Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times: Chris Christie’s Crazy Vaccine Comments Are Crazy — And Never Mind That His Position Is the Same As Obama’s, Because We Simply Won’t Tell You That

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:40 pm

Like many of the mindless bleating sheep in Big Media today, the folks at the L.A. Times are busy creating a scandal out of absolutely nothing from Chris Christie’s comments today on vaccinations:

“There’s a debate going on right now in the United States, the measles outbreak that’s been caused in part by people not vaccinating their kids,” the reporter noted. “Do you think Americans should vaccinate their kids? Is the measles vaccine safe?” he asked.

Christie responded that he and his wife had gotten their four children vaccinated. “That’s the best expression I can give you of my opinion,” he said. “But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.

“It depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is and all the rest,” he said. “You have to have that balance in considering parental concerns because no parent cares about anything more than they care about protecting their own child’s health.

“Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others,” he added.

So far, this is straight news reporting of what sounds like a fairly sensible statement to me. If anything, it sounds a bit statist, allowing parents only “some measure of choice” while leaving the ultimate decision in the hands of government. Obama’s current position, by the way, is exactly the same: parents should be able to choose. Allahpundit notes that Christie’s position “is basically indistinguishable from the White House’s” and provides, as proof, this tweet containing Josh Earnest’s articulation of the president’s position — which is, and I quote: “[T]he president certainly believes that these kinds of decisions are decisions that should be made by parents…”

He goes on to express Obama’s support for vaccinations. Yay for him. Chris Christie supports vaccinations too.

But the L.A. Times article quickly goes off the rails, portraying Christie’s position as diametrically opposed to Obama’s:

Democrats quickly went on the attack, with the Democratic National Committee issuing a statement accusing Christie of pandering to the “radical, conspiracy theory base” of the Republican Party.

The statement contrasted Christie’s remarks with those of Obama, who had answered a question about the issue in an interview over the weekend with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie.

“I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again,” Obama said.

“There is every reason to get vaccinated. There aren’t reasons to not get vaccinated,” he added. “You should get your kids vaccinated.”

Right . . . he said vaccinations are a good thing. Like Chris Christie did. What Obama didn’t say was that vaccinations should be mandatory. Nor has that ever been his position.

Here is the moronic summary of the Christie-related parts of the article, just under the headline:

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 10.04.54 PM

But this article has nothing on the eternally vapid, credulous, intellectually dishonest sock-puppeting goober of a business columnist that this rag has in the form of Michael Hiltzik, who declares: No, Obama didn’t ‘pander to anti-vaxxers’ in 2008. If you were to conclude, based on Hiltzik’s history, that the truth is the complete opposite of his claim, you’d be right. You see, it emerged today (with a minimum of research) that Obama in 2008 repeatedly suggested that autism may be caused by vaccines.

Let’s start with a video of Obama’s comments cited by Hiltzik. I’m not going to give you the minute-long video he lazily cites. I will provide you a very fair and complete transcript of the quote with full context, starting here.

The final issue, uh, has to — you know, you mentioned autism — that’s an area, that’s an example where our investment in basic research and basic science has to drastically increase. Um, you know, I was mentioning earlier investments, infrastructure. One of the things that I left out was investment in basic science and technology. I mentioned it in terms of energy. But the same is true on, you know, the biotech and the genome sciences. Huge opportunities for us to figure out what are the sources of diseases. How can we prevent them, or at least intervene more quickly. And autism I think is a prime candidate, where we’ve seen just a skyrocketing autism rate. Nobody knows exactly why. There’s some people are suspicious that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers, uh, but — this person included. [Points at a person in the crowd.] The science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it. Part of the reason I think it’s very important to research it is those vaccines are also preventing huge numbers of deaths among children and preventing debilitating illnesses like polio. And so we can’t afford to junk our vaccine system. We’ve got to figure out why is it that, uh, you know, this is happening so that, you know, we are starting to see a more normal, what was a normal, rate of autism.

Hiltzik says:

When Obama says “this person included,” he’s clearly shown pointing off to his right at the person who asked him about the autism-vaccine link, and not referring to himself.

Absolutely correct. He also says:

The full transcript of his remarks also suggests that the science he says is “inconclusive” is the science of what causes autism–not the purported link to any vaccine.

