Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Debate…

As a voter, I’m not a big fan of political debates.

Especially primary debates.

I’ve never really been sure what purpose they’re supposed to serve.

I mean, it’s a primary, right? So, by definition the incumbent party typically has already chosen their candidate – and let’s be honest here, unless the president actually sprouts sharp little horns from his temples and then eats an actual fat squirming little white Christian baby on  live TV in the White House Press Room while proclaiming himself the literal Prince of Darkness (insert Satanic Mawahahahahaha! here), and maybe even then depending on who the opposition candidate is, he’s going to be that party’s nominee. 

So, the only primary debates are among the opposition party, i.e. people who already basically agree on everything important.  

Take the CNN/Tea Party Republican Party Debate last week.

Most of you, conservative or liberal, didn’t even bother to watch because you already knew what they were going to say.

Abortion? Hate it!

Gays? Shame! Shame!

Illegal Immigrants? No bueno!

Taxes? Not on my watch!

Obama? Nazi!

Deficit? Bad!

Debt? Double Plus ungood!

Stimulus? Why, I never!

Jobs? Mawr!

Jesus? Awesome!

Guns? Ook! Ook!

And there you have it folks, thanks for coming and drive safely.

Really, was anybody actually expecting a surprise?

Did you expect Bachmann to come out in support of a woman’s right to manage her own uterus? (Hell, she doesn’t believe she owns her own body). Did you expect Perry to say he’s suddenly all about Social Security? Or Romney to endorse Obamacare? (Or Romneycare for that matter).  Did you expect Paul not to make the outrageous claim that he can balance the federal budget in a year without raising taxes? Or Newt not to brag about his glory days (you know, right before he resigned in disgrace).  Or Cain not to make some bizarre off the wall non sequitur? Did you expect Huntsman not to come off sane and reasonable – and therefore inconsequential?

The point of a same party primary debate isn’t to stake out your position, everybody knows your position.  The purpose of the primary debate is to declare yourself the bestest and most devoutly true member of your ideology, while at the same time calling everybody else on the stage heretics and faithless assholes.

I mean, sure, it would have been awesome if, say, Newt suddenly ripped off his shirt, grabbed the mic, and started singing It’s Raining Men! while hip thrusting across the stage with Ron Paul riding on his shoulders waving a little top hat in a spontaneous parody of Master-Blaster from the Queer Follies’ musical remake of Beyond Thunderdome (you’re welcome). Hell I would have settled for Romney and Perry engaging in actual fisticuffs, instead just calling each other poopyheads, shin kicking, and the mussing up of each other’s $500 haircut.  I would have been amused if Bachman had, in an attempt to be more White and Right than Pat Boone, outed herself as a complete batshit bananas fringe lunatic conspiracy nut.

Yeah, that would have been awesome.  But of course, nothing like that happened…




Okay, you got me.

Heh heh.  

I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. Yes, as a voter I see no point to “debates” among people who are basically just different shades of the same dull battleship gray. However, as a humorist and political blogger, man, you know, dayumn!  It’s the mother lode! Thanks. Sincerely. No really, thank you. More! More!

See near as I can figure, the entire purpose of a primary debate is to provide a fresh source of ridicule, sarcasm, jeering, and mockery. 

By now, unless you are either one of those primitive tribesmen who speak the click-click language and live deep in the rainforest eschewing all technology developed after the late Paleolithic or you are in fact a person-shaped turnip masquerading as Paris Hilton, you are aware that Michele Bachmann has declared herself the Motely Fool.

I waited a week. 

I wanted to be fair.  Everybody else was pointing and laughing, but I figured she’d veer towards the middle of the Conservative hardtack and adopt the party line.

Instead, she went on Leno.

“I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist. I was just relating what this woman said. She came up and … I wasn’t soliciting that information, she gave it to me. But the bigger issue in all this was the abuse of executive privilege and also just the connection of crony capitalism if you have a political donor that is giving to you and an action is taken by a government official that could potentially benefit that donor, that’s really the issue right now. That’s what people are worried about.”

I had to watch that twice, and then read the transcript to make sure I’d heard right.

Bachmann was, of course, trying to explain the accusation she had leveled at Rick Perry during the debate. Specifically this:

“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just wrong. Little girls who have a negative reaction to this potentially dangerous drug don’t get a mulligan. They don’t get a do over, their parents don’t get a do-over.”

She was attacking Perry for signing an Executive Order requiring that middle school girls in Texas be vaccinated against the Human Papillomavirus, i.e. the virus that has been positively linked to cervical cancer, genital warts, and a host of other adverse conditions in women (and men).  It is typically transmitted through sex, and not just the sparkly Jesus-approved kind either.  A lot of people carry HPV, maybe as many as a quarter of the population – including those who only engage in the Jesus-approved missionary style sex (yes, yes, I don’t mean you, of course, you’re an animal). Not all of those people are going to get cancer or even have any adverse effects – but a significant fraction will (oh, by the way, it isn’t just women who are affected. Men can suffer from it too. HPV can make Mr. Wiggly drop right off from penile cancer. You might want to think about that. After you stop clenching your legs together. Just FYI). 

I’ve got to be honest, frankly, I don’t see mandating the HPV vaccine for both girls and boys as anything particularly egregious – no more so than mandating any other childhood vaccine (Yes, yes, I know, torches and pitchforks are by the door, help yourselves). The drug is as safe as any other, more so actually.  Most adverse reactions are mild.  The odds are significantly higher that you’ll get cancer from the nearly inevitable HPV infection than that you’ll have a severe and lasting reaction to the vaccine. Parents can opt out if they so choose. 

I just don’t see much in the way of controversy when it comes to vaccination, at least in principle.

