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Why are there more anti-vaxxers on the left?

still-of-nicole-kidman-in-the-invasion-large-picture

Sometimes the pod people you need to be careful of are the ones on your own side.

Ok, slight diversion before I get to why I think there are more anti-vaxxers on the left.

Back in 2006, I went to the first YearlyKos event. I was a latecomer to the whole DailyKos… thing… but my particular concerns had to do with the Iraq War and its immense costs and the attacks on Social Security, and women’s and GLBT rights. Plus, people around me were going mad, MAD!, I say! More and more right leaning people began to lean more and more right. They were getting religious, self-righteous, judgmental. They took it upon themselves to police social activities, making sure everyone stuck to a unnerving and suffocating conservative viewpoint. These pod people were everywhere in the suburbs and it was difficult to find people who were more rational, less militaristic and willing to think for themselves.

So, I went to YearlyKos I because I thought I had finally met my cohort. I’m pretty sure we were love bombed there by the media, the organizers and the politicians. (If you were there, tell me what you think in the comments) We love bombed each other as well. We went home thinking we were the smartest, most enlightened people on the planet and no one else in the world was as savvy as we were. That all changed at YearlyKos II in 2007 for me. As I sat in that convention hall in Chicago watching John Edwards film-flam the crowd like PT Barnum and watching the people around me falling for it lock, stock and barrel, I felt that familiar tinge of alienation.Yep, the left can get suckered in just like the right if you use the right words. The next morning at breakfast, my membership in the corporate R&D industry made me no longer welcome. But that was OK in a way because the last thing I wanted was to spend too much time with yet another group of people who could be flattered into losing their minds.

Yesterday, as I read some of the comments on the NYTimes article on anti-vaxxers reaction to the measles epidemic, I was struck by how many commenters were identifying anti-vaxxers with the left. I guess the left is starting to lose its shine as being the people most likely to spot a con when they see it. Some of these commenters made the link to anti-vax attitudes and the lack of trust in pharmaceuticals in general. I think I touched on that yesterday from the perspective of “physician, heal thyself”. Big Pharma has to clean up its act as a greedy, irresponsible purveyor of things that make you sicker. Except, drugs can actually make you well. I know and the pharma industry knows that it’s one of the best regulated industries in America. Of course, it won’t stay that way if the FDA isn’t kept in tip-top shape. Maybe we can take that up with the Republicans running the government right now. If the FDA ability to function effectively goes sharply down hill in the next two years, you can blame it on them. But I digress.

Big Pharma shares only part of the blame. The other part of the blame is caused by the class action industry. There has never been a side effect that they didn’t love. The class action industry has been responsible for many drugs being pulled from the market. Maybe you think that’s a good thing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But there have been some medications that have had profound quality of life benefits for patients that are no longer available because the class action industry has made it sound like every time a patient takes them, they’re risking heart attacks or cancer. We saw the front page banner headlines and those of us who can actually evaluate risk were shocked by how badly information was interpreted and distorted. Sometimes, this is in the pursuit of a story, sometimes, it’s in pursuit of monetary award.

It is worth noting that Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who discovered the fictitious link between the MMR vaccine and autism, wrote his infamous, retracted paper at the behest of class action lawyers who were hoping to cash in big when terrified parents sued vaccine manufacturers. Says BMJ author Brian Deer, a journalist hired to investigate the Wakefield claim:

Deer said Wakefield “chiseled” the data before him, “falsifying medical histories of children and essentially concocting a picture, which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare.”

To head off suits like these, the number of ADME/T models that groups like mine had to create and run to try to weed out bad early stage drug candidates grew enormously over the past two decades. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although, as I said the other day, the models have their limitations. And there were many times I saw promising projects killed because the animal model had a borderline liver assay or some other anomaly. Ok, fine, cancel the project early so that no harm comes to anyone down the line and the company doesn’t lose billions in lawsuits.

But the publicity surrounding these suits can make the general public think that the industry is putting out dangerous products. And the legal industry has an interest in keeping that fear going. It suits them very well, thank you very much.

It would be naive for the people on the left to think that the interest groups on their side don’t use fear, uncertainty and dread to get what they want- just like interest groups on the right. I’m all in favor of regulation but I am not in favor of using fear of harm as a bludgeon to reach into what are considered “deep pockets” whenever a drug interaction isn’t perfect.

