Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's a Small, Small World

Magical thinking has come back to bite the Magical Kingdom in the butt.

The measles outbreak that now threatens to close Disneyland, along with the side-effect of sickening its customers, is the direct result of the insane anti-vaccination craze sweeping the country. And that this anti-science cult has been so mightily enabled and broadcast by ABC-Disney itself is nothing short of Karma.

Until she was finally fired last spring, former Playboy centerfold Jenny McCarthy had enjoyed a year-long prominent national soapbox on the hit ABC-Disney daytime show, The View. Her starring role as token reactionary on this highly rated gabfest aimed at a mostly female audience engendered much controversy, given her long strident history of specious claims that childhood immunizations cause autism.

Princess Rubeola of Disneyland

Of course, I have no scientific proof that Jenny McCarthy herself is the direct noxious source of the Disney outbreak. But it's a safe bet that as resident Princess of the Cult of Ignorance, she is an aider and abettor par excellence. She is an ideological disease vector. From the New York Times:
A measles outbreak that began at Disneyland is spreading across California and beyond, prompting health officials to move aggressively to contain it — including by barring unvaccinated students from going to school in Orange County. The outbreak has increased concerns that a longstanding movement against childhood vaccinations has created a surge in a disease that was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000.
Health officials said 59 cases of measles had been diagnosed in California as of Wednesday, with an additional eight related cases spread through Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Mexico. Among those infected are five workers at Disneyland, where the outbreak was spotted in mid-December; 42 of the 59 California cases have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak.
The cases were a continuation of what health officials said was a worrisome increase in measles in Orange County and other places where parents had resisted the urging of health professionals to inoculate their children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 644 cases of measles from 27 states last year, by far the largest number since 2000.
The cult of ignorance has become so powerful that parents in some states are allowed to opt their kids out of vaccinations based on a "personal belief" exemption. And then California officials, alarmed that the mass outbreak of magical thinking would engender a  mass outbreak of preventable disease, later tightened the personal belief rules. But Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown promptly granted the anti-vaxxers a reprieve by allowing a "religious exemption."  So if you think you can simply rely on your gut instead of on God, you'd better think again.  From now on, you will need a doctor's note before needlessly endangering your children.

Jenny McCarthy, meanwhile, has been in reputation-salvaging damage control mode for awhile now, claiming after her firing by ABC-Disney that she was never really anti-vaccine, because she hadn't directly ordered her legions of fans and admirers to skip the inoculations. Being disgustingly ignorant and spewing one's views to national TV audiences is not advocacy, she whined. Claiming that vaccines contain poisons is not the same thing as telling other moms to run for the hills, for guts' sake. And despite evidence to the contrary, she is still claiming that vaccines cause autism.

As far as I can tell, no major media outlets are yet linking the Disneyland measles outbreak to the ABC-Disney/Jenny McCarthy source. And that especially goes for Disney, which did so well last year that it gave CEO Robert Iger a 27% pay raise, with his total compensation now exceeding $34 million. Disney stock traded at all-time highs last year.

 So I think that not only should the Centers for Disease Control get right on the case, but the National Institute of Mental Health should get on board too. Because not only do we have a science ignorance problem, we have a greed and wealth disparity problem. The hourly pay for Disney character performers at the theme parks averages a measly $10. And if they catch the measles, the medical coverage at the happiest place on earth has very high deductibles and co-pays. 

Even Mickey Mouse has to have some fur in the game, I guess.


Zee said...


I agree with your assessment of “anti-vaxxers” as being remarkably ignorant of the science that shows no relationship between vaccinations and autism. And yes, I firmly believe that their willful ignorance makes them a menace to society. Witness the recent outbreak of measles in a country that declared that disease to have been eradicated some ten or fifteen years ago.

But in a nominally “free” country it's not clear to me how one can force everyone to be vaccinated. Still, I would think that the state could, for example, deny the unvaccinated access to certain public services such as education on the clear grounds that their presence poses a danger to others: Even the vaccinated aren't completely safe, so their exposure to such ailments as the flu or measles from the unvaccinated could still make them sick.

So let those who refuse to have their children vaccinated against dangerous illnesses figure out how to get their kids educated privately, where they pose a danger only to the children of other anti-vaxxers

As recently as 1968, when I headed off to UC Davis, I seem to recall that I had to produce documentation showing the I was current in all my vaccinations, such as polio and smallpox. If I wasn't current, I either had to get vaccinated or forget going to UC.