Obviously though, as governor, Perry went about it the wrong way, at least according to the Texas Supreme Court who struck down Perry’s Executive Order.  And, of course, as Bachmann alluded, Perry might have signed that order at the behest of a drug company.

So, when Bachmann brought it up during the debate, I figured that was her angle – executive overreach.  Payoff. I figured she’d nail Perry for exercising executive fiat … and then compare him to Obama (Obama as Nazi dictator being sort of a gimme in that forum). 

Instead, she went for the sound bite.

She went for the tweet: Girls don’t get a Mulligan.  She couldn’t wait to use that line. She had it all ready.  She expected it to flood social media, she expected it to go viral. Girls don’t get a Mulligan.  Some hip young staffer with a goatee came up with that zinger, I’ll bet you even money.  The problem is, the sound bite doesn’t work unless you come off as some kind of anti-vaxxer loon.  It wasn’t, as a governor you can’t take back an executive order, politicians don’t get a Mulligan.  It was, girls who have a reaction to this “potentially dangerous drug” don’t get a Mulligan. 

Dangerous drug. Dangerous drug.

And that only works if you believe, and you assume everybody else believes, that the HPV vaccine makes a significant number of young girls retarded (or even one, but I digress. Again).


I’d fire the guy with the goatee. Soon.

Vaccination via executive mandate? Bad. Sure. I don’t get all riled up over it, but yeah, I can certainly see this given the Republican song and dance about executive overreach. Keep your government needles out of our daughters (of course, it’s perfectly ok for the government to decide whether or not that same daughter will bear a baby, but that’s not hypocrisy. Oh no. Totally different. Move along, nothing to see here).

Governor in the thrall of Big Pharma. Bad. Sure. I think we can all agree on that. (It won’t change anything, but I think we can all agree that would be a legitimate debate point).

Hell, I half expected her to pull out the standard conservative canard: vaccinating 12-year old girls against HPV will turn them into filthy whores, just like their mothers (Question: if the HPV vaccine makes girls into dirty sex monkeys, how come penicillin doesn’t? Or Tetracycline? But, again, I digress).

HPV vaccine makes your kids retarded. Wait. What?

So I waited a week figuring she’d back away from that last statement.  I thought, you know, she’s crazy but she’s not crazy crazy.

Instead she doubled down.

And then last night on Leno, she said:

I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist…

I damned near fell off the couch. Wait, what? Say that again.

I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist?

I’m not an expert.

Oh really?


You know where I’m going next, don’t you?


When exactly does Michele Bachmann speak as a doctor?

When does she speak as a scientist? 

When she’s speaking about History? Creationism? Climate change?

How about when it comes to “curing” gay people?  Is she a doctor then? A scientist?

No really, I’d like to know.  When exactly is Michele Bachmann qualified to speak as a scientist or as a doctor?


I wasn’t speaking as a doctor, I wasn’t speaking as a scientist.

Of course she wasn’t.

When the hell has that ever stopped her?

She told Leno that she was “convicted” in her views.

“Convicted. I’m convicted,” she said.

“Convicted?” Leno replied. “No, you don’t get convicted until after you’re in office. That’s later. You have to get elected first.”

Convicted.  It’s like the jokes just write themselves.  Even Leno was able to get a laugh, and that’s saying something.

Convicted? Committed is more like it, as in “ought to be.”

But hell, maybe she’s on to something.

Sure.  Ask yourself this, when did the anti-vaxxers become such a force that presidential candidates need court their vote? Because that’s exactly what Bachmann was doing, pandering to the nuts.  Crazy? Maybe. Maybe crazy like a fox too.  Think about it, what other candidate is courting the crazy vote?


There are a lot of crazy people out there.  Why, it could be an untapped gold mine!  UFO Abductees? Moon Landing deniers? 911 Truthers? Grassy Knollers? Hell there’s a woman in Ohio who doesn’t believe in gay people. Just flat out denies their existence. That could be the tie breaker right there.  Bachmann would be nuts to let that vote go by.

Remember what I said about Obama sprouting horns and eating babies?  Who’s courting the anti-Christ vote? Huh?

It’s not the vaccine that makes you brain damaged.

Bachmann 2012!

Don’t just embrace the crazy, sidle up next to it and lick its ear.




ATTENTION: If you’re one of those Vaccines Are Teh Eeeeevil people and you’re about to make the standard outraged kneejerk ZOMG! AUTISM! or ZOMG! GOVERNMENT IMPLANT TRACKING DEVICE ZORK ZORK! comment, stop. Take your fingers off the keyboard. Walk away.  Don’t comment. Just leave. Go back to the mothership. Quietly.  I’m not kidding, I will delete your comment. Go away. Yes, I mean you.


  1. "'Convicted?' Leno replied. 'No, you don't get convicted until after you're in office. That's later. You have to get elected first.'"

    It might have gotten a laugh, but what a lousy setup. She is in office already, you buffoon. (And why that is, I have no idea.) You might be onto something if you specified an office.

  2. You gotta wonder what Carson could have done with a setup like that.

  3. Love the post and wonder if you've seen the direction Funny or Die took this one:


    The ending is priceless.

  4. Bachmann reminds me too much of Mrs. Slocombe in Are You Being Served? with her constant, "And I am unanimous in that!"

    Santa Cruz county, which I regret to say has many anti-vaxxers, wouldn't consider giving her the time of day, much less electing her.

    I badly want Perry to have some deep dark secret that gets exposed before the primaries next year. I should not say in print just what I think of his recent move to cut funds for women's clinics, and I hope I'd be preaching to the chorus about my opinions of his stated plans for gutting the Constitution should we be so unfortunate as to find him elected President.

