Archive for 2015

Why Only Whack Jobs Don’t Vaccinate Their Kids

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

measlesboyThere are certain things we do as an advanced, civilized society to protect our children: We require that if they are transported in a car, they must be strapped into in a car seat; they must wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle; they can’t be made to work in sweat shops; they’re not allowed to drink alcohol; they’re legally protected from sexual molestation.

And, if we’re lucky enough to have developed a vaccine for various deadly or life-threatening diseases, they are immunized as early as possible.

The only people who would violate any of these kinds of social strictures are those who hold some other values higher than the safety of our children and the survival of the species.

They are self-absorbed, uneducated or willfully ignorant. They choose not to understand that their decision to violate these kinds of norms not only endanger their children, but threaten other people, especially other children who are not their own.

vaccination-5Bad Parental Choices In some communities (we name no names, Marin and Orange counties), gluten-free, breatharian liberals or live-free-or-die government haters will go to court to prevent children from bringing allergy-inducing peanuts into the school lunchroom while refusing to have their own children vaccinated against measles, mumps or whooping cough.

“Parental choice” is their banner; hypocrisy is their manner.

So, in the wake of an outbreak of measles in Disneyland and about 100 cases of the dangerous disease now reported in California (far more than panic-inducing Ebola), it makes sense that Democratic Sens. Richard Pan of Sacramento and Ben Allen of Santa Monica have introduced legislation in Sacramento to eliminate the “personal-belief exemption” that allows parents to refuse to inoculate their children merely because they are philosophically opposed to immunizations.

Children with a valid medical reason for not being vaccinated, would still be exempted.

“We do not need to wait for a child to sicken or die before we act. And that’s what we’re doing here today,” Pan told a Capitol news conference

California’s U.S. Senators are also on the case.

“While a small number of children cannot be vaccinated due to an underlying medical condition, we believe there should be no such thing as a philosophical or personal-belief exemption, since everyone uses public spaces,” Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein wrote in a letter to California Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley. “As we have learned in the past month, parents who refuse to vaccinate their children not only put their own family at risk, but they also endanger other families who choose to vaccinate.”

hillarytwitterFirst Grandma Steps Up Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton joined the fray last week, tweeting:

“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest

That was at least in part in reaction to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both of whom – in an apparent attempt to straddle the gap between modern science and know-nothing, anti-Big Brother libertarians — issued statements that essentially said, “Sure vaccines are good, but parents ought to have control.”

So now they’re pro-choice? Who knew?

The whole “personal exemption” thing in California has gotten out of hand and demands reform.  Thanks to an excellent wrap-up by Lisa M. Krieger and Jessica Calefati at the Mercury News, we know that:

Vaccine exemptions have been available since 1961, when California first required all public school teachers and students to be inoculated against polio. But there has been a surge in their popularity in recent years. From 2000 to 2014, the rate of parents seeking exemptions tripled, from 0.77 percent to 2.5 percent — or one in every 40 kids. California is one of 19 states that allow exemptions based purely on parents’ personal beliefs.

“An exemption is something we can only allow under the condition where it very rarely is exercised,” said Stanford University’s David Magnus, a professor of pediatrics who directs the Center for Biomedical Ethics. “The fact that there has been so much misuse means it is time to tighten things.”

urgent careHow Best to Fight Idiocy We know young mothers who are afraid to take their children to mothers’ groups because they have no idea whether some self-absorbed parent is toting a little one who’s carrying measles or some other highly-contagious disease. After hearing about nearly 200 children who were exposed to Disneyland measles at one urgent care center in Mesa, AZ, lots of parents are now afraid to take their kid to the pediatrician’s office.

There’s a debate among pro-vaccination people about how best to deal with the anti-vaxxers. Some, like Dr. Saad B. Omer, argue:

For epidemiologists like me, eliminating exemptions may seem satisfying, but it is not the wisest policy for protecting kids. Instead, we should borrow a concept from behavioral economics, and use administrative rules and procedures to “nudge” parents to immunize their kids, rather than trying to castigate or penalize these parents.

On the other hand, writers like Matt Novak argue that the anti-vaccination movement, if not the individuals, should be ridiculed (like the Ku Klux Klan or anti-gay marriage forces have been) because shame works.

Given that there is absolutely no scientific basis on which to base their beliefs, it would seem that ridicule is not a bad strategy.