If we weren't so damned accommodating these days to the “needs” and “demands” of every ridculous little special interest/grievance group that comes down the pike, we could re-institute such requirements (and penalties) for the anti-vaxxers, making it more desirable for them to get their children vaccinated

But we won't do this, because we wouldn't want to infringe upon the “right” of an anti-vaxxer to allow his/her children to be a danger to everyone around them. Who is more responsible for this “hyper-sensitivity,” I have to wonder: “liberals” or “conservatives?”

I also have to wonder about the demographics and education levels of the anti-vaxxers in general. Are they all uneducated and conservative? Has anyone done a study of this? I'll have to “Google” that topic.

Pearl said...

I wonder what her opinion is about global warming? Anyone know?

annenigma said...


I'm a proponent of vaccines, but I can almost understand where some of these parents are coming from. Many of them don't trust the government or the corporate manufacturers to ensure their safety. Can you really blame them? It's a sign that they just might be educated! They might have heard through the grapevine (not the corporate media) that our capitalist system will/does poison for profit. They might even hazard a guess that the manufacturer could be tempted to increase profits by watering down the product or using cheaper but dangerous preservatives in their product. Food companies do it all the time and get away with it! It's not like these parents are inconsistent. Many of them shop organic and otherwise try to keep their kids safe and healthy.

Maybe a few of them heard of one of the many government programs that subjected poor people to poisons or germs as experiments?

One of the more recent ones was called the Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study. It was cancelled in 2005 only because it happened to come up during a confirmation hearing:

"The study took place in Duval County, Florida, a region chosen for its year round use of pesticides and for its high concentration of pesticides. To qualify, the family had to have a confirmed history of residential pesticide use, a child under the age of 13 months, and agree to continue residential use of pesticides.

Participating families were promised monetary compensation (up to $970), a study t-shirt, a framed Certificate of Appreciation, a study bib for the baby, a calendar, a study newsletter, and a camcorder."

There are always unforeseen consequences in addition to the known ones that they simply don't care about. Just imagine all the programs we don't know about because they are classified secret. You know most of these programs are related to the Military-Industrial-Complex. Which reminds me of the fallout from the CIA paying a doctor to help run a fake Polio vaccine program in Pakistan to help capture Osama Bin Laden. When that was revealed to Pakistanis, they suddenly stopped getting their kids immunized against Polio and it made a vicious comeback.

Need more? Check out this list of the '13 Most Evil Government Experiments on Humans'. Go to this website to read the details, but below I have listed the 13.

1.Mind Control, Child Abuse - Project MKULTRA, Subproject 68

2.Mustard Gas Tested on Soldiers via Involuntary Gas Chambers

3.U.S. Grants Immunity to Involuntary-Surgery Monster

4.Deadly Chemical Sprays on American Cities

5.US Infects Guatemalans With STDs

6.Secret Human Experiments to Test the Effects of The Atomic Bomb

7.Injected Prisoners with Agent Orange

8.Operation Paperclip (hiring Nazi scientists)

9.Infecting Puerto Rico With Cancer

10.Pentagon Treats Black Cancer Patients with Extreme Radiation

11.Operation Midnight Climax (LSD)

12.Fallout Radiation on Unsuspecting Pacific Territories

13.Tuskegee (injecting Blacks with syphilis)

Denis Neville said...

Zee said “in a nominally “free” country it's not clear to me how one can force everyone to be vaccinated”

Jacobson v. Massachusetts, placing greater importance on public health than on individual liberties, is the clear rebuttal to that sentiment.

In the 1905, the United States Supreme Court, in the famous case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, examined the issue of whether involuntary vaccination violated Jacobson's "'inherent right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such way as seems to him best . . . "

Despite Jacobson's argument that compulsory immunization violated his Fourteenth Amendment right to personal liberty, the Supreme Court ruled against him. It is a fundamental principle that "persons and property are subjected to all kinds of restraints and burdens, in order to secure the general comfort, health, and prosperity of the State.” The Court stated the basic bargain of civilization: an individual must give up some personal freedom in exchange for the benefits of being in a civilized society. Jacobson sought to enjoy the benefit of his neighbors being vaccinated for smallpox without personally accepting the risks inherent in vaccination. The Court rejected Jacobson's claim which it viewed as an attempt to be a free-rider on society.

