoring sheets for the bowel specimens from Wakefield's study subjects.

Colonel Tom: I had the smallpox vaccine (NYC Department of Health Dryvax smallpox vaccine) during the run up to the bogus WMDs scare, promulgated by Bush 9-11. I was qualified to receive Dryvax because I had smallpox vaccines in early childhood and prior to a trip to Europe, 1972. I also did not have an history of eczema.

Incidentally, as either sadmar or Denice predicted, now that anti-vax views have intersected with politics, Rachel Maddow is indeed covering the matter, and quite well. She's charmingly somewhat baffled by the whole thing: "Wait, this is a thing? Why on earth is this a thing? Why on earth are mainstream politicians touching this thing with a ten foot pole?"

If there's one thing I can do whilst almost catatonically depressed, it's watch Rachel Maddow. Well, that and drink gifted homemade mead, apparently. Dangerous stuff, that.

Funny thing, as a kid, I had measles, mumps, chicken pox, rubella, and poliomyelitis, all before they were vaccine-preventable. but I still wound up with an autism spectrum condition, and I can't even blame it on vaccines.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ JP:

Well, I hope she can influence some left-leaning people.
She has social power in certain quarters I would guess as well as being quite gifted as a barkeep instructor.
Am I not right?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Colonel Tom:
While Rand Paul almost certainly learned at least the basics of infectious diseases, immunology, and vaccines in med school, it doesn't mean he didn't start forgetting the day after the final. With a lot of medical knowledge, it's a matter of use it or lose it. Of course, he may also have been poorly taught. I still remember many things I was taught and never worked with because some of my instructors made them interesting and taught with clarity.
When I was still a working PA, I did presurgical testing. One time I saw an abnormality on an ECG and called the surgeon to tell him that the case would have to be postponed for further workup. When I started to detail the findings to him, he said "You forget, I'm an orthopedic surgeon. I don't know about that kind of thing."

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

leprosy, it was caused, in modern times, by the smallpox vaccine

Time travel is a dangerous thing when misused.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink


I can only hope so. I've been monitoring FB for any sort of anti-vax statements by my more crunchy liberal friends back on the Left Coast, and they've been basically silent - good news or bad, that, I'm not sure. In any case, if anti-vax views do start to become aligned with right-wingers, it might at least drive some liberal fence-sitters in the opposite direction. (My friends here in Ann Arbor town have been joining me in pro-vax sentiment; they are, though, of the more nerdy, wonky liberal variety. One of them is studying medical history, and runs the excellent Nursing Clio blog.

I do always enjoy Maddow's "Cocktail Moment" segments, and have been tempted to attempt several of the recipes, though the closest I typically come to mixing drinks is putting ice in my bourbon, and that on rare occasions.

Old Rockin' Dave, I went through about half of those classes with the med students, bio medical engineer, and I just have trouble believing that you could forget so many basics. How diseases spread, how can you forget that. Now you forget what exactly what areas of the heart are affected by which bifascicular blocks, but you surely remember what the bundle of his is. I hope. My allergist understood his own condition when his cardiac pacemaker cells began to go wonky, and he was older than dirt.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Rekha Basu, Des Moines Register columnist is on Rachel Maddow, talking about how Paul's and Christie's vaccine comment's are dog-whistling both the Iowa Tea Baggers (no big government) and Christian Conservatives (Parents Rights) that form the two wings of the GOP caucus vote in the state and have few issues in common — even though, as Maddow says, "there's no national constituency for playing with that kind of fire, playing with vaccine conspiracies." Also, both Maddow and Basu say the pols know setting themselves up to get criticized by the media, lets them complain about being bashed by liberal media, which also plays really well in Iowa to both factions.

Maddow's take is ultimately that these are not blunders — even though the national press considers them so — but planned strategic moves to gain ground in Iowa that will be abandoned and forgotten once the campaign moves to larger states and a national audience.