  5. You missed the other great line on that interview. Evidently having a vaccination for cervical cancer give women a false sense of security because they will think it protects them against STDs. With this reasoning, I should not wear my seatbelt because it will give me a false sense of security against killer whale attacks.

  6. Great post. But you got one thing wrong:

    I would have been amused if Bachman had, in an attempt to be more White and Right than Pat Boone, outed herself as a complete batshit bananas fringe lunatic conspiracy nut.

    Actually, she did that a looooong time ago. She just hasn't realized it yet.

  7. f you’re one of those Vaccines Are Teh Eeeeevil people and you’re about to make the standard outraged kneejerk ZOMG! AUTISM! or ZOMG! GOVERNMENT IMPLANT TRACKING DEVICE ZORK ZORK! comment, stop. Take your fingers off the keyboard. Walk away. Don’t comment. Just leave. Go back to the mothership. Quietly. I’m not kidding, I will delete your comment.

    But... but you'll be depriving the poor darlings of the First Amendment Rights! Shame, shame.

    (I wanted to say it before someone else did. Because you know someone else will.

  8. @Wendelene,
    The HPV vaccine does prevent one sexually transmitted disease (STD), namely HPV. With their twisted GOP reasoning, you should not wear your seatbelt because it prevents you from dying in a car crash... just in case you get hurt by the seatbelt _before_ the fiery crash. Yes, the HPV vaccine doesn't prevent someone from catching _other_ STDs. Neither does a seatbelt or a life jacket. For those other STDs, you still need health clinics, affordable drugs, and knowledge about sexuality, reproduction & protection, all of which Republicans are trying to stop funding or just plain stop. To the GOP/TP, life begins at conception, birth is more important than the woman carrying the baby, and after that it stops mattering to them (because Jesus approves of the death penalty 'n' wars 'n' guns but not feeding the poor and medical care for children?).

  9. It's not about truth, it's about getting people to contribute to the campaign fund or the PAC. Mickey Bee isn't above appealing to the anti-science crowd that believes that all vaccines cause autism, ADD, schizophrenia, and anything else that no one understands. She could repeat the MMR lie and gain credibility with that crowd.

  10. Wendelene:
    "With this reasoning, I should not wear my seatbelt because it will give me a false sense of security against killer whale attacks."

    I have never known anyone to suffer a killer whale attack while wearing their automotive seatbelt. Seatbelts have indeed been proven 100% effective against killer whale attacks.

    In other news, a banana in your ear will protect you against alligators.

  11. I hate to say it, but even Bachmann has her job cut out for her if she wants to out-batshit Pat Boone.

  12. And that's why I included the Pat Boone ref. A birther. Jesus H. Cthulhu, what next?

  13. I've already foamed at the mouth enough on this topic (Michele Bachmann delivering a completely moronic anti-vaxxer claim). But I must congratulate you on "a person-shaped turnip masquerading as Paris Hilton". I will be sure to use that someday.

  14. The anti-vaxxers are simply taking the slow route to eliminating themselves from the gene pool. Think of them as the distance runners for the Darwin Awards.

  15. I dislike it because there is no need to vaccinate a grade schooler for a disease that is sexually transmitted. In fact there is something to be said for waiting till their immune system is more developed before giving a lifestyle vaccination.

  16. "those primitive tribesmen who speak the click-click language" don't live in the rainforest, they live in Southern Africa, where the landscape is quite arid. Duh.

    Also? My mom got her flu shot last week, and now she's RETARDED.

  17. @ParatrooperJJ: Note that the age group in question was middle schoolers, not grade schoolers. Also, note that the average age of first intercourse in the United States is now around 15. Average age of first non-intercourse sexual encounter is around 13. Note the word average and what it implies. Note that a person, especially one with a "not fully developed" immune system, can get HPV from non-intercourse sex, and often does.

    Note that once you get it, it can't be cured. Ever.

    Just saying.

  18. @Janiece, I got my flu shot last week too, and now I emit a low power GPS signal and I've noticed a Predator drone following my car. Should I be concerned?

  19. Paratrooper JJ:
    "…lifestyle vaccination."

    Nice "blame the victim" choice of words there.

  20. @Jim: Only if they fire. Only if they fire.

  21. Pretty much all of those running for the Republitards, oh, that was mean, Republicans, are fundies that give me the willies. A few of them would, I surmise, gladly strap me to a stake and light my happy ass on fire. I wish the vaccine had been around when I was a teenager, and I think it is something that every young woman should get when they start hitting breeding age (bleeding = breeding for those of you who don't know what I am talking about. That's the *old* way, dontcha know?). A few of my friends would have avoided HPV. Also, last I had heard they hadn't yet come up with a decent HPV vac for men yet. I could be wrong on that one, though.

  22. Right now there isn't even a test for HPV in men, let alone a vaccine. Anything that verifiably reduces the risk for women has to be a good thing. Of course we can rely on the charitable impulses of the pharmacy industry to make it afordable too, can't we?

  23. @MikeB : Of course we can depend on the kindness of the pharm companies. They only have *our* interests in mind, bless them (am I using this "Southern" blessing thing correctly?). Why, they only want to help us all out of the goodness of their hearts. Our lives were so much more horrible when women were given things like the b12 shot every year (instead of, you know, it being made to be too expensive, because it was easily manufactured and it *WORKED* for mood stabilization and general women's health. Who gives a fuck about that, right?). Bless the hearts of those pharmeceutical executives (I totally spelled that wrong and I just don't care right now).