It also considered Jacobson's right to contest the scientific basis of the Massachusetts vaccination requirement. The Court, accepting that some reasonable people still questioned the efficacy of vaccination, nonetheless found that it was within the legislature's prerogative to adopt one from many conflicting views on a scientific issue.

The effectiveness and importance of vaccinations to public health today reflects the rationale behind the actions of the state of Massachusetts in Jacobson. Measles, preventable with the common MMR vaccine, is normally a disease of the past because of mandatory vaccination regulations. This outbreak, as Karen describes, illustrates why vaccination programs are a critical part of preventing more disease outbreaks from occurring.

The importance of vaccinations that the state of Massachusetts saw in Jacobson has increased exponentially. A disease needs to continue to be transmitted in order for it to survive. If the line of transmission stops, the disease dies out. This is why smallpox and polio are nonexistent in the United States. Certain levels of vaccination need to be maintained in order for the disease to remain suppressed. According to the CDC, smallpox and polio require a minimum vaccination rate of 80 to 85 percent of the population, whereas diseases such as measles and diphtheria require rates upward of 94 percent. The only way for an entire community to be protected is if as many people as possible get vaccinated.

Last year the number of whooping cough cases in California reached epidemic proportions,

Karen Garcia said...


Are they all conservative? No. Your comment inspired me to change my description of McCarthy to "reactionary". Because conservatives want to conserve, not destroy... or at least that is supposed to be the definition.

Anne, I can understand too where the anti-vaxxers are coming from. It the govt can be distrusted on one thing (stupid wars, political corruption, surveillance, CIA "experiments") it is a normal human response to distrust it on everything. The Duopoly, with the unfettered capitalism it champions, has reaped what it's sown. All the more apt that the current reaping is being done at the shrine of mindless capitalist family entertainment. Walt Disney himself was a real hardcore-puritanical family values type of guy. Henry Giroux wrote a pretty good book about the whole political, citizen-as-consumer zeitgeist of Disney.

Pearl,if Jenny McCarthy believes in climate change, she probably believes that it is an act of God, not man. She probably feels it right in her gut.

Karen Garcia said...


I remember very well the polio outbreak of the 50s and have friends who came down with this horrible disease before the vaccine became widely available/acceptable. They are not doing too well as adults. In New York, a child is denied admission to public school unless she is fully vaccinated, and must provide proof of boosters throughout the school career. So it was really shocking to learn that the cult of denialism has actually trumped science in so many states. This willful ignorance is absolutely necessary for the ongoing fascist coup in this country to continue. It also nicely supplants eugenics as a means of culling the herd.

Will said...

Lively & provocative discussions in the comments today, everyone. Sardonicky's the best!

Here's some on-topic Twitter humor for y'all courtesy of comedian Bryan Donaldson (@TheNardvark) in late December:

"Maybe Jenny McCarthy is actually 18 quintillion polio viruses standing on each other’s shoulders in a trenchcoat."

P.S. And here's a bonus tweet from Bryan the other night (It has Disneyland in it so I'm still kinda sorta on topic. Yay!):

"Congrats to Sen. Joni Ernst for rising up from her humble beginnings as an animatronic doll in the Small World ride at Disneyland. #SOTU"

Denis Neville said...


I remember my mother’s fear during the years (early 1950s) of the polio epidemic. I recall my dismay, as a child, the summer the city’s public swimming pool was closed because it was “polio season.” The polio virus seemed to thrive in the summer months, and it was feared that children could be exposed to the poliovirus in community swimming pools.

It was not until thirty years later that I encountered polio’s devastating effects first hand. I helped care for a patient who was still living (by choice) in an iron lung after polio left him paralyzed many years ago as a child. Iron lungs were not cheap in those days. The cost was about the same amount needed to buy the average house. Up until that time, an iron lung was something I had only read about while studying the principles and practice of mechanical ventilation.

It has been my experience, which I find very troubling, that many of these vaccine deniers are concentrated in wealthier areas, whose residents are educated and supposedly capable of critical thinking.

When I encounter anti-vaxxers, I recall the experience of that patient and what America looked like when paralyzed polio children lived in iron lungs:

annenigma said...

