Nobody promotes antivaccine nonsense in my state…without receiving some Insolence (2016 election edition)

Remember the scene in The Blues Brothers where Jake and Elwood are sitting in the Bluesmobile and come across a Nazi rally taking place on a bridge? Jake says with utter disgust, “I hate Illinois Nazis,” before driving over the bridge, forcing the Nazis to flee and jump into the river below. That’s basically the way I feel towards Michigan antivaccine activists. What’s even worse, though, is when out-of-state antivaccine agitators show up to give aid and comfort to our own homegrown antivaccinationists, which is what happened this week. I'd never actually drive a car at a bunch of them to force them to jump off of a bridge, but I fully understand Jake and Elwood's motivation, as I hate Michigan antivaxers, especially when they team up with out-of-state antivaxers to try to influence the Michigan legislature to bring back once-eliminated vaccine-preventable diseases to Michigan.

Yes, antivaccine nutjobs have invaded my state. Del Bigtree, producer of Andrew Wakefield’s antivaccine propaganda film VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, has been in my state, the last couple of days along with his partner in pseudoscientific propaganda, Polly Tommey, somehow all unbeknownst to me until last night. I guess that’s what I get when I have grant deadlines. After all, there was no Insolence yesterday, and that’s definitely something that doesn’t happen very often on a weekday. I blame it on a combination of a Wednesday night function that I had to attend, a 7 AM meeting yesterday, and a deadline this week. It happens occasionally. But I know now, and I have one thing to say to Del Bigtree: Get the hell out of my state and stay away from my state’s legislators with your “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy theory, your antivaccine movie so blatant in its messaging that it’d make Leni Reifenstahl pause and say “Can you tone it down a bit?” and your relentless attempts to convince a group that can least afford lower vaccination rates, African-Americans, that the CDC covered up evidence showing that the MMR vaccine increases the risk of autism in their boys.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so startled that Bigtree has decided to visit my state. We do, after all, have our own crop of antivaccine activists whose idiocy has contributed to pockets of high personal belief exemption rates, low vaccine uptake, and subsequent measles and pertussis outbreaks. We have antivaccine “luminaries” such as Mary Tocco and groups like Michigan Opposing Mandatory Vaccines (MOMV), not to mention antivaccine legislators like my very own state Senator, Patrick Colbeck. Also, given that Del Bigtree and his wandering band of antivaccine loons have been touring the country and lobbying legislators like Rep. Jason Chaffetz, I suppose there’s no reason Michigan should be immune to this sort of nonsense.

Bigtree and Tommey were in town on Wednesday for a VAXXED “Sign and Share Event” (whatever that means) at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Troy, MI. It’s actually a great place for such an “event,” given that it’s in the heart of one of Detroit’s more populous suburbs in close proximity to many of the wealthier northern suburbs where affluent mommies think that the only thing that could possibly cause their special snowflake children be anything less than perfect must be something external, like vaccines. Unfortunately for me (besides my not knowing about it until after it was over), this particular event took place between 10 AM and 3 PM on a weekday, making it utterly impossible for me to attend. Oh, well. Fortunately, for me, antivaccine activists like Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey can’t resist posting video of everything they do on Facebook, and this time they don’t disappoint, starting with this video:

In this video, Bigtree is in a car with Carol from Michigan for Vaccine Choice, an antivaccine group I haven’t yet taken a look at yet. In the video, Bigtree discusses meeting with Senator Vincent Gregory, whose district covers several of the northern suburbs, including Farmington Hills, Southfield, Farmington, Ferndale, and more. This swath of northern suburbs encompasses an area where I’d guess that much of Detroit’s antivaccine contingent resides. Bigtree exults that his meeting with Gregory was one of the best meetings he’s ever had with a Democrat and how Gregory promised he’d get Bigtree’s antivaccine concerns heard by the Congressional Black Caucus in Detroit. This is, of course, disappointing, and, if any of you out there are Vincent Gregory’s constituents, I would very strongly urge you to contact his office to provide an opposing voice to Del Bigtree’s lies and pseudoscience, pointing out that you are a constituent and you vote.