  24. Actually, HPV4 (Gardasil) has been approved for use in males by ACIP (Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices). This group is part of the CDC and is not a conspiracy group. While there is no test, that's true, men can carry HPV and pass it to their partners. The goal with any communicable disease is to limit spread. Duh. As an RN who works with vaccines daily, I am constantly amazed at what I hear. HPV does not cause retardation (look at the Repub candidates, I doubt they had HPV vaccine) but may very well prevent your daughter from getting cervical cancer. "Lifestyle vaccine"? Haven't heard that before. Sigh. There's still work to do. And no, I am not a huge pro-vaccine zealot, just realize lots fewer kids get sick and die from preventable disease and fewer grieving parents.

  25. I don't think I've read one of your posts that I've considered less than a "Whoot". You must delete a lot before you publish. NOBODY can be that good all the time. ~~Pat

  26. "a spontaneous parody of Master-Blaster from the Queer Follies’ musical remake of Beyond Thunderdome (you’re welcome)."

    OOK! OOK! eeeeewwwwww!!!
    Did you really have to do that?
    On the other hand, that's a great appetite suppressant-market it and you'll make millions.


    endol: for dusting conservatives.

  27. Jim @ I got my flu shot last week too, and now I emit a low power GPS signal and I've noticed a Predator drone following my car. Should I be concerned?

    In your case, yes...I've heard tin foil hats will help. Probably should cover the shop windows as well, just in case.

    Brilliant as always.

  28. "I've noticed a Predator drone following my car. Should I be concerned?"

    Hey! You forgot to use your turn signal yesterday at 3:27pm! Bad Jim! BAD!


    fundent: really?

  29. You bastard! The most important sentence in the whole post, and you didn't even hightlight it!

    "HPV can make Mr. Wiggly drop right off from penile cancer."

    And if Michele Bachmann is helping to protect us men, by golly, you better not be bad-mouthing her!

    Oh, wait! Michele doen't want girls to be vaccinated! She wants those girls to be carriers. She wants Mr. Wiggly to drop off! "That'll help cure them gay boys, you betcha, that's for sure."

    OK, go ahead and rip her heart out, please.

  30. Jim, great post as usual. I wouldn't worry overmuch about the predator drone, I'd worry more about the spec ops team receiving the feed. Janiece had a good post the other day talking about the fundamentalist christian infiltration of the military and you know how that would work out for you. As for ParatrooperJJ: Lifestyle vaccine? Really? Since when is the urge to engage in sexual activity a fucking lifestyle choice? Grab a clue, JJ. That urge is hard wired in to the brain and if you think ANY pubescent human isn't headed down that road, you're sadly misguided. As the father of a daughter, if its a choice between offering my little girl protection from a lifetime of increased risk of life threatening disease, I'm all over it. You see, I'm a realist. I know that, despite my best efforts at education and upbringing, at some point she's gonna meet THAT guy and do THAT stuff. While I can only hope that my efforts as a role model and teacher pay off and she meets a nice guy and falls in love, I know as a resident of this planet that that may not be the case. With the vaccination, at least I'll know that if she makes a mistake in judgment, she won't be condemned for a lifetime.

  31. As a further thing I should add that I may well have HPV - my (ex)wife survived cervical cancer some years ago and, although we were both always open about previous sexual partners, there is still a chance that she got the virus from me and I live my life accordingly. My daughter has had the vaccine and is healthy and has given me the proverbial healthy and wonderful grandson. Just one of the by-products of our wonderful socialist socialised medicine up here in the frozen north.

  32. I work for a Clinical Trials unit in NYC.

    There is some evidence that the HPV vaccine may prevent some forms of anal cancer. It turns out that some cells in our butts are simmilar to cervical cells and can be affected by the HPV virus. Studies are ongoing.

    Besides, girls get the HP virus mostly from boys so all should be vaccinated in my opinion.

  33. I'm HPV positive. Two years ago I had an inconclusive pap test and was tested for it. I was given a biopsy that came out negative. So a 50 something woman, that BTW, hasn't had sex with a partner in 8 years has a sexually transmitted disease. I guess it was a "lifestyle" choice. Let's see, I met my husband when I was a senior in high school, 1976 and lived with him until 1993. Now it could have been the one boyfriend I had before him when I was junior. He was a cute little shit and did eventually dump me for a girl much better looking. I had two steady boyfriend after hubby each relationship lasting about two years. Also, there was the what I call "casual" relationship I had with a guy that lasted 6 months. I'm thinking maybe one or more of my other crappy "lifestyle" choices or a combo will kill me. You know, smoking, drinking, eating, and sitting around too much. Would I have gotten the vaccine, sure I get a flu shot every year. Wish they would come up with a shot that makes me hate chocolate and want to run every morning a 5 a.m.

  34. Okra God said: The anti-vaxxers are simply taking the slow route to eliminating themselves from the gene pool. Think of them as the distance runners for the Darwin Awards.

    I wish. Sadly for the rest of us, their collective decisions serious impact the level of immunity to these communicable diseases in the community (see herd immunity). I wish that the Darwinian effect only worked on them.

    ParatrooperJJ said...
    I dislike it because there is no need to vaccinate a grade schooler for a disease that is sexually transmitted. In fact there is something to be said for waiting till their immune system is more developed before giving a lifestyle vaccination.

    There is precedent in the Hepatitis B vaccine. Hep B is a blood borne and sexually transmitted disease and babies are vaccinated against it. There is no specific reason to vaccinate babies of women who do not have active Hep B; it could probably be done in late childhood or early adolescence. But the immunity conferred by this set of 3 vaccines seems to be very long-term, early vaccination doesn't appear to cause any problems, and immunity against this rather evil disease is a good thing. (Thus speaks someone who was immunized with the serum-derived Heptavax, rather than the safer recombinant form, which wasn't available yet.)