That conclusion is as questionable as Hiltzik’s judgment when he says: “Kudos to Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs for setting the record straight.” Any column that contains the words “Kudos to Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs” is automatically suspect — as is any column that has a byline belonging to Michael Hiltzik.

And the little “Sharelines” summary at the beginning of the column says:

Video shows that Obama contradicted the autism-vaccine link 2008, not endorsed it.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 10.37.46 PM

Horseshit. I just gave you a completely fair quote in full context, and immediately on the heels of a description of a “skyrocketing autism rate” is a reference to suspicions “that it’s connected to vaccines and triggers” followed equally immediately by a statement that “[t]he science right now is inconclusive, but we have to research it.”

Jake Tapper on Twitter provides even more context. Here is what candidate Obama said about a possible link between autism and vaccines in 2008, in response to a questionnaire:

Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?

I believe that the next president must restore confidence and open communication with the American people. This includes environmental policies and government funded research. An Obama administration will go where the science and the facts lead us, whether it is about climate change or toxic heavy metals in our environment.

What will you do to protect Americans, especially young children and pregnant women, from exposure to mercury through vaccines?

I support the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines and work to ensure that Americans have access to vaccines that are mercury free.

Dave Weigel says that the comment “skates closer to the autism/vaccine theory than Christie’s” — which kind of makes you wonder (not really) why Big Media is trying to make a Thing out of Christie’s comments — but Weigel also notes that the study that allegedly smashed the link between autism and vaccines to smithereens post-dated Obama’s comments.

By the way, it’s very fashionable these days to declare the science to be settled and denounce as lunatics anyone who raises questions about these issues. Forgive me, but I am not only modest about the limits of my knowledge, but I am also skeptical about those who are not modest about the limits of theirs. And I get nervous when government wants to take away people’s freedom based on their supposed supreme knowledge. My children are vaccinated, and their parents’ collective judgment was that this was the best course of action for them. But do I believe in the infallibility of the latest scientific study, or of our central government? No. I do not.

Mary Cheney Wants To Know

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Mary Cheney, Dick Cheney’s openly gay and married daughter has ruffled feathers with her latest Facebook post:

Why is it socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for men to put on dresses, make up and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.) — but it is not socially acceptable — as a form of entertainment — for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans?

“Shouldn’t both be ok or neither?

Cheney made it clear that she was not “drawing comparisons between white people painting their faces black and transgender individuals, only men who entertain in drag.”


FCC to Approve Net Neutrality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:13 pm

News is breaking on CNBC. I will look at the details later.

For now, I will just say this:

We will come to regret this, bitterly.

Music by Patterico, With a Little Help from Jay Semko of The Northern Pikes: Part 1: Creation

Filed under: General,Music,Music by Patterico — Patterico @ 7:34 am

So, I have this crazy project in process, and this is the beginning.

As I mentioned yesterday in teasing this, while in law school, at the age of 22 or 23, I wrote and recorded several songs. My performances are poor, but I have convinced three musicians so far to record some of them for me. Three of the recordings are in hand, and I present the first one to you today in this post: “Creation,” sung by the incomparable Jay Semko, lead singer of the Canadian band The Northern Pikes.

Before we get to my song, let me say a few words about Jay. The Northern Pikes has always been one of my very favorite bands. All of their albums are great, but “Secrets of The Alibi” and “Snow in June” in particular are absolute classics. To get a sense of how good the Pikes were, listen to one of their songs from the 1990s, with Semko on lead vocals:

Here’s another (more acoustically oriented) song where Semko shows off his vocal talents:

Jay recorded three of my songs; “Creation” is probably my favorite of the three. Jay tells me he recorded the songs for me “live off the floor” at the same studio (Randy Woods Studios) where he recorded his most recent album: Flora Vista (which I highly recommend, and which has one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard: Asleep in the Loving Arms of God). During the process, Jay was wonderful to deal with.

When Jay sent me the recordings last Wednesday, I listened to them in amazement. I can’t describe the feeling in words. It was absolutely surreal to hear one of my favorite rock performers of all time, singing a song I wrote. And then another! And another! I told him that the only thing that would make this more amazing is if I could travel back in time to play them for the 23-year-old version of myself. At the time I was writing these songs, in the early 1990s, I was listening to The Northern Pikes constantly, probably every day. If you had told me in those days that Jay Semko would one day sing a song (or three!) written by me, I think I would have had a heart attack.