That fear, uncertainty and dread has been reaching a crescendo for a couple of decades now. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to get drugs approved by the FDA. That’s part of the reason why so many of us are out of work right now. The block buster drugs discovered in the late 80’s and 90’s went off patent and couldn’t be replaced by newer drugs. The FDA insisted on an ever higher number of safety profiles and drug companies became skittish when the drugs that did get approved were quickly taken off the market for adverse reactions. It has crippled the industry, caused the price of drugs to soar and driven up the fear levels in people on the left who were influenced by the Ralph Nader crusaders.

I’m not going to say that there haven’t been imperfect drugs. But the idea that every adverse interaction is a result of negligence or malice is deliberately misleading and is now getting into the heads of people who can’t evaluate risk. Couple this with the helicopter parenting frenzy that makes every mother personally responsible for any harm that happens to a child once the umbilical cord is cut and you have a perfect storm for anti-vax activity.

Your status as a parent depends on the lengths to which you will go to protect your child- from everything. You don’t let them out of your sight for a moment, don’t let them ride their bikes to school, don’t let them eat anything with sugar, and you don’t put vaccines in their bodies that were manufactured by the sleazy, careless drug lords. It’s a competition of sorts, as any mother in the suburbs will tell you. How far will you go to protect your child from harm? Is it enough to keep vaccines out of their blood stream? Is anything good enough, protective enough, safe enough??

Parents are going to be naturally untrustworthy these days. You can get arrested for letting your kid play outside by herself. Now, add to that the fear of science and medicine that has been planted by the advocates of the class action industry that everything that goes into your body is designed to kill you for excess profit. Measles are just the tip of the iceberg.

failure to discriminate

In case anyone has forgotten, there are still people out of work

Tucson.  I hope this is the last day we beat this dead horse.

In the past week, I have stayed away from TV and radio and most blog sites.  At first it was because I was tied up with something else that needed my full attention.  But as a the week wore on, I deliberately stayed away and only read an occasional piece in the NYTimes regarding the progress of Giffords’ recovery.  And here is the result of my deliberate isolation from the media frenzy:

  • We will probably never know the true extent of the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics on the shooter’s state of mind.
  • Regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics and general right wing media craziness can not be ruled out as a contributing factor.  The little I know about the shooter’s word salad indicates that *something* had seeped in.
  • Gabrielle Giffords is a politician and she is a Democrat.  To suggest that politics had NOTHING to do with it is absurd.
  • Regardless of whether or not the infamous Palin map had anything at all to do with the shooting, vandalism, red faced furious constituents getting in Giffords’ face during meetups or the general fear of being labeled a liberal or a Democrat in Arizona, the fact that the map was connected with her website as part of a campaign to “target” supporters of the healthcare reform bill is unbecoming and irresponsible for any politician on either side of the aisle.  There is no excuse for that map.  Oh, I can see a lot of people twisting themselves into pretzels trying to come up with one but give it up already.  Have some standards.
  • I don’t care if the left is going nuts on TV.  I don’t watch TV news specifically because there’s too much histrionics.  I don’t want my emotions to be manipulated.  I advise readers here to turn the gasbags off.
  • I’ve been critical of the way Obama’s campaign organization treated half his party during the 2008 campaign.  I hated the way the media and DNC went along with it.  It wasn’t enough that I was a liberal.  No, I had to be called old, uneducated, a racist and then treated as if my vote didn’t count because I was a woman and I’d get with the program in the end anyway.  His campaign tactics were an indication of the way he was to govern.  He doesn’t care what voters really think and he feels comfortable ignoring us.  That’s why I will NEVER vote for Barack Obama.  I advise others to reject him as well.  If you feel you have no other option, you don’t have a very high opinion of yourself.
  • Sarah Palin doesn’t need our protection or support.  She made that perfectly clear in her video.  She has thrown her lot in with Glenn Beck.  GLENN BECK, people.  That’s who she gets her spiritual and  political advice from these days.  In case some of you have forgotten, it was Glenn and Rush and the whole Fox News establishment who has been pounding on liberals for the past 20 years to make sure we are afraid to say what we believe.  The right is going to continue to pound on us because that is what they do.  They hate us and want to make sure we don’t ever have a voice.  I’m not going to hand Sarah a mallet.  She is not our friend.  She is what she is.  That doesn’t make her a monster.