My father was afflicted with polio as an adult and a father to young children. He was in an iron lung for a time but eventually was able to walk, although with difficulty on legs like sticks. He was a 'cripple'.

The family income was severely limited as a result. Unlike a certain President, I can say the word poverty and really know what it means.

When they finally developed the polio vaccine, my mother immediately dragged the five of us to get our polio drinks at the county building. She was so happy and relieved, knowing we wouldn't be similarly afflicted. I think it's safe to say it was a nightmare for her, but it affected all of us in one way or another.

Can I convince young mothers to get their kids vaccinated? Noooo. They just don't trust the system or most adults they deem to be part of it. They trust their cohort of friends more, like teenagers do.

Zee said...


You are, of course, correct. Americans—myself included—have plenty of reasons to mistrust assertions made by both the U.S. Government and corporations on any number of issues.

Still, the evidence that I can see directly with my own two lying eyes regarding the efficacy of vaccines seems overwhelming. I haven't ever, in my lifetime, seen anyone made ill by smallpox in this country. While polio was still extant at the time of my birth (1950), I personally have never known anyone crippled or killed by that disease, and I've seen it extinguished here over the course of my 64 years. Nor have I even known anyone to suffer from measles since vaccination became commonplace, either. And since I began getting vaccinated for flu on a regular basis, I have never been hit with a serious attack by that ailment, either. So I've gotten my pneumonia and shingles vaccines, as well.

An observant, thinking individual should be able to see directly the benefits of vaccination independent of government or corporate propaganda, but that's just my humble personal opinion.


Thank you for the information regarding Jacobson v. Massachusetts, of which I was unaware. It's well past time that we started enforcing it again on all fronts, but, as I said, I doubt that we will do so. There are any number of reasons that Jerry Brown was given the sobriquet “Governor Moonbeam,” and his foolish deference to anti-vaxxers is one of them. And there are plenty of other “Moonbeams” like him in positions of political power. So we are doomed to get sicker before we get better, I fear.


Thanks for reconsidering your definition of “conservative.”

But you are correct, of course. Today's so-called “conservatives” seem to be more like wrecking balls than conservators of that from the past which has been found through experience to be beneficial or useful.

Denis Neville said...

Karen, nice response to Panglossian Krugman’s Obama’s feisty State of the Union address!

Optimism and stupidity are nearly synonymous.

How democracy is defined in 2015: how many people can be fooled? Which is the most convincing sleight of hand? How stupid can they be?

William Rivers Pitt describes Obama's "feisty" SOTU song of himself as “Twenty Pounds of BS in a Ten-Pound Bag,”

Glen Ford calls it “suckers a bag of tricks,”

We're not that stupid.

Kat said...

Yes, Karen nice retort to the PK column which I half read (when I glanced at the column I and read "solid recovery" and "Clinton prosperity" I bailed.) Guy is a hack.

annenigma said...

Doesn't Krugman look and sound like he's jockeying for a position in Hillary's administration?

Just look at his new photo. No older man loses all that weight without a compelling reason, and I'm not talking health. He's either shopping for a new wife or a new career. One thing is for certain, he's really piling on the steaming stuff lately.

Score another recommend from me, Karen.

Karen Garcia said...

Yeah, I really had to restrain myself commenting on Krugman. Wish I'd thought of the 20 lbs of bs in a 10 lb bag line. It's perfect. So glad to see some "folks" still planted in reality instead of flying high in the Ozone. The crash will be horrible to witness.

The creepy thing about PK's new avatar is that it is the exact same pose as the old one. The glasses look like somebody magic-markered them on, and the reduced jowls look suspiciously photo-shopped.

Meanwhile David Brooks is as buff as ever (he is into online dating apparently) and Maureen Dowd is still using a pic that's got to be from the last century. Tom Friedman must have a rash from stroking the same spot on his chin for at least a decade. Gail Collins looks like about 12 in her photo.

Kat said...

Glad you refer to him as "PK". What's with all these bootlickers addressing Krugman as "professor" (or doctor)? Presumably these comment writers are neither his students nor under 20 years old.

Denis Neville said...