If the video, in which Bigtree is arriving at the Michigan State Capitol Building in Lansing, is to be believed, Bigtree was scheduled to meet with a number of legislators, including Senator Phil Pavlov, Representative Hank Vaupel, and Representative Mike Callton. Pavlov represents the 25th District, which encompasses much of the Thumb area of the state, while Representative Vaupel represents a district that includes several exurbs northwest of Detroit and Caldon represents a rural district west of Lansing. Again, if any of you reading this are in Pavlov, Callton, or Vaupel’s districts, please contact their offices to counter the antivaccine conspiracy theories and pseudoscience that Bigtree no doubt laid on them.

Most disturbingly, Bigtree also posted a video of Representative Tom Hooker, who represents a district south of Grand Rapids:

Sadly, Hooker is clearly a wingnut. He spouts off about “parental rights” and “parental choice” in the usual way that antivaccine activists do, such that the child is basically viewed as the parents’ property instead of an autonomous being with rights of his or her own, such as the right to good medical care, including standard of care preventative medicines such as the CDC-recommended vaccine schedule. He blathers on about “big pharma” in a typical conspiratorial manner. He even invokes one of the most brain dead antivaccine arguments there are, an argument that fundamentalist Christians make about the HPV vaccine:

Obviously, as a parent and a grandparent myself, it’s important to me that parents have their rights protected and, you know, their choice of what’s best for their kids. I think of the immunization Gardasil. If my children are raised in a godly Christian home, they don’t need Gardasil, because they’re going to make the wise choices, and again, the advertisements they’re putting on on television to the parent (“You could have protected me and let me have an immunization as a child”) takes the responsibility away from the kid, who should be making the responsibility for having sex outside of marriage.

The stupid, it burns with a thermonuclear intensity. One more time, Gardasil does not cause, nor is it associated with, promiscuity, the claims of absolute idiots like Tom Hooker notwithstanding. Of course, Hooker is just parroting a common lie favored by the religious right, of which he is clearly a member and which makes up a large proportion of his district in western Michigan. Somehow, he manages to weave in the common lie about Obamacare promulgated by right wingers about “death panels,” claims that Margaret Sanger wanted to abort black babies, and more. Particularly irritating to me, Hooker somehow found a way to rope nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners into his nonsensical argument, characterizing their existence as a removal of doctors’ rights. I mean, holy hell! Practicing medicine is not a “right.” It is a privilege, and nurse practitioners do not degrade medical care. They enhance it.

When, near the end of the interview, Hooker brought up the “aborted fetal tissue in vaccinesdistortion, I lost it. The only thing I could think at that point was to be grateful that this utter moron is term-limited. Unfortunately, because he’s term-limited and in his last term, if you’re one of his constituents it probably won’t make a difference if you contact him. Also, he’s a complete religious right wing nut. Even so, if he is your state representative, it’s probably worth trying anyway.

Lastly, we have Bigtree appearing at a fundraiser for the Michigan Vaccine Freedom PAC for $125 a head at Local Kitchen & Bar in Ferndale:

Basically, it’s the same old nonsense that Bigtree has been pushing about vaccines, starting with VAXXED itself.

Bigtree spends a lot of time arguing for “health freedom,” portraying “vaccine choice” as an integral part of health freedom, where the parents have the right to refuse vaccination for their children. Of course, as I’ve mentioned in this very post and more posts than I can remember, the problem with this argument is that it completely ignores the autonomy of children. Children are not the property of their parents. They are not extensions of their parents. They are autonomous beings who have an existence outside of their parents and who have the right to medical care, including the right be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases, regardless of the misguided beliefs of their parents who refuse to vaccinate. Not surprisingly, Del Bigtree traces his antivaccine activism (I know, I know, he doesn’t think that he’s antivaccine) to the introduction of SB 277, the California bill that is now law that has eliminated nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates.

