Rand Paul, Anti-Vaxxing and Signature Significance

"Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!"

“Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!”

It would be nice if a genuine, rational libertarian candidate could be part of the national political debate. The problem is that there are no genuine, rational libertarians. To be genuine, a libertarian has to decide on his or her policy positions based on the dictates of the ideology, which is backwards: as a leader, rather than a professor or theorist, one must figure out what is going to work, and what you wish would work or what a pre-determined formula says should work are not germane to the issue. For proof of the flaw in the latter approach, all we have to do is consider the past seven years.

Thus libertarians are prone to saying things like, “The United States should never have entered World War II.” This has been a staple of Rand Paul’s deluded father, Ron Paul, and properly places pure libertarianism with pacifism, also known as Cloud Cuckoo Land. The Berrigans used to say the same thing, you know. I believe it was Philip who said that nobody tried passive resistance to defeat Hitler, so we’ll never know if it would have worked. When you say things like this for public consumption, you forfeit the privilege of being taken seriously. It is signature significance: your judgment can’t be trusted.

For me, Rand Paul’s libertarian moment of signature significance was when he questioned the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, essentially saying that the nation would have been just fine allowing people like Lester Maddox to chase African-Americans out of his restaurant with an axe handle, or bus drivers to force Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus until change occurred naturally, you know, like after the race war. Such statements are not isolated instances of momentary madness; they are markers of serious ethical and cognitive problems, and it was inevitable that the source of that opinion would have more of the same, and perhaps worse.

Now Paul has announced his sympathy with anti-vaxxers with not one, but two statements that are as irresponsible as they are unreasonable. The first was this:

“I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”

Thus did Paul designate himself as the Michele Bachmann of the 2016 Presisential race, and in case you missed some or all of Bachmann’s forays into lunacy, that’s not who you want your candidate to emulate. To refresh your recall, Bachmann made news in one of the GOP presidential wannabe debates when she attacked Gov. Perry’s executive order to make HPV vaccinations mandatory for young girls in Texas.  As she explained to  Fox News:

“The problem is, is it comes with some very significant consequences. There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences.”  

No, there really aren’t. The dangerous consequences are in not being vaccinated. Now, Bachmann is a lawyer and, uh, interesting, so her belief in the urban legend about vaccinations rendering healthy children into drooling vegetables is a bit more understandable than this kind of nonsense coming from Paul, who is a doctor. Paul’s statement is also infinitely more damaging coming from an MD, who people reasonably assume wouldn’t spout the conclusions of debunked studies and the theories of hysterical celebrities unless they had some validity. Wrong.

Paul has also said that “most vaccines” should be “voluntary.”  “The state doesn’t own your children,” Paul said in an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health.” This raises a different problem. If Paul is asserting that the state never should be able to tell parents how to care for their children, why “most vaccines” and not all of them? Does he believe the state has any role to play in protecting children from parental neglect, no matter how well-intentioned? Can the state tell parents to feed, clothe, and educate kids, and not keep them chained to a post in the back yard? If so, why isn’t it proper for the state to require parents to take reasonable measures that will both protect the child from deadly diseases and protect the community as well?

As he has done before, Paul bristled when he was asked to reconcile his assertions with such inconveniences as logic, medical studies and the English language, and immediately complained that he was being picked on. Saying that the media was biased against him, Paul said,

“You end up having interviews like this where the interview is so slanted and full of distortions that you don’t get useful information. I think this is what is bad about TV sometimes. Frankly, I think if we do this again, you need to start out with a little more objectivity going into the interview.”

The problem isn’t bias, in this case anyway. When you say dangerous, irresponsible and inconsistent things, a competent interviewer is going to point it out. Rand Paul can’t reconcile his ideology with reality, and his response is to blame the media. I think we’ve heard enough to make up our minds about him.



35 thoughts on “Rand Paul, Anti-Vaxxing and Signature Significance

  1. It’s not for nothing that when someone says “libertarian” the first question is often “gun nut or tax cheat?” Some of the libertarian issues are at least discussable, like the role of government in the life of the individual, the limits of Constitutional freedoms, and so on, and discussable in a reasonable way, but when you mix them with crazy fringe positions nothing else looks reasonable. It doesn’t help that their spokesmen are typically angry or cranky types like Neal Boortz who calls public assistance “stolen money” and anyone receiving it “the moocher class.” Yes, I know I’ve used my share of colorful and even offensive expressions too, but you can bet the farm that if I were running for public office or higher profile I wouldn’t use ANY.

