Anti-Vaxxers Could Bring Back Childhood Diseases

“The good old days”

…Replicated in some form or another in cities and towns across America, (there is) a growing grassroots movement of people who believe that vaccine mandates—for COVID, yes, but increasingly for other diseases as well—are an affront to their personal freedom. That represents a marked shift from pre-pandemic times, when vaccine opponents typically based their reasoning on medical concerns and were largely comprised of a few religious sects and a small number of left-leaning activists seeking explanations for rising rates of autism. As the anti-vaxx mandate movement gains political traction, particularly on the right, medical experts fear it could not only cripple efforts to eradicate COVID but could also lead to a surge in long-conquered diseases, from mumps to whooping cough to smallpox.

“There are some more conservative states where we are likely to see other non-COVID vaccine mandates under attack, and it is very worrisome,” says Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “If we have some of these pediatric infectious diseases come back, it will be horrific.”

Yet what scares epidemiologists now is that many conservatives who denounce vaccine mandates are eliding the medical questions of whether they are safe. Instead, says David Rosner, a Columbia University historian who specializes in the intersection of politics and public health, they’re focusing on a political view that requiring them is wrong.

“We are at the beginning of a much more profound change that may lead to resistance to other vaccines but also may lead to disintegration of any sense of social obligation, social cohesion and social purpose,” he warns. “It’s part of the questioning of what the country is and what it represents. When you see this kind of breakdown and unwillingness to work together, even under the most obvious circumstances where we’ve had more than 650,000 people die, it feels like the beginning of a major dividing point.”

I usually end a post like this by saying “I try to differentiate between ignorance and stupidity”. I have no interest, however, in letting “Stupid” win this one. I’ve said this several times before. Let me repeat myself. I’m old enough to remember springtime and gathering together with the other kids in my neighborhood to figure out who died over winter from diphtheria or pneumonia or influenza.

And even if you’re ignorant enough to make a religious crusade of libertarian healthcare choice, I hope you’re not stupid enough to offer your children a better chance of dying before they’re old enough to vote.

Conservative Libertarian hedge funder pockets $35 million state aid package

Chris Goodney/Bloomberg

Cliff Asness, the founder of AQR Capital Management, is a hard-core libertarian who opposes big government…In 2010, he described the administration’s economic team as “Cossacks on a shtetl.” In 2015, he took to the august pages of The Wall Street Journal to moan about Obamacare, and the same year claimed that global warming isn’t the big deal some people make it out to be. In 2012, he made a cameo in a documentary called Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged, and argued that the blame for the financial crisis rested squarely on “all-intrusive” government policies…

…You might think that, when approached by the state of Connecticut, where his firm is headquartered, about accepting a $35 million aid package he would say, “Thanks, but we‘re good. Accepting the money would violate the principles I hold near and dear. Honestly, I wouldn‘t be able to sleep at night if I took the money.” But you would be wrong

…The assistance for…AQR, which has $172 billion in assets under management, has been questioned by some, including the state comptroller, over whether the initiative actually benefits jobs in the state.

In America, Asness once more verified you can take hypocrisy to the bank.

Why do Republicans want a Free Market for disease?


Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican, spent Tuesday being the butt of several jokes after his comments on hand washing went public. During an appearance at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, Tillis argued that restaurants should be able to opt-out of the requirement that employees wash their hands after using the restroom, as long as they let customers know.

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

The senator’s comments have inspired a dozen jokes about hand washing (Salon: “If you ever see Sen. @ThomTillis out campaigning, don’t let him shake your hand or kiss your baby.” MSNBC: “Sen. Thom Tillis’ constituents might want to think twice before shaking his hand.”) But Tillis isn’t arguing that employees shouldn’t wash their hands after using the restroom. He’s arguing that the government shouldn’t be the reason your employees wash their hands—the fear of going out of business because people think your restaurant serves feces-covered food should be the reason employees wash their hands.