Meanwhile Christie and Paul are talking out of both sides of their mouths. Putting it forward, taking it back, putting it forward, taking it back. Christie might have had a chance to get away... but he doesn't want to! Today it came out he's like the only governor that doesn't participate in Hallmark's vaccine reminder card to new moms program...

Here's a 2009 photo of Chris Christie smiling posing with a group of 6 anti-vaxers, with only one identified on screen: Louise Habakus. And then the screen shows the campaign letter Christie put out referring to — well, Rachel says "anti-vaccine groups" with a pull quote "I stand with them now, and will stand with them as their governor." But I see Orac has the text in the OP; "families affected by autism [who] have expressed concern over New Jersey’s highest-in-the nation vaccine mandates." Evil, evil mandates.

I Googled "Chris Christie Louise Habakus" and see this story went viral at the beginning of the week... Stuff movin' faster than I can follow...

@ lilady. I fear the danger of succumbing to the entertainment quality of some of these people. Malignant cranks may have all manner of personal issues they are expressing - in some cases, I believe, organic - but they are easy to play for laughs.

A more serious issue arises when you come across people like Wakefield, Lewis and even Celia Farber (who descends from time to time from the astral plane to critique molecular biology).

They believe they are entitled to accuse any number of people of the most horrendous, foul crimes against humanity, with the most vicious, unsubstantiated abuse. Then, if the accused turn round, defend themselves and and say: "You lying f--- scumbag", people such as Wakefield, Lewis (the most malignant of the cranks that I have ever encountered) and Farber, they sue, or threaten to.

Between them, they've run, I'd say, about ten or more lawsuits: none of which have done anything useful, but have consumed huge amounts of money and given them a few years to use these for public relations purposes (to quote a judge), presumably to raise more money.

By Brian Deer (not verified) on 05 Feb 2015 #permalink

Well, yes, the double standard these cranks demonstrate is spectacular. They'll compare pro-science advocates of all manner of horrific activities, crimes even. They'll compare them to Hitler and the Nazis. But if anyone calls them out for their misinformation, pseudoscience, and lies, suddenly they clutch their pearls, shocked—shocked, I say!—that anyone would say anything mean about them. Then some of them threaten to sue.

They’ll compare them to Hitler and the Nazis
Case in point:…

Responding to Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s criticism of both the far left and far right wings of the anti-vaxxing movement, an anti-vaccination promoting radio host compared the Jewish comedy host of being a “Nazi” ready to put the anti-vaxxers in “concentration camps.”

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 06 Feb 2015 #permalink

They’ll compare them to Hitler and the Nazis.

Gerg, a Canadian, has recently asserted that vaccines are worse than DAESH, or something, and that history will judge Obama harshly.

Speaking to the GOP = leaning anti-vax thesis of the article, I'm pleased to report that the on right and libertarian-leaning discussion website I follow, people are jumping the Rand Paul ship as fast as they can (Christie they never liked much anyway). Vaccines are the hot-topic of the day (as they are elsewhere), and I'd give a rough estimate of 90% of commenters are strongly pro-vaccine; the anti-vaxxers who comment are challenged in strong language.
Can't speak for the politicians, but for the electorate, I do think it's split pretty evenly left and right.

By ConservativeRN (not verified) on 06 Feb 2015 #permalink

Colonel Tom, you know as well as I do that they can make you study something but they can't make you believe it. Baby Doc's membership in his fringe medical society proves that, not to mention all the other a-hole physicians Orac has alerted us to.
It seems to me that his sole motivation in getting his MD was to become a surgical specialist in order to rake in some bucks, and not have to bother with all those troublesome facts that contradict his favorite fairy tales.
Thankfully, not all surgeons are like that (Hat tip to you, Orac.).