  35. And my daughter will get her HPV vaccine as soon as she hits age 12.

  36. ParatrooperJJ said...
    ... before giving a lifestyle vaccination

    I didn't know rape or a philandering spouse qualified as lifestyle choices.

  37. I was biting my tongue, but now I have to put in my two cents [bracing myself for attack] I am not anti-vax, and I hate the disinformation some of them spread. But I do believe in conscientious vaccination, so I can kind of see where the anti-vaxxers are coming from. The AAP recommended vaccine schedule is formulated to conservatively cover the worst-case scenario, and for many families that is simply overkill. No wonder some parents start questioning the motives of the pro-vax crowd.

    For instance, as neurondoc said: There is precedent in the Hepatitis B vaccine. Hep B is a blood borne and sexually transmitted disease and babies are vaccinated against it. There is no specific reason to vaccinate babies of women who do not have active Hep B; it could probably be done in late childhood or early adolescence.

    For this very reason, I did not get my daughter the HepB vaccine as recommended by the AAP. I know my STD status and I was fortunate to be able the stay home with my daughter when she was very young. So, instead of getting inundating her tiny body with the SIX recommended vaccines when she was two months old, I focused on the couple of vaccines that were truly necessary for our situation. Was I protecting her immune system? I dunno for sure, but it gave me piece of mind. Also, with only 2 different vaccines at a time instead of 6, it would have been easier to tell what went wrong if she HAD had an adverse reaction. And I just don't like using any medication without a true indication.

    I believe that each parent has to weigh these benefits and risks for themselves and come to their own conclusions for their own situation. Unfortunately, it is VERY difficult to get accurate information about vaccines and the diseases they protect against because the debate is so polarized. Both sides can get pretty rabid about it, and it's not helping anyone.

    By the way, in my state at least, it is relatively simple to opt-out of any vaccines you might oppose, which I appreciate. In Texas it is a little more complicated, but still very doable.

    Oh, and my daughter is ABSOLUTELY getting the HPV vaccine when she's 12. The immune system matures by age 6; 12 years old is practically grown up, physiologically; and there is no good reason on this earth not to afford her the protection against cervical cancer. Michele Bachmann is a lunatic.

    OK. Go ahead and rip me to shreds.

  38. You know, I actually thought ... or, at least, considered the possibility ... that whoever is secretly running things for the GOP staged the whole incident in order to make Perry appear more reasonable.

    As a Democrat, I've been sort of enjoying this Republican Primary Campaigning Season, because it seems to be all about falling over each other to appeal to the party base -- but when the general election comes around, whoever becomes the party nominee is going to have to do a complete 180 and start appealing to the middle. And (Huntsman aside) it's going to be damned difficult to appeal to the middle when there's all of this video of said candidate saying crazy-ass things in order to appeal to the far right.

    And while what came out of this debate is that Bachmann is batshit insane, it let Rick Perry say, "I believe in vaccines" without him having to actually SAY IT. Good heavens! It's almost as if he admitted a belief in SCIENCE!

  39. Kate, I don't see anybody ripping you to shreds over that comment, at least I hope not. Some may disagree, but not to the shred ripping level.

    I have no issue with informed parents making informed decisions on behalf of their own families. I'm a parent myself.

    Where I have a problem is the same place I always have a problem, i.e. I cannot and will not suffer fools gladly. The vast majority of anti-vaxxers are hysterical loons who endanger their own kids and mine based on thoroughly debunked psuedo-scientific nonsense that they persist in believing. They are as fervent in their idiotic beliefs as creationists. I know a few of these folks, they are zealots - they're armed with the wisdom of the internet and the support of other ill-informed hysterical loons and no amount of science or reason can convince them that they are wrong.

    Then there are the folks who believe that vaccines are a government conspiracy to do some kind of something something to citizens in order to something something nefarious scheme. These people are also loons. Conspiracy nuts of the worst kind. I also know people like this, they add 2 and 2 and get ~27.

    And as noted in the post and comments, a number of folks, especially the anti-HPV types - specifically a certain type of ultra conservative right wing Christian fundamentalist mindset - won't let their daughters get the HPV vaccine (but will make them get all the others) because they have some kind of bizarre Protestant Victorian age hang up when it comes to anything even vaguely related to sex in any way. Sex is dirty and disgusting and a duty - and oh yes, I know a number of these folks. These people are firmly convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that if they get their daughter vaccinated against HPV she will become a rutting whore. These are the same pinched faced assholes who make their kids sign virginity pledges and take their daughters to purity balls and they're the ones who scream the loudest about the sanctity of marriage and the abomination of homosexuality - and then they go home and jerk off to gay porn in the bathroom. Their religion has twisted their goddamned minds to the point that they actually think it better to risk their daughter's very life so that they can control her uterus. It's fucking bizarre. Hell, it's revolting - and I'm not easily revolted.

    It's those people who I will rip to shreds. Always. Relentlessly.