Hilariously, he even basically tells the audience that God told him to make this movie. It’s a cheesy story that hits all the notes his audience expects. He’s at a low point in his office, all depressed because SB 277, the bill (now law) in California eliminating nonmedical exemptions looked well on its way to passage and he couldn’t get the higher ups at his job on The Doctors interested in doing vaccine injury “vaccines cause autism” pseudoscience stories. So he prayed, saying that he wanted to do something to battle the vaccine lobby and CDC and asking God for a sign if that’s what he wanted him to do. Then—surprise!—“60 seconds later” he got a call from a publicist asking him if he wanted to meet Andrew Wakefield. How Wakefield had heard about Bigtree and decided he wanted Bigtree to produce his movie isn’t really described, but the rest, as they say, is history. I couldn't help but think of this:

For added persecution complex goodness, Bigtree then added a vignette in which he described talking to his father about his plans to make VAXXED with Andrew Wakefield, to show the “CDC whistleblower” and “prove that vaccines cause autism” (another big surprise, that was his purpose from the very beginning). His father, taken aback, counseled him to stay out of it because he has a career and family now and this project could destroy his career. (Smart man, Bigtree’s father. One wonders how he produced such a dim bulb of a son.) In any case, he ends up telling his father he was “chosen” for this moment and even tells the audience that he told Andrew Wakefield and Polly Tommey that “we will only win if God is on our side.” (Grandiose, much, Del?)

That sense of grandiosity even goes to his film VAXXED, which he describes as an ICBM aimed at the heart of the vaccine lobby. When I heard him say that, all I could think was that likening his movie to a nuclear missile tells me a lot about his personality and that, if you think you have a “nuclear bomb” to talk about using it so offhandedly suggests a certain callousness. Indeed, one notes that in this whole talk Bigtree never ever mentions autistic children, never considers them as people. It’s all about him, him, him, and his talk was all about the parents, parents, parents. It was all “parental rights” and nothing about children’s rights to good health care.

He caps it all off with a conspiracy theory about how pharma wants to force adults to get all their booster shots and vaccines, saying outright that the “pharmaceutical industry is coming after you.” He invokes the Healthy People 2020 initiative, one of the goals of which is to achieve 100% vaccination, claiming that the only way to get there is “forced vaccination.” He paints the issue as our “freedom hanging in the balance,” falsely equating school vaccine mandates with fascism and finishing his talk comparing himself and his audience to our Founding Fathers and their fight against the British to achieve freedom and self-determination, saying:

If we do not fight now, then there will be nothing left to fight for. And I think that is where everyone in this room, I pray you realize how important you are in this historic moment. We will never be stronger than we are right now. We will never be healthier than we are right now. Our children are looking like this, a generation of children, as we’ve said on The Doctors television show this is the first generation of children that will not live to be as old as their parents. Are we going to stand...are we going to sit down and take it? Or are we going to stand up and say: This is a historic moment, that my forefathers, those from Jefferson all the way to Martin Luther King, the moments where people stood up and something inside of them said I’m going to stand for freedom and I’m going to stand for it now. That is in our DNA. It is pumping through me, and I pray that you feel it pumping through you, because we must look back. Our grandchildren will look back and thank us for having stood up one more time and been the generation that said, “We the People of the United States of America stood for freedom, stand for freedom. We will die for freedom today.

I’m sorry (actually, no I’m not), but as Bigtree finished his speech, all I could think of was this iconic scene from Animal House:

Even more appropriately, it even has an allusion to conventional warfare versus nuclear weapons.

Bigtree did do one thing that is helpful, though. On the website of the Michigan Vaccine Freedom PAC, there is a helpful list of Michigan legislators who support “vaccine choice.” Interestingly, they are all Republicans save one. There’s only one Democrat on the list, Steve King. There are also two Republicans on the State Board of Education, Nikki Snyder and Tom McMillin, and, to my shame, there is a member of the Wayne State Board of Directors, Kim Schmina. Fortunately, I learned of these legislators and can make sure not to vote for any of them. For those of you in Michigan, I hope you’ll follow my lead. If you’re not in Michigan, I hope you’ll investigate and find out which legislators are sympathetic to antivaccine loons like Del Bigtree and Polly Tommey.