If the left wants to make it worse for itself, there’s not a whole lot I can do to stop it.  I can’t control other people’s behavior, I can only control my own.  I’m not joining on either bandwagon.  I’ve had enough.  I’m sick of being treated like an outcast by both parties.

If the right is so determined to exonerate Palin or the right wing media from the vitriol, they owe it to the rest of us to present evidence and a detailed study proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that their over the top, angry, irrational demonization of liberalism is not now or ever has been responsible for the intimidation of a group they have been trained to hate.  Otherwise, I’m going to look at the fact that the right has cornered the media market in many states, including Arizona, and conclude that the hatred of liberals is correlated to that market share.

I’ve never seen so much denial in my life.  The right was happy as all get out to stomp all over us before this shooting.  If it really had nothing to do with it, and I’m not saying it did, why not just admit that it was fun while it lasted?  Sarah and Glenn aren’t apologizing.  Take credit for the poison.  You deserve it!

But if you’re tired of it, like I am, turn off the TV and the radio.  Step away from the fight.  If you are an FDR type Democrat in Exile like me, this doesn’t have anything to do with you anyway.  It’s just two anachronistic, legacy parties going at each other.  It has very little to do with how people are living today.  It won’t get more people employed, fix our crumbling infrastructure, punish the bankers or end a war.  It is a major distraction.

Enough.

Tuesday: It’s official. Obama gave the country to the bankers

img_0073He had a choice.  He could have upheld the Constitution with all of the pretty language on promoting the General Welfare or he could take the easy way out and let the private investors have taxpayer funded sweetheart deals to bail out the bankers.  The bankers come out of this relateively unscathed.  The private equity firms profit no matter which way the markets go.  YOU work until you’re 85 or dead, whichever comes first, provided you can find work.  You can hear the gory details in yesterday’s podcast from Planet Money.  No matter how you slice it the taxpayers get left holding the bag.

The only thing left to do is figure out what to do about this.  The Tea Party idea might be good if it weren’t populated by so many Malkinites who think the real problem is government spending on taxpayers, who you would *think* actually deserve to profit from their hard work.  But that’s not the Republican way.  No, the Republican way is to make you think that the people below you are the problem.  It’s always the pecking order for them.

But what about Democrats?  What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans these days?  Last year, the party traded in its guiding principles for Republican Lite.  Barack Obama is definitely pro-“money class”.  He’s proven that now by Geithner’s plan where the only people to benefit already have money.  We can rage against Congress but they are feckless.  They pretend to care whether billions of taxpayer dollars go to save the lifestyles of the rich and finance.  But where are they where pensions are concerned?  What about our 401K retirement accounts that we were all forced to take instead of a pension?  What about the giant Ponzi scheme?  If Congress doesn’t back up their diatribes with action to rein in the bankers and hold them accountable for the mess they’ve made, we might as well be voting for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the left seems paralyzed.  Those of us who would rally the troops are trying to keep our jobs.  Those on the left who sold out to Obamamania last year seem like bewildered children who discovered something nasty about their parents.  They just can’t believe it.  But it’s worse than that.  Obama has effectively neutralized the left with the left’s help.  His campaign attacked it from within and made it helpless.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on this interview of Margaret Atwood on Bill Moyer’s Journal.  The topic was religion and government but she could be talking about any group that seeks power for its own sake.  The last five minutes of the interview is the relevant part:

This is something we recognized early on: *WE*, the liberals of the left, were Obama’s opposition because we were supposed to be the closest to him ideologically.  He had to either co-opt us or discredit us and Voile!, no one on the left could stand in his way.  That’s how the PUMAs and others like us became the old, uneducated, working class, menopausal females because who wants to sit at that lunch table?  That’s why we were called racists because we supported the person who was the real progressive, the real change agent.  That’s why we became the “Old Coalition”, as Donna Brazile called us.  We were the heretics of a new religion.  The question is, what do we do about it?  Because if we do not reconstitute the left, all that remains is the right.


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