  40. Jim, sounds like you know WAY too many crazy people.

  41. Kate Hanson, guess I will be the first, but hopefully not rip you to shreds. I am the RN in the anonymous post regarding Gardasil and availability for males. First of all, what is “conscientious vaccination?” Are the nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners who provide immunizations and the scientists who research the crap out of vaccinations, not conscientious? Truly, we are not brainwashed, mindless drones eager to poke needles full of toxins into the sweet-smelling buttery flesh of innocent babies. We actually care about our patients, advocate for them, and often worry about them when we go home. Their parents do often annoy us, however. Immunizations represent a topic of particular annoyance, too, I might add, thanks to those who choose to disregard actual science.
    I will add I am also a mother, confronted with the same decisions as you. I want the best for my kids. So, I get the mom viewpoint.
    Don’t know what state you are in (Texas?) but 6 shots at two months? What schedule do they have? The CDC recommends eight different antigens combined into 3 shots, and one oral vaccine, rotavirus. Will it overwhelm the immune system? Since most kids breath, therefore are exposed to all kinds of stuff such as mold and pet dander, never mind soaps, dirt, crawling on the floor and eating the most disgusting thing they can find (in my son’s case, the cat litter box, after it had been used and before it was cleaned). He didn’t get sick, although I was pretty disgusted.
    As far as using “any medication without true indication” well, we are in prevention mode here. You don’t normally take aspirin to prevent a headache. You do get immunized to prevent a disease. Prevention is key with communicable diseases, and the very young, perhaps too young to be immunized, are the most susceptible. In that category are also of course the elderly, immunocompromised, etc. By not vaccinating your child, you are leaving him or her susceptible to disease. By not vaccinating yourself, you are leaving your family and other contacts susceptible. Vaccine preventable diseases routinely make the rounds. Pertussis, which is reasonably common, may be an annoyance for you, but lethal to your young child. Haemophilus influenzae type B (hib) percolates around, causes 3 million illnesses & an estimated 386,000 deaths yearly (and yes, it happens in the US), and 15% to 35% of survivors have permanent disabilities such as mental retardation, deafness (WHO 2005). By the way, H. flu (a bacterium) causes pneumonia and meningitis. Both of my kids got the vaccine.

    If you are in need of reliable immunization information, I suggest the following websites:

    BTW, the thought of a shirtless, flabby Newt hip thrusting anywhere is just too much to consider.

  42. Anon @ 8:17
    Thank you for your thoughts. By "conscientious vaccinations" I meant that I considered the pros and cons of each vaccine within the context of my own family's situation before deciding whether it was right for my daughter, rather than blindly following the AAP recommended schedule. I in no way intended it as a slight on any healthcare professional.

    The 6 vaccines recommended at 2 months are from the AAP schedule (HepB, Hib, DTap, PCV, Polio and rotavirus). I forgot that rotavirus is given orally. I live in Minnesota, by the way.

    I understand that vaccines are preventative. When I spoke of indication, I meant that MY daughter's risk of contracting some of the diseases is exceptionally low. As a breastfeeding only child who stayed home with me almost exclusively (and I am positive that no one in our family has HepB), I felt that protection against HepB, polio and MMR were not medically indicated for her. As soon as she started daycare and was around other kids and people we don't know, we got her the polio and MMR vaccines. Now that she's bigger and into more rough-and-tumble play, I'm going to get her the HepB. We did Hib, DTap, PCV and rotavirus when she was an infant (2 each at 2, 3, 4 and 5 months) for just the reasons you gave: those are particularly dangerous diseases. I'm currently pregnant with number two and we'll probably do a different schedule with him because who knows what his sister might bring home ;)

    So, yeah, I've been pretty conscientious about it.

    The AAP and CDC sites are pretty good, but definitely slanted towards "just go ahead and get them all". I found Dr. Sears Vaccine Book extremely helpful and much more thorough and less judgmental in going into detail all the pros and cons of each vaccine/disease combination.

  43. Kate, the issue with vaccines is a collective immunity. If you took your child to the grocery store, she is at risk. Some diseases, such as measles, are highly contagious. In fact, there have been lab-confirmed cases in Minnesota in 2011. So, if an infected person has been in the store, and sneezed, that virus can literally hang around in the air and on surfaces for 2 hours. If your daughter is exposed and is unimmunized, she is likely to get it. Generally outcomes are worst in the very young. So, if your daughter never went anywhere outside the house the risk is quite minimal. But most kids are out and about with their moms. People incubate and transmit disease before they have obvious symptoms. Think chicken pox and how it spreads. Suddenly all the neighborhood kids have it, or they used to anyway before the vaccine, and the index case infected them before the first pox erupted.

    It’s not just your daughter, but all the other people who pass through her life however briefly and barely noticed, and that is a very hard thing to control. Just be aware of the consequences of not immunizing and understand how each disease is spread, level of communicability and the risk to your daughter and others before you make that choice. Public health measures are not so much about the individual, but our collective wellbeing. The community is the patient. So, I’m not really sure I agree with your statement “coming to their own conclusions for their own situation.” The unimmunized ride on the coattails of the immunized.

    By the way, DTaP is Diptheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis. So, three things in one. The acellular Pertussis is a big improvement over the Pertussis used years ago. Good response, reduced side effects.

    The websites are slanted because that is what the science supports. If you dig deeply and go into studies about why it is the way it is, it makes sense from a public health viewpoint. I did choose to delay hep b at birth for the same reasons you did, plus what a way to greet the world. But, I understand why it’s done the way it’s done. I did, however, start the series at 2 mos. for each child. As neurondoc pointed out, there aren’t many issues with it, and “immunity against this evil disease is a good thing.” Watching someone die of liver disease is about the most horrible thing ever, no matter how they got it - alcoholism, virus, cancer, etc.

    Way to go on the breastfeeding. No substitute there, although I understand it is not for everyone, but worked great for my family. No ear infections, rarely sick, and out all the time. Good luck with number two. Babies are awesome.

    Now that I think of it, Minnesota had an outbreak of hib disease about 2009. Then there’s the measles. This have anything to do with Michelle Bachman?

  44. Jim
    Another great post. It seems I look forward to reading your posts as you make so much more sense than the majority of the professional bloggers/MSM bozos. I did throw up a little in my mouth when I read the Newt thing though. Thanks for that picture. Political debates are what they are. I agree with you that they are becoming less relevant in the primaries. I look forward to the debates for the general election.