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It’s been a while since I paid attention to the movie, but the publicity among the antivaccine movement for Andrew Wakefield’s and Del Bigtree’s movie VAXXED: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe continues apace. Sadly, I missed my opportunity to see Bigtree himself doing a Q&A for the movie when it…
One of the most insidious and oft-repeated myths of the antivaccine movement is that vaccines cause autism. Certainly, it is true that there was an antivaccine movement long before anyone thought of linking vaccines to autism. For example, in the the 1980s the DPT (diptheria-whole cell pertussis-…
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One of the great things about America has been the First Amendment, particularly the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. These are rights allow us to gather together to protest when we see something that we don’t think is right and want to change. Unfortunately, there is one…

There is, after all, no form of freedom fighting more noble than fighting for the freedom to choose to let your own child and other people's children to die or be harmed from preventable diseases like tetanus or measles.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

The initial video wherein Del Bigtree is recording and distracting the driver with his cell phone is disturbing.

The city of Detroit prohibits handheld cell phone use while driving.

It is dangerous when a passenger distracts a driver with a cell phone, innocent people can get killed.

@ Del Tree,

Please use your cell phone safely when being transported in a vehicle.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

He wasn't in the city of Detroit. He was in Lansing when he recorded that video. After all, he shows the state capitol at the end.

@Orac (#3),

Thanks for the clarification.

Q. Which is deadlier, cell phone distractions when driving or vaccine contraindications.

By Michael J. Dochniak (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

I must say, Bigtree's selfies are a bit off-putting. Perhaps someone could give him a comb? Or even spot him a hair cut.

Tom Hooker does seem like a real nutcase to put it mildly. We have some distinguished nutcases in office here in Canada but are all US Republican politicians completely mad? I had concluded some time ago that US Republican governors were simply mad fiends in human flesh but it looks like the rot starts earlier.

BTW, do you think Hooker has ever been as far as Sarnia or Windsor, or, gasp, as far as London to see the dreaded Canadian socialized medical system in action?

Bigtree says, “We the People of the United States of America stood for freedom, stand for freedom. We will die for freedom today.

No, he/they won't die, they will kill or cripple a lot of children.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

# 6 TBruce

It was also foretold by "South Park" so it must be true.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

We're on a mission from God. Damn, I forgot to riff on that part of The Blues Brothers. I might have to go back and add that.

Now live from Del's Country Bunker

are all US Republican politicians completely mad?


This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

It was also foretold by “South Park” so it must be true.

Gary Trudeau of Doonesbury has been expecting a Trump Presidential run since at least 1987, so he beat the South Park crew by a couple of decades or so. I'm currently working my way through Yuge!, which is an anthology of Doonesbury cartoons on Trump.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

Anti-vaxxers, radical right and left, and others see our inalienable rights (Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness) and glory in those rights. These people do not see the corresponding duties (or do not fully comprehend) that their individual rights do not trump the social contract.

I know anti-vaxxers believe they are protecting the lives of their children but do not understand that they are breaking the social contract by endangering other people (both children and adults).

I am old enough to remember the first mass polio vaccinations, getting small pox vaccine. I remember my grandmother crying ( and being madder than hell) when bones from an old cemetery were dug up and being carried around by dogs because the bones could have been from anyone of four siblings killed by what is now a vaccine preventable disease.

So Orac, if you know when these people will be on the bridge, I'll drive and you can be shotgun.

because the bones could have been from anyone of four siblings killed

No doubt, you comforted your grandmother by verifying that their graves were not disturbed?

I'm diggin' up bones, I'm diggin' up bones,
Exhuming things that's better left alone.
I'm resurrecting mem'ries of a love that's dead and gone.
Yeah, tonight I'm sittin' alone, diggin' up bones. -- Randy Travis

Y'know, it's strange that these guys think avoiding extramarital sex is an absolute protection against HPV. Even ignoring their childrens' right to not be preemptively punished by their parents for decisions they may later make as adults, what strange school of immunology is this, that believes viruses are warded off by marriage vows?

(Or maybe they think their slut daughters should be punished for not properly treating their husbands, forcing their husbands to stray, or for wearing the sorts of clothes that would tempt a rapist? But honestly, that's far too likely, and far too depressing, a possibility to consider. I'd rather hold to the funnier idea that they think wedding rings ward off evil STD spirits.)

