Money Kills

I believe I hold anti-vaxxers in the same regard I do gun-worshippers.  It’s all ok until you put someone else at risk…which you do all the time.

What triggered this latest outburst of dismay and disdain? This Washington Post report on a new front in billionaire fuckery:

A wealthy Manhattan couple has emerged as significant financiers of the anti-vaccine movement, contributing more than $3 million in recent years to groups that stoke fears about immunizations online and at live events — including two forums this year at the epicenter of measles outbreaks in New York’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

Of course the folks at the epicenter of this malicious nonsense are hedge fund MOTUs:

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Bernard Selz and his wife, Lisa, have long donated to organizations focused on the arts, culture, education and the environment. But seven years ago, their private foundation embraced a very different cause: groups that question the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

I don’t know what it is about the thrill of ultra-successful rent seeking, but somehow that much money gained so incommensurately with effort or social utility seems to convince those dancing in its golden shower that they are absolutely suited and even obligated to set the terms of social life for all of us. Which means they get to kill folks with impunity.

And I do mean kill, as in blood on their hands; in this case, often that of children.

Nine At least two reportable vaccine preventable deaths in the US in 2017, the last year for which I could easily find CDC data. Add to that the suffering (and expense) of all the non-fatal cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, including the record-breaking number of cases of measles in 2019 – 1044 as of June 13, more than any year since 1992, and thus the most since measles was briefly and optimistically declared eradicated from the US in 2000.

Oh those halcyon and innocent days when we thought that folks would rejoice at being released from a once epidemic reaper of children!

Why are these reckless rich pukes doing this? No one seems to know:

How the Selzes came to support anti-vaccine ideas is unknown, but their financial impact has been enormous. Their money has gone to a handful of determined individuals who have played an outsize role in spreading doubt and misinformation about vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The groups’ false claims linking vaccines to autism and other ailments, while downplaying the risks of measles, have led growing numbers of parents to shun the shots.

There is an increasingly direct line between such funding and the actual harm produced by anti-vax propaganda:

The Selz Foundation provides roughly three-fourths of the funding for the Informed Consent Action Network, a three-year-old charity that describes its mission as promoting drug and vaccine safety and parental choice in vaccine decisions.

Lisa Selz serves as the group’s president, but its public face and chief executive is Del Bigtree, a former daytime television show producer who draws big crowds to public events. Bigtree has no medical credentials but holds himself out as an expert on vaccine safety and promotes the idea that government officials have colluded with the pharmaceutical industry to cover up grievous harms from the drugs. In recent weeks, Bigtree has headlined forums in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Rockland County, N.Y., both areas confronting large measles outbreaks.

And here’s the quote that made me think Sing Sing is too comfortable for such folks:

“They should be allowed to have the measles if they want the measles,” Bigtree told reporters outside the Brooklyn meeting on June 4. “It’s crazy that there’s this level of intensity around a trivial childhood illness.”

I used to think we needed confiscatory estate taxes so that, for example, the Koch brothers would have had to go out and actually earn some scratch before they got to buy the US judiciary.  I still think that’s a necessary corrective to wealth inequality, but I’m now wondering if a pre-mortem levy might be necessary if we’re ever going to recapture the public space from the depredations the wealth-makes-me-smart crowd.

Oh, and one more thing: adults need vaccines too.  I realize I haven’t asked my PCP if I’m up to date in my last couple of check ups, and plan to correct that omission STAT. Free advice, worth what you paid for it…

Image:  attr. to Philippe de Champaigne, Portrait of a Dead Child, c. 1650.








Apparently In Other Countries Political Leaders Blatantly Lying is a Crime

This is revolutionary:

Boris Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over claims he lied by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week.

The Tory leadership candidate has been accused of misconduct in public office after making the claim during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

It is a private prosecution launched by campaigner Marcus Ball, who crowdfunded £200,000 for the case.

Mr Johnson’s representatives have called the case a “stunt” that is being “brought for political purposes”.

The preliminary hearing will take place at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and the case will then be sent to the Crown Court for trial.

The BBC’s assistant political editor, Norman Smith, said the allegations could not come at a worse time for Mr Johnson, and his critics are likely to use the claims against him in the upcoming contest to become next Tory leader and prime minister.

The £350m figure was used by the pro-Brexit Vote Leave group throughout the referendum campaign on the side of a red bus, calling for the UK to “fund our NHS instead”

How quaint. Our media can’t even identify falsehoods as lies, so I don’t know where we would start.








Michael Flynn Urged Matt Gaetz On While Supposedly Cooperating – And Open Thread

CNN got some Twitter direct messages between Michael Flynn and Congressman Matt Gaetz, praising Gaetz for attacking the Mueller investigation, with which Flynn was supposedly cooperating.

“You stay on top of what you’re doing. Your leadership is so vital for our country now. Keep the pressure on,” Flynn wrote in an April 2018 message to Gaetz, which was obtained by CNN.

The contempt these people have for the law is stunning. It’s just like Paul Manafort’s constant lying when he supposedly was cooperating. In meme language,

The common point could well be a promise from the godfather that they would be taken care of.

And Open Thread!

 








Beating The War Drums

National Security Advisor John Bolton still thinks that the Iraq war was a good idea. He has never met a war he didn’t like or a treaty that he did. Now, as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, he has a great deal of power to make war against Iran. Bolton has given speeches for the MEK, a cultish organization that wants regime change in Iran.

Trump pulled the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, Iran deal) a year ago, under the fiction that his great deal-making skills and “maximum pressure” would force Iran into a deal where they would change their government, stop supporting Hamas, end all nuclear work, and, probably, build a Trump Tower Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has listed twelve points that Iran must meet to become a good world citizen in his eyes. Presumably, as in the case of North Korea, Iran must meet all those points before sanctions will be removed.

The JCPOA covers the possibility of Iran’s making nuclear weapons in full detail. Iran is complying with the agreement. But that’s not enough for a faction in the United States and Israel who opposed the JCPOA from the beginning and have continued to agitate for withdrawal from it. Read more








Keeping Women Barefoot And Pregnant

The Georgia legislature passed a law making abortion after six weeks of pregnancy illegal. I won’t go into all the details of the law. The theory is that a fetal heartbeat can be detected at that time. This is nonsense, because the embryo (it isn’t a fetus until nine weeks after conception) doesn’t have a heart at that point, although it does have a group of cells that, with luck, will become a heart and pulse together.

Pregnancies are defined from the last period, so six weeks is about when a period is late enough (for most women) that the woman starts thinking that maybe she’s pregnant. So the law bans all abortions. It also, and I haven’t dug into these details, makes it likely that women who have miscarriages can be convicted and imprisoned. Some asshole also said that it applies to ectopic pregnancies too, because the embryo/fetus should be removed from its unfortunate implantation outside the uterus and gently placed into that uterus. This is also nonsense – no such procedure has been developed.

Ohio wants to ban insurance coverage for abortion and most types of contraception. (Thanks, debbie!)

Alabama has also indulged in some sort of fuckery around a forced pregnancy law, but they haven’t gotten to voting on it yet.

The ACLU and others are challenging the Georgia law. At least two movie production companies are withdrawing from making movies in Georgia.

The responses on Twitter have been great. Here are some.

Great thread here – women will identify, and men should think about this.

At six weeks, the embryo is microscopic. A late and difficult period may well be an early miscarriage. Will the legislators want to examine menstrual fluid for those microscopic people?

You can donate to Planned Parenthood here. (thanks joel haines)

I think it’s cool that so many women are talking so candidly about menstruation and related matters.

Over to you all.