Ken Silverstein nails America’s most influential liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress:

“CAP really is the perfect liberal think tank for the age of Obama, when the core policy options and alliances that shape American politics are simply dictated by the flow of cash. The former staffer who spoke with me about CAP’s frequent communications with the Obama White House succinctly summed up the gnat-straining fate of the multimillion-dollar think tank. “They totally bought into the Obama vision, and he had no vision,” he said. “When Obama was progressive and talked about the stimulus, they were for that, and when he cut a deal with Boehner, they were for that. They don’t stand for anything themselves.” Except, it seems, for the moneyed regurgitation of the current Democratic mush.”

Neio-liberalism is in the tank. They pretend to think, but we’re not listening.

There is an added bonus from Silverstein for all those who think Thomas Friedman, “the great globalizing muse of the New York Times op-ed page” and “the principal fount of corporate-friendly twaddle,” is an idiot.

Matt Taibbi is offering “some merch” to anyone who can translate twaddle bag’s latest pretentious twaddle at Davos, for which he received applause:

“The Arab Spring is failing not for lack of bandwidth, but for lack of human understanding that can only be forged when someone is late for breakfast, and you say, Thank you for being late.”

L.M. Holmes said...

I tried to look at your profile, Karen, and it had no information except that you live in New Palz. Could you make your background and credentials easily available? Just read a praise of your blog in the NYT comments on a Krugman article.

Kat said...

Hi L.M Holmes,
Just curious, but why do you ask about credentials? What sort of credentials are needed to have a blog?

Karen Garcia said...

Dear L.M. Holmes,

I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Seriously, though, rather than fill out Google's formal personality/CV profile, I have revealed bits and pieces of myself in blog posts and comments, both here and over at the NYT. I've talked about my days as a newspaper reporter on many occasions. Even talked about my gallbladder attack once in a fit of desperation.

The great thing about blogging is anybody can do it. No degree necessary, nor experience required, but the willingness to do research and have an open mind are pluses.

Anyway, glad you found the blog and thanks for visiting!

Karen Garcia said...


Thanks for the link to the Silverstein piece on CAP. It's the best overview I've read so far on Obama's favorite think tank.

I wrote a post last year on their annual review of the year's best films ( that is, the films that adhered most cloyingly to Democratic wedge issues and neoliberal agendas) The writer grotesquely described the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty as "gorgeously filmed."

That tells you just about all you need to know about CAP. (By the way, whenever you see the word "progress" in an organization, be on the alert. They're mostly talking about progress for capitalists. See, for example, my comment on Joe Nocera's NAFTA/TPP rhapsody of a column today. I will be writing more about that in more detail here later on.)

annenigma said...

Here I go, off on my latest tangent!

Did anyone see the opinion piece at the NYT titled 'Why Tolerate Terrorist Publications?' Unfortunately, it did not allow comments. It did get me thinking, especially after reading Joe Nocera and Karen's excellent response to Nocera's 'Don't Blame Nafta'.

The way trade agreements are being secretly written by corporations, how would we even know if definitions and restrictions on free expression were codified in these agreements to protect the reputation and profits of corporate beings? We know what happened to our rights under the corporate-sponsored and highly lucrative global War on Terror. Freedom of expression can harm profits after all. Corporate owned media such as the NYT already limits what it covers to protect investors or certain countries. I'm so used to self-censoring, I can't bring myself to say who that Is....!

Wall Street felt threatened and demanded the crackdown of the Occupy movement and Homeland Security obliged. Dissenting voices in general can easily become labeled a risk to 'national $ecurity' (corporate reputations, power, and profits) or the $afety of Corporate People by some legal twist in wording in secretly negotiated global trade agreements. Too Big to Fail is now wants to be Too Big to Control by any country's laws. What they can't control through ownership, such as media, they can control by usurping nation's laws.

How did corporations end up taking the seat at the secret negotiating table that rightfully belongs to Congress? Obama invited them in and then locked the doors. They Fast Tracked his rapid ascent into Presidential power and now he is reciprocating.

I'd encourage everyone to comment everywhere about these corporate written trade agreements. Consider it a duty and service to our country and world. Don't be discouraged if you enter at the bottom of the comment pile. Consider it a challenge and reward to see your comment get moved up by those in agreement, even if it's from #200 to #75. It means people think you have something valuable to say that others should consider.

The best outcome is that we share ways of seeing or interpreting things that others might not otherwise consider. Readers who put their stock in the opinions of pundits who have undisclosed ve$ted interest$ need an alternative point of view.