In case you forgot, here’s part of a New York Times piece recounting just how discredited is the notion of a link between vaccinations and other maladies:

wakefieldIt turns on a seminal moment in anti-vaccination resistance. This was an announcement in 1998 by a British doctor who said he had found a relationship between the M.M.R. vaccine — measles, mumpsrubella — and the onset of autism.

Typically, the M.M.R. shot is given to infants at about 12 months and again at age 5 or 6. This doctor, Andrew Wakefield, wrote that his study of 12 children showed that the three vaccines taken together could alter immune systems, causing intestinal woes that then reach, and damage, the brain.

In fairly short order, his findings were widely rejected as — not to put too fine a point on it — bunk. Dozens of epidemiological studies found no merit to his work, which was based on a tiny sample. The British Medical Journal went so far as to call his research “fraudulent.” The British journal Lancet, which originally published Dr. Wakefield’s paper, retracted it. The British medical authorities stripped him of his license.

So, anti-vaxxers, shame on you.

RIP Rick Orlov: He Lived and Breathed LA Politics

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

rickyRick Orlov, who died Monday at age 66, wasn’t just an ace veteran reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News, he was a relentlessly decent, talented and generous man who was, for 30 years, immersed in the bloodstream of L.A. politics.

Newsmen and women, politicians and consultants all admired and respected him for his devotion to his craft, his reportorial skill and his love of civic life. He didn’t interview subjects, he had conversations with people, on and off the record, using every bit of knowledge to shine light on the goings on at City Hall and in the politics of L.A. and California.

He was a fierce competitor as a newshound, but would share whatever he could with colleagues and friends. We were lucky enough to be among them.

Orlov, who had battled diabetes and had been on dialysis for years. He suffered a fall recently and had been hospitalized. He died of complications, his family reported. Born April 12, 1948, in Chicago, Orlov worked for Copley News Service in Los Angeles in the 1970s before moving to the Daily News in 1978.

“He was such an incredible part of the political landscape,” said L.A. consultant Bill Carrick. “He loved politics, the news and reporting. And for lots of people in L.A., he was the Daily News.”

We’ve lost one of the best. RIP Ricky.

Starting Gate: How Republican Presidentials Rank

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

jebThe race for the Republican presidential nomination is now Jeb Bush’s to lose – and, boy oh boy, is he capable of doing just that.

Mitt Romney departed the massive and still unformed GOP pack on Friday – too bad! – leaving Bush for now the nominal favorite for three key reasons: 1) money; 2) name recognition; 3) money.

Romney’s reasons for not pursuing a third campaign, after a three-week fan dance that had Beltway elites aroused, were analyzed by same at paralyzing dull length. Our own view is that Forty-Seven-Percent Mitt bowed out after his head exploded when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve decreed that he needed to pay attention to the poor this time out.

That, and the fact that everyone who really wanted him to run was named Anne or Tag.

Amid a battalion of union busters, second-raters, whack jobs and the simply self-delusional, Bush at the moment is really the only guy you actually can picture in the White House for some reason other than dinner. Just 364 days before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, our Las Vegas Bureau Chief and Sporting Life Consultant Vinnie “The Vig” Capelli d’Angelo forwards the first Calbuzz (More or Less) Monthly (Non-Hillary) Presidential Rankings.

carly-fiorina15- Carly Fiorina. Seriously? Having established her ability to win popular votes by losing by 10 points to Barbara Boxer, when the Junior Senator’s favorable rating was 10 points underwater, in a Republican wave election, I-Carly now strides forth brandishing her HP-proven plan for jobs: ship them all overseas. Sheesh.

Palin-Wink114- Sarah Palin. Sadly for the political writers of America, Ms. Snow Machine simply was braying what passes for a thought in the tiny pea brain encased in that huge melon on top of her neck when she told reporters in Iowa she was “seriously considering” running. The only thing she’s seriously considering is the venison spread in the green room at Fox.

trump hair13- Donald Trump. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove recently listed 23 potential Republican candidates – and left Trump’s name off the list. Hey, mark us down for anybody who drives Rove crazy.

ben-carson12-Ben Carson. As Mother Jones helpfully noted, Tea Party champion and flat-tax tribune Ben Carson “once compared women who get abortions to dog-abuser Michael Vick, blamed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire on gay marriage, and concluded that believing in evolution was like thinking that ‘a hurricane blowing through a junkyard could somehow assemble a fully equipped and flight-ready 747.’” That was before he compared ISIS to the Founding Fathers. All of which will make him tough to beat in Florida.

bobbyjindal11—Bobby Jindal. In 2009, the Louisiana governor was a Republican rising star when he laid a major egg, given the big opportunity to deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s first State of the Union. Since then, his prospects have gone steadily downhill as he’s evolved into a true demagogue, ranting about the need for Christians to wage a religious war against secular democracy and the inherent evils of Islam. Pathetic.