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Old Rockin' Dave, I do have a paranoia of my own that runs into what you just said. Having been a premed, having a cliche of friends that were premed, having been in a graduate program taking some school of medicine classes, having worked with lots of doctors in my early career. I have this concern that the whole medical education system is slanted more towards those individuals that are in it for the money. Not exclusively, but the insanely high cost of the education combined with the tortuous training, it does seem to be biased towards a certain type of very materialistic souls. Not exclusively, but if I had to evaluate the other 12 pre-med chemical engineers I went to school with, I'd say at least 4 of them were money fixated. Especially Chuckles, geez what an ahole he turned out to be.

I have this bad tendency to believe that people do bad things because they don't know better. Time and time again I am disappointed by my bias.

Its funny, my daughter's illness kicked up again, and I was surfing to see if there were over the counter testing for parasites. I did not know that this is a new pet theory of some really wacko people. I found an excellent source of information on round and tape worms, the website sponsored by a doctor with good credentials, her school respectable. Until I got deep into what she was recommending, including that she used an herbal concoction similar to the medicine my grandmother would have brewed. She did leave out the red oak fungus at least, that stuff will take you to places you don't want to go. I might use traditional blends for minor purposes, but if you have round worms I'd really expect a doctor to use pharmaceutical grade medicine. The stuff my grandmother made, I still use it on chickens and dogs.

Well, at least I know why my pediatrician looked at us like we were kooks when the wife asked about worms.

I have been immensely pleased with my cardiologists, I am on my third one. Unfortunately, the first one I had I have outlived, against all odds. He was the walking breathing posture child for cardiac health, fit and active. Damn inoperable cancer in the hippocampus.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dave:

Please tell me this has nothing to do with Duvalier.

Vicki, it's just a passing middle finger up to the Drs. Paul, Congressman and Senator, father and son. The rotten apple didn't fall far from the diseased tree.
Colonel Tom, I have had general good luck with my docs, with the sole exception of the urologist who nearly killed me by leaving a bleeder in my abdomen. That turned an expected two day hospital stay into two weeks, half in SICU, most of which I can't remember, and that also left me with a hypovolemic ischemic encephalopathy, mainly manifested with some badly delayed recall for proper nouns and the occasional adverb. Ironically, for someone who made his living as a PA, the recall most affected is for brand names of medications.
I entirely regret not going with my gut on this one - I didn't like him from the beginning, and I have learned that a doc that I don't like as a person is more than likely to be a bad practitioner.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

Crap Dave, we're both members of the scrambled brains club. At least in my case, I doubt my surgeon did anything wrong. I was at death's door because I had a real atypical right side heart attack (right corn artery), I was misdiagnosed for six days. By the time they got me on the table I was almost gone. A few little clots got stirred up. Lost the power of speech for years, but during a religious ceremony I discovered I could still sing. I'm almost to the point where I can "sing-talk" to just talk. My use of language appears to have suffered too.

Am I understanding properly, that you went into shock from a bleeder to the point your brain went hypoxic? Crap, how were they monitoring you post-op? That is just, so wrong.

I have spoken here before about the bad obstr that refused to believe us on the conception date, daughter almost died during a late delivery as it was. My beloved, praise to her, had the sense, strength and gift to know a person that won't listen is not who you want to delivery your child.

You also seem to know Senator Paul fairly well, as I keep telling people it isn't a political mistake on their part, he almost certainly believes the crap that he is saying. He believe he has obtained everything on his own, andothers that need are weak.

P.S BTW, people like us were part of my never completed PhD. Everyone talks about artificial intelligence, but we really don't understand how memory works (although we know much more now). One part studying the tragic cases, one part trying to model computer programs to mimic human memory.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 08 Feb 2015 #permalink

The dissonance that overshadows both parties glimmers here. The Left, the intellectuals and scientists and artists; all embody the liberated mind, the free thinkers; and yet they fail to sympathize with parents who, in the light of vaccinations being admittedly often preserved with Mercury, a known neurotoxin, have shied away from exposing their children to questionable medical practices, of which many have been revealed over the decades. In fact individual choice seems to be the watchword of the Left, but not on this topic, clearly.
Meanwhile, the Right, that bastion of Christian thought on Creation, among other questionable notions;and yet, they advocate a 'sink or swim' policy with social services, implying that Darwin was right, Gol'darnit! People should survive or not on their own merits and efforts, ignore government edicts if they choose, and the Government should basically ignore them....sounds like Natural Selection to me!