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

Tom Hooker...that name rang a bell. Yes, because "parental rights" and "parental choice" are often paired with support of homeschooling without "governmental interference," and yes, he's right there. IMHO, it is often fundie-speak for "Let me beat my children, allow me to let them die of preventable diseases, and keep them ignorant 'cause they don't need no education." I've read nothing about Hooker that would dissuade me from that position.

are all US Republican politicians completely mad?

They didn't used to be. I think the party first started going off the rails with Dole.

By shay simmons (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

are often paired with support of homeschooling without “governmental interference"

Gee, Ellie;You say that as if it were a bad thing. Homeschooling is usually vastly superior for primary education over the government screwells that teach little more than how to be submissives and obedient workers.

G-d of Israel! J-sus! Shiva! Universe!**

Is this truly the Year of the Loon (tm)?

I swear I am trying so hard to keep an even keel *despite* working on a project whilst watching election news ( as I actually must) but seriously...

Del has gone off the rails-
Andy is 'sign from G-d'? An answer to a prayer?
Yeah, I suppose if G-d were trying to teach him some sort of a lesson or had a perverse sense of humour but I digress.

It's amazing that he has continued so long shilling his abysmal film. Wasn't the premier on April First? I mean, he's got SEVEN months out of this very thin gruel?

It should be noted has Orac's old pal, Jason Chaffetz, is up to more mischief and is in the news presently.

** something for everyone

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

Hilariously, he even basically tells the audience that God told him to make this movie.

God apparently chose Donald Trump to be the President of the USA.

A singularly apt quote:
"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires." - Susan B. Anthony.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

@ Cali Arcale

Y’know, it’s strange that these guys think avoiding extramarital sex is an absolute protection against HPV.

This starts as a very romantic and bucolic view of life. If you only have one sexual partner in life, and your partner only has one (meaning you), well, yes, you won't get any STD from the outside.

Unfortunately, life's reality isn't exactly like this.

To start with, since old testament time, it's far from uncommon for men to marry 2, 3 women in their lifetime. One of the reasons for that was that a wife dying during childbirth was also not an uncommon event, until quite recently.
Let's only mention the double standard that it's natural for men to look for sex, but slutty of women, so the firsts have more leeway to experiment.

Some STDs, like the hepatitis, also have the inconvenience of being able to be sometimes transmitted outside of sexual intercourse.

Then you have the unfortunate implications of having acquired an STD by being the victim of some physical assault, just under this dude weasel words' on "responsibility".
I frelling hate this society in which a woman (or any other human being) should feel guilty because some pervert found her to his taste.

If my children are raised in a godly Christian home,

I don't wish any ill to his children.
But I will just point out that us promiscuous, secular Europeans have less abortions and far less teenager moms than many "godly Christian" US states.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

Orac@17: Thanks for linking those posts. I've seen some of John Rogers' work (the Crazification Factor and the comparison of Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged), but not those two posts. Of the four senators Rogers identified as "sane Republicans" in the 2004 post, three are no longer in the Senate, and the fourth (McCain) has gone over to the Dark Side.

I grew up in a family of moderate Republicans, back when there was such a thing. My father (from eastern Colorado--for those readers who know the state, the town where he grew up is in the district that Corey Gardner represented before being elected to the Senate) and my mother (from South Dakota) grew up in places where respectable people were expected to be Republicans. But I saw while I was still in high school that the Republicans were headed in a dangerous direction (the first Presidential election for which I was old enough to vote was Bush-Dukakis in 1988), and my mother saw by 1993 that the self-proclaimed Christian evangelicals were taking over the party. Today both of us are reliable Democratic voters. My relatives who still live in South Dakota have become wingnuts.

shay@16: The signs that the Republicans were going off the rails were definitely there by the Reagan administration (many trace it back to Nixon's Southern Strategy in 1968, though I am too young to have seen that firsthand). But there were still some Republicans I could respect--people like Warren Rudman and Howard Baker, with whom I didn't always agree but could accept that they weren't crazy. But the Contract on America election of 1994 was a turning point--since then it has been SOP for Republican legislative leaders to not work with Democrats, even on something as basic as a Federal budget. After that, it was a matter of time before the remaining Republican moderates retired or were coopted (or in Lugar's case, were primaried out from the right).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

But I will just point out that us promiscuous, secular Europeans have less abortions and far less teenager moms than many “godly Christian” US states.