The problem with Tillis’s comment isn’t that he thinks employees should be allowed to opt out of post-poop hand washings, but that he’d rather make things easier for businesses than safe for consumers. Tillis’s example takes pressure off businesses to provide safe food, and forces consumers to judge every meal’s likelihood of making them violently ill…

The reasons for regulations are premised in standards. Knowledge, science, reason are all involved in the process. One quality is eliminating all the foolishness from ignorance. We don’t need to rediscover salmonella and the illnesses caused – every time we go to a restaurant for a meal. No different from standards for tire safety and recommended air pressures. One reason, for example, why I prefer Asian tires made to meet Japan’s standards. They are the most demanding in the world.

Free market idealogues, strict libertarians – have a unique and egregious personality disorder. At a minimum, you simply needn’t waste time reinventing the wheel every time you step out the door to participate in ordinary commerce. In fact, a great many processes are simplified. Responsible governance has no problem establishing standards and enforcing them.

Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager named as Ron Paul’s bribery bagman

“Just make the check out to cash!”

The campaign manager for U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican locked in a tough re-election battle, resigned late Friday in fallout from a scandal stemming from his time with the 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign.

McConnell is facing Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in a race Republicans view as important if they are to secure control of the Senate.

While denying any wrongdoing during his time working for Paul, Jesse Benton said blah, blah, blah, blah.”

Benton was the spokesman for the libertarian Paul’s unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign when, during the Republican primary season, a supporter of a rival candidate was secretly paid by a Paul staffer to publicly switch sides.

Former Iowa Republican state Senator Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty this week to concealing $73,000 he was paid to endorse Paul over U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann.

McConnell has dropped Benton like the hot potato he obviously is.

Maybe handling a smooth job of bribery was one of the qualities that appealed enough to McConnell to choose him as campaign manager. Lots of money floating around the political career of a bought-and-paid-for hack like Mitch McConnell.

Libertarian looney sponsors March on DC with loaded rifles

Screen Shot adam kokesh

Independence Day in Washington, D.C. may see bigger fireworks if the “Open Carry March” put forth by a Marine veteran turned libertarian activist actually goes forward.

Adam Kokesh, 31, is planning a July 4 rally of pro-gun activists openly carrying rifles from Virginia to Washington as an act of “civil disobedience.” The plan, according to his Facebook event page, is to march across Memorial Bridge with rifles loaded and slung across the back “to put the government on notice that we will not be intimidated [and] cower in submission to tyranny.”

Kokesh writes that if 10,000 attendees RSVP by June 1st, “we have the critical mass necessary to pull this off.” He said he wants to have at least 1,000 actually marching in the event, and as of this writing, more than 1,400 have said they were going…

If the event goes forward, it will most likely end in arrests. The state of Virginia allows open carrying of firearms, but while Washington, D.C. allows registration of firearms, the city does not issue permits to carry them…

“Should we meet physical resistance, we will peacefully turn back, having shown that free people are not welcome in Washington, & returning with the resolve that the politicians, bureaucrats, & enforcers of the federal government will not be welcome in the land of the free…”

His latest march comes on the heels of increasingly anti-government rhetoric, with Kokesh tweeting on May 2, “It’s time to abolish the US federal government.”

Nutball. And a failure in his attempt to get to Congress via the Republican Party.

In 2010, he ran as the Libertarian alternative in the Republican primary where I live in the 3rd Congressional District of New Mexico – ending up with 29% of the vote. The “winner” of that primary got 43% of the vote in the general election for Congress btw – running against a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Rand Paul blocking treaties designed to catch tax cheats

Senator Rand Paul is coming under pressure from some multi-national businesses to drop his opposition to tax treaties between the United States and other nations.

Citing privacy concerns about Americans’ tax data, Paul, a Republican and libertarian, has single-handedly blocked Senate action on treaties with Hungary, Switzerland and Luxembourg that have been signed by authorities on both sides, but have been awaiting Senate review since 2011.

At least six other tax treaties or treaty updates — with Chile, Spain, Poland, Japan, Norway and Britain — may soon be added to the Senate’s queue for confirmation votes.

Major U.S. businesses such as IBM Corp and Fluor Corp are lobbying for Senate action on tax treaties, according to Senate lobbying disclosure documents.