    Clinging to junk science (as opposed to religious faith) is just one more reason libertarianism isn’t going anywhere. Ironically, CA governor Jerry Brown has created a “personal belief waiver” for parents to let their kids opt out of vaccinations for school. Something tells me he wouldn’t extend that waiver to parents who didn’t want their kids exposed to the PC junk that passes for history or going on field trips to mosques.

  2. Yeah…. This is a stupid stance to take. And dangerous. I don’t understand it. It’s one thing to say that it should be a parent’s choice whether a child is vaccinated or not (I don’t know that I like that choice, but to be consistent I feel I should agree with it), it’s another altogether to perpetuate this bullshit, debunked science in the media. It’s irresponsible. And things like this is exactly why I think he won’t make the primaries.

    That said.

    I still hope he takes part in the debates. He says a lot of things I think are necessary parts of the conversation that I don’t think would otherwise come up.

    And as an aside: The 2016 Nominations are Hillary and Paul. Do you hold your nose and vote?

    • I’d vote for Hillary over Paul, but probably pass out for holding my nose that tightly. At least Hillary wouldn’t have Ron whispering in her ear. If that’s the slate, Hill wins in a landslide. Which would be ridiculous, because she can’t win against a respectable candidate.

      Paul just isn’t very bright.

      • (replying to Jack’s Feb 3, 3:27 pm)
        Why wouldn’t you go against the demoness you know, and instead go for the demon you don’t know but can be assured will be utterly ineffective?

        • I’m saying: In an office that is becoming ever more dictatorial, I want someone whose ability to mold his or her dictatorship to his or her whims is severely self-limited, whether by lack of smarts OR lack of followership.

          • That’s just giving up on the system. Obama’s dictatorial because he doesn’t have the skills to lead the right way, and the results are ugly. Hillary can see that. She’s not half the ideologue Obama is—she’s more of a technocrat. Look, there are about 10,000 candidates I’d vote for over her, but not Rand Paul or his dad.

            • (reply to Jack’s Feb 3, 3:54 pm)
              “That’s just giving up on the system.”

              It’s cynical; I’ll give you that. But it is not giving up. It is dealing with powers of the office, and with people who are likely to hold that office, as they ARE. (or will be) I want a president who reflects, in part, this mindset: “The powers of this office have become not too big to fail, but rather too big to SUCCEED – too big to enable me AND my teammates in governance to succeed.” I want a leader who is at peace with NOT possessing so much power, and who will divest much power, so that it is permanently divested and never again possible for so much power to be vested in the office of the presidency. Of course, I realize that a convention of states will be necessary, just to have a prayer of heading in such a direction. I want the next POTUS to be in full support of such a convention.

              Hillary is not half the ideologue Obama is; she might be ten times the ideologue he is. (Liz is worse still.) I am convinced that the narrowness and rigidity of Hillary’s ideology surpasses even Obama’s, and might be summarized thus: “Whatever [policy, position, result of either] is best for ME, and ONLY me; I, and only I, decide whatever is best for ME.” It is ideology, which is not necessarily unhealthy, AND pathology. I have said before, and will say again now: I am convinced that Hillary is physically and mentally ill – the absolute worst possible candidate for President. And yet…here comes 45th president Hillary. Go figure.

              I concede that given the Hobbesian choice of Hillary or Rand Paul, the conservative in me would opt for Hillary. But then, the past two presidential elections have been rigged as virtual Hobbesian choices, and I am not giving that game, and its designers, any chance to play with me anymore. I am ever more sure that the system that enables that game must be broken, with all the attendant unavoidable damages being necessary.

              Rand Paul has already dug his own political grave and buried himself. With ten or more epidemics of God-Knows-what-next poised to break out in this country, he doesn’t have the good sense to see past his own purist magical thinking to recognize what is best to “promote the general Welfare” if the Preamble bit him on his ass. God, I hate having senators for POTUS candidates! Governors, please! Previously EXECUTIVES, PLEASE!

          • Wait, strong leaders? Where does FDR fit on that list? He seemed pretty strong (and boy did he screw things up). Obama, if nothing else, has earned the company of Wilson, FDR, and LBJ in terms of progressive bona fides. Clinton and Kennedy were posers, compared to him and Carter, well, he was (and is) a useful idiot.
            You may want strong leaders, but ones that are tempered by restraint.

              • What?! He took over industries, he politicized the Supreme Court more than Robert Bork ever did, and that asshole required us to adopt a two-term presidential amendment that George Washington should have allowed us to remain traditional. The U.S. Has had nothing closer to a dictatorship than FDR.
                What the hell! Jack!

                • Sorry, saved the country twice? Moral luck or whatever rationalization you want! We had to amend the fucking constitution because FDR decided he was fucking smarter than George Washington, who knew we were not a monarchy or a dictatorship. FDR was clueless on that point and, while he was well loved, like Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton, he made our country so much worse.