  45. I think you might be missing something if you are just listening to what the candidates in primary debates are saying about the issues. Of course there is not much difference there. But that's not really what the debates are about. They are about style more than substance. They are about how the candidates handle themselves. How well they communicate. How well they connect with the audience. All of that is critical.

    For example, the primary between Obama and Clinton didn't have much to do with the issues at all. But the style differences between the candidates were huge. And voters needed to see that and understand that. Those differences, which are really about how the candidate views the office, and how effective the candidate might be in that office, might be a lot more important than what the candidate's own feelings are about particular issues.

  46. The seemingly universal republican belief that I should not have control of my uterus and the contents thereof would keep me from voting for any of the candidates. The intentional spreading of misinformation regarding vaccinations is beyond appalling. The only way to avoid HPV without a vaccination is to never, ever have sex with anyone. That is not a good public health policy, for myriad reasons.

    I had both of my boys vaccinated, and I didn't even know about the penile cancer link. I figured (a) genital warts was reason enough, but (b) if I could stop even one person from carrying and spreading the virus that nearly killed me (and also made it very dangerous for me to produce said person - which I did as a choice), then it was incumbent upon me to do so.

    Two fewer carriers out there in the world cannot possibly be a bad thing, and anyone who thinks it is should be subjected to months of doctors with implements up their cooch trying to find a way to stop enthusiastic abnormal cells from morphing into cancer.

  47. Great post as usual, Jim.

    I live in Texas and it's not really hard to get out of vaccines here. Not that I think you should, but the only enforcement of getting your kids immunized is enrolling in school and there is a piece of paper you can sign to exempt your kid from the required vaccines.

    My major beef with the antivaxers is that they have kept Autism research from researching treatment because they keep the money focused on the discredited link between vaccines and Autism. And I just got my high functioning Autistic, ADHD son immunized for HPV. I told him he was protecting his future wife. He's such a great kid he agreed it was a good idea.

    On yet another side note, the CHIP plan in Texas (rick perry's state) doesn't pay for the HPV shot, at least not for boys.

  48. @neurondoc:

    I know, I know - we don’t want a reservoir that allows infectious disease to become endemic. We’re actually experiencing that here in Austin with our immigrant population, not because of anti-vaxxers (though we have them) but just because they didn’t have much in the way of preventive care.

    And yes, I was being glib, cynical, and selfish. But as someone who is old enough to remember having at least one kid with leg braces from polio outbreaks in almost all of my elementary classes, I have little tolerance of anti-vaccination types.

  49. Yes, what Kate said :-D

    I am also pretty conscientious about health care decisions, especially for my children, and while not eager to associate myself with the conspiracy nut-cases, and do not always have unmitigated trust for the medical establishment, either.

    to Anonymous 8:17 (that sounds disconcertingly like a bible verse) - re:
    Are the nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners who provide immunizations and the scientists who research the crap out of vaccinations, not conscientious?

    No, but the medical establishment often places influence peddling and financial gain over safety, and it's enough to make one not blindly trust any number of health guidelines.

    While I realize most vaccines have not had thimerosal for around ten years, it did exist in the past (not THAT long ago, when we did, in fact, have the scientific method, NIH, CDC, etc, all with ethical people researching this stuff) After it became known, after about 70 years of using the preservative, that some infants could have accumulated more than the EPA standards for mercury, THEN they changed the policy of using Thimerosol as as a preservative. The outcome studies (the thoroughly reliable and valid, cross-sectional, large size ones) take time to perform. And some things don't come to light until much after a drug or vaccine is out.

    My kids got all the standard vaccines at the schedule given- I made this decision after exploring the research. However, if my daughter was 12 today, I am not ABSOLUTELY certain I would be crazy if it was mandated. This would not be because of some medieval concept of chastity, but b/c I would have to evaluate the likelihood of her being sexually active in the imminent future against the time this vaccine has been out to study AS thoroughly as I would like (post trials, when it's been out in the community at large). Depending on that probability, I might wait a couple years, and also get her input. I really do hope my kid isn't having sex at 12 because of all the risks (emotional, physical, occupational) but I hope to educate her thoroughly about all the pros and cons, and hope to have an open enough relationship with her that she could do the decision making without feeling she had to hide anything. And of course, if she is sexually active, I think the vaccine would certainly be warranted and would outweigh potential, unknown adverse findings. Thankfully, I have many years til this age (phew!) and I would like to think all the kinks will be worked out and it'll be no question that she would choose to get it right away.

    But it is complicated, and in this day and age, quite responsible to not blindly trust the medical establishment's view (or to blindly believe the hippy blogs either), and also take the time for not just good science, but excellent science, to work through.

  50. Kothi, whom I noticed is apparently a friend of Kate's judging by her blog, I take great exception to your comment "the medical establishment often places influence peddling and financial gain over safety, and it's enough to make one not blindly trust any number of health guidelines." Often? Really? Eighteen years of nursing and I never noticed that. I can only assume you are neither educated as a health care professional nor work in the field. Damn near every doctor I have worked for, or around, would willingly get out his or her warm bed at 2:00am and take of your child's emergency without a thought. And it's usually something like the disaster of green snot. They don't just do it for the money, either. Not every doctor sells out to the "medical establishment" as you refer to it. Remember, they are highly educated, independent and critical thinkers (usually -there's always the slow ones). They are not spoon fed information which they then blindly follow. Remember, too, most of us in health care are pretty overworked and managing multiple patient demands. Can't breathe in one room, maybe pre-term labor in the next, and oh crap, that guy looks gray and he's complaining of chest pain. Then there there are the drug seekers, gotta have that vicodin. There are bad eggs in every walk of life, but to say the medical establishment often places influence peddling over safety? Don't buy it. Most of us work our ethical asses off taking care of people who are happy to condemn us. But we do it anyway, because somewhere along the line, we believe in service to others, no matter how they treat us. At some point, you have to have the faith in yourself you are doing the right thing as much as you can possibly determine. That is why we sleep so well at night, plus we are exhausted from taking care of others.