“How many treaties will be held hostage?” asked Cathy Schultz, a lobbyist for the National Foreign Trade Council, a Washington, D.C.-based group that represents companies such as Caterpillar and Pfizer.

Paul has said he is concerned that recent treaties would give foreign governments too much access to U.S. citizens’ tax information, a stance that has some support among like-minded conservative libertarians.

“Rand Paul is not a typical senator who may bend over to business lobbyists,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy at The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank…

He’s right. Paul bends over for the thugs who own the business lobbyists. And the Cato Institute btw.

No new tax treaties or treaty updates have been approved since 2010, when Paul was elected as the junior senator from Kentucky on a wave of support for Tea Party-aligned Republicans.

Paul recently declined to answer questions from a reporter in a Capitol hallway about the “hold” he has placed on the treaties. Under Senate rules, one senator can prevent a motion from reaching a vote on the Senate floor…

In recent years, tax treaties have begun to play an increasing role in efforts by the United States and major European Union countries to crack down on tax avoidance.

The U.S. Treasury in 2012 began signing new tax pacts with countries as part of implementation of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a 2010 anti-tax-evasion law.

Hilarious. Because nutball Tea Party libertarians consider taxation intrusive to their privacy – and private gain – there are a few opportunist Republicans who think this suddenly makes that party less pro-Business.

It may show the party to be pro-stupidity by trying to interfere with global commerce; but, Paul isn’t doing so on behalf of people who are screwed by global corporations. He’s doing this to protect the profits squirreled away in tax havens like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands by crooks who wouldn’t pay a fair share to their own funeral if they could get away with it.

Texas libertarians say Ron Paul defrauded them of $20K

Catch me if you can!
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A libertarian organization that paid for plane tickets and other expenses for Rep. Ron Paul says after an audit that the Texas Republican defrauded the group for about $20,000. The group is pushing Paul for repayment and exploring legal remedies.

The Liberty Committee, a nonprofit headed by former Paul aide David James, said in an April 16 letter that about two-thirds of the 63 airline tickets the group reimbursed Paul for were also paid for by taxpayers.

“In short, this practice of double or duplicate billing enriched you while draining funds intended for legitimate projects,” the letter read.

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton said James, who worked for Paul for 18 years and says he still supports the lawmaker’s political message, is “pursuing a personal grudge” against the Texas Republican. Benton said Paul will be “happy” to review the allegations…

As reported by Roll Call in February, Paul was paid twice on several occasions for flights between Washington, D.C., and his Congressional district, receiving reimbursement from taxpayers and also from a network of political and nonprofit organizations he controlled, according to public records and Paul’s credit card statements.

Handwritten notations on credit card statements indicate Paul billed the Liberty Committee, his campaign, his political action committee and another nonprofit, the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education, for plane tickets and other expenses for which he also billed taxpayers.

In all, Roll Call found 26 flights from 1998 to 2005 for which several layers of documentation show double payments.

But the Liberty Committee audit revealed a new set of flights that it said were reimbursed twice, bringing the total number of such instances to 52.

I guess one of the qualities that differentiates the Libertarian Right from the Libertarian Left is that you’re allowed to steal. Or is it just Texas Republican ethics?

Pirates of Silicon Valley!

If you float it, they will come.

That’s the lesson of Blueseed, a brave new utopia for startups that will be anchored in international waters, 12 miles off the coast of the San Francisco peninsula — aka Silicon Valley — sometime in the second half of 2013…

Blueseed is funded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and early investor in Facebook. Famous for his libertarian views, Thiel is eager to create more havens for startups that are free from all government regulation — indeed, from all laws…

As laughable as it may sound to some, startups are flocking to fulfill Thiel’s vision. Blueseed has released the details of a survey on its website, which shows 133 international startups willing and eager to get on board. A plurality are from the US, but there’s also a lot of interest from India, Australia, Canada, Europe and practically every other area of the world:

What’s the draw? Well, partly, it’s the fact that no U.S. passport or visa would be required to live and work on board the vessel…

Mostly, according to Blueseed’s survey, it’s the proximity to Silicon Valley, less than half an hour away by helicopter or somewhat more by shuttle boat and bus. But we wonder if the startup founders have been also tempted by the Googleplex-like array of amenities promised: high-speed wifi across the ship, 24-hour cafes, a full-service gym, concierge, medical services – and a post office.