10-Lindsay Graham. This.graham

perry9-Rick Perry. Governor Oops is back and should not be misunderestimated. Besides his affectation of horn rims, he’s also actually been boning up on federal issues, from solar power to Syria, with the help of chrome domes he’s quietly had flown into Austin. Add to that he has the kind of folksy charm Republicans seem to swoon for (sorry Mittens). Of course, he’s still under indictment.

santorum8-Rick Santorum. As long as Foster Friess has a man-crush on him, Santorum and his moral dogmatism and holier-than-thou style is unlikely to go away. Now that he’s taken to lecturing the Pope on what it means to be a Catholic, however, there’s always hope.

rubio-water7-Marco Rubio. Another ex-rising Republican star who screwed up the State of the Union response gig, the first-term Florida Senator also ran afoul of party orthodoxy when he dared to put forth some practical, let alone humane, proposals for dealing with immigration.  Now he’s trying to reinvent himself as some kind of an expert on foreign policy, but his larger problem is that Bush will cut heavily into his home state money base.

huckabee6-Mike Huckabee. We may be overestimating Huck a bit, given that he has no money, organization or real message – this even before he trashed Beyonce and got schooled by Megyn Kelly – but there’s no one in the field who’s got a better feel for the Republican Evangelical Christian base. Maybe he’s just pushing books but, if that’s the case, it’s tough to figure why he gave up his sweet sinecure at Fox News.

christie5-Chris Christie. Governor Meat Loaf has big problems at home, his bullyboy personal style long ago wore thin and his past positions on social issues put him out of the right-wing mainstream. But if Jeb falters, the Republican establishment could move quickly to Christie, the only one in this field not named Bush who’s positioned to feed at the trough on the GOP’s Washington-New York-L.A. big fundraising circuit. Of course, this may appear in a few ads.

ted_cruz_ap_3284-Ted Cruz. It’s no doubt mere coincidence that Cruz resembles the late Senator Joe McCarthy, but it’s an appropriate comparison given his political recklessness and loose-with-the-facts flamethrower style. As the man who drove congressional Republicans into the ditch over the government shutdown, Cruz will be surely be the popular favorite with the Tea Party crowd, and will slug it out with several others for the role of right-wing foil to the allegedly moderate Bush.

randpaul13-Rand Paul. Paul is far more personally engaging and personally appealing than his libertarian cult hero old man, and his willingness to talk with people who disagree with him and raise issues, like prison reform, that no other Republican will touch, is commendable. But his philosophical opposition to military adventurism and interventionism will be a serious liability in Republican primaries, despite what some read as signs of softening in the traditional GOP hard line on national security.

Scott_Walker_Gov_Wis_0222112-Scott Walker. Following his recent breakout performance at an Iowa cattle call, the Wisconsin governor became the Beltway’s flavor of the week. He’s not only a big hero among Republicans of every stripe because of his first-term union busting, but also is a big favorite of the Koch Brothers for his embrace of their anti-government agenda. He’s punched his ticket on cultural issues, but doesn’t make a big deal of it and, as a Republican repeatedly elected in a Democratic state, is well positioned to make a crossover, electability argument. On the other hand, maybe he’s Tim Pawlenty.

jebbush1-Jeb Bush. John Ellis Bush surprised everyone with his lightning-quick moves to get into the race late last year and now stands as the undisputed favorite of the Beltway-based money wing of his party. There is no doubt he has a lot to overcome: the distaste and disdain of the torch-and-pitchfork crowd; Bush fatigue and the nation’s lingering detestation of his dopey brother; a cool and cerebral style of campaigning; his heretical stands on immigration, public education and gay marriage, and perhaps most of all, his employment of Mike Murphy as a top strategist. Then again, Republicans in the end love order, and always seem to pick the guy they’re supposed to.

Just ask Mitt Romney.