Those correlations hold even within the US. The "godless liberal" US states generally have lower rates of abortion and teenage pregnancy (not to mention divorce, another thing Christians allegedly frown upon) than the "godly Christian" US states. That's mainly because, although it is very difficult to get pregnant if you don't have sex, many of the "godly Christian" states require teachers to explain that that's the only way to avoid pregnancy, whereas the more liberal states recognize that most adults (and many teens) find inserting tab A in slot B to be a pleasurable experience.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

@ Eric Lund:

They've got worse.

As someone who's studied sub-cultures et al it seems that there's definite movement away from reality/ facts AND

- their platforms don't match up well with the average person's beliefs ( more people agree with the Dems' positions)
- they represent a more rural, older, whiter, less educated perspective ( as the country is becoming more diverse, urban and educated)
- a recent poll showed that they thought that life has got worse since the 1950's ( the Opposition believes that it's got better)

A few weeks ago, I watched a newsguy interview people waiting in line for a Trump rally and was quite disturbed by their answers.
These people think so differently from the way I do. It's alarming to me- I feel alienated

We elites had better stick to our candy@ssed ways and drink our lattes in peace in our own 'hoods.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink


I saw where Jason Chaffetz has stood his moral high ground and wouldn't vote for trump because of his daughter. He has now switched and will vote for trump because of his daughter and that HRC is bad. I am confused by what this bozos moral are.

Gah. I take better care of my horse than these people do of their children. He gets his "shots" every spring and fall (flu/rhinoneumonitis/VEE/Tentanus/rabies/etc.). Now, if he never left the property, he'd probably just need tetanus and rabies, but he's a show horse and trail horse, so he does "meet" other horses, so he get them all. 45+ years and I've never had a horse suffer from any of the things he's vaccinated against (wow!). SIgh. Talk about literal "herd" immunity.....Poor kids. (Needless to say, my parents saw to it that I received all necessary vaccines - and I was born in 1945).

@ #24

– they represent a more rural, older, whiter, less educated perspective ( as the country is becoming more diverse, urban and educated)

It seems that at least some are relocating to the "Redoubt:".…

It would be nice if their God would rapture them forthwith but, I suspect this won't happen in a timely manner.


Gilbert @17: Homeschooling really runs the gamut from well-planned programs for circus kids, acting kids, Olympic-level athlete kids and sick kids to basically college for the very precocious to absolutely nothing. It is a far wider spread than is seen in physical schools.
The issue is that for non-working children there is often very little or no oversight so there is no way to know that a child is getting any education at all, even on the most basic subjects of reading and arithmetic.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

I didn't make a blanket statement about homeschooling. I have one friend who did homeschooling and another who did "unschooling." The child of the latter is now attending college. However, when homeschooling is connected with getting rid of "government interference," it frequently falls into the category I mentioned. HSLDA is a prime example of protecting child abusers under the guise of protecting homeschooling families from the Evil Government. Refusing to vaccinate children for whom vaccinations are not contraindicated is, IMO, child abuse. Not in the legal sense, but definitely in the moral one.

There are ways for the government, BTW, to oversee homeschooling without "interfering."

By Ellie (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

In reply to by JustaTech (not verified)

Being as most of Del's family is in Christian ministry, I am surprised I have not heard this God story from him more often. I am also surprised his father tried to talk him out of it. Maybe father is less nutty.

Re: Homeschooling. There are good public schools and bad ones. There are good private schools and bad ones. There is good homeschooling and bad homeschooling. Blanket statements just don't work.

Basically, JustaTech, you're miffed about having to leave the office to engage in off-site parabiosis.

@ Eric;

"Are all US Republican politicians completely mad?"
If we take the "all" and the "completely" literally, the answer is "No." Most have a limited set of exclusions to their madness, and a few are not-significantly-mad-at-all, but merely ideologically blind to certain forms of madness [for example, capitalism ;-) ]. However, a majority of national US Republican politicians are mad to a disturbing and dangerous degree. As such, granting that "all" and the "completely" are figurative, as is the binary form of the question, I'll suggest the proper Simple Answer is "Close enough".