What a crock! I mean – pirate radio works and pirate venture capital could work – if no one becomes accessible by landing onshore to go shopping for the latest in gamer gear. Landing without passports, without clearing TSA or TCE. Har!

This clownshow will be busted as soon as the IRS gets irked enough to pay attention to their helicopter and shuttle fleet.

Leave it to a conservative Libertarian nutball to think he’s above paying taxes.

What happens when a Libertarian think tank challenges the corporate Republican bosses who fund it

From its perch in a spacious brand-new headquarters blocks from the White House, the Cato Institute has built on its reputation as a venerable libertarian research center unafraid to cross party lines. Now, however, a rift with one of its founding members — the billionaire conservative Charles Koch — is threatening the institute’s identity and independence, its leaders say, and is exposing fault lines over Mr. Koch’s aggressive and well-financed brand of Republican politics.

The rift has its roots, Cato officials said, in a long-simmering feud over efforts by Mr. Koch and his brother David Koch to install their own people on the institute’s 16-member board and to establish a more direct pipeline between Cato and the family’s Republican political outlets, including groups that Democrats complain have mounted a multimillion-dollar assault on President Obama. Tensions reached a new level with a lawsuit filed last week by the Kochs against Cato over its governing structure.

“We can’t be perceived as a mouthpiece of special interests,” Robert A. Levy, chairman of Cato’s board, said in an interview. “The Cato Institute as we know it would be destroyed.”

At a tense meeting in November at Dulles Airport outside Washington, David Koch and two family emissaries laid out what they described as the “intellectual ammunition” they envisioned that Cato could provide by supplying its brand-name research and scholars to Koch-financed political advocacy groups, according to Mr. Levy.

The one Koch-financed group mentioned by name at the meeting was Americans for Prosperity, which played a major role in the Republicans’ 2010 takeover of the House and is now preparing for the November election. Structured as a nonprofit, the group does not have to disclose its donors. It has backed Tea Party groups, organized rallies and paid for negative advertisements, drawing criticism from campaign finance watchdogs and Democrats over the flow of secret money to political causes…

…Mr. Levy said he balked at tightening ties between Cato and the Kochs’ advocacy groups, expressing concern that the brothers might try to select Cato’s research topics and the timing of its studies. Any perception of political influence could compromise Cato’s nonprofit status and stain its credibility, he said in an interview…

“This is an effort by the Kochs to turn the Cato Institute into some sort of auxiliary for the GOP,” said Edward H. Crane, who is president of Cato and co-founded it with Charles Koch. “What he is doing now is detrimental to Cato, it’s detrimental to Koch Industries, it’s detrimental to the libertarian movement.”

It’s also perfectly consistent with the class-based ideology of people like the Koch Bros. It’s their money, they founded the Cato Institute with their money, they own it. Ethics, responsible social practices have nothing to do with the operation of what is supposed to be an independent body that deals thoughtfully with the future of American society.

The Koch Brothers giveth and the Koch Brothers taketh away. That starts with money and concludes with intellectual freedom. Something libertarians always say they care about.

Mobile euthanasia service now available in the Netherlands

Euthanasia has been legal in the Netherlands for a decade. But an organisation based in The Hague is now offering a mobile euthanasia service, prompting accusations that the law has been pushed too far.

The anti-euthanasia lobby is in a fury, branding the mobile euthanasia units “death squads” and accusing the government of not doing enough to enforce the strict medical codes of practice that accompanies the procedure.

Teams will be travelling around the country assisting patients whose own doctors refuse to help them to die. The new units consist of a doctor, a nurse and all the medical equipment required to carry out euthanasia.

Patients can choose injections administered by the medical team, or they may drink a lethal concoction of life-ending drugs. The Dutch right-to-die organisation (NVVE), which is funding the new scheme, says both options will be available on the mobile units…

The patients get to make a choice about living or dying, and if the latter – how to proceed. The Christian Phalange meanwhile will continue to beat their breasts in a paroxysm of righteous indignation.

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