The song I present to you today is actually a dialogue between a creator and his creation. It could be God creating Adam; or a parent creating a child; or an artist creating a work of art. There is the moment of creation, and the love and gratitude the creation feels towards its creator for giving it life. But one day, the creation will seek its freedom. The creator will resist letting go — but will eventually set his creation free, out of love. Finally, the creator will die — but will still achieve a certain immortality, as long as the creation remains alive.

I will publish the lyrics tomorrow — and if my courage holds up, I may publish my original recording (which has piano and harmonies, all done poorly on primitive equipment) on Wednesday . . . just for grins.

For now, though, sit back and enjoy the strange but hopefully pleasant experience of listening to a professional rock musician sing a song that I wrote over 20 years ago:

Obama Proposes $3.99 Trillion Budget

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

Well, thank God it’s not $4 trillion!

According to Heritage, federal spending approached $3.5 trillion in 2013 and 2014.* Why would we suddenly need to spend another half trillion dollars??

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: the GOP nominee needs to pick a budget from the recent past — like one of George W. Bush’s earlier budgets** — and declare that to be the proper size of today’s budget. If we went back to spending levels from ten years ago, for example, we’d be spending $2.47 trillion a year, instead of Obama’s proposed $4 trillion.

Plenty of us out here in the real world live on the same basic budget that we lived on during the Bush years — even with inflation. Is it really asking too much for the central government to do the same?

Rand Paul Dings Jeb Bush On Hypocrisy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:52 am

[guest post by Dana]

This weekend, the Boston Globe did a big write-up on Jeb Bush’s years of struggle while attending the exclusive Phillips Academy. One point the article focused on was Bush’s use of marijuana during his difficult time at the school. Classmate Peter Tibbetts recalled:

The first time Tibbetts smoked marijuana, he said, was with Bush and a few other classmates in the woods near Pemberton Cottage. Then, a few weeks later, Tibbetts said he smoked hashish — a cannabis product typically stronger than pot — in Jeb’s dormitory room.

“The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb’s room,” Tibbetts said. “He had a portable stereo with removable speakers. He put on Steppenwolf for me.” As the rock group’s signature song, ‘Magic Carpet Ride,'” blared from the speakers, Tibbetts said he smoked hash with Bush.

He said he once bought hashish from Bush but stressed, in a follow-up e-mail, “Please bear in mind that I was seeking the hash. It wasn’t as if he was a dealer, though he did suggest I take up cigarettes so that I could hold my hits better, after that first joint.”

Bush previously has acknowledged what he called his “stupid” and “wrong” use of marijuana.

Given that last summer Bush argued against a proposal in his state for medical marijuana, claiming that such a proposal would harm Florida’s “family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” Sen. Rand Paul, who is currently polling second behind Scott Walker in a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucusgoers (standing position was adjusted after Romney’s exit), seized the opportunity to point out Bush’s hypocrisy:

“You would think he’d have a little more understanding then,” Paul told The Hill while en route to a political event in Texas.

“He was even opposed to medical marijuana,” Paul said of Bush, a potential rival in the 2016 Republican presidential primary. “This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.

“I think that’s the real hypocrisy, is that people on our side, which include a lot of people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes but now still want to put people in jail for that,” he said.

“Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency,” he added.


“I think in politics the biggest thing, the thing that voters from any part of the spectrum hate worse than anything is hypocrisy. And hypocrisy is, ‘Hey I did it and it’s okay for me because I was rich and at an elite school but if you’re poor and black or brown and live in a poor section of one of our big cities, we’re going to put you in jail and throw away the key,’ ” Paul said.

No response from the Bush camp to the accusation. And although it’s still early, Bush, along with Chris Christie and Ted Cruz, is lagging behind Paul, according to the Iowa poll.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I think this is a weak argument. Many people — even presidential candidates! — do things in their youth that they are later ashamed of. That fact does not make it automatic “hypocrisy” if they believe, as adults, that the behavior should be criminalized.

Rand Paul would do better making a philosophical case for drug legalization, based on the premise that people own their own bodies. The problem he will have to confront, as proponents of drug legalization always do, is the fact that legalization is likely to lead to more use. Supply and demand dictates that result, and that basic economic law is not repealed for drugs.

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