I'm old enough to have seen the Southern Strategy and other Nixonian moves firsthand, and I'd rate them 'despicable, but not mad'. I'd say you have it close to correct, in that I'd place the tipping point as the Reagan campaign in 80, when Poppy Bush, despite knowing that supply-side was Voodoo, signed on the Old Republicans apparently beloved by John Rogers as wing-men to the damn-the-evidence hard right ideologues, with the fruit of this abdication brewing throughout the ensuing years until emerging pretty-much full-form in the Gingrich Contract.


When the Republicans could elect politicians like Edward Brooke, they could at least pretend to be a party for all races and try to offer a genuine alternative to the somewhat paternalistic policies of the government.

And that held up during the Bush presidencies since there are Hispanics in the Bush family, and appointees like Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell.

But the Tea Party revolt and the hardline conservative policies advocated by Rush Limbaugh have left relatively moderate Republicans like Heather Wilson increasingly isolated.

I think the real tipping point in Republican tax policies came after George Bush broke his no tax pledge in coordination with a Democratic Congress to pass a needed tax increase that ultimately led to the revenue surplus at the end of the Clinton presidency, but had it shoved in his face in the following election.

The vaccine exemption question still comes up in the New Mexico legislature.…

But, I can't think of any of our legislators who are quite that overly anti-vaccine.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 28 Oct 2016 #permalink

Folks in CA may be feeling better with SB277 in effect (with appeals to stop it failing repeatedly) and Bob Sears possibly down and out from a medical board complaint, but Orac's post illustrates well that the AV movement is far from beaten and far from down and out. The Vaxxed and AoA peoples(and RFK Jr) squealed mightily regarding a recent request that the CDC "whistleblower" William Thompson testify in a medical malpractice case. The request was properly denied (with with good cause, as very well explained by Professor Reiss (… ), but AVers will add this to their pile of perceived persecution and faux injustice and continue in their grass roots/social media campaigns such as Vaxxed/Bigtree is doing.

In my home state, the AV "paleo cardiologist"/quack Jack Wolfson has rented out a theater next month for filming a "documentary " (… ). Sadly, I see no backlash being generated on this, and my state (like Orac's) does not have an SB277 law and suffers from horribly high non-medical exemption rates.

Sorry I'm just p**sing and moaning and being a scratched record, but for once I wish either more medical boards or large medical professional societies (like the AAP, which just met in San Francisco) would speak out and go after AVers in a very public and pointed manner. I firmly believe that a lot of well-meaning parents read all the AV nonsense put out by groups like Vaxxed, AoA, NVIC and AV docs like Sears/Wolfson/Gordon/etc and fall for it because they can't find any publicrefutation of them by name by medical boards or groups like the AAP, AMA, etc. Medical boards and medical groups are making a huge mistake in thinking that parents will figure it out on their own (because what AVers say is so brazenly wrong), and they have been making this dumb mistake for over 10 years now.

This shouldn't have to come down to waiting until one's state has a "Disneyland" outbreak before things change, and I truly believe that if more were done it wouldn't come down to trying get vaccine legislation passed by states (which very difficult if not impossible in many states).

By Chris HIckie (not verified) on 29 Oct 2016 #permalink

Chris H.;
Are you seeing evidence that a new crop of well-meaning parents are falling for the AV nonsense of Vaxxed and AoA? I sure don't want to apologize for the shruggie medical boards and professional associations, who absolutely should refute this stuff very publicly regardless. But it seems to me the AVs have been moving ever fringier and nuttier for awhile now, and I doubt their little bubble of true believers is big enough to pose much threat to collective immunity. My thought has always been that the dangerously low uptake rates depend on reasonable parents getting just enough un-countered vague second-hand cautions that they get worried into in-action without ever getting too deep into AV conspiracy theories or ever visiting a site like AoA. They don't have the AVs bedrock surety that vaccines 'damage' kids, they just want to err on what they see as the side of caution. This depends on innocent thinking that VPDs are no big deal, and the publicity Disneyland received put a massive dent in that naivete. When VPD outbreaks hadn't been in the recent news, and AV spokes-folk were putting on a less kooky face and speaking in less apocalyptic tones, vaccine worries had a much easier time getting spread around.