By molly cruz (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

No, molly cruz, almost no vaccines are preserved with mercury these days.

Also, you are at best oversimplifying on the left/right thing: for one thing, the intelligentsia are not necessarily "embodying the liberated mind." "Individual choice" is too broad to be useful here: it could be carelessly used to describe whether I go to church, and if so which, as well as whether I drive a car while drunk or toss my trash in someone else's backyard.

Molly Cruz, a new coal powered power plant puts out hundreds of pounds of mercury, a gypsum wallboard plant puts out a third of a ton of mercury because it uses byproducts of coal combustion. Forest fires put out huge amounts of mercury, rereleasing material absorbed from years of coal combustion. Mercury is so many places, yet some how mercury that used to be in some vaccines in a form of very limited bio-availability are the few molecules that cause autism.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Molly Cruz, the mercury (lower case m, the upper case is a god or a planet, that's just me being pedantic) in vaccines you are referring to is an organic compound called thimerosal. Yes, it contains mercury, but very little is absorbed, the amount in any single dose of a vaccine is incredibly tiny, and most vaccines that used it were reformulated in the wake of Wakefield. The presence of mercury in it doesn't mean much out of context; cobalt is seriously toxic to humans as well, but it's present in cyanocobalamin, aka Vitamin B12, which you regularly ingest in your food without a second thought.
Meanwhile, I have never heard that there is an inherent or natural right to spread potentially deadly infectious diseases to others. I don't think there was a plot to leave it out of the Constitution, the Atlantic Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or any other document. Even the Bible comes down foursquare on the side of quarantine.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Colonel Tom, I had a "robotic"-assisted prostatectomy. I went back to the OR for the interventional radiologist, then again for an emergency laparotomy. I was a week in SICU, either heavily sedated, lightly comatose, or both. I was another week on a regular floor, most of which is a blur too. I was blunted for months after. Finally realized I often can't recall names I should know well until well after I need them. My brain throws out plausible but wrong answers (Frederick Turner for Frederick Remington, Keith-somebody for Ken Russell, etc.). Recently I meant to reference "regression to the mean" but could only come up with "reversion"; good substitution, but still wrong. I find that if I review everything I know about the person or thing, it will eventually come to me, but it can take any time from minutes to a day or so.
Now as to the Pauls, the two of them, and many another libertarian, are somewhere between obtuse and detestable. I have often said that Ron Paul puts the "Aryan" in "libertarian". I share the opinions of them are expressed well by Prof. Steve Dutch at this link:

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dave, the technique of not trying to remember a name, but remembering an event or circumstance where you used that name. Sometimes it works.
I actually called up a friend doing research with access to a PET scanner. For the shear fun of it, we traced the three areas of my brain that got zapped. I thought it was important at the time.
I find "libertarianism" such a strange mindset. While I actually am a huge fan of self-sufficiency and discipline, I am also a person who had the safety net there for them after his father died at a very young age. Social security and my father's VA benefits are what kept us in beans and corn meal. Back then, summer jobs and selling your life to the military were enough to get you a college career.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

Given your ability to devastate the most impervious medical quackery with reason and logic, after all these years, I still am amazed how politics seems to short-circuit that part of your reasoning mind. I see your two Republicans with Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer (or any other D from California) and raise you Dennis Kucinich.

Here's how another Science oriented blogger put it 3 years ago:…

By Doc Epador (not verified) on 01 Mar 2015 #permalink