                  Pull your head out of your ass, Jack! You may love your Social Security check, but my generation sees FDR for the racist, statist fraud that he was. He was Musdolini, writ small!

                  • Nothing to do with any policies, everything to do with leadership. With anything but a brilliant leadership, the US might well have had a full scale revolution, and FDR’s gutsy maneuvering to help Great Britain while risking impeachment. The only question is how much we mark FDR down for his many miscalculations, and the matter of him being perfectly willing to be a dictator. I’d say 95% of historians left and right rate him as one of the top 5 Presidents. I wouldn’t want to see what the US would be today without him.

      • Sooo, is the GOP not running any respectable candidates, or is it just a question of it still being too early, since she’s polling ahead of most GOPers?

  3. So, is Jon Rappoport making all this up?

    “Is William Thompson, the CDC whistleblower, a man caught in the middle…or are his supporters caught in the middle waiting for a decisive moment that will never come?

    “Thompson, on August 27th, published a confession through his Cincinnati lawyer, Rick Morgan. Thompson admitted that he and his co-authors committed fraud, in a 2004 study that looked into a possible connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    “According to Thompson, he and his co-authors omitted vital data and broke the accepted study protocol, thereby giving the vaccine a free pass and falsely claiming it had no connection to autism—when it did.”

    More… https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/cdc-whistleblower-what-happens-next/

    • Great…first the guy who does the study claiming a connection is proven to have fabricated data, and now this. No wonder people want to hide under a rock.Of course, Thompson’s isn’t the only study that has dismissed the anti-vaxx claims.

      • Don’t feel too bad about it. Reading the admission, in one particular study, there was an outlier difference in autism rates for male african american children given the vaccine prior to 36 months, and for no other subgroup. Statistical outliers like that are usually a coincidence or suggest something else going gone. It should have been included in the interests of trasparency, but it’s not really very strong evidence of a link. They didn’t explain why they didn’t include the data, but I strongly suspect a desire not to give the anti-vaxxers another bit of data to mislead with (the wakefield study had NEVER been repeated and they were wringing everything they could out of it). There may have also been fears that the race grievance industry would do something, but that may be a hindsight bias after seeing what’s been going on lately with Martin and Brown.

        • Oh, and to clarify, when they restricted the data to people with a georgia birth certificate it went away. Post hoc data selection IS bad science, but that further suggests a weird cluster rather than a true trend.

  4. Ugh. I hate when conflicts like this only lead me to dystopian predictions-

    In the near future, there will be a requirement to have medical records portable and on you at all times. Services can and will be denied if your records do not indicate you’ve been following the government mandated procedures for your life.

  5. Given what I can find on Jon Rappoport, he may well be making it up. Because I am finding little or nothing on his supposed source in the CDC.

  6. Well, hell. Generally, I agree with Rand more than any of the other candidates out there. The anti-vax nonsense is pretty awful though.

    That being said “…Rand Paul’s libertarian moment of signature significance was when he questioned the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act…” is not an accurate description of his statements. He only questioned the portion of the act involving private discrimination, but agreed with the portions prohibiting government discrimination. It’s a fairly standard libertarian take on it, and one I have some sympathy for.

    • That’s the core of the act as far as I’m concerned, and that episode, like this one, featured Rand hem and hawing, backing and filling, ending up with “I’m just saying it wasn’t necessary and I might not have voted for it then but of course I support it now and why are you being so mean to me.” Yechh. He’s not just doctrinaire, he doesn’t have the guts to be open about it when he’s challenged if the wind looks stiff.

  7. On top of everything else, Rand is a plagiarist.

    What I think will be his ultimate downfall though is that he claims to be a maverick, not your average politician, etc. (McCain before he went nuts).
    Even if you didn’t always agree with Paul, people — on both sides — admired him for his apparent honesty. But now he is showing himself to be your average tap-dancing pandering politician. I think the only thing Rand Paul believes in is Rand Paul.

    He won’t get the nomination. At best, he’ll run as a third-party candidate and give more votes to the Dems.

    So our choices will be centrist who panders to the poor, centrist who panders to the rich, and crazy whack-job. Woo hoo! Go American politics!

    • Yes, I didn’t even get to the plagiarist issue. He’s pretty obviously a phony. I wish my friend (and also an MD) Peter were able to weigh in more—he’s a hopeful libertarian and has defended both Pauls here before, but he has to see through him by now.

    • There are centrists who pander to the rich?

      Odd…I haven’t seen one yet. I do see media portrayals of certain politicians as pandering to the rich, yet I don’t see policies pushed that do such.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.