'Vaxxed' has failed to make any significant splash in the broader culture, to ever really got out of the AV bubble. Outside of the fringies, I think it's totally ho-hum these days, and every new blast from Del smells of desperation to me. And as disgusting as Wolfson is, I have a hard time imagining he's got any influence outside of a sort of 'cult' group of patients.

Nor do I imagine he could ever generate a 'documentary' anyone would watch. Del may be full of bizarro bat-crap, but he's a professional and knows how to run a production. Filmmaking is a prime target for Dunning Kruger: the woods are full of wanna-be's who think it's easier than whatever they made their money doing, announce big plans, acting cocky, open their wallets, and then just wind up with nothing at all or utter garbage, and a fist full of bills. If Jack Wolfson wants to make a movie, I say "go ahead", as the odds are he'll lose his shirt on it.

Not to worry too much though. He's charging $34-$45 for his 'seminar' at the Herberger, probably imagining his fans will thus fund his little vanity-project, but if he gets enough attendees to cover the rental of the theater, I'd be surprised.

Anyway, i could be wrong about the retreat of AV among the still-mostly-sane masses, especially in terms of your specific locality. If you do see any uptick in vaccine worries among your patient contacts, do tell us about it. But if I were you I wouldn't get TOO worried about the persuasive effect of Wolfson, Bigtree et al., Communication/persuasion is my field, and m expert opinion is that for the most part these guys don't have anywhere near the chops. Oh, they're good enough to keep their cons going profitably with the true believers, but expanding the tent? i don't think so.

BTW, there's new SSPE data reported recently, via CIDRAP (the link is a PDF).

@ DGR:

Although I've never been *quite* in that territory, I've had a few *interesting* experiences** in the so-called Mountain West ( precisely, near Mesquite, Nevada and near Golden, CO) that caused me to lose my usually supercool demeanor and tied a knot in my stomach. I am very rarely rattled by (even very large) men just speaking.
-btw- they were all as white as I am.

** respectively, being told angrily in a liquor shop to "get out of 'Dodge'" so to speak- "and go back to my own country" ( heh) by an aggressively obnoxious fellow patron of said shop and followed to my car
and overhearing a bizarre conversation amongst much older, very large ranchers ( wearing cowboy hats) from Idaho contra 'dang liberals' and water rights whilst in the pool at a hotel. I slipped away unnoticed lest I had to speak to them.
I later learned that that family of land rights loonies live very nearby the town of Mesquite.
AND please don't ask WHY a nice girl like me was in Mesquite.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Oct 2016 #permalink

@ Narad:

At Alexa ( thanks for that, I haven't looked in a while) I learned that there have been declines at, ( interesting pattern over time), TMR and Mercola as well.
Declines since January. Maybe that's why their anger is peaking of late.
Perhaps their patrons are getting their Daily Woo from political sites.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Oct 2016 #permalink

re my # 38:

I mixed up the 'respectively'- anecdotes are about Golden and Mesquite IN THAT ORDER
plus- the land rights family are the Bundy clan of Bunkerville.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 30 Oct 2016 #permalink

AND please don’t ask WHY a nice girl like me was in Mesquite.

Naughty, naughty, naughty; Poke, poke, poke.

Anyone who starts a post with a Blues Brother reference deserves the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, or World Series Trophy.

By Skeptical Raptor (not verified) on 30 Oct 2016 #permalink

TMR and Mercola as well

The top search term for TMR leads to hilarity with Zoey invoking one of her GRE scores. From back when it was scored like that.

I find it truly intriguing that the sites I mentioned ( AND AoA and FoodBabe) ALL showed declines since this time last year-
What Up anyway?

Are they using other ways of communicating- I mean like FB-
not telepathy - although with some of these people- who knows-
I wonder if there are ( wherever apropos) sales declines as well.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 31 Oct 2016 #permalink