  51. Anonymous- I should have clarified. What I meant by "medical establishment" I don't actually mean the front line staff- doctors, nurses, etc, but the administration, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies, (which is why I started the sentence with No, ...) but it appears I chose I poor term to describe those who are more in the profit end and less in the provider end of care- emphasis on Establishment, not so much on medical. Perhaps administrative and/or profit players is a better term.

    They often, as I've seen, with my 21 years as a health care professional, will, not necessarily out of malice, but perhaps due to their mission, job description, what have you, put the issues of efficacy, cost conservation, and even profit ahead of individual patient needs, and even in some cases over general patient needs, and this also indirectly effects public health guidelines.
    And yes, doctors, too, though here I would say seldom vs. often, do also "follow the money" at times, choosing certain procedures over others, (usually when equally safe, but even in some cases when not) for the bigger reimbursement buck, or in other cases for expediency, and others just to get a patient off ones back.
    One evident example I have seen (many, many times) has been the over prescription of anxiolytics (because those anxious clients drive are SO annoying in the middle of a busy day with more imminently pressing medical issues) without even so much as thought toward an addiction screen or a consult to a mental health professional. But of course, the insurance companies won't pay for the length of time such a contact might require, or perhaps the client is very pressing the provider for a quicker solution. And big pharm (and don't get me wrong - I am VERY VERY grateful for the many drugs we have and are necessary, and the the research and development behind them- however- ultimately, pharmaceutical companies operate by profits) is happy not to showcase the potentially harmful consequences of such cavalier prescriptive practices. Of course, a conscientious general provider (and no doubt, the majority are), in time, would note increased med seeking behavior if it progressed to that, and hopefully refer to mental health provider, but often at this point, we're talking about rehabilitative, vs. preventative care.
    But here we digress from the original post... of course, Michele Bachman doesn't truly give a damn how corporate health institutions effect patient care and even, to some extent, public health decisions, she is just interested in inflicting her personal Jesus on the rest of us.

  52. Kothi, might I ask what type of health care professional license you hold? There are many fields, and it's difficult to determine from your writing. You paint a rather unusual picture of care, or perhaps I've been lucky. Yes, sometimes we do move patients along, because we've 20 others waiting to be seen with equally legitimate needs. Sometimes we do the quick fix so the person doesn't climb the walls and refer them to mental health because that is their field of expertise, not ours. No, we cannot fix it all on the spot and some people cannot be fixed. In any event, I'd be curious to know the field you practice in since you leave me a bit confused. It might help me and others to orient to your frame of reference.

    No time for further comment - homework to do and that's a priority.

  53. As an official Crazy Person (Bipolar, N.O.S.-- symptoms fit Type 1 but my meds don't), I would like to state that Bachman will never have my vote. Even off-meds, I'm not *that* crazy.

  54. Excellent post, as always. We'll undoubtedly be able to keep counting the ways in which Michele reveals herself as insane, but the gardasil dispute might be her sole moment of clarity. While we've been having fun with her delusions, it's tangential to a valid point. Unfortunately, the messenger overshadowed the message.

    Look at it this way: If Rod Blagojevich had mandated gardasil vaccinations after taking campaign contributions from Merck, after his chief of staff took a job as Merck's lobbyist, how many counts would have been added to the indictment?

  55. see you on G+? Bernard ben Tremblay here. (Google refuses to allow any punctuation in names.) Hope so


    p.s. in Canada I'd address CWO as Sir ... which is a word I dont' use often. Is that so state-side as well? The "gunny" and "top" stuff confuses me. ;-)

  56. gunny = Gunnery Sergeant (USMC).

    Top = First Sergeant (USMC and USA)

  57. Wine Guy

    Top is also USAF, First Shirt is definitely used in the Army, don't know about the other two.

  58. Not only is having people of the same ideology debate issues lame enough, then throw in the tea party crowd who applauds Ron Paul every time he says something crazy. Why not have a primary debate set up where the opposition candidates debate with incumbent party leaders on important issues. I like that idea,much more potential for bloodshed!

  59. Why do politicians with similar ideologies debate?
    In this case, comic relief.
    Seriously, I watched the Obama-Clinton debate in Ohio three years ago, and was amazed.
    I din't expect Obama to win. He came off smarter than Hilary. I promptly wrote in Edwards, proving that both Obama and Clinton were smarter than me.
    The current set of debates don't seem very valuable, but may convince some other GOP candidate to enter the race. Maybe the Grand Old Party will come to it's senses, and elect Huntsman. Heh-heh.

  60. I don't watch debates. I don't read articles about them. I don't watch political speeches (yes, including the State of the Union address). I stay abreast of facts as best I can in our post-journalistic world. Based on my efforts to get the facts, I evaluate them, and form my own opinions. I doubt seriously that those in government, and those who have "access," know anything which would change my opinion (despite their not-infrequent statements that they know classified stuff which, if I knew it, would change my mind). Of course, some of my fact-gathering includes hearing or reading about the vitriol which seems to pervade mostly the gatherings of the "right."
    I have added your blog to my blogroll.

  61. Every once in a while I believe the Republicans go to a "Crazy Hole" somewhere, dangle a rope and see who climbs up. That's how they